Category: Web

Firefox 3.0b4 review

Firefox 3.0b4 was released overnight and it is a significant improvement over the already superb 3.0b3!

The browser space is really improving of late, what with the release of the surprisingly good Internet Explorer 8 beta, the nightly Webkit releases, and now Firefox 3.0b4.

I ran Firefox 3.0b4 through the Sunspider browser speed test and it completed the test in an amazing 4,683.6ms on my OS X MacBook Pro! That is spectacular performance compared to the already extremely zippy Webkit which comes in at 5,744.8ms and Firefox 3.0b3 which comes in at 9,822.4ms. Flock 1.09 lags waaaaaay behind at a laggardly 16,945.0ms

On trying the Acid3 test (Firefox 3.x passes Acid2) it scores a creditable 65/100, up from 61/100 for b3 but still seriously lagging behind Webkit’s 87/100.

The full release notes comprehensively detail the many updates in this beta version of Firefox and are well worth a scan. Noteworthy improvements include:

  • Improvements to the user interface: better search support in the Download Manager, ability to zoom entire page or just the text, continuing look and feel improvements on Windows Vista, Windows XP, Mac OS X and Linux.
  • Richer personalization through: location bar that uses an algorithm based on site visit recency and frequency (called “frecency”) to provide better matches against your history and bookmarks for URLs and page titles, as well as an adaptive learning algorithm which tunes itself to your browsing habits.
  • Improved platform features such as: support for HTML5’s window.postMessage and window.messageEvent, JavaScript 1.8 improvements, and offline data storage for web applications.
  • Performance improvements: changes to our JavaScript engine as well as profile guided optimization resulted in significant gains over previous releases in the popular SunSpider test from Apple, web applications like Google Mail and Zoho Office run much faster, and continued improvements to memory usage drastically reduce the amount of memory consumed over long web browsing sessions.

I have been using Firefox 3.0 as one of my main browsers (along with Webkit) since 3.0b1 and despite the warnings

Firefox 3 Beta 4 is a developer preview release of Mozilla’s next generation Firefox browser and is being made available for testing purposes only

I have found it to be rock solid and a much better browsing experience than Firefox 2.x

The only downside to Firefox 3.0bx is the lack of working plugins but once you try it for a couple of days, you will find it difficult to go back to Firefox 2.x – even with all your plugins!

Zinadoo enables easy mobile site creation

Zinadoo.com is an online website creation tool specialising in creating websites for mobile devices! When you register with Zinadoo, you are setup with a free zinadoo.mobi subdomain. .mobi is the top level domain created specially for mobile devices.

The timing of this is very coincidental as I did an interview with Neil Edwards, CEO of dotMobi, on Friday which I will be publishing as a podcast on PodLeaders.com later this week.

The online website creator makes constructing mobile aware websites really easy. You can do all the usual stuff like adding links, creating pages, click to call, etc.

The only thing I couldn’t figure out was how to rename the About Us page to simply About!

Zinadoo's mobile site creator

Zinadoo also offer the ability to upgrade to your own .mobi domain (so I’d be tomraftery.mobi instead of tomraftery.zinadoo.mobi).

Best of luck to Zinadoo with this, it seems like an interesting app in a rapidly emerging space.

I see James has a piece up about Zinadoo as well.

Your top Web 2.0 apps?

If we ignore the fact that the term Web 2.0 is controversial for all kinds of reasons and concentrate on the applications themselves, which Web 2.0 apps (using the broadest possible definition) do you use most?

I use:

  1. my blog and podcast software all the time (they are run out of WordPress)
  2. my Flickr account regularly to post photos
  3. Google’s Docs and Spreadsheets frequently for collaboration or sharing of documents
  4. Google’s Calendar to synch with my laptop and mobile phone calendars
  5. Technorati, PubSub and Google’s Blogsearch to subscribe to RSS searches
  6. Flock as my main browser of choice (primarily because of the Flickr and Del.icio.us integration) – I also use Firefox, Camino, Safari and IE7
  7. Feedburner to burn and track my feeds
  8. NetNewsWire, Google Reader and iTunes to consume my feed list
  9. TechMeme, Megite and TailRank for keeping up with tech news
  10. Del.icio.us very occasionally to store URLs for items I have found interesting

What cool Web 2.0 apps am I not using that I should be using? What are your favourite Web 2.0 apps?

Webaroo – selling the Internet?

A company called Webaroo are selling copies of the Internet on a hard drive according to Networkworld– why? Well, they say, it will be handy for people who don’t have access to an Internet connection.
As Webaroo president Brad Husick explains:

“Let’s say the HTML Web is 10 billion pages — it’s actually a little less than that — but at 10K per page that’s 1 million gigabytes, also known as a petabyte. It’s going to be a long time before notebooks have million-gigabyte hard drives. So how do you get a million gigabytes down to what you need?â€?

Webaroo does it, he says, through “a server farm that is of Web scale” and a set of proprietary search algorithms that whittle the million gigabytes down to more manageable chunks that will fit on a hard drive: up to 256 megabytes for a growing menu of “Web packs” on specific topics — your favorite Web sites, city guides, news summaries, Wikipedia and the like — that make up the service’s initial offerings; and something in the neighborhood of 40 gigabytes for the full-Web version the company intends to release later this year.

Ok – so you are telling me that Webaroo are going to make a copy of this site (amongst others) and sell it to their customers? Not without my permission, they won’t and I can see lots of other website owners having similar objections. If this does become a significant issue for Webaroo, it could prove costly (to pay website owners to re-sell their information) or they could end up with an extremely cut-down Internet which will effect its usefulness.

