The content on this site is my own and does not necessarily represent my employer’s positions, strategies or opinions.
- I’ve been playing around with Swift, the new programming language from Apple, for a few days and I’ve been quite …
- The Supermoon over Cranberry Lake, New York, in the New York Adirondack Mountains on 11 July, 2014.
- Yesterday IBM and Apple made an important announcement about partnering to significantly growth the use of mobile via Apple devices …
I haven’t posted the stats for browser and operating system access to this website since last July, but since I’ve been doing a lot of posting lately on mobile topics, I thought it would be useful to check the stats again. The numbers are from Analytics and are for the last six weeks of traffic.
|5.||“Mozilla Compatible Agent”||2.58%|
Browsers and Operating Systems
|Position||Browser / Operating System||Percentage|
|1.||Firefox / Windows||26.72%|
|2.||Chrome / Windows||19.19%|
|3.||Internet Explorer / Windows||13.42%|
|4.||Chrome / Macintosh||11.20%|
|5.||Firefox / Linux||5.79%|
I read with interest the recent announcement by AppMobi that they are producing a browser foriOS and eventually that will go beyond the basic HTML5 capabilities.
- InfoWorld: “Have your HTML5 and native app too”
- Press Release: “MobiUs is Here; the World of Web Apps Will Never Be the Same”
Hybrid apps are not pure native and not pure web, but bridge the gap in between. There are several ways of doing hybrid. PhoneGap is a popular open source technology for building hybrid apps, but there are others as well. You get to have all the display capabilities of a browser with the functionality of the underlying device.
Hybrid apps are not for every application design, but can do very well if there is a lot of network interaction, not too much necessary graphic performance, and whatever UI design you can handle in a browser with widgets coming from Dojo, jQuery, Sencha, or similar technologies.
The idea of this new browser is to include the PhoneGap and other APIs so you can write enhanced HTML5 apps with more access to the underlying features.
Is this interesting? Yes.
Does it cause people to think through the implications of native vs. hybrid vs. web? Yes.
Will people rethink app stores and how you can collect and manage apps that run in a browser? Yes.
Will it speed up development of HTML5 and mainline browser support for additional device features? Maybe.
Will this be the browser we are all using in 2 years? I really doubt it.
The web became successful because browsers became standardized. In the early days we had different browser functionality asInternet Explorer tried to set de facto standards and Netscape tried to use real ones. Eventually , Chrome, and Safari all supported web standards, more or less, and competed on speed and quality of rendering. IE eventually caught up though it is losing share as we speak.
So I applaud AppMobi’s attempt to push the envelope here on what can be done in a mobile browser, but I think the mainline mobile browsers will eventually set the standard for how HTML5 and agreed upon extensions work.
We don’t need certain apps to require particular browsers to work. Check out this story from 2005 where the US Federal Emergency Response Agency required people to use IE to apply for aid after Hurricane Katrina.
Also see: Ars Technica – “The end of an era: Internet Explorer drops below 50% of Web usage”
It’s been a while since I last put up some stats about what browsers and operating systems access my website at sutor.com. Traditionally,did well, followed by Internet Explorer, and then Chrome. The last two are now reversed.
Since much of my blog content has focused on content regarding open standards and open source, it makes sense for Firefox to have consistently led. Here’s the statistical story for the last month, thanks toAnalytics. I’ve focused on the top 5 in each category.
Browsers and Operating Systems
|Position||Browser / Operating System||Percentage|
|1.||Firefox / Windows||26.17%|
|2.||Internet Explorer / Windows||14.89%|
|3.||Chrome / Windows||12.57%|
|4.||Chrome / Macintosh||9.28%|
|5.||Firefox / Linux||8.07%|
I finish my survey of what I blogged about in 2010 as I look at the final three months of the year.
Just as the third quarter of 2010 started with the buzz about October with the news of IBM shifting its open source Java efforts to OpenJDK. Oracle, the new steward of Java after its acquisition of Sun, was in the news a lot this year regarding open source, but I’ll let you find those stories yourself if you are not already aware of them.switching to as its defaults browser, the final quarter started fast in
On the sailing front, the boat finished its season a bit early as the headstay cable shredded. This spring I need to replace all the fixed rigging, but that’s a 2011 story.
