Sunday, August 29, 2004

GS WE HAVE NOT THE TIME.: That was said by Felicite Robert de Lamennais in Melanges religieux et philosophiques, 1819 . . . [and GS, 2004]
The original:

On ne lit plus, on n'a plus le temps. L'esprit est appele a la fois de trop
de cotes; il faut lui parler vite ou il passe.

Mais il y a des choses qui ne peuvent etre dites, ni comprises si vite, et ce sont les plus importantes pour l'homme.

Cette acceleration de mouvement qui ne permet de rien enchainer, de
rien mediter, suffirait seule pour affaiblir et, a la longue, pour detruire
entierement la raison humaine.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Food Colours = Web Colours

Color for Web Design: Color for Web Sites is Like Color for Food.

A key feature of Web site appeal. If you ever took a cooking class then you know
that one of the most important things to consider when preparing a meal
is color
. You put chicken with mashed potatoes and cauliflower
you will have a very bland looking Web site indeed. . .

[interestingly presented point from Linda Roeder,]

Monday, August 23, 2004

Wide World

Web Page Widths: Defining Width of Site for Different Browser Resolutions: "Once you start to seriously consider designing your Web page rather than just throwing up a bunch of links in a list Web designers start to worry about what resolution to design for . . ."

Rabbit from Hat

Webgrabit supersedes RSS - addition to your desktop ?

RSS is moving so fast - and is relevant to the ARA.

Reviews of WebGrabit will be welcome in our comments section below.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Roman Rat

New Scientist

What's so interesting about rats?

It was not certain what date the black rat, Rattus rattus, arrived in Europe. Originally it came from central Asia. There was a belief that it had entered Europe with the returning crusaders at the beginning of the 12th century, but no one had proved that for certain. I found it very puzzling. The commercial links between Europe and the Roman empire's oriental ports were so dense and important that I found it impossible to believe that the rat had not come over earlier. So we went digging for it - the rat, that is - in older layers.

Why does it matter when the black rat got to Europe?

There had been a huge plague lasting from the 6th to the 8th centuries, known as the Justinian Plague, which affected countries around the Mediterranean. In France it did not spread beyond the south. Now because this pandemic exploded before archaeologists said the black rat had arrived from the orient, in the 1940s people began to argue that the vector could not be the rat flea after all. They suggested that the human flea was responsible for transmitting this plague in Europe. It seemed to me that the archaeological foundations for that theory were flimsy.

So what did you do?

Starting in 1983, I created a map. A synthesis of all the digs where the black rat had been found. That way I could study its arrival and spread in Europe. I proved that it came in with the Romans. It arrived first on islands in the Mediterranean in the 1st century, then spread to the continent. In the temperate climate of Europe the black rat cannot live freely as it does in India. It is obliged to stay with man: that's its fate. So it emerged from my own and other people's work that the black rat had followed the Roman trade routes. By the time the Justinian plague broke out, the black rat's habitat covered the exact area of France that was affected by the disease. The black rat's invasion of Europe was complete by the 12th or 13th century. . . .

[pw - notes that recent 2004 medical research reveals unexpected HIV-AIDS resistance in survivors of the "Black Deaths" . . which means many of us in the present Post-Roman populations of Western Europe. We are here because our ancestors lived "to tell the tale". The other unfortunates are extinct and only see the light of day again in the pits that archaeology endlessly records.]

Wednesday, August 11, 2004


Enhance Usability by Highlighting Search Terms: A List Apart: "Google's caching system offers several cool features; one of most useful is that the words you searched for are highlighted in the page. Most web users don't read pages carefully - they scan text for what they're looking for. This is why Google's cached-page highlighting is so useful. When the page is rendered, users don't need to read the entire page to find what they came for . ."

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Lacus Curtius

VIP Bill Thayer's renowned thousand-page collection of Roman web-info, translations, and Roman maps, has just been re-located to this new Chicago server. . . which ARA members will want to bookmark: Polybius and . . . and NB the last part of the quotation below which is much endorsed by myself . . .

This site relies heavily on stylesheets, tables and images, and uses some
very simple JavaScript but it is completely free of blinking, animation,
banners and unsolicited audio. Some of you have encouraged me . . .

Sunday, August 08, 2004


Serge Thibodeau, thanks for that SES tip this week. I'll have to go back and review ARA meta tags. I used to do that regularly . . but put that issue way down my priority list for a couple of years owing to general disfavour/disfunction that was apparent from many quarters.

Well this week was the SES (Search Engine Strategies) conference in San
Jose, CA and attendance was good. One important thing that was learned is that
Yahoo still looks at meta tags.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

RBO and BM

Today I'll compare and contrast two more interesting websites: RBO and BM; ( and Roman Britain - introductory pages).

These present comparisons will not attempt to evaluate every subjective/accessibility aspect, such as colour and background, (nor the whole of each site) but will summarise "the basics" of first-page-load-times etc as mentioned earlier this week re PEF and R3.

The results will initially be presented, in comments (below), as numerical scores based upon empirical, measured, data without weighting any one aspect. In the meantime it is worth noting the very efficient way in which the BM has published the Towcester head image on that intro' page . . in sections.

Monday, August 02, 2004

PEF and R3

Following Sam Moorhead's tip about the PEF website I have indeed been checking their pages and will shortly report on some side-by-side analysis with another nice site I saw at the weekend: the BBC Radio3 new speech/drama pages.

I'm recording the nuts-and-bolts web intricacies of page load-times; page lengths; word counts; font sizes; column choices; table usage; navigation link numbers (sometimes = number of pages); page printability (A4 x 1). Re the latter, it was interesting to see the PEF membership invitation strategy and compare that with the ARA joining form. Would it be fair to say that both these present approaches have strengths and weaknesses?