Mad Teddy's website: ... Who Tube ???

Mad Teddy's web-pages

      ...  Who  Tube ???      

This page added on 6th April, 2010 (two days after Easter)

Please - read the following two quotes very carefully:


The language of HTML is constantly evolving. Enthusiastic Web authors may happily include brand new and improved tags within their Web pages to produce dazzling new effects. But unfortunately, those effects may be lost on most visitors to that Web site because their browser software does not recognize those HTML features.

Officially, it's up to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to define and establish new versions of HTML. Unofficially, leaders in the rush to the WWW, such as Microsoft and Netscape, regularly come up with their own extensions to official HTML in the hopes of improving the language. Eventually, many of these new codes are, indeed, included in the official HTML specifications.

... and ...

The amazing thing about HTML is that it seems to grow and change almost faster than Web authors can incorporate the new developments into their sites. Although the pressure to add new features to HTML is tremendous, Microsoft and others in the Web-related industry are working hard to maintain standards in the midst of the ongoing revolution. After all, having the world beat a path to your Web page would be somewhat anticlimactic if the page can be viewed in only some browsers.

("Colour-emphasis" added)

Both these quotes are from the book "HTML Complete", written by various authors and published in 1999 by Sybex. The first quote is from page 10, and the second is from page 39.

You can tell that this book is showing its age, by its reference to Netscape being a "leader in the field"! That aside, however, the overall gist of what is being said in those two quotes is still highly relevant. Read on.

When I began to create this website some five years ago, I made a deliberate decision to spare no effort to make it readable by anybody, using any computer running any operating system and any browser - in short, to make it platform independent. (If you've seen my home page, you'll have already seen my comments there to this effect.)

Of course, one can only do so much. You can - as I do - insist on having nothing but purely "raw'n'basic" HTML within your pages; but you can't have any effect on anybody else's web page to which you might post a link (and there are lots of outside links within my site). So, if you want to link to other websites, you have to be prepared to compromise your principles that far. (I've also made mention of this in my home page.)

- - - - - - - - - -

The clunky old Windows 95 / Netscape 4.01 / Internet Explorer 5.5 computer on which I started to develop this site eventually "bit the dust" at the end of 2007. From the ashes arose a Windows 98 machine running Internet Explorer 6. However, in common with its predecessor, it didn't have a working version of Flash on it.

Shortly before Christmas 2008, I became a bit exasperated by the fact that so many web-pages wouldn't load properly on my computer, apparently because of the absence of Flash. Taking my life in my hands, I clicked on a link to install Flash (version 9) on my machine, fearing that it might well cripple it completely... et voilą! My machine came alive with all sorts of groovy little things I hadn't thought possible!

Best of all was that I now discovered that I could get some sense out of YouTube, which hitherto had only been available in our household via my son's Windows XP machine. What fun! I could now view lots of wonderful video clips of good old '60's and '70's music, among other intriguing things. It was like Christmas - well, it was Christmas! (I've told this story, very briefly, in an earlier page, Strange days indeed... - scroll about a third of the way down that page to see it, if you're interested).

Okay, so there's a worthwhile extra feature that I wasn't going to complain about. Since then, I've joyfully added links in new web pages (and some of my old ones, too) to YouTube videos, when it's seemed appropriate, either to "underline" something I'm saying or just to spice things up. Great stuff!

So what's my problem?

Well, in early November last year (2009), the horrors happened again.

It started thus: having used the computer one morning, I came back into the room a little later and found that something had happened to it. Basically, it had "stopped". No sound of an internal fan anywhere, and nothing on the screen. What to do?

A year earlier, the guys who had turned my old '95 machine into the new '98 one had also actually managed to salvage a more-or-less working '95 machine from the ruins, and install it into an old case - so, effectively, I had a spare computer for emergency use. So, with the emergency now upon me, I took the HD out of the new machine, put it into the old one, and began to back everything up onto CD-ROMs (a fairly big job) - but, before I'd finished, disaster struck again! The HD started making clicking noises, and "dropping out". It was clearly on its "last legs".

With a combination of "luck" and sheer determination, I did manage to complete the backup. Then I replaced the old '95 HD and started to back that one up too - and blow me down if exactly the same thing didn't happen again!!!

More "luck", and more determination - and I actually managed to salvage everything off that one also, before it breathed its last. What a nightmare... but now at least I'd managed to rescue everything I'd done since I bought the original '95 machine back in early 1998. Whew...