I continued tinkering with the blog itself as I replaced the WordPress theme I used with a slight variation of one of the default ones provided with the software. I finally got fed up with Atahualpa, all its options, and the instability of the theme from release to release. When I finished the work to put the new theme in place, my wife confessed she never really liked the old one, something that might have spurred me to action a bit earlier.
One feature I did like in Atahulapa was the rotating header images. This doesn’t mean they spin around, it indicates that each time you view a page the theme will randomly select an image for the topmost section. I showed some code to implement this feature in a subtheme of TwentyTen.
In November I gave a keynote at ApacheCon in Atlanta called “Data, Languages, and Problems”. It was a fun talk to give and the research for it brought me back to an earlier part of my career, before Linux and before most of my involvement with open source. Every time I look at the Software Foundation I’m amazed by the incredible work being done there.
I occasionally do a blog entry about cooking and on Thanksgiving Day I posted an entry on considerations when making apple pies. Two words for you: apple jack. In the pie crust. Ok, that’s six words. But try it.
In early December I started to get the sense that news about open source was slowing down and I and then several readers offered some suggestions why that might have been so, if it was indeed the case. While it may just have been an end of the year occurrence, it will be interesting to see if and how things pick up again in 2011.
I looked again at math software for the iPad and decided that not that much had changed since my first review in July. That’s a bit like saying that the news is that there is no news, but I’m curious if downscaled versions of or will be released for the tablet in 2011. Of course, they’ll need to charge a lot less than they do for the desktop editions, so that might be giving them pause.
After speaking with several customers and partners on the topic, I posted a blog entry about open innovation. It’s clear to me that some very good work is being done by several visionary companies, but it also seems to be a field fraught with jargon and an imbalance between marketing and technology.
Just for fun, I published a piece about the basic ideas behind predictive analytics. I didn’t hear too much from readers on that one, though my sister said she found it useful in conversations about the travel industry. It’s a fascinating field with business implications as well as social and ethical ones.
I ended the year with some comments on predictions for open source made for 2011 by other people. While we wait to see if efforts started in 2010 turn out to be wild successes or spectacular failures, I can’t wait to see what gets announced that will be truly disruptive.
That’s what is always most intriguing to me as we start a new year: what will happen that we just do not expect. I hope for you and the rest of us that those surprises will be happy ones and lead to great new opportunities.
I’m continuing my survey of what I blogged about in 2010 as I look at the third quarter and add the summery topic of sailing.
July started with some fireworks when I made the announcement that was moving its ~ 400,000 employees to the open source as the default browser. To date this has been one of my most read entries, with more than 66,000 hits since it was published.
Several days later I picked up again on my series of exploring the state of mathematical software on the. In July, three months after the device’s introduction, I found the choices lacking in breadth and sophistication, with a lot of me-too apps in the early education category.
Another thing I picked up again this summer was sailing, after a hiatus of 30+ years. The first blog entry of the summer about sailing announced that I had purchased a used 1988 22 and was about to pick it up. I’m looking forward to having a full sailing season in 2011, unlike the 2 months or so I had this last year.
Starting with the question “What questions come up most frequently when I engage with customers about open source?”, I continued my series about the hard questions about open source software in August.
As I got the boat ready to go into Lake Ontario, I talked to a lot of people and did a lot of research about sailing. The blog entry “Sailing: Things to learn and do before the boat goes in the water” includes a lot I learned after and a lot I wish I knew before I purchased the sailboat. To be clear, I’m still very happy I got this particular boat.
In September, I and a lot of other people worried about what Apple’s change to the iOS Developer Program License Agreement meant for app developers. In particular, I was concerned about what it meant for mathematical software that involved interpretation of functions. Though has since changed the rules and made them more liberal, I think a lot of developers believe they understand the legalities more than they really do.
Last winter I took an impromptu visit to the Erie Canal and I went back to the same location to see what it looked like in late summer. Perhaps 2011 will be the year when I rent a boat and take it on a multiday tour along the canal.
As the month ended I again bemoaned the state of presentation software, stating that
I can’t think of one thing I do with presentation software today other than creating PDFs that I didn’t do ten years ago.
Perhaps we are in some way transitioning away from presentations as that may explain the absurd lack of innovation in this part of the software market.
In between these and other blog entries I posted many links to articles about Linux and open source. Though I would really prefer having some sort of private way of saving these to my website, Diigo continues to do the job quite well, and I especially like the daily blog posting function.
