Archive for the ‘Teh Interwebs’ Category

Posted by Tim Ireland at 17 January 2005

Category: Teh Interwebs

The Times – A new travel website will get its users nowhere, fast. And we have found it’s got a Wapping glitch: Transport Direct, the travel advice line and website that was supposed to show passengers the fastest route from A to B, was first mooted by John Prescott in 1999 as part of his transport vision. But the service, two years behind schedule, has been launched to the confusion of those determined to reach their destinations by public transport. Car drivers, by contrast, are faced with a system that seems to have been imbued with Utopian ideas about rush-hour traffic.

(Link via BigDaddyBlog.)








Posted by Tim Ireland at 13 January 2005

Category: Teh Interwebs

The blogger sacked by Waterstones has hit the mainstream.

Waterstone’s throws book at blogger
Blogger sacked for sounding off

For the record: I hit WH Smith a few years ago with a proposal to get their employees blogging. They said no.








Posted by Tim Ireland at 12 January 2005

Category: Teh Interwebs

Tory with your Porn, sir?Welsh Tory party website hijacked by porn

The funniest thing about this story is the ‘news alerts’ box that it generates over at CNN (see right).

You may also wish to note how The Sun feels compelled to adorn their story with a click-to-enlarge image of a “porn actress… like on website”.








Posted by Tim Ireland at 5 January 2005

Category: Teh Interwebs

 Bbrrrrrimm bbrrrrramm... BANG!Seeking information about Crazy Frog? Harbouring a sneaking suspicion that you’ve seen/heard it before? This page is for you…

[Jamster affiliate link removed. Rupert Murdoch now owns Jamster and I’ll be damned if I’ll send money his way.]

You must have seen the Crazy Frog ad by now. Or heard the ringtone.

1. You may have a dim recollection of some viral game-type thing or another that featured this same sound. I am here to fill in the gaps.

2. Knowing how creative that originates on Teh Interwebs usually gets treated you may have suspected – like me and others – that the creator had been ever-so-casually ripped off. I am here to bring you some small amount of reassurance.

3. Each time you see or hear this ad/ringtone, you may contemplate the most drastic of actions. So much so that each time you are exposed to it your mind screams; Revenge! Death! Revenge! I am here to ask you nicely to put the blunt instrument on the floor.

We begin our short history lesson with the full ‘lyrics’ to the original sound file. I pray that someone, somewhere, will find them useful:
A ding ding ding ding dididing ding bing bing pscht,
Dorhrm bom bom bedom bem bom bedom bom bum ba ba bom bom,
Bouuuuum bom bom bedahm, Bom be barbedarm bedabedabedabeda
Bbrrrrrimm bbrrrrramm bbbrrrrrrrrraammmmm ddddddraammm,
Bah bah baah baah ba wheeeeeee-eeeee-eeeee!

Some web users will be familiar with the sound file in its Deng Deng form where it was presented under a static image of a Formula One racing car. The earliest reference I can find for it is from this post to Usenet in 2001, but I recall seeing it myself for the first time in June or July of the same year.

In late 2001, it morphed into The Insanity Test (not to be confused with The Sanity Test) which appears to have gone well and truly viral from December 2001 onwards (you can see some early Usenet references here).

(Admittedly, the Insanity Test wrapped around Deng Deng gave it some depth and perspective that worked wonders… but this later ‘enhancement’ with some basic animation is a complete waste of time.)

All went quiet until 2003, when a 3D animator by the name of Erik Wernquist came across the sound file and – untainted by Deng Deng and the Insanity Test – proceeded to create his own visual interpretation.

The earliest Usenet reference to the finished product is from January 2004, but the Web Archive clearly shows versions of this page dating back to November 2003. On the earliest version of this page scooped by the archive, you can clearly see the author responding to queries regarding the origin of the sound file as follows: I would like to thank everyone that has written me mails about the origin of the sound I am using. However, I now think I have gotten enough substantial “evidence” to state that it appears clear the creator is a swedish person with the nick-name “Britt-Erik” and that he is immitating the sound of an East-German car called Trabant; equipped with a two-stroke engine. This sound has apparently been used in websites and radio and TV-shows all around the world but I am almost certain that on all of those occations it is “Britt-Erik”‘s sound that has been played. Please do write me if you have some more information about “Britt-Erik”, but please don’t if you are sharing the same information as written above.

And, at the bottom of this page, Erik Wernquist tells the world that: A little more than a month after I had put the animation up I got a phone call from a somewhat confused person claiming he recognised the sound in my animation as his own creation. His name was Daniel Malmedahl and he said he had been contacted by a friend of his telling him to check out my website. I was a little uncertain at first but when he gave me the “proof” of performing the sound live on the phone there was no doubt he was the guy I was looking for. Apparently he was oblivious to the fact that his sound had spread around the internet, even before the Annoying Thing.

