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RCSU Go For Flash

Sep 07 2001 12:25
Oliver Pell
New Royal College of Science Union website branded ‘illegal’ by a senior ICU figure.
After battling with nearly a dozen warning messages we were able to obtain this wonderful screenshot of the RCSU 'Rag Totaliser'.

The Royal College of Science Union, constituent college union for Imperial’s scientists and occasional arch-enemy of C&GCU (though they’re on good terms at the moment) has launched its new website at the unassuming address of The flash heavy design is full of flashing text and animations but produces a comical blank page in less advanced browsers.

Macromedia Flash, for the less computing minded, is a technology which allows web site developers to put flashy (no pun intended) animations on-line without being constrained by the normal capabilities of web browsers as outlined by the W3C. However, it requires a web browser plug-in to view and so producing a flash-only site can significantly reduce the number of visitors able to make sense of the pages. Although Macromedia claim that “Once you’ve created your content, 97.6% of the online audience will be able to view it with the Macromedia Flash Player” a significant portion of that 2.4% will be students at Imperial. When your correspondant foolishly attempted to open the site in Internet Explorer on a Windows NT computer in the Department of Computing he was inundated with 11 separate messages prompting him to download the Flash viewer plug-in. In short: Flash is evil.

The RCSU site has produced a mixed reaction from viewers. Rumour has it that roars of laughter were heard emanating from ICU President Sen Ganesh’s office when he was first shown the site. Mr Ganesh also pointed out that the RCSU ‘Rag Totaliser’ which proudly proclaims ‘Target: £2000, Amount Raised So Far: £0.00’ was especially hilarious. C&G Media Mogul (and occasionally President) Mustafa Arif seems ecstatic about the new site – possibly because it represents an actual piece of real news.

Interestingly the RCSU site does not appear to be hosted on ‘allsop’ (the ICU web server) – something that may be explained by the suspicious .asp extension to the pages. Active Server Pages (ASP) are a Microsoft technology and will not run on allsop which runs the open source Apache webserver. C&G Media Group strongly suspect that hosting a site externally is against all sorts of regulations and a senior ICU figure has already agreed that the RCSU site is “illegal”. Mr Arif himself said that he expected that “ICU [would] slap RCS when they come back from holiday”.

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Discussion about “RCSU Go For Flash”

The comments below are unmoderated submissions by Live! readers. The Editor accepts no liability for their content, nor for any offence caused by them. Any complaints should be directed to the Editor.
Sep 07 2001 14:33

Can I divert your attention to:

"The alternative to the Kangela is the more-easily-remembered "C&G are w*nkers"."

This was found in - History & Traditions - The Kangela (at the bottom).

Any comments?

Sep 07 2001 17:22

Just to clarify what I was quoted on. I said that "a senior ICU figure" had said that they would slap the RCSU over the "illegal" nature of the site when they get back. (It is "illegal" because it is hosted on a server outside Imperial - which is against College regulations.)

My point was *not* that the RCSU site is "illegal". My point was that surely ICU should tell the RCSU this before me! In fact, I don't believe they have yet told them. This means that RCSU volunteers are continuing to work on their website (which isn't a bad effort given that they are not DoC/EEE/ISE students and didn't have a great site to start with). I would not want to be one of those volunteers, who after having spent a large part of the summer developing the site, is told by ICU that they should bin what they have developed.

Sep 07 2001 17:32

Oddly enough, the site doesn't seem to show any particular reason why it needs either Flash or ASP (or maybe I'm just not looking closely enough). Using Flash for text links is pointless at best and sloppy at worst. I also haven't seen any part of the site which shows any particular use of the kind of 'dynamic' content which might need ASP.

The actual 'content' of the site is quite good. It might take some time but it should be perfectly possible to virtually eliminate all the Flash stuff and transform it into standard HTML or PHP to run on allsop.

4. sam   
Sep 07 2001 21:21

or someone could install mod_asp if they could be bothered...then if only they knew perl they could run it on apache....

ho hum

anyway, check out the CGCU's latest web triumph

Sep 07 2001 22:07

Neil, Etienne and I looked into mod_asp (I think...) briefly when we were discussing deploying version 1 of the Intranet back at the beginning of the year. I can't remember why exactly but the end conclusion was that it wasn't much good for anything.

