This week Kirsten seems to be receiving more mail at my house than I am. And I live here. It is true, of course, that having become rather too caught up in, and exhausted by, work I have been neglecting contact with friends. Striving to rectify that this week, I have been online a lot more despite the urge to spend every waking minute gathering rare mushrooms in Tamriel —testament to Oblivion’s level of immersion is not the fact you can do this, but rather the fact that you want to. My box-time has been limited by the fact my sister seems just as enthralled by it as I, so it seems only brotherly to share. Conversely Kirsten’s abandonment of Moto GP had more to do with the fact it wouldn’t let her win than a genuine dislike of the game.
With the eventual release of the all new Messenger Plus! Live last month, I have finally been able to upgrade permanently to Windows Live Messenger for general usage. Powerful additions like tabbed messaging made it essential for my day-to-day requirements. The new version ports all of the old functionality to Microsoft’s latest, rebranded release, along with several new features like HTML chat logging which makes old conversations highly readable when revisited. On the Live Messenger side, I notice many welcome changes from the beta such as a subtler colour scheme and the removal of the pointless rollover system that wasted a vast amount of space in the contacts list. The standard list might look less snazzy but is far more usable. Welcome tweaks include the ability to swiftly search for a contact, very useful for those with long address books. As always I recommend the Mess Patch for tweaking the client’s visual interface (and stripping away those unsightly ads).
With IE7 hitting its third beta release I decided the code was probably stable enough for me to test out without my preconceptions clouding judgment. I must admit I am impressed with the results. A sleek new interface maximises the viewing area, though the disappearance of the menu bar will likely be jarring at first. Disappointinly little progress has been made in CSS support, and it still miserably fails the Acid2 test. Speedwise it works fine and I have encountered no stability issues at all. However, despite its advances, I have found the Firefox’s customisability means I have come to rely on power features like mouse gestures and the ability to drag and drop links to the point where I find it difficult to browse without. So it is unlikely to draw back many Firefox users (despite better memory management) but by tightening speed and security will make it far more difficult to convince people to switch to alternative browsers in the first place. It also suggests that the next milestone release of Firefox may be more of a disappointment with Internet Explorer rapidly making up lost ground.