I’d love to be able to report on the site that everyone is talking about this month - The Sun’s Unfortunately I can’t and here’s why.

I’d love to be able to report on the site that everyone is talking

about this month - The Sun’s Unfortunately I can’t and

here’s why.

In order to get the authentic civilian experience, I had a machine set

up with a clean version of Windows 98 and organised a clear analogue

outside line. (For those of you who don’t know, is

designed for people who don’t already have internet access and loading

it on to a computer that already holds internet software can lead to all

sorts of problems.)

I had even carefully arranged to be suffering from a hangover (so as to

reduce my level of technical competence to that of a bloke who drives a

white van).

I plugged in the disk and fired up. Six hours later, our IS team was

still trying to work out why the sign-up process froze at the first data

collection screen and the entire installing process had to be


I had great hopes for as a democratising influence on the

web in the UK. We’re way ahead of the rest of the world in the free

internet service provider business model and are moving towards free

hardware deals. It will be a pity if a launch as significant as this

continues to be overshadowed by technical problems.

It’s great to see a site so ideally suited to the medium as the new

Digireels internet front-end. Digital delivery of content and complex

database searching are core benefits of the web and that’s just what

Digireels does for a living.

For a while, the company has been providing an intranet-based ad

retrieval and showreel service but, on the web, this was severely

restricted by download speeds. On the original system, ads could be

found, viewed, compiled and dispatched only if you subscribed to a 2Mb

connection. A limited internet service enabled you to compile tapes

without viewing and then download over time - sometimes a matter of

hours, but still useful for customers in a hurry.

The new service provides a Realplayer facility to enable real-time

viewing at reasonable quality on the web. As a value-added extra, the

top new ads of each week are streamed free at the site. Apparently,

eight of the top 20 agencies subscribe to the full Digireels service.

Using the web front-end, you start to appreciate why.

The prize for the month’s clumsiest URL must go to New Woman Online


But my eight attempts to type it in were rewarded with an engaging


Call me a sissy but I like women’s magazines and the content in New

Woman seems particularly apt for the web - it’s short, funny and punchy.

I’ve just failed the commitment quiz, taken ’The Todger Test’ (the

results of which are strictly sub judice), and I now know 12 facts about

’Mr McGorgeous’, Ewan MacGregor, that I bet you don’t.

I suppose Emap has a bit of a head-start having such a great content

resource, but you only need to cruise around a couple of modern magazine

sites to realise that good content can do things to a site that no

amount of technology or graphic wizardry can compensate for. In a way,

this sort of site is a glimpse into the future. One day people will make

enough money from sites to pay for really compelling, original content.

Then a lot more sites will be worth visiting.

Finally, a triumph of cyber democracy: an online vote on the most

pressing issue of the day. Should we send ground troops into Kosovo?

Should we embrace unified taxation across Europe?

Nothing so trivial. By visiting, you can help Coco,

the Kellogg’s monkey, decide on the best name for a peculiarly repellent

looking chocolate-covered puffed rice product. Like right-thinking

people everywhere, you will have been appalled when Coco Pops became

Choco Krispies. Now is your chance to exercise your prerogative and

right this appalling state of affairs.

To arms, cyber citizens! Cast your vote and bring back Coco Pops. Drive

the evil foreign Choco Krispies into the sea.


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