But is cool! Even if it broke half the pages for an hour or so...

6. sam   
Sep 07 2001 23:03

I've seen mod_asp running on a few small scale sites, and it seems to work ok...

the downside is that i'm sure you have to program your pages in perl, instead of an expensive Microsoft language. Odds are that anyone using .asp probably doesn't know that much perl ;o)

on the plus side though, this is the nearest there has been to competition to maybe this will push the Legendary CGCU Media group to further excel this year ;oP

Sep 07 2001 23:42

Perl is the work of satan.

(and that from an atheist...)

Sep 08 2001 21:51

And the fact that "C&G are W****rs" (

Sep 10 2001 11:42

Personally i think the best website around is, written by two chemists to represent the C&G Motor club and kart section, and team Bo'!

10. rcsu   
Sep 10 2001 12:45

Well yep, it would have been useful if somebody from ICU had informed all of us here at RCS about what was going on.

And why was Mustafa was told first? What benefit it has in him being told at all, apart from being able to gloat, once again, about how great both him and C&G are? And yep, the C&G website is fantastic and we always admire the latest "web triumphs" that are so often seen.

Thank you to Mustafa and co. for informing us of all, and ICU - are you planning on contacting us in the near future, or did this minor point slip somebody's mind????

Sep 10 2001 13:43

I think ICU are simply guilty of ineptitude, not conspiracy. I was only told because I was in Sen's office when they discovered it.

Sep 10 2001 15:45

Ok, this is why i know i'm at imperial. C&G exec go and find some women, they are much better to play with and a hell of a lot less complicated than all the fancy computing languages of the world.

To the RCS, ohhh... :( at least you have tried to do something for your students, Mustafa should stop gloating and learn a leason. Hot air means fuck all, i fact its annoying!!

To the union, this sets a shocking precident. Are any students apart from the IN CLIQUE going to find out about college issues or do we have to be told through Mustafa Press Inc. Sen sort this out otherwise people are going to get very angry very quickly.

Sep 11 2001 11:23

I don't see how I was gloating. I actually said I thought the RCSU website was a good effort.

People also forget that C&GCU does not have a website. (This is a publication not a union home page...)

So, in this respect, RCSU have done better than C&GCU. Well done guys.

Sep 11 2001 12:09

What happened to half of this discussion? Talk about no conspiracy / cencorship.

Mustafa did your PR boys realise that you were getting bad press. Don't try to slime out of this, you know you've pissed people off. Stand up and take it like an engineer not the politician you are.

Sep 11 2001 12:28

I deleted comments posted by someone impersonating under another person's name. (Please note the difference between this and staying anonymous / using a pseudonym.)

This is in accordance with editorial policy Januray 2000. It is also a specific condition that we (Richard Tang + myself) had to sign up to before ICU/College would allow us to provide this facility. We facilitate free speech - not libel. We are subject to the same PCC code of conduct as Felix, and have to deal with "comments"/"letters" appropriately.

Ofcourse, It would have looked silly to leave any replies to these comments. So, I deleted them too.

Barry, I really don't see how I have annoyed people on this issue. (Unless you are talking about people in ICU administration...) As you will understand, I can't take responsibility for what central ICU admin people do. If you have a complaint about them talk to Sen Ganesh or Sam Sharpe.

Sep 11 2001 12:52

But you could take responsibility for your own actions and keep out of an issue that doesn't concern you - ever thought of that one?

Sep 11 2001 13:05

I see. So you would prefer it if I had not conveyed that information to Oliver before he wrote the article.

Well frankly, (and I know its difficult balancing this with being a CCU President), what would you expect a jouranlist to do? It's my job to report on things that don't (directly) affect me.

This is a publication, not a PR machine. What would you have expected Felix to do with the information?

Besides, as a CCU President, I am a member of ICU Exec. So surely ICU mis-management is something that I should concern myself with?

Sep 11 2001 13:06

"Make love to a woman if she is pretty and to someone else if she's plain."

No Mustafa a computer doesn't substitute for a woman.

Are you gonna censor that remark too? Just because it doesn't flatter you or boost your ego.

There are many more and better things in this world than IC and CCUs. Wake up!

just because it's not flattering to you

19. random   
Sep 11 2001 13:22

Looks like there's more than one person here who needs to get out more...

