Tuesday, December 23, 2003

And this one won't be christmas

It is only christmas when you make it one. I have too many things to take care of. Some are not even worth mentioning but I know I will keep doing them as late as six in the evening of Dec. 25. My grandma keeps asking me what is wrong with me these days. I avoid giving her a straight answer. She thinks it is something to do with my personal life. But I want to show her that there are circumstances out there beyond my control. Something has gone terribly wrong. And the bad things have spilled their dirt in my path. The next best thing to do is to handle the crisis. I will come on top. That is just the way I am.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

My observation of the commercial domain of the Web

I can tell you that in order for Web advertising to work, advertisers have done more than they would in the print medium. For example, animated ads as opposed to still ads are needed to attract online users. To the extent advertisers use new features of the online medium that are nonexistent in print - audio and video downloads, animated images, hyperlinks, and site maps - are enhancing user attention to advertising. Makers of anti-pop-ups softwares might also have to adapt their business models if people become accustomed to blocking ads.
Web Advertising: A historical perspective

Now I am even more confused than you are. This is what I think I am doing.

From symbols in Babylon to painted walls in Rome. And now dot-com in the machine. Writing about the age of Web Advertising depends upon the definition of advertising and whether the writer on the subject wishes to make the art an ancient one.
There are those who will question that anything as modern as we consider advertising to be has a history; yet the facts show that it not only has a history but it is an interesting chronicle. Advertising as we know it is new in its aspects, but its ideas and objects are as old as the human race.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Bad Ads for good people
Hatred of pop-up ads has generated a wide range of products designed to eliminate them. Some advertisers have devised fairly sleazy way of getting consumers to unkwingly install pop-up ads that appear periodically on their hard drives. The absence of pop-ups has led to consumer behaviour that includes reflexively closing the ad window before it can be glanced (Graham, 2002).

Monday, December 01, 2003

My other task

I spent the best part of thanksgiving driving in Palo Pinto County. The motivation was to see Alice Walton's ranch in Mineral Wells, located west of Dallas. She is the richest Texan. She owns $20.5 billion bank accounts spread all over the United States. I will say nothing more about her money. My country's annual budget is $800 million - just a little more than University of North Texas annual budget. That country is about the size of the state of Texas. Thirty million individuals live there.
I learned she is single. A ride along the US 281 took me to her ranch stretching several thousands of rolling acres of land. A flourish of western calligraphy on the gate announces the name of her ranch, "A.W Rocking Ranch." I noticed that when a-twice- divorced woman like Ms. Walton living alone, sometimes the vast lawns and grand entrance drive way to her compound could stand quiet for many days at a time - silent and beautiful. No one appeared. No one was there to direct the hundreds of horses she keeps.
I didn't enter her compound although the gate was unlocked. A friend told me that you cannot walk into someone's compound in the United States uninvited. I believed him and stayed away.

The neighborhood.

Most of her neighbors live in this mountain river estate in a mix of wood frame houses, and mobile homes and, a large river. I saw the beautiful Brazos river. Its main tributary begins as a narrow stream in Eastern Mexico and forms at the confluents the Double Mountain Fork and the Salt Fork in Stonewall County and flow through Texas for 932 miles before reaching the Gulf of Mexico near Freeport. I will tell you about my mission and her inside story later.
Original Work
I still don't know if I am doing the right thing. Ok, my topic looked simple. But if talented - more than me - researchers out there haven't said a thing about it, then it is a sign of really original work. At the end of the day I will be the most proud of my work. The professor will appreciate it too. It is a long and perhaps boring paper about the commercial domain of the web - and the commercial killers. People who are resisting the direction the Web is taking. I am not one of them.

