The rage against Daniel Craig

Daniel Craig as James Bond

The recent unwarranted backlash against Daniel Craig as the new James Bond has highlighted the mob rule mentality of James Bond fans. The site craignotbond.com is a blog-styled site run by people who want to dethrone Daniel Craig from the position of James Bond even before the film Casino Royale (not to be confused with the 1960’s version starring Woody Allen) hits the cinema.

I really don’t understand this mentality. “We don’t want Craig, we want X” (either Clive Owen or Pierce Brosnan depending on who you listen to). Well, firstly depending on who you listen to, Owen either didn’t want the part or he was tried and he just didn’t cut it.

In fact there were over 10 actors who all went to screentest as Bond. As for Brosnan, well he was a good Bond in a sort of playboy kind of way, but he suddenly lost interest in the role after GoldenEye (which I think was his best Bond film) and he wanted a big sum of money, money which the producers weren’t willing to pay.

Secondly, Brosnan was a constantly outspeaking against the writers, and his frustration at not getting good scripts was often reflected on the screen. What’s ironic is that whenever Brosnan was given meaty parts, quirky roles or industrous parts he still couldn’t cut it. He might cite himself as an actor, but he always seems to play the used-car salesmen trick one too many times and I for one welcomed his end as Bond.

Finally, Daniel Craig’s role in stylish-gangster tale Layer Cake was a really enjoyable film and he did look Bond-like. So I don’t understand the fuss.

But whether Craig becomes another George Lazenbury or does more than 1 movie will rest with the movie going public. I think we should all see what Casino Royale is like when it comes out, not call for the head of United Artists the moment they pick somebody the “fans” don’t like.

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More video viral examples

Video Virals as found on kontraband may be the in thing for big name companies wishing to hawk their products, but are they any good examples of video virals that capture the audience, stir the imagination, and create buzz or impact?

Although Video virals can be expensive to make, and as over-glorified e-mail mailing lists, I still think video virals will play an important role not just for content developers, but for companies that want to promote, sell or market a product or service.

The best example of video virals can be found via video.google.com, but in terms of commerical enterprise you’d don’t have to look further than the recent Superbowl which spawned many video virals which have traversed the web.

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AJAX, latency and the web

On lastcraft’s blog, Marcus Baker argues that Ajax is not cool because of the lack of respect AJAX developers give to usability on web GUI form login’s, not allowing them to re-type their entry and validate it within enough time.

And recently on sitepoint, Harry Fuecks published his presentation PDF on ajax@localhost where he describes in detail the numerous problems with overusing AJAX for the web, because of latency, security and just poor common sense.

So, why the sudden change against AJAX? Are people just sick and tired of the buzz mentality of the web, or is it something different?

According the critics, Ajax latency issues is just one of the many issues surrounding the technology. Latency is one of those computer networking buzzwords which describes that a network of any size will have time out, connection and other associated problems. If the connection drops, XMLHttp acts like either nothing happened, or will return the data out of order/sequence.

Security within AJAX has also been widely criticised.

Tunnelling to GET or POST via Ajax can be hugely abused, but this isn’t restricted to AJAX. Indeed, PHP has its own security critics for the lack of good security protocols against session fixation or sql injection attacks, so what makes the abuse of GET/POST so special?

Well according to the critics, Ajax’s security issues arises from its direct link to the XMLHttpRequest object. Something that can be exploited via IE. In addition, Javascript injection, Cross domain requests, character encoding mismatching, memory leaks, and the concept that Javascript was designed for small-scale, simple websites and not to be used site-wide are highlighted as major issues for all ajax developers.

From reading blogs, articles and whitepapers on the subject, it appears that its bad coding, bad GUI design, and bad user experiences are the real problem rather than AJAX itself.

People writing complex AJAX to validate user login’s on the fly without giving the user the necessary time to enter in their information or making too many requests to the server when its not needed are all reasons why the technology isn’t the problem, but rather its usage.

Is Ajax cool? Sure it is, but I’m not 100% confident that AJAX has solved all of the numerous problems that I consider important; ie: accessibility for the disabled, browser security and other technical issues raised in this article.

