Literature Review (1984): Christmas can seriously damage your health

Some of you may have seen the article in the Times Higher Education – What will poor Robin do then? Perforate your small bowel. It reminded me of an article I wrote for an in-house newsletter in 1984 when I was working for a pharmaceutical company and which addresses similar issues. Here  it is (reference number 3 is the one referred to in the THE headline):

Seated one day at the terminal
I was weary and ill at ease
And my fingers wandered idly
Over the noisy keys (1)

So I decided to cheer myself up, type in a few Christmassy search terms into Medline and see what papers came up. Bingo! 354 hits. However, a glance at some of the titles revealed that the majority were articles on Christmas disease (a form of haemophilia); one was concerned with crystals in the eye called Christmas tree decorations because of their light refractive properties (2); and another was entitled “Small bowel perforation due to a Christmas cake decoration”(3). A broader scan of the literature merely confirmed my initial impression that Christmas merits a government health warning.

It seems that beer drinking is the only festive activity that does not give rise to some class of serious ADR (Adverse Drug Reaction). A group from the Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle have shown that drinking six pints of McEwans Export “causes remarkably little metabolic disturbance”(4). Nevertheless, the volunteers did suffer from headache, nausea, dry mouth and malaise the following morning. It is also interesting to note that the eminent Professor KGMM Alberti was thanked for his “invaluable help”.

Those of you who prefer a drop of uisgebeatha may be interested in a trial conducted to discover whether or not regular drinkers can distinguish single malts from blended whiskey (5). They could not, but the design of the trial has been criticised. A very select group of volunteers were used (surgeons from one unit) and the question “How blind were the volunteers?” was raised (6). Furthermore, were the 36 tastings by each volunteer carried out in one sitting as implied by the study? (6). If so, then LD50’s, despite now being less favoured, may have yielded more useful information.

As for Rudolf, rumours that his red nose is due to excessive intake of Christmas cheer have finally been scotched by a report of two moose involved in motorcycle collisions (7). The crash investigators carefully point out that “One motorcyclist was intoxicated. No evidence of alcohol was found in either moose”.

With respect to Santa Claus himself, it is not surprising that belief in Father Christmas has been found to decline markedly with age and is associated with a rise in “causal reasoning” (8). The poor economic climate has also meant that Santa has had to be given the sack by some department stores (9). It seems that they can no longer afford to provide the necessary “specialist working environment” – namely a grotto.

The shops may be able to get away with making Father Christmas redundant, but British Rail were not so lucky when they tried to economise on their “Santa Specials” (10). One angry customer demanded a refund when he found that although there were elves and pixies as advertised, the train was definitely deficient in fairies. A BR spokesman stated “The man has complained that there were no fairies. Indeed there were not but we did have four children dressed up as elves and pixies. I am reluctant to refund the man’s £1.25 …….because he did have his mince pie and a glass of sherry”.

Which neatly brings me to the nutritional aspect of the Yuletide celebration. This also presents problems. Apart from the cake decorations mentioned earlier, bay leaves may have to be surgically removed (11), and asparagus can give you pongy pee (12). However, you can rest assured that the DHSS has taken steps to ensure that gobbling your turkey does not give you the trots (13); and the EEC is very particular about the size of the crustaceans in your prawn cocktail (14).

In theory, you can always offset any overindulgence in plum pud by participating in some outdoor activity, but this too is beset with perils. The hazards of jogging have been well documented with syndromes such as jogger’s nipple (15), jogger’s liver (16), judo-jogger’s itch (17) and penile frostbite (18) top of the list. If you think cycling is safer, be warned: the Victorians identified a similar catalogue of complaints associated with that pastime including Kyphosis bicyclistarum or cyclist’s stoop, bicycle hernia, cyclist’s neurosis and cyclist’s sore throat (19). Bicycle face was characterised by a “peculiar strained set look, produced by the excessive tension involved in maintaining balance on a two wheeled machine”. More recently a case of unicyclists sciatica has been reported (20).

