Random Thoughts

Focus on IE7 development

Microsoft makes a browser going by the name Internet Explorer. You may have heard of it. Now, many of us will never use IE (maybe except for testing or some such) but what Microsoft does with the browser still matters to us all. We know this is so because IE is the browser most people use due to being the one included by default in Windows.

So we know why the development of IE7 matters, but what should we hope for, first and foremost? Looking at the IE Blog, it seems like it’s a situation of “damned if they do, damned if they don’t” there – if they write about how they’re implementing features like tabs they get criticised for doing that and not the standards. If they write about how they finally support transparent PNG images they’re swamped with comments about wanting more features. Can’t remember right now what they’ve written about bugfixes in their standards support, but there has been some. And comments from non-satisfied readers. Not easy being an IE developer, eh?

But roughly speaking, there are three options: Implement features that users want, implement more standards support (that is, at least to the same level as the alternative browsers) and combining these two options, doing both.

Focusing on the features will give the users who won’t switch to other browsers a nicer browsing experience, but… Other browser makers won’t be resting on their laurels, but continue to make their browsers better, with both more support for standards and more and better functionality in the interface, making the browsing experience better and better for their users. In the browser or as plugins, IE will be playing catch up in this field no matter what.

Focusing on the standards will also be a catch up game, but to a lesser degree; while there may be suggestions for new features here, standard definitions doesn’t add up that quickly. The problem by focusing on standards is of course, that using the browser doesn’t really get any nicer by it. Combining both would be the best – if the resources are there. But Microsoft too has limited resources, so what should be done by them? Where shuld the focus be?

The main focus should – IMHO – be on standards support, with some implementation of the “must have”-features, such as tabs. The browser features to make it nicer to use the browser itself, of course, but not spending too much time on it, because there are more important matters. This being the implementation of (bug free) standards support, of course. This will help everyone; IE users will start experience what users of alternative browsers already experience, and more importantly, it will be easier for web developers to make web sites that takes advantage of what is possible, without leaving IE users out in the cold. A win-win-situation. What the IE team actually will do remains to be seen – we can only cross our fingers and hope for the best. And maybe they write something in their blog…

WordPress bugfix? Ouch!

I updated to WordPress 1.5.1, and it seemed to work fine. Later, when the hours showed it was the next day, I read that the RSS feed wasn’t quite what it should be, even if it might seem so to begin with. There were also a bugfix.

Well – I want my RSS feed to work, of course, so I installed the bugfix. And when I finished my first plugin (abbreplace) I proudly wrote an entry about that. Which – unlike what I wrote before the bugfix – never showed up in the RSS feed.


I changed back to the original, unpatched file. Hopefully, all is well now with this entry and the feed.

But it uses a lot of memory.

Twice have I heard the argument now from friends that Opera use a lot of memory, and that this was a reason to prefer Firefox. Last time today. (Or well – yesterday, it’s late.) Now, I don’t mind anyone preferring Firefox over Opera, but as I was sitting next to him today, in front of the PC, I showed him how he could set the cache himself, easily. In Opera, he is in total control over how the cache is handled.

And I showed him how RSS worked – a feature he wasn’t aware of. And while he was shown the difference between how the two browsers treated RSS, he wasn’t too convinced – he didn’t think he’d use it anyway. Maybe.

But a major reason for him to stick with Firefox anyway, was due to pages not working in Opera. Not by any fault of Opera, but that didn’t help him. Especially since the web mail he was using wouldn’t work with Opera. It wasn’t the time to test if completely hiding Opera by masquerading could help, though (broadband from Lyse if anyone can test.)

Doesn’t sound like a positive post for Opera this, eh? But, I know that more and more designers are aware of the correct way to implement web sites (write for standard, the one hack for IE, instead of writing for IE and then many hacks for the other browsers. Most economically sound method, too) – even if there’s work to do to make everyone aware of this. Secondly, if I didn’t win him over, he is more positive to what Opera can do now than before we met.

A taste of her own medicine?

Hilary Rosen – yes, the RIAA one – has got an iPod from her girl friend. She appreciates it of course, but – she is a bit frustrated, too. Why, she asks, the incompatible DRM to shut the competition out? Why is she complaining about it – and why isn’t everyone complaining about it?

Well, Hilary – two points: One, we have been complaining about it, all the time. You just haven’t been listening. Two, the whole point of DRM is to shut out the competition – it doesn’t prevent copying, and never have. It just makes it impossible for a healthy competition by legal ways – DRM never had anything positive with it, especially not for the customers. And this is implemented because – well, you wanted it.

It’ve very nice that you se the down side of the business now that you’ve got an iPod you can’t do with as you wan’t – but you’re a bit late, aren’t you?