Monday, November 24, 2003

Worse Ad formats around the corner 

Banners Ads haven't been working for many sites, and pop-ups are so reviled, many sites are abandoning them including myself. The current fashion seems to be text ads. But what if text ads don't work? Is there anything after that?
Interstitial Ads news.com
Web for Sale
Does anyone remember, sometime back in 1995, when there was debate whether commercial activity was appropriate in the hallowed halls of the Internet? The floodgates are swung open, and are approaching - at Web speed - the moment when a gentle touch of regulatory correction is needed if we are to maintain some semblance of balance.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Pop-up ads are everywhere but more and more are being loudly abandoned. The web started with no advertising at all and a limited number of sites - remember The really Big Button That Doesn't Do Anything at pixelscape.com/spatulacity/button.htm? Then came the banner ads , then came the boom and a lot of banner ads.
Pop-up ads actually come in two broad flavors: pop-ups, which pop in front of the site you are viewing, and pop unders, which open a window underneath the current window you are looking at. Some are static ads, while some blink, flash, and generally get in your face.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003


Gator, an on-line Ad company argues that consumers should decide what they see on the Web and not Web site owners.

On-line ad company Gator has bitten back against recent lawsuits by launching its own case against a business that has complained about its pop-up ads.

US-based Gator Corp provides free software to consumers that enables them to store information such as passwords for logging onto sites. The catch however is that users of its software must agree to receive ads in return and when they visit certain Web sites a code is triggered that inundates them with pop-up ads. And, very often, the owners of these sites have not agreed to display these ads.

This has led to several companies such as the Washington Post and United Parcel Service (UPS) suing Gator for infringing on their sites. UPS, for instance, charged that it led to its competitors' ads appearing on its Web site.

However, now Gator has decided to turn the tables and has set the lawyers on Extended Stay America Inc to ensure that Extended cannot block its ads, a report on Bloomberg claims. Gator's argument is that consumers should be able to decide what they see on the Web and not Web site owners. It said in its suit that Extended Stay America has no right to prevent computer users from choosing to get its software and "viewing separate works, comprising advertising on that user's own computer screen, even when other works share the screen."

Gator has declined to comment about the case, but on-line advocacy group, Electronic Frontier Foundation, which is considering supporting Gator's case, has said the issue is about who controls a computer when people go on-line. "Is it you, or is it the company whose Web site you happen to be using?" asked Fred von Lohmann, a senior staff attorney for the Foundation. He told Bloomberg that if Gator loses, Web site owners would have "far more control over the end user than is appropriate."

Shenda Loughnane, managing director of Dublin based interactive ad agency, Ican, disagreed. She told ElectricNews.Net that Gator was effectively piggybacking on some sites without their permission and was not following standard rules for the use of pop-up ads.

"I have somehow had my computer 'infected' by Gator and it churns up pop-ads all the time, which is very irritating. Pop-up ads should be frequency capped and targeted at the site's audience or area of interest, and Gator does neither. It's very negative from a consumer's point of view and is something that a company like Ican does not want to see," remarked Loughnane.

She added that it could be argued that Gator is trespassing on sites that have not asked for its pop-up ads. Although she was not sure what could be done about the situation, she commented that consumers should realise that nothing is for free on the Internet anymore.

In its suit, Gator is asking for a ruling that it does not violate the rights of Web site operators. It is also appealing an earlier ruling that ordered it to stop putting pop-up ads on certain sites.


What changed in the Web advertising in the last decade?
While planning this paper, I solicit articles from scholars known for their work on the development of Web advertising. I make no attempt to establish a particular theme or method but I examine articles that trace changes in Web advertising in the last decade.
Forcing Exposure to Internet Advertising
This paper explores Web surfers' reactions when they are forced to view advertising. The purpose of this paper is twofold: First, I investigate what characteristics of pop-up ads are perceived as intrusive: specifically congruence with editorial content. Second, I hope to understand better the relationship between surfers and ads being perceived as intrusive by examining reactions such as irritation and Web site avoidance.

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Has news integrity suffered?
News organizations have poured resources into building and maintaining dynamic and compelling sites on the web which have also sort the means to make their web-based efforts commercially viable. The critical concern is to maintain editorial control and quality while introducing the new sysytem.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

What do webmasters think?
While looking for news, ads on the web can be downright obnoxious. For people with slow modem connections, there is nothing as infuriating as having waited 30 seconds for an animation to download - only to find out that it is a banner ad for a casino.
What is even worse is that many news web sites are designed so that the content of the page doesn't appear until the ads show up.
When bad ads get in the way of news readers
As I watch people in computer labs surf the Internet , I am often suprised several of them get angered by pop-up ads on the Web sites. It is suprising because the longer I look at those people the more I see changing faces. They seem to say "ads don't quit flying." A report last year from Statistical Research, Inc. said pop-up ads were 50 percent more likely to be noticed. It is also noted they are 100 percent more likely to be considered intrusive. Yet advertisers are still singing praises of this ad format in the news Web sites. Don't they get it?