It turned out that what had gone wrong initially, in early November 2009, was that the '98 machine's power supply had basically "conked out". The same guys in the same shop managed, over some time and with quite a few hiccups and setbacks, to get a working '98 machine back to me just a few weeks ago. (Clearly, it wasn't a particularly easy or straightforward process, as some other "glitches" showed up along the way. Thanks, fellers, if you're reading this - I'm extremely grateful.) So now, at last, I could get back on with things - emailing on a regular basis, maintaining my website, a bit of programming - the usual stuff.

I can just hear some people reading this saying something like, "What's wrong with this bloke? Why doesn't he just get a new machine - an XP at least - and move on?"

There are a number of reasons. First and foremost, there is my need to operate within a DOS environment from time to time. As I've mentioned in my Some mathematically-based computer graphics page, I do a lot of graphics work using "old-fashioned" DOS-based programs which, as far as I'm concerned, are vastly superior to any Windows counterparts I've seen, in the sense of being easy to use and of allowing "pixel-perfection" without a lot of "mucking about". I also like to do BASIC programming in a simple, non-cluttered DOS environment. - And, with a Windows 95 or 98 machine, it is possible to get into a genuine DOS environment - or even to boot straight into DOS without having to go through Windows first, if that appeals (and it does, sometimes!).

I know that it's possible to get a "DOS emulator" for Windows XP, but why should I have to go to that much bother - especially when I'm pretty sure that something will refuse to work properly within such a setting? I want the real thing, because then I know it'll work!

Secondly, within a Windows 95 or 98 environment, I can have my screen resolution set to 640×480 pixels. This is important to me, because my eyesight is not the best and it's far easier for me to read large text than small text, thus avoiding eyestrain. (Within XP or "higher", you have to have higher resolution. Again, I know that it's possible to overcome this to some extent within some applications - but such "fixes" are somewhat artificial and involve a certain amount of fiddling around.) - And it suits my purposes from the point of view of web-page design, because then I know that my pages will display properly in any screen resolution - and even in "old-fashioned" browsers, for those (like myself) who still choose to use them, for whatever reason, come what may.

Thirdly - quite frankly, I don't particularly like the "XP or higher" environment! Having become reasonably comfortable with what I've been using for years, I wish to continue doing so, if at all possible. Basically, I suppose, I'm just insisting on my right to be a "grumpy old man"! So there!

I'm realistic enough to accept that I probably will eventually have to move to a more "modern" platform, when it is no longer possible to get hardware replacements compatible with my existing machine when things fall to pieces; but for now, I'm holding out, and hoping that this won't become necessary in the near future.

In the meantime, for as long as I'm insisting on having a Windows 98 machine - so that I can do "DOSsy" things, as already explained - it turns out that the "highest" version of IE that I can run is IE 6, and the "highest" version of Flash that I can use is version 9. (It also turns out that I can run Firefox, which works quite well but has pretty much the same limitations as IE 6 - in addition to a few other little glitches which mean that some of my pages don't quite display properly within it, an annoying problem which I am gradually addressing, case by case.)

The reason for taking the trouble to explain all this to you is to attempt to obviate the perceived necessity on the part of any self-important individuals to bother contacting me with comments such as "Why would anybody still be messing about with Windows 98?" Of course, it's probably not strictly necessary, because I'm sure you're much too sensible a person to do a silly thing like that. After all, you wouldn't be visiting my website in the first place otherwise, would you?!

All right, then, I hear you say - so what is my problem?

Well, while my machine was away being fixed, I did have some access to another computer - and I began to notice, with some concern, that YouTube was starting to suggest that I was going to need a new browser, as mine (either IE 6 or Firefox was "out of date" and would not be "supported" for much longer. In fact, the deadline given was Saturday, 13th March 2010.

I thought: "Uh-oh, here we go again".

Over the years since I was a "newbie", in the late 1990's, I've seen many so-called "upgrades" to the web. It's a treadmill - you need the latest version of Windows, or the latest browser, or the most recent version of Flash, or whatever - just to continue to view the most recent web-pages. Well, you know cranky old me - I see red when faced with this kind of thing, and dig my stubborn old heels in as hard as I can. I wondered what the effect of this most recent "upgrade" would be.

Well! As you probably know, it's caused quite a few problems - and this time I'm far from the only person yelling about it. There are a great many angry, disillusioned people out there who are mightily unimpressed with what they see as a significant downgrade to YouTube's web presence.

For example, click here to see an absolute tirade of comments posted to a Google support page by a growing band of fed-up people.

