Posts tagged ‘website’


When fashion magazine websites begin looking the same

08.02.2021


Above: Vogue Korea’s website follows the æsthetic of a big lead image and smaller subsidiary ones.

This started as a blog entry but took a tangent about 500 words in, and it was better as an op–ed in Lucire. Some of the themes will be familiar to regular readers, especially about Big Tech, but here I discuss its influence on web design trends and standardization. The headline says it all: ‘Where have the fun fashion magazine websites gone?’. Browsing in the 1990s was fun, discovering how people coded to overcome the limitations of the medium, and, in my case, bringing in lessons from print that worked. Maybe it’s an age thing, or the fact I don’t surf as much for leisure, but in 2021 the sites I come across tend to look the same, especially the ones that were in Lucire’s ‘Newsstand’ section.
   I do know of great sites—my friend and colleague Charlie Ward has his one, which does everything you would expect from a great designer’s web presence. So many others look like they’ve bought a template. As to those of us in magazines—I’d love to see something that really inspired me again.

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Posted in design, internet, media, New Zealand, publishing, technology, Wellington | No Comments »


Is NewTumbl hiding posts critical of it?

16.12.2020

Postscript: Alex, who maintains three spaces on NewTumbl, can still see my “missing” five posts. In addition, NewTumbl has responded and it’s believed there was a bug. More on that here.

This is interesting: talking to Bii on Twitter, who is also a NewTumbl user, I discovered that he can’t see my last five posts on NewTumbl.
   I sent him a permalink (using the recommended NewTumbl method) to my last post there, but he gets a 404.
   In fact, the newest post he can see is my sixth-to-last. And it’s interesting to me that of the last five, three were critical of NewTumbl’s moderation system.

   This reminds me of Google Plus, which used to hide my posts that were regularly critical of Google.
   Bii would kindly prefer to give NewTumbl the benefit of the doubt though my thoughts jumped immediately to censorship. The last five posts are all public.



Top: The way my NewTumbl blog is supposed to look, in its top left-hand corner. Above: What Bii sees, with the last five posts hidden. Coincidentally three of them are critical of NewTumbl.

   Like I say, my blog posts here have a pretty good audience, and the first one on NewTumbl comes up very high when one searches for that site. You do not want to be playing these games.
   To think, I was so supportive of that place.
   For the sake of completeness, then, here are the three critical posts, which have been excerpted before.

November 27, 2020
Do the mods here know their own rules?
Had a couple of modelling shots marked M by the moderators here and I cannot understand why. I had them marked O.
   There’s no nudity (M) but they contain sexy or sultry imagery (O). Do the mods here know their own rules?
   See for yourself: this was the latest. As this is a US site, maybe I should use The Handmaid’s Tale for guidance? I hear it’s a big hit over there. This is after a post with the word w*nk (literally written like that, with an asterisk) got marked as M.

November 28, 2020
Simple rules
I have some pretty simple rules in life. If you are a professional and I am an amateur, I will defer to you in almost all cases in your specialist area, unless you make a call that is so outrageously stupid and beyond reason. And when it comes to the use of the English language, I am a professional, and can say with some authority over what is and isn’t permissible. If an amateur makes a call contrary to my expectations in areas I know about, then they had better back it up. I am referring to the moderation here.
   This is the problem with Wikipedia: a place where actual expertise is hated and seen as élitist. It’s why I tend not to use the site, where a few have scammed their way to the top, and, if you criticize them, you get five days of abuse from a senior editor directed at you. If this is the culture that is being instilled at NewTumbl by people not educated enough to make certain calls, then it’s a real shame. Read the guidelines.
   I was on Tumblr for over a decade before the censorship got crazy, and they supported the two-speed internet advocated by big firms. It would be a real shame if I were to cut my stay short here after only a couple of years. The difference is I own a lot of sites and have plenty of creative outlets. So, rather than help Dean and his friends make a few bob, I can happily put that same energy into my spaces.
   This seemed like a fun site but if a professional has to make his case in a post like this against the decision(s) of amateurs (which is the case with Wikipedia: look at the talk pages!), then that just gets tiresome: it’s not a great use of my time. If you don’t know the culture of the majority of countries in which the English language is used and somehow think 1950s white-bread America is the yardstick, then you’re already not on my level. It’s not terribly hard to put together an image-bank site where I share those ‘irrelevant’ thoughts, as I call them here. I don’t have Dean’s skill in making it a site for all, but my aims are completely selfish, so I don’t have to.
   After all, Autocade began because I was fed up with how poor the quality was for motoring entries in Wikipedia (indeed, to the point of fiction) and sought to do something I wanted. Now it nets 1,000,000 page views every three months and Wikipedia links to it: there’s real satisfaction in that.
   There has to be a simple image plug-in out there for WordPress and I’ll just add that to my blog. which runs that CMS. We all win: the holier-than-Mary-Whitehouse types who see their job as puritanically patrolling posts here won’t have me to deal with, and I get more hits to my own space, on which I will sell ads. We’ll see. Hunting for that plug-in might be my task tonight. Or I might hang about here and post more stuff that by any measure is O, and gather up a few more examples from Angry Ward Cleaver out there.

