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News Posts In Category <em>   Software Musings</em>

News Posts In Category Software Musings

November 20th, 2012

Windows 8 UI strategic mistake, argues design guru - Computerworld

Windows 8 UI strategic mistake, argues design guru - Computerworld. Excellent and detailed article about the Windows 8 user interface. The author, Jakob Nielsen, argues that Windows 8 fails the usability test on both tablets and the PC. Some of his points are weak, but overall this is a good read.
    
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Posted in:MS Windows, Microsoft, Usability, |
June 8th, 2012

In search for civility online, is the Golden Rule the answer?

ISO civility in online comments - The Washington Post. This is a spot-on article pointing out the horrible state of interpersonal communication on the web. Nothing new, really -- it's been this way for years, but it's just getting worse. One big insight is the relationship between the "blinders on" mentality of those who troll the web and the "don't bother me with facts" mentality of the Tea Party and their ilk, like survivalists and members of the Government Paranoid. One group feeds the other, and they never read anything but what they agree with. These folks aren't looking for a conversation -- they're looking for a fight. And the rest of us must try really hard to turn the other cheek and not let the fight begin.
    
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January 20th, 2012

Bye Bye, Google

That's it... I'm done. Fed up. I've taken Google and shoved it off my system. Don't get me wrong... I like Google, though I like Google far less than I did 6 years ago. Its software has gotten too complicated... it's too ubiquitous... it's too intrusive... and it's too Windows-centric. I really hate Chrome, but don't have time to go into why today. I like Google Earth on my iPad, but hate it on my desktop. On the desktop, it looks just like a Windows app: Butt ugly. But what I really hate is the sneaky and intrusive way Google updates itself on my Mac. Without warning, Finder suddenly jerks me away as it loads the latest Google update and then deletes it when done. I just don't need that. I don't use Google's desktop software, so it's bye bye Keystone agent. Bye bye Google update agent. Bye bye Google Earth plugins and updates. It took me 20 minutes to finish everything, and I hope it doesn't start up again without my knowledge the next time I launch Chrome.
    
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Posted in:Internet, Software Musings, |
July 1st, 2010

White House Freezes IT Projects To Revisit Wasteful IT Contracting

White House, citing waste, freezes IT projects - Computerworld. Wow... this was certainly good news, especially given my rabid views on the subject, as often expressed on Mars in the past. Federal IT spending is grossly mismanaged and embarrassingly costly, driven as it is by decisions made by IT "Beltway Bandits" rather than by knowledgeable Federal managers. Virtually all of the IT contractors are in bed with Microsoft, so you find a strong monopoly of Microsoft solutions at Federal agencies. And yes, Microsoft products are the most expensive to maintain over time, and Office is ridiculously expensive and overkill as a tool for every desktop. Worst of all, IT contractors typically sell solutions that further lock Feds into the Microsoft ecosystem, thereby shutting out the feasibility of implementing less expensive solutions based on open standards. A good first step... Now let's see what becomes of it.
    
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April 15th, 2010

The Future for Home Computing

The iPad is the future for home computing - Computerworld. My iPad hasn't arrived yet (I opted for the 3G version, since I don't believe in cellphones and their parasitic subscription fees), but from what I know this Computerworld writer is spot-on. Not only am I a cellphone luddite, but a laptop one as well. I bought a MacBook Pro a couple of years back, but just couldn't make myself need or want it. (Ended up giving it to my wife.) But the iPad sounds like the laptop I've been waiting for! And it also means that, as much as I rely on my iPod Touch for eBook reading now, I'm very much looking forward to getting my mitts on the new iBook store. This is a great summary review of the iPad and captures all the salient reasons why Apple has another (and perhaps its biggest yet) hit on its hands.
    
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November 3rd, 2009

ComputerWorld Pits Snow Leopard Against Windows 7 (Again)

Smackdown: Windows 7 takes on Apples Snow Leopard. Now, this is more like it! Whereas the earlier ComputerWorld reviewer basically called the OS's an even match (while exposing a lot of his own ignorance about Mac OS X), this fellow understands completely. In his closing remarks, he concludes:
As an IT professional, I support both operating systems at work. But I have Macs at home; after all, who wants to troubleshoot computer problems on their own time? My final verdict in this smackdown? It's not even close: Snow Leopard is the better OS.
I couldn't have put it better myself. :-)
    
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April 19th, 2009

Another Windows Guru Falls For A Mac

Living on Air: A Windows guru spends two weeks with a Mac. In this case, said Guru had avoided trying out a Mac for 25 years and finally took the plunge, only after being assigned to do so. Lucky him, he got to play with the latest model MacBook Air, but his article spends more time explaining why he now understands the appeal of Mac OS X. Though he does get a number of things wrong (heck, he only spent 2 weeks with the OS, but sadly writes as though he's now an expert on it), I think we can count him in the Switcher camp.
    