Monday, October 13, 2003

Stupid Ads
I know there is forced viewing of "pop-up ads" in online news. Luckily, there are none on this blog. Viewers have come to define those ads as irritating and they decide to avoid them. In the process, they also avoid news on that Web site. I will tell you something about that story.
Viewers say that perceived intrusiveness is the underlying mechanism by which the process occurs. You will also learn about that.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003


'We used to think of AIDS as a health issue; we were wrong'
A man cares for his grandson, orphaned by AIDS, in a suburb of the eastern Zambia town of Chipata

In coming to grips with AIDS, the worst health calamity since the Middle Ages and one likely to be the worst ever, consideration inevitably turns to the numbers.

According to estimates from UNAIDS, an umbrella group for five U.N. agencies, the World Bank and the World Health Organization, 34.3 million people in the world have AIDS -- 24.5 million of them in sub-Saharan Africa. Nearly 19 million have died from AIDS, 3.8 million of them children under the age of 15.

Among the other statistics:

* 5.4 million new AIDS infections in 1999, 4 million of them in Africa.

* 2.8 million dead of AIDS in 1999, 85 percent of them in Africa.

* 13.2 million children orphaned by AIDS, 12.1 million of them in sub-Saharan Africa.

* Reduced life expectancy in sub-Saharan Africa from 59 years to 45 between 2005 and 2010, and in Zimbabwe from 61 to 33.

* More than 500,000 babies infected in 1999 by their mothers -- most of them in sub-Saharan Africa.

Finally, this: The bubonic plague is reckoned to have killed about 30 million people in medieval Europe. The U.S. Census Bureau projects that AIDS deaths and the loss of future population from the deaths of women of child-bearing age means that by 2010, sub-Saharan Africa will have 71 million fewer people than it would otherwise.

The numbers are staggering, but they do not begin to encompass the suffering and the dramas that put faces on the epidemic.
'We think we are animals'
A woman in South Africa wears a T-shirt bearing the name of a woman with AIDS who was killed by fellow villagers

One face belonged to Gugu Dlamini, a South African woman who admitted on television on World AIDS Day that she had AIDS. When she returned to her home, she was beaten to death by fellow villagers.

Another belongs to a Ugandan girl named Kevina who lost both parents and her aunts and uncles to AIDS. Although just 14, Kevina must care for four younger brothers, three younger sisters and her blind, 84-year-old grandfather. They have no money, food, health care or transportation. Their roof leaks and other villagers sometimes steal their firewood.

"The teacher calls us orphans," Kevina writes in a letter published by the United Nations Development Program, "but I don't want that name. Even other children don't want that name. We think we are animals."

Increasingly sophisticated treatments have cut the death AIDS death rate in the industrialized countries, but elsewhere the epidemic is gathering momentum.

Infections in the former Soviet Union have doubled in the past two years. Journalist Patricia Thomas, author of a forthcoming book on the search for an AIDS vaccine called "Big Shot," says that "... in India and China, the world's most populous nations, their epidemics have just gotten off the ground."

The focus at the moment, however, is on sub-Saharan Africa, where 10 of the 11 infections that take place each minute occur, where in some countries teachers, doctors and nurses are dying faster than they can be replaced, and where treatment ranges from inadequate to non-existent.
A loaded word

AIDS was first identified in 1959 in what was then the Belgian Congo. Frank Vogl of Transparency International, which tracks corruption in governments, says that until the late 1980s "many African nations were in total denial. They thought we in the West were trying to fool them. They said, 'That's your problem. We've got other things to worry about.' I don't hear that rhetoric much any more."

Although governments are mobilizing -- including Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Swaziland where AIDS is the worst -- they sometimes take their own approach to the problem.

In South Africa, where one of every 10 people has AIDS, President Thabo Mbeki has confounded many by opposing the use of AZT, one of the most successful AIDS drugs, and by appointing an AIDS council that lacks medical researchers or AIDS experts.

