China blocks Google

By Pete | @kingpetey | 02 Sep 2002

The Chinese government have blocked the popular search engine Google it appears in their continued struggle to keep control over what their people view on the net. Google is one of the most popular search engines in the world and was very popular with the Chinese because of its ease of use and its ability to run searches in the Chinese language.

China keeps extreme control over what its people can view online and the government employs over 30,000 people to keep an eye on what people view online, chat rooms and their private emails. China has also blocked certain news sites but has never blocked a major search engine before. The country has also recently shut down over 150,000 unlicensed internet cafes in the last few months, and the ones which still exist have to abide by strict rules and install special software blocking certain sites.

Internet use in China is as popular as ever with over 45.8 million people online in the country, the government is worried that these people will get to know anti communism news thus causing trouble for the government in this politically sensitive time.

Though Google was blocked the web portal Yahoo was still accessible which uses Google for its searches which shows the Chinese government still need to do their homework. Luckily the popular news and comedy site ImAFish.com is still unaffected and will not stop bringing controversial content to its site to please the Chinese government.

About ImAFish

By Pete | @kingpetey | 01 Sep 2002

ImAFish.com is the brainchild of Pete White (pwhite) and Ben Powell (Benjie) in April 2001 when they were working on their GCSE exams. Along with James Vardill (Yammez) they created the site ImAFish.com version 1. The site was an instant success with its wide range of topics covered including gaming, downloads and a forum, though the site had a hard time staying online because of different hosting problems on geocities. Then in September 2001 Version 2 was launched on their new hosting on f2s.com with the new help from Ben Shenton and Matthew Shannon, here the site continued to become popular and in November 2001 version 3 was launched. Yammez sadly decided to move on from the site because of lack of time commitments.

Christmas came and so did news that f2s was closing its free hosting section so the move was made to purchase some professional hosting. Shortly after in February came the launch of ImAFish 4 was the sites biggest success so far attracting many new visitors and starting to build up an active forum and IRC community. The site celebrated its 1year birthday in April with a number of activities on the forum such as the awards and Big Brother. The following months brought further success to the site with the Articles and Columns sections and throughout June and July the sites traffic significantly increased.

One of the most popular areas found was to be the IRC bot called Xbot many of these hits were coming from sites such as Google. Xbot provides a good free IRC bot that can do almost everything a channel owner needs from a bot which it seems not many other free bots can provide. In August 2002 it was decided to start work on designing ImAFish 5 with the aim of delivering dynamic content to the users fast and effectively in a way that is simple and easy to understand. The site also wanted to attract more writers and to keep the current visitors coming back to the site to read the articles and take part in other site activities. For a more detailed history I suggest you take a look at http://imafish.com/history.php .

The End of Planetarion?

By Pete | @kingpetey | 29 Aug 2002

Yesterday is was announced that the 8th round of Planetarion would be the last one, Planetarion the online text based game which started in January 2000 has found it increasing difficult over the last few months to keep the game going financially, so 5th season AS (the company behind Planetarion) announced in a special creators hour last night that the game will be ending after the next round.

Though some people think that this may be a scam to get more people to play Planetarion incase round 8 is the last round the community is clearly shocked that this has come this sudden. In Planetarion?s peak the game had over 100,000 players though once the game went pay to play the game slowly lost players. Efforts have been made to try to get new players to join the game and a number of free accounts were given out for new people to try out the game, however these free accounts didn't seem to bring Planetarion the new players it needed to stay alive. An irc channel has already been setup on the netgamers.org irc network.

The people behind #pa-stay are looking for over 10k players to play Planetarion next round, however if pa was continue then the community will need to have at least 10k paying players each round. Though it has not been said if the amount of money generated by 10k players will cover the costs of the game and pay off any remaining debts.

There has also been talk about whether the IRC network itself will be effected by Planetarion closing, however the general aim is that netgamers.org will keep going however its not certain how many people will remain on the network as most of the users are pa related. It looks like the forums will not remain if Planetarion was to end unless suitable hosting was found for them, however with no game a lot of the discussions which happen on the boards will not take place as a lot of the conversation is pa related. No one seems quite sure how long the 'creators' have been planning to close the game, though perhaps moving the irc network away from Planetarion was one of their first steps.

They have also announced that they have been working on another game based on football leagues however it's still unsure if they intend to release this game and if they intend to charge for it. I would have thought that many of the pa clones will try to take as many players as they can one of the popular alternatives being Starsphere. What ever happens the future of Planetarion seems uncertain and what happens over the coming months could decide the fate of Planetarion and its community.

Yahoo Instant Messenger 5.5

By Pete | @kingpetey | 27 Aug 2002

This week Yahoo released their latest version of their instant messenger, but is it up to the same standards of the likes of MSN AIM and ICQ? My first impressions were very good, YIM (Yahoo instant messenger) had some nice features that the other popular instant messengers didn?t use such as web cam support and some useful tabs unlike the ones present in MSN that seem aimed at getting you to spend money rather then provide useful information.

The layout of YIM is very nice and is easy to use, some nice gfx have been used giving YIM the same feel as AOL instant messenger. YIM also lets you change your away messages similar to the way ICQ does which is useful if you want to say why you are away or how long you will be. Another interesting idea YIM has is IM environments, this is basically themes for your instant messenger windows which in ways look nice but others just get annoying.

The main downside I found to Yahoo is not to do with the program but the lack of friends I know that use it. Since at early time online I have used ICQ then MSN Messenger thus a lot of my friends have mainly gone on to use MSN messenger for various reasons, the ones which do use YIM normally use another IM as well such as myself. Somehow Yahoo has to give people a good reason to change their IM habits from messengers such as MSN and AIM to their own messenger.

The other instant messenger programs I believe do have a head start over Yahoo for instance MSN messenger is now installed with every version of windows and AIM is installed with Macs now and comes built into Netscape and Mozilla web browsers. Personally I think that if YIM is to survive against the other large messenger services it needs to get its self bundled with a lot more other software so that more people can easily get to use it.

Another criticism I have of the software is not being able to change your screen name easily, people often like to convey their thoughts through their screen name such as on MSN messenger but I could not find this feature on YIM. Yahoo was one of the first large networks to bring together its ID program into all its online features, for instance my account can access geocities, email, instant messaging, calendar and a wide range of other features however now I feel Yahoo hasn?t been able to keep up with the likes of msn passport or AOL and needs to make a lot of changes to survive in the future.

Overall YIM 5.5 is one of the best instant messengers out there if your friends and colleagues use it, otherwise stick to one of the other large networks or get yourself onto IRC. I?m giving YIM 5.5 7/10.

Columns Overhall

By Pete | @kingpetey | 25 Aug 2002

If your reading this then the "overhall" on the columns is well under way. We have 2 new columners, Jamie and Shenton so welcome them. We are eager for some content from them as soon as possible. More to come soon.

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