Click here to see some background to these recent events - in particular, note the remarks about how YouTube is getting on the bandwagon to force us all to "upgrade" to the latest browsers, whether we want to (or can) or not. Significantly, note that even Microsoft, which would like to see Internet Explorer 6 disappear, isn't trying to force the issue - so what's YouTube's problem?!!

This page makes some very interesting observations about the shenanigans engaged in by the "big boys" who are trying to dictate to us how we should interact with the web - and makes some telling points about how it could backfire on them from a "hip pocket" point of view if enough people become sufficiently irritated.

For many (most?) people, I gather that the problem is not necessarily browser-specific, but rather a matter of aesthetics and user-friendliness. For me, however, it is mainly about browsers - because, in spite of YouTube's claim that I'll still be able to view their material in IE 6, it's not entirely true. Sometimes it works OK - but not always. Now, many videos which used to load properly simply present me with a featureless black rectangle, with no buttons to click on and no rotating "loading" symbol in the middle - and something tells me that the problem is going to get worse as the new "improved" pages begin to proliferate. (The same thing happens with Firefox

From my perspective, YouTube's requirement for newer browsers, with all their much-vaunted extra gadgets and gizmos, does nothing to improve the actual viewing experience - which, it seems, appears unchanged if it occurs at all - but, instead, simply makes it less likely that it will occur at all! How pointless is that?

For example, in this page, just a few days ago I posted a link to a YouTube video of Elvis Presley's delightful old song "Wooden Heart". ( Here's that link again, if you're interested!) It worked perfectly then - but within a day or two, it had developed the problem described above. The link can stay, even though I can't get any sense out of it myself for the moment, because I'm sure that many people can; and also because I'm hoping that, with enough of us bringing pressure to bear, the problem will be sorted out so that we can all enjoy the video again - even those of us who, for whatever perfectly good reason, choose not to (or are unable to) "upgrade" to one of these newer browsers. (There are links, in some of my other pages, to other YouTube videos which exhibit the same problem and which can also stay, for the same reason). In the meantime - basically, it's just a blasted nuisance.

>>>       So - what can we do?       <<<

Here's the link to the "YouTube User Feedback Survey" in which we can have our say. I'm planning to send some choice remarks up the line very soon, but I'm going to think very hard about exactly what to say before doing so. After all, the intention is not simply to "let off some steam" (which I suppose I'm already doing right here), but to try to convince them - from the standpoint of logic and reason - that they've made a colossal mistake, and to try to persuade them to restore things to the way they were, rather than to simply put their backs up. Stay tuned; I'll post my comments here also when I've decided what to say.

In the meantime - will you get involved? Join me - and many others - in trying to reclaim the internet for the people who really matter, by which I mean you and me - the original "You" in "YouTube"!

UPDATE, 6th April 2010 (later on the same day)

Well, I've just sent off my response to YouTube's survey. It's perhaps somewhat more vehement than I'd originally intended, but if you don't indulge in a bit of straight talking sometimes, people don't know what you think. (I wonder if they'll really take any notice of it? Hoping...)

Here we go:

How satisfied are you with beta version of the YouTube watchpage?

Extremely dissatisfied

Typically, how often do you use YouTube?

A few times a week

What, if anything, did you find frustrating or unappealing about the beta YouTube watchpage? What new features or capabilities would you like to see on the watchpage?

In summary: the complete lack of respect for your users.

Allow me to elaborate:

The Internet - including the WWW - is not owned by any one single entity, or even a few such. It is a World-Wide phenomenon (those two W's being the first two in the acronym "WWW"), and it is the property of every single person in the world. It therefore follows that no one person or organization has any right to foist upon the rest of us any particular view of how we should interact with it.

Over the years, we've seen developments in web browsers, starting with such simple software as Lynx, moving through Mosaic and various versions of Netscape and (later) Microsoft's Internet Explorer, and more recently the newer browsers such as Firefox. Some of these developments have been good and worthwhile; others have been - at best - questionable.

We've also seen the ugly trend toward web-pages which insist, often in arrogant and quite insulting terms, that the user's browser is "out of date", "no longer supported" etc. and that the user "needs to upgrade" to a more "modern" browser, or something along those lines. Well, YouTube has now joined that long list - and has trumped all earlier offenders with its extremely rude "There must be 50 ways to leave your browser" routine! How dare you!!!