November 29, 2020
See you at my blog gallery
That was pretty simple. I’ve put the New Image Gallery plug-in from A WP Life on to my main blog. And since that blog gets an average of 700 views per post (and the viral ones getting six figures), I’m betting that whatever I put there will get more eyeballs than here. For those interested, it’s at jackyan.com/blog/2020/11/november-2020-miscellaneous-images/. [Postscript: the galleries can be found at jackyan.com/blog/category/gallery/.] New entries will be added on a monthly basis. It’s not as cool as NewTumbl but I’m going to be interested to see if it’s as enjoyable as what I’ve been doing here.
   I wanted in all sincerity to see NewTumbl grow but as @alex99a-three and others have seen, some moderating decisions have been questionable. I know first-hand that Wikipedia is a place where true expertise, that of professionals, is not welcome—founder Larry Sanger has said as much, which is why he left. The late Aaron Swartz echoed those comments. And here, if professionals are being overruled by people who are not at the same level, then I’m not sure what the point is. I feel Wikipedia has no point, and my own dissatisfaction with it led me to create Autocade, and there’s a sense that, in its very real wish to make sure it could keep up with its growth, NewTumbl is heading down the same path.
   I don’t begrudge this site’s founders for adopting the approach they did in post moderation. In fact, I think it was very clever and it’s a great way for NewTumbl to punch above its weight. However, in practice the absence of an appeals’ system doesn’t work for me any more. I totally get that they haven’t the resources. So maybe I will return when they do.
   As @constantpriaprism pointed out, Dean is not really present these days, either, so one big drawcard to NewTumbl—its transparency—is now also missing.
   And it’s those of us in the F and O spaces—people that NewTumbl said they wanted to encourage—who seem to be bearing the brunt of puritanical moderating. I’m guessing we are being sidelined by people who don’t have the context (e.g. Alex has posted some really innocent stuff) or knowledge outside their countries. Both Alex and I (if I may be so bold as to guess his intent) have been marking as F or O things that were safe for us on prime-time TV when we were younger. I use the same standard with imagery and language.
   To confirm this lack of knowledge, I read one comment which absolutely highlighted that one moderator had no idea what they were doing, advancing what I felt was a particularly weak argument. In that case, a newspaper front page was taken down and marked as M. You have to ask yourself: if a word appears (censored) on a newspaper front page, then it’s probably not M; and if a word is used on prime-time television without bleeping, then it’s also probably not M. There are other words which may be adult in nature but are commonly used that even Mary Whitehouse would be fine with, but you just know that with the lack of knowledge that some display here, you’re going to have it taken off the site and marked out of range.
   I’ve done my share of rating posts here and I like to think I’ve taken an even-handed, free-speech approach based on decades of experience and life in different countries.
   If this is to be an adult site—and I know the majority of posts lean that way—then good luck to it. I will be back as @vergangene-automarken has some excellent stuff, as do the regulars whom I follow, but for now I really want to see what it’s like doing the same thing in my own space. See you there.

