The Shopping Gods

The shopping gods are conspiring against me. Now they are even ganging up against me online – the new mobile phone I just ordered after a year of going “my mobile phone is crap, I must get a new one” is out of stock.

Evil Orange, denying me a shiny new mobile phone in my hour of need. *wail*

Flickr Usernames

The following is annoying me today – the person on Flickr with the username ‘Cas’ is blatantly not making full use of the Flickr-y goodness.

S/he’s had the account a while (at least a year and half) because when I registered with Flickr the name was already taken, but still.

Grrr.

I would make SO much better use of that name!

Firefox Evangelism

I have to do a lot of my browsing at work now and, when I do, I am forced to use IE. It’s not my choice but there is absolutely nothing I can do about it. What has prompted today’s little grump is the increased incidence of the following:

I am starting to see a few sites out there with little pop-ups and javascript doodads that say things like “We see you are using Internet Explorer! You dumb f***! Download Firefox now, it’s so much better!”

I can see where these are coming from. You want to spread the word of Firefox – good for you – but this way just… Bugs me. One person had it set up so that I couldn’t even view his blog using IE – the “switch to FF” message never went away. The reason for this was because there was a javascript call involved in making it go away – and javascript is disabled on my work computer. It’s since been changed to a large header that disfigures the blog in question when viewed using IE but even that, well, disfigures the blog.

I agree that Firefox is a vastly superior browser to IE for a lot of reasons. I aplaud the attempts to spread the word. But I don’t think pissing off your readers is the best way to go about it. If I could switch to FF at work, I would (I made them instal FF on all our lab computers last summer *devil*) but alas I don’t have the luxury of working in a small university lab any more. We’re locked into IE and that’s all there is to say about it. Telling me that I am doing something wrong when there is NOTHING to be done about it bugs me. Simple as that. I’m less likely to read your excellent (and I know it’s excellent because I read it at home – using Safari by the way. I tried Firefox and switched back) content and more likely to spread my disatisfaction in blog posts. Like this one.

On top of that what about the people out there like my poor mum? She wouldn’t know a browser if it got up and introduced itself, let alone be able to make an informed decision as to whether FF is better than IE (we’re talking hypothetically here. My Mum uses Safari). If she comes to a site and is greeted with a “click here” message she’s likely to click here (her browsing is still at the more luck than judgement stage – she hasn’t yet developed the ‘ad blindness’ long-term surfers develop as a survival tactic). As far as she’s concerned if it’s on your webpage, it’s a legitimate link. Which in this case is fine I am sure, because you’re not going to be evil and try to take over my mother’s computer with an evil virus? Are you?

My point – my wonderful Mum doesn’t need to know what a browser is to look at webpages. All she needs for now is to know to click on the blue compass to open up the program she needs. If she ever wants to know the finer details between browsers, well, I will be more than happy to explain but somehow I think that day is a long way off. She’s just going to get confused, baffled, and upset if your site is constantly telling her to change how she does things. That leads to a phone call to me, which in turn leads to a long involved conversation that ends up with me battering my head against the desk and cursing the day you decided to code a webpage.

So there you have it – Cas’ plea to the Firefox Evangelists. Stop telling me the way I do things is wrong. It’s rude, annoys me, and has the potential to make my Mum upset. Trust me, you don’t want to be the one who made my Mum upset.

MyWHATNow?

*WARNING* The following is a MySpace rant. Hardly original I know, but it had to be done.

I just had an experimental foray into MySpace – it turns out I know two people (and we’re talking ‘know’ in the sense that I’ve actually been down the pub with them) who have MySpace pages. Still fighting the need to sit down and write that damn blog club entry, I decided to have a look and see what all the fuss was about.

Oh. Dear. God.

I found A’s page quite easily. I couldn’t find the Divine M’s page on a cursory examination but apparently she’s in the process of starting up a new page anyway, so that’s ok. (As an aside, it’s interesting how digital property has become something to be fought over when friendships go sour – it used to be you had to divide the mutual friends. Now you end up arguing over who gets the MySpace page.)

I can only give you first impressions because, well, I didn’t hang around long enough to have second or third impressions. In fact, it took me longer to shut down the few MySpace pages I had browsed through than it did to look at them in the first place. One more reason to dislike MySpace – it locked my computer for a good five minutes!

A’s page wasn’t that badly designed as these things go. At least there were no flashing lights, it was readable, and I could more or less guess what the frell was going on. A few of the other pages I skipped through had me going “my eyes, my eyes” and lunging for the x button. One page I tried to view was totally green, both text and background. I know the appalling designs are one of the things MySpace is famous for, but really – what kind of fool creates a page that is unreadable and thinks that is a good thing?

One thing that struck me was a message that was at the top of A’s page saying “Anna is in your extended network“. Hang on a minute here – how can I have a MySpace network, extended or otherwise, if I’m not (and never intend to be) a member of MySpace? I understand that pretty much the only reason to have a MySpace page is to connect to other people (hell, that’s one of the main reasons I have Bright Meadow) and that networks are the driving force behind pretty much all social sites. But if I’m just browsing through a site, without even signing in, how can something be classed as being “in” my extended network? What defines an extended network? Perhaps that message appears on all MySpace pages you haven’t rated as “friends” (and don’t get me started on the idiotic use of that word – a friend is a person whom one knows and with whom one has a mutual bond. How can you be a “friend” of a band’s webpage? Friend requires reciprocity. You could be a fan, on the other hand…). Yes, Flickr does a similar thing with “contacts”, but you can further define that relationship into “friend” or “family”. A Flickr contact is just someone who’s pictures you like and want to see more of.

