Dallas morning news, Today Section 10/28/96
Sites to make most Internet surfers see sick
Anyone who has spent more than an hour surfing the Internet is bound to have pet peeves about special effects on the Web - maybe it's ugly animated images, slow scrolling text or awkward frames.
For most of us, they are personal annoyances. For Erich Vokral, they're a cause.
Mr. Vokral is the Net's Mr. Blackwell, a one-man arbiter of ugly, tacky and wasted efforts. Over the past year, the Illinois man has created more than 100 pages on a half-dozen sites that deflate the Web's excesses. If you find something on one of his pages, rest assured it's yesterday's cool.
There's the I Hate Frames club (wwwvoice.com/hatefrm.html), motivated by designers who create immovable panels on users' screens, usually to hold ads or navigation graphics.
"The growing frame menace that looms over us like a bad Slurpee headache," the site warns.
The Dead on the Web (wwwvoice.com/dead.html) site touts itself as "Your cyberspace guide to some of the Web's most spectacular abandoned sites." Every link is guaranteed to bring up a site that hasn't been touched for a year or more.
For lighter fare, Crazy Joe's Internet Bungee Jump (wwwvoice.com/bud/crazyjoe.html): "1. Get on top of the platform. 2. Firmly grasp the scrollbar on the right-hand side of your browser. 3. Rapidly yank it down as fast as possible."
But my favorite is his latest effort, the Bud Ugly page (wwwvoice.com/bud/bud.html). It's an in-your-face, hideous as sin, technological nightmare in black, purple and green. Bud Ugly is an assault on your eyes.
There are garish animated pictures, annoying flashing type and misfiring Java applets scattered among some of the worst writing online: "Bud Uglly Design, razing the Web for a brightor tomorrow."
Yes, the spelling is that bad. And yes, it is on purpose.
"The Bud Ugly page had to be ugly and beautiful at the same time," Mr. Vokral says. "There are already too many ugly pages, so this had to be so bad that it had a beauty of its own."
The idea was to spoof all those high-dollar sites popping up that require the latest plug-ins and overwhelm modems only to deliver screens that provide little content, he says. Oh yeah, Bud Ugly was also supposed to be funny.
"I didn't put anything on this page unless I found it very funny, and I was in tears laughing most of the time while writing it," he says.
I didn't shead any tears over it, but you'll have a hard time not laughing. The idea is so over the top, from the profiles of the design team to the custom order form, "What site would you like us to steal the graphics from?"
There are battling buttons for the Netscrappy 7.3 and Microsoftish product called Alvin's Internot Exploder. Click the buttons and discover great send-ups of the originals.
Netscrappy 7.3 promises breakthrough audio, video and smells. It warns users to "upgrade or we will have to hurt you."
Over at Alvin's, where the slogan is "Who do you want to blow away?" the newest version of Exploder is 0.2, with 0.3 due out in 15 minutes and 0.4 about a half-hour later. Rather than tout features, the site offers articles on how many "bazillion" dollars the company has, and why Alvin is smarter than you.
It's nothing personal, Mr. Vokral says. Although he doesn't understand why the Microsoft Network rejected his page for Site of the Day, yet more than 100 MSN employees visited the page.
"I just think there needs to be a voice for the regular people online," he says. "Too many sites and companies online seem to create pages that just drive away users.
"All these companies seem more interested in making the Web another television; that's not what the Web is about. It's supposed to be a place where we all can have our say."
Mr. Vokral has said enough for quite a few people.
By Todd Copilevitz / The Dallas Morning News
Todd Copilevitz can be sent e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1996 The Dallas Morning News