January 2003

Album Cover: Life in 1472

"Even with a patch on my eye, I'm dreamy."
Slick Rick / Fresh

Going the Way of Microsoft

January 28, 2003 9:13 AM

As you might or might not have heard, Opera has released a new, completely rewritten version of its web browser. Version 7 apparently shaved off a tenth of a megabyte, which might not seem like much, but the company claims to have added many new features and to have totally reworked their rendering engine.

As it turns out, Opera is seriously questioning whether they will be releasing a version for the Mac anytime soon, now that Apple is so hunky dorey over their new Safari browser. An article over at C|Net has labeled this the "second shock wave" in the browser market, after the whole Mozilla uproar. Funny how Apple seems to be going the way of Microsoft these days, tightly integrating their OS with Apple software and slowly sliding the 3rd party developers out the door.

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Media Center PC

January 23, 2003 6:21 PM

I had a chance to play around with one of the new Media Center PCs today at work. It's interesting to approach navigating your computer with a remote control. It's certainly obvious that the product is in a "Version 1" state, but overall the Media Center system was put together quite nicely. With only a few steps you've got your whole television lineup at your fingertips. A few more and you can browse through your entire Music collection, ordered however you like based on ID3 tags. The My Photos section is a nice touch, too, as you can skip from photo to photo in your collection, viewing each in a full-screen letterboxed mode. There's a fade transition between photos just to give it that nice extra visual touch.

Before I start to sound like an ad for the flavor of XP, though, I should say that it probably isn't a computer I would buy if I was going for a main workstation. If you've got the bucks to throw around (roughly $1600 without a monitor) it's a nice thing to add to your collection of geeky tech equipment, but I feel like the overall performance of the system is bogged down by all the advanced video and audio features. Nevertheless, it was fun to play around with and explore.

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Regarding Pintos

January 21, 2003 11:17 AM

You may remember the article I posted about called "Apple Snub Stings Mozilla." Well, apparently a few of the developers and fellow bloggers that were mentioned in the article have responded. I'd recommend reading Mike Shaver's and Chris Blizzard's responses. My favorite line from Chris' response (see Jan. 14)? "We're not your mother's Pinto anymore." My mom had a Pinto so this really hits home! ;)

Based on my last post, maybe it is only fair that I include an opinion from the other side of the dilemma, the opinion of someone who actually has to develop the browser that deals with the web standards that have been created. The following comes from Apple's Safari Web Browser's lead developer, Dave Hyatt:

"Sometimes it's hard being a browser implementor, because these standards are constantly evolving, the language is changing from version to version, and you can't just stare at an older specification and know reliably what you're supposed to do. Add to that all the behavior that is still under debate or under-specified (such as z-index and clipping behavior), and it can just make you want to beat your head against your keyboard in frustration."

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Browser Death Wishes

January 21, 2003 10:37 AM

I am completely fed up with web browsers. Several times this weekend I was at a point where I was seriously considering tossing my monitor out the window. Cascading Style Sheets are an amazing thing, in theory, but when you can't successfully apply them what good are they? Lately I have been coding to standards, both in strict 4.01 HTML and valid CSS, but it has led to nothing but stress and headaches. IE does one thing...Mozilla does another. Neither doing what they should, and it gets so annoying. I don't really care about any other browsers, to be honest. I think Netscape should be permanently laid to rest. It is always fun, though, to take a look at a page you've designed in valid HTML and with extensive CSS, only to find that Netscape Navigator 4.8 has no idea what to do with your code!

The bottom line is, designs suffer because of browsers. If you really want everyone to get a good idea of what your design looks like (or was intended to look like), you've either got to use old-school code without CSS, or just create an image (I can't believe those words came off my fingertips – hopefully no amateur web developers are reading this). We need a standards compliant web browser desperately. Until we get one, plan on more stress and headaches when trying to be a good developer.

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On My Soapbox

January 16, 2003 5:30 PM

I realize you can get stoned (in the Biblical sense) these days if you're a techie and don't hold the view that Open Source is the best thing since sliced bread, but I am definitely not a big proponent of that whole movement. Seeing how slowly the Mozilla browser has evolved since its branching off into the Open Source world several years ago compared to the relatively quick deployment of new versions of Microsoft's Internet Explorer, I feel like you are almost trading quality for time with Open Source.

