Monday, September 15, 2008

If it ain't broken...

click photo to enlarge
This blog has a Site Meter hit counter. It tells me how many visitors I have, what they look at, where they come from, any search term they used in arriving here, and much more, though nothing, I hasten to add, that can be tracked to an individual. Over the past two days Site Meter "updated" this counter, incorporated flash, and made a useful tool virtually useless! Features that I used regularly became unavailable, or only accessible by multiple clicks, new features were not what I needed, and the whole process became painfully slow. I looked on the internet to see if others felt the same as I did, and the "noise" around this change showed that they clearly did. So, hearing this, Site Meter immediately posted a notice saying they would roll back to the original offering, and followed up by saying any further changes would be fully beta tested and incremental. In fact, having fouled up, their behaviour was then exemplary: to their credit Site Meter listened to their customers and within 12 hours we had the hit counter back to its old, useful, self.

I wish the BBC TV weather forecasters would learn from Site Meter. A few years ago they introduced a new "chart" that the camera swoops over whilst the presenter prattles on, telling us what we can already see from the animated weather on the screen. The overview of the weather should be presented with stationary graphics, and doesn't need any talk at all. But now a simple summary takes a couple of minutes as we lurch from region to region. People are mainly interested in what's going to happen in their area or the place they are to visit, and don't want to know about the rest of the country. But, the software has other ideas, and the forecasters are dictated to by its features, rather than using it to illustrate what they want to say. Because of this we don't routinely get a forecast for 12 and 24 hours ahead - there isn't time! Moreover, the animations have a spurious accuracy, suggesting that patches of rain and cloud will affect very specific areas across the country for carefully measured amounts of time: they rarely do! Nonetheless, the precision of the display beguiles people into that belief. Then, later in the day anger and frustration set in when the weather proves to be different from that which was predicted. Consequently the forecasts are less useful than those which preceded them, and the new, all singing and dancing graphics are no improvement at all! However, contrition of the type shown by Site Meter is conspicuously absent at the BBC and they press on with their wretched "forecasts."

All of which has very little to do with my photograph of a traction engine driver at the Bicker Steam Threshing weekend. Except that he knows what Site Meter and the BBC seemingly don't - namely, if something is working well, leave it alone. Or, as it is often phrased, "if it ain't broken, don't fix it!" Despite the smoke from the engine's funnel blowing all around him it was powering the threshing machine beautifully, leaving him the time to survey the people and activities around him from his high, warm vantage point.

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 137mm (274mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/400
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: -0.7 EV
Image Stabilisation: On