Next up: Excitement around OpenJDK, apple pies, ApacheCon, open innovation, and predictive analytics.
I’ve been reading many of the lists of predictions for free and open source software in 2011. Most of them are pretty obvious: many of the things that were significant in 2010 will continue to be so in 2011. The obvious tweak to this is to ask whether such-and-such will make it big or fade way.
Here’s a list of these types of questions and my guesses at answers:
- Will ChromeOS from be an interesting player, will it merge with , and will it replace Windows on hundreds of millions of desktops? Yes / maybe / no.
- Will Android devices surpass those from ? Perhaps, but only in aggregate volume.
- Will one emerge that will clobber the in market share? No way.
- Will some flavor of Windows be more significant than Android on tablets? No.
- Will we see more open source apps on the most popular smartphone platforms? Fewer than some people will hope, since developers see those platforms as a way to make money without a lot of the overhead.
- Will Linux gain further market share as people continue to flee from Solaris and install new servers for new applications? Yes for both the shift and the lift.
- Will there be more lawsuits around the use of open source in smartphones? Yes, and from the same and usual suspects.
- Will Windows Phone 7 beat out Android phones or iPhones? Only in the State of Washington, briefly.
- Will LibreOffice pass OpenOffice in downloads? No, but check back in 2012.
- Will open source virtualization via KVM start to gain market share against VMWare and HyperV? Yes.
- Will the “open cloud” become more significant and more widely implemented? Only once we agree on a definition.
- Will Windows Internet Explorer continue to lose market share to , Chrome, and Safari? Yes.
- Will Diaspora replace FaceBook? No.
- Will any open source system replace , , and in the top three of open source content management systems? No.
- Will 2011 be the Year of the Linux Desktop? That was last year. Seriously, the question is no longer relevant, though Desktop Linux will be adopted by several surprisingly large organizations as well as many individuals.
In my personal opinion, the main open source areas to continue to watch in 2011 will be cloud, virtualization, system management, and analytics. Simplification and ease of use will be critical make or break factors for each.
On the standards side, the so-called open data movement will gain increasing importance especially as potential users realize they don’t want to have the formats dictated to them by a single company.
What are your predictions?
I’m continuing my survey of what I blogged about in the fourth through sixth months of the year, or 2Q10 for you business people out there.
In April it was time to stop thinking about gardening as a way of getting through the winter and begin prepping by starting seeds. Although I ultimately got quite a few seedlings, the basement was too cold for them to get a fast start. This year I’ll have to add some heating in addition to the lights I rigged last year.
By mid-April the mathematical software should be designed for tablets with multitouch interfaces. The user interfaces will eventually be quite sophisticated though I worry that the amount of memory in the devices won’t be enough, especially in the iPad, for a generation or two.had been announced though I did not have one yet. I began thinking about how
I continued writing about Linux with a piece about why so many people choose that open source operating system for appliances, essentially turn-key software and (often) hardware devices that are configured for particular applications.
At the end of April I got my iPad with 3G and after spending the weekend fiddling with it, wrote a blog entry about using the device as an ebook reader. Eight months later, that philosophy still guides me as decide which books to buy in paper versus digital.
In May I joined thousands of other travelers by having my plans disrupted because of ash from the Icelandic volcano. All in all, it didn’t turn out to be a terrible experience, but I didn’t know that would be the case as the drama unfolded. By the way, I was stuck in Frankfurt on my way home from Munich. I did a photo blog entry with images from my last evening in that city.
A recurring series in the blog is “Life with Linux.” In May I installed the Ubuntu 10.4 LTS (long term support) release, several weeks after it became available. The process wasn’t glitch-free, but I was pleased with the results. The installation of the October release would not end up going so easily.
In June I expanded some of my “hard questions about open source” topics into full blown blog entries:
- “10 elements of open source governance in your organization”
- “10 considerations for maintaining open source in your organization”
- “10 ideas about integrating open source into your IT infrastructure”
I love May because it is really spring by then and flowers are blooming all around the property. I had also had my iPad for a month and wrote a short retrospective about what it had been like having the device. It was a good decision to get 3G as it has made Internet access nearly universal when I travel. So far I’ve only lost the iPad once when I left at the barber shop on Main Street.
The month and quarter ended with my recounting a family trip in “Driving a UHaul from upstate NY to Chicago.” It was an adventure and except for massive power outages in the city and parts of Indiana, went without incident.
