Archive for the ‘Development’ Category

Amsterdam bikes

Amsterdam bikesAlthough you “know” that Amsterdam has loads of bicycles, you’ll never appreciate just how many are there ’til you see it for yourself. The photo here is just one spot from many cycle parks that are all over the city.

Because of this concentration on cycling, you’ll find that it’s very much a city to explore without your car and doesn’t have anything like the level of pollution that you would normally get in a city of this scale. That’s not to say that you can’t use your car, just that you don’t need to.

Just walking round the city and its many canals is very pleasant and you’ll come across untold numbers of attractions even if you just wander aimlessly. Don’t miss the Anne Frank museum though which is much, much smaller than I had imagined from the books. Although the queue is quite large it moves quickly so the wait usually isn’t that long.

As you’ll know Amsterdam is home to a red light district and, yes, the prostitutes really do use red lights in the windows to indicate that they’re available. It’s not nearly as much “in your face” as you might expect though and certainly during the day feels more like a tourist attraction than a “den of iniquity”.

We found that the best thing to do was to pick out an out of town hotel near the airport and get the train in and that’s what we’ll be doing next time we visit. The hotel we stayed at has an airport shuttle so that followed by a short train journey took us into the city centre very quickly and pleasantly.

This is part of our expanding Whole Earth Guide.

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

Renewal of development on the listings sites

One of my objectives in doing the web applications courses was to provide the knowledge to let me do a bit of a revamp of the various accommodation listings sites that I run.

Whilst it’s early days, this weeks session provided an increasingly necessary minor improvement in the data entry form for the site. As with seemingly most HTML code, that minor change in the code will provide a substantial improvement in the look and feel of the website. So far, I’ve only been able to apply it to the more recent coding but I’ll be retrofitting it to the remainder in due course.

That’s probably going to be how the course changes the overall look and feel flow from the computing courses initially… minor changes in code with big improvements for the users of the sites.

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

How to do a really bad website

One thing that constantly surprises me is that there are quite a large number of “professional” website designers around who produce websites that are both very amateur and almost entirely ineffective in terms of findability in the search engines. How do they do this?

First they create a lovely picture to grace the homepage. Why’s that a problem? Well, usually the picture is very large, filling the homepage and there’s, at best, a line of text saying “click to enter”. This causes problems in that it takes ages to download the picture and as far as the search engines are concerned the only searchable text is “click to enter” which is hardly a phrase one is likely to use to find a site.

Second, they produce pages filled with lovely photos, often animated. That’s not a problem if the photos are small enough but usually they put them on full size. One example I looked at this morning had so many photos that it crashed the browser which implies that nobody will be able to look at those pages. They also had only photos ie no text so the page was blank to the search engines.

Finally, they put everything in graphics. This has the effect that the page takes longer than usual to download but more importantly, it’s completely blank to the search engines: in some cases you can’t even find the page by searching for the name of the place.

These designers are professional only in the sense that they charge for their services. Don’t be taken in by them!

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

More focus required?

Much as we try to keep a broad focus in the areas of travel & finance here I’m sure that you find that it wanders quite a bit. Therefore what I’m planning on doing is to split it in two with ForeignPerspectives retaining all the travel postings and another blog picking up the financial ones that don’t also fall under the travel/expat headings.

Now, the question is: what to call the new blog? I’d have quite liked but unfortunately some plonker has already registered that for one of the junk sites that you seem to get under every decent name these days. Anyway, I’ve been hunting around and still haven’t found anything that seems “just right”.

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

Do people actually read what they’re typing?

You’d think that when they were placing an advert for their holiday property they’d at least read what country it was in, wouldn’t you?

Surprisingly, an increasing number of people these days don’t seem to read anything before they click. For example, this morning I’d a submission to our holiday listings site for a property. Snag was that it was listed as a “for sale” property rather than a holiday one, as being in the French language when it was in English and as not being in France. It seems doubtful that they actually read what they were typing for that one.

To get the process as clean as possible, the main input form for the properties contains information about what should be in every section and yet even there it’s frequently ignored. For instance, whilst we’ve a section that’s for use in sending comments or additional information to me and isn’t published, I very often find that it contains essential information about the property.

Maybe now you’ll understand why some of the large listings sites have adverts that are in very dodgy English!

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.