That said, however, I have to say that PHP is one of the most marvelous examples of what can happen from such a movement, or such a development community. Working on the Performance Library Database for over a year now has shown me the light, so to speak, when it comes to PHP development. I have developed in ASP and ColdFusion, both of which I am a fan, but PHP does so much and has such great documentation that it is doubtless a force to be reckoned with. And on top of all that...it's free! If you are a web developer and haven't gotten your feet wet with PHP yet, don't hold out any longer. Do as I have done and see the light.

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Checky

January 14, 2003 1:28 PM

I am always pleased with any article that makes fun of bad web design (unless it makes fun of MY bad web design), and Slate at MSN has a great one about the Democratic People's Republic of Korea's website. Great stuff! I wonder if their code at least validates?

If you care to find out on your own, the folks at Mozilla have come up with another great little plugin feature for their browser called "Checky." Now you can right click on any web page and automaticaly validate it via 18 different validation services. I tested it out and it works great, opening a new tab so you can view the results of the validation. I'm 1-for-1 now on choosing validated pages, but then again I was at WebStandards.org! ;)

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Browser Articles Galore

January 14, 2003 10:05 AM

I stumbled upon a great article today that was written about half a year ago. In it, Peter-Paul Koch covers the insanity of Netscape skipping directly from version 4 to version 6. I have always been bewildered by this – especially since I was never a Netscape fan to begin with – so it was quite amusing to read the article. One line reads, "So, unbeknownst to us web developers, marketing geniuses inside Netscape (or its corporate owner AOL) decided the new Netscape would be Version 6." It just oozes sarcasm! ;) Another thing that I think is really funny is the fact that Netscape 7 actually identifies itself as a version 5 browser (its identification string includes Mozilla/5.0). Man, those Netscape people kill me.

I reached the article from another web page the author wrote about the standards compliance and various bugs of the major browsers. There I found some interesting facts about IE6 that make me think IE5.5 is actually a better, stabler version of Microsoft's browser. And it seems that I'm moving backwards here, because I made it to this page from the Konqueror browser's site which was in turn linked from an article at c|net today titled "Apple snub stings Mozilla."

In the c|net article, several people speculate about the affect Apple's decision to use Konqueror code instead of the Gecko engine has had on the egos of Mozilla developers. Ironically enough, though, several Mozilla developers seem to agree with the decision. The article is definitely worth a read, because it touches on the bogged-down state Mozilla has found itself in due to its cross-platform compatibility and its well-worn path of open source development.

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Looking Back

January 13, 2003 3:13 PM

I got around to submitting the strange CSS border bug to Bugzilla this afternoon. They seem pretty adamate about making sure you aren't filing a duplicate bug, so I made sure to look for possible duplicates several times before actually submitting. Hopefully I have finally had my chance to contribute to a browser that I think has some incredible potential.

Yesterday I spent some time showing a co-worker of mine the Internet Archive's WayBackMachine. He was amazed at how much of the web's history is stored at that site. He started reminiscing about a website he ran about four years ago that apparently drew a lot of attention at the time. That made me think of all the time I put into my Jenny McCarthy page that I founded way back in 1996, and in turn, the web design work I was doing at that time in general. It's fun to look back. In fact, I think looking back can give us a grand idea of just how much we will accomplish in the years to come.

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A Dime a Dozen

January 12, 2003 10:11 PM

It's unbelievable how many times I've redesigned this page over the past week. So far I like this one, though, so I think I will be able to deal with it for at least a month ;) Things have been pretty hectic for me lately, juggling two tech jobs and all, but you'd be amazed at how often I am still cruising the web trying to keep up on the latest webdev and technology news. CES and Mac Expo seem to be the biggest deal right now, but I have been rather unimpressed with what's been announced from those two shows. The biggest talk seems to be Safari, Apple's new browser. I've been following the attempts to find a hack for actually "blocking" Safari when doing design, which I think are quite amuzing! It is pretty sad that after all these years web developers are still struggling with browser sniffers because the people developing the most popular browsers still aren't fully complying with web standards.

Speaking of web standards, I think I may have somehow found a CSS bug in Mozilla, thanks to this new page design. If you're viewing this page in Mozilla, chances are you see a gap in the dotted border around this entry (and any subsequent entries). It appears in the upper and lower righthand corners. I'm not very quick to blame Mozilla, though, as they've turned out to be more compliant than IE from my own experience. For instance, if you're in Mozilla you actually see the dots (although maybe not all of them). If you're using IE, it is rendering my 1 pixel dotted border as a dashed border. Nice, right? ;)

But anyway, back to the possible bug. I validated my CSS and only received a few warnings. This leads me to believe that it really could be a bug. In which case, I'm going to contact Bugzilla and see if I'm right.

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