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October 12th, 2008

WebKit’s Web Inspector Tool Gets Major Workover

Surfin’ Safari » Web Inspector Redesign

For my money, Safari's Web Inspector has been a strong rival to the excellent Firebug that Firefox deveopers use. Its capabilities and usability have been growing by leaps and bounds since it was first introduced in January 2006.

I wrote a brief article on the enhancements that came in August 2006, and since then the improvements have just kept coming:

  1. June 2007, total redesign with beaucoup added features.
  2. December 2007, adding inline CSS editing, a database browser, downloadable fonts, several CSS properties, and more.
  3. September 2008, redesigned interface and way too many terrific features to list here. Go read the WebKit blog article for details.

At this point, I don't think there's any question among those of us who've used both Firebug and Web Inspector that the bar has now been raised far beyond what's available to Firefox developers.

Note: At this time, the new web inspector--like the hugely faster Squirrelfish JavaScript engine--is only available in the nightly WebKit builds. But that doesn't mean you can't use it in place of Safari!

    
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September 5th, 2008

Analyst Pushes WebKit Over Google’s Chrome Browser

Tom Yager: Developers should skip Google's Chrome, and jump straight to WebKit

Of course, I completely agree with Yager, but I'm delighted to see a nationally prominent technology analyst come out with this opinion. I can't try Chrome yet because it's not available for Mac OS X (that's strike one against it!), and besides, Chrome uses the WebKit engine under its hood.

The latest builds of WebKit, and in preview builds of Safari 4, provide developers with the richest set of tools for building advanced Web 2.0 applications yet. Sadly, most tech writers are totally oblivious to this, even some who use Macs. Firefox is still the new and most politically correct kid in town, despite the fact that WebKit is just as open source but has a much faster-moving and forward-thinking engineering team.

    
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August 12th, 2008

Phishing and Safari (Part 2): A Sheep in Wolf’s Clothing

Consumer Reports urges Mac users to dump Safari, cites lack of phishing protection

And to think I used to like Consumer Reports!

They keep writing me to "come back" and resubscribe, but I've told them that won't happen until they become objective and truly knowledgeable about the Mac... at least as knowledgeable as they are about Windows PCs.

And now, it turns out they're recommending that Mac users "dump Safari," which just happens to be the best web browser on the Mac platform. Oh, and since this article also appears on ZDNet, while other industry journals gave it little play, I begin to conclude that ZDNet is a rats nest of Microsoft zealots.

So, here's the little note I left them today about their latest phishing/Safari scare tactic:

There is nothing in common between phishing and viruses, adware, spyware, or other malware. Phishing is just an old-fashioned scam dressed up in new HTML clothing. Consumers need to be educated about it, and no anti-phishing technology is going to save them. For one thing, most phishing schemes come to consumers through their email client, not their browsers.

Oh, and 6 or 7 years ago, why didn't Consumer Reports advise Windows users to ditch IE? That would have been the single best way for them to avoid Internet malware, but I never heard them do such a thing. The phishing problem pales in comparison to the security nightmares we experienced after IE6 was released (and before SP2), and which millions of Windows users continue to experience today. Active/X is the most dangerous technology out there as far as security is concerned, but is MS being pressured to remove it from IE?

Unfortunately, I don't think we've heard the last of this... At least, until Apple goes ahead and joins the other browsers in adding "anti-phishing technology" to Safari. Like I noted above, it really makes a lot more sense to add this capability to users' mail clients, since phishing is just a form of junk mail in the end.

    
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August 12th, 2008

Phishing and Safari (Part 1): A Sheep in Wolf’s Clothing

ZDNet: iPhone vulnerable to phishing, spamming flaws

There has lately been a rash of articles about how "insecure" Safari is because it has no anti-phishing mechanism. Frankly, I think this is a bunch of hogwash. It's an attempt to show how lax Apple is about security, and, by implication, how great Microsoft is.

It's not that I don't think phishing is a serious problem... I do! It's just that phishing is not a security issue, which is how the anti-Apple, pro-Microsoft (and pro-Firefox) zealots are trying to portray it.

Here's the comment I left on ZDNet's site about this article, dated 7/23/08:

Phishing scams are very bad, but they are not the same as viruses or malware that gets installed on your operating system. Not even in the same category. They are simply a sophisticated con, and unfortunately there are a lot of naive, clueless web users who will click on any link they're offered. Then again, I know people who are so paranoid they won't click on any link in an email at all... even if it comes from a trusted source (like a friend). I'm not at all convinced that anti-phishing software will work any better than junk-mail filters have, though I understand the need to try.

