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HTMLfixIT Archive for May, 2005




Tuesday, May 31st, 2005 by Franki

AMD has announced the release of their X2 dual core Athlon64 CPU’s. If the early reports are any indication, they significantly outperform the equivalent Intel CPU’s. Even better, motherboards designed for 90nm CPU’s can handle the new CPU’s meaning you may not need to change your motherboard to adopt one of these new babies. For people that don’t multi-task much, you won’t notice that much difference after the change. If however, you are a multi-tasker (and let’s face it, who of us isn’t) you will notice a significant improvement in multi-tasking performance and hopefully you’ll see much less of the dreaded hour glass telling you to wait while the CPU catches up with you. Don’t rush out and grab one yet though, Intel has currently undercut the pricing of the X2 CPU’s meaning that we can expect rapid price cuts from AMD shortly. Right now though, it appears that AMD holds the cards for both Performance and power consumption.

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Tuesday, May 31st, 2005 by Don

The American Board of Surgery gives a written test to surgeons seeking to be board certified in their specialty. They give an all day test in written form. A recent taker reviewed his test and made a list of the questions and answers to over 100 of the questions. He then sold them on eBay.

Now, getting the skinny on tests is nothing new. I found out my junior year in college that most fraternities and sororities at a school I attended kept exam files by professor. What a huge advantage. I was a bit bothered to learn this as I felt it was unfair to those not associated with the organizations who didn’t have access. By the time I was in graduate school, the institution I attended actually made prior tests available in the library so all could have a chance to review them. What makes this situation different is that the gentleman decided to profit from the questions and answers. He sold a few sets on eBay, and now faces over $35,000 in penalties and decertification as a surgeon because of ethics issues.

Is it wrong to have a group of people who took a test mentally make “notes” and then record their information so others can benefit from it? Is it the fact that this guy wrote down the answers? If something is important one year, it will be important the next year. Is the quest for these guys to know the answers to these questions … giving out the answers certainly does that. Or was the goal to make the takers life miserable, that can only be achieved if they have to struggle their way through it.

If having the examinees know the answers (ie the knowledge of the exam topics) is actually the goal, maybe the organization itself should release the questions and answers to the 5000 most likely questions.

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Tuesday, May 31st, 2005 by Franki

This article comes to you direct from Israel and is about the use of spyware being used by big companies to track their competitors. Loads of executives from big companies like Volvo Israel and Cellcom have been arrested or are under investigation for corporate espionage. Is this a sign of the future? Read the article and decide for yourself. The article goes into detail that sounds like stuff that a Tin foil hat wearing conspiracy theorist would come up with. That doesn’t mean it’s not possible though.

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Monday, May 30th, 2005 by Franki

According to Opera, most US adult users are not aware that their web browser choice affects their security. They base this conclusion on a survey of 2,835 US users. They found that only 51% of adult users were aware that their choice of web browser can affect their security online. Not surprising really, I’d imagine that those 51% are happily using the Internet Explorer that came with Windows and probably are not even aware that there are less targeted and more secure browsers available. I’d likewise expect that if that same survey was performed in Europe the clueless figure would be much lower as alternative browsers are much more popular over there. It would have been interesting to see a test for Spyware and Viruses on those user’s computers as well, though from my own experience with clients I can already guess the result, having seen it hundreds of times myself.

Believe it or not, I didn’t arrive at my Firefox recommendation lightly. I was a long time Internet Explorer user (version 3 up till about version 5.5) when on Windows and I had a hard time changing to Firefox myself. After about 2 months of forcing myself to use it, I realised that I couldn’t live without some of Firefox’s features any more. (Like tabbed browsing for one example.) The reason I’ve installed it on all my clients machine wasn’t out of any sort of zealotry, but rather because I was sick of fixing the same PC Virus and Spyware infestations month after month after month. It pays well but it’s incredibly tedious work and it made me feel like I was ripping off my clients. Not only that but when my client’s computers are constantly running slowly or unstably, (as they often do when infested with Spyware and/or Viruses) it makes me and my services look bad. I went looking for a free solution (free because I was replacing a program they got with Windows, which to them means it was a freebie) to recommend to them and found Firefox (back when it was an early beta release) I installed it, learned its ins and outs and slowly fell in love with it. That wasn’t the final test though, I did regular Spyware and Virus and stability tests on the half a dozen PC’s that I use for testing things I plan to recommend to clients and discovered an amazing thing. When Firefox was used as the only browser, the Spyware found dropped dramatically. Most of the time no spyware was found at all. Considering the number of IE only PC’s I’ve found with literally hundreds of spyware items installed, dropping to zero or near zero was pretty amazing to me at the time. People can defend IE all they like, as far as I am concerned, the results speak for themselves. When my clients are using Firefox I don’t have to deal with Spyware. Simple as that. They are happier, and that makes me look good, Case closed.