Next up: more fun with Linux, the iPad, and gardening; adopts ; and Bob buys a sailboat.
I can’t think of one thing I do with presentation software today other than creating PDFs that I didn’t do ten years ago.
We havePowerPoint, we have Impress, and ‘s Symphony. Over on the Mac we have Keynote. Toss in a few others such as KOffice and we have the office productivity market.
These all have value to their users though if though don’t support, the Open Document Format, in a first class way, I don’t care too much about them. On a regular basis I use Symphony and to a much lesser extent OpenOffice.org and Keynote.
I don’t view presentations on the web as a matter of course, though I do look at SlideShare occasionally. I probably get a dozen presentations a day for work. Unless I’m going to edit them, I want them in PDF format. Otherwise I expect ODF.
The software for creating and deploying presentations have changed very little in the sense that we create blank slides, use templates and predefined layouts, add text and images, and fiddle with fonts and colors. Depending on the application you choose, this is more or less easy.
If you were to create a new desktop presentation application from scratch, what features would you put into it? What would you do differently compared with the apps above?
Here’s an idea of what I would do. Note my usual disclaimer that these are my own opinions and not those of any IBM product group.
- Forget backward compatibility with the Microsoft formats. I understand that for some of you this is a non-starter, but this is my app and I’m starting with a clean slate. I have no interest in supporting the huge number of features that minorities of users need. I also don’t want to support all the failed formats contained in OOXML. Therefore it all goes.
- I would support ODF natively, but look at understanding the subset, if possible, that I would need.
- Excellent PDF export is necessary.
- Like applications such as and , I would have a well defined and documented architecture for extensions and hooks. The goal is to keep the core small, tight, and well understood. From there we would drive a third-party market for tools that extend the core. These could include input format filters and export plugins.
- I would use as the macro language in the presentation editor.
- While I would target the desktop, the architecture must facilitate multi-touch interfaces such as the and the upcoming tablets.
- I would not prioritize support for devices as small as a smartphone.
- The display engine would be cleanly separated from the core components. For the desktop, I would start with a Linux port, then do the Mac, and finally Windows.
- Themes and presentation documents need more metadata to make it simple to switch themes easily and accurately. That text box at the top of a slide in a big font is not assumed to be a title, it is known to be a title because of the information associated with it. This also allows me to create and manipulate presentations programmatically, even on servers. No guessing about slide structure is allowed.
- I need to be able to manage groups of one or more slides for reuse, with versioning. It is still far too difficult to create libraries of slides and then put them together when necessary into new presentations. Slides and groups of slides need tags. For extra credit, slide groups might have suggested dependencies so you know, say, that you should not include these 4 slides without showing those other 2 first. Similarly, one group of slides might be indicated as being the in-depth expansion of another group.
What am I missing? What would you do differently?
It’s important to stay flexible and experiment as new technologies come along that can get you the information you need and want in a timely manner.
When the web was new in the 1990s, I had many browser bookmarks and I could cover most of the important websites. This quickly got out of hand as the number of sites increased exponentially, and so I reduced my bookmarks to a couple dozen important ones and depended on search to find what I wanted.
Alta Vista was my favorite for some time, but it eventually got replaced by. I dabbled with a few others and will still sometimes look at the secondary search engines to see what they list and in what priority. Using Google, I could pull the information I wanted down to me if I knew the right keywords. For what it’s worth as a confession, I hardly ever look at the ads and in fact I use AdBlocker Plus in to skip most of them.
When feeds, via RSS and then later Atom, became available, I started using feedreaders. I wasn’t interested in ones that were desktop applications because I used many different machines. Thus I gravitated toward web-based readers and, in particular, used Bloglines. I could subscribe to many sites and Bloglines would aggregate the feeds for me, saving me the trouble of bouncing from site to site.
I read this morning that Bloglines in shutting down on October 1. This doesn’t affect me because I switched to Google Reader long ago. I still use Google Reader but the problem is that with 50+ feed sources, the number of entries to read can easily exceed 1000 if I let it go a few days. Indeed, I probably only glance at Google Reader once a week and I’m actively thinking that I am dedicating time to the task while I am doing. That is, using Google Reader is well defined task that consumes my personal intellectual resources in block of time.
Another issue is that I tend to read the news from sites that come earlier alphabetically. So ars technica gets read in Google Reader often, ZDNet not so much. Still, I keep Google Reader alive and reasonably up-to-date subscription-wise. However, if it went away, I would not be bereft.