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Posted in internet, USA | 1 Comment »


Searching for Murray Smith

09.12.2020

Earlier today Strangers, the 1978 TV series created by Murray Smith, came to mind. Smith created and wrote many episodes of one of my favourite TV series, The Paradise Club (which to this day has no DVD release due to the music rights), and penned an entertaining miniseries Frederick Forsyth Presents (the first time that I noticed one Elizabeth Hurley) and a novel I bought when I first spotted it, The Devil’s Juggler. He also wrote one of my favourite Dempsey and Makepeace episodes, ‘Wheel Man’, which had quite a few of the hallmarks of some of his other work, including fairly likeable underworld figures, which came into play with The Paradise Club.
   Yet there’s precious little about Smith online. His Wikipedia entry is essentially a version of his IMDB credits with some embellishments, for instance. It doesn’t even record his real name.
   Don’t worry, it’s not another dig at Wikipedia, but once again it’s a reflection of how things aren’t permanent on the web, a subject I’ve touched on before after reading a blog entry from my friend Richard MacManus. And that we humans do have to rely on our own memories over what’s on the ’net still: the World Wide Web is not the solution to storing all human knowledge, or, at least, not the solution to accessing it.
   It’s easy to refer to the disappearance of Geocities and the like, and the Internet Archive can only save so much. And in this case, I remember clearly searching for Murray Smith on Altavista in the 1990s, because I was interested in what he was up to. (He died in 2003.) I came across a legal prospectus of something he was proposing to do, and because it was a legal document, it gave his actual name.
   Murray Smith was his screen name, and I gather from an article in The Independent quoting Smith and his friend Frederick Forsyth, he went by Murray, but the family name was definitely Murray-Smith. Back in those days, there was a good chance that if it was online, it was real: it took too much effort to make a website for anyone to bother doing fake news. My gut says it was George David Murray-Smith or something along those lines, but there’s no record of that prospectus online any more, or of the company that he and Forsyth set up together to make Frederick Forsyth Presents, which I assume from some online entries was IFS Productions Ltd. Some websites’ claim that his name was Charles Maurice Smith is incorrect.
   Looking today, there are a couple of UK gazette entries for George David Murray Smith (no hyphen) in the armed forces, including the SAS in the 1970s, which suggest I am right.
   Even in the age of the web, the advantage still lies with those of us who have good memories who can recall facts that are lost. I’ve often suggested on this blog that we cannot fully trust technology, and that there’s no guarantee that even the official bodies, like the UK Companies’ Office, will have complete, accessible records. The computer is a leveller, but not a complete one.

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Posted in business, culture, interests, internet, TV, UK | No Comments »


COVID-19 per capita update, April 4

04.04.2020

Finally found a page where you can order COVID-19 cases by different criteria, including total cases per million. Saves a lot of time trying to figure out where things are. There’s also an entry for the entire planet, which is very useful, as is updating the day at GMT +0. As expected, many small places (at the top are Vatican City, San Marino, Andorra, Luxembourg) have a higher per capita case figure.
   Selected countries again:

Spain 2,549
Switzerland 2,276
Italy 1,982
France 1,259
Germany 1,088
USA 838
Sweden 607
UK 562
Australia 218
South Korea 198
New Zealand 197
Singapore 190
The world 143
Hong Kong 113
Saudi Arabia 59
Mainland China 57
Japan 23
Taiwan 15
India 2

   You can also examine the graphs by both linear and logarithmic scales. I hadn’t seen the latter for a while in the media.


   I don’t plan on blogging too many more of these updates. The Worldometers site has a pretty good table that doesn’t need me to extract the figures out. I think most of us are doing what we need to do to stay safe and there comes a point where the numbers cease to have as much meaning. Real lives are being lost and people aren’t numbers.
   I have one colleague who has recovered from COVID-19, thankfully, and I am grateful that, unlike my first cousin once removed in New Haven, Conn., I do not know people who have been taken by this virus.