Although I’ve not ventured into AJAX programming yet, I’m looking into using it for a basic record-navigation-paging display system with rapid sorting…

I believe even though AJAX may have its inital problems and obvious security issues that the technology should be used sparingly and most importantly, responsibily.

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28 great mailing list promotion ideas

Utilised properly, e-mail marketing can be a potent addition to your overall web marketing. It’s a great way of keeping your customers, subscribers and users informed about the latest news on your site and it can directly market to them the latest products and services.

Whilst more and more companies are turning to developing and utilising RSS feeds, e-mail marketing still provides a way of targeting, marketing and promoting directly to your customers.

Here are some great ways to help build your e-mail marketing list;

1. Feature a Sign-Up Form on Each Page of Your Site. Be sure to remember this basic concept. Sign-up opportunities should be ubiquitous throughout your site.
2. Promote Benefits on the Sign-Up Page. Enhance subscription value with sample emails, testimonials and strong call to action copy.
3. Offer Opt-In Incentives. Incentives like white papers, discounts and special reports significantly increase conversion rates.
4. Optimize Your Site for Search Engine Placement. Optimize current and archived newsletters for search engines to increase traffic and subscriptions.
5. Pay for Search Engine Services and Promote Your Email on the Landing Page. If you pay for search services like Google AdWords be sure to include email subscription information on the landing page.
6. Add Opt-in Check Boxes on Demo Requests, White Papers and Registration Forms. Well-executed forms and pages may improve conversion rates by 50 percent or more.
7. Include “Send to a Friend” Options. Generate new subscribers with minimal effort if bundled with promotional campaigns.
8. Use Direct Mail and Catalogs. Encourage email subscriptions on all print ads.
9. Direct Employees to Include Messages and Links in Email Signature Lines. Add “Subscribe to the Company X Email Newsletter” to employee email signatures.
10. Direct Call Center and Sales Employees to Obtain Permission and Capture Email Addresses Over the Phone. Instruct call center and sales staff to ask customers and prospects if they’d like to receive newsletters or promotional email.
11. Send Post Cards to Customers Encouraging Them to Subscribe to Email. If you have postal contact information for customers but not email addresses, send a post card with opt-in sign-up offer and URL.
12. Hand Out Sign-Up Forms at Public Speaking Engagements and Seminars. Promote your newsletter in presentation and handouts.
13. Implement Rented List Campaigns and Subscriptions. Promote your company in email campaigns and landing pages when you rent email lists.
14. Promote Sign-Ups in Confirmation/Transaction Emails. Add messages and links to opt-in pages of all confirmation and transaction emails.
15. Include Opt-in Line on Credit Card Receipts. Not an obvious method, but may be quite effective.
16. Add Opt-in Message to Warranty and Product Registration Cards.
17. Add Sign-Up Message to Invoices.
18. Display Opt-in Forms at the Cash Register. An approach used by restaurants and retailers to advertise weekday discounts, catering services etc.
19. Promote Your Email/Newsletter in Articles and Article Attribution. Include a reference and link to your newsletter after the byline on articles in trade and consumer publications.
20. Include Opt-in Message and Check Boxes on Shopping Cart Pages. Remember to ask for email format and product/information preferences.
21. Promote Your Email/Newsletter in Other Company Publications. Promote online newsletters in print newsletters, magazines and brochures.
22. Include Newsletter Subscriptions in Trade Show Lead Generation Forms. Obtain permission to send your monthly newsletter to booth visitors.
23. Promote Your Newsletter/Promotional Emails in Industry Directories and Sites.
24. Distribute Press Releases Based on Newsletter Articles. Newsletters with topical articles may warrant a press release. Make sure the press release includes links and information on how to subscribe.
25. Include Information and a Link to Your Newsletter in Press Releases. A good option for smaller companies. Include your company newsletter and other resources in press release copy.
26. Include Opt-in Information on Customer Satisfaction Surveys. Ask permission to communicate valuable information and email newsletters and promotions.
27. Include Opt-in Forms in Product Shipping Boxes. Advertise email promotions on packing slips and direct mail cards with links to your site. Many retailers and catalogers also include promotional offers from non-competing companies.
28. Employ a Reputable Email List Service. List services obtain email addresses and permission to email existing customers. Be sure you obtain permission before (or as part of) the first email you send.

