Archive for September, 2005

Ads for sale! Get ’em while they’re hot!

[ music | Simon and Garfunkel – Keep The Customer Satisfied ]

As you may be able to see to the right, I’m officially taking on small ads. After some negotiations with a few people, I think I’ve found a decent size/cost starting point.

Large AdSmall Ad

These ads will run in the right column of both the main index and also individual item pages. This means that both direct views of the site, and click-throughs from syndicated feeds to individual items will benefit the advertiser.

* The size, position, and placement of these ads are negotiable if you have other ideas. I’m very flexible. The only rules are the ad must not be Java-based, really annoying Flash ads, advertising illegal content, blatantly false, or incredibly offensive. I determine if the ad falls under these terms, but we hammer this out before payment, and you’ll really have to try hard to offend me. The good karma you’ll buy is priceless. Contact me for details.

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Opera is now ad and cost free…

[ music | Queen – Play The Game ]

Opera’s browser is now ad and cost free. This is an interesting development. They’re still selling premium support, but MoFo does that too, that’s fairly common. Under the header “Why we’re going free” they don’t actually say why. Under the header “What makes Opera’s web browser unique” they don’t list one unique feature. “Opera includes pop-up blocking, tabbed browsing, integrated searches, and advanced functions like Opera’s groundbreaking E-mail program, RSS Newsfeeds and IRC chat.” Netscape had an integrated email client a decade ago. I’d hardly call that groundbreaking. Mozilla and Firefox has everything else as well. So, nothing unique by any definition of the word.

Now, this is interesting because now the main non-technological difference between Firefox and Opera is the availability of the source code. Neither has ads, neither has a license fee, both have excellent rendering ability and standards compliance, both have features IE lacks, and both have rabidly fanatical communities around the products. Also this is interesting because from the consumer’s standpoint, the browsers can compete on a level playing field. Firefox always had the advantage of being both cost free and ad free, while Opera users had to chose to either pay, or live with ads. Now it’s a head to head competition on features and usability, to be judged by marketshare alone. Opera has put their money where their mouth is, literally. Let the competition begin.

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Arrrr, matey!

[ music | George Harrison – The Pirate Song ]

Don’t be fergittin’ that today, the 19th o’ September, be Talk Like A Pirate Day! Ye best be talkin’ like a Piratical sort if ye knows what’s best fer ya! I just though I’d be a warnin’ ya, in case ye be a little lax on the calendaring of yer holidays! Arrr! I’m off to find me some wenches and rum and drink me-self to the bottom o’ a barrel!

Pirate Bob the Sword Test Dummy

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Dreamhost Rocks.

[ music | Queen – We Will Rock You ]

I was hosting some files for a friend in a semi-hidden directory. Well, the URL got leaked, and I got slammed for 300GB of transfer in less than a day. This means I’m looking at about $260+ for bandwidth overages. This is not a good month for that. So I emailed Dreamhost about it. They replied mere hours after I sent my mail, and I sent it at around 4am Eastern time on a Saturday. That means someone was reading it and replying in the wee hours of Saturday morning Pacific time. How can you expect more than that on a billing issue? I’d have been happy with a response Monday morning. And the issue I mailed about was so easily handled I was flabbergasted.

Unlike other hosts, DH doesn’t shut down your site the instant you hit your limit. They do offer a throttling option that once a day checks your use, and if you go over, it’ll change to a backup site YOU create to help limit your overages. This doesn’t totally prevent you from having overages if you get nailed in a single day like me, but it helps limit the bloodflow a lot, automatically. And it turns out I have a significantly generous period in which to pay that bill down, more than I’ll need thanks to the rewards I’ve earned from people who have signed up for DH with me as their referer.

I can’t recommend DH highly enough now. And I’m not even talking about their superb communication, professionalism, and hard work I witnessed on Monday when they were fighting with a catastrophic power failure in Los Angeles. They kept us informed in a series of status updates that continued throughout the week. Very honest communication with their customers and public. They didn’t have to, they chose to. I’ve known web hosts that give little to no explanation about anything. These folks weren’t afraid to admit mistakes, because they learn from those mistakes.

At this point, I’m sold on DreamHost for life. I have no qualms about recommending DreamHost to anyone. If you’re interested in their hosting, use promo-code BE25 to get $25 off your first year.

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Microsoft vs. Mozilla: The Future of the Web

[ music | They Might Be Giants – Battle for The Planet Of The Apes ]

Don’t be fooled, Microsoft is very threatened and is not going to be caught totally off guard. They finally are taking the Web seriously. And they see Mozilla as a threat they can’t cheat out of the market. They can’t cannibalize Mozilla’s sales, because Mozilla has none. They can’t just bundle it with the OS and wait, because Mozilla’s client-side products run on everything from Windows 98 to Windows Vista betas, Linux, MacOS X, and a dozen other niche operating systems. A browser or presentation layer (XAML) tied Vista can’t compete with all of that.

