'Tired of pig races?
Our act is unique, fresh
the porkers have been known to eagerly
go after soccer balls 30 feet away and to hit grand ham
home runs off the stage!
The intention was to compare and contrast websites related to fiction
but for reasons of my own (short attention span, shortage of cash) I
decided to pleasantly surprise my editor with a, well stranger, take
on the internet and what it offers.
And what does it
offer I hear you all shouting in anticipation. Oh you didnt say
anything? God its those voices again and they said that the medication
should be working by
um well anyway this should arouse your interest
because I just spent valuable time trawling the internet searching for
FREE stuff! Yes read on and you could win prizes!
has become a kind of compulsion. I must have been on the dole for too
long or something; I will enter any competition to win anything
providing it doesnt involve those tedious make you actually
think and do some research type questions. Im currently
waiting to hear if Ive won one of twenty-six holidays and, although
probability calculations were never my forte, Im positive that
Ill be leaving this country soon. I dont care if I win the
expedition in the rainforests of Brazil or the wine-tasting week in
Bordeaux, as long as I leave this county, soon. So with the optimism
of someone that is overdrawn by a grand and lives off credit but nevertheless
plays the lottery, I threw myself into my mission.
Love is in
the air according to Hallmark anyway. So, I figure, there is
bound to be a multitude of Valentine-themed competitions on the net.
I go to yahoo.com, type in valentine + competitions, and
the first thing that strikes me is pigs. Valentines performing
pigs to be precise. A surprisingly well put together site with links
to the endeavours of Stage Hams such as Nellie rolls
right along, nose assault and literate pig.
Its unsurprisingly irrelevant. Only in America eh? I continue
my search ignoring yahoos direction to sites informing me of crucial
facts such as next season not only is Felicity riding Valentines
Dream in RDA dressage competitions but she is also taking her 14.2hh
This is getting silly I realise, I was envisioning
fabulous prizes, weekends in Paris, hotel rooms with Jacuzzis and all
that. Luckily Scotland Online.com arrives proffering gifts of chocolates,
wine glasses and tights.
Ok I dont
want to give the impression that the Scottish are skinflints (certain
members of our writing team might lynch me) but this is not entirely
what I expected. Nevertheless, Cornwall is currently cold and miserable
and a girl can never have too many pairs of tights thats
luxury hosiery to the good people at Scotland Online. I
promptly entered all three competitions, which involved answering a
question relating to each product. The answers were kindly incorporated
in the descriptions of the prizes; this meant that after discovering
the nature of the question, I had to click back to read a load of information
that I had no interest in whatsoever. A clever marketing ploy but annoying
nevertheless. On the whole, however, I liked this site. Its promise
of regular competitions will attract me back again and it
also deals with all that searching for a roof over your head and earning
a living stuff which, I suppose, is of equal importance. It would certainly
be a useful site if I lived in Scotland. It is easy to access,
having an address that is memorable in its obviousness, and navigate
with an unfussy design. The tasteful presentation was a relief after
the pink garishness of the Texan pig site. The competitions were simple
to access and, most importantly with my attention span in mind, quick
to enter none of that you cant submit until you have
put in a four digit birth date frustration.
Moving on, I investigated ZDNets Valentines special. A good
site for cynics with lots of links to articles debunking the occasion.
It included a great Romantic Quiz with questions and possible
answers such as:
When you and
your sweetheart fight
you try to fight fair, work things out, and not hold grudges.
you seek online advice.
you think, What would Homer Simpson do?
you seek advice from Jerry Springers audience.
revealing intimacies that no one else will know.
a joint tax return.
whatever it says in the dictionary.
at least twice the laundry load.
When I eagerly clicked
on prizes however I was directed back to Scotland Online.
Disappointing but I did receive some enlightening advice on relationships
from this site as a result of answering the quiz.
goody bags, a years supply of liquorice after entering all these
ludicrous competitions I needed a holiday. I wasnt getting anywhere
with the Valentine theme so I decided to widen my search. www.holiday.beeb.com
sounded perfect. It looked perfect. Well-written information on glorious
locations, beautifully presented with enticing pictures and, to my delight,
incredible holiday prizes. I clicked on a once in a lifetime trip to
Egypt and waited. And waited. Went to other areas of the library, did
research on other subjects, found some videos, came back, sat down and
waited. Being somewhat of a technophobe or at least a techknownothing
I can not be sure whether the slowness of this site is the fault of
its creators or of Falmouth colleges IT department. Finally, twenty-five
cat-related questions later I was ready to submit my details and get
out of this site. Rather bizarrely for such a sophisticated set-up there
was no way provided for me to do so. Obviously the BBC are on some sort
of economy drive; fantasy prizes, impossible to win
The verdict? Best
site to get something for nothing? CheekyMonkey.com a site devoted
to trawling the sites of a diverse range of businesses and services
looking for prizes and freebies. Extremely easy to access and navigate,
memorably presented, although obviously aimed at students and twenty-somethings,
and humorous in content. A Syncfone (whatever that is), A DVD player
(not really sure about this one either), £500, a week in the Algarve
- all these things could be mine!
The moral of the
story then, you cant buy happiness but you can certainly attempt
to win it. And if youre still disillusioned with the joys of Valentines
Day then the Internet offers plenty of opportunities to subvert the
soppier than thou genre. For £35 pay an online detective
to track down you lovers chatroom infidelities at www.infidelitybusters.com
- of course this is only a viable option if your partner is a computer
nerd in which case why not dump him/her anyway. And why not do so online
at Hackwriters. Is Valentines Day an annual reminder of your inadequacies
as a partner? Then heed the advice of ZDNets Paul Tatara:
relationships are treacherous mind fields of hope and desire. Casual
negotiation could leave your heart hopping around on one foot
at his/her jokes as if youve been possessed by the spirit of a
hyena. Bathe regularly.
If this doesnt
work then Im sure there will be some weird Japanese website out
there where you can win yourself a partner. Good luck.