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 http://www.rcsu.co.uk. 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”.