Indoor pursuits are not much safer: addicts of Rubik’s cube can be incapacitated by cuber’s thumb (21); and prolonged sessions of video games can give rise to unilateral wrist pain referred to variously as Space Invader’s wrist, Asteroids osteoarthritis and pinball palsy (22). But don’t think that being a spectator is free from side-effects. The excitement of watching a football match has been known to cause Celtics fever or “play-off induced ventricular arrhythmias” (23).

If, like me, you are now thoroughly depressed then why not go to a party? There seem to be plenty going on especially in the NHS (24). Since the Chancellor of the Exchequer is intent on cutting NHS expenditure he should perhaps read a paper from the BMJ, which expresses concern at the extent of these unorganised jollifications (24). The situation is sufficiently serious to warrant the recommendation that an administrator be appointed to rationalise this area of hospital life. Strange that the post was not mentioned by Roy Griffiths in the NHS Management Inquiry.

Finally, just to make you feel even worse the morning after, here are a few European translations of the term “hangover”: baksmälla – kickback, katzenjammer – cat misery, and gueule de bois – mouth of wood.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


  1. Adapted from A Lost Chord by Adelaide Ann Proctor
  2. “Christmas Tree Decoration” crystals in the lens Klin Monatsbl Augenheilkd 1983;182(1):15
  3. Small bowel perforation due to a Christmas cake decoration BMJ 1983;287:1923-1924
  4. Acute biochemical responses to moderate beer drinking BMJ 1982;285:1770-1773
  5. Can malt whisky be discriminated from blended whisky? The proof. A modification of Sir Ronald Fisher’s hypothetical tea tasting experiment BMJ 1983;287:1912-1913
  6. How blind were the volunteers? BMJ 1983;287:1914-1915
  7. Moose-motorcyle collisions New Eng J Med 1981;305(10):590-591
  8. Children’s belief in Santa Claus. A developmental study of fantasy and causality J Amer Acad Child Psychiat 1979;18(4):658
  9. Santa Claus gets the sack in three stores. The Times, Nov 24, 1980
  10. Railway fairies unfit for elf fanatic. The Daily Telegraph Nov 22, 1979
  11. Beware the bay leaf BMJ 1980;281:1682
  12. Volatile organic components in human urine after ingestion of asparagus Clin Chem 1977;23:1941
  13. Turkeys, safe preparation Health Notice (HN)1977:190
  14. Long-awaited reform of the prawn laws The Times Aug 8, 1980
  15. Jogger’s nipples New Eng J Med 1977:297:1127
  16. Jogger’s liver New Eng J MEd 1980;303:589
  17. Judo-jogger’s itch New Eng J MEd 1979;300:866
  18. Penile frostbite, an unforeseen hazard of jogging New Eng J MEd 1977;296:178
  19. Are exercise ailments cyclical New Eng J MEd 1983;309:858-859
  20. Unicyclists sciatica – a case report New Eng J MEd 1981;305:231-232
  21. Cuber’s thumb New Eng J MEd 1981;305:768
  22. Space-invader’s wrist New Eng J MEd 1981;304:1368
  23. Celtics fever: playoff induced ventricular arrhythmia New Eng J MEd 1981;305:467-468
  24. Hospital Christmas Parties BMJ 1980;281:1667-1668

Date originally written: 7th December 1984
Author: Karen Blakeman

Tracking changes to web page content

I’ve updated my list of  services and programs that track changes to web pages at  I’ve copied the list here partly for information but also because I’d be interested in hearing other people’s experiences of using them and recommendations for  any services I have omitted.

Link checkers such as Xenu Link Sleuth ( can alert you to pages that have disappeared or that are redirecting users to another site, but changes to the content are equally if not more important. There are many services that track web page content for changes. Some are free whilst other priced services may offer limited facilities as a free taster.

