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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2001, MCB UP Limited
... we have the kind of advertising we deserve
... we have the kind of advertising we deserve
Keywords: Internet, Advertising
For my prologue, I propose talking about a couple of utilities. The first one is the Eudora e-mail client. Although I do not use it myself, I have heard good things about Eudora and I note, as breaking news as I write this, that a new version has just been brought out and can be downloaded from the Eudora Web site at http://www.eudora.com This is the first new major version of the software for several years, so it becomes quite an event. So, who would benefit by using it? I'll answer that question by saying that possibly anything would be better than Microsoft Outlook or Outlook Express. Why would I make such a sweeping statement? Quite apart from the fact that these softwares are not as good as the competitors', there is one good reason why Outlook, in either flavour, is not necessarily a very safe software to use. We have all heard of Melissa and its subsequent look-alike viruses or, rather Trojan Horses: this kind of e-mail replication virus works only on Outlook. If you do not use Outlook, then you'll have no problem with them. Personally, I use Netscape Communicator, which has an excellent e-mail client built in, and am quite pleased to say that I have never been troubled by Love Letters or such like. However, as Netscape is nearly as popular as the Microsoft e-mail clients, it is not impossible that some clever blighter may not decide to write a virus specifically for that. Because Eudora only captures a relatively small percentage of the market, it is unlikely that it will ever be attacked, so this is a very good reason for using it.
From what I have heard, Eudora is available in three versions. You can buy the full version or download a light version, free of charge. You can also download what is called the sponsored version which is the same as the full version, except that an advertisement appears each time you use it. Please note that I have not used this software myself and I am announcing it purely as an item of news and not as a recommendation.
Have you ever been bugged by advertisements (deserved or otherwise) on Web sites? I believe that this is the major complaint of most professional users of the Internet. Although they are obtrusive, it is not the presence of the banner ads themselves that is the real bugbear. It is often the time taken to download them which is frustrating. This is because, very frequently, they are not even on the page you are trying to download: they are on a server which does nothing but provide advertisements for third parties. Some of the companies that provide this service – often free of charge – are so popular that their servers become grossly overloaded at peak-times. Add to this the software used for finding the most apposite advertisement according to the context of the site from which the reference comes, and you may be in for a one-minute wait, during which time you can do nothing but twiddle your thumbs. Even worse, if the server is down altogether, then it is possible that the page you are trying to download may not appear at all.
No longer need you have problems with downloading advertisements. I have been using a German software (developed with the aid of Siemens) for a couple of months now and it is extremely effective at preventing advertisements and some other things from appearing. Better, your browser is not even shunted to the offending ad server for downloading, so what you want to see is loaded in the shortest time. It is not without its downside, which is a small price to pay for the big advantages that it offers. And where can this marvel be found? At http://www.webwasher.com
Webwasher does, however, offer a number of other features. First of all, you can set it up to detect and eliminate just the advertisements you want. This can be done, for example, on the basis of the banner sizes. If some advertisements are of an awkward size and shape, then you can add your custom sizes in pixels, filtering images applets and plug-ins. You can also filter out the major advertisements servers by means of their URL or part of it, with a big list of filtered objects. Better still, it is possible to filter out pop-up windows. Have you ever been bugged by closing down a Web page, only to have another one open up, perhaps even in a closed circle? Webwasher will take care of this as well. It is also possible to remove scripts but this would have to be done more cautiously except for those which modify the browser's status bar. Another annoyance is with animated images and it offers three choices: showing only the first picture of an animation; repeating the animation a chosen number of times; or removing all animated images, to the user's wish. Another useful tool is to define a filter list for cookies. This will allow you to use the ones which you wish to use but prevent all others from being recorded on to your hard disk. This is just a brief review of some of the possibilities of this program. As stated above, it may be downloaded free of charge for trial purposes or for private use, but prolonged use on a commercial site requires payment of a modest licence fee.
I did say that there were some disadvantages with Webwasher. At least, I am not sure to what extent this software is responsible but, since installing it, I find that the first URL of a session may take some seconds longer than usual to download but that all subsequent ones are normal. This may just be a function of the way I have set up my computer but I think it is more likely the fact that my computer is now used as a proxy server when browsing. If you do wish to try this program, please make sure that this server cannot be accessed from malicious sources. Finally, on this subject, if you are on a network which is protected by a tight firewall, just make sure that it is compatible with the security requirements: I would recommend installing it with the help of your system administrator.
For the theme of my reviews, I'll have a look at a number of lead frame manufacturers from different countries. I don't need to describe what lead frames are: if you use them, you know; if you don't, you don't need to know!
