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HTMLfixIT Archive for February, 2005

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2005 by Don

Franki earlier reported on the re-emergence of pop-under advertisements as a method of circumventing pop-up blockers built into Safari and Firefox browsers. I wanted to dig further to see if they were really back. The answer is clearly yes, as shown in this screen shot. As you can see by the next screen shot, this pop-under with the address comes from a referring page at This confirms the information at MacFixIt that howstuffworks is using them.


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Monday, February 21st, 2005 by Franki

Australia has deplorable broadband pricing and speed, and mostly it is because of our incumbent telecom Telstra. Since the vast majority of ISP’s in Australia are in fact Telstra wholesale resellers, Telstra have had no real incentive to improve their offerings and price. Recently they significantly dropped their retail ADSL pricing and introduced a $29.95 (AUD) 256/64 ADSL plan. unfortunately they didn’t reduce their wholesale price to match. The result was that reseller ISP’s had great difficulties even competing with Telstra’s retail arm. The ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) were called in and issued Telstra with a “competition notice” that had the power to fine Telstra 10 Million dollars for each breach, and another one million for every day the breaches continued. Instead Telstra is rebating $6.5 million to affected wholesale ISP’s, something which in many minds is just a minor slap on the wrist.

In Australia, we are totally amazed at how cheap and fast broadband is in the US. We are on the broadband equivalent of dial-up over here, and paying a great deal of money for the privilege. This will not change as long as Telstra is the only real player on the scene. Fortunately both Optus and Iinet are rolling out their own ADSL2 equipment into Telstra’s exchanges and will soon be able to offer speeds that Telstra cannot compete with. (Telstra’s equipment is all ADSL1 standard). The privatising of Telstra over here has been a real problem as the more private they get, the more they serve their shareholders and the less they seem to serve their customers best interests.
Read more here and here.

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Monday, February 21st, 2005 by Franki

Last November a Microsoft employee issued a patent application on a function called “IsNot” the purpose of which is to check if two variables point to the same memory location. (In other words, they test if the two variables are in fact different names for the same variable). Every programming language has used such checks in the past and it is an extremely obvious function and should not therefore be granted as a “unique” innovation. However they are going to try anyway apparently.

Real Software have a product they call RealBasic that allows programmers to easily create programs that will work on Windows, Mac and Linux from the same code base, and Real are said to be worried that Microsoft is going to use it’s IsNot patent (assuming it is granted) to try and litigate RealBasic out of existence. As Richard Tallent, a software developer and project scientist at ERM Group Inc said:

The only reason a company would want to lay claim to such a patent would be to sue anybody who tries to implement that idea.

Patents are supposed to allow true innovators the opportunity to take advantage of their invention, not as a tool to allow big companies to block competitors from following obvious trends. This is why it is so important that the EU not fall into the software patent trap that the US is currently buried in. Microsoft has revealed no intention of having their Visual Studio tools updated to create Linux programs, and RealBasic already does this. You can see why Microsoft might be worried that programmers might like the idea of write once for all platforms rather then Microsoft’s apparent “Write once just for Windows and forget any other operating systems” ideology.
Read more at Eweek.

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Monday, February 21st, 2005 by Franki

All modern browsers like Firefox, IE6 (SP2), Safari and Opera have integrated pop-up blockers now, so pop-up advertising isn’t making much money any more. So the folks that come up with all the annoying and invasive advertising methods online have figured out how to get pop-under ads working again. (A pop-under is the same as a pop-up except that the new window appears under the main window instead of over it.). Expect to see updates for the various browsers to block these new annoyances sometime soon. Read more at TheInq.

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Sunday, February 20th, 2005 by Don

This article at Security Focus discusses Microsoft’s recent disclosure that it will provide some anti-spyware software for free. Of course only to those people with registered copies of Microsoft operating system software. The irony is that if the software were appropriately coded, then the need for the anti-spyware software would be non-existant. The article quotes both Mcafee and Symantec executives on their takes about Microsoft plans. Of course their concern is that their company profits may be softened. Ironically, very good free tools are already available. Not to mention for those smart enough to use Mozilla products, most of the risks are diminished, those using Linux or Mac OS’es have significantly fewer problems. Isn’t it interesting when they try to look good for fixing something they essentially broke?

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Sunday, February 20th, 2005 by Franki

For those of you contemplating your own BLOG (weB LOG), but unsure which of the available BLOGs is for you, perhaps this page can help you make an informed decision. Right on the end of the list, is WordPress (our favourite), and although they are a version behind on the list, it still covers most of the features well.

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Sunday, February 20th, 2005 by Franki

This article at Cnet was recently brought to my attention, and after having a read, I decided that it was worth covering the importance of properly researching a topic before writing about it. In this Cnet story, they claim Firefox’s run is over now that IE7 is to be released, and she makes some comments that are simply untrue and indicate a lack of research by the author. For example, she asks the question: “Why is there no way to check for updates from within the browser?” (Firefox). A quick look in the options menu of Firefox shows that it has a full update system with “Check Now” button, which is capable of updating not only the browser itself, but 3rd party themes and extensions as well. She also claims that it’s a pain that Firefox doesn’t support a great number of pages written for Internet Explorer, and she says that if IE7 is at least 50% as secure as the current version, the Firefox revolution is over, but what she doesn’t mention, is that Service pack 2 for XP supposedly made IE6 more then 50% more secure then pre SP2 versions, and Service Pack 2 didn’t really dent Firefox uptake at all. Apparently calling it IE7 will make all the difference? In truth, the only places I have seen that have any trouble with Firefox, is some corporate intranets, and the occasional online bank, and those are becoming fewer all the time. She also failes to mention that both SP2 and IE7 are for Windows XP users only, so all those millions of people using 98/ME/2000 will have to use Firefox to get a comparable experiance. So the real cost of IE7 for those people, is the price of a copy of XP, which is usually at least a couple of hundred dollars. Or they can just download Firefox for free, tough choice right?
To me the Cnet article smells like a story designed to incite anger from Firefox supporters, perhaps to drive traffic to the site. Either way it doesn’t matter, my point here, is that by publishing articles that anyone can poke factual holes in, you have really achieved nothing except to hurt your own creditability. In many minds, Cnet is already considered a shill of Microsoft’s, this article does nothing to dispel that theory.

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