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Monday, May 30th, 2005 by Franki

Recent news indicates that Microsoft has planned to change their directory naming structure in future versions in Windows. Specifically they are planning to remove the “my” from such names as “My Computer”, “My Documents”, “My Pictures”, “My Videos”, “My Games” and so on. The reason for this change is to bring Windows in line with Microsoft’s EULA (End User License Agreement) and the DRM (Digital Rights Management) that will be part of newer versions of Windows. Basically you don’t fully own your files, games, videos or Windows so Microsoft has pre-empted possible future criticism of their naming scheme by removing the “My” from the above mentioned names.

The new folder naming conventions will indicate their new ownership, and “My Computer” will become “This Computer” and can be taken to mean Microsoft’s computer. Likewise “Documents” can be taken to mean “Microsoft Documents” due to their proprietary formats, in the case of Music and Videos, they can be taken to mean ownership by RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) and Hollywood respectively. This bring things in line with Microsoft’s thought that ownership won’t be as important as usage in the future. “Too many people apparently got the mistaken idea that they owned the stuff stored in those folders simply because of the folder names. We had to do something to change that misconception without making too much of a public fuss about it.” said a possibly existing Microsoft employee.

For any Microsoft lawyers reading (you know who you are) here is a written explanation of the purpose of this post.

This post might be humour, (or it might not, who knows) but the name changes are apparently fact. See for yourself.

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Monday, May 30th, 2005 by Franki

After watching the string of new releases by Google, Yahoo and MSN over the past months, I can’t help but feel that more money and time is being spent on flashy new eye-candy services like Google and MSN’s satellite services then on improving core search functionality. I do about 1-200 Google searches every day, but other then the one time I looked up the White house on Google’s satellite service out of curiosity I’ve never been back. Ditto with Yahoo’s myYahoo service, I tried it once out of curiosity and didn’t go back. All these efforts seem to be designed to create a more sticky portal for newbies, but the simple point of the matter is that at the base of it all, people will stick with the “portal” that also returns the best search results. Google search is popular not because it is has lots of eye-candy, but rather because it returns the best results in the fastest times and doesn’t clutter up their results with lots of spurious results and eye-candy. Google News is popular because it does exactly what you’d expect it to do and nothing more. It sweeps the Internet looking for the latest news and categorizes it nicely for us, again without loading up on unnecessary eye-candy . It is to be expected that this would happen when Microsoft jumped into search, they are after all the kings of eye-candy but I had hoped Google wouldn’t be tricked into moving away from the very reason why they are the search leaders in the first place. Were I in Google’s place, I’d be busy turning Google desktop search into a killer application and porting it to work on Linux and Macintosh desktops, they are competing against Microsoft now, and Microsoft plans to extensively embed their search technology into the next version of Windows. That means Google has only a certain time period to get their desktop search into the hearts and minds of the public. Porting to Mac and Linux is important because they are growing markets that Microsoft isn’t likely to touch and any advantage is a good thing in this competition.
Don’t get me wrong, Google maps is a very impressive piece of DHTML, but there are already multiple online map services available all around the world and Microsoft have much more money available to them to be used in marketing and the creation of online eye-candy.
Google should concentrate on their key points of superiority, they have the best general search engine, the best online news aggregator, the best webmail service and a huge base of loyal users. They could learn allot from the Mozilla foundation who use their loyal and vocal users to shout from the rooftops to great effect. Press releases are not as affective a marketing technique as being told by your friends about an awesome new application. Something Microsoft themselves are learning to their chagrin while trying to halt the Firefox migration. Google should capitalize on that by creating a portal for Google users to “spread the word” and to suggest new directions and functions that Google should look into. After all, it is those very users that have made Google what it is today. Most importantly Google should be very careful with their image. The “Do no harm” mantra in their company prospectus is of great importance to them as straying from it would seriously affect their loyal user base. Microsoft has not got a great public image any more because they have proven that at the end of the day their will go where the money is and that means they support big business more then home users. (An example would be the Digital Rights Management being slowly embedded into Windows so that record and movie companies will have more say over your actions then you do in the future.) Google needs to balance their clean image with their corporate requirements so as not to drive a wedge between themselves and their best marketers.

