Meewella | Fragments

The Life of P

Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Fox

The saga of the Browser Wars has sparked up once more, with Microsoft’s release of IE7 swiftly countered by Firefox hitting 2.0 within days.

Despite what detractors and FF fanboys will have you believe, IE7 is a worthy upgrade to its aged predecessor. Finally commonplace features from alternative browsers are present with tabs, search bar (which is not limited to Windows Live Search), et al. The new layout also maximises screen real estate for the page you are browsing. I had hoped for mouse gestures, even if switched off by default, but was disappointed. The biggest changes are apparently in security, and the bad news is that flaws were being discovered within 24 hours. My personal gripe is that CSS has not been significantly improved. In fact its Acid2 Test result is worse. For power users who like to customise their browser experience, Firefox is still the way forward, but for others the reasons to shift from IE are significantly reduced.

Firefox 2 anti-phishingMeanwhile, Firefox 2.0 offers more new features than I had expected, but still less than one might have hoped. Interface changes unfortunately break most skins, but the updated default appearance is far more pleasant. Best new features include the integration of Google Suggestions into the search bar, new anti-phishing measures, and best of all an inline spellchecker which should finally banish typos from these posts! The underlying engine has been tweaked but its memory usage is still much higher than IE and this needs to be fixed before the next major release (3.0 is expected in fairly early next year), particularly if they intend to win over the business crowd.

Gears of WarWith “Emergence Day” rapidly approaching, a stunning new Gears of War trailer has, well, emerged, set to Gary Jules’ now famous cover of Mad World. Slow and pensive, it is clearly designed to showcase the game’s impressive engine rather than its action, and it has never looked better. Game trailers often make us fanatics grin with excitement or drool in anticipation, but rarely does one cause us to stop and stare. Even if you are not a gamer, it is an undeniable work of beauty.

And finally, since others shared my views on the new Vista fonts here’s an interesting discussion on what makes a good typeface for easy reading. If you’re thinking of vamping up your CV then it is well worth a read (just remember to print or send it as a PDF if you use non-standard fonts!).

14 Comments

  1. Time taken to install Firefox 2.0 = approx. 20 seconds.

    Time taken to install IE7 = approx. 7 minutes plus one system restart. This displeases me.

    Also, I don’t like the loss of the File, Edit etc bar in IE (yes, I know you can turn it back on but then it goes underneath the address bar which is just weird!

    Oh, and the spell-checker thingy in Firefox is AWESOME!

  2. In fairness, IE does have a lot of shell integration to replace as well, but you’re right: the installation time was both excessive and unresponsive (it looked as though it had crashed).

    As for the disappearance of the Menu bar, it’s all part of the new Vista visual so I can see why they’ve done it. I’m still just not sure that removing such an ingrained and intuitive system is a good idea…
    I assume you won’t like the new Office 2007 ribbons either!

  3. I also forgot to mention the birthday cake that Mozilla received from the IE team to celebrate the release of Firefox 2.0.

    That it wasn’t poisoned seemed a particularly nice gesture on their part.

  4. I can't remember

    28 October 2006 at 1:21 pm

    To be fair the security vulnerability is probably more a political powerplay on the basis of Secunia than an actual security vulnerability.

    They do have a tendency to make a lot of noise about their opinions and refuse to consider that other people may see it differently.

    I generally now consider them to be tediously unreliable and biased.

  5. I can't remember

    28 October 2006 at 1:24 pm

    >Time taken to install IE7 = approx. 7 minutes plus one system restart. This displeases me.

    So amortized over the life of the browser, this is what?

    Personally I would rather spend 1E-5 seconds per second longer and actually have an installer that comprehends the Windows Security Model. (But that criticism can only be directed at FF1.x, I don’t know about FF2.0, I haven’t had time to determine whether the God only knows how many vulnerabilities were caried across form 1.x)

  6. I am bemused that unreliability is now apparently so rife that we no longer consider it outrageous, merely tedious

  7. >Time taken to install IE7 = approx. 7 minutes plus one system restart. This displeases me.