Most of my knowledge about what gets published on the web now gets pushed to me. I have half a dozen or so Google Alerts that I get daily and I can scan the results in a few seconds. If I find I’m ignoring an alert, I refine or delete it. No mercy!
Other key sources areand . I think of Twitter as something that sits in my peripheral vision, almost like a stock ticker. I might miss some information when it first appears, but if it is important it will be retweeted and I have a greater chance of seeing it later. Thus I follow not just the primary web and news sites but also people who are likely to retweet information that I care about. Thus I don’t think of the people I follow as a list but more of a structured graph related to things I care to know about.
Facebook is similar but the news if usually much more at a personal level. Indeed, I would prefer not to see Facebook entries that are fed from Twitter as I consider it redundant. When I first started using Twitter and Facebook, there was an impedance mismatch since the volume of my tweets was much higher than what should appear in Facebook.
My wife got annoyed and some of her friends remarked at the large number of Facebook updates from me, most of which were also on Twitter. I broke that connection and now actively think about what I want to say on Twitter and what I want to say on Facebook. Sometimes I put the same information in both, but that’s rare.
I use reddit from time to time to see interesting content, but I usually look at areas by category such as “sailing” and “gardening.” It is currently one of the best sources for driving readers to my blog.
By the way, I learned about the shutdown of Bloglines on Twitter and I followed a link to a blog entry. I probably have that blog entry somewhere in Google Reader, but I’ll probably do a mass “mark as read” to clear the queue before I ever see it there.
One of the nice things I liked about the Chrome browser was searching from the address line, that area at the top of the screen where you would normally type in some URL like http://www.sutor.com. has a search area on the upper right, but I really like the idea of having one place to type in something meaning “this is what I want, you figure out how to get me there.”
I don’t believe that Firefox did not have this capability when it first started, but you can now set it up to do a search. In fact, it probably works to some degree right now. Try it.
To make Firefox initiate asearch when it can’t decode what you typed as a web address, do the following:
- Type in about:config in the address line.
- If you get scared off by the warning on the next page, stop. Use the search entry area instead.
- Otherwise, click the button about being careful.
- Scroll down to where you see keyword.URL in the first column (which is called Preference Name).
- Double-click on it and replace the command there with http://www.google.com/search?q= .
- Click the OK button and you are done.
I first learned about this technique at LiewCF.com, which says pretty much exactly what I told you above. Kudos to that site and author.
On Linux and Windows, settingas your default system browser can be done within Firefox itself. From Preferences, go to the Advanced tab and look down at System defaults. Click the Check Now button and then make Firefox the default browser from the next dialog that pops up.
This method appears to work on the Mac as well, though not all applications appear to believe it. Therefore, the most reliable way to make Firefox your default OS X browser is, paradoxically, to do it within Safari.
On the Preferences.. | General options tab, choose Firefox from the Default web browser dropdown list.
Here are a few links to stories and blog entries about IBM’s announcement that it is adopting the Mozilla browser for internal use.
I talk a lot about software in this blog but most of the discussion is at the personal level: I tried this, I experimented with that. I hardly ever talk about what I use for doing mybusiness and more rarely still do I talk about IBM’s internal policies about software use. This entry is different, and gives you a bit of a view inside the company.
Like many individuals and members of organizations, IBMers use their browsers a lot for conducting business. Our desktop and laptop software environments have some common applications but also software specific to do our various jobs. And these jobs are varied, as there are about 400,000 IBM employees around the world.
We’re officially adding a new piece of software to the list of default common applications we expect employees to use, and that’s the Mozilla Firefox browser.
has been around for years, of course. Today we already have thousands of employees using it on Linux, Mac, and Windows laptops and desktops, but we’re going to be adding thousands more users to the rolls.
Some of us started using it because it was new and fast and cool. I tried it for those reasons, but I still use it for the following ones:
- Firefox is stunningly standards compliant, and interoperability via open standards is key to IBM’s strategy.
- Firefox is open source and its development schedule is managed by a development community not beholden to one commercial entity.
- Firefox is secure and an international community of experts continues to develop and maintain it.
- Firefox is extensible and can be customized for particular applications and organizations, like IBM.
- Firefox is innovative and has forced the hand of browsers that came before and after it to add and improve speed and function.