All you guys who are so hot to jump on Apple need to at least know what you're talking about. Though the companies who make money on security vulnerabilities like to lump phishing in with "security" flaws, in my opinion they aren't. Why? Because they pose no threat to the integrity of your computer or to your network.

Later, in reply to a reader who thought I was kidding with this opinion, I wrote:

Of course it's bothersome... on the same plane as the scum who trick old ladies out of their social security checks by conning them into some phony investment.

Phishing is more insidious, but if you have an ounce of common sense, it's easily avoided.

Not so with viruses and spyware, which can invade your system without any action on your part... not even clicking on a link. If following a link loads a virus, that's not phishing, defined as [blockquote] the activity of defrauding an online account holder of financial information by posing as a legitimate company[/blockquote].

My point is, phishing is not so much a security liability as it is a privacy issue... Phishing amounts to identity theft.

I'm not arguing that phishing isn't a serious concern that needs to be addressed. But I'm saying it's not a security issues in that it doesn't install software on your system, invade your network, or propagate itself to others.

I am arguing that it's more like spam, which is likewise a serious problem that can lead individuals to dangerous websites or tempt them into bad decisions. Like spam, I'm doubtful that any software solution to eradicate phishing is possible.

In this light, the urgency to correct a phishing vulnerability is much lower than that to correct a security vulnerability, and the fact that such a vulnerability exists should not alarm users to the same degree.

Turns out this "phishing" scam isn't over with the iPhone or Safari. See more of my ranting in Part 2 of this topic.

    
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June 17th, 2008

Apple Weighs In To Web 2.0 With Sproutcore Framework

SproutCore is Apple's Flash, Silverlight-killer - Mac software - Macworld UK Sproutcore is a new Ajax/JavaScript framework being developed as an outgrowth of Apple's new MobileMe product. It's also part of the ongoing rapid development of the iPhone development platform and the WebKit browser engine that forms the basis for Safari. To call it a "Flash killer" is perhaps a bit overstating the case, but judging from the demos on the Sproutcore website, it appears to be on its way to being a robust rival to more mature frameworks such as Ext.js. I've installed Sproutcore and look forward to playing around with it soon.
    
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April 21st, 2008

InfoWorld Article Dispels Many Enterprise Mac Myths

Why 'no Macs' is no longer a defensible IT strategy | InfoWorld | Analysis | 2008-04-21 | By Galen Gruman This article is a must-read for anyone who cares about the longstanding problem of getting enterprise IT staff to support Macs. If you can get them to read the article, published by a major and highly respected IT trade journal, you may change a few minds. The author runs down all of the issues that kept Macs out of the enterprise in the past, and effectively addresses the concerns, some of which have been outdated since the release of Mac OS X.

My only quibble is the author's assertion that enteprise reliance on Microsoft Office means unequal time for Macs. He points out that OpenOffice is a viable alternative but makes no mention of Apple's own terrific iWork suite, which is quite compatible with the basic aspects of Microsoft Office. Likewise, he fails to acknowledge Apple's effective collaboration suite in the form of iCal, Mail, iChat, and Address Book. Perhaps it's because those aren't cross-platform. However, even if that's the case, since they are able to interoperate with Office, they should be considered by businesses seeking to support their growing numbers of Mac users.

    
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March 28th, 2008

Mac Hack Makes for Good Headlines, But…

Gone in 2 minutes: Mac gets hacked first in contest The fact remains that neither I nor any other Mac user has ever had our machine infected with a virus, a worm, or any of the numerous forms of malware that Windows users have suffered from since 2001, when Mac OS X was released. The single biggest risks users have faced online during this period are (a) running Windows XP, (b) running Internet Explorer, and (c) running Microsoft email software. Why? Microsoft has called it various things over the years, but I know it best as Active/X. Microsoft argued in the aborted antitrust trial that tying IE tightly to the OS was in the best interests of consumers. Right. It certainly has been good for IT security firms. Heck, this gave rise to an entire industry that would never have existed without Microsoft's highly vulnerable system, and it made consumers and businesses spend billions of dollars on antivirus/antimalware software to combat the problem. Plus it created a generation of people who are afraid to use the web to the fullest, and who are neurotically suspicious of hyperlinks in emails... even when they come from people they know and trust.

Even if you believe these things would have happened if Apple's OS held the monopoly (which is a demonstrably false opinion), the burden of computer security has fallen exclusively on Windows users over the last 7 years. Exclusively... not just 90-95% of the burden. I have never spent a dime on security software or subscriptions, nor have I spent a moment worrying about going online. I've never had my machine hijacked by malware, or had my browser go haywire because I visited the "wrong" website. I take sensible precautions about suspicious emails, and I don't download files from suspicious websites.