    >>So amortized over the life of the browser, this is what?

    8 minutes and 40 seconds in which I could have been using the program rather than staring at a screen watching a little green bar wander back and forth. Obviously. And the fact that I’m now back to consistently using Firefox anyway, means that those 8 minutes and 40 seconds were an even bigger waste of my time.

    And good for you. I, however, would rather have programs that installed quickly and smoothly and then were more usable than the competition. Which is what Firefox is to me.

    And surely I don’t need to point out the obvious flaw in basing your criticisms on the old version of Firefox when we’re actually talking about the new version?

  8. On a separate note, I have just discovered that IE7 appears to have fixed the space bar scrolling glitch that some users were experiencing with this site.

  9. I can't remember

    29 October 2006 at 12:22 am

    >And good for you. I, however, would rather have programs that installed quickly and smoothly and then were more usable than the competition. Which is what Firefox is to me.

    Fair enough, choice is good, and if security is an optional extra then I agree installers for Firefox are the way to go. And as you’re running as Admin then everything is easy to do.

    Personally I need things that WORK in the presence of incompetence (mine), so I already pay a substantial cost in the mechanisms to protect me from my mistakes.

    I agree that the installation process for IE7 wasn’t great.

    >And surely I don’t need to point out the obvious flaw in basing your criticisms on the old version of Firefox when we’re actually talking about the new version?

    (Which I did actually point out in my discussion. I found the probablility of Firefox moving beyond ‘secure by marketting’ so vanishingly small that I didn’t consider it worth the time to test. However at your implied request, I have done.

    Result: Firefox 2.0 still contains a servere violation of the Windows Security Model. Bye bye piece of ****, I’m now going to spend a lot more than 8 minutes throwing the piece of junk back into a heavily insulated sandbox, where it belongs.)

    Great. My life feels so much more complete.

  10. I can't remember

    29 October 2006 at 12:27 am

    >I am bemused that unreliability is now apparently so rife that we no longer consider it outrageous, merely tedious…

    This is a property of the domain. Unreliability, and certainly insecurity are a fact of life.

    I reserve calling them outrageous for cases where people die because of them.

    Welcome to an industry which has evolved to set a standard of reliability by commercial means, people simply don’t want reliability at any price.

  11. >people simply don’t want reliability at any price.

    Well that’s because *NIX offers reliability at no price… it’s just that they don’t seem to value usability terribly highly and, having realised the error of their ways, are only slowly making progress towards something mainstream users can actually pick up and use.

  12. I can't remember

    29 October 2006 at 9:16 am

    >Well that’s because *NIX offers reliability at no price…

    Really? I see zero evidence for that.

    I would argue that the *NIX core is about as stable as the NT core (I do have Windows machines that have run for 400 days without being rebooted, it’s just the UI skins that are different. Again I don’t actually see much difference in that either. Linux is crashy and unreliabile in the UI elements as well)

    If you actually want reliability then you have to go out of mainstream OSs into something like System 360 descendants, or realtime OSs.

    *NIX does an excellent job at propaganda, but it’s largely devoid of actual content. Somewhat like the performance benchmarking community who argue about whether black is blue or pink.

    >it’s just that they don’t seem to value usability terribly highly and, having realised the error of their ways, are only slowly making progress towards something mainstream users can actually pick up and use.

    With all due respect, I think the whole issue of economic impact on usability is far more complex than this. (But then, I would)

    There are also serious technical problems. Reliability is _extremely_ hard to engineer in any system that is even moderately complex.

    But we’re in danger of mixing reliability and usability which are completly different mammals.

  13. On a different note, it would appear the internet has decided to remix the Gears of War trailer to a variety of other less appropriate songs.

    In particular, check out You Are A Pirate!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQvX5WXKqV8&mode=related&search=

  14. That is one of the worst acts of vandalism I have seen for some time… yet still rather funny.

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