This lists includes both web based services and software programs for PCs and Intranets.

Web based services

Change Detection


This is a free service allowing you to track an unlimited number of pages. The frequency of the alerts can be daily, weekly or monthly and you can choose to only have alerts for “sizeable changes”, when content has been added or removed, or for specific keywords. The email merely alerts you to the fact that there have been changes; you have to click on a link in the email to view them in the Change Detection web site. RSS as well as email alerts avialable.



The home page gives the impression that this is a totally free service. It isn’t. The free trial version of this service allows you to track a maximum of 5 pages and lasts for two weeks. You can receive web page change notifications via email, ICG or text message. The subscription services allow you to track more pages and password protected pages. ChangeDetect Personal costs USD 1.95 a month and tracks 10 web pages. ChangeDetect Plus costs USD 14.95 a month for 100 web pages and allows you to set up keyword and phrase notification triggers and colour coded notifications. ChangeDetect Professional costs USD 39.95 a month for 500 web pages with content checked twice-daily.



This service allows you to have up to 10 “trackers” and a maximum of 5000 characters tracked for changes free of charge. There are a number of plans that allow more trackers and additional options which can be found at You can select the content to be tracked and how it is to be treated (text or numerical). Alerts can be delivered by email, SMS and a personal Tracker RSS Feed. Content is checked every 30 minutes.



The free service provides 100 daily page checks and 1 hourly check. You can track additions, deletions, Google page rank, keywords, and sections of a page. Alerts are sent to you by email. The Pro account gives you 1000 daily checks, 20 hourly checks, 5 10-minute checks and 100 weekly checks.



The free trial tracks up to 10 pages free of charge for 30 days and allows you to associate categories and descriptions with a “minder”. Within the advanced options you can specify how often, in days, the page is to be checked. The most frequent check allowed for free is every 1 day. You can also specify the minimum number of changes that must occur before you are notified and any keywords or phrases that must appear in the changes.

Infominder Professional costs USD 30/yr to track 100 pages, USD 60/yr for 250 pages, USD 120/yr for 500 pages and USD 250 /yr for 1000 pages.

Infominder Premium allows you to monitor changes up to 4 times a day and costs USD 60/yr for 100 pages, USD 125/yr for 250 pages, USD 300/yr for 500 pages and USD 500/yr for 1000 pages.

[Note: The Infominder web pages do not appear to have been updated since 2007 which does not inspire confidence.]



Page2RSS tracks web pages for changes and notifies you of those changes by RSS. Simply type in the URL of the page you wish to track and then add the feed URL to your favourite feed reader. Excellent tool for pages that do not offer their own RSS feeds.

Watch That Page


This is a free service run by ATS Consulting, a Norwegian company that specialises in software development. You can track an unlimited number of pages, which can be grouped into folders and tracked on a daily or weekly basis. There is a keyword matching option that filters the changes that are relevant to you, for example if you are only looking for news where a certain term or phrase occurs such as a company or a product name. Channels enable you to divide your pages into groups based on importance or content type. Each channel can have different properties: some can have keyword matching and daily reports whilst others can be checked less frequently and report all changes. Email alerts can include the text that has changed on your pages or just list the URLs of pages that have changed. If you are a professional or heavy user, you are required to pay a fee. Watchthatpage will notify you by email if you fall into the heavy user category.



Websnitcher is a free services that checks your pages every 3 hours and gives you a detailed list of changed textareas. Email notifications are sent once a day and it also generates RSS feeds from the collected data. It alerts you only to what it considers are relevant changes; the intelligent filter tries to ignore changes in date and what it thinks are irrelevant textareas such as how many users are online.

Desktop programs

Copernic Tracker


Copernic Tracker is a tracking program that costs US $49.95. Once installed on your PC it enables you to track any number of pages on external sites and intranets. You can track changed words, new links or images. There is a useful advanced query form for tracking specific words within pages, Boolean and other search operators (AND, OR, NEAR).

