Since August, 2001. Surely it can’t last…
Saturday, January 05, 2002 ↓
THE SHRINKING WEB
According to a survey reported in InfoWorld, the total number of sites on the Web is shrinking as domain names are not being renewed.
The first drop was a blip caused by failures and changes at several large hosting companies, Netcraft said. This time, however, the number of domains not renewed exceeds the number of new registrations, resulting in fewer Web sites. The number of .com domains fell by about 130,000 in the last quarter of 2001, according to Netcraft.
Certainly, the number of fucked companies in recent times will have knocked countless sites from the Web. But the report doesn’t take account of the fact the many domains are registered and never actually used, and drop off when their owners simply decide not to renew the registration. (Been there, done that.)
One might suppose that it would be the easiest thing in the world for a weblogger to add a list of his favourite links to his web site. Ah, but there are such excuses for procrastination. “I need to organise them. Categorise them.” Hmmm… well, I really have no excuse for failing to link at least to those fine folks whose blogs I peruse daily: so henceforth you’ll find them in the sidebar on the right. (That’s if you can see a sidebar on the right. If you’re using a geriatric browser, or an altogether different kind of Internet device, you’ll find them near the bottom of the page. I didn’t really need to explain that, did I? Obsessive, obsessive…)
While on the subject of favourites, a couple of them have picked up a driving theme in the last couple of days. Dean Allen is giving lessons on How to Drive in France, from which I can tell he’s getting the hang of it. (Though perhaps if I ever get the time, I’ll compile a longer and more terrifying lesson on How to Drive in Malaysia.)
Meanwhile, Dave Linabury’s Winter Driving Tips for Southern Drivers has provoked a wintry deluge of comments (120+ last time I looked), many from people who have completely lost sight of the fact that Davezilla is a humour site. What, had they never looked at it before?
Still, it’s fun to see that that the same kind of north vs. south, sturdy-types-who-handle-anything vs. bunch-of-hapless-wimps view that obtains here in the little old UK is equally prevalent in America. Here, in the more northerly quarters of the British Isles where we are more used to somewhat inclement weather, when the snow comes, we merely shrug our shoulders and get on with it — raising a bemused smile at how a light dusting of the white stuff brings London to a standstill. (And famously, how the wrong kind of snow can stop the trains.)
I’m glad I haven’t enabled Blogger’s “comment” feature.
Wednesday, January 02, 2002 ↓
Although the euro was introduced yesterday, I guess today was its first real test since January 1 was a public holiday throughout Europe. So far, the only problems I have heard about relate to traders not having enough euros to give in change. Bit of a tricky one, since
- that’s what they are supposed to do, and
- customers can refuse to accept change in “old” currencies.
But what are you going to do, if you hand over ten Deutschemarks for your copy of Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, and the man at the newspaper stand doesn’t have the change in euros — accept marks, or tell him to keep it?
I did a quick count today of the various bits of foreign coinage lying in my desk — you know, the things you can’t get the Foreign Exchange to change back for you:
- Irish punts: 6.00
- French francs: 27.00
- Dutch guilders: 15.75
- Danish kroner: 2.00
- Portuguese escudos (damn! I thought I’d got rid of them at Lisbon airport): 290.00
- Greek drachmae: 230.00
Unless I get the chance (huh!) to spend these in their country of origin within about the next six weeks, they will just vanish into a big currency black hole.
It’s been estimated that in the UK alone, about £100 million (or should I say 160 million euros?) in “old” currencies is sitting about in people’s homes, just waiting to disappear from the economy in a few weeks time. Maybe it will make up for some of the money that naughty governments have printed when they didn’t have the reserves to cover it. What, none of the European countries would do such a thing, you say?
Of course, I have been doing my share of web surfing over the holidays, and I’ve set out below a few of the links that stuck in my mind:
First up, Natalie has been redesigning beautifully over at luminescent.org.
Next, a couple of lists.
- From The Observer, Euan Ferguson’s list of 50 things we’ll be glad to see the back of in 2002. My personal favourites are Numbers 12, 17, 20, 21 and 32. I can see where he’s coming from with Number 24, but stalwart readers will know that Nigella just fills me with a warm glow.
- Brent Simmons’ Top ten really mean put-downs. And just to demonstrate the individual nature of humour, my favourites are his Number 10 entry (“I’d like you better if you were a corpse”), and one of his honourable mentions (“I used to like you, but then I stopped shooting up”).
Christina always comes up with useful links in the IA/usability arena, as she did with these:
- 10 things Google has found to be true, and arguably all of them apply to a greater or lesser extent to all web sites. Christina likes Number 6, but for stark pragmatism, I’d go for Number 1.
- Simple guidelines for User-Centered Design and Web Development.
Finally, my own O’Reilly book cover! You can design your own, too (spotted by Ben Hammersley. I’m sure lots of people with sharper and wittier minds than mine could come up with all sorts of great books…
So the festive period is pretty much over for another year — even here in Scotland, where both January 1 and January 2 are public holidays. As usual, Christmas degenerated into a couple of days of eating too much (not a good idea, what with my expanding waistline and all) and drinking too much (not a good idea, what with my dodgy liver and all). But what else is a chap to do, when
- Christmas has no religious or spiritual significance for him (if you don’t believe in God, celebrating the birth of his son would be kind of stupid)
- he has no children to enchant with tales of Santa Claus (or explanations of how the old boy might get into a house with no chimneys)
- everybody else is doing it!