If someone has developed a true exploit for hacking Mac OS X, I'm sure it'll be quickly squashed by Apple. And one or two such exploits in 7 years is a far more intelligent risk than dealing with thousands of such exploits a year over that period, don't you think?

    
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March 18th, 2008

Apple Posts Major Update to Safari

Apple - Support - Downloads - Safari 3.1

This update brings in all the latest standards implementations and innovations in the open-source WebKit project, plus a few interface enhancements as well. The Windows version gets some important updates too. From Apple’s tech document on Safari 3.1:

Performance

  • Improves JavaScript performance

Standards

  • Adds support for CSS 3 web fonts
  • Adds support for CSS transforms and transitions
  • Adds support for HTML 5 <video> and <audio> elements
  • Adds support for offline storage for Web applications in SQL databases
  • Adds support for SVG images in <img> elements and CSS images
  • Adds support for SVG advanced text 

Developer

  • Adds option in Safari preferences to turn on the new Develop menu which contains various web development features
  • Allows access to Web Inspector
  • Allows access to Network Timeline
  • Allows editing CSS in the Web Inspector 
  • Allows custom user agent string
  • Improves snippet editor

Other

  • Double clicking on the Tab Bar opens new tab
  • Includes URL metadata when images are dragged or saved from browser
  • Opens Download and Activity window in current Space
  • Supports trackpad gestures for back, forward, and magnify on MacBook Air and compatible MacBook Pro computers
  • Shows Caps Lock icon in password fields
    
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November 21st, 2007

Safari 3.0’s Hidden Jewels

Surfin’ Safari In case you missed it (I've been so busy that I did!), be sure to check out the WebKit team's writeup of their pick of the 10 best new features of Safari 3.0 (which has WebKit 3.0 running at its core). My nomination goes to the absolutely incredible upgrade to WebInspector and Drosera, the two tools for web developers that have been included in WebKit since early this year. WebInspector is the best tool out there now for analyzing the makeup, structure, content, and interactivity for any web page you encounter or are building. Drosera is the sidekick JavaScript inspector. But as you'll see from reading the WebKit team's blog, the goodness in Safari 3.0 doesn't stop there! According to the blog, most of the features described are also available in the upgraded Safari 3.0 browser included in the new Tiger upgrade, OS X 10.4.11.

By the way, before any defensive Firebug fans (I love Firebug, too, by the way) start a reflexive reply, you should know that in a recent podcast for Ajaxian, Firebug developer Joe Hewitt made clear he's now working on iPhone development and has been won over by WebKit from Firefox. He now thinks WebKit/Safari is the best platform for web development out there. I'd say his opinion is pretty significant! I see he's also built an early version of Firebug for the iPhone.

    
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August 10th, 2007

Mac Users Get A New Web Browser Choice: Demeter Started Life As “Super Shiira”

Demeter This is certainly welcome news! I've been disappointed at the very slow pace of development on the core Shiira project, and Demeter appears to be a fast-growing branch of that project. Like Shiira, it's open source, and also based on the latest (Safari 3.0) WebKit code. Definitely worth a look-see!
    
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June 11th, 2007

Apple Releases Public Beta of Safari 3… For Windows, Too!

Apple - Safari 3 Public Beta - Download I'm still going through all the news from today's blockbuster announcements at the Apple developer's conference, but this one has blown me away the most so far: Apple has made available a beta release of Safari 3.0 (which is awesome, let me tell you, as a Leopard developer), which contains all the amazing advances I've been reporting on since last fall. Not only that, but when I went to the download page, I couldn't believe my eyes... there are Windows downloads as well! Yep, that's right! One of web developers' biggest complaints about Safari is that it's not available for Windows... now, it is! This is incredible.
    
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May 22nd, 2007

Apple Investor News: Comprehensive New Site Aggregates Apple News, Google-Style

Apple Investor News - Always Updating, Intelligent News Search Now here's a really terrific new resource for Apple enthusiasts: Apple Investor News is much more than the large footprint that appears on its home page, too. Check out the two other "tabs" of news, and you'll discover that the site reels in freshly updated news in just about every category of interest to users of Apple products as well a investors in its stock. The only thing missing (for me) is an RSS feed (or feeds), but I'll be surprised if that isn't in the works.
    
