Butch Lugrod’s Manopia

All Things to All Men

Browser Wars – Year 17

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It might not seem like it, but the browser wars are back. Internet Explorer versus Firefox versus Safari versus Chrome versus Opera versus a bunch of mobile browsers. It is the same war that was waged in the mid-nineties between IE and Netscape, just with more players. CNET has a new article up detailing the new browser battle over Javascript performance. I think that this is an even bigger deal than most people believe, with consequences that could rattle some of our very biggest software developers.

Javascript is the tool that gives our web pages lightweight interactivity and advanced features. It is fast and feature-ful enough to replace native desktop application development for a lot of purposes. Anymore, I live most of my day inside of a browser. With the exception of our corporate email server (Exchange/Outlook) most of the tools I use at work are web-based (and even Exchange has a pretty fantastic web client these days.) For my livelihood, it matters less and less what type of computer I am using and more and more about which browser I have open. Anything which can improve the performance of that browser, especially with regard to Javascript/AJAX performance, improves my life considerably.

The latest versions of Safari and Chrome are absolutely fantastic — very speedy. I look forward to testing the new version of Firefox when it is ready. I still have to use Internet Explorer for compatibility with a few web sites, but the number of sites which that applies to are dwindling each year that Microsoft stagnates development. IE 8 is not a leap forward in standards support or Javascript performance.

Microsoft has the resources to be competitive in this arena, and they have to realize that their market share is dwindling as their competitors surpass them in these areas. Microsoft has the most to lose by not being an innovator in desktop browsers, because it is their operating system which is going to be lose market share. If most of your work can be done in a browser, do you really want to spend $200 for a Windows upgrade and another $400 for a new version of Office? What if you could do all of your work on a $200 barebones notebook with an internet connection?

Now, clearly, Microsoft is moving (slowly) toward the online cloud world. Last year they announced the web version of Office. But will this development stagnate as well? There are already a number of (free!) competitors in this space, and MS has been content to stand by and watch them establish mindshare.

The game is changing and Microsoft needs to change with it.


Written by Butch

March 20, 2009 at 10:35 am

Posted in tech

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Bye bye VHS

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The death of VHS has been picking up some press lately. I can’t say that I have a lot of nostalgia for the format, even while it did bring me a lot of enjoyment in my childhood. I do recall how excited the whole family was the first time that we rented a movie from our small town grocery store. I also remember how nice it was of my parents that they would record the Saturday morning cartoons for me so that I could sleep in an extra hour or two (the local networks aired the Smurfs really early on the west coast).

Okay, so maybe I have a tiny bit of nostalgia.

Written by Butch

December 30, 2008 at 9:26 am

A way out of the wilderness

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Karl Rove has a good piece up at Newsweek wherein he outlines a path back to power for the Republican Party.

In the coming year, we will be defined more by what we oppose than what we are for; the president-elect and the Democrats in Congress will control the agenda. We must pick fights carefully and center them around principle. The goal is to have the sharp differences that emerge make the GOP look like the more reasonable, hopeful and inviting party—which is easier said than done.

Written by Butch

November 16, 2008 at 2:04 pm

An attempt at humor

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So do liberals have a better sense of humor than conservative? In the type of society-advancing research that only your tax dollars can afford, the New York Times explores:

The researchers picked out a variety of jokes — good, bad, conventional, absurdist — to look for differences in reactions between self-described liberals and conservatives.

They expected conservatives to like traditional jokes, like the one about the golfing widower, that reinforce racial and gender stereotypes. And because liberals had previously been reported to be more flexible and open to new ideas, the researchers expected them to get a bigger laugh out of unconventional humor, like Jack Handey’s “Deep Thoughts” about the reindeer effect and Hambone.

Written by Butch

November 9, 2008 at 9:44 am

Nothing fair about this doctrine

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Every year around this time, folks in Congress start talking about the fairness doctrine.

In 2007, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), a close ally of Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) told The Hill, “It’s time to reinstitute the Fairness Doctrine. I have this old-fashioned attitude that when Americans hear both sides of the story, they’re in a better position to make a decision.”

The fairness doctrine is anything but fair. It is not fair to broadcasters and it is not fair to consumers. This is the government dictating the composition of political content over the airwaves, which is a somewhat scary proposition. Says Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY):

“The very same people who don’t want the Fairness Doctrine want the FCC [Federal Communications Commission] to limit pornography on the air. I am for that… But you can’t say government hands off in one area to a commercial enterprise but you are allowed to intervene in another. That’s not consistent.”

Who says it has to be consistent? I would much rather just live with broadcast pornography than having the government restrict or regulate the political content over our airwaves. The Democrats have a serious fundamental misunderstanding of the issue. These broadcasters are not doing anything to discourage or exclude left wing hosts from being on the air — they are simply reacting to what the market demands. The margins made in radio broadcasting (and television, for that matter) are razor thin. Trust me, if there was a profit to be made, then there would be dozens of prominent liberal hosts heating up the airwaves. Air America tried it, but they had terrible hosts and even worse marketing. It was a big failure. Until the left can actually put forth decent radio content, they are going to continue to be marginalized as fringe media.

Over on the television side, flamboyantly liberal hosts have had a mixed record. Only recently has MSNBC started to make some inroads into this market with Keith Olbermann — but this was after years of experimenting with washups like Chris Matthews, Phil Donahue and Bill Press.

The left is yet to find an an answer for talk radio, so they think that regulating it is the solution. The right wing is successful on the radio not because of ownership, management, or “unfairness.” They have been successful because they have been able to put together a long string of successful and interesting (you could also say fiery) hosts who have been able to find audiences. Like him or not, Rush Limbaugh is successful because he approaches politics with a sense of humor, irony, and intelligence. Where is the left’s answer to Rush? There has to be someone out there. Bill Press is just too boring to listen to, so don’t bother. Al Franken does not have grasp of the issues or the right type of humor for the medium — lets face it, Franken’s humor is just way too angry for mass market appeal. He could find an audience, but it is going to be the same limited audience that likes the anger of Michael Savage.

Today, there is less need for the fairness doctrine than ever before. Citizens have virtually limitless access to differing points of view on their 900 cable channels, the internet, satellite radio, etc. Instead of regulating, the left needs to consider competing. They have the audience, they just need to find the talent.

The Rove Analysis

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Karl Rove has some poignant last minute analysis of the Presidential campaign just prior to Election Day:

Written by Butch

November 3, 2008 at 6:22 pm

Who needs a cat?

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When you can have your own mouse electrocution chamber?

the Victor Multi-Kill Electronic Mouse Trap, a $100 mini chamber that electrocutes 150 mice per set of batteries

Written by Butch

November 3, 2008 at 10:05 am