Purchased on 10th January 2001.
of late i'm being happily kept in authors whose series i like very much. hot on the heel of the latest sj rozan comes this book, the latest paperback to feature national park ranger anna pigeon, and linda barne's carlotta carlyle series has a new installment due in paperback in march too.
Purchased on 10th February 2001.
i thought i’d tried all the star wars, porn star etc name generators that were out there, but i just found out my gangster name is, and i hope this isn’t too appropriate, “the heartbreaker”.
ad serving agencies like doubleclick have been tracking us around the web for ages. you’ll go to a variety of websites in the course of your surfing and some of them will probably serve up banner adverts for your delectation. then the ad agency will be able to figure out a bit about you. since you used the same computer and the same browser they are able to put together a profile of what you like and where you go. but they don’t know who you are. so despite the wealth of data that they undoubtedly have on me i don’t worry about it very much.
now, on a seemingly unrelated note, amazon have gone into sort of competition with paypal and launched the amazon honor system which is designed to allow small payments to be made on websites, with amazon taking a chunk of the cash of course. on the whole more ways to pay money on the web is good, all this stuff doesn’t maintain itself and there’s only so much that can be done for love and not money.
what amazon do is serve a box from their server on someone elses website that allows you to click through to amazon and pay that someone. what’s spooky is that the box uses amazon’s database, which knows who you are if you’ve signed into your account at amazon (and 29 million of us have apparently) and therefore greets you by name. in the few days since they’ve launched this system i’ve been to maybe ten sites that have said “hi kirsty, give us some cash!”. now i know that the owner of the actual webpage doesn’t get to know who i am unless i tell them independently, and i know that amazon say that they don’t keep track of which websites they see me visit, but something about the whole personalisation thingy is really haunting. apparently amazon give me the option of not being welcomed by my name, but they still know who i am all the same!
i thought that was bad enough but what is worse is that i can’t even use this system. there are a really low number of choices for making small payments over the web on a non united states credit card. paypal and ebay’s billpoint are the only two i know of that don’t have ludicrous charges or minimum amounts. it took paypal forever to get their international version running. and even amazon, with their huge global setup, who happily send books to the uk for me, haven’t managed to let me give or receive at the launch of this new system.
in searching through some old notebooks, to see if there were any ideas worth preserving from the bin, i came across an attempt of mine to construct a logic puzzle. it’s not very good, or even very interesting, but i thought it was worth holding onto all the same. maybe i’ll write some more worthy ones someday.
on last week’s visit to nasa i discovered that, by the time it’s finished, the international space station will be the brightest object in the night sky. i’d never realised that you could see both the space station and the space shuttle from earth. the fact that man made objects on earth, such as the great wall of china, are visible from all the way up in space has always amazed me. now i can do the opposite and watch man made objects in space from way down here on earth. truly amazing.
google have just acquired deja news. this seems like a good thing to me as google are much better at putting together decent user interfaces than deja. so far most of the good bits of deja’s interface seem to have gone missing, for example, the ability to skip from one search result to the next without heading back to the results page. but i think google will triumph as they’ve already added the ability to view a thread with one page download rather than having to wait for each message to download on a separate page. this is a good sign for the future of usenet. the worrying bit is that google are promising to put up all of the old usenet archives that deja have, a lot of the old stuff had vanished off deja’s site in the last couple of years. i was hoping deja had shredded all that old stuff from the days before i realised anyone was archiving. cringe.
loquax is three years old this week. in february 1998 there were four pages of competitions on a demon homepage. the old fashioned counter we put on the front page clocked up to 300 in the first weekend thanks to the support and interest of the fine folks on the uk competitions newsgroup.
a year later on 8 february 1999 the site served 6000 page views in one day. another year later on 8 february 2000 the site served 18000 page views having tripled in size in a year. yesterday the site served 49000 page views, not quite tripled again in the last year to a point where we are dealing with close to one and a half million page views each month and there are currently around a thousand distinct pages of content.
without more than a whisper of advertising we’ve built a sustainable profitable dot com company. i’m damned proud of that. my role in loquax is the minor one, i wrote all the back end database structure, programmed endless utility functions, argued about navigation into the small hours, i handle some fun things like getting to tell people they’ve won prizes from win on the web and some less fun things like making sure the tax man gets his share. jason does the major life consuming work – all the day to day content updating, design, marketing and everything that keeps the show running.
the “wow, we’ve made it!” moment was undoubtedly when we took the net magazine’s reader’s choice award in february 2000, a great second birthday present. we advertised that fact widely for month’s afterwards, it meant a lot. the same magazine later listed us as the 45th best website of all time. Guinness, CNN and MSN filled the three places below us. we’ve had so many mentions in the press that we’ve given up keeping track of them. when you open the internet section of a newspaper and it doesn’t surprise you to find your own website listed you know you’ve achieved something.
loquax will continue to grow and thrive, we plan to move to a bigger better server very shortly, we have businesses lining up to partner with us. many thanks are due to our excellent web hosts positive for putting up with our growth, and to all our users over the past three years. we didn’t have a clue what we were getting into when we kicked the site off, it’s been educational, it’s been dazzling, it’s been inspiring, it’s been scary, at some points it’s been downright infuriating, but it’s almost always been fun. while dot com bubbles have been bursting and sites failing on a daily basis we’ve stayed and prospered. i can’t help but wonder where the site will be in another three years.
these type of surveys rarely fail to annoy me. so people in the uk are baffled by techno jargon. fair enough, that doesn’t surprise me. but why do they ask such pointless questions? that 13% of the population know what WAP stands for amazes me that it’s that high. nobody needs to know what WAP stands for. sales people who can explain what WAP is to potential mobile buyers would be useful but being able to parrot that it means “Wireless Application Protocol” (which is information the reporter doesn’t even bother to enlighten us with) is of absolutely no use to anyone. how many web surfers know what HTTP stands for? how many care? surveying how baffled people are is all very well, but at least see how baffled they are by things that’d be useful to know!