The birthplace of ecommerce and a warning about IE

By | August 14, 2017
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Computers, eh? They’re great… until they’re not.

You’re not the only one who gets frustrated by them from time to time. I do too. (And I bet we’re not the only ones.)

Last week, for example one “corrected” my typing for me – and used the American spelling of favourite instead of the UK spelling.

The interesting thing, though, is that I have my computer set to UK English – so why did it change it to US? Well, you also need the language in the spellcheck to be set to UK. In some programs they’ll check what your computer is set to and copy that but some don’t.

Most of the programs on my PC do have the spellcheck set to UK – but not the one I use to send out these newsletters. And that changed my typing and I didn’t spot it when I read it over again.

Lesson learned – and a good tip to you – if you’re bothered about everything you write being in UK English, make sure whatever programs you’re using that have a spellcheck (and particularly any that automatically “correct” what you write) are set to UK English… or read it back more carefully than I did!

If you use Internet Explorer…
I know quite a lot of people still use Internet Explorer. And you still can – it’s not the web browser I’d recommend, but it still works.

But it looks like Microsoft are gradually making it a bit harder to carry on using it. I’m not too surprised – they brought out its replacement (called Edge) two years ago now and Edge runs faster, crashes less and is more secure.

Now IE has started giving more and more security warnings – and they can be annoying and worrying.

Mike has written more about exactly what’s going on in the Inner Circle, but in a nutshell, if you still use Internet Explorer, I’d probably recommend switching to either Edge or Chrome (or Firefox if you prefer). Or if you stick with IE, be prepared for more warning boxes popping up when you try to do things like look at photos.

A good pub quiz question: When and where did ecommerce start?
I’ve recently been on holiday – and one of the places we went was to a brilliant computer museum in Cambridge called the Centre for Computing History. (If you are interested, their website’s here and the place is well worth a visit if you’re ever in the area.) I had a great time (so did the boys – and I managed to show them how I learnt programming on computers from the 80s by writing a simple “Guess my Age” program together).

But one of the things I found interesting was a device called a ROCC Teleputer. It dated back to 1984 and was the first system that let people buy things by computer without leaving their homes.

Sorry for the scrappy photo – it’s a snap I took on my phone.

Ecommerce (shopping over the internet) is huge now, as you know. Amazon, eBay, all the main supermarkets and nearly every other shop you can think of are online so you can buy things and get them delivered.

But if you’d asked me I’d have guessed it started in the late 90s. I know people talked about it before that and had ideas how they could do it, but I’d have guessed it wasn’t actually working until the late 90s.

But back in 1984, in one area you could do your shopping at the supermarket by typing what you wanted into this computer in your home, then they’d deliver the shopping to your door.

And where was this futuristic system up and running, years before anyone else had online shopping working? Was it Silicon Valley, maybe? New York? London?

Nope. It was Gateshead.

So there you go. Gateshead – the birthplace of online shopping.

2 thoughts on “The birthplace of ecommerce and a warning about IE

  1. Mike Steward

    Hi Tim
    I’ve noticed that Iternet Explorer is not as good as it used to be on my old Laptop, I thought it was because I’m still using Vista. You say that it”s not the brouser you would recommend. But you did’nt say what you do recommend, and more to the point how to download a new browser.
    Can you help ?

    Regards Mike S.

    1. Tim Post author

      good point! You might find you do have problems even with a different browser as I wouldn’t really recommend using Vista online nowadays – it’s no longer supported with updates, which means it isn’t as secure against the various internet nasties out there.
      That said, if you are using it online, changing to a different browser might help. I personally like Chrome, which you can get by going here and clicking on the download button. But you could also try Firefox which you can get here. Both of them are good browsers (and free).
      For many people, Edge is a good answer (it’s Microsoft’s replacement for IE) but it won’t run on Vista so you don’t have that option.
      Hope that helps


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