The Truth Is Out There…

I stumbled over a site today, after I started downloading a video clip thinking it was something else. As I noticed what it really was I still let the download finish and watched it – a speech by David Ray Griffin. It was… interesting.

I’m pretty sure you know not everyone buys the US governments explaination of what heppened September 11th 2001 – and why don’t they? You’ll find the speech in wma and MP3 format where David Ray Griffin takes a critical look at the official 9/11 Commission Report at 911blogger.com

The truth is out there – but who knows what it is? It may be interesting to listen to no matter what view you have.

Features I like: Copy to note

I guess most of us use the bookmarks feature in the various browsers to keep the sites they like readily available. Some sites are bookmarked because of their theme, and can be categorised. Other times there are specific things you enjoy, so into the bookmarks with those pages.

The list of bookmarks grows. How long do you remember where you found those interesting bits? Do you spend a long time to find something specific? Here’s where Copy to Note in Opera is very useful: Mark the text you’re interesting on a site, or just part of it to remind you what it is about, right click and choose Copy to note. Unsurprisingly this copy the text into the built in note book, but the neat thing is Opera know where you copied it from. Just double click that note from the list of notes when you have the panel available, and you’ll visit the page it were taken from.

Neat? Not only can you use the note book at you normally would do, but it also doubles up as an advanced bookmark manager (of sorts) – a clever feature I’m using more and more. Also, Opera is the only browser I know of that has this useful feature. Great browser. 😀

Features I like: Reload from cache

Opera has a very nice feature, which enable me to edit any webpage I’m browsing, without accessing the source files on the server. Of course, it’s only locally on my own PC – but that’s often just what I need. I just view the source (Ctrl F3), edit it, save it, and reload it from the cache (Tools -> Advanced -> Reload from cache)

When can this be useful? Well – when someone have a problem with some pages, I can just visit those pages and edit them locally, and see if it works. Much easier than download everything and set up a copy of the site locally to test, no? Or I may find a funny video clip I’d like to save on my harddisk, but the author of the pages have “forgot” to place a download link on the page to make it easy for me. No problem – I make that link myself. And then there are pages that just don’t work all that well – there may be some faulty scripts or whatever. Edit, save and reload – and the page shows itself from a better side.

It’s not the function I use most, but it has been very useful when needed. 😀

Lies, damned lies and statistics…

There are three kind of lies: Lies, damned lies and statistics.
— Benjamin Disraeli, British politician (1804 – 1881)

The thing about statistics and browser share has come up at Asa Dotzler’s blog, commented on at OperaWatch, and finally scowled at by Arve Bersvendsen at Virtuelvis.

So, what seems to be the problem? It starts with some problems figuring out how 60 million downloads of Opera 7 can translate into 1% browser share, while 50 million downloads of Firefox 1 translate into 8-10% browser share. That there were some versions of Opera starting with 7 does indeed explain quite a bit – people upgrade as new versions are available, even if it isn’t a full version number. However, not everyone download the browsers from sites which count the downloads: Some get it from CDs/DVDs on computer magazines, or download it from other download sites. Some download one copy but installs it on several computers. Trusting download stats is therefore fraught with insecurities when it comes to number of users.

Then there is the browser share of 1% – how accurate are the statistics? You may very well claim that the counters/services that provide the numbers for these stats are able to recognise Opera, even when masquerading as IE or Netscape/Mozilla, and you’d be right. Well – except when Opera 8 makes use of the two new, thoroughly camouflage modes. But the question of how accurate the services are remains, how good they are to recognise Opera every time – because Opera makes good use of the cache, and doesn’t show up as a new visit as often as other browsers. You can change the default settings for the cache in Opera, but if you don’t need to with your kind of browsing, why would you? Read more at Virtuelvis about the underreporting and overreporting of browsers in statistics.

What’s left for us is to remember that statistics can be read in different ways – we must be aware of what statistics tell us – and what they don’t tell us. Anything else would be a mistake.

Is Opera better than Firefox? Eight.

Huh? Eight? What kind of answer is that?

A number as an answer – that’s either numerology, or the answer to life, the universe and everything. It was not the number 42, so we have to ignore the latter option – and are left with numerology.

Whether you believe in numerology or not, I plugged the question into the prediction calculator, and got 8 as the result. Even numbers are positive answers, and the smaller the better. So, the 8 means that yes, Opera is the better browser of those two, but not that much better. And I must admit, Firefox is a very nice browser, so I don’t really have any problems with the answer I got.

But as we see, Opera is still better, so if any Firefox fans try to tell you something else, just tell them: Eight! 😉