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August 24, 2005

Amoxil, Dogs, Thongs and Googletestad

Is the Human Condition, as of the past 48 hours, at long last laid bare in the latest Wordtracker keywords? Its a daunting thought.

Provided the majority of us are fundamentally dishonest1, animal-loving2, teenage3, sex-starved4, internet-challenged5, lovesick6, games-playing7, seriously infected8, SEO-driven9, celebrity-besotted10, hair-conscious Afro-Caribbean11, disturbed12 parents-to-be13 rocking14 to the radio 15 as we drive16 to a beach holiday17, perhaps for One Night in Paris18, then Wordtracker leaves the likes of Kant and Sartre standing.

Speaking personally, almost the only words I knew about for sure were those classified below as ‘internet-challenged’ - those once hilarious, now rather sad searches still made thousands of time a day for google.com or www.yahoo.com.

Also, I suppose I recognised most of the ‘dirty’ searches, far as they are from being anything of the sort. Hopefully, this is an expurgated list, otherwise the renowned porno tendencies of the web come out looking decidedly limp when ‘nudist’, breasts’, ‘skinny dipping’, ‘panties’ and ‘hot chicks’ are the filthiest things anyone can think of lusting after. Rather like the unclean musings of a dodgy Victorian clergyman, they would be sweet if they weren’t so twee.

The most interesting terms were, as always, the weirdest (and provided the initial reason for starting what has turned out to be this massive and personally debilitating exploration of lowest common denominators drizzled liberally with intricate mark-up!)

Possible explanations for the constantly high ranking of Googletestad as a search keyword have turned into a virtual SEO sub-industry of their own. Despite several heroic research projects. no-one has yet unearthed either any meaning for the term, nor cause for its endless popularity. Its like a ghost of the internet, everywhere but nowhere. What it has become, thanks to Wordtracker and its ilk, is the keyword for anyone looking for, or lacking, a keyword of their own. Build a webpage around googletestad, and the SEO punters will come flocking, hungry for ‘improving’ software.

Amoxil is (to me) a complete mystery, well ahead of such hyper-optimised terms as ‘Britney’ or ‘thongs’; is it something to do with (shhhh) sexually-transmitted disease? If not, why is it up there, when Viagra, let alone Osama Bin Laden, George W Bush or Iraq, are absolutely nowhere? (Answers to Sir Ian Blair on a postcard please - he needs them - or comment below for forwarding)

Being a limey (and having lumbered myself with a mass of useless research into some crappy American rock bands and even crappier American actresses as a consequence in taking on this exhausting piece) there were occasional nuggets of knowledge to be unearthed in attempting to quantify this Wordtracker list in terms of its net contribution to universal knowledge, albeit not many. (I should perhaps mention in mitigation that I used the latest Wordtracker email update of the top 300 keyword surges from the last 48 hours, rather than the paltry 30 surges posted on their website).

For instance, I did like ‘child gps’ riding high at # 37, which led to this fascinating scenario on the Larta site:

In the future, we won’t lose anything. Advances in global positioning system technology allow users to easily pinpoint the location of any object on earth. GPS boards have been reduced to the size of a postage stamp. Soon, we could attach GPS locators to everything we own - cell phones, briefcases, wallets - and even our children. GPS products are being developed for child safety and parental supervision, personal protection, Alzheimer and memory loss supervision, law enforcement, animal identification, property tracking, and a host of other applications.

Also, I seriously dug oakley sunglasses at # 191; as a must-have fashion accessory their ‘wearable electronics’ (cool shades with built-in mp3 players or mobile phones) beat over-priced and under-functional products like Burberry iPod cases any 48 hours.

If not unquestionably the answer to where we come from and where we’re going (although it could be), this Wordtracker snapshot of the current zeitgeist is at least ultimately reassuring: there will be no shortage of babies in the foreseeable future, Pamela Anderson endures despite everything, and it certainly looks like the Sedu company has hit a winning niche in the multi-cultural hair processing market.

As for Paris Hilton, what can anyone say? She will, whatever, always provide the best possible excuse for staying at the Crillon.


Footnotes

The numbers (#1, #2 etc) in each footnote are the ranking of their accompanying word/phrase in the Wordertracker top 300 Surge report of 24-8-05:

1 # 1 - games cheat, #2 - playstation game cheats
2 #5 dogs, #103 zoo cams, #142 puppies, #255 dogs for sale, #256 wicked weasel, #276 neopets
3 #2 playstation game cheats , #25 - britney spears,#33 my chemical romance, #36 green day, #42 teen, #45 breasts, #52 gameboy advance cheats, #66 tattoos, #73 myspace, #84 obituaries, #94 college girls
4 #4 paris hilton, #10 pamela anderson, #16 girls, #26 nudist, #31 pam anderson, #35 vagina, #45 breasts, #61 hot, #67 babes, #79 asian, #87 panties, #108 gay (.. and so on, down to… #138 skinny dipping, #169 swingers, #277 ls magazine, #280 taylor rain
5 #6 yahoo, #7 ebay, #8 google, #21 mapquest, #24 yahoo.com, #43 search engines, #50 ebay.com, #55 hotmail.com, #58 hotmail, #83 google.com, #95 amazon.com, #104 a, #130 myspace.com, #146 www.yahoo.com, #192 www.ebay.com, #260 1
6 #11 - poetry, #70 wedding vows, #200 love, #287 wife, #296 love poems
7 #1 (as above), #2 (as above), #23 play games, #29 games, #34 game cheats for ps2, #52 gameboy advance cheats, #276 neopets
8 #14 amoxil
9 #17 googletestad, #57 google dance
10 #4 paris hilton, #9 jessica simpson, #10 pamela anderson, #12 jenna jameson, #15 carmen electra, #19 hilary duff, #25 britney spears, #30 jessica alba, #31 pam anderson, #41 jennifer lopez, #44 angelina jolie,#68 eminem, #71 jude law ….. #253 nikki nova, #268 bart simpson, #271 eva mendes
11 #22 sedu hair styles, #145 sedu flat iron, #161 sedu hair straightener, #222 sedu hair straighteners, #290 sedu beauty products.
12 #285 disturbed, #297 c, #295 x, #286 weird al, #262 wwe, #260 l, #245 best man speech, #220 disney, #214 pussycat dolls, #202 big, #187 bow wow, #170 horses, #153 slipknot, #149 a14a, #104 a
13 #3 top 100 baby names, #18 names and their meanings, #37 child gps, #70 wedding vows, #78 family guy, #116 meaning of names, #244 breast, #266 baby names, #298 recipes
14 #33 my chemical romance, #36 green day, #41 jennifer lopez, #46 music lyrics, #60 system of a down, #68 eminem, #72 christina aguilera, #82 50 cent, #97 beyonce ….. #275 metallica, #289 madonna, #294 ludacris
15 #13 free radio stations, #28 radio stations
16 #39 dodge charger, #53 kelly blue book, #81 maps, #96 cars,#168 traffic cameras, #175 used cars, #177 driving directions
17 #26 nudist, #27 california, #32 thongs, #38 bikini, #40 thong, #61 hot, #100 weather, #138 skinny dipping, #169 swingers,#186 flower tattoos, #189 wet, #190 nudists, #191 oakley sunglasses, #193 beach, #300 hot chicks
18 #4 paris hilton (undisputed queen of the keywords)

Posted by Iain Stewart at 1:32 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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August 10, 2005

Lucida Grande

Lucida Grande is the default style sheet font on many (most?) of the coolest and hottest of cutting-edge websites. A random sample currently includes Jeffrey Zeldman’s A List Apart, Dave Shea’s Mezzoblue, quite a number of the official CSS Zen Garden entries, Mike Pick’s minor reworking of the ubiquitous and influential Kubrick template for Wordpress, and just about any site designed by anyone with a Mac, not least the Apple site itself.

As someone consigned since (cyber)birth to the Windows operating system, yet notwithstanding this with a fervent interest in CSS theory and practice, the initial proliferation of Lucida Grande in the stylesheets of my heroes (which I deconstructed avidly if surreptitiously long before the advent of the magnificent Web Developer toolbar for Firefox) was something of a mystery, putting it mildly. This was because I had never heard of the font.

I had Lucida Sans or Lucida Unicode as standard Microsoft installations, but these were rarely, if ever, stipulated as alternatives in the stylesheets in question, so I ended up back in Verdana or Arial as usual, which were generally appended as habitual afterthoughts just before the final sans-serif catchall for those sad users who didn’t have anything at all (especially RAM).

For others equally deprived of Mac culture, Lucida Grande comes as part of the default font set of the Apple OSX system. Accordingly - presumably - it was thus assumed by Mac world denizens to be as globally available as Times New Roman is for the rest of us.

Well, its not. In fact, it took me quite a while to discover anywhere I could download a free version of the font re-engineered for Windows. I finally found the best emulations of all the OSX system fonts here, or a zip file of just the emulated Mac Lucida fonts here.

Since I discovered how good, and legible, Lucida Grande appears to be, I must say I have begun to put it into the style sheets of other sites I’ve been working on. Often (like my heroes) as the first choice. However, in the knowledge that perhaps 90 percent or more of any likely visitors will not have it on their systems, I also list Lucida Sans and Lucida as alternatives (which I think most people should have) and always add Arial and Helvetica as well - having gone off Verdana of late and never having seriously been into such outre choices as Trebuchet MS which have swept the web in the past.

I also test how a site which may have Lucida Grande as first choice looks in its Arial alternative, which is quite a bit different, to say the least. Lucida Grande is, as the name implies, quite a lot larger than either Lucida Sans or Arial at the same pixel size - which is what is most attractive about it as well.

In my most private moments, I sometimes dare to ask myself how designing a site primarily in Lucida Grande fits in with the ‘Standards-compliant’ philosophies which all my greatest heroes espouse so energetically. I presume its as cool as they are.

Posted by Iain Stewart at 10:39 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack
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August 7, 2005

England Win!

With the most exciing finish to a test match ever, England beat the Aussies by 2 runs.

Flintoff, Pietersen, Harmison all amazing, Vaughan a great captain (pity about the batting) and even Geraint Butterfingers Jones getting that final tensest-ever wicket, this somehow makes it all worth it. Just seeing Ponting’s face at the end…

Now its Old Trafford on Thursday, and the chance of greatness beckons….its been a long long time.

Posted by Iain Stewart at 1:10 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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August 3, 2005

Another Empire Pay Back?

Ageing hippie Christopher Hitchins talks good sense on Fox News about English leniency being partly to blame for recent Anglo-Muslim extremism. He interestingly mentions break up of British Empire and the Partition of India as a possibly deeper cause of (Pakistani) Islamist resentment than the similarly-aged and British-engineered creation of Israel. More organic food for thought in this exhausting period of English reassessment.

Posted by Iain Stewart at 4:40 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack
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