Remember, if you are going to use an e-mail marketing system, you must act responsibly. This means you MUST double opt-in your subscribers (this means that the user registers for the e-mail list then CONFIRMS the subscription via his email account), and you must give CLEAR methods to unsubscribe from the mailing list and not use this as a means to add them to another list.

In addition, you must ensure that a means of contacting your company is present and that a privacy policy is freely available and is directly linked to from the newsletter sign-up box.

Naturally the ideas above are just a starting point. There are much more than 28 ways to build an email marketing list; but I hope it helps give you the incentive to try one, some or all of them.

Urban myths in 80’s cartoons

Chief Quimby As a child of the 80s, I often watched many cartoons – one of them was Inspector Gadget which was made into a rather poor movie. But that aside, I often wondered who was Dr Claw really.

Even as a kid I always had my suspicions that Dr Claw was really Chief Quimby in disguise.

Why?

Well… Wikipedia has a list of unexplained facts, which lays out the reasons why I believe Dr Claw was Chief Quimby;

  • Dr. Claw’s identity; no backstory is ever given to him, and we never see his face.
  • How did Chief Quimby acquire such detailed information about every one of Dr. Claw’s plans?
  • How Dr. Claw is able to visually monitor virtually any event anywhere?
  • If Quimby was able to obtain information about Claw, why did he never discover or raid his hideout?
  • Chief Quimby is a combination of The Chief from Get Smart and Chief Inspector Dreyfus of the Pink Panther films; in one of the Pink Panther movies, Drefuss is revealed as a supervillian bent on destroying the world/Inspector Clouseau

Unfortuently, despite this overwhelming body of “evidence”; the true face of Dr Claw was revealed some years ago on a website.

Other examples of urban myths about cartoons from the 80s is the classic Dungeons and Dragons Urban Myth.

The myth goes that Venger (the bad guy) was in fact the astranged son of Dungeon Master, and even stranger; the kids had all died on the magical rollercoaster trip they took at the fairground and that Dungeon Master was really the Devil (which would explain why he always dissappeared when his help was needed or when the kids wanted to know something crucial.).

Unfortuently this is only a myth. Yes Venger is revealed as being Dungeon Masters son, but none of the other parts of the myth were true.

Even as Michael Reeves (one of the main writers of Dungeons and Dragons) posted the final episode, Reqium on his website, fans still claim that the urban myth exists (it doesn’t), and neither does an episode of Inspector Gadget which reveals Dr Claw as being Chief Quimby.

This is one case we don’t need Columbo for…

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AJAX – Wonder drug

AJAX (or Asynchronous JavaScript And XML) is one of the many new web technologies used for creating interactive web applications. Despite the hype, the technology has been around for some time, but its only recently that the technology is becoming mainstream. This is mainly due to Google maps (maps.google.com) which uses AJAX to the fullest. Notice on Google Maps it allows you to move the map without reloading the page… at all!

Usually in web applications, the interaction between a user and the web can be described as either client-side or server-side and AJAX shifts interaction squarley to the client-side, meaning that all the data is exchanged on the fly and not behind the scenes.

What this means is that the entire web page does not have to be reloaded each time a user makes a change, thereby increasing speed, interactivity and general usability.

Examples of AJAX

Problems with AJAX

AJAX however does have it’s downsides. One major complaint is that it might easily break the expected behavior of the browser’s back button. For example, users generally expect that clicking the “back” button will undo their last state change – it is unclear whether in AJAX this happens.

Accessibility has also been touted as a major challenge for web developers who are interested in adhering to WAI accessibility guidelines. (note: they are *guidelines*, not rules!) What this means is that developers have to provide fallback options on users on other platforms, or how may be disabled and so cannot use some of the finer controls that AJAX utilises.

Summary

Personally I think AJAX is a cool technology, sure it uses a heck a lot of JavaScript programming, and sure I can certainly see that it has many accessibility concerns; but it does make the websites much easier to use and much more fun.

Whilst AJAX is being touted for the Rails framework, it can be used in other languages such as PHP, ASP, and .NET.

I think AJAX is at home for content management, and even WordPress 2.0 has started to use it. In a couple of months time, I predict AJAX technologies to be more mainstream in web applications and will be the stepping stone towards the much hyped web 2.0.