Copies of page revisions are stored locally so that you can compare changes that occurred in the past and add your own notes for tracked pages and each of their revisions. There are four pre-set tracking schedules: Multiple Times per Day, On a Daily Basis, On a Weekly Basis and On a Monthly Basis. Alerts can be a tray icon, desktop alert or notification message, SMS notification, email report with the tracked page contents and changes highlighted.

Internet Owl


As well as general changes to a page you can track the page for the appearance or deletion of specified text, or track selected areas of the page. You can view changes from within the program or in your browser and be alerted via email, a pop-up on your desktop or a sound. The default checking frequency – minutes, hours or days – can be changed as can the frequency for individual pages. Price: 29.95 USD. 30 day free trial.

Update Patrol


Update Patrol checks pages for changes as often as you like and you can monitor single pages or entire web sites. It costs US $69.95 for a standard license and US $129.95 for the pro version. See for details of the features supported by each edition. A free trial is available.

Update Scannner for Firefox


A free add-on for Firefox. To monitor a page, display it in Firefox and from the right click menu select Scan Page for Update. You can select how often each page is to be scanned (from 5 minutes to once a week), whether or not to ignore numbers, and if insignificant changes are to be ignored (specify the number of characters from less than 10 to less than 1000 characters). An alert will pop-up at the bottom of the screen when changes are detected. Click the blue up-arrow on the bottom status bar to display the Update Scanner sidebar and pages that have been updated are shown in bold. Click on a site in the sidebar to view the page with highlighted changes.

Website Watcher


The full version of this software is available on a 30 day free trial. It tracks an unlimited number of pages and you can choose to ignore HTML tags, images/banners, numbers and dates. You can enter user names and passwords for password protected pages that you wish to track. Pages can be checked once a day, once a week, or on a specified day or days of the week. You can even specify the checking frequency during a day either in hours or minutes.

You can track entire sites without having to specify each page individually (not available in the Basic Edition). As well as web pages you can track RSS and Atom feeds, but this feature is not really a replacement for a fully fledged RSS reader if you are a serious news junkie.

Prices are 29.95 Euros for the Basic Edition, 49.95 for the Personal Edition, 99 Euros for a single user Business licence, 1990 Euros for a site license and 9990 Euros for an enterprise licence.

December Tales from the Terminal Room now out

The latest issue of Tales from the Terminal room is now out and available at

It is essentially a collection of recent blog postings and this month’s issue contains:

  • Cost of True Love’s Christmas gifts increases by 9.2% according to PNC
  • Search tools Zuula – new interface and de-duplication
  • Google thinks I’m male
  • Removing information about you from Google
  • Google previews web pages in results
  • X-Factor web pages are “advanced” says Google’s new Reading Level
  • Top Business Search Tips – 27 th October 2010
  • Business Information Resources Scottish Business Information Service (SCOTBIS)
  • StatsWales: free official statistics on Wales

Yahoo! bungles! it! yet! again!

Unbelievable! Just when I thought Yahoo could not do anything more stupid than they’ve done in the past we learn that Delicious ( is to be axed. The leaked information is on a slide shown at an all hands meeting at Yahoo following the latest staff cutbacks. More details and discussion can be found at Is Yahoo Shutting Down [Update: Yes], R.I.P. Delicious: You Were So Beautiful to Me and Confirmed: Yahoo Closing Buzz, Traffic APIs – Maybe Delicious & AltaVista. Also for the chop are AltaVista and AlltheWeb.

I am not surprised that AltaVista and Alltheweb are to go. For a while they were used by Yahoo as test beds yet now they just sit out there on the web rotting away. But to get rid of one of the most widely known social bookmarking services is lunacy. Delicious has made its way on to millions of web pages with its ‘bookmark with Delicious’ buttons and inclusion in share bars. How hard can it be for Yahoo to make Delicious worth-while in hard-nosed business terms? Chris Keene has several excellent suggestions and comments in his blog posting Delicious. I doubt that any of his arguments would change Yahoo;s mind as Delicious is apparently “off strategy”. This does make one wonder what Yahoo’s strategy is or if it has really ever had one.