While other browsers have come and gone, Firefox is now the gold standard for what an open, secure, and standards-compliant browser should be. We’ll continue to see this or that browser be faster or introduce new features, but then another will come along and be better still, including Firefox.
I think it was Firefox and its growth that reinvigorated the browser market as well as the web. That is, Firefox forced competitors to respond. Their software has gotten better and we have all benefited. We’ll see this again as Firefox continues to add even more support for HTML5.
So what does it mean for Firefox to be the default browser inside IBM? Any employee who is not now using Firefox will be strongly encouraged to use it as their default browser. All new computers will be provisioned with it. We will continue to strongly encourage our vendors who have browser-based software to fully support Firefox.
We’ll offer employee education and point our people to great online information, all of which will look wonderful in Firefox. IBM has contributed to the Firefox open source effort for many years and we’ll continue to do so.
There’s another reason we want to get as many of our employees using Firefox as soon as possible, and that is Cloud Computing. For the shift to the cloud to be successful, open standards must be used in the infrastructure, in the applications, and in the way people exchange data.
The longstanding commitment of Mozilla to open standards and the quality of the implementation of them in Firefox gives us confidence that this is a solid, modern platform that should be part of IBM’s own internal transformation to significantly greater use of Cloud Computing. Examples of this already include Blue Insight, an internal cloud for business analytics, and LotusLive, for online collaboration.
It is not news that some IBM employees use Firefox. It is news that all IBM employees will be asked to use it as their default browser.
As you think about the browser you use at home and at work, consider the reasons we have stated for our move. It’s your choice, obviously, but Firefox is enterprise ready, and we’re ready to adopt it for our enterprise.
It used to be that I tried a new Firefox browser from Mozilla became a standard tool for how I do business and generally access the web, I’ve focused less on trying new things and more on tuning the environment I have. I then replicated that environment across the various computers I use with the various operating systems on them.extension every day. Since the
I don’t use Firefox exclusively. I’m a software guy and I love to try new things, so I certainly have Chrome, and on the iPhone andI use ‘s Safari browser. I’ve played with Opera but never stuck with it. Firefox is the browser I use when I need to know that things will work and look right.
I’ve decided that I am going to spend a little time each day for a few days and check out what’s been going on in the Firefox extension world. Before I do that, however, I want to list the extensions I do use now to establish the baseline.
- Adblock Plus: I’ve tried to live with website ads, especially when I experimented with them here, but they were just too annoying. This addon removes most of them and there are subscriptions to keep your blocked list up to date.
- ColorfulTabs: This makes my tabs appear in different pretty colors. Not essential, but it really improves the user interface experience.
- Diigo: I use Diigo to save and publish the daily links that appear in my blog, and this is their official addon to make it easy to capture those bookmarks.
- Firebug: This addon is a great too for debugging web pages when things go wrong. I mostly use it for figuring out why CSS isn’t doing what I thought it should.
- OptimizeGoogle: This cleans up some behavior in various apps, makes some more secure, and gets rid of even more ads.
- Xmarks: This synchronizes my bookmarks across multiple browser types across multiple computers and devices.
I was having a problem last week with my Mac: even though I set my default system browser toChrome, one application just refused to believe it wasn’t any longer. (And no, that application wasn’t Firefox itself!)
Though I tried several times within Chrome and Firefox to toggle the system browser to end up being Chrome, that one application was being recalcitrant.
Today I got an email from my friend andcolleague Kelvin Lawrence with the workaround to the problem: go into Safari and under Safari > Preference > General toggle the browser to something non-Chrome and then back to Chrome. This seems to do something a little extra and it did the trick. That one application now opens web pages in Chrome.
Thanks for the fix, Kelvin!
I’ve recently started using theChrome web browser and have made it the default over on several of my machines. Though Firefox has thousands of addons, or extensions, I only really use about half a dozen. That means when I move to a different browser I might be missing some functionality, but not a lot.
Here are the first three Google Chrome extensions I’ve started using, the first two of which are direct replacements for their Firefox counterparts.
- The Diigo bookmark extension. Diigo is a “Web Highlighter and Sticky Notes, Online Bookmarking and Annotation, Personal Learning Network.” I use it to produce the Daily Links that are published on this blog. I’ve run hot and cold on Diigo over the last few years, but I’m back to using it as the best thing around to save and share things that I’ve read on the web.