And yes, from December 2003, the page where Eric made his creation – The Annoying Thing – available for download has carried the following message: “To contact the voice of ‘The Thing’, send him a mail at daniel DOT malmedahl AT telia DOT com” (my spamblock).

So, to wrap things up…

Erik Wernquist (creator of the Crazy Frog character) and Daniel Malmedahl (endorsed by Erik as the originator of the sound file) appear to have agreed to the use of their intellectual property by the companies Jamba! and Zed, so we can assume that they have been compensated for any/all commercial use (but how fairly they have been compensated, I do not know).

And, because it’s the ringtone companies shoving Crazy Frog down your throat (and the demand from punters driving the ringtone companies) it must be stressed that Erik and Daniel are not to be blamed for your suffering.

Right… that’s that cleared up, and (I hope) that’s you calmed down.

We now return you to our usual programming….

UPDATE – B3ta.com is planning an interview with Daniel Malmedahl that will probably be published later this month. I’ll post a link here when it’s live.

UPDATE (27 Jan) – Oh dear. Now some bright spark at Jamster is trying to expand the ‘hilarious online viral’ product range… and this time perhaps they have been a little naughty… I Smell a Rat – An Uncaged and Curious Rodent-Based Doppelganger in AdLand

UPDATE (03 Feb) – Crazy Frog’s genitals cleared for British TV.








Posted by Tim Ireland at 4 January 2005

Category: Teh Interwebs

Scaryduck notes with interest that Belle du Jour is blogging again now his/her book is out.

You may also be amused by the (still developing) “Customers who bought this item also bought” list at Amazon, which currently includes Moby Dick and The Big Bang.








Posted by Tim Ireland at 23 December 2004

Category: Teh Interwebs

Own It – free intellectual property advice for London’s creative people.








Posted by Tim Ireland at 22 May 2002

Category: Teh Interwebs

Orange Ananova

After a slow and gradual shift into the background, the search function at Ananova has now disappeared altogether. The way in which they did this led me to suspect that the function would be reintroduced at a later date under some form of subscription service.

I was wrong. The real reason for it is far more entertaining.

If you call the customer service department, you’ll get the message that they’re ‘streamlining the site in keeping with their partnership with Orange’. Remember that statement, because there’s a grain of truth in it.

You may also be aware that a message was delivered to subscribers of their email news alert service, who were informed last Friday that the service would stop, erm, this Monday. An official release followed that, instead of addressing what was missing, directed your eyes to a brave new world of news updates.

“Ananova is teaming up with Orange to create a ground-breaking new mobile news service,” it trumpets, going on to say that, “You will be able to follow all the news, sport, business and entertainment subjects you are used to seeing on Ananova, on your Orange phone.”

On your Orange phone. Remember that, because it’s important too.

Ananova isn’t ‘teaming up’ with Orange. Orange bought Ananova nearly two years ago. At the time, Orange’s CEO said that “Ananova is a key element of our plans to develop our overall portal platform…”

Damn right it is.

A call to the main office for Ananova for some more information was enlightening and amusing from the start (the receptionist answers the phone with ‘Hello, Orange!’).

Customer Services were very nice to me, as was the lovely lass in their PR department, who informed me that the Ananova site was being slimmed ‘so as to better address mobile phone users’.

“And by that, you mean Orange mobile phone users?”, I ventured.

“Um, yes..” she admitted.

It’s hardly Watergate, but for all the noise the Ananova site will make about ‘streamlining’, the hard fact is the guts of the operation is being moved over to provide content and services for Orange subscribers. No news alerts, unless you subscribe to Orange. No search function, unless you subscribe to Orange. I picture a day in the not too distant future when the only thing left at the Ananova site will be a few animated gifs of tumbleweeds blowing across the page.

Most web users will be well aware of the reaction Ananova would get if they announced an introduction of charges for ‘value-added’ services such as a search function. Perhaps that’s why they’ve taken these measures to bypass the issue by putting the service in the hands of customers (who are already parting with their cash) under the banner of a new service.

But where does that leave those of us who previously relied on the useful tools that Ananova provided? Can we opt to pay a subscription to access the service? No, we can’t. If we want to keep using the useful version of Ananova, we have little or no choice but to sign up with Orange.

Erm, or maybe stick two fingers in their general direction and make do with Daypop.

So long, Ananova. It was nice knowing you, but the Orange makeover just makes you look like another ginger tosser.

:oP

UPDATE – Ananova, for reasons unknown, had a sudden change of heart – and policy – about a week or so later. While email alerts are now only available to Orange subscribers, the search function is now back in place.