Perhaps you can define levels of ‘friend’ granularity in MySpace. I’d be interested to know more how it works if someone wants to tell me – I’m not signing up myself. Bright Meadow is blog enough for me thanks – that, and the popularity contest aspect of MySpace chills me. Listing the number of “friends” you have and the number of times your profile has been viewed just seems like a recipe for disaster. My own innate competitiveness would be bound to kick in and I’d get all depressed I wasn’t more “popular” than I was.

I’ve strayed somewhat off the point, and my question was this – what the frell is ‘an extended network’? All the pages I looked at had that little banner on them, so I would be forced to guess that my extended network at this point includes all the tens of millions of pages on MySpace. Hell, I’m one popular girl if that’s the case. Perhaps this MySpace isn’t so bad after all…

I had held off from looking at MySpace because my gut reaction was that I wouldn’t like it. I was right – I loathe it with a fiery, fiery passion. The usability sucks (I’ll take pity here and not add to the canon of work that exists already on how badly designed MySpace is from a usability standpoint) and the concept disturbs me at the most visceral level. The blatant sex-ploitation of the women (and men) on MySpace is one big bugbear for me. All the profiles saying “I’m 20, female, single/taken/dating/looking…” I suggest going and reading Leila’s thoughts on the whole MySpace subject as well. She’s a little more coherent and well written than me.

At the same time, I can see the good in MySpace. I point you in the direction of danah and her work on social networks, especially how how teens use online spaces because they don’t have access to safe public spaces. Ironically enough, she even has a MySpace, with an example of another of my pet MySpace peeves (auto-play music – even if it is a good track), but I think I’ve used up all my grump for the day so we’ll leave it at that.

I’m led to understand that you aren’t ON MySpace, you HAVE a MySpace. Regardless of syntax, I won’t be on/have a MySpace any time soon. So perhaps “fiery, fiery passion” is a bit strong – we’re talking more of a distaste and a “it’s not for me” feeling here – but, no. No MySpace for Cas. Now I’ve just got to formulate the answer for people who go “Oh, you have a blog? That’s like a MySpace right?” Unfortunately, slapping them down isn’t a good enough answer.

Mr Motivator Required

I’m sitting here, knowing I have work to do, yet somehow… Not doing any bloody work.

The problem is motivation. I’ve been in this job since the middle of June and, quite simply, have got out of it pretty much all there is to. When I have a big project or task to do, something to get my teeth into I am fine. More than fine – I shine. I know I do – the Energizer Bunny’s been more than liberal with his praises, extending what was meant to be a 2 week contract to near three months, and my last boss has seconded me for a week because apparently I’m “trust worthy and they know I will do a brilliant job”. But right now I’m home alone in the office, there’s no one to give me work, and it’s just the little piddling things left to do. I’ve already done most of the filing and tidying up I can do on Monday thanks to the Big Network Crash. That leaves, hmmm – *goes to the To Do list*

  • Email out an agenda. Not even write it, I’ve already done that. I just need to email it to a few people.
  • Buy some vouchers as a prize for someone. This I’m saving for this afternoon when my back is ready to implode and I need a long walk to stretch it out.
  • Write some copy for the Intranet and Website. Not interesting copy that I can stretch my creative muscles on either.
  • Get a quote for a flag.
  • And…
  • Reorganise the filing in the training folder. And make sure all the files have a consistent labelling system.

All thrilling stuff I think you will agree.

Not that I expect any different in an admin role. My problem is that I’m reaching the end of the assignment. I finish working for the Energizer Bunny on the 7th, then the secondment ends on the 15th, and I’m off looking for pastures new. [[As an aside, it is a great birthday present – Happy Birthday Cas, here, be unemployed!]] If I was going to be here for the end of the projects (October) then I could get invested. I wouldn’t mind the niggly bits (so much) if this was going to be my team for more than a couple more weeks.

But it’s not. I’m doing all this hard work and I’m not going to get the pay-off (other than my meagre pay-check of course). This is the life of a temp and I fully understand that. Right now though, I need another challenge. I’ve long known that I need to see projects through or I don’t give them my all. I need to be interested in something, or I just don’t do the work to the best of my ability. I coast. Ok, so my coasting is still good, but I know I could do better if I applied myself. I just can’t seem to apply myself unless I am invested.

*le sigh*

Time for me to find a full time job, isn’t it?

Oh, I missed something off the earlier list –
Oggle Mr Tall, Dark, and Great Smile.

So that’s not strictly a task I have to do, but it’s so much fun.

Tights

Whoever invented tights needs to be shot. I will leave it at that.

Oh, and with a “grrrrrr”

(tights would be pantyhose to you none-brits)

Grrr take two

Ok, if the blog suddenly falls of the face of the earth, worry not – it should be back up shortly. Turns out fasthosts really suck as server providers. Or Bright Meadow is just getting too darn popular.

Anyway, looks like I’m exceeding my monthly bandwidth ( 😛 ) I do have a solution to this in the form of a years free hosting from Media Temple (the card is sitting on the desk right now, thanks Bryan!) but I actually need to grit my teeth and do the whole migration thing.

Ugh.

And eek! Because it’s scary!

Anyway, please bear with me through this (potentially) buggy period. Things will hopefully be shiny and new soon 🙂

I’m gonna keep posting, and y’all keep commenting, and hopefully if I ignore the problem it will go away 😉