So MS is going to try to take XAML and port it to their handheld OS platform (with the ever changing name), backport it to Windows XP and probably 2000, and possibly even MacOS X. It’ll never move to Linux, because MS can’t afford to legitimize Linux as a Desktop OS, they’ve already admitted it’s a serious threat to the server space. XAML brings with it Microsoft’s mindshare muscle for the legions of Windows devs that think everything MS touches is gold, and the mid-level managers who survive by making the safe choice (“No one was ever fired for buying IBM” now applies to MS for these people).

But why? Why is MS seemingly abandoning trying to make Windows the center of the Internet? They’re not. As MS always does, they’ll make sure XAML applications always run best on a Windows platform by either hindering performance or limiting the features available to ports. XAML is Microsoft’s recognition that Mozilla’s XUL and Firefox technologies can’t be out muscled. Gecko/Firefox 2.0 with Cairo-based rendering will provide exactly the type of platform MS is now building, and Gecko/Firefox is already cross platform and already eating into Microsoft’s marketshare like no one else has ever done.

Looking at what Google did with GMail and GoogleMaps, looking at what Firefox and Mozilla already provide as application platforms, and looking at how they have allowed IE to lay fallow while other competitors have grown stronger, MS realizes they have almost allowed another Netscape to happen, and they have to fight it on a technological level this time. They see what is truly possible with cross-platform web-centric APIs. It is possible to create true applications with the breadth and scope once thought only possible running natively on a client, not straddling the network like this. They see their efforts to push Windows and IE as the key platforms is still failing.

Netscape is dead, but the revolution it started is not. Microsoft once again has to play catch up, but they can’t define the rules this time, at least not yet. They have to try to steal the battlefield first, as when IE became “part” of the OS. But now the battlefield is bigger than one OS market, simply leveraging monopoly power won’t work. We can’t let them steal this battlefield. This is the new browser war, and anyone who dismisses it isn’t looking at the long term like MS is currently.

Making Firefox powerful to users is something for which Mozilla has proven itself to be very capable. The extensibility of Firefox is a great demonstration of Firefox’s potential as a great development platform too. Mozilla’s new goal is to make Firefox easy for users, and attractive to developers without falling into the same trap as the Suite. We’ll see if they can do it.

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How to admit defeat.

[ music | The Cardigans – Been It ]

Sometimes there are things you just can’t do, no matter how hard you try. This is the story of one of those things. It’s a long one, so if you want to read the whole thing, you’ll need to click the [Read More] link.

» Continue reading “How to admit defeat.”

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Google Maps hosts Post-Katrina satellite images

[ music | Filter – Hey Man Nice Shot ]

Google Maps now has put online post-Katrina satellite images of New Orleans. It’s not total coverage because the satellite has limited range per-orbit, but it’s something. Both levee breaches are visible, 17th Street Canal breach, and the Orleans Avenue levee breach. This dovetails nicely with some of the static but huge images that the NASA Earth Observatory has put online here.

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Wanted: Wireless Ethernet Bridge

Anyone have a Wireless Ethernet Bridge (example: Linsys WET11, etc.) that they’d like to sell? I have a charitable group as a client who is in need of one. 802.11b compatibility is a huge plus (yep, the older, slower standard) and around $40-$45 is ideal (but I won’t complain if you want less). Brand really isn’t important, as long as it functions. I’m hoping someone out here in Mozilla-land has one in their closet they aren’t using. Please mail me or comment here. Thanks.

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Let it go already.

[ music | Simon and Garfunkel – A Most Peculiar Man ]

From Robert Accettura’s Fun With Wordage: Features vs. Usability:

Asa Dotzler Says:
September 4th, 2005 at 10:36 pm

The 95% case just wishes that the JavaScript console had a better interface? I don’t think so. For the overwhelming majority of users, it’s nothing but in the way no matter how mature the user interface.

– A

Dude, let it go already.

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[ music | James Taylor – You’ve got A Friend ]

Something odd is happening here. I don’t normally like blondes at all, especially fake blondes. But the past couple days Catherine Callaway has been doing the night shift during the Hurricane Katrina aftermath, and frankly, she’s been looking gorgeous. She’s always been a good anchor, but she looks great the past couple days, and I’m not sure why. She looks better than she did a few years ago. And while I’m on about CNN, Carol Costello, who has the 5am-7am shift is pretty damn hot too. I’ve always loved Kyra Phillips because she’s got that sexy red hair. Teri Hatcher looks a lot better than she did during her Lois and Clark days too. What is up with these 35-40 year old chicks? When did they all get so hot?

And while I’m on the topic of CNN, I’m going to commend Gary Tuchman too. During the hurricane a 200 pound fence-pole smashed into the vehicle he and his crew were reporting from, named “Hurricane One”. The vehicle was totalled, but they managed to remain unharmed. He just kept reporting. Today, he was still out there, interviewing one family. he helped the daughter pick through the rubble of her room to find a few bits if her life, and the producer managed to find a big plastic bin of keepsakes the mother had set aside, and was surprised the mother with it. Just to see that she was so grateful, she was crying, and Gary just gave her a hug, patted her on the back, and let her cry some of it out.

Gary, you’re one hell of a reporter. Thanks for making sure we keep seing the people, and not just the water.

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