Every Christmas Alek Komarnitsky decks his house with over 20,000 lights and covers his lawn with enormous, controllable inflatables. Controllable by you, that is. Which you can watch live on one of his three webcams.
Alek’s children have an auto-immune disease called Cœliac disease (spelt “Celiac disease” in North America), and Alek uses his website to raise money for research into the disease. So far he’s raised over US $50,000.
You can make a donation online at the University of Maryland Center for Celiac Research.
If you have the time take an explore round the rest of Alek’s website: www.komar.org. It really is one of my favourite websites because, even though it doesn’t have the most sophisticated design, it simply contains so much life and love.
I haven’t used an advert blocking add-on for my browsers until now, and I haven’t looked back.
In this month’s .net magazine regular journalist Gary Marshall has an article entitled “Shirt happens: When does object handling become outright harassment? Whenever you turn off your ad blocker…”
In the article Marshall described how when browsing from one site to another the adverts… well, followed him!
Being spied on
I’ve had the same experience. You know when you unconsciously just know that something’s not quite right? I had that feeling while browsing the Web a couple of weeks ago.
I tend to ignore adverts on Web pages but this particular one caught my eye. I wish I’d taken a screenshot at the time. It was showing me stuff that I’d been looking at on another site a few minutes before. Not just similar stuff, the exact same items that I’d been looking at.
I felt I was being spied on.
Gary Marshall again:
The ads are new, and they’re known as retargeting. Cookies track what you’ve looked at and follow you around the internet, shouting at you to look at them.
In theory, they’re supposed to offer extra inducements – “I see you looked at this shirt and decided not to buy it. How would you feel if I make it TWO POUNDS CHEAPER! Oh, mercy me, and here I am with a wife and three children to support” – but in practice it’s just the same things you’ve looked at, thrust in your face again and again and again. The implication is that you’re so utterly stupid, you’ll buy any old crap if you see it often enough.
The fact of the matter is that advertising works, and we really are gullible enough to see something on the telly, or glance at it in a magazine or newspaper, and race out to buy it believing that it will help us become happier, more content, more attractive, cool. That’s just the way that we’re wired.
However, these days Jane and I don’t tend to watch much live TV any more. With BT Vision we record most of the programmes we want to watch, and then fast-forward through the adverts.
When listening to the digital music service Spotify I realised the other day that I completely switch off during the adverts. I stop listening, or distract myself with something else.
It’s not a conscious thing. I found myself, the other day, thinking it odd that there had been no adverts while I was listening. And yet I suddenly realised there was an advert playing right now!
I’d just tuned it out.
The same kind of life skill that I see Reuben and Joshua are learning even at the ripe age of two when we tell them that it’s time for bed.
I object to adverts on my clothing. I don’t really like wearing rugby shirts that advertise whisky or stout, because I don’t drink. Why should I be a free advert for alcohol?
I do notice adverts in magazines, though.
I get a lot of emails inviting me to add ads to my blog or website. I always say no. Well, not always, I sometimes write back … but that’s another story for another day.
I always say no because, although they could potentially raise a couple of hundred quid a year adverts on blogs just annoy me so I presume that they will annoy other people too.
Besides, I’d have no control over what was being advertised on my website.
Yesterday evening, at bedtime, I sat with Reuben on his bedroom floor and read him book after book. We read 5 or 6 books in all, including the book above: How will you get there, Maisy? by Lucy Cousins.
It’s an interactive book, which shows one form of transport and by way of clues invites the child to guess by which form of transport Maisy actually used. For example,
“How will Charley get to the farm…?
[There are images of a saddle, horseshoes, apples and the words “Clip Clop!”]