The Emotional Pumpkin


Friday, February 25, 2005

God, I'm frustrated (or, Why Microsoft Will Lose the Browser War)

I bet you thought the browser war was over. It isn't. Microsoft just got complacent. Once they had won out over their biggest opponents, the (obviously crappy) Netscape 4.xx browsers, they stopped innovating. They stopped releasing new versions of IE except to plug various security holes. In the meantime, a bunch of other companies/groups have released newer, faster, and just plain better browsers (better from both the user's and programmer's perspectives). It has gotten to the stage where IE is clearly (at least, to me) the least usable and most difficult to program for browser out there.

From the user's perspective:
  • It doesn't support tabbed browsing
  • I originally had something here about how IE does not have a pop-up blocking feature. It was pointed out to me (see comment below) that IE 6 with SP2 does, in fact, have a pop-up blocker. Consider me corrected. [Original text: It doesn't have popup blocking built in (intelligent or otherwise, but that's another post)]

From the programmer's perspective:
  • It has, bar none, the sloppiest standards support (especially CSS) of any browser

I don't imagine that Microsoft is expending (or planning to expend) any intellectual capital on improving IE before whatever they release along with Longhorn. Strategically, I figure they can probably get away with it. Or they could have, if the field still looked like it did 6 months ago. Now, though, with the emergence of the two (again, in my mind, at least) best browsers for Windows and Mac OS--Firefox and Safari, respectively--and moreover the continued defection of Microsoft's users to both of these, Microsoft may find itself in the position of having to earn back user loyalty with the next release of a browser.

So what brought this on? I've been working, for the past few days, on using CSS positioning (rather than a table) to make a blog template where there are two sidebars that look like they overlap the main blog content. After much tweaking, I've gotten to the point where the template looks great in all* browsers except for IE for Windows (yeah, even IE for Mac, while not perfect, does an adequate job of displaying the page). It is driving me up the wall. I am ready to pull my (or more accurately, someone's) hair out. AAARRRGHH.

* By all I mean: for Windows, IE 6.0.2, Netscape 7.2 and Firefox 1.0, and for Mac OS, IE 5.2 and Safari 1.2.4.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Netflix update:

The Quiet American (2002): 3 stars.

I know this one was critically acclaimed, but it was like Seabiscuit in that it was well made and well acted, but I didn't really get into it. The characters seemed a bit thin to me. I think this is because the film is based on a book, and it's hard to get that same level of dimension in a 2 hour movie. The other problem is that its true strength, the writing, cannot be satisfactorily conveyed in the film medium. It's kinda like White Oleander that way.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Just call me Walt

Another product evaluation. On the advice of a friend (who is even worse of a neat freak than I am), I went out today and got the Swiffer Duster. Historically, I have not been a fan of the disposable (vs. reusable) cleaning products, because I don't like to generate unnecessary garbage if I don't have to. However, that little thing is worth ten times its weight in gold. It actually picks up dust and doesn't just move it around. Plus, one disposable duster head can usually do your whole place if you dust regularly; since I hadn't dusted for a while before today, it took me two dusters to get through my whole place. Anyway, it worked like a charm. Like buttah, I tell you. My electronics have never looked so clean!

Netflix update

Walking Tall: 3 stars.

I gotta say, the Rock is not that bad an actor. This may have something (or everything) to do with the fact that I have not seen The Scorpion King, but thus far he's managed to find directors that play up his strengths and have the sense not to be too emotionally demanding. Worth seeing, but if you have to pick just one (the?) Rock movie to watch, pick The Rundown (4 stars).

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Netflix update

I beg to differ

Jeff Harrell said recently of DVD menus:
When I put a DVD in, I want my interaction with the whole television/DVD player/remote control/military/industrial complex to be over. Disc goes in, movie comes out. If I want anything else, I'll let you know. Kay?

Don't get me wrong. I'm all for not wading through poorly designed menus when I want to watch a movie, but we're forgetting a rather important genre of movies. Foreign films. The only thing I hate more than having to to through eight menus to play a movie is having a foreign movie automatically play the universally god-awful (You think I'm kidding. I'm not.) English dub of the movie. I could be wrong, but this is probably why we get to see the menu first. (Via InstaPundit)

Thursday, February 03, 2005


I've made 4 new templates in the last few weeks, but this one I'm using now is hands down my favorite. I'd been meaning to do something with the transparency-preserving PNG format for backgrounds, but didn't have a compelling idea to try it out on until yesterday. I'm pretty happy with the results.

  • The graphic design on these templates would not be possible without Adobe Photoshop 7.0, universally acknowledged to be the best raster graphics program ever, and Adobe Studio Exchange, where I've been downloading some great freeware brushes and custom shapes.
  • I do my coding in SubEthaEdit, a great little text editor with an HTML preview feature.

Update 02/06/2005: A couple of things. One, I've updated all the template code to make it easier to add links yourself. As it says on the instructions page, just find the "<!-- Add links here" comment and follow the instructions. Two, and this should come as no big surprise considering that it's been quite a long time since Microsoft has added functionality to IE, IE does not display PNG files properly. The backgrounds just look opaque and therefore not nearly as nice as they do in other (better) browsers. This will be a problem for the Winter theme and a few others I've got in the works. Just a warning.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005


unveiled a new subscription service called Amazon Prime, which, for the bargain price of $79/year (at least initially), will enable the subscriber to get unlimited two-day shipping on any order. Considering that they charge about $10 per book for two-day shipping, you'd have to buy 8 books per year (or 5 DVDs, for which they charge $17 for two-day shipping) in order to make it worth it. For a rabid internet shopper like me, it'd probably be well worth it. Of course, they'll probably raise the price sooner or later.