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May 1st, 2007

Ars Technica Predicts Microsoft’s Silverlight Will Kill Flash


Microsoft’s Flash-killer Silverlight steals the show at MIX07

Ars Technica had better can some of these guys who have become blatant cheerleaders for Microsoft, or they’re going to start losing readers. In response to this biased piece on Microsoft’s new Silverlight technology, which is specifically designed to compete with Flex, Apollo, and Flash, I left this little message as a comment:

Regardless of how good or bad Microsoft’s version of Flash (or Ajax, or JPEG, or MPEG, or PDF, or you name it) may be, the fact is that Microsoft has a monopoly on corporate desktops, one that it won illegally by the way but has never been brought to task for. Its technologies should be avoided entirely unless you really want to see Microsoft extend them to the entire range of computing environments eventually.

In other words, unless you really want competition and innovation in computing to grind to a halt, you should always look for alternatives to whatever Microsoft is selling. And please avoid playing Microsoft cheerleader in a serious technology journal like Ars Technica would like to be. The point is, new Microsoft standards aren’t necessary… we have plenty of good ones already. Every time Microsoft comes along with another of its proprietary versions of existing standards, it only serves to confuse the market and slow the adoption and use of web technologies. Look at what happened when they crushed Netscape in the late 1990’s… it’s taken 10 years to recover from that, so that we’re finally seeing the kinds of web interfaces I, for one, was ready to deliver in 1998.

Not only that, but each Microsoft technology takes up mindshare that squeezes out genuinely innovative ideas from much smaller, potential competitors. And small companies, as everybody who’s taken Econ 101 knows, is where innovation occurs in this economy. Every time Microsoft buys up a small company with a good idea (think: Vermeer and FrontPage), it ruins a tool that could be really useful (it didn’t take long for FrontPage to turn the web into a bunch of pages that didn’t work in non-IE browsers, or non-Windows platforms, for example, by injecting Active/X controls and proprietary IE tags into the pages it created… the same is true of every MS development tool, for that matter).

If you’re really in favor of open competition in our economy, you’d never select a Microsoft product as the basis for anything. If they didn’t already own the desktop, it would be different. Since they do, they need to be simply ignored in technologies they don’t already own. Remember, regardless of what their sometimes sympathetic spokespoeple may say, Microsoft’s entire product line is designed to extend the Windows platform as far as possible. That’s it.

I think a lot of people believe it’s extended far enough already, thanks. If you agree, just say no to Microsoft’s latest candy. That includes you, Microsoft apologists who write for Ars Technica.

    
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April 23rd, 2007

Shiira 2.0 Finally Launched!

Shiira Project

Shiira iconThe Shiira Project has at long last launched version 2.0 of their alternative-Safari browser. Ever since the first beta last summer, Mac tech writers in the know (me included) have been extolling its virtues, waiting anxiously for a version with all of its features intact. Although the 2.0 version released today still has a few small screws loose, I could easily write a whole new article describing some of its cool new features and the polish its put on the ones revealed in beta. Chief among the new features I love are

  • The full-screen mode, which comes with a mouse-activated menu at the top of the screen that lets you navigate to other websites, change font size, and other basics.
  • The final look and feel of the new HUD-style panels is awesome, although the “action gear” icon at the bottom of each is still out of comission.
  • The RSS reader tool, which could still use some polish but has some nice alternative features not found in Safari.
  • The final configuration and content of the Page Info window is tops in its class! You’ll find that the “links” pane now neatly and powerfully ties each item in its list to the actual page, so as you select a link, the page scrolls to that point. If the link has an image, the image is shown in the information pane below, along with the full HTML of the link–including any javascript. Awesome! I also highly approve of the way the image browser pane turned out. The DOM browser is pretty basic, and I would highly encourage the Shiira folks to figure out how to integrate WebKit’s page inspector into Shiira—it likewise is the best around (well, neck and neck with Firebug for Firefox).
  • The PageDock is even better than originally, and Shiira still has the very best “Tabs Expose” feature of any browser around.
  • The Shiira folks have wisely updated some of the underlying WebKit components, as a result of which Shiira now speaks “ContentEditable” like 95% of the other browsers in use. (See my recent article on this topic if you don’t know why that’s important to Mac users.)

I’m going to try running Shiira instead of WebKit for a day or two. At the moment, my chief gripes from very limited use (since last night) are that

  • Shiira doesn’t integrate with Inquisitor, the awesome Cocoa search plugin for Safari,
  • Shiira doesn’t have a built-in JavaScript debug tool or a DOM/CSS inspector like WebKit does,
  • Shiira hasn’t incorporated WebKit’s CSS3 support bits. As a result, it can’t do things like rounded corners, drop shadows, multicolumn text, and the rest. (See this CSS3 Preview site to check them out.) The main CSS3 feature I use daily is resizable textareas… indispensible if you’re trying to get text entry work done in a browser.
  • The browser’s feedback showing it’s loading the page is a bit weak… It relies on the PageDock icon “filling with water”, but if the icon is quite small, it’s hard to notice. I prefer Safari’s use of the address bar for this.

