Monday, 25 June 2007

Safari is underwhelming

I installed Safari on my Vista computer this morning. Unlike on my XP computer, it installed with no hitches. Quicktime logos were sprawled all over the place and all was well.

I opened up the new browser from the uber-cool Apple Inc and waited for the browser to detect my settings from Internet Explorer such as favourites and default home page. Of course it didn't do this because Safari knows I want my home page to be the Apple web site and that now I am a Safari user I will want to start again with a new set of favourite web sites.

I dare say I could have imported them but that was a bad start. Apple should make things idiot proof - like Mozilla do when installing Firefox or Thunderbird.

Anyway the browser shows web pages. Like Internet Explorer or Firefox.

The most striking thing, apart from its inability to read JavaScript correctly, is the font smoothing thing it has going on. Sub-pixel rendering I think it is called - whereby the edges of fonts are not just white or black but various shades of grey to make letters look smoother. Windows XP has had it for years and has continued it with Vista. On many monitors it does improve the look of, particularly small, text. On Safari it looks like they have let the 5 year old in with the bold button.

The browser is no better looking, faster, more stable or more secure than other browsers. I have uninstalled it.

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Apple drops clanger

Apple have pleased me today. They have brought out a version of their "Safari" browser for Windows. I have wanted them to do this for a long time so that I could see what my web sites look like on a Mac without spending 1500 pounds on a shiny new computer I don't need.

I went to the Apple site at http://www.apple.com/safari/download/ and downloaded the Beta 3 version of Safari together with Quicktime. I gave it somebody else's email address and downloaded the software without a hitch. It asked me if I wanted something called Bon Jour to help printer sharing and as I am using XP which is able to share printers across a network already I declined the kind offer politely.

It gave me a shiny new Quicktime icon in the taskbar (at the bottom of the screen) without asking, which I thought a bit rude, but otherwise installed OK. There was no swearing allegiance to the god of Macness.

According to the Apple Mac temple at http://www.apple.com/safari/ Quote:
The fastest web browser on any platform, Safari loads pages up to 2 times faster
than Internet Explorer 7 and up to 1.6 times faster than Firefox 2.

So I double clicked the new Safari icon on my desktop and counted. And counted. I got to 71 seconds before I gave up hope of the browser fully opening. It's still there on my taskbar saying "Apple - Start" with about a quarter of a web page - although a quarter of which web page I don't know because the address bar doesn't show.

I thought Macs "just worked", and so all of their software must do also. As I said this is XP I am using, not the half cooked Vista I use for most of my work. XP is the operating system developers should aim for before anything else; it is stable and popular. The machine has about an acre of RAM and has 270 Horse Power processor so it's not the machine's fault.

Apple have cocked up. They have bravely announced the arrival of a public Beta-version browser, way before it is ready. I am greatly amused by this, not because I like to see development fail, but because of the religious fervour of the Apple company and all who worship the Mac as god.

This should bring Apple down to Earth. The company and its software are no better than Microsoft or Windows. They are fallible. And this time they have wasted a huge opportunity to show the computing world how good a major part of their system is; and condemned themselves to occupying a niche market for a good while yet.

Meanwhile if you want to know what the internet looks like on Ubuntu click here - http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/

Monday, 11 June 2007

Web sites for schools

My company, Island Webservices, has developed a web product for schools of all sizes and age groups. Yet to be unveiled to the public, this facility allows one super-user to update events, news, term dates and to set up users for both the blog and the educational departments pages.

The blogs, which could be utilised by the whole school, teachers and parents included, have all the usual facilities such as picture uploads, automatic linking of email and web links, archive links and lists of contributors.

The departmental pages can be edited by a member of each department and operate in a similar way to the blog. Each department can only edit their own section.

There is a gallery facility that the super user can upload an unlimited amount of images to. No editing is required and the pictures can be published straight from the camera. All resizing is done by the server.

The editable events and term date pages will automatically hide out of date items.

There is an RSS feed facility based on the blogs, department pages, news and events pages.

This web site could be easily duplicated for other educational establishments within a bespoke template and requires no knowledge of programming to maintain.

I will add a link to the first site when the school is ready to put the thing live, but if you need a sneak preview please give me a call on 01983 721264 (011 44 1983 721264 from the States).

Saturday, 9 June 2007

Developer Toolbar

The Developer Toolbar for Internet Explorer now appears to work on Windows Vista. It appears at the base of the page rather than as an extension of the main tool bar (which is hidden by default on Internet Explorer 7 anyway).

It likes to come with a load of rubbish such as a tree of mark-up tags and a list of attributes and styles, which I doubt I will ever use but you can drag this to the base of the page. Unfortunately it doesn't appeared to be remembered that way when you return.

The best way to access it is by adding the DevToolbar icon next to the home, RSS and tool icons - by right clicking and customising the command bar.

Give it a try.