Posted by Tim Ireland at 19 February 2002

Category: Teh Interwebs

I’ll put this as simply as possible – the Internet is going broke, and it’s your fault.

You may have noticed the symptoms of late. Your favourite site has recently introduced a paid-for ‘premium’ service and/or become a pigsty of increasingly insistent and intrusive advertising. Your preferred search engine now has three types of paid listings ahead of the actual results.

These are businesses becoming visibly desperate for revenue after coming to the uncomfortable realisation that, no matter what their traffic levels, without money they simply can’t pay the bills.

They’re looking to you, but you won’t play ball until it’s too late. Sorry to insult you, but that’s just the way it is. The ‘culture of free’ that exists on the Internet could very well lead to the destruction of a large chunk of it and you have to be made aware of why this will happen and what the full consequences will be.

As long as the ‘culture of free’ exists, most sites will cater to it as best they can, thus the popularity of the ‘premium service’ model. These sites know full well that if they make payment compulsory, the bulk of you will look elsewhere for a similar service.

Enjoy being able to do this while it lasts. This is an interconnected food chain we’re talking about here, and supplies are running low all over. By the time you’ve switched to the free service and it also has been forced to give in to reality, a severe economic toll will have been taken on the service you originally abandoned. It may very well have folded, or forced to change so dramatically that it’s useless to you. Sooner or later you’ll run out of places to go, free or otherwise.

The same goes for content sites. The most useful content databases will be absorbed into the mainstream giants, bought for pennies and sucked dry of any soul or wit. Some content will disappear forever. (Some will admittedly remain in the web archive, but how long do you think free access to this will last in the face of an ever-increasing demand?) The people behind such original content will be unwilling or unable to provide this unique information or entertainment again, and the web will be a poorer place for it. The same goes for the little guy.

Those small pages of obscure information may not be much in themselves, but they form part of a greater database that you take for granted. Small content pages have already begun to drop off the scope as free hosting packages become a thing of the past, or the creator is so bogged down with reality that they just doesn’t have time or resources to maintain it.

Valuable members of online communities will slowly but surely stop contributing as similar concerns weigh them down. Many communities will dissipate as a result, signalling a large downturn in the free exchange of information – and all because you won’t pay a few bucks for service or content that you clearly value.

You happily fork out good money daily for a newspaper, but when presented with a fully searchable archived version of the same newspaper, you expect it to be free. You pay for more television repeats than you could possibly watch, yet when offered unique entertainment via the web you baulk at the idea of a paid subscription.

Where does it end?

It ends, my friend, with the death of the infinite usefulness and unique character of the Internet, which is soon to go the way of the dodo.

To paraphrase Douglas Adams: ‘So long, and thanks for nothing’.

I’m going to ask you for money now. A simple payment of 2 measly cents (the going rate for some sound advice). You can pay me by clicking here. (Note – this link has been removed. The point was made.) But I know you won’t. You want everything for free, and boy, is it going to cost you.

</rant>

To Clarify
If you scan this article and end up on the payment link above, you might assume like many others that this article is about small sites being the Paupers and me begging for small change. It isn’t. The big sites are the paupers, they just don’t want to tell you that because it threatens the strength of their brand. Still, it’s common knowledge that even the big e-tailer Amazon is yet to make a profit. Content and service sites that you value need your support. Now. While they exist and/or you still have a choice as to where the money goes.

Some Comments From People Who’ve Sent Me Two Cents (Or More)
Can I start by asking you to not send me money? That’s not what this article is about. Thanks.
Anyway, here’s what some people said:


It’s the principal of the thing. There’s no such thing as a free lunch, and I’m willing to pay my dues. Thanks for the interesting and informative article. AP

Here is your two cents – and the reason the pay-per-view will never fly. It is not convenient. JL

I’m all for subscription services, but part of the unique beauty of the web is knowing that, if the information I found at place A is inadequate, within a couple of clicks I can find it at place B. I don’t want to pay $15/year for sites where I’ll only receive a couple chunks of information. I’m all for paying for the web, but instead of railing on about how we need to quit the culture of free, we need to find a way to make it feasible. RZ

Thanks for the good advice. CW

I’m all for paying for the web, but instead of railing on about how we need to quit the culture of free, we need to find a way to make it feasible. Rob Zazueta

The Internet clearly isn’t sustainable in its current form, and the sooner people start thinking about that problem, the better chance they’ll have of liking the solution. Joshua Bryce Newman

Amen. MH

If you want to read some negative comments, there’s plenty over at the Fark thread.

You can also, if you wish, watch the impending collapse via fuckedcompany.com or theendoffree.com








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