IE6 is Finally Dead

IE6 usage in the US has now officially dropped below 1%! Finally, this horrible browser is dead and web developers everywhere can rejoice in not having to work with this outdated browser. I know some businesses still use it but personally, for my work, I’m dropping support for IE6. Trying to work around its limitations was just headache inducing. Sure it creates more work (in some cases, a LOT more work) that I get paid for, but it’s unfulfilling and frustrating work.

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WordPress Themes are GPL

WordPress is an open-source content management system for websites that I use very often for my personal projects and client work. In fact, it powers this site as well. Recently there was a very contentious and public spat between Matt Mullenweg (original co-developer and primary frontman for WordPress and CEO of Automattic) and Chris Pearson (developer of Thesis, a commercial WordPress theme). The argument was over whether Thesis should be at least be partially licensed under the GPL (the license WordPress uses). I’m not going to rehash all the stuff that was said but my opinion is that yes, WordPress themes and plugins are GPL.

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GGF Pirate Bay Plan is a Bad Idea

Some of you may know that a company called Global Gaming Factory (GGF) announced it worked out a deal to buy the popular torrent site, The Pirate Bay. The initial report said the price would be $7.8 million. Long story short, that may not be so, but it should still be several million dollars. What’s incredulous is that they plan to make Pirate Bay into a pay site where members have to pay to download and content is authorized by copyright holders. They plan on working with the entertainment industry to work this out. This is just a bad, bad idea and shows the people behind GGF just don’t get it. I feel bad for the investors being duped into thinking this is a good idea.

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Firefox 3.5 Is Faster

10/19/2009 UPDATE
Well a few months later and I just wanted to come back and update this post. I take back the “Faster Start and Close” claim and want to reinforce that Firefox is a memory hog. Firefox 3.5 is just as slow, if not slower, to start up and slow to close down than Firefox 3.0. Firefox 3.5 gobbles up memory so damn fast that I often hit 1 GB memory usage where it pretty much tops out and starts lagging like crazy because I only have 2 GB of RAM (ya know, 2 GB seemed like so much 2 years ago). And the firefox.exe process sometimes takes forever to terminate. Sometimes it even gets stuck and I have to end the process manually.

Now, I know it could just be (or probably is) the plugins I’m running hogging memory and generally slowing down Firefox startup/close. But I’m using the same plugins as I used with Firefox 3.0 and it wasn’t nearly this bad with the memory usage. I’m not sure how you’d go about getting 3rd party plugin developers to optimize their code, but it’s an issue. A browser should not eat up this much memory.

Yes, bookmarks are greatly improved and I like how they break down History by time period. I keep a 90-day history so it used to load my entire history on one screen – very slow, very bad – but not anymore. And yes the History and Bookmarks drop-down menus are much faster. But the “awesome bar” is slow as hell, presumably because it searching through my huge history and bookmarks collection. A lot of times it slows me down because I just want to enter in a URL quickly and I typically punch it very quickly. But it lags as it tries to autocomplete what I’m typing and actually slows me down.

I still feel the sticking point is how slow Firefox starts/closes and how much memory it uses. I periodically have to restart Firefox just to clear up memory. I don’t know how Chrome would fare when loaded with plugins, but if it were half as fast as Firefox is now, I’d probably switch. Unfortunately there really aren’t many plugins for Chrome. The bare-bones version of Chrome lightning fast though.

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So I finally upgraded to Firefox 3.5 after the 3.5.2 update was released. I generally like to wait for additional point releases that fix bugs with the initial release. Anyway, 3.5 is definitely a lot faster than 3.0 performance-wise. Yes, the new/updated TraceMonkey and Gecko engines makes Javascript and page-loading faster (which is to be expected, otherwise why update), but I’m talking about general application performance.

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Time Warner Cable Bandwidth Caps

Bandwidth caps are bad for consumers, plain and simple. It’s simply a way to squeeze more money out of consumers while the cable company’s costs are largely fixed. Granted, they’re only expanding to a few select markets (including Rochester, NY), but they’ll be crazy to do this in any market where they actually have competition like Verizon FiOS. As for Verizon, they’re not doing bandwidth caps because they need to gain market share against the cable companies, not because they’re the good guy. Verizon is spending a lot of money building out fiber networks and are heavily dependent on subscriber growth. They need to be taking customers away from cable companies and see this is a competitive advantage. Trust me, if Verizon FiOS were very well established, they’d be considering bandwidth caps too.

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Boo to the “Amazon Tax”

New York recently enacted a new tax law that requires Internet-based retailers to collect sales tax from customers based in New York. The tax has been informally dubbed the “Amazon Tax”. If you do any kind of online shopping you know that most of the time you don’t get charged sales tax on your purchases. The times that you do, it’s because the retailer has a physical location in New York. While the retailers don’t charge you sales tax, we’re actually supposed to report purchases made online on our state tax returns and pay sales tax. But no one ever does this and it’s hard to enforce.

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Digg Looking for Buyers

So TechCrunch recently reported that Digg is looking to be acquired. Note that this is not official and is an unconfirmed report. Among the parties bidding on Digg are Microsoft and Google. I think it’s about time and if Digg doesn’t sell soon, it’s going to have to lower its expectations more and more. Honestly, apart from their “algorithm” which can easily be reproduced or emulated, there’s nothing special about Digg other than its large user base. That in itself is not a unique advantage. Yahoo just released a similar site called Buzz and I think Yahoo can find ways to leverage its massive user base and channel traffic through Buzz.

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Those Annoying Speaking Ads

Recently I’ve encountered (quite often now) an extremely annoying form of online advertising. When you view a web page with the ad, a high-pitched, annoying, high school girl voice comes on suddenly and says, “Congratulations, you have just won a free iPod nano!” or something to that effect. I think it drones on with instructions but I’ve never made it that far. I always close the site. Damn, these things are so annoying!

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