Yahoo started off life as a directory of web sites, and not any old web site was granted admittance. You had to apply to the editors with a description of your site and the categories under which you wanted to be listed. You then waited nervously for a couple of weeks for the yay or nay. I can remember the sound of champagne corks popping in my tiny little office at home when I heard the news that my site had been accepted. An entry in the Yahoo directory was the bees knees and worth far more than being picked up by the likes of Lycos (then a serious search engine) or Infoseek. My site is still there, although the directory is now difficult to find (go straight to and has not been updated in years.

In the early days Yahoo was a serious contender for world search engine domination. For a while it used Google to power its web search before acquiring the technology to do its own thing, but it was ahead of the game in other areas. My Yahoo! offered customised start pages long before iGoogle was a twinkle in Page and Brin’s eye. (I still use it for weather forecasts, monitoring my share portfolio and currency exchange rates). Yahoo Finance – again pre-dating Google’s offering by several years – is  far superior in stock market coverage to Google Finance and more stable. The problem with both products is that not many people know about them and Yahoo has not done much with them since their inception. Google, on the other hand, constantly changes, updates and adds new features – sometimes to the great annoyance of users.

Remember AlltheWeb Live Search? This was a search engine that started to display results as soon as you started typing in your terms and the results changed as you entered more words. Sound familiar? Yes, Google Instant works in a similar way but AlltheWeb’s version was far superior and easier to use. Yahoo dropped it.

Yahoo Mindset? Another test search engine in which you moved a slider bar to change the emphasis of the results to sites that had more to do with shopping or ones that were more research oriented. It was very popular with those who knew about it. Yahoo dropped it.

So what are users of Delicious to do? The good news is that you can export your bookmarks and then import to other services. The bad news is that some have reported that the tags go awry. I vaguely recollect having this problem a while back when I was testing out social bookmark sites and how well they coped with exports/imports.  For further information on alternatives see Search Engine Land’s 10 Alternatives To Bookmarking. You may prefer to sit tight in the hope that Delicious is reprieved but at least export your bookmarks now so you have a backup, and start looking at the alternatives. Of course, those could  also disappear.

Yahoo seems to be on a downward spiral to the search engine graveyard. Which service is next on the Yahoo executioner’s list, I wonder? I can’t believe that it would drop Flickr but then I thought Delicious would be safe. Now, where do I sign up for Picasa?

x-Factor web pages are “advanced” says Google’s reading level

Google has rolled out a new search option that assigns a reading level to the pages in your results list. Don’t be surprised if you haven’t spotted it yet; it is hidden on the advanced search screen. Under the “Need more tools?” section you can choose from the drop down menu to see all of the results with reading level annotations, basic results, intermediate results or advanced results.

Google Reading Level

Google does not give much away as to how it calculates the reading level and it has nothing to do with the reading age that publishers assign to books. It could involve sentence structure, grammar, the length of sentences on a web page, the length of the document, the terminology used and doubtless many other criteria. But Google isn’t saying.

If you have opted to see the annotations, at the top of your results page you will see a graphic showing the percentages for each of the categories. Under the title of each entry in your results list is the reading level.

Google Reading Level Results

Click on the Basic, Intermediate or Advanced links next to the bar chart to see pages for that reading level. The eagle-eyed amongst you will have spotted that Google appears to be mathematically challenged because the numbers do not add up to 100%. In all of the searches I have done so far 1 or 2% are missing from the statistics. Looking through the lists of results some pages have no reading level assigned to them and they seem to be documents that contain very little information, have more numbers than text, and some are formatted files. Note, though, that most file formats do have a reading level so why some are not picked up remains a mystery to me. Some Daily Mail articles do not have a reading level either but many would argue that they fall into the ‘very little information’ category!

