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Random Thoughts

Part 1


Welcome to my page of random thoughts and reflections.

Today’s Gripe: I can find a plane ticket to Frankfurt, Germany—for the same dates!—for less money than I can find one to Boise Idaho, even though both trips would start in Madison, Wisconsin, and the Boise trip is considerably shorter than the one to Germany. Time to go Greyhound.

—7 May, 1998

Today’ Movie: I don’t go to watch many movies—they cost money, they take time, I don’t have a car to get to many of them, and frankly, Hollywood basically produces shit. That said, I really enjoyed watching the X-files movie. Sure, the plot was thin in many areas. Sure, it borrowed heavily from other sci-fi flicks. Sure, it was basically a long X-files episode. That—and its other faults—aside, the movie was entertaining. Afterall, I enjoy cheesy plots as much as the next idiot, especially when it is well-executed. And this movie was well-executed. The sound and special effects were top-notch, and with few exceptions, so was the editing. And as any Hollywood movie does now, room for next season’s episodes was made at the end.

—June 25, 1998

Today’s Complaint: I am thoroughly disgusted at AOL. No—I do not use them for my internet access (and I have never had to rely on them for my access). However, I have friends and relatives who do use AOL, and I have installed and deleted (oh what a feeling ... right behind purging Windows 95—try it sometime) AOL to and from their computers—meaning I have also called up AOL to cancel accounts. They have a separate menu option when you call for cancelling accounts. Quite amazing. In any case, what disturbs me most is how much they know about their users’ computers. I called up today to cancel an account, and they evidently knew not only the version of AOL that had been installed on the computer, but also the OS on it and that the new version of AOL’s software would run on said computer. Does this imply they knew the CPU, memory, etc. of this computer as well? I wonder; it wouldn’t surprise me one bit. What other information on your computer can they access and store int their database? They keep far too great an interest in their customers, and not for the good of their customers, either. I’m glad I have access through a university.

—July 1, 1998

Furthermore: I enjoy visiting other peoples’ web-sites. I find personal pages interesting; rather often the people making such pages are interesting, or have peculiar yet intriguing interests. Sometimes I run across pages that are very well-designed: clear, artistic, informative, conceptually unified, etc. Hence, I am leaving out the vast majority of home pages, which suck beyond belief (my own home page not excepted). Indeed, I loathe few things more than pages by WaReZ kiddies and other kewl d00dz. Recently I’ve been coming across quite a few nicely designed pages. I have one major gripe—okay, perhaps two gripes—with these pages: these people know nothing about coding nice HTML. I look at the sources to their pages—they’re a mess. That’s what you get for using WYSIWYG editors, of course. The second grip is as follows: as nice as these pages are, they become as trite and cliche as all the standard pages very quicky: how many online journals can you read? how many pages devoted to one’s troubles overcoming depression (not that I am making light of depression, and I know many people who suffer from it; however, there are far too many pages devoted to it) can you suffer through? how many pages of spiffy and slick photoshop graphics can you handle? On the other hand, this is the 90s—the decade in which ‘alternative’ became normal. Originality isn’t an absolute must, but I do think I am tired of all the angst-ridden, “I have feelings, too” pages out there. I want bite. I want satire, the grotesque, and intelligence. I want content.

—July 1, 1998

Bitch, bitch, bitch...: I just feel like complaining this evening. Tonight’s target: GeoCities. Over the past several months I have become increasingly disgusted with this company. Let me clarify. I have a GeoCities account that I acquired my senior year in college (96–97), primarily because I knew my college account wouldn’t last forever, so I wanted my site, such as it was, to have a more permanent home. Hence, GeoCities, with its neighborhoods and supposed sense of community. At first I grabbed an address in the LeftBank suburb of Paris; it didn’t quite fit my interests, and I moved to Athens. I had 2MB of space at my disposal, which was easily enough since I didn’t plan on posting too many pictures (things have changed since then), and there were few requirements—a link back to GeoCities was all that was asked for.

Fast-forward to 1998, and GeoCities has become another AOL (another corporation that disgusts me). First, there were GeoGuides, which were optional. Then, if you didn’t include a GeoGuide, you got a pop-up window (please, turn off java-script—avoid those annoying windows). The GeoCities main page got revamped, complete with more advertising; all the interesting featues are gone, replaced with links to their “strategic partners.” Of course, I had been expecting this for a while—few things are free, even/especially on-line. I know, there are bills to pay, blah, blah, blah. Nonetheless, I find it all disgusting. Because of the extreme commercialism, I avoid their advertising more (I turn off java-script, except when when it is necessary for a page I want to view, and I don’t do any of my “e-commerce” with any of their “partners”). And now, they have instituted the GeoCities “brand.” Give me a break. It’s heinous, it distracts from the design of nice pages (it may actually improve many of the rest, though), and it is an invasion of my space that I’d really rather not tolerate.

In addition, the GeoCities community concept hasn’t developed nearly as nicely as I had hoped. I guess I’ve just become rather disappointed in general with GeoCities—their connection still sucks (they generously give us all 11MB of space, up from 2MB, but increasing their bandwidth, etc. would please me more), and most of their members have really horrible pages (I’m not claiming mine is great, but have you seen how heinous most pages are?). Looking through the description of the Athens neighborhood, it seems like I would find mostly people with somewhat similar interests and intelligently constructed sites. A very naive thought on my part, I admit. I’ve already moved most of my stuff off of their site—only my photos and my exchange site remain—and I’m tempted to move out completely.

This latest contemplation was caused by a glance at the most recent version of their Guidelines, and reading through them really disgusted me (perhaps I’ll devote more time later to the things that annoy me most in their Guidelines, perhaps not). I admit, GeoCities is a company that’s out there to make money, and they can dictate pretty much what they want, but I am both disappointed and amused that they can claim publicly that they are doing things in the best interests of their members when clearly their sponsors/partners are the only things they care about. Luckily I have a university account (and will have one for a long time to come), however, its storage space is limited. I also have a tripod account, with which I am still satisfied; as commercial as they are, at least they don’t abuse their users nearly as much. In any case, I’m not sure if I’ll keep my GeoCities account.

—July 7, 1998

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