Friday, January 12, 2007

On the net

In everyday conversations, the term "Internet" is likely to be replaced by the expression "on the net". Instead of saying "I saw it on TV", people will have more and more opportunities of saying "I saw it on the net" or "I saw you on the net" or even "Did you hear the latest news? William is back on the net!"

Yesterday afternoon I dropped in for my regular three-monthly visit to the local GP. Since I have no apparent health problems, the strictly medical part of our encounter took no more than five minutes, and then we got around to talking about the doctor's latest discovery on the net: a luxury men's shoe shop named Bexley at It certainly looks good. Personally, though, I would not be keen about buying shoes on the net. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with the net. On the contrary, the problem is my big feet...

Somebody emailed me a remark about the procedure for sending a comment to this blog. At the bottom of each of my articles, there's a button with the word "comments":

If you click this, Google (my blog provider) asks the visitor to identify him/herself, and this means that you must have a so-called Google account. If you don't already have such a free and simple thing, there's a button that enables you to create one:

Why does Google ask visitors to identify themselves before making comments? If they didn't, hordes of vandals would spend their time infecting the blog with four-letter words and other nonsense. The general idea of correct behavior on the net is that you're perfectly free to use nasty words such as "fuck" and "Bush" as long as you first state your identity... which is fair enough.

Besides vandals, there's another category of net visitors that need to be controlled. I'm talking of robots: that's to say, software gadgets that wander around non-stop on the net looking for opportunities of spreading havoc. To prevent robots from opening Google accounts and then sending in blog comments, the sign-up procedure incorporates a robot trap... in the same spirit as those ingenious metal bars set in the road to prevent animals straying through gates on Australian farms. You're asked to look at a graphic thing of the following kind:

You're expected to recognize the term that's displayed, and type in the same series of letters: here, stonimp. The general idea is that it would be highly difficult (but not impossible) for a robot to perform this simple act as successfully as a human being. So, if you get the letters right, Google assumes that it's dealing with a genuine human being who wants to establish an account so that he/she can send in blog comments. And that's about all you have to do. [Well, there's another tiny but essential thing that you should do, whenever you create an Internet account of any kind. Write down your Google sign-in details in a personal logbook that you keep alongside of your computer.]

In later articles, I'll get back to the question of why, in spite of the barrage of negative feedback I received a few days ago from several female friends (within a span of 24 hours), I believe that I must carry on with this blog... maybe with fewer direct references to real-world human beings. For example, you might have noticed that, although I'm fully aware of the stuff my GP purchased on the net in the way of shoes, I'm not going to tell you anything whatsoever: neither the number of shoes he bought (I'll give you a hint though: it was an even number greater than zero), nor their color. All of this vital information will be kept strictly private, as an affair between the doctor and me. So, there's no sense in flooding my blog with tons of comments pleading with me to release this private stuff. I ain't gonna tell yuh nothin... not even the size of my GP's feet.

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