In any case, I’m glad to see Shiira returning back to life as a truly excellent, native Cocoa alternative WebKit-based browser for Mac OS X.

    
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April 20th, 2007

Latest Performance Tests Make WebKit’s Superiority Hard To Deny (But Some Still Try)

Ajaxian » Performance test results show strong WebKit outcome Ajaxian posted a nice report on a distributed study of the relative browser performance on Dojo's charting system yesterday, and immediately the naysayers started naysaying. "Safari is a piece of crap. WebKit is so buggy..." and the like. I suppose if WebKit keeps coming up at the top of the heap on these kinds of tests, eventually Safari/WebKit will earn more respect, but probably not until a lot of the bozos who are so critical actually buy themselves a Mac. By the way, the test is strictly speaking a measure of relative performance at rendering SVG code, not overall browser speed or javascript parsing. (Although WebKit excels at those, too.)
    
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March 24th, 2007

Adobe’s WebKit-Driven Apollo Desktop Now Available in Alpha Release

Adobe launches Apollo, its web application runtime for the desktop Apollo LogoI was too busy last week to report this in a timely manner, but it's potentially big news: Last October, Adobe announced that it would use Apple's open-source WebKit code (on which Safari is based) for a new web application runtime for desktop software, and it's now fulfilled that promise. Apollo can be downloaded in first-release alpha form from Adobe's Labs website, and there's one example application built on the platform that you can also try. Apollo installs as a framework on Mac OS X, and it's also available for Windows. Adobe intends Apollo to be a framework for building web-based applications for the desktop, and I don't know too much more at the moment, but do intend to find out. It sure seems odd to peer into the Apollo framework folder and find the WebCore and JavaScriptCore frameworks, which are the heart of WebKit itself!
    
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March 3rd, 2007

Pfeiffer Report Measures How Much Worse Windows Vista Is Than Both XP and Mac OS X

User Interface Friction Benchmarks: Windows Vista vs. XP and Mac OS X This is a fascinating analysis of what Pfeiffer refers to as "User Interface Friction" in Microsoft's new version of Windows. UIF basically is a measure of how quickly a user can accomplish a given set of tasks using a mouse in the operating system interface. Pfeiffer measured the same basic tasks in Vista, XP, and OS X, and validated the subjective impressions that Mac users have had regarding Windows all along: Its interface throws up significantly more "friction" as users attempt to complete tasks than Mac OS X does. What's really surprising--and obviously will not be welcome news to Microsoft--is that Vista actually degrades user productivity compared with Windows XP. It may be sexier looking, but Microsoft's interface designers still don't get what you need to do to optimize user productivity. Like many ignorant PC users, Microsoft seems to assume that the only difference between OS X and XP is "sexiness" or "eye candy." Absolutely not... Just because eye candy exists doesn't mean it has no purpose. The eye candy in Mac OS X is there for a reason, in most cases. Microsoft--and, hopefully, its users--will be frustrated to learn that merely adding eye candy to an interface does not make for a more productive computing experience. It's great to see data like these from Pfeiffer that validate one of those intangibles that you can never really explain to a Windows user about why Mac OS X is superior to Windows.
    
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Posted in:MS Windows, Mac OS X, Usability, |
January 29th, 2007

OAT Framework: OpenAjax Alliance Releases Ajax Framework

OAT Framework OAT (OpenLink AJAX Toolkit) is a new open source reference Ajax library that's resulting from the combined efforts of members of the OpenAjax Alliance. I haven't tried it yet, but the site is chock-full of demo widgets that have gotten rave reviews on Ajaxian.com today. The source is downloadable at sourceforge, and I'm printing out the Alliance's white paper now... Very cool news indeed!
    
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January 20th, 2007

Prototype.js Gets A New Home, With Actual Rooms!

Prototype Javascript Library: Easing the development of dynamic web applications title textAh, now this is more like it! No more having to scrounge around the web for documentation, examples, and tutorials on Prototype.js, the Ajax-wise JavaScript library that's taken the web developer world by storm over the last year and a half. Now, thanks to a lot of dedicated developers working on the project, the library finally has its own website that's more than just a billboard page. Besides being able to download the library, the new site provides a blog, a section on tips and tutorials, and a full set of API documentation! Can't wait to step inside and look around.
    
