Apple Mozilla

Walmart Blocks Other Browsers/Platforms

Walmart Video Downloads blocks all browsers but IE on Windows. I tried it from Safari on Mac OS X 10.4 and still wasn’t able to get in (they wanted me to still download IE 6). As noted by TechCrunch, initially it looked like someone didn’t include the stylesheet correctly. Now it’s blocked with a formal error page. Initially it worked with a reload, now not at all. Spoofing the UserAgent let me in, and revealed only a small CSS goof with the header. Didn’t try a purchase since there’s nothing there I would really want. I guess this could be considered a feature: My browser prevents me from downloading You, Me, and Dupree.

Apparently they use Windows Media Player for the DRM. I’d be surprised if it didn’t function properly in WMP when downloaded with Firefox. Thus far I haven’t seen any real difference between Windows Media Player 11 on IE and Firefox. It’s a great thing that Microsoft has drastically improved support.

I’m surprised they didn’t just redirect to a more compatible store.

There has been a fair amount of improvement in website compatibility with Firefox and Safari over the past 18 months. Unfortunately this isn’t an example of that.


Intimidated By Fire?

Is it just me? Or is someone intimidated by Firebug? Taking a look at the latest IE Developer Toolbar I can’t help but notice the striking similarities to Firebug. It’s not a carbon copy, but there’s a lot of things in there that seem to imitate Firebug.

Regardless of inspiration it’s good for developers who have yet another way to view how their code is interpreted by the browser.

Now how about some decent errors messages to aid in debugging JavaScript?

Mozilla Security

Symantec on Firefox vs IE

Many remember a few months ago Symantec came under fire for suggesting that IE was more secure than Firefox, because it had less security issues. Immediately many pointed out that Symantec’s methodology in the research was flawed, since they focused on vendor acknowledged security issues. That essentially lets the development teams decide how many security issues they want to have.

Symantec has now revised their research to include how many non-vendor confirmed security issues were reported. This puts things a bit more level of a playing field. Naturally you’d expect Firefox to have more confirmed flaws, because development is transparent. The IE team has the ability to selectively choose what’s “critical”. That’s a big advantage in the old comparison. They don’t seem to declare a “winner”, they just lay out the data.

Moral of the story? Data is only accurate if the research is well done. Symantec realized their research was flawed, and corrected it in a way that seems pretty fair, considering Firefox and IE have totally different development situations.

Google Internet Mozilla

Who killed popup ads?

New York Times writer Randall Stross said in an article that he believes that Google’s Text Ads solved the problem of popup ads littering the web (makes a mention of X10, the most annoying and popular of that era). I think the article is rather misguided as to say Google’s Text Ads got rid of the popup problem.

I’ll make the bold statement that the problem was solved by popup blockers from Mozilla, IE, Google Bar, and the many ISP solutions that popped up (pun intended) to help customers deal with the problem. Look at the number 1 reason to use Firefox. It’s Microsoft’s Number 4 and it’s on Google Toolbar’s page (when browsing in IE as they serve up different pages for Firefox) has it listed too. When so many became blocked, the effectiveness of these ads diminished. Earthlink, AOL, and friends all advertised they had popup blockers as their killer feature.

Google was the one bright enough to realize that users got so annoyed with the ads they started to ignore them. Google then realized that if Ads were to abide with their “do no evil” mantra, perhaps users wouldn’t be bothered by them. And so Google’s Text ads comes into the equation. Advertisers now have a way of reaching customers again, and popups start to die off. Most people don’t seem bothered by Google Text Ads. Personally I like them, it’s easy to support a site and doesn’t feel distracting. No Java applet ads (the worst of all, especially those video ones we saw for a while), Flash, or animated GIF’s. Just a simple line of text that’s about what I’m reading.

Why doesn’t Google push image ads more (they do offer them)? Because text blends in better. The human eye can scan a rather quickly and pick out what the brain wants to see. When you visit a website, you want to see the site’s contents. Having banner ads in predictable sizes just help the brain to ignore things quicker. Text ads blend in much more, hence may be seen within page. If I were to put a flashy animated GIF in this page, you would simply read the text around it, ignoring the ad as unwanted information. If I put a text ad there, you’ll likely read a few words. If it’s a relevant text ad, you may read it all, and perhaps click on it. text is less invasive. It doesn’t bother people nearly as much as a “punch the monkey and win a prize” style ads. Some will still ignore it, but I think the majority of people don’t really mind text ads, provided they don’t take up to much of the page. Context is so important. Why do you think beer commercials rule sporting events? Why don’t they appear as often on daytime TV? I don’t think an answer is needed there. It’s really the same thing. When an ad blends into it’s surroundings it does better. Many beer ads are well designed to integrate well into a sports broadcast by featuring either action or comedy, both entertaining values attractive to their target audience. When an ad stands out to much, you ignore it as an ad. Look at the superbowl. People watch the game just to see the ads. Why? “Entertainment”, they blend in with the theme of the evening “entertainment”. They are all made to entertain you.