"We know the government will intervene, and massively," says Dr. Robert Shell of the Population Research Unit at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, South Africa, "but the pandemic marches forward. Every day we get 1,700 new cases."
Two girls, who have been living with their blind grandmother since their parents died of AIDS two years ago, prepare a meal in the village of Nababirye in Kamuli District, northeast of Kampala, the capital of Uganda

Factors contributing to the spread of AIDS include poverty, ignorance, the prohibitive cost of AIDS drugs, an aversion to discussing sex and, some say, promiscuity.

"Promiscuity is a loaded word," says Shell. "I would say that AIDS is a result of unsafe sexual practices, and unguarded sexual behavior is the most important factor. Ignorance about reproductive health is the biggest factor [and it] is related to poverty and illiteracy. Ten percent of the Africans in my province have other sexually transmitted diseases ...."
'Most men are not tested'

Many men leave their rural homes to work in mines and on construction projects. This mobile work force and rapid urbanization has contributed to cities in which 40 to 50 percent of the population has AIDS.

In a document prepared for the U.N. Development Program, researcher Desmond Cohen writes that a 40 to 50 percent infection rate was once thought "wholly improbable."

Wars have also contributed to the problem.

Like migrant workers, truck drivers and young men, soldiers often visit "commercial sex workers," or prostitutes, 90 percent of whom are believed to have AIDS. Nigerian soldiers with the ECOMOG forces in Sierra Leone and Finnish soldiers serving as peacekeepers in Namibia took AIDS with them when they returned home.

Girls and women are often forced to have sex with men in male-dominated African cultures. In fact, says journalist Thomas, in some areas infected men "believe they can be cured by having sex with a virgin, and 12-year-old girls become infected."

The AIDS rate among women is much higher than among men, but as Shell points out "most men are not being tested."

Meanwhile, they unknowingly may be passing on the infection to African women. Compounding the problem, according to a U.N. study, is that 30 percent of young African women believe if a man looks healthy, he could not have AIDS.
Strangling businesses
Billboards carrying AIDS prevention messages are becoming more common in central Africa. This was one in 1995 in Zambia's capital, Lusaka

Given the variables and incomplete reporting on the epidemic, it is difficult to assess its economic impact with any precision. But there have been estimates that the per capita income in most sub-Saharan countries has declined by 20 percent.

The American Foundation for AIDS Research noted in a research paper late in 1999 that 80 percent of those dying are workers between the ages of 20 and 50 -- workers in their prime.

"AIDS is slowly strangling many businesses and economies," the report said, "and in a global market everyone eventually suffers."

Many companies hire and train two and even three people to do the job of one person because AIDS is certain to fell some of them.

The epidemic is also responsible for the quadrupling of life insurance premiums in Zimbabwe, escalating health costs to Botswana companies by 500 percent and driving the health costs of a large Zambian company so high that they exceeded profits.

In Zimbabwe and Botswana, where roughly one of every four people have AIDS, the disease has cut sharply into population growth with negative consequences.

"The zero growth is coming because people are dying in their young adult years, not after leading full lives and then dying," says Karen Stanecki, chief of health studies for the U.S. Census Bureau.

"People are dying in the years when they're supposed to be most productive, and they won't be there to raise the next generation. Which means you'll have all these orphans and no one to raise them."
The danger of global consequences
A girl orphaned by AIDS shares a floor mat with her foster mother who rests with a baby in their house in Mapete Compound in the town of Kitwe, central Zambia

One of the most alarming speculations is that by the year 2010 there will be 40 million AIDS orphans in Africa, most of whom will have grown up with little or no social structure.

As much as humanitarianism, it is this vision of lawlessness and chaos and their potential to destabilize the global economy that has fueled worldwide concern.

"If we don't work with the Africans themselves to address these problems," U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Richard Holbrooke said in January 2000, "we will have to deal with them later when they will get more dangerous and more expensive."

Researchers are working on an AIDS vaccine, but such a medicine is still years away. In the meantime aggressive prevention programs can, and do, help.

