Internet advertising gone crazy!

Yesterday, I searched the internet far and wide for a plugin for the Eclipse IDE that would provide functionality similar to the “code snippets” feature in Dreamweaver. Having found the CFEclipse plugin, and discovering that I may use the Snip Tree View only when using the CFEclipse perspective, I decided to search a little more to see if I couldn’t squeeze out some reference to the snippets feature of CFEclipse being used in the Java perspective.

It was then that I came across a product review at java.sys-con.com titled “CFEclipse: The Developer’s IDE, Eclipse For ColdFusion”. The link in Google’s search results at least seemed promising, so I clicked. Big mistake! Not only do they assault their potential readers with a large DHTML layer about yet another AJAX conference, their page is also home to a Microsoft advertisement written in Flash with a soundtrack on auto-play. At the time I was listening to Mozart, with the volume turned up loud, so you could imagine the shock I got when the moron from Microsoft starts asking himself “what about total cost, will we get burned on support? Is it Linux or Windows Server?”
 

(Picture: screen capture of java.sys-con.com overloaded with advertising)

Click the thumbnail for a larger picture showing the abundance of advertising shown in red. Is this the sort of first impression you’d want for your site?

(Picture: screen capture of an entire article at java.sys-con.com overloaded with advertising and clutter)

Here you can see the entire first page of the article in question, with an overload of clutter shown in blue (you may have to magnify it if your browser shrinks the picture).

A recent article on CNN.com, titled “Web sites judged in a blink”, states that “[i]n just a brief one-twentieth of a second — less than half the time it takes to blink — people make aesthetic judgments that influence the rest of their experience with an Internet site.” Clearly, the web “developers” at java.sys-con.com aren’t aware of this research (which I thought was just common-sense) or are desperately trying to catch a few more clicks to pay off a loan for a Porsche.

It’s web sites like these – overloaded with advertising and useless clutter – that are turning the internet into a nightmare. I cringe every time Google returns a list of results with something from Experts Exchange near the top, and get the impression that sites I once respected, such as SourceForge.net, are fast succumbing to the this great scourge. Like the moth attracted to a flame, they can’t seem to help themselves. Until it’s too late, and we turn away in the blink of an eye.

If only Google had a “thumbs down” button beside each listing that would lower that site’s rank, we could banish these annoying sites to the great internet wasteland, where they would soon be joined by Google-magnets like filehungry.com, myzips.com, and freedownloadscenter.com.

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Check out my new cuckoo clock

I’ve always wanted a cuckoo clock and, although I didn’t buy it in Germany, my new timepiece is German made. On the main road in New Zealand between Hamilton and Rotorua is the small town of Tirau (meaning “place of many cabbage trees” in Maori; I don’t know what a cabbage tree looks like but I don’t remember seeing any of the vegetables) which is where I popped in to see The Clock Peddler.

This store is a clock enthusiast’s dream, and even though I’m not one myself, I didn’t hesitate to reach for the plastic once I saw the wall covered in what must have been almost fifty cuckoo clocks. It was love at first sight and I just had to have one (not having to pay the 12.5% GST if I got it delivered back to Australia also sweetened the deal and covered the postage with money to spare).

I chose a smaller clock with a manual mechanism inside, deciding that a battery-operated cuckoo clock simply would have no personality. I may have got more than I bargained for because I can’t quite get used to the noise the ticking makes at night, but thankfully I can shut off the cuckooing :-)
 

(Picture: Cuckoo clock hanging on my wall)

The two weighted pinecones slowly move down during the day and the leaf on the pendulum moves up or down to fine tune the clock’s accuracy. The diameter of the clock face is 6 cm.

(Movie: Cuckoo clock in action)

Movie showing the cuckoo clock in action. The file is a DivX 5.0 AVI with PCM audio. File size is 1,386 KB. Taken using a Kodak EasyShare C330 that I borrowed from work.

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A new year, a new web host

Finally I have registered my own domain name so that I can have complete control over my web site, and for the princely sum of $9.95 Canadian a month, I get 1GB of space, 30GB monthly traffic, and a host of other goodies. Backing up and restoring the database was quite easy but getting my year-old stylesheet to work with the new WordPress was pretty time consuming (now I understand what Monkey was talking about).

Being a new year, I should measure my success, or lack thereof, as the case may be, with my new year’s resolutions for 2005:

  • I put in a resonable effort to continue learning German, with the help of Pimsleur’s German CDs which I converted to MP3 to listen to on my iPod at the gym. I’m now half-way through level two and, whilst not at all fluent, now I feel as though I’m getting somewhere.
     
  • I didn’t read a great many books in 2005, however, I did complete the 1,076-page Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. Without a doubt, this novel is an outstanding work of fiction, and even though it seems to cheapen the whole experience, I would give it a five-star rating. I’m looking forward to the sequel, of sorts, called “World Without End”, set two centuries later in the town of Kingsbridge, which Mr. Follett hopes to finish by May 2007. The wait will be torture! I can’t recall reading anything else in the form of a novel, since my studies took up quite a bit of time, but having earned my first high distinction, sacrificing additional reading paid off. I am currently reading The Penguin History of New Zealand which I purchased at Queenstown Airport last Thursday morning. I found it so enthralling that I had read 100 pages by the time I landed in Sydney later that day (this much reading in one day is quite a feat for a literary bum like me).
     
  • The less said about dieting the better, but suffice it to say, I failed miserably on this point, though I haven’t gained any weight over last year, so I guess that’s something.
     
  • I read a little more of English Grammar for Dummies and now am very conscious of the split infinitive, and try not to end my sentences with prepositions, most notably when writing, but still I find it difficult during conversation. I also bought Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation at Sydney Airport last week, so that should provide some fascinating reading when I get time.
     
  • My garden is looking better, though not from any effort on my part, since my mother went through it like a dose of salts just before Christmas when she was in town. So far, desertification hasn’t reappeared :-)
     
  • I haven’t done a lick of Java programming, except for the obligatory uni assignments, but I did dabble in a little Perl recently to create an online-updatable calendar for the local gym. I decided to see how well the EPIC plugin for Eclipse worked and found it surprisingly stable. Now if only there became available a decent code manager for Eclipse (similar to the code snippets feature in Dreamweaver), I would have no excuse to put off flexing my programming skills.

After all that reflection I’m not sure I feel like committing myself to any resolutions for 2006. Perhaps I’ll just continue reading and programming, and with my degree due to finish at the end of the year, I think the acquisition of some certified post-nominal letters should be enough to keep me busy. Oh, and there’s dieting, too…

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