Recently, in the Internet category…

Microsoft announced today that IE8 will, in fact, act like IE8, a complete switch from their previous plan. Why the change of heart? Perhaps to get various governments off its back. From the IEBlog:

While we do not believe any current legal requirements would dictate which rendering mode a browser must use, this step clearly removes this question as a potential legal and regulatory issue.

So in the end it was government regulations, not community backlash, that got this idea nixed. Whatever the reason, I think Microsoft is making the right decision — one that will continue IE’s evolution into a standards-compliant browser.

Angelika Theater filled with programmers On Wednesday we went down to Dallas to attend the OnAIR Bus Tour. We were on something of a tour ourselves, having first driven to Graham, TX for a meeting with a potential client, then to Dallas, then home, all in the same day.

Adobe puts on quite a show. They rented out a movie theater for the day, much to the dismay of all the people who came by wanting to watch a movie. They had plenty of free food, drink, games, etc. It’s pretty cool to walk up to a movie concession counter and have your choice of anything you want, for free.

The sessions were good, too. They walked us through what the Adobe Integrated Runtime is, what you can do with it, and how to get started using it. It’s a pretty interesting runtime. Nobody’s going to decide to build an AIR app instead of a web app, but I can see two scenarios where it would be the way to go:

  1. For web developers/designers who want to use their existing skills to build desktop apps.

  2. For creating widgets to supplement the functionality of an existing site.

And in fact, I’ve already got a few ideas that fall squarely in the second category. I think I’ll play with it and see what I can come up with. Maybe AIR will be useful, maybe it won’t. Regardless, we had a fun (albeit exhausting) evening with the OnAIR folks.

Today, I was reading a blog that had a link to download a song. The song was available via MegaUpload.

Ok, available is a strong word.

I clicked the link and was taken to MegaUpload. There I saw ads. I scrolled down a bit, looking for the download. I found more ads. I continued to scroll, passing more ads, the remains of Jimmy Hoffa, more ads, and finally landed on a description of just how easy MegaUpload is to use and oh, did we mention we are entirely ad-supported?

No kidding.

So I scrolled back up and finally saw… something. It wasn’t a download link. Instead, it was a CAPTCHA, nestled snugly in the loving arms of the MegaUpload logo.

I proved my humanity and then saw… something else. It wasn’t a download link. Instead, it was a countdown. I had 45 seconds to admire their ads before they would give me the download link. Because, otherwise, I might not have noticed the ads. With about 15 seconds left to go, another ad popped up. You know the kind — JavaScript ads that appear on a page on top of the content. This particular one followed my mouse cursor as I moved it around the page. Remember how that was funny when that one web site did something like that? Yeah, that one, from 1998.

The countdown ended and I saw… a download link! Hooray! I went to click on it, and couldn’t. The little pop-up ad was still following my mouse and blocking my attempts to click the link. Ironically, it was blocking my attempts to click on anything. I couldn’t click the ads on the page — I couldn’t even click the ads in the pop-up because it would move out of the way.

I was finally able to click the download link thanks to the Web Developer toolbar — the Junior Woodchuck Guidebook of Firefox extensions (5 points if you know the reference). I disabled JavaScript and the persistent little window stopped dead in its tracks.

If you’re uploading a file for others to download, please do not use MegaUpload. I’ve successfully used YouSendIt before, and I’ve heard nothing but good things about DropSend. MegaUpload has a lot to learn about usability before they can be considered a useful service.

I can’t say this enough: Details are important. When you provide a service to your customers, it’s the little things that are so vitally important.

Case in point…

Continue reading “No Access”…

According to CmdrTaco himself, Slashdot will soon no longer be partying like it’s 1999. A CSS-based layout has been developed and the Slashdot site will be converted over soon.

Hats off to the Slashcode team. I’ve played with that code before, and I’m sure it was no easy task removing all those layout tables.

There are a few nits to pick, of course. The site doesn’t validate, yet. I would have liked to see them use XHTML instead of HTML, but that’s just a personal preference, and probably would have caused them more grief. I doubt they have any control over the code they get from their ad servers, and ad servers are notorious for screwing up XHTML. It appeared all the img tags had alt attributes, but most of them were empty. It’d be nice to see those filled in with useful descriptions. And, there are some rendering issues in Mac IE 5.2. Nothing that would keep a person from viewing the site, just some of the boxes are unnecessarily tall.

