Surfing with Ed on the Internet

Sarah-Jane Williams, Welsh Office

Ed remains lost at sea, he was last sited a couple of weeks ago, going around the Bureaucratic Bermuda Triangle in circles. Not to worry, I’m sure he will find his way back soon. Meanwhile, it’s time for another surf board meeting, we’ll just have to go without Ed.

This month I have surfed over to the South American continent, stopped off for a virtual coffee break in Brazil and perused over the web pages of Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatistica
( http://www.ibge.gov.br/ibge/default.php ), using a vintage 486 2DX66 processor machine with Netscape v4.04 on the 29th January at 08:30.

The mission was to find out whether this Web site has the same flair as the Brazilian football team or whether is it as shaky as the Brazilian currency .

Downloading the home page took more than two minutes, plenty of time for me to slip into a serious yawning session and to engage my eyelids into a battle against the forces of gravity. When the home page finally arrived, the screen was engulfed with a dark blue backdrop and a spinning graphic in the top left hand corner called "Pop Clock".

Reading some of the text was difficult because of the dark background. "Pop Clock" is an original and novel idea providing information on the latest population figures. However, moving graphics come at a relatively high price, they can guzzle hunks and chunks of memory.

English and Portuguese are options with a toggle between the two. Although, in some areas the languages are blended together. In the predominantly English version, the links often appeared in Portuguese, which added to the navigational challenge.

In general, the navigation is a bit haphazard and I got stuck down a few dead ends: there isn’t a consistent structure to the placement of links.

This site hosts a wealth of information, including "Brazil in Brief", the IBGE Catalogue, the latest press releases and links to other sites.

A considerable proportion of the statistics is buried in large passages of text and the use of frames made it cumbersome to scroll around the screen. It’s a bit like driving a car with a flat tyre, difficult to manoeuvre into the spot that you want to go. Frames, however, have their benefits, it was straightforward to save and download sections of the information as frames into MS Word files.

Please send any comments or suggestions of interesting features found at statistical Web sites to Ed.Swires-Hennessy@Wales.gsi.gov.uk or to Ed Swires-Hennessy at the National Assembly for Wales, Cathays Park, Cardiff, CF10 3NQ. I’m not sure when Ed will make a come back to the surfing scene. Perhaps an astrological map could give me a few glues.