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Posted in general, internet | No Comments »


One News is hard to miss on TV, but hidden on the internet

18.02.2020

I wanted to see what TV1 news (I can never remember its official name with all its rebrands over the years—is it One Network News, TVNZ1 News, One News, or something else?) had on GM’s decision to shut Holden, but I missed both the six o’clock and the Plus One screenings. I headed online with some trepidation because I recall that I could never find the most-watched programme on the channel on previous occasions. This time I decided to document my attempt.
   Usually I would get stumped by the log-in process that made me lose my place, so this time I decided to log in first.

Nowhere to be seen. Ah, but it’s a TV1 show, so what if I go to the TV1 page?

Nope. Under news and current affairs, we have Breakfast, Seven Sharp, Fair Go and Te Karere. There’s a 1 News link at the top, what if I go there?

No joy, at least not for the full six o’clock broadcast. I did spy a Kiwi category, and surely TV1 news is Kiwi-made. Let’s see …

Apparently only the Tonight and Midday bulletins count as Kiwi-made.
   Despite my searching for it around 8 p.m., it wasn’t under ‘What’s new on TV’ either. Something that finished broadcasting an hour ago isn’t new.
   By this time what I do is go on Twitter to ask for help and eventually someone finds it for me, which isn’t the most efficient way of doing it, but in the past that’s how I’ve solved it.
   Tonight I put news into the search box and got it there after doing all the above, but why does TVNZ make it this hard? It’s their flagship news programme.
   And Conan Gorbey on Twitter found it for me tonight. Thanks, Conan!

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Posted in design, internet, media, New Zealand, TV | No Comments »


Replacing Po.st with Addtoany, outside of Wordpress

17.01.2020

Some of you will have noticed that Po.st went out of business, so all the Po.st sharing links disappeared from our websites.
   The replacement: addtoany.com offers a similar service without the hassle of header codes. Just customize at their website, grab the code, and insert it where you want it. It’s now on the main Lucire website, Autocade (at least on the desktop version), and this blog (desktop as well). Strangely, the plug-in for Wordpress didn’t work for us, and the HTML code with Javascript is far more practical.
   There are fewer customization options but it’s a remarkably quick and handy way to replace the old code.

Despite providing a sharing gadget, I wonder how much I’ll use one. It’s been seven days since I last Instagrammed and I don’t miss it. Granted, something major happened in my life but organic sharing had been dwindling through 2019, and if their algorithms aren’t providing you with the dopamine hit that you seek, and you’re unlikely to pay for it like a junkie (which is what Facebook wants you to do), then you have to wonder what the point is. It might, like Facebook, just become one of those things one uses for work—and that’s not something I could have predicted even a year ago.
   I see Twitter is introducing features where responses can be limited by the user. The logical outcome of this is Tweets that are directed at limited audience members only, maybe even one-to-one. That looks remarkably like email. And these days I seem to be more productive there than I am on any social network.

With a fresh browser to kick off the year, I surfed to the popular page listing at Autocade. Unsurprisingly, there is some grandfathering going on: the first pages added in 2008 have had more views than the latest pages. That much is logical.
   But if there’s a model line page in the top 10 that wasn’t first authored in 2008, that would be, at least to me, interesting. That honour goes to the 2010-authored page on the Opel Astra J, at over 21,000 views.
   Once upon a time, the Nissan Bluebird (910) page was top among the individual model lines, thanks to a link from Wikipedia. It’s since slipped to third, after the Ford Fiesta Mk VII and Nissan Sunny (B14). The Toyota Corolla (E100) page, once in second place, is now fourth, followed by the E120. The Ford Taunus TC, Taunus 80 and Cortina Mk III are sixth, seventh and ninth respectively—all 2008 pages. The Opel Astra J, coming in at eighth, is an anomaly among the top 10. (The Renault Mégane II finishes the top 10.)
   Something’s driving interest in this model, and I’m very happy it is.

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Posted in cars, design, internet, media, publishing | 1 Comment »


Autocade gets to 18,000,000 in record time

25.12.2019


Above: Autocade’s latest entry, the first-generation Nissan Stagea.

It’s Boxing Day here, but Christmas Day in a lot of places. And Autocade is about to hit 18,000,000 page views, in record time (under 7,000 to go at the time of writing, which it will comfortably hit within hours). Not a bad Christmas present in terms of the business.

