Saturday, April 26, 2008

Banner ads on BBC website are obtrusive

I used to love 4 things about the BBC website:
  1. Well-designed interface (elegant and soothing).
  2. Lightweight webpages, ensuring speedy browsing.
  3. The quality of journalism was top notch.
  4. There were no ads whatsoever.
Although the first three still hold true, the fourth one does not. To make things worse, banner ads on BBC actually obstruct the actual article now. The screenshots below make this clear. It can be seen that the article on BBC begins way too low on the webpage (over half of the top portion of the visible area of webpage is non-article portion - the actual article starts far below).

More sensible use of screen space has been made on The New York Times website. The article starts at a comfortably-high point compared to BBC website.

It will be sensible if BBC modifies the interface so that the interface and banner ads do not take so much of visible screen space, that it starts to feel as if the actual article is now an "also present".

Update: A better screenshot from BBC - with more news, zero ads.

Update [27-Sep-16]: This screenshot below, which I took in Apr'11, shows something similar, albeit the extent of intrusiveness is much higher here.

Update [11-Mar-17]: Firstpost, which once was a good website, is now on a clear path to self-destruction, thanks to the insatiable ad-greed of its promoters and Web team.

Update [30-May-18]: Even on the NYT!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Web Browsers That Inspire Fearless Confidence (While Surfing The Internet)

The title of this post is slightly incorrect, linguistically. However, I'm not changing it, as it's tightly tied to the URL of this blog post.

Currently, I use the following Web browsers on my Windows XP laptop.
  1. Apple Safari 3.1 (AS)
  2. Mozilla Firefox (FF)
  3. Mozilla Firefox 3 Beta 5 (FF)
  4. Opera Browser 9.27 (OB)
  5. Windows Internet Explorer 8 Beta 1 (IE)
I never feel confident or secure when browsing using IE (probably due to its long and tarnished history of severe security bugs). Similarly, I don't get the feeling of security when using AS (although to a far lesser extent). So I use these 2 browsers to browse only the "good" websites (like BBC, CNN, Gmail, Blogger, New York Times, etc.). It may be noted that my use of IE is very limited (I use it only when someday I feel like using IE), whereas my use of AS is heavy.

However, FF, FF 3 Beta 5 and OB 9.27 give me full confidence when I'm on the Web. I sail through the Web without any fear whatsoever, & without anything inhibiting me from clicking something (even when on notorious websites like those listing software cracks & serials), and they've never betrayed me to date.

Here is another list with the browsers ordered according to how much I trust them
  1. Mozilla Firefox 3 Beta 5
  2. Mozilla Firefox (I've to use it because some of my favorite add-ons aren't yet available for FF 3 Beta 5)
  3. Opera Browser 9.27 (Yes, I trust it just a little bit less than FF, perhaps because it's a closed-source computer program)
  4. Apple Safari 3.1
  5. Windows Internet Explorer 8 Beta 1
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Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Human brain could be storing & retrieving information as 'related blocks'


Update (14-12-08):- A sequel to this post can be read here (Human brain's information retrieval system is imperfect (apparently))

The purpose of this post is to merely document my observation, without drawing any concrete conclusion, because I believe I'm way too amateur in the field of neuroscience to be able to draw one. An expert or a researcher, however, should be able to gain useful insights from this observation.

I watched Face/Off sometime in late 2006. A few days back, I was trying to recall the name of the institute shown in the movie, where the act was performed. Although, I remembered the feel of that name (i.e. that its length was small- something like 4-7 letters, and that it had a single syllable), I wasn't able to recollect the exact word. Finally, I fired up the movie and jumped to the scene where the institute was about to be shown. Below is the screenshot of that scene

This is when the interesting thing happened. Although it's clearly visible in the above screenshot that the name of the institute has not been shown yet, it immediately struck me that the name was "Walsh Institute".

Is this merely a coincidence? I don't think so.

This is not the first time that such a thing has happened to me. Safely assuming that the brain lurking inside my head is a normally functioning standard human brain, this event allows me to suggest that it's possible that human brain stores information in the form of blocks or groups (or compartments), with each block/group storing information that is connected/related in some way to rest of the information in that particular block/group, but not to information held in a different block/group. For those familiar with computer science, this means that the data structure possibly in use is something like a block/group, wherein each block/group holds all (or at least most of) information related to a particular entity (where an entity could be an event or an object), so that some kind of transfer of control (of the information retrieval system of human brain) to a particular block/group (which holds information about an entity) is essential to be able to recall information about that entity.

What could possibly have happened in my case is that when I saw the above scene of the movie, control got transferred to that block of my brain where information related to Face/Off was stored (something which we refer to in our daily life as "my concentration/focus shifted from the work I was doing to the movie"). This caused my brain's information-retrieval system to be able to retrieve this information immediately, something it wasn't able to do earlier because earlier (and normally as well) the control would focus on that block/group of information that was related to the task I would be doing at any particular moment. Control would transfer only momentarily to the block/group related to Face/Off (because my core focus would be on the work that I would be doing at that time), and in that short duration, the information retrieval system wouldn't be able to dig deep into the Face/Off block/group to be able to extract intricate data. Firing up the movie possibly caused a forced shift of control (i.e. the control now shifted continuously to the block/group related to Face/Off, so that now any other block/group would be given momentary attention, while this Face/Off block would be given continuous attention), and hence easy & immediate retrieval of intricate information happened.

I had paused the movie at the above screenshot, and when later I played it back further, the name indeed was Walsh Institute, as visible in the screenshot below.

This post not only introduces the idea of storage of information inside human brain in form of blocks/groups, but also introduces the concepts of control and control transfer.

Update (12-4-08):- It seems to me that the title of this post is slightly inconsistent with the ideas presented herein. The title seems to suggest that information retrieval too takes place in units of blocks/groups. I do not intend to suggest this, but I'm not correcting this post's title because this post's URL is tightly tied to its title.

Update (14-12-08)
:- A sequel to this post can be read here (Human brain's information retrieval system is imperfect (apparently))

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Never. Stop. Thinking.

After a while you ask yourself:
Do these people ever SLEEP?

When is it time to go home? To say, "That's the best I can do." What work can be left until tomorrow? Can yours? What if tomorrow depends on the work we do today? Can that be left until tomorrow? Good ideas have no punch cards. They can't tell time. They have no excuses. All they possess is the desire to be found. While they remain hidden from most and invisible to the weak, they will eventually show themselves. To those who never stop thinking.

INFINEON CYCLE (Perpetual Thinking Process)

From an advert in a September 1999 issue of TIME magazine. One of my key inspirations.

My Dreamlist / Wishlist

Launch of my 'Daily Goals' blog

The purpose of this new blog is simple. To declare my daily goals so that I'm pushed to complete them (However, this list shall generally not be complete/exhaustive, since there shall be tens of small & large unforeseen tasks too that I shall finish each day, apart from the ones listed on this blog. Also, it shall be too taxing to list every single small/medium/large task that I finish each day, so I shall only list those which I am able to, with the non-mentioned ones being finished implicitly). I firmly believe that if I religiously keep completing every day's list that very day, no one can stop me from succeeding.