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Common problems in website design and how to avoid them

ActiveX and other bad practices

If you're designing a website, it's got to look as good as possible on an many different browsers as possible. It's no good it just working on last year's machine. The most powerful computers do not run Microsofty operating systems, and as high-end business is upgrading to Unix/Linux it is only a matter of time before the rest of the market starts to catch up. We do not want to be stuck in the past with poor operating systems, so it would be good if website design took account of that. I know people working in labs in universities with the top-of-the range computers, and there are some sites which assume you've got a cheap up-to-the-minute PC and insist you have to run ActiveX, and then of course the big machine won't run that, so it comes up with a BLANK SCREEN because the designers have not thought about that!

I am currently upgrading as much of the equipment here as possible to Linux, and the most important part, the programming, is already of that level, but the Internet section is still having to put up with moving a mouse about in a WIMP type of way. It is ludicrous to put up with that sort of thing.

Part of the problem is that the monopoly of the market by bad design DELAYS TECHNOLOGICAL PROGRESS. It's very hard to get a decent machine if a proportion of the market is resigned to suffering bad design and a commonplace mediocrity in the marketplace.

And what if you happen to like the old Windows? Well, there's another point. If a travelling salesman came to your front door you'd expect to hear the doorbell being rung rather than the door knob being tried or various keys being tested in the lock. If the salesman then complained and said that you should always leave your front door wide open for anyone to walk in, you'd be less than complimentary about that! But that's what such things as COOKIES, ActiveX, and suchlike, are expecting. Allowing ActiveX to run by default and cookies to be loaded regardless, (which is what many browsers are set up for (check yours!)), is absurd. It is a huge security hole through which hackers can get into your machine and steal your private information. It is wide open to abuse by hackers and the secret services and by any disreputable agency. If you don't want Big Brother watching you, campaign against such bad practices as ActiveX today!

The important thing is to educate and lobby companies to refrain from using uncivilised methods in their sites. Many do not realise they are doing it and will be pleased to hear from you. If you catch them using ActiveX or trying to download bucketloads of cookies, e-mail them and complain. Remember, it's like their salesmen trying your house door and attempting to walk straight into your house with a few burglars sneaking in behind them.

The other thing that's bad about various bad practices in website design is that they allow big companies to get a monopoly of the market. The Internet should be a free resource for everyone, like COMMON LAND or the PUBLIC FOOTPATH. HTML is free open-source stuff, so that's ok. Linux is open-source and freely distributed. But big corporations try to muscle-in and take over bits of public territory by various devious means. However, they have to back off if caught out. But there have been various attempts to get a grip on the market, which is bad for competition and bad for the customer. Typically they try this by giving away a product free to get it popularised, and then slap a tax on it. They can only do this because of complacency on the part of customer. Don't let them get away with it!

Other contact worth knowing: BOYCOTT MICRO$OFT .COM - was http://www.vcnet.com/bms

Also see Microsoft

More about monopolistic practices and the civil liberty questions which are raised by these things can be looked into at the discussion of Palladium, and the antithesis of this which is LINUX!

Also see Common problems in website design and how to avoid them


Note: ActiveX Viruses are now in epidemic proportions (2001/11), so if you are running Windows you might be interested to know how to set ActiveX to PROMPT

Another thing about Your Privacy: Avoid Facebook