Sep 11 2001 13:24

Right since my cover as E N Gineer has been so nicely blown by Mustafa, I think i should reply with:

1. this information should not be on this publication site

2. Oliver and sam have at least tried to be helpful and offer suggestions on how to make this better

3. Mis-management and the abuse of power and trust are two things you are very close to you at the moment Mustafa.

4. Maybe the role of this publication and the people who control it should be made clearer

Sep 11 2001 13:58

Hmmmm. We seem to have found ourselves a can of worms here ;-). My comments:

1. this information should not be on this publication site

Are you talking about the news article itself or the discussion? In either case - why not? This is a news site after all.

3. Mis-management and the abuse of power and trust are two things you are very close to you at the moment Mustafa.

I would have to disagree here. For a start this was my article, not Mustafa's. Secondly nothing of what has been published on Live is confidential. ICU does, after all, aim "to be an open and representative organisation driven by the needs and expectations of its members".

4. Maybe the role of this publication and the people who control it should be made clearer.

This is something we're looking into - and part of the reason for separating it from the C&G front page. 'Live' is a publication, not a propaganda site.

More generally, everyone who works on the C&G websites knows how much effort they require to maintain and sympathise with the RCSU web editors. C&G has offered to assist RCS technically if they are required to move the stie.

Sep 11 2001 14:01

(1) I disagree. But I guess everyone is entitled to their point of view. The fact is that Oliver published the article more than 2 weeks after the incident!

(2) Yes. Geeks can be nice people sometimes.

(3) Yes, sorry for blowing your cover - and any related offense caused. In hindsight I would not have done so.

(4) I've been going on about this for ages!

Browse some of the old discussions. I've said I don't want to be doing this at the same time as being Guilds President, as it looks dodgy. The fact is that I'm not doing anywhere near as much as I used to... but there is a lack of people willing to take it up.

So, the interim policy, has been that Sam Sharpe (as Guilds Council Chair) will keep any eye on things.

We have been planning to redefine the publication so that it is clear it is not a union PR organ - and is editorialy independent. (Stuff like a less

"heavy" Guilds branding, separate Union home page, etc.) However, these have been delayed since we are all busy with other things.

Lastly, all the peopel working on this publication are human. We all make mistakes sometimes. Perhaps we didn't handle this as well as we coudl have. But if we really wanted to publish "insider" stuff there's a lot worse that could have been written over the last 20 months.

Sep 11 2001 14:32

When this news was posted the RCS had not been informed of the conclusions that the article had come to, ie, that the site is "illegal". They still to the best of my knowledge have not been informed officially by Sen or any other SAB.

Mustafa abused his position of being able to see my ip address, as he is one of the administrator of the site and posted my name with a comment i had made as E N Gineer. He had only had a 50/50 chance of being right with that. That shows mis management, abuse of power and the loss of my trust. It is a luxury i nor any other user of the site has.

The main problem i have with Mustafa is that he censored one bit of the article for good reason, but there is another group who are amazed that the article made it here before it was official. Now that could be cencorship but you can't have it both ways and as the poster of the article this may well come back onto oliver or the supplier of the article.

I am only a little annoyed, but i don't even want to dream of how annoyed the RCS will be. This does C&G no favours.

As a member of the C&G exec i want to distance myself from the comments of my fellow officers.

Sep 11 2001 14:38

The job of 'Live' and its journalists is to report news. This is news.

Yes, RCSU should have been informed more quickly (and no-one's going to argue about that) - but this is not our responsibility. This is the fault of the sabbs.

As Mustafa said, this article was posted 2 weeks or so after the RCSU site first came on-line - that should have been more than enoguh time for ICU to inform RCSU.

Sep 11 2001 15:34

And so the saga continues...

But, the situation is being discussed with ICU at present. The web site is to continue running and changes will be made asap to conform with IC regulations.

But yes, we should have been told earlier as the damage has now been done by this article.

In future the correct parties should be informed first so that situations like this do not arise again - possibly a good time to finish the discussion me thinks.

Sep 11 2001 15:55

Yes. This has made us all look a bit silly.

Closed This discussion is closed.

Please contact the Live! Editor if you would like this discussion topic re-opened.


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