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January 13th, 2007

WebKit Browser Adds Support for CSS3 Multi-Column Text Layouts

Surfin’ Safari - Blog Archive » CSS3 Multi-Column Support Storming right ahead, the WebKit team has now added support for CSS 3.0-specified multiple columns in the nightly builds. I gather that the Mozilla team has done something similar, although one of the commenters here declares that WebKit's implementation is superior. Being able to set text in multiple columns really enhances the page layout capabilities of web content. If we'd had this from the beginning, we never would have gone to table-based layouts! I can't wait to start using this one...
    
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January 12th, 2007

EU Study Confirms The Positive Economic Impact of Open Source Software

EU study says OSS has better economics than proprietary software

Wow, I wonder if I can get my hands on this one… According to this ArsTechnica post, the European Union has released a study on the economic impact of open source software (OSS) and found it to be good. Naturally, Microsoft, Adobe, and others with business models tied to high-priced proprietary software will disagree. As ArsTechnica reports,

In a section titled “User benefits: interoperability, productivity, and cost savings,” the study’s authors (researchers from five European universities) make the claim that OSS is a less-expensive alternative to proprietary software…. “Our findings show that, in almost all the cases, a transition toward open source reports savings on the long-term costs of ownership of the software products,” says the study’s authors.

As one of the report’s recommendations, the EU is encouraged to change its policies that tend to favor proprietary software and instead do more to pave the way for OSS adoption. Unless you’re a stockholder in one of the software companies mentioned earlier, this is great news!

ArsTechnica also published this interesting chart:

EU Study Finds Open Source Software Less Expensive

    
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January 10th, 2007

WebKit Adds Support for CSS Box Shadows

Surfin’ Safari - Blog Archive » Box Shadow Wow... this will save designers so much time! If you stop to think about the hours spent crafting decent-looking drop-shadows for boxes and the like... well, let's just hope this spreads to other browsers soon! And yes, this is already a CSS3 standard... it's just not something we've gotten used to using yet. I don't know if other browsers support it or not, but I know I'm gonna start using it as soon as Safari 3.0 is released!
    
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January 9th, 2007

iPhone: OK, I’m Impressed… Now Gimme The Goods!

Apple - iPhone Apple iPhoneIn these jaded times, it's hard to impress people. But I sincerely doubt that even the most ardent Apple-haters will be able to look at these demos of the new iPhone by Apple, Inc. (yes, they just dropped "computer" from their name!) without giving in to awe... pure, marvelous awe. If the delivered product is half as good as it looks, I'll be standing in line for one, because it so far exceeds my expectations that I'm really, really... impressed! The iPhone is a misnomer, because this is the "convergent" product the market has been anticipating for years. The iPhone is:
  • A widescreen iPod for video and audio, synked through iTunes
  • A mobile phone (yawn) with integrated camera, voicemail and photo sharing
  • A web browser (Safari), including email, Google maps, search, and widgets
  • A technological marvel, featuring a new "multitouch" touchscreen system (no buttons), an embedded copy of Mac OS X, wireless computing (bluetooth, 802.11b/g, and Cingular's Edge network, and sophisticated new sensors that do a heckuva lotta cool things just by moving the device around.

Did I mention it comes with a Bluetooth headset?

Help! I can't wait until June!

    
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January 6th, 2007

InformationWeek Review Finds Mac OS X Still Way Ahead of Windows Vista

Review: Mac OS X Shines In Comparison With Windows Vista - News by InformationWeek It's very gratifying to see a review like this in the "mainstream" IT press. Not that it will make any difference to the idiots who continue to keep their heads in the Windows sand. Some people simply have too much invested, both personally and professionally, to acknowledge that computing life beyond Windows is actually an improvement. Maybe someday... and at least, I think the rebellion is making some progress against the Empire these days. Articles like this are evidence that more tech writers are willing to speak their minds without fear that advertising dollars will dry up.
    
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December 28th, 2006

Renkoo Thinks They Don’t Need Mac Users

Unsupported browser - Renkoo OK, so on the recommendation of Ajaxian.com, I signed up for an account with Renkoo. Now, they could tell what browser I was using at that point, but did they warn me ahead of time that I was wasting my time? Heck, no. I got my invite email and followed it back to Renkoo, but after logging in I got this page. Burns me up to think these silly people think Mac users should be left out of the party, or that we should have to wear what everyone else is wearing to the party. I hope their party crashes and burns!
    
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Posted in:Ajax, PC Prejudice, Web Browsers, |
December 26th, 2006

WebKit Team Adds New CSS Methods for Text-Stroke

Surfin’ Safari - Blog Archive » Introducing Text-Stroke Well this is certainly a useful addition to the type designer's bag of tricks when developing a web site design. I'm sure it'll be abused, but only after it's ported to Windows and all the PowerPoint-design hordes get hold of it. :-) Now that the WebKit team's made this code available, it suddenly seems so obvious, I wonder why the designers of CSS 3.0 didn't think of it? Oh well, you can't think of everything, can you?
    
