Happy Anniversary

It turns out that this domain imarc.co.uk was 10 years old in April this year. How time flies!

 

Back in 2002 the web was such a different place to what it is today. The first dotcom bubble had just burst and there was still a lot more amateur content online. It was quite common back then to still find personal home pages with photos of the family and kids, or maybe someone's site dedicated to their favourite band. These days the web is much more corporate, and everything we share is through sites like Facebook or Twitter.

 

Why is this? Has web design become an elitist art form? Yes textured backgrounds and blinking text might have looked horrible, but back then it was all about the love of the content subject, looks very much came second. No ones doubts that modern web design techniques have improved the look and accessibility of the web, but has it scared off the average Joe with a copy of FrontPage?

 

Maybe the world has just “moved on” as our favourite Gunslinger once said. People have better things to be doing than maintaining their own site. Blogging platforms like WordPress and Blogger have the advantages of Facebook with ease of use, but allow a greater degree of personalisation and independence. Perhaps these folks are writing apps instead?

 

Or maybe I'm just getting old. Who knows, I'm just rambling.

 

Happy Anniversary.

 

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Death of a Polaroid

I was lucky enough to be bought “Death of a Polaroid” for Christmas. This magnificent photo album documents many of Nicky Wire’s Polaroid snaps throughout the history of the band. With many people (especially technology bloggers) wishing away printed books, it made me realise how electronic books will never be able to replace some things, despite what they might hope for.

Samsung copying Apple?

There’s been a lot reported in the news lately about Apple and Samsung battling it out in court to stop each other from selling various products.

I broke my Acer laptop at the weekend (well, I put it in the boot of my car inside a laptop bag, and afterwards the screen stopped working, and I am a good driver I promise!) so I decided I needed a new laptop since the laptop was so cheap anyway the cost of a new screen plus the likelihood of it happening again just doesn’t justify a repair –and a PC is for me at the heart of all things digital that I do. I didn’t want to spend stupid money on a laptop (I would love a MacBook Air, but at £1000 for one with a decent spec, I’ll pass) so I found a Samsung with an i5 and 4GB of RAM for a decent price.

Clearly while Samsung may have taken inspiration from some of Apple’s design (or may not have depending on who’s argument you’re listening to) they certainly haven’t noticed that Apple are not just about shiny products but about the overall user experience. Unboxing and switching on an iPad for the first time is enjoyable, like getting in a brand new car for the first time – doing this for my Samsung laptop was all but enjoyable.The first screen I was greeted with was some partitioning software! Do Samsung really think the average user cares how their partitions are setup? Even I don’t and I’m a self confessed geek.

After finally getting to the desktop, (about 20 minutes later) the next thing I see is a warning from Kaplinsky Security telling me I need to pay up for some security software. Do theses companies not get it? The game’s changed and you can’t treat consumers like this any more. Microsoft have said Windows 8 will have built in antimalware, lets hope they also take control of the setup experience too.

Then I had to spend another hour or so removing crapware. An Apple-esque dock that sat above the Windows 7 taskbar, a Bing Bar, and media players I will never use.

Finally, for some reason the power management was set so that the laptop would use hybrid sleep, this is where instead of shutting down you put the system to sleep, and simultaneously the system hibernates, so if power is lost no data is lost. This is designed for desktops and should never be enabled for laptops, lots of disk activity when you are chucking your laptop in your bag is not a good idea, not to mention the battery drain of always being in standby.

So not a great experience, and nothing like getting a new Apple product. Can’t say I would be eager to try any other of their products after this – what are your experiences?

Trouble with Talk Talk

3 months after moving into our new place, we finally have a decent broadband connection.

No thanks to Primus, our first choice of phone line provider – who never seemed to be able to hear or understand us at the other end of the phone. So we nipped that in the bud, and thought we’d go with Talk Talk instead, after hearing positive things about them from family members.

Well, after the usual delays and waits, we paid £70 for an engineer to come out and spend 10 minutes configuring the line, only to be left with a connection that struggled to reach 1Mbs. 1.2Mb was about as good as it got, and the pings were awful. After weeks of waiting on hold and speaking to first line, second line and third line support, they determined it must be the wiring in our apartment and we’d have to pay BT Openreach £160 (+60/hour) to fix it, and even then there’d be no guarantees of a speed increase. Are you having a laugh? We live a few hundred meters from the exchange, that can’t be right. 

We decided to quit that joke of a company and go with Virgin Media. It didn’t start well, with Virgin putting the “wrong type” of ADSL on our line, and not sending the router out until 3 days after our initial activation (although it was a fairly decent D-LINK, not a £1.50 own-branded one with only 1 Ethernet port,  like TalkTalk’s),  but after about 3 weeks we finally got a connection. The speed started at 1.2 Mbs, and then went up to 2Mbs a few hours later. Now 2 days later it’s reaching 7Mbs – on the same line Talk Talk couldn’t get over 1.2Mbs on. I’ll wait and see over the next few days if it stays at 7 or drops, or if it actually reaches the promised 10Mbs – but a ping of 30ms is much more like it, and despite the cock-ups, and am pleased so far with the service.

So my advice would be, avoid Talk Talk like the plague!