Once you have used the Reading Level in the advanced search screen you can change your search on the results page and it remains as part of your search strategy until you close down your browser or tab.

You can also check out an entire web by using the site command, for example

Google Reading Level for RBA site

And this is where you can start to have some fun comparing sites (WARNING – this is addictive!). Phil Bradley has done some in his blog posting Google adds reading level
( He also highlights some potential problems with labelling pages in this way. For example ‘basic’ does not necessarily mean stupid, but some people may be deterred from selecting basic pages because of the tag.

Most of my pages are classed as intermediate and I am happy with that. Many of them are listings and analyses of business information sources. My husband’s blog on the other hand is 71% advanced and 27% intermediate. This comes as no surprise to me as he has a habit of littering his postings with complex calculations on topics such as wind turbine energy generation and the EROEI of tar sands oil production. (Just the sort of thing not to read before you have had your second cup of coffee of the day.) That plus the industry specific jargon that he uses makes an advanced tag inevitable.

Google Reading Level Energy Balance Blog

The evidence so far seems to be suggesting that using terms or jargon that are relatively uncommon in the whole of the Google database is a heavy factor in determining the reading level. Let’s look at what one might consider to be an intellectually challenging topic: the use of zeolites in environmental remediation.

Google Reading Level Zeolites search

That seems to confirm it.

As a final test and for a bit of fun let’s look at what Google makes of a search on the recent x Factor final.

Google Reading Level xFactor

Noooooo! Surely some mistake? The X factor home page is rated as basic but 93% of the results are advanced. There is indeed a mistake but it was my sloppy search strategy. Changing the x factor part of the search to a phrase gives what I would expect and a switch to 53% basic, 40% intermediate and 6% advanced.


Out of curiosity, I looked at the content of the advanced pages and am now totally bemused. I cannot see how they could ever have been classified as such, but then this is Google we’re talking about. Perhaps Google cannot comprehend the scoring system, why so many people watch it or why the programme exists at all?

Google Reading Level xFactor

I have experimented with several other searches. Some came up with results as bizarre as those for the x Factor search but it is interesting how the breakdown can be changed by slightly modifying your search strategy, for example by using phrases when appropriate or a plus sign before a term to force an exact match search. Google’s Reading Level could be useful as a training tool to show how small alterations to a search strategy can radically change the results. But as with all things Google, we do not know how it works and the results can sometimes be very strange. Use with caution.

Cost of True Love’s christmas gifts increases by 9.2% according to PNC

PNC Wealth Management’s annual  review of their Christmas Price Index (CPI) has revealed that this year True Love will have to pay USD 23,439 for his gifts, an increase of USD 1,974 on last year’s prices.

PNC Wealth Management Christmas Price Index 2010

The CPI was started in 1984 and surveys the cost of the gifts given by True Love in the song “Twelve days of Christmas”. In 1984 the cost was USD 12,673.56.

James Dunigan, managing executive of investments for PNC Wealth Management said:

“This year’s jump in the PNC CPI can be attributed to rising gold commodity prices, represented by the Five Gold Rings which went up by 30 percent, in addition to higher costs for wages and benefits impacting some entertainers”

PNC goes on to say:

“The PNC CPI’s surge is in marked contrast to the [US] government’s CPI, which grew a mere 1.1 percent, illustrating the difference in size of the two baskets of goods and services.”

Whilst the milkmaid’s minimum wage did not increase “the prices for birds flew higher in this year’s index, in part due to the costs of feed as well as the availability and demand for certain feathered friends that amplified several prices. The Two Turtle Doves increased 78.6 percent to $100 and the Three French hens surged 233 percent to $150. The Partridge in a Pear Tree is up 1.3 percent to $161. But the partridge alone was up 20 percent to $12 and the pear tree is identical to a year ago at $149.”