- XMarks Bookmark Synch tool. XMarks can save both bookmarks and passwords across multiple machines and multiple browsers, though I only use it for bookmarks. When I fire up a new machine and install a new Linux image, I know I can have all my bookmarks ready to go in a few minutes. Google Chrome also has synchronization capability, but it is limited to that browser, though on multiple operating systems. XMarks works in Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Internet Explorer.
- TooManyTabs. As you open more and more tabbed windows, the tabs get narrower and narrower, so much so that you can’t read the labels. By clicking the TooManyTabs but, a new window opens up that clearly shows all your windows and what’s in them. Thanks to Kelvin Lawrence for his recommendation of this extension.
This last week my son and I were on vacation and I took along a Simmtronics 10.2 netbook runningLinux 9.10 Remix along with Lotus applications like Notes and Sametime. I brought it so I could have reasonable access to the Internet and check in to see if there were any urgent emails I needed to respond to for work.
The screen, as you might guess from the name of the netbook, is slightly larger than ten inches measured diagonally. This is smaller than most laptops but larger than the first generation of netbooks. The screen resolution was 1024 x 600 and the display itself was quite vibrant.
After a few days on Remix I decided I wanted to go back to the regular Ubuntudesktop and so when I got home I downloaded and installed Ubuntu 9.10 “Karmic Koala.” There’s nothing wrong with Remix, it’s just that I’m used to the regular desktop and I decided the screen was large enough to support it.
Here are some observations about getting the most of that smaller screen while running the Ubuntu desktop.
Last night mybrowser started to crash. Not occasionally, but every single time I started to to type something in the search bar in the upper right hand corner. What the heck happened?
There are several possibilities when an application suddenly starts getting buggy:
- Gamma rays from outer space changed some of the bits on your hard drive, thereby messing up your software.
- You are having hardware problems, such as memory glitches or hard drive problems, that are causing instability.
- Your machine has been infected with a virus or a worm.
- Some other application messed up a file that the application in question uses.
- You deleted or otherwise mangled a configuration file or (for Windows) a registry entry.
- You installed an operating system update that changed something, and that eventually caused your application to break.
- You installed an update to the application itself.
- For applications that support extensions, addons, or plugins, you added or updated one of those, and it broke your application.
When this bad behavior started, I popped over to another machine running the same operating system and checked to see if Firefox there was broken. It wasn’t.
Next I tried doing the same thing that demonstrated the problem 5 or 6 more times to see if it went away as magically as it appeared. It did not.
Ah, I thought, I bet I have Firefox 3.5! Will upgrading to Firefox 3.6 fix the problem? It didn’t, though it did tell me that several of my extensions were not yet available for Firefox 3.6.
Next I considered whether now was a perfect time to switch toChrome. Perhaps, but that was avoiding the problem rather than fixing it.
I then completely, or so I thought, wiped Firefox from my machine and reinstalled it from scratch. That did not fix the problem.
I wondered … are my old extensions still installed? They were, so evidently my cleanup had been incomplete. I uninstalled them all and restarted Firefox. The problem was gone.
At that point I vaguely remembered that Firefox had asked to install some extension updates and I was so busy with something else that I just accepted it and got on with my work. That was before the problem started. Hmmm.
I started reinstalling my primary extensions and checked after each one to see if I had the problem. I didn’t, but I stopped after five. I suspect the problem was either in Firebug or YSlow, but I didn’t verify. I know that Adblock Plus, COLT, ColorfulTabs, Diigo Toolbar, and XMarks are not causing issues, and those other two extensions are the only ones I did not reinstall.
The moral of this, as with most debugging, is: if you change something and then your system is broken, what you changed caused the problem. It’s not always direct cause and effect, and you may not notice the problem for a while, but it’s good to strip back to basics and then add things in one by one until you can find the culprit.
Update: Consensus seems to be that the update to YSlow is problematic.
300,000 extra downloads over a few days, all with no advertising, and all thanks to the German government. I bet Mozilla are well pleased with that result. Given this IE security scare, I think it’ll be really interesting to see what effect all this has had on browser usage share for January.
hikes royalties to 70%, with a catch
Ars Technica / Jacqui Cheng
Amazon dropped a bomb on the publishing world Wednesday morning by announcing a new royalty program that will allow authors to earn 70 percent royalties from each e-book sold, but with a catch or two. The move will pay participating authors more per book than they typically earn from physical book sales so long as they agree to certain conditions–conditions that make it clear that Amazon is working on keeping the Kindle attractive in light of upcoming competition. Still, authors and publishers are split on how good this deal really is.