A clever safe-sex campaign using catchy packaging and a suggestive slogan ("So Strong, So Smooth") turned condoms into a must-have item in Uganda. It also cut the AIDS rate from 15 percent to 9.7 percent. A vigorous program in Senegal has kept its infection rate at 2 percent

But African nations spend only $165 million a year to combat AIDS, and it all comes from the industrialized nations. James Wolfensohn, president of the World Bank, told the U.N. Security Council in January 2000 that an effective and comprehensive prevention program for sub-Saharan Africa would cost $2.3 billion a year.

To be effective prevention must be paired with investment that will create jobs, invigorate the educational system and pull the poor out of the "here and now" mentality that makes them susceptible to AIDS.

"Many of us used to think of AIDS as a health issue," Wolfensohn told the Security Council. "We were wrong. AIDS can no longer be confined to the health or social sector portfolios. AIDS is turning back the clock on development."

Says Vogl: "These countries have to make their economies grow. People who are trapped in poverty aren't going to do much about health care. If everything else in the country is falling to pieces, it is not going to have much effect."
AIDS - I don't care how many peopl get cured. I am more interested in the number of people who contract the VIRUS. Don't just sit there, tell a friend that s/he is at risk.

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

A testimony from an AIDS patient

When I first tested HIV-positive in 1985, I was scared to death. There weren't any treatments for HIV back then, and I'd been told that most HIV-positive people die quickly.

We've come a long way since then. There are now 19 drugs on the market to treat this disease, and many more are on the way. Most scientists and doctors believe that HIV can be effectively treated for a very long time in most people.

Whether you've just found out that you're HIV-positive or you've known for years and just want to learn more about your treatment options, it's important to know that fighting HIV isn't like treating a cold. It can still be very complicated. But if you're here, you're taking the right first step – you're starting to take charge of your health and learn about your treatment options.

The most important second step? Take a deep breath. Relax. You're in this for the long haul, and most of what you need to learn about right away is very easy.

Thanks to our partnership with Healthology, a health education company, we also carry a series of "webcasts" – short, online videos – that cover some of the same topics covered in our lessons. Check them out by

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Insults unpunished

Monday, September 29, 2003

AIDs kills
The sad thing is that when you get it, you die. It kills everyone. Africans say may be it is a sex thing, may be not. But who wants to know?

Thursday, September 25, 2003

First Ladies to lobby for women, children
By Francis Openda

The First Ladies conference on HIV/Aids closed yesterday with a commitment to lobby for laws to reduce the vulnerability of women and children to the disease.

In what they described as "the Nairobi Declaration", the First Ladies resolved to take a leadership role in the fight against HIV/Aids among African women and children.

Those who signed the declaration included the conference host and Kenya’s First Lady, Mrs Lucy Kibaki. Others were Rwanda’s First Lady, who is also the OAFLA East Africa Chapter Chairperson, Jeannette Kagame, Uganda’s Janet Museveni and Guinea’s Henriett Conte.

It was also signed by representatives of the First Ladies of Burundi, Gabon, Cameroon, Swaziland, Malawi, Senegal and Benin.

The declaration was made at a news conference addressed by the First Ladies at Safari Park Hotel, the venue of the two day conference.

"We commit ourselves to fully advocate for appropriate support for those infected and affected by HIV/Aids particularly women and girls and to further lobby for governments development planning process to include gender dimensions," said Mrs Kagame who read the declaration.

The First Ladies said gender disparity in Africa magnifies the scourge and further makes women and girls more vulnerable to infection. They blamed social and cultural factors and poverty for making women and girls more vulnerable to HIV infection.

The First Ladies, who are members of the Organisation of African First Ladies Against Aids (OAFLA), also expressed concern about the high incidence of mother to child transmission of the disease.

"We recognise the plight of the increasing number of children orphaned by HIV/Aids and the lack of mechanisms to provide food, shelter, education and health care for these vulnerable children," said Mrs Kagame.

They resolved to advocate for increased access to affordable care and treatment including the scaling up of Anti-retroviral access to those infected.

The First Ladies also committed themselves to reinforce efforts to fight the stigma associated with HIV/Aids and to involve people living with the disease in the process.

Keep this page free until I get you real suprises. Don't ask me what it means.

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