Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Browser Wars 3.0?

Holy smokes! I thought the browser wars had come to a standstill with Internet Explorer as the raining champ (as far as market share goes) with Firefox slowly, but consistently nibbling away at that lead.

But suddenly, out pops Google Chrome. A browser I took for a whirl and forgot to stop using. Sure it's a bit glitchy as any beta program would be, but the speed and UI advances suite me so well that I am willing to overlook its shortcomings.
And of course, there is Safari for both the Mac and Windows. The windows version is surprisingly appealing. It did not drag me away from Firefox (like Chrome did), but I fire it more often then I do Internet Explorer.
And let us not forget Opera. The perennial 'also ran' that never gets much love but for a few fringe fanboys, has slowly morphed into a nearly prime time read app with some markedly nice and unique features. Features that other, more successful browsers had no quibbles about 'borrowing'. I may not be an Opera fanboy, but I sure have to give them the nod for coming up with a lot of brilliant stuff.
So, the original browser war (let's for the moment put Mosaic aside) was between Netscape and Internet Explorer. Internet Explorer won that war. It won based on a two prong attack: 1. Microsoft illegally leveraged it's operating system monopoly to intimidated PC makers from shipping new PCs with any browser but Internet Explorer. 2. Microsoft actually invested in making Internet Explorer a good browser. Internet Explorer 4 was truly better then Netscape. Then Netscape assisted Microsoft here by sending its own browser to new lows. Remember Netscape 6? Worst browser ever?
Round one of the browser wars goes to Microsoft.
Round two starts very much where round one left off. Firefox rises out of the ashes of Netscape and diddles around for a few years making itself into a usable browser, but posses no immediate threat to Internet Explorer. Fact is, the only real threat to Internet Explorer turns out to be Internet Explorer. Internet Explorer pretty much hit its zenith with 4. Following iterations ad bloat, bugs, headaches, and proprietary Microsoft crap.
I don't recall the exact build, but around .9, Firefox becomes what Netscape never was, an Internet Explorer killer. I switched full time to Firefox, and the slow migration from Internet Explorer begins. Internet Explorer wins round two, but Firefox has pried open the door and is making real progress in market share and has completely blown the doors off Internet Explorer in terms of performance, UI, and security.
Round three opens with Microsoft finally getting off its ass just enough to release Internet Explorer 7, which does not completely suck, but is still no match for Firefox from a performance standpoint. But I did not fully recognize round three as having started until today. Sure, Chrome and Safari had been released, and I love Chrome. But, I saw a browser today that I have to have. It came from out of the blue, like Chrome. But this one is Mac only. And worse, 10.5 only. I'm to cheap to upgrade from 10.4, so I can't get it.
But I want.
I really want.
It's called Cruz.
It has this simple little plug in that makes you think, 'Why didn't I think of that'. The plug in is called Browser Browser. It essentially lets you take one tab and split it (frame like) into two (or three) panes, so you can simultaneously see two (or three) web sites side by side. And you can control where the frame is (left, right, top, bottom) and how it behaves. Brilliant, and completely thought out. 
Of course, there are plugins for Firefox that let you do something similar, but there are so badly thought out and implemented as to be useless.
Cruz is, let us remember, a brand new browser (based on webkit) and a brand new plugin for that browser. Naturally, I saw this on John Gruber's site.
The heat is on. Round three is on.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Best Apple Deal Ever?

Amazingly, Amazon.com still has the last generation Apple MacBook Pro availble at a crazy low price of $1,643.99 after rebate. Just a couple of weaks ago, this was a $2500 laptop. Considering my view on the new models, this is flat out an awesome deal. Though, to be fair, the new MacBook Pro is quite a nice machine, not artificially crippled like the new MacBooks.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

dead wrong

I respect the heck out of John Gruber. He is smart, clever, insightful, and writes well. So it's something special when he gets it wrong. It's rare, but he did it today. In speaking about the new MaBooks:

What’s important to Apple about this process isn’t that it makes laptops cheaper. It’s that it makes them better at the same prices.
The problem is that the new MacBooks are slower then their predisesors. Their clock speeds have stepped backwards, not forwards and they are stripped of Firewire. Those two reasons are why Apple laptops got nixed off my list of potential next computers.
MacBooks are standing still in processor speed and price, but in this industry, if you are not increasing performance, you are raising prices. Oh sure, the GPUs are better, but what is that good for, games? Really Apple? Are you serious?
When I bought my MacBook, it not only had better features then a similar Dell, it was actually cheaper. Those days are long gone.
And to make matters worse, Apple still has one old school MacBook left, basically a left over the the last generation that comes in at $1,000. So Apple can say that they have dropped their price, but the reality is that the 'white' model is now the ghetto model, it says you did not have the cash for a 'real' MacBook. And this one is underpowered too!
The MacBooks now get completely spanked by competing PCs. Case in point, for $1275 I can buy an HP dv3500t with a 2.53 Ghz quad 2, 4 gigs of ram, with a 512mb geforce graphics card, running Vista 64 bit. This is all important because it will simply blow the doors off the MacBooks if you want to do some work with Adobe CS4 which, for the PC, will be 64 bit and able to use the GPU if it is a geforce with at least 512mb.
Hmmm, $1,300 for a pretty case, or $1,300 for a screaming machine that will rip the face off of CS4?
And about Industrial Design, when it is good, it makes stuff easier to use, increases performance, and reduces price. Apple forgot that this time round.
The new MacBooks are pretty though... Too bad it's only skin deep.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Elitism - Why it is Essential to America's Success

Every political season, "elitist" is a dirty word slung mostly at Democrats. This is the epitome of stupidity. This is the epitome of pandering to the lowest of social standards. This is the epitome of wanting America to fail.

What is an elite? Simply, an elite is someone who excels in his or her field. An elitist is someone who surrounds, or wants to surround, themselves with the best people in their respective fields. So any politician selling themselves as not being an elitist is a flat our moron.

Getting Religion... at the wrong time

I just can't stop thinking about how dumb Republican Congresspeople are. Really, first they vote against the bail-out, then for it. Granted, the bail-out is really hard to swallow, but in the end, it was clearly necessary (to anyone who has any clue about the economy).

After years of spending like drunken sailors, they finally get religion and say no to a really big spending bill. Except, it was exactly the wrong time to go against spending because it was a critical moment for the economy.
So, since Congressional Republicans dropped the ball and could not do the responsible thing, the Senate had to take up the bill and get it passed. Which they did.
Then the bill (now bloated with earmarks) went back to the House where enough Republicans decided to be flip-floppers for the bill to get passed.
This demonstrates that there is a large chunk of Republican Congresspeople who are just really dumb and don't know what they are doing or what is good for America. Bravo.