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Monday, May 30th, 2005 by Franki

According to the latest update to w3schools browser statistics, Firefox has climbed to 25% of the browser market and Internet Explorer 5/6 has dropped to 64.8%. W3schools is a very popular site with web developers and has shown Firefox increasing and Internet Explorer decreasing since before Firefox hit version 1.0 (although they classed it as just Mozilla back then). If you add the full Mozilla suite’s market share to that of Firefox, then the Mozilla browsers are just under 30% market share now. We’ve been following W3schools statistics for some time now and the Firefox trend has been continuing at a more or less stable rate since before Firefox was added to their statistics.

Not a bad effort considering that in January last year IE accounted for 84.1% of the browsers. The amazing thing about Firefox’s market share isn’t just that it keeps on growing, it is that it is still growing despite competing against a web browser that comes included with Windows. People don’t have to “get” Internet Explorer, it is the default browser for Windows. To use Firefox, they have to get, install and most importantly use it, and the fact that so many are doing so is nothing short of amazing. It is one thing to hear that 60 million people have downloaded Firefox, it sounds impressive and looks good in news articles, but it’s quite another to see popular sites the world over reporting that Firefox is actually being used by a large number of those people. The Mozilla organization is non-profit, they give their products away for free and they don’t have an advertising budget as such and any efforts in that regard are based on user donations and word of mouth. To compete against a company that spends as much on Marketing as Microsoft is quite an achievement also.

Sites like W3schools (and HTMLfixIT as well for that matter) are tech sites, meaning most of their visitors are interested in or work for the tech industry in some capacity. Internet Explorer has much higher market share overall, but the tech users are good early warning indicators for what the rest of the users will be doing in a year so so. HTMLfixIT’s own statistics (which you can see in the box to the right of this article.) are showing even higher Firefox usage (nearly 40%) and past experience has shown that our statistics are at least a year ahead of the non tech users trend wise. It is good to know that ordinary people can still make a difference on the Internet.

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HTMLfixIT Site Stats.

Browser Statistics
Internet Explorer 85.88%
IE 717.63%
IE 62.3%
IE 50.00%
IE other8.6%
Moz Firefox 3.x3.03%
Moz Firefox 2.x0.18%
Moz Firefox 0.x/1.x26.65%
Netscape 8.x0.00%
NS 6+/Mozilla2.73%
Moz Seamonkey0.00%
K-meleon0.00%
Epiphany0.00%
Netscape 4.x0.00%
Opera 9.x0.00%
Opera 8.x0.00%
Opera 7.x0.42%
Opera 6.x0.00%
Opera other0.42%
Safari Mac/Intel5.21%
Safari Mac/PPC0.06%
Safari Windows25.2%
Google Chrome1.51%
Konqueror0.18%
Galeon0.00%
WebTV0.00%


Resolution Statistics
640 x 4800.25%
800 x 60026.14%
1024 x 76836.55%
1152 x 8640.25%
1280 x 80011.68%
1280 x 8540.00%
1280 x 102417.01%
1400 x 10500.00%
1600 x 12001.02%
1920 x 12007.11%
2560 x 10240.00%


OS Statistics
Windows 741.55%
Windows Vista2.4%
Windows 20033.91%
Windows XP20.86%
Windows 20000.36%
Windows NT40.05%
Windows 98/ME0.05%
Windows 950.00%
Linux/UNIX/BSD8.76%
Mac OSX8.03%
Mac Classic0.00%
Misc14.03%



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