Time to boycott Facebook

Facebook intends to force the “new Facebook” on all its users next week. They’ve effectively told easily 100,000 people — at least — “screw you, we don’t care about what you think”, and they obviously haven’t bothered to take into account any of the feedback people against it have been sending them. Time to boycott the ugly new Facebook, then. You’d think that they’d be smart enough to know that the current look is an asset, but apparently not.


International journalists at Olympics find net access censored

Web access for international journalists already in Beijing to cover the Olympic Games is being censored, according to media reports.

In addition to sites relating to the Falungong spiritual movement, which is banned in China, some international news websites, as well as websites of human rights organisations, are blocked.

And, guess what? The IOC is backing China on this. IOC press commission chairman Kevan Gosper contradicts his own statement in the same interview when speaking to the South China Morning Post of Hong Kong: “There will be full, open and free internet access during Games time to allow journalists to report on the Olympics… but […] some of the IOC officials had negotiated with the Chinese that some sensitive sites would be blocked.”

“Full, open and free internet access” that sees “some sensitive sites blocked”?

The BBC quotes a Beijing Olympic Games Organising Committee spokesman, Sun Weide, as saying that China will provide “sufficient and convenient” net access for scribes. Why is the IOC allowing this to happen? What happened to all those empty promises?

The IOC is complicit with the Beijing government in this. Why does the IOC continue to claim otherwise?

CNN’s McCain wish

CNN The Situation Room screencapture of John McCain, with a caption reading \"(D) Presidential Candidate\"

Simple mistake, or something deeper showing through? CNN obviously wishes Senator McCain was a Democrat…

Indiana people are s***?

This video allegedly shows an aide to Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton telling Clinton backer James Carville this about an upcoming primary: “Indiana? Those people are shit.”

Well, as the BBC’s Justin Webb reports, it’s a hoax. It’s been dubbed; the footage taken from a documentary.

Is this what Sen Obama’s supporters have stooped down to?

World Have Your Say blank page

Along with Steve in the D.C. area, I’m helping moderate this weekend’s World Have Your Say Blank Page. It’s basically a place for WHYS regulars to discuss stories over the weekend, when there are no broadcasts of WHYS. You’re free to join in — you can join our existing, ongoing discussions on homosexuality, airplanes and stereotypes (not necessarily linked!) or you can propose a new discussion.

BBC, are you listening?

It appears the answer is “no”. Despite well over 2,300 (at least 2,348 as of this writing) comments — mostly negative — on the three four five BBC blog posts about this so far: Steve Herrmann (1591), Ben Gallop (443), Julia Whitney (145), Steve Herrmann again (80) and Ben Gallop again (89), the BBC are sticking to their guns.

As I blogged about yesterday, my biggest gripe is with the BBC Sport ‘refresh’ (it looks nothing like the old site, compared to BBC News) although I dislike the refresh in general. The old layout was nicer — a view shared by probably about 2,000 of the 2,348 of those who’ve commented on the change.

I’ve noticed a couple of BBC computers reading yesterday’s blog post (at least three, come on you guys, can you do anything about it?) so please, if you have any influence at all with the team dealing with the website, please get them to listen.

In the meantime, Dan G has posted a helpful way for Firefox and Opera users to ‘fix’ the new layout — although, as he points out, it’s not going to put the missing links [see my gripe yesterday under the BBC Sport section of my post] back where they were. Thanks for that, Dan, I’m getting that installed right away.

BBC (especially Ben Gallop, if by some chance you’re reading this): please fix it. I’m on the verge of hopping over to other sports (and to a lesser extent, news) sites for my info fix.

news.bbc.co.uk layout changed — atrocious

(A newer blog post, with a helpful temporary workaround to coding issues at the BBC, is now up.)

I’m sure I’m not the only one who hates the new layout of news.bbc.co.uk. But, to start, if anyone from the BBC — Steve Herrmann, are you reading? — sees this, take heart in the fact that I don’t think the change is all bad.

Let’s start from the very front: BBCNews.com.

Old BBC News front page The old BBC News front page, from early 2007 (from archive.org, therefore some images are missing) is on left. On right, the current version of the BBC News front page. New BBC News front page

I don’t have too many complaints about the main page, as it’s not radically different from the old one. One grouse I have is about the new BBC-wide header (the black one you see on the image in the right), which replaces the old navigation bar header (Home/News/Sport/Radio/TV/Weather/Languages on the left image). I was a big user of that navigation bar to easily jump to BBC Sport [which has, as you’ll see later, not been spared in the update], and I’m unhappy.

Another subtle change is that video and audio has been moved above features and analysis. Not a major concern, that. Front page: Well done. Keeps the feel of the old front page to an extent, which is good.

Let’s move on to what we find inside. For example, let’s take the “Americas” section of the site.

Old “Americas” section on BBC News website The old BBC News Americas page, from July 2007 (from archive.org, therefore some images are missing) is on left. On right, the current version of the same page. New “Americas” section on BBC News website

Obviously the BBC is still in the process of updating the Americas index to suit the new style, but there are already obvious changes. For one, there is a far shorter list of recent stories on the updated site (right), compared to the July 2007 version of the site (left). I expect that when the updating is complete the Americas index will not look dissimilar from the front page. Again, not many grouses here (at least not until I get to see the finished product of the index).

You might be wondering why I said I “hate” this new layout, then. Well, let’s get to that: the articles themselves. I’m using two different articles here, both from the “Europe” section of the site, one from last month before the update and one from today.

Old “Europe” article on BBC News website What an article in “Europe” used to look like before the switch in early March 2008 (left). A different “Europe” article after the switch (right) seems to make things far more difficult to negotiate. You can’t actually tell from these images, however. New “Europe” article on BBC News website

To see what I mean about the navigation differences between the two, have a look at them yourself. Here’s the article from today and here’s the one from Mar 10.

One big gripe I have is that the font size seems fixed. If you notice in the image on the left (the story about Sarkozy’s poll losses), the font size is small (and how I like it). However, on the same settings with the new articles, you get what you see on the right. If you’re reading this, Mr Herrmann, please get your technical people to fix it? (Another thing you need to fix: the UK/international versions seem slightly mixed up at the moment, especially on UK articles [this one for example, where despite being the international edition you get a link to watch BBC News 24 live at the top of the page].)

The whitespace on the right in the old articles are no longer present, though, which is a welcome change. (This is not as obvious on monitors running larger resolutions, in which the centralisation of the page means that there’s still whitespace, only evenly split between the left and right and a shade of grey instead, which is nice.)

And, as I mentioned earlier, BBC Sport has not been spared. This is my biggest complaint of it all. Compared to the BBC News change, the BBC Sport main page has changed totally, bearing minimal resemblance to the old page. Horrible, horrible, horrible. See for yourself:

Old BBC Sport homepage On left: the old BBC Sport website, taken from archive.org, as seen after last year’s Cricket World Cup. On right: The current, ‘refreshed’ version of the site bears very little, if any, resemblance to the old site. New BBC Sport homepage

Again, here, same issues about font size apply. And the new layout is very confusing for me. The old layout had the top stories separated by their sport, which made it easy to see all the top stories for a certain sport right off the front page. The new layout lists all the top stories in random order, with the sport involved listed left of the link headline. Very messy. The old layout was better organised in all aspects.

Please, BBC, I’m a big fan, but you need to get your act together.

I think you need to listen to a majority of the 600 1300-odd comments you’ve already got on your editors’ blog: the old layout was nicer.