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December 15th, 2006

Computerworld Finds Picky Faults With Mac OS X

15 Things Apple Should Change in Mac OS X At first, I was giving this pair of writers the benefit of the doubt. They were listing 15 things Apple should change about Mac OS X, partly to be fair since they had earlier found 20 things wrong with Windows Vista. Only problem is, some of these are real non-issues, and most of the rest are so picky that they certainly aren't important enough to take Apple's mind off the bigger picture: Improving the OS functionality to make new things possible for end-users. Nearly all of these faults are complaints that Windows switchers might have. I have no problem with helping Windows switchers... but not at the expense of disorienting Mac users who like the way Mac OS X currently functions. If I have time, I'd like to publish a rebuttal to this one, but have a look and see what you think.
    
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December 5th, 2006

Protopage Adds Support for Safari

Protopage News Blog » Protopage V3 released As the find print notes, the Protopage developers "we highly recommend [that Mac users] use either the Firefox or Opera browser for the best Protopage experience." Nevertheless, this is progress, and Safari users no longer get a "no welcome" sign when they try this Web 2.0 personalized home page service out.
    
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December 2nd, 2006

Is OmniGroup’s OmniFocus Vaporware?

Daring Fireball: OmniVapor How you react to the headline for my blog post will reveal what you think the definition of Vaporware is, and how you feel about it. In this latest post, Daring Fireball does a great job of depending its use of the term in reference to OmniFocus, and in the process also discusses a bit of the current interest in Getting Things Done (GTD) software in general.
    
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December 1st, 2006

ThemePark Becomes Freeware, Adds Support for Intel Macs

ThemePark - Geekspiff ThemePark's New LogoIf you have any interest in customizing your Mac's look and feel, you've got to get a copy of ThemePark. I felt that way even before today's news, when Geekspiff decided to release the latest update to ThemePark as freeware! Previously, ThemePark was (I think) about $30. It's a great tool if you ever want to get your hands dirty tweaking teeny tiny graphics. The rewards can be great, of course, if you have enough imagination to build your own theme. This is great news for the future of Mac OS X theming! (Now if only Unsanity will make ShapeShifter free... But they also released an update today, and ShapeShifter---which is the software that lets you easily change from one theme to another---is still a licensed product for $20.) Oh... and I almost forgot to mention the cool new icon that comes with ThemePark 3.1... a big improvement, IMHO.
    
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November 28th, 2006

One More Reason Why Discerning Mac Users Choose Safari Over Firefox

Jeffrey Zeldman Presents : Safari better than Firefox? You may not even have noticed the type rendering glitches that afflict Firefox, but clearly they were contributing to your subliminal opinion that Safari simply looks better than Firefox. This guy's blog post does a great job of pointing the glitches out and attempts to explain the underlying problems in Firefox. In some ways, this is no surprise. The Mac has always emphasized excellent typography, which is one of the things that drew print designers to it in the first place. If you've never come to expect great type-handling (as Windows users haven't), you would never even notice the difference. But discerning Mac users can tell. :-) (I hypothesize that one of the reasons Firefox sucks at type is that it doesn't use the Cocoa frameworks... but you could test this by trying the same pages in Camino.)
    
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November 24th, 2006

Ajax Framework Qooxdoo 0.6.2 Adds Support for WebKit/Safari 3.0

qooxdoo 0.6.2 released Great news... This is the second post tonight that celebrates an Ajax toolkit's upgrade to add Safari/WebKit support! In addition to Google, Safari/WebKit is now on the qooxdoo developers' radar screen, even if they're avoiding full support for Safari 2.0. Safari 3.0 isn't that far away, and most Mac developers are using WebKit by now anyway. I'll be adding qooxdoo to the list of Ajax frameworks to re-review the next time I update the Scorecard.
    
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November 24th, 2006

Google Web Toolkit Now Supports Safari/WebKit

Google Web Toolkit Blog: GWT 1.2 Released with Full Mac OS X Support This is good news for WebKit/Safari developers... GWT end-products worked on Safari, but apparently you couldn't actually do development on WebKit/Safari without Google telling you "that's not supported..." Now, it is, and good thing too! Of course, as a JavaScript developer I always found GWT a little odd as a tool for building Ajax web apps. (GWT is designed for Java developers who don't want to learn JavaScript.) I'll be interested to see if GWT 1.2 is a little more robust in its embrace of and support for JavaScript.
    
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Just Say No To Flash