But whatever your religious (non-)persuasion, it does us no harm to have a day or two in the year where we stop to think about family and friends, and the traditional trading of gifts — however difficult to choose or frustrating to buy — is a small expression of our appreciation for each other. (You don’t need me to rave on here about how it’s no longer that sweet and simple, the commercialisation of Christmas, big business, blah blah blah: insert your own favourite rant. I might point out, though, that I got nothing at all from my Amazon wish list — I really must do something about making certain friends and relatives more Internet-savvy!) In a year during which I’ve done so much dashing about that I’ve neglected many people, Christmas ensured that I saw a few whom I hadn’t seen since this time last year, including a cousin’s five-year-old daughter who is just so cute I might almost wish for one of my own. Steady there, I only said almost…
I had no shortage of things I could have been doing over the holidays, but I had real difficulty motivating myself to attack them, knowing that the majority of my friends and my clients were basically on holiday from Christmas Eve right through to January 7. It seems to be an increasing trend (at least in the UK) for businesses to simply shut up shop for around two weeks at this time of year — possibly because their staff would take the time off anyway. I was contacted last week to do a job tomorrow, and I realised that I was rather put out by the interruption and that really I’d like to have seen the rest of the week out without doing any work. I could have passed it over to an associate, but I had to do that so often last year because I didn’t have the time to handle some tasks, that I feel I shouldn’t pass up an opportunity to earn some cash when I’m available to do it. Ho hum.
Tuesday, January 01, 2002 ↓
In twelve of the fifteen European Union countries, today is the day they all switch to using the euro. Note that’s the euro, not Euro nor EURO: yes, there’s a technically correct, internationally agreed way of spelling it. Shame that it will be pronounced differently in the various “Eurozone” (or should that be “eurozone”?) countries. The stick-in-the-muds so far refusing to join the europarty are the United Kingdom, Sweden and Denmark.
So far, I haven’t heard any reports of significant problems — long may it continue thus.
Personally, I’m in favour of a common currency throughout the EU, and while there are arguments over economic convergence, symbols of sovereignty, and all that, the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. And I’m thinking about real economic arguments here, not just the fact that it will make it easier for Joe Public when he goes on holiday to Torremelinos. (For example, it is fundamentally wrong to me that people should be able to make huge fortunes, or indeed to break entire countries, just by buying and selling money. I worked for a company where one year, we made more money out of careful exploitation of exchange rate variations than we did out of manufacturing product. Kind of makes you wonder what you were doing throughout the year.) But the thing that pisses me off about the euro is the name.
It’s so bland and unimaginative. For years, those of us who live in the EU have become used to euro-this, euro-that and perhaps even euro-the-other. Everything gets prefixed with euro, in the same way as in the techno/business world everything has been prefixed (or bastardised, viz. “e-tailer”) with e. Long before the debate even started about what the new currency would be called, I predicted it would be euro, and to my chagrin, I was right. The problem the policymakers faced was to find a name that would be acceptable to everyone, and not be too obviously like that of any existing member state’s currency.
If the best brains in Europe (?) couldn’t come up with anything better, my last-resort vote would have gone to ecu. For some years, the European Currency Unit (or ECU, or Ecu, or ecu) had existed as a kind of virtual currency. You couldn’t hold one in your hand, but you could trade in it. In the company I operated before Campanile, we did a lot of work for the Commission of the European Communities — for which we were paid in ECUs, and which our bank then helpfully exchanged into Sterling for us, simultaneously helping itself to a share of the transaction. Ecu was indeed a proposed option, but the Germans objected to it because it was too much like their word for cow (Kuh — similar, but not that similar: ecu has two syllables, Kuh only one). I wonder really if it didn’t have more to do with the fact (as I have been told) that at some time in the dim and distant past, their really was a currency unit called the ecu and it was French…
So, on the basis of the name alone, I can understand why some people wouldn’t want to change. Pound, krona, franc, mark, lire — they all sound better than euro. But systems of all sorts have been changed, and billions of the things have been minted and printed, so I guess we’re stuck with it. And I’m still going to have to carry British pounds and Swedish kronor in my wallet at all times.
WOULD PEPYS HAVE BEEN A BLOGGER?
Probably the best-known diarist of all time, Samuel Pepys, began his diary on this day in 1659, and continued to chronicle his life in London for the next eight years. His journal embraced major events including the Great Plague of 1665/1666, and the Great Fire of London in 1666.
In many ways Pepys was a man ahead of his time, and I’m pretty sure that if the Internet had been around in his day, he would have kept a blog.
DAY ONE, 2002
After some days break from blogging (and everything else), I’m back to wish everyone a happy and peaceful New Year.
I might round up what’s been going on over the festive period tomorrow, but right now I feel too lazy and lethargic.
Older material is stashed away under Replays.