If Webaroo somehow manage to overcome that issue, how will they overcome the immediacy issue? Most of the sites I browse, I do to get up-to-the minute information – by definition, Webaroo will be unable to offer this facility.

Then there’s the issue of the growth of the Internet – I haven’t seen recent figures but with the rampant growth in the ‘Live Web’ (the blogosphere is doubling in size every 5.5 months) this is outpacing the rate of growth of hard disks. So ultimately, Webaroo will be selling smaller and smaller chunks of the Internet (as wi-fi and WiMax become more ubiquitous).

Good luck with this venture Mr. Husick – I have a feeling you are going to need it.

UPDATE: Tom informs me in the comments that this service won’t be sold – rather Webaroo will be giving it away. I would still have an issue with a company which intended to copy my site and make money from ad revenue generated by my content.

Online Ajax Word Processors compared

I have written recently about Web 2.0, and Ajax applications – well another one has appeared today, WriteBoard.

Writeboard is an Ajax driven online Word Processor – similar to Writely – one of the other Ajax applications I mentioned last week.

There are a couple of differences and similarities between Writely and Writeboard which are worth noting – firstly both systems allow for online collaboration – i.e. you invite others via email to contribute to the document, both allow you to subscribe to RSS feeds for the document and both allow for basic text formatting but that’s about all they have in common.

In terms of differences, Writely has a nice WYSIWYG text formatting interface whereas Writeboard requires you to enter codes before and after text to format it (i.e. surround text with “*” to make it bold and “_” for italics!). Writely usefully allows you to associate Tags with your document and to save your documents as a Word Doc. or as a Zip file!

All in all, Writeboard is extremely sparse on functionality and has a lot of catching up to do before it becomes as cool an Ajax application as Writely.

Via Brian Benzinger

Subscribe button

I posted yesterday about an RSS event I am organising and in the comments for that post I mentioned Dave Winer’s suggestion that we should use a “Subscribe” button on our blogs instead of “RSS” or “XML”

FrankP read that comment and decided to run with that suggestion – Frank created a cool little white on orange Subscribe button (see below)
Subscribe button

and I have replaced my XML button with Frank’s new Subscribe button – I advise all bloggers to do the same and in Dave’s words:

It’s the old second-mover thing, the second one has the power to make a standard. So let’s make a standard.

What exactly is Web 2.0

Web 2.0 is a term which is being used more and more these days but what exactly is it? It seems to be kinda like beauty, in that it is “in the eye of the beholder” – i.e. its definition depends on who you ask.

Obviously it refers to some kind of next version of the web but how is it different and how do I access it? Well the good news is, you don’t have to do anything different to access it, in fact, just by reading this you are using it. Blogs are perceived to be part of Web 2.0!

Om Malik wrote yesterday that Web 2.0 is

a collection of technologies – be it VoIP, Digital Media, XML, RSS, Google Maps… whatever …. that leverage the power of always on, high speed connections and treat broadband as a platform, and not just a pipe to connect

This seems to me to be an overly general interpretation.

I prefer the Wikipedia definition:

Web 2.0 is a term often applied to a perceived ongoing transition of the World Wide Web from a collection of websites to a full-fledged computing platform serving web applications, like Gmail, to end users. The proponents of this thinking expect that ultimately Web 2.0 services will replace desktop computing applications for many purposes.

I was reminded of this definition this morning when I read on Slashdot that there is an

AJAX word processor, AJAX spreadsheet, AJAX calendar, AJAX presentation-building software, AJAX e-mail client, AJAX note-taking software and some other interesting applications, which, deployed on your local server, do not need installation and “just work” in a browser window?

Browser based Office applications? I love it! No installation, zero administration, and minimal training? This has to be an IT Manager’s Nirvana!

Web 2.0 whatever you are, I love you!

UPDATE:
I see Tim O’Reilly wrote an interesting article on this topic too.

Start.com

Microsoft’s Start.com is a very pleasant departure – it has a very simple, clean design and, though still in beta, works well in Firefox (though not in Safari)! That in itself is unusual for a Microsoft application.

Start.com is an RSS aggregator (similar to Bloglines) with an AJAX interface so it is fast. Click on the Start link in the top left to see aggregator functionality – you can add feeds, browse the pre-included feeds or import your OPML file to quickly get all your own feeds in.

The site is extremely clean in Firefox on the Mac (see below) because a lot of the modules don’t display (!) but even so, it is just funky enough that I’ll be checking back from time to time to see how it is progressing (and to see if they have added Mac support!).

This is how the Start.com site looks in Firefox on the Mac:
Start.com as seen in Firefox on the Mac

Whereas this is how it looks in Firefox on the PC:
Start.com as seen in Firefox on the PC

Hotmail's 2mb storage

I have a hotmail account (I feel like someone in group therapy –
Tom: “Hi, my name is Tom and …. I have a hotmail account”
All: “Hi Tom!”)

and my Hotmail account’s storage is still only 2mb. I know, I know, Gmail is 2gb – I have a Gmail account too and I think it is the business but I still use the Hotmail account for the odd thing.

I have read in several places that hotmail accounts have variously been upped to 25mb and/or 250mb. I can’t see how to up the limit on my account. Every time I click on the upgrade button in hotmail, it wants me to pay for the privilige (whereas I believe Hotmail should be paying me for the privilige of reading my emails!).

Anyone know how to increase the storage on my Hotmail account (without paying!)?