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What a surprise - we are not surfing alone

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Surprise news of the week was Nortel's announcement that its new software enables your Internet service provider (ISP) to snoop your surfing habits.

Surprised? I had always thought that they already could, but didn't on the grounds that it was too boring to bother with. Now, apparently, they can build up a profile and target ads at you. It resembles the equally odious cookielike spyware which enables people whose site you visit to do the same thing. It is currently a buyer's world in ISP-land so they might take notice if you e-mail your ISP and demand to know if it is proposing to implement this nastiness.

Oh, and Microsoft apparently has a patch for Outlook to stop a new e-mailbased spying application. The not-very-useful-solution for Netscape users is to turn off JavaScript.

For some time now, I've been privately urging friends (and designers of crap websites) to take a look at www.architectstoday.net. I liked it immediately: fast download, no stupid graphics, elegant enough design and lots of content.

The thing that seduced me was the bit where you insert your postcode and it tells you what the current price of your or your mate's house is likely to be.The site has lots more serious content, links to suppliers, architectural practices, and all that useful stuff.But it's elements like the price finder, which has no immediate relevance, which make you feel good about the site.

Stickiness is the word the terrible jargoneers have allocated to this phenomenon but, together with content, it's what makes websites if not good, at least better. Interestingly, the site is sponsored by Halperns - where it is physically based - and the south London practice Mountford Pigott.

The down sides? You have to register for some information. . . aaaargh. And other stuff, like events and the aforesaid house prices have been stuck at November last year. Hmmm.

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