Strings? Nope. Frets? Not really. The Misa Digital Guitar, an open source, Linux-powered MIDI controller, brings shredding to the 21st century by dumping traditional guitar strings for buttons and a futuristic touch screen.
David Denton thinks the potential for architects with Second Life eclipses even well-known 3D graphics development software, like 3D Studio Max. “If you’re using it as a design tool, you’re constantly changing it,” he argues, “therefore you don’t take the time to line everything up. When you get finished with it you get a lot of overlapping lines, so you can’t take it back to AutoCAD.” With Second Life, by contrast, “The ability to be able to design things in real time was beyond anything I could dream of.”
I use my Lenovo T400 Thinkpad as a work laptop but also as an experimental machine on which I put and delete various Linux distributions and software. At various times I’ve had, , and on the computer, though most often Ubuntu, and that’s what is there now.
Because I always seem to be in the state of configuring and testing the machine, I don’t usually take it on the road with me, because I don’t think of it as stable. Not that there is anything wrong with it, but I haven’t always thoroughly made sure I put everything on it that I might need and then test it.
So after about a dozen of these cycles of install, configure, install something else, reconfigure, I’ve decided that I’m going to keep just one distro on it and live with it for a few months, both in my home office and on the road. The distro I’m using now is Ubuntu 9.10 and I’ll keep it for a while.
I’ve used the machine set up this way on and off since October, but since the beginning of the week it has been configured for work. Here are a few observations, especially with respect to my various work on the desktop in earlier installments.
- I don’t really need an automatic wallpaper changer since I rarely see the screen background on the laptop.
- For some reason I can’t get Ubuntu to connect to my Snow Leopard iMac printer, though at various times in the past it has worked. There should be a button that says “connect to you Mac printer” – it is still too hard.
- I’m still getting the hang of using multiple workspaces under
Update and solution from Brian Warner: Right click on the double dotted line handle to the left of the minimized windows in the bottom panel and choose Preferences. Then select “Show windows for all workspaces”.
, and I think the Mac probably handles the notion more smoothly. I should use Ctrl-Alt-Tab or something to find my apps more quickly. Wish I could get all open apps to appear on all workpace lower panels. (A setting somewhere?)
- Generally, I’m feeling that there is more clutter than I would like when I have all my apps and a dozen
Update: The Tree Style Tab Firefox addon provides nice functionality to put the tabs on the sides and automatically shrink the tab bar.
tabs open. Time for a rethink. Is this just in contrast to the Mac or am I not working optimally on the given desktop?
Also see: Life with Linux: The series
Here are the rolling three month sutor.com site stats fromAnalytics, plus 12 month previous stats. Percentages are calculated with respect to total numbers of hits. Statistics are computed from the first to the last days of the months listed. The up and down arrows compare the latest month listed with the percentages 12 months earlier, not the previous month.
Losers: , Internet Explorer, Windows, Opera
|December, 2008||October, 2009||November, 2009||December, 2009|
|Internet Explorer||36.31%||21.91%||22.89%||↓ 23.35%|
|Browser / OS|
|Firefox / Windows||31.26%||30.76%||30.83%||↑ 33.98%|
|Internet Explorer / Windows||36.31%||21.88%||22.89%||↓ 23.34%|
|Firefox / Linux||9.25%||17.03%||18.19%||↑ 13.00%|
|Firefox / Macintosh||6.51%||8.60%||8.18%||↑ 8.83%|
|Safari / Macintosh||6.88%||7.02%||6.92%||↑ 7.02%|
|Chrome / Windows||3.31%||5.64%||5.61%||↑ 5.55%|
|Mozilla / Linux||0.95%||2.18%||1.35%||↑ 2.49%|
|Chrome / Linux||0.00%||1.07%||1.07%||↑ 1.62%|
|Opera / Windows||2.57%||2.93%||1.85%||↓ 0.97%|
|Chrome / Macintosh||0.00%||0.15%||0.16%||↑ 0.57%|
|Opera / Linux||0.51%||0.56%||0.92%||↓ 0.22%|
|Safari / iPhone||0.24%||0.39%||0.24%||↑0.35%|