In 2007, consumer groups asked the FTC to come up with a “Do Not Track” list, which would work like the “Do Not Call” list. Naïve Internet researchers then proposed a “Do Not Track” header for the web. The idea was that users would set a preference in their web browser; the browser would then send a “Do Not Track” (DNT) flag each time it fetched a web page. Advertisers would then voluntarily be good and not track the user.

The “Open Web Alliance”

“OWA develops requirements for an open service optimization proxy to meet the service needs of all stakeholders in the web ecosystem while supporting the goals of encryption and privacy.” Sounds good, right? But when you start to read the news articles they link to, the true agenda begins to become apparent. Network operators are having trouble with SPDY-based web traffic because of the way the proxy encapsulates multiple traffic flows into a single encrypted tunnel, making all of that traffic invisible to the network, and in essence, disabling network-based services including firewalls, parental controls, policy management, traffic-shaping, and more.

Full of sound and fury, signifying great savings

Proposal: Instead of giving hurricanes and tropical storms the same boring names time and time again, we should sell naming rights to the highest bidder. Tropical Storm Scion xA! Hurricane X-treme Cheddar Doritos! Weather maps could show the corporate logo in the middle of the storm. And here’s the best bit: money raised could go towards relief efforts. You may think corporations wouldn’t want to be associated with life-destroying disasters, but we’ve already seen the Chevrolet Avalanche and Oldsmobile Tornado, no doubt soon to be followed by the Mitsubishi Tsunami, the Toyota HSN1, and the Ford Wildfire.

Liquid engineering

One of my random Internet pastimes is answering surveys. Partly I do it because I suspect I’m an interesting edge case for their data set, the exception that will prove their rules. Also, at the end they offer some of the statistics they’ve gathered, which can be interesting. And sometimes, the act of answering trivial questions can lead me to odd insights about myself. Like just now. It was a survey about motor oil.

Advertising stupidity

Here we are in 2006, and Intel still feels the need to engage in sexist advertising—on their home page, even. Yes, a Centrino Duo will make a hot babe suddenly appear and sit on your lap, boys. “I’d Core her Duo! Eh? Eh?” On a not unrelated note, Sony have a banner advert for Daxter running on Penny Arcade. At the end, a cartoon squirrel explains that it wants to hump the PSP.

Aggregate this!

Tom Tomorrow has his panties in a bunch over the outrageous behavior of Internet users. He was shocked this week to discover that some people were reading his published web log using special purpose web log browsing software (aka “news aggregators”), rather than the software he wants them to use (a web browser). Worse still, the miscreants were skipping the ads! Quel horreur! It rather reminds me of the CEO of Turner Broadcasting, who declared that skipping TV ads using fast forward was “stealing the programming”.

Political correctness strikes again

CBS are refusing to run the winning ad from MoveOn.org, supposedly on the grounds that they don’t allow political advertising regarding controversial issues during the Superbowl. However, a look at the list of advertisers confirms that one ad will be from the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. So, no controversial political issues there. Remember this next time someone posts bullshit about the “liberal media”.

I don’t think so

Just in case you’re one of the few people not yet driven to install ad-blocking software by the plague of huge ugly flashing ads… You might like to know that the Internet advertisers have decided that the reason their ads aren’t working is that they’re still not big and annoying enough.


Having gotten on the NRA mailing list, and being on some SF fan mailing lists, I’ve now received a catalog which seems to be aimed at survivalist pagan SF/fantasy fans and SCA types. Klingon batleths, official “Blade II” blades, crossbows, dragon candle holders, reproductions of Excalibur, pewter goblets, emergency survival knives, Scottish ceremonial daggers, and so on. Just goes to show, in the land where commerce is religion, there’s a catalog for every niche.


Banner ads don’t work. Everyone knows it. The online advertising industry, however, doesn’t want to admit it. Just a few days ago there was a big meeting of members of the Internet Advertising Bureau—a self-selected group of big web sites and ad banner hucksters, including Yahoo, AOL, DoubleClick and Excite. These towering intellects have decided that the reason ad banners don’t work is that they’re not big enough. So they’ve decided on some new standards for ad banner sizes.