March 2008: launch
April 2011: 1,000,000 (three years for first million)
March 2012: 2,000,000 (11 months for second million)
May 2013: 3,000,000 (14 months for third million)
January 2014: 4,000,000 (eight months for fourth million)
September 2014: 5,000,000 (eight months for fifth million)
May 2015: 6,000,000 (eight months for sixth million)
October 2015: 7,000,000 (five months for seventh million)
March 2016: 8,000,000 (five months for eighth million)
August 2016: 9,000,000 (five months for ninth million)
February 2017: 10,000,000 (six months for 10th million)
June 2017: 11,000,000 (four months for 11th million)
January 2018: 12,000,000 (seven months for 12th million)
May 2018: 13,000,000 (four months for 13th million)
September 2018: 14,000,000 (four months for 14th million)
February 2019: 15,000,000 (five months for 15th million)
June 2019: 16,000,000 (four months for 16th million)
October 2019: 17,000,000 (four months for 17th million)
December 2019: 18,000,000 (just under three months for 18th million, from first week of October to December 26)

   We’re sitting on 3,981 entries. We might crack 4,000 in January, or, if the mood takes us, we could see the milestone before 2019’s out (it wouldn’t be unprecedented to have a big updating session in the last week of December).
   There was some sort of a surge during December, as detailed in my blog post on Christmas Eve, although generally traffic had been up over the last three months.

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Posted in cars, interests, internet, New Zealand, publishing | 3 Comments »


Healthy jump in Autocade traffic for home-page entries

24.12.2019

Some interesting traffic patterns at Autocade. At the time of writing, two models have been added: the Audi A2 and the Daimler DE36. They’ve netted 5 and 2 views respectively, which is what you’d expect for new pages.
   The last significant updates, when models were added, took place on December 13. The last model added was the Toyota Corona Mark II (X10), which has amassed an incredible 1,409 views. I would expect around 100–200 for a page of its age. Here are the views of the latest 20:

Audi A2 5 views
Daimler DE36 2
Toyopet Corona Mark II (X10) 1,409
Opel Fiera 689
Opel Olímpico 699
Opel Rekord C 1,776
Opel Rekord B 1,051
Morgan Plus Six 690
Lancia Lybra 1,075
Hyundai Veloster (JS) 127
Kia Seltos 190
Kia KX3 (KC) 118
Hawtai Lusheng E80 114
Hyundai Veloster (FS) 115
Lincoln Corsair 106
Perodua Nautica 108
Perodua Aruz 177
Perodua Axia 188
Perodua Myvi (2017–) 161
Volkswagen Golf VIII 154

   Not that I’m complaining one little bit, but the figures for the third to ninth entries are anomalous; the subsequent ones are where I’d expect things to be. The Lancia Lybra link has had some social activity and the Opel Rekord C page is quite well linked on Autocade, so potentially people (or spiders) have hit it, but that doesn’t explain the 690 for the Morgan Plus Six. The Toyopet remedied an old 404, but again I’m surprised at the figure.
   To whomever has been visiting this much, I do thank you. We may crack the 18 million mark before 2019 is out, and we’ve netted a million page views on Autocade in record time. More on that after we get the next 14,000 page views.

Incidentally, the Po.st sharing gadgets across all our sites are down. Anyone else?

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Posted in business, cars, internet, publishing | 1 Comment »


In my experience, the only browser that works with Jetstar’s website is Safari for Mac

23.07.2019

I’ve found some forum entries about this, but they date back to the beginning of the decade. I alerted Jetstar to this in March, and the problem has worsened since then.
   Basically, I can’t book online, and I don’t know why. Consequently, I booked one flight with Air New Zealand and only managed, after huge effort, to get the other (for a colleague) with Jetstar.
   Back in March, I couldn’t book with Vivaldi, but I was able to switch to Firefox. I let Jetstar know.
   Now, this strategy does not work.
   Before you suggest it, cookies and caches have been cleared.
   Here’s what happens after I’ve selected the cities and the dates, and I go to select times. Let’s begin with Vivaldi on Windows, which is based on Chromium (which, as we know, is what Chrome, the browser Jetstar suggests you use, is based on):

Switching to Firefox now results in this:

Switching to Edge on the same PC gives this:

   Fortunately, I also own Macs, so here’s what Firefox for Mac returns:

   The only browser that works with the Jetstar website: Safari on Mac. As I’ve sold my Ubuntu laptop, I was unable to test using that OS.
   Not many people would go to that effort, and while Jetstar’s Twitter staff (after some pushing from me in DMs) said they would refer it on, I don’t expect anything to happen.
   Maybe Chrome would work, but I’m not ever going to download it to find out. Why invite Google on to your computer? But if that is the case, it seems foolish to limit yourself to such an invasive browser. My experience is that whatever is blocking me from booking with Jetstar (some may argue that this is a good thing), it is expanding across browsers.

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Posted in business, design, internet, technology | No Comments »


Autocade passes 15 million page views, as SUVs and EVs take hold

11.02.2019

Over the weekend, I noticed Autocade’s page-view stat had ticked over the 15,000,000 mark. In fact, it was at 15,045,000, and I estimate that it hit the milestone around February 6—fitting for it to have taken place as the (lunar) year began.
   With how busy things have been, Autocade has been updated less, but the traffic stats are promising, especially as Stuart Cowley and I film more segments for the Autocade video channel. As the year has started in earnest, there will be more updates, and the Salon de Genève next month usually pushes me to write more. Hopefully that will give our page-view rate a bit of a boost, considering it has slowed since September 2018, when I last posted about this topic.
   The trouble these days is that a lot of entries are about same-again SUVs: at the time of writing, of the last 20 newest entries, there are the Volkswagen Tayron, the Yusheng S330 and S350, the Chinese Ford Territory (based on the Yusheng S330, so it seemed logical to do these at the same time), Lexus UX, Acura RDX (TC1), Volkswagen Tharu, and the Brazilian and European incarnations of the Volkswagen T-Roc (they are different cars; and the Chinese one hasn’t been added, either). Once upon a time, such vehicles would have been relegated to an appendix in publications such as Auto Katalog, but now it’s regular motor cars that are becoming the niche products.
   The electric revolution has also been interesting, but also frustrating, to cover. Autocade is fun when you’re examining lineages; at this point in history, none of these electric models actually replace a petrol or diesel one completely. It’s also been tough getting technical data on some electric cars, the kWh rating, for instance, which we’ve been using as the equivalent for cubic centimetres in the entries. Hence the updates have slowed, because it’s harder to paint a complete picture about some of these cars.
   With China responsible for so many new releases, translation can be slow, especially for someone whose grasp of written Chinese is roughly that of a child’s, though at least I bridge two cultures well enough to weed out some of the obvious errors (e.g. people reporting that the Senova D80 was based on a Mercedes-Benz, which could not possibly be true).
   Following my tradition on this blog, here is how Autocade’s viewing’s going.

March 2008: launch
April 2011: 1,000,000 (three years for first million)
March 2012: 2,000,000 (11 months for second million)
May 2013: 3,000,000 (14 months for third million)
January 2014: 4,000,000 (eight months for fourth million)
September 2014: 5,000,000 (eight months for fifth million)
May 2015: 6,000,000 (eight months for sixth million)
October 2015: 7,000,000 (five months for seventh million)
March 2016: 8,000,000 (five months for eighth million)
August 2016: 9,000,000 (five months for ninth million)
February 2017: 10,000,000 (six months for tenth million)
June 2017: 11,000,000 (four months for eleventh million)
January 2018: 12,000,000 (seven months for twelfth million)
May 2018: 13,000,000 (four months for thirteenth million)
September 2018: 14,000,000 (four months for fourteenth million)
February 2019: 15,000,000 (five months for fifteenth million)

   In September, Autocade had 3,755 model entries; it’s now up to 3,781—not a huge jump, possibly accounting for the traffic rate decrease as well.
   Here’s hoping for a bit more as the year progresses. I’d like to add in an entry for the new Mazda Axela, for instance, but sometimes you have to wait till the company itself publishes public data on its website, just for that extra accuracy. We’ll wait and see.

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Posted in business, cars, China, internet, New Zealand, publishing | No Comments »