The Lowdown

14th June '11

opinion techn support

As you’ll no doubt have noticed (if you’re a repeat visitor, anyway!) we have a new website.

The original idea for this version of our site was born from a desire to make our website more user-friendly, and significantly easier to use on touch-devices like iPhones and iPads.

However, as we’re web designers (yes, Nick – and graphic designers too) we make sure we test everything in as many browsers as we can get our hands on.

This, of course, includes Microsoft’s Internet Explorer.

And so, the main theme of this blog post becomes clear. There have been hundreds of articles written online about how Internet Explorer is the bane of any web developer’s existence, and I’m not one to disagree.

Internet Explorer 10 is rapidly nearing release, and web developers all over the world are eagerly awaiting having to come up with hacks for yet another version of the world’s most popular browser*

We had to build in a number of bizarre kludges to get around problems with Internet Explorer’s rendering model. These included links that refused to activate unless they had a background colour (we had to make the background colour almost invisible, as we didn’t want one) and named anchors that refused to work.

The site actually works reasonably well in Internet Explorer 6, which is something of a miracle. Given how old it is (2001) and how a lot of “modern” techniques are used here, it all works surprisingly smoothly. We were seriously considering removing support for IE6 from our website, until we remembered that the Web is for everyone.

It’s not just Internet Explorer either. We had another issue today with another Microsoft product – Exchange 2008. Our Exchange 2008 server was installed in November, a much-needed upgrade from our previous Exchange 2000 system.

We noticed today that one of our Distribution Groups had stopped working – the one that people e-mail enquiries to from our site. I couldn’t work out why – it was still enabled, everything was set up, but whenever someone e-mailed it they were receiving 5.1.1 errors in a non-delivery report.

As it turned out, Exchange 2008 adds extra security features to Distribution Groups that need to be disabled in order for them to actually work properly. I’m all for extra security, but being told that they’re effectively going to cripple one of our e-mail addresses would have been a bonus.

* Only just! In May 2011, Internet Explorer’s market-share was down to 52% – a far cry from it’s halcyon days.

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24th May '09

opinion techn support

The dangers of silver surfers

Well, I expected it to happen a lot later than it has, but the inevitable came a lot sooner.

My parents have added me as a friend on Facebook.

School uniforms will make you invisible

It’s like the time when you were 10 and about to leave the school grounds with your hip and cool group of friends. Ready to chat up the girls that agreed to meet you in the woods at the back of the fields. You round the school gates and there is your mom, standing across the street waving at you and calling your name. You make eye contact but pretend not to have noticed, ducking into the middle of your mates hoping the school uniforms will make you invisible. Then the fat kid who tags along behind the group shouts “Hey Nick, isn’t that your mom over there?” The girls have gone your mates are laughing and you go home with your mom and discuss how your Science class went.

I never wanted to speak to them ever again

This is what it feels like when you find that your mom or dad has added you as a friend on Facebook. Then they infect your entire network, latching onto friends from your childhood, posting messages like “Do you remember me? I’m Nicks mommy, you stopped over at his house a few times.” Of course none of them ever do remember because when did 10 year olds ever pay any attention to parents except for money and food? So I checked out my parent’s profile. I had to add them; it just wasn’t worth the pain of not doing so. It would be like telling them I never wanted to speak to them ever again.

Naked through the corridors of cyber space

I mean, what’s next? Twitter, Blogs? I guess I feel a bit bitter, isn’t this whole social networking thing supposed to be for generation-x? The place where we can run riot and naked through the corridors of cyber space without the cries from astonished parents? Some people would be forced to remove photos and maybe even friends if their parents ever signed up to Facebook. It’s not even your own photo’s that can damage you. Can you imagine the shock horror on the face of your mother, when she logs on to her page and noticed that someone else had tagged you in a photo, in a drunken state with Big Dave, a woman called Sherry, and the three of you simulating something rude with a couple of traffic cones?

Candle wax fetishists?

Who would want their parents to know that they are in a group for Candle Wax fetishists? I’m not by the way, and I can’t even say I’ve ever seen a group like this, but that’s the point, if I was, now I couldn’t be because it filter all the way through to my parents and then my whole family would know.

Uploading pictures? Call Nick.

I’m all for the elder generations getting into technology but they must know their place. They must not get out of their depth. I don’t want to be invited to test my movie knowledge just because my father thought it was rather good fun. These messages fill up my inbox and I spend half the day deleting them. I have increasingly noticed that I am becoming IT support for my family. Anything remotely related to computers and I get called upon to heal any errors. Uploading pictures? Call Nick. Adding attachments to emails? Call Nick. I might buy a badge that says “How may I help?” printed on it.

Head for the woods

When it comes to kids and parents mixing on Facebook and other social networking, it’s a grey area. Who knows what could happen. If you truly want to avoid your parents whilst ‘Social Networking’, then head for the woods where you and your friends were going after school that one day. They will be so busy on Facebook they won’t know where you have gone.

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