Anyway, I just took a quick look at it, and I’m sure they have more work to do, but I think it’s off to a great start. If Slashdot can convert to a CSS layout, no other web app has any excuse for not doing it. I’m looking right at you, osCommerce.

This is a test of the Google Toolbar AutoLink System. This test is meant to calm down web designers who have become hysterical over the thought of their precious content being modified and displayed by your web browser — which is exactly what a web browser is supposed to do.

This is only a test.
Unlinked ISBN: 0066214122
Linked ISBN: 0066214122
Unlinked Address: 5801 N May Ave., Oklahoma City, OK 73112
Linked Address: 5801 N May Ave., Oklahoma City, OK 73112

Now, install the silly toolbar, come back here, and find out for yourself.

My results: AutoLinks are visually different from regular links. Unless, of course, you just happened to have highlighted your links with the exact same soft blue color Google does. Which, naturally, they should have expected. You also get a large tooltip pop up when you hover over the links.

In the FireFox version, the linked ISBN was changed to look like an AutoLink, but the link itself was not altered in any way and my affiliate ID was passed to Amazon intact. The highlighting of the regular link must be a bug, because the same thing does not happen in Internet Explorer. In IE, already-linked ISBNs and addresses are not changed to AutoLinks.

I did this because the furor over the Google Toolbar had once again erupted on a mailing list I’m on. The two main complaints were that the Toolbar changes links you already have on your page and there is no way to tell the difference between links and AutoLinks. I was pretty sure neither of those were true, but it seemed like a good idea to try the silly thing before making any statements about it. I’m fairly certain I’m the first person on a mailing list to ever do that.

The next time someone starts going on about what the Google Toolbar does or does not do, please kindly direct them here. You might also suggest that they refrain from knocking something until such time as they have tried it.

For the latest eMonitor, I wrote an article about finding free images. It highlights some of my favorite sites for royalty-free stock photography.

And, yes, that’s me. No, that’s not how I dress for work.

Smart Goat is now a card-carrying member of the EFF.

And we will continue to be for as long as it takes.

This week, the Supreme Court ruled in the MGM vs. Grokster case. SCOTUS decided that P2P file sharing networks could be held responsible for the copyright violations of their users if the networks were found, “… promoting its use to infringe copyright…”

We keep it real, hold steel, grab ya sword and ya shield
Terrorist and 9th Prince it’s either kill or be killed
9th Prince, Kill or be Killed

This puts a huge burden on all technology companies. Basically, they either have to comply with the demands of the major media conglomerates or risk their every action being interpreted as inducing and get buried by lawsuits.

If your thing is gone and you wanna ride on; cocaine.
Don’t forget this fact, you can’t get it back; cocaine.
She don’t lie, she don’t lie, she don’t lie; cocaine.
Eric Clapton, Cocaine

Perhaps I missed something, but when did we promise the recording industry a rose garden? Who decided that maintaining their business model was more important than innovation? When did we agree to stop moving forward so that media companies wouldn’t have to change with the times? And, to whoever did agree to all this, I have to ask — What are you, an idiot?

If not from the records, from jackin the crops
Just like burglary, the definition is ‘jackin’
And when illegally armed it’s called ‘packin’
N.W.A., Straight Outta Compton

Some say this ruling could have been a lot worse, and they’re right. SCOTUS didn’t make file sharing illegal. Instead, they decided that file sharing companies could be held accountable for inducing their customers to break the law. I don’t agree with it, but I suppose it’s fair. After all, we wouldn’t let any other industry get away with encouraging illegal acts, would we?

I’ve been caught stealing;
Once when i was 5…
I enjoy stealing.
It’s just as simple as that.
Well, it’s just a simple fact.
When i want something,
I don’t want to pay for it.
Jane’s Addiction, Been Caught Stealing

I’m loving the new satellite view on Google Maps. I haven’t done anything useful with it yet, but it sure is fun.

I do have a question about it, though. Where I live, Yukon, OK, we’ve seen dozens of new businesses built here in the last few years. Looking at the Google satellite data for Yukon, it’s clear that the images are over a year old, probably more like two years old. You might notice something else about those images: the copyright. How can two-year-old images have a copyright of 2005?

There’s probably a reasonable explanation — I doubt Google is lacking in IP lawyers. If anybody knows how copyright applies in this situation, I’d be interested in hearing about it.