In Technology Review, July 1996, the WWW's founder, Tim Berners-Lee, said:

"Anyone who slaps a 'this page is best viewed with Browser X' label on a Web page appears to be yearning for the bad old days, before the Web, when you had very little chance of reading a document written on another computer, another word processor, or another network."

(See to read more.)

Please visit which documents these events. I'd like to make two points based on comments within that page:

1. Even though Microsoft would also like to see IE 6 disappear, it "refuses to force anyone to upgrade ... and says the decision is ultimately up to the user." If Microsoft, in all its might, isn't prepared to go to the extreme of trying to force us to "upgrade", then why is Google/YouTube arrogating that right to itself? Having come to the web even later than Microsoft did, do you seriously think you can get away with adopting that approach?

2. That web-page also contains the following statement:

"Users on these browsers will still be able to watch YouTube videos, but additional features that Google plans to roll out may not be supported in these older browsers."

(which is simply paraphrasing statements made by YouTube in the lead-up to all this).

Well, quite frankly, it's not true. By my own choice - for reasons of personal preference and complex technical requirements which need not concern us here - I have IE 6 and Firefox installed on my computer; and - increasingly - I'm finding that pre-existing YouTube videos will *not* load correctly, but instead present me with a dead, featureless black rectangle with no clickable buttons and no rotating "loading" graphic at the centre. Effectively, you have alienated me and my computer - and many others and their computers - from the YouTube website. As far as I'm concerned, that's a huge blunder on YouTube's part.

On, the following comment appears:

"IE6 may still be installed on as many as one-third of PCs worldwide..."

Now, why might that be? Could it be that, quite frankly, people are sick and tired of having to get on the latest "upgrade bandwagon" just to suit the self-styled "movers and shakers" of the Internet?

The clear implication is that YouTube thinks it can force vast numbers of people to change their way of doing things, just because it decides to do so, whether people like it or not, and whether or not they have perfectly good reasons to keep their systems as they are. What arrogance!

YouTube needs to realize that it does have competition. Granted, up until now, YouTube has led the way in the field of video streaming; but I venture to suggest that this could change quite rapidly if enough people become alienated by this present ugly trend. In the current economic climate, no business can take it for granted that it will continue to exist and thrive indefinitely - especially if it treats its clientele with disdain. The old adage: "The consumer is always right" is well and truly back - and a good thing too!

I would not like to see YouTube die. In its time, it has brought a great deal of pleasure to a great many people, and (as mentioned) has led the way - until now. I'd like to see it continue to thrive - but not at any price.

Other disgruntled people have made comments about various aspects of the new screen layout and function, many of which I agree with [especially the way users' comments about particular videos are now (mis)handled]. But the most fundamental problem is the obvious contempt with which YouTube has now begun to treat its support base, trying to lay down the law about how we shall use our computers and how we shall interact with the Internet - and that is quite simply unacceptable.

The solution is simple. Just admit that YouTube has taken a very dramatic wrong turn, and put things back the way they were. If you really *must* have a version to suit the latest thing in whiz-bang gimmick-packed web browsers, new versions of Flash - or *whatever* - then at least give the user the choice of the old system *as well* as the new. But don't try to force us into any particular mould, or the results could be a disaster. As I've said, YouTube is too good to lose - but that could be the result if you don't start to listen to and respect your public, *right now*.

A parting shot: I have been contemplating posting some of the videos from my own website ( to YouTube. Since this fiasco, I've put that idea on hold. Frankly, why should I bother, if I can't even look at them there myself?!

To sum up: please, put the "You" back into "YouTube"!


      Mad Teddy

What do you like best about the beta watchpage?

Not applicable! It's a disgrace - please fix it! Just put it back the way it was!

Did you experience any problems or difficulties with the beta watchpage in the last two weeks?

Yes, specifically:

Please see my comments under "What, if anything, did you find frustrating or unappealing about the beta YouTube watchpage? What new features or capabilities would you like to see on the watchpage?"

If you could describe the beta version of the YouTube watchpage in one word, what would it be?


Well, there you have it! That's what I think about the way YouTube has gone, and now I've told them.

If you'd like to get involved also, feel free to adapt anything I've said there for your own answers, if you feel similarly. Please don't just plagiarize - that would probably do more harm than good. Let's not give them any excuse to simply write us off as just a bunch of cranky spammers.

Meanwhile, you'll always be welcome to visit my pages, where you can be assured that neither you nor your computer will ever be expected to jump through a whole series of ever-changing, arbitrary, aggravating hoops in order to access my material.

Hallelujah, that'll do ya!

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