The full tab for True Love who gifts all of the 364 items according to the song’s verses is USD 96,824. Shopping on the internet only makes matters worse. True Love will have to pay USD 34,336 compared with USD 23,439 for just one purchase of the items – USD 11,000 more than this year’s traditional index:

“In general, Internet prices are higher than their non-Internet counterparts because of shipping costs for birds and the convenience factor of shopping online” Dunigan said.

But that is mere pennies compared to the items that True Love has to buy in an updated version of the song composed and presented by the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre

This is a difficult calculation to make as there are regional differences, for example house prices. Also, what car is True Love prepared to buy? A rock bottom of the market second hand banger or a Lamborghini? How much would assorted bling cost, assuming that True Love did not aim a brick at a jeweller’s windows? And it’s probably best not to enquire too deeply as to how much the lap dancers or a knighthood would cost. Nevertheless, after lengthy discussions with colleagues, who wish to remain anonymous, we have come up with the cost of the modern True Love’s Christmas:

One gifting of the items listed in the ‘Socks’ video: GBP 258,132 or USD 407,920

Gifting of all the items according to all of the verses: GBP 1,055,646 or  USD 1,668,214

My Online Information 2010 presentations

If you have not already spotted the links on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn etc  to the various presentations I gave at “Online” in London earlier this month here they are all in one place. I gave two talks as part of the free seminar programme that was part of the exhibition, a conference presentation and a pre-conference workshop. They all have a Creative Commons attribution non-commercial license assigned to them  (see for further information on the license).

Google’s New Search Features: has it gone too far?
1st December 2010

This presentation was given in the exhibition area as part of the free seminar and masterclass programme. I have added comments to some of the screen shots so that they make a little more sense to those who were not there.

Google’s New Search Features: has it gone too far


Challenges of Finding Quality Business Information
1st December 2010

A second presentation I gave as part of the exhibition free seminar programme. Again, I have annotated some of the screen shots.


Search Engine Wars: let battle commence
30th November 2010

This is a presentation I gave as part of the Online Information conference. It is quite different from the one I gave  with the same title to INFORUM in Prague earlier this year. I wish I could say it was because so much has changed since then: unfortunately very little has changed.


Guide to Using Social Media to Promote Your Organisation and Services
29th November 2010

This was a one day workshop pre-conference workshop. The slides merely formed a framework for the day.  There were more services and issues discussed within the group than are shown in the presentation.  The link given below, which is a direct link to a ppt file on the RBA Information Services web site, will not be available indefinitely.  The presentations on my social media page are updated every time I run a workshop or give a seminar on the topic.

PowerPoint Presentation (9.5 MB)

Facebook trying to take over our browsers?

I have just logged on to Facebook and saw at the top of the page the following:

Facebook Browser Button

So Facebook now wants to take over our browsers. When I want to see what my Facebook friends are doing I will decide how and when  to do it – not Facebook.  Needless to say I have not done as it suggests.

15 minutes later…

The above screen shot was taken from within Firefox. Neither Chrome nor Opera displayed the message when I logged in to Facebook. IE8, though, makes it quite clear that Facebook wants to make itself your home page when you start up your browser:

Facebook IE8 Home Page

I did wonder why the Firefox message is not so explicit. I initially thought that it might be an add-on, but dragging something to your home button is, obviously, going to make it your home page. I have a sacrificial laptop in the corner of the office; I shall experiment tomorrow morning unless someone alerts me before then about dire, irreversible consequences.

UPDATE 5th December 2010 7.17 am:  (Yes, I know I shouldn’t be awake at such an ungodly hour on a Sunday- blame the cat!).  Just tested the Facebook home page button and it does seem to just make your Facebook page your  browser’s home page. It is easily undone. An interesting move, though, by Facebook to encourage users to go straight to Facebook when they wake up. Don’t many of them do that anyway?