Popups definitely didn’t die because of text ads. No way. It just doesn’t make sense They were too effective, hence the high commissions for sites who displayed them. Text Ads are essentially the compromise brokered by Google to help solve the battle over advertising between web surfers and content providers.

Perhaps we should send Google to the middle east?

In The News Mozilla Tech (General) Web Development

Top 20 IT mistakes to avoid

From InfoWorld’s Top 20 IT mistakes list:

11. Developing Web apps for IE only

Despite the fact that mission-critical applications continue their march onto the Web browser and that Windows continues to dominate the corporate desktop, Web developers should avoid the temptation to develop applications only for bug-ridden IE. IT shops that insist on using IE for Web applications should be prepared to deal with malicious code attacks such as JS.Scob.

First discovered in June 2004, JS.Scob was distributed via compromised IIS Web servers. The code itself quietly redirects customers of compromised sites to sites controlled by a Russian hacking group. There, unwitting IE users download a Trojan horse program that captures keystrokes and personal data. Although this might not sound like a threat to corporate IT, keep in mind that employees often use the same passwords across corporate and personal assets.

Many enterprises may not be able to avoid using IE. But if you make sure your key Web applications don’t depend on IE-only functionality, you’ll have an easier time switching to an alternative, such as Mozilla Firefox, if ongoing IE security holes become too burdensome and risky for your IT environment.

I’m upset they didn’t mention that failure to be compatible on your website will get you on my naughty list. Oh well.

The whole list is very good, I’d strongly recommend anyone interested in IT read the complete article.

Internet Mozilla Web Development

Eolas 2.0

It’s back. As if it wasn’t ridiculous the first time, we get to go through this again.

  1. Create something.
  2. Don’t enforce for years, silently awaiting wide deployment, then magically appear and start collecting $$$. (can you say GIF)?
  3. Profit.

Oh boy is stuff like this just insane at this point. It’s going to be interesting to see what happens from here. Hint: root for Microsoft (yes, I said it).


Copyright Office Compatibility Update

Macworld notes that the W3C objects to the Copyright Office Browser Compatibility plan (I mentioned this a few weeks ago). There are two particular quotes I wanted to share:

While stressing that the W3C is not criticizing Internet Explorer, the W3C officials said the office would be placing limitations on users of the Mac OS, Linux and Unix, who may have incompatible browsers. Cell phone and PDA users, and persons with disabilities also may be affected, Berners-Lee said.

So well said of Berners-Lee. What about Linux users? Where do they download the latest Internet Explorer? The Mac version is the same as the PC version in name only.

The W3C also stressed that the Web “was born and achieved widespread use only because of a commitment to open, vendor-neutral standards.”

I think that sums things up rather well. Not just about the problem with this proposal, but the problem facing the Internet in general. It applies to some patents, and to some monopolies.

You can find the complete W3C letter here.


Copyright Office Compatibility

According to the Copyright Office:

At this point in the process of developing the Copyright Office’s system for online preregistration, it is not entirely clear whether the system will be compatible with web browsers other than Microsoft Internet Explorer versions 5.1 and higher. Filers of preregistration applications will be able to employ these Internet Explorer browsers successfully. Support for Netscape 7.2, Firefox 1.0.3, and Mozilla 1.7.7 is planned but will not be available when preregistration goes into effect. Present users of these browsers may experience problems when filing claims.

According to the website, the comment and 5 copies should be sent to:

Copyright GC/ I&R
P.O. Box 70400
Southwest Station, Washington, DC 20024-0400

I won’t go as far as a “call to action”, since support “is planned”, though this is very concerning to Mac and Linux users in addition to all Firefox users. Let them know that everyone should be able to access the system, regardless of your computer or browser.

I’ll try and follow this, and post an update when more information is available.

[Hat tip: CNet News]


Browser-based attacks up

An interesting article, that shows why using a better browser is an important way to keep your computer secure. Perhaps we need to tell these people to stop using IE and start using Firefox. Nudge, nudge, [elbow in the ribs].

First downloads were the big risk. Then email became the big target. Now it’s the browser. What next?


Microsoft removes IE

Via Fark, Microsoft’s Anti-Spyware beta (mentioned earlier) removes Internet Explorer.

Now if only they patch it to install Firefox.