Snapshot of the Blogsphere

A quick look around the web and some of the comments for the first day of a new month.

It may be October but the weather doesn’t suggest it at all. Anyway, my current three favourite blogs are saying this today:

  1. You think you’re fine with everything until you wake up at 4am convinced there’s someone in your flat again. [plasticbag]
  2. Bloody hell, it’s October. How did that happen? []
  3. I don’t know what to do with my life. This morning I had my Early Modern Architecture class and it made me indecisive again [trabaca]

Wonder how this will read in a year’s time?

Not About Me

I don’t talk about my blog. It’s a private thing I do, but I am not sure why (I would suggest points 2 and 3 here as a starting point to try and answer that question).

Yesterday I went for a very nice meal at Orso when the conversation turned to weblogs. I was somewhat shocked that my dining companions could not grasp the “why” of the blog concept. Why read them? Why write them? But I still didn’t speak about my blogging. It’s very odd but I do not feel compelled to actually talk about this.

I realised I do not talk about me to anybody very much. I discuss events that involved me. I talk about other people and tell people about my work. I express options with the best of them. But I don’t really discuss myself too often – at least by this I mean, I guess, emotions and my private life. It’s odd because I think people who know me would say I do talk a great deal, but I know I hold things back. Why is that?

So why to I carry on writing this? I have said before that it started out as a challenge to myself. Can I blog for a whole month with no interruptions? I did that. And still I find myself here!

The Art of the Blog

I have been thinking some more about this whole blogging lark. I have always said that the most fascinating part of the online community has been personal homepages. They drawn me in like some crazed stalker. However, you put it there for me to read so, perhaps, stalker is not the appropriate term (I mean how many people invite stalkers?). Still, read them I do. So, I was interested in the book We’ve Got Blog. Now, here is a handy link to some of the books contents.

Why Do You Do It?

These are my ramblings and I can’t blame anybody else for the lack of interesting, entertaining or useful content. Still, it’s much more fulfilling than the static site with a few pictures of friends on it. It’s a place to vent, a place to keep things that I want to be reminded of in the future (or remember to do tomorrow). In my head it is some kind of journey that I have embarked on and don’t know where it will finish (but that’s what life is). In the grand scheme of things, however, it is an utterly pointless exercise.

I wrote these words about why I have a web presence sometime back in around 2000. At the time as I running an incarnation of my web site that has long since vanished. I started building a personal site for myself at the back-end of 1993 when HTML mark-up first hit the scene and I had very little to do while working the night shift.

Over time, of course, many things have changed. A couple of years ago the craze we know as blogging planted small roots but grew quickly. Drowning, as I was at the time, at an internet advertising company I toyed with, but never fully developed, the concept of my blog. I played with blogger and thought of all the great site management uses it had (at one time I worked for a company that built a large, complex site with almost no concept of a content management system). Still, I kept a small site at and thought nothing more of it.

When the internet business went into free-fall and I, fortunately, remained in gainful employment I once again investigated a blog. I thought that the hard times that faced the industry were worth documenting and I tried but soon tired of the project. So I turned the blog into a personal journal (rather, weblog) and updated it daily. It did not, however, live under the URL. Daily updates, of course, are beyond many of us and, again, I gave up.

Of course, the logical progressions is to what it has become today – an oft-updated collection of thoughts and ramblings (akin to drunken conversations in a pub, but without the sickening “what did I say” feeling the next morning). Without the self-imposed pressures of trying to do something daily, it’s a much better experience (from the author’s side).

So, what is it?

It is, of course, a personal site. These are my ramblings and I can’t blame anybody else for the lack of interesting, entertaining or useful content. Still, it’s much more fulfilling than the static site with a few pictures of friends on it. It’s a place to vent, a place to keep things that I want to be reminded of in the future (or remember to do tomorrow). In my head it is some kind of journey that I have embarked on and don’t know where it will finish (but that’s what life is). In the grand scheme of things, however, it is an utterly pointless exercise.

It is a weblog (rather than a journal) for I comment on things that interest me. Some of those things, obviously, are directly to do with my life but, most content, is not a diarised version of my life. I have seen journals and web logs referred to a mini-soap operas before. You can see into somebody else’s life. Well, I don’t think will do that for you. It may give you an idea of what is in my mind right now, but then there are many things that I don’t comment on, so I suspect anybody reading this will get a wholly unrealistic picture of Jon Curnow. My favorite journals and weblogs are listed in the Give Us Our Daily Blog entry.

It’s pointless then?

Despite what I said above – not really. If you didn’t read the link at the top of the page, do so now (I’m to lazy to copy the text and my impression count goes up). I think there is a great power in personal publishing. This is my little contribution.


Health Warning

Most of this content is now out-of-date. I like to think it was written in simpler times, but actually, technology has made site maintenance much easier.  However, I think it’s worth keeping this around, and snippets are still valid. And who uses the word colophon anymore?  Web 1.o, huh?


When some of this content was in beta form Mosaic had arrived and, I guess, the graphical web browser was about to change my life. At the time I was working the night shift in a small office just off Euston Road in London and learning HTML and using the Internet seemed like a good way to pass the night.