The General Stamping Corporation site is, if anything, worse than the previous one. The Home Page is simple and pretty useless, consisting of a logo on the left and some totally illegible text (dark grey on black) on the right. The only thing positive that can be said about it is that it is simple and relatively fast to download, its graphics being fairly limited. However, this impression is countered by clicking on the logo, which leads to a most horrendous graphical menu system, supposedly representing a stamping tool. This is, believe it or not, a stupendous 130 kilobyte compound graphics, of which part is an animated representation of a lead frame strip "coming out of the tool". What a waste, when one considers that a simpler menu would have done the job better, easier and cheaper! Things do not, in any way, improve by clicking on the "Leadframes" button. A 100 kilobyte graphics comes up showing samples of different lead frames, in six segments which can be individually enlarged. That's it! Want to know anything more about their lead frames? Hard luck, because the company does not even have an address or an e-mail contact on the site, let alone anything remotely resembling a catalogue of standard lead frames. In summary, a very amateurish site, with the creator trying to be too clever, by half. Could do a lot better ...
This is somewhat more what I would hope for. I can see what Die-Tech, Inc., in Pennsylvania, are offering. The Home Page (see Figure 1), although slightly on the large side, downloads in an acceptable way. It has all the details I need on it, address, e-mail address and telephone/fax numbers. The menu is embedded in the short text, but is clear. The only negative point is that the graphics for the logo had an unnecessarily large file size, especially as it is in black on white. This is because it is actually a 24-bit colour image which has been reduced in size without rescaling. Clicking on "lead frames" brings us to a new page with a sub-menu and – Oh! Joy! – a hyperlink to a catalogue on a separate site (actually, it is also on the Home Page, but it doesn't spring to the eye!). This allows material and finish selections to be made. The catalogue itself is not "browsable": it requires you to put in some indications of the pitch, style and substrate thickness and it comes up with a selection of likely choices. Each of these is described and most often has a detailed drawing in printable PDF format attached. I had a wee bittie difficulty seeing some of the details in a few cases (probably formatting errors in an HTML table). Anyway, this site stands out head, shoulders, torso and legs above either of the previous two. In summary, a reasonably well-designed site, with the creator concentrating on the necessary. Could do a lot worse ...
Figure 1 Home Page of the Die-Tech, Inc. Web site. This demonstrates an effective layout with all the details that are needed as you enter the site
There is one other site that I could include here, at http://www.nasinterplex.com, but I won't do so. Although the NAS Electronics pages include a good catalogue, I reviewed this site just one year ago (Microelectronics International, Vol. 17 No. 1) and I don't feel that sufficient has changed to merit a new review. The score obtained then is reproduced in Table I.
There are some half-dozen manufacturers of lead frames mentioned in the MI Buyers' guide at the end of this journal. Two of these (Nasteka Electronics GmbH and Elmitech) don't seem to have any Web site, that I could find. A third (Jade Technologies Europe BV) does not have a Web site, but its parent company in Singapore does. Lead frames are evidently not very important: they are mentioned en passant but just to say that the company offers them, with no other details. A fourth company (Tecan Components Limited) also makes lead frames amongst a mountain of other products but, again, with no details other than that it mentions electroforming and chemical milling. I cannot stress too highly that, in my opinion, a Web site for this kind of merchandise is utterly without value as a means of publicity unless it gives all the details you would expect from a catalogue, or at least a data sheet. If anyone needing lead frames or, for that matter, any other component or material is searching the Internet and he cannot see within five or ten seconds where to find the details on a given site, he will go to the next one on his list. He won't even try. If you want high points in Table I, make sure that your site conforms to this concept.
Finally, a little word for lead frame manufacturers, generally. Lead-free solder is not here yet for most companies but it's coming, inexorably. I did not see mention of a lead-free solder finish on any of the sites I visited for this review (about 14 altogether). A number of companies are beginning to use lead-free solders at an experimental or prototype level and the demand for frames with a lead-free solder finish will be here shortly. It is time to start thinking about this, if you have not already done so. Oh! And by the way, a pure tin finish is lead-free, but it is not a solder.
Plain lies are dangerous: the only weapons left him [the advertiser] are the suggestio falsi and the suppressio veri, and his use even of these would be very much more circumscribed if one person in ten had ever been taught how to read ... Those who prefer their English sloppy have only themselves to thank if the advertisement writer uses his mastery of vocabulary and syntax to mislead their weak minds ... The moral of all this ... is that we have the kind of advertising we deserve. (Dorothy L. Sayers, "The psychology of advertising", Spectator, 19 November 1937.