With one browser it was easy. HTML seemed logical (if limited) yet within months all that had changed. I used to be one of Netscape’s biggest fans; they pushed the boundaries and tested the standards. Several years, and the development of many web sites, later my attitudes have changed.

Graphical web browsers were created to help you, the user, control the way the documents you are reading look. Commercialisation of the web, particularly the insistence by content creators that they controlled every pixel on the page, meant the user was given less control. Add to that the fact that many users don’t understand that fundamental of the web, and you’re left with an industry that is moving away from that guiding principal. It’s a shame, but this kind of development has reinforced my belief that content creators and software vendors (including those that code the browsers) should adhere to standards.

I have always been in favour of standards and, for the basics of the web to survive, I believe those standards are even more important today. My site has been tested against the major browsers and also against Opera – which is a browser that I would whole-heartedly recommend if you are looking for a compact, compliant and fast browser. My current browser of choice is Mozilla which gets better with every release. If your site does not render using Mozilla, and I don’t need to read it, I’ll go elsewhere.

Originally, my personal site was written using Allaire’s HomeSite web-authoring tool. I had an email suggesting this went against my belief in the fundamentals of the web but unlike almost any other HTML coding tool I have tested over the years, HomeSite does not necessarily add unnecessary HTML or re-format HTML you have written. These days, however, I employ Moveable Type across all the web sites I run. Using style sheets it does a fine job of separating content from design as well as making sites easy to update. If I was the purist I wanted to be I would argue for hand written code every time but none of us has the time and Moveable Type twinned with HomeSite makes a nice, easy-to-use, alternative. HomeSite’s HTML validator is also useful if you want to try and keep some coding standards on your site (and before anybody else emails me, I know this site isn’t perfect).

Conforming to a standard does not mean you can’t implement many of the latest mark-up developments though. My site is built using style sheets and I make use of the JavaScript SRC command so I can control my sctipts better. As such, you will need a CSS complaint browser and JavaScript enabled to see it the way I hope you would. I don’t require a certain screen resolution, colours or window size as I don’t like sites that try to tell you how you should view them. However, I don’t think it is a bad rule to make sure you are always using the latest version of your chosen browser.

You may also care you read my PGP public key page which contains some information on why I occasionally use PGP.

As I am not a graphic designer, Paint Shop Pro is my image editor of choice. It does all I need it to. I try to keep the image sizes down to speed your loading time and there should always be an ALT tag in my code so you can, if you wish, switch them off.

Like many other website I make use of the Georgia and Verdana fonts (available from Microsoft) which were designed for reading on the screen. However, if you don’t like the you can always set your browser to override them.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, I’ve made the move to Windows XP at home (although I have fallen for Windows 2000 in my office). I actually write a lot of my content on my Palm Vx (which replaced my trust Palm Pilot Pro in Fenruary 2000). I use the QED file editor and pull them in after a backup. If you know a good Palm HTML edior, send me an email. My web pages are hosted with Instant Web and I recommend them if you don’t want a hosting company who bombards you with emails and offers and who let you get on with building your pages.

And finally a word about Copyright. When I produced the UK Radio Information Pages, other people passed off much of that content as their own (more about UKRIP, here). So, please ask before taking anything. All the images on this site are either mine or have been publicly available in newgroups. If you own the copyright to anything, let me know and it will be removed. If, however, you want to link to this site, please feel free. Linking content together is what the web is all about – and I do get frustrated when companies try to sue over a few links.


As you can probably tell I am a great believer in the use of the web for free speech. As such, is voluntarily rated with the internet content rating association (icra).

Useful Resources

If you want to read more about web standards W3C is not only a standards creator but a useful starting point; try for more information on browsers and try for some JavaScript starting points and a ton of links. For a useful style sheet resource try The UK Copyright Licensing Agency is a useful resource and three is a good discussion about web copyright here. If you’re not familiar with the term colophon then you should read this or this.


The are many reasons why I am happy to have a web presence. Some of them are simple and to do with how I first cam across the internet. You can read about that, and my opinions on browser standards, in colophon.

However, I do believe in some of the underlying principals on which the Internet, as we know it, was founded. The ideals of a less censored form of communication, open and available to all, appeals to some deep belief I have in the basics of human community. A medium that is not owned or controlled by any one individual seems to make sense to me.

I believe in the power of connected networks to allow better communication and empower people who would not otherwise have a voice. The world is better for open and free expression of opinions and thoughts even if, sometimes, we disagree with those opinions or find them, somehow, unpleasant. I would rather thoughts and feelings were on the web than contained within and ready to erupt into violence (when thoughts turn to violence we all loose).

While I am in the spirit of the net, don’t forget to check out The Open Directory Project and play your part in creating the greatest web directory of them all!

Of course, this all sounds very grand but many years ago I just wanted to play with HTML and see what I could do. I’ve moved on a lot from those early experiments with the Mosaic Browser (yes, Netscape and Internet Explorer were some way off) but wish I’d held onto some of those early efforts. Where is the archive of the way the web looked in 1993? I wish I had the screen shots!

Digital networks may have changed our lives but I do not think that they should take over our lives, and that’s probably why there isn’t much here yet! Still, if you have anything to say, or more especially if you are a Curnow, why not drop me a note?