Firefox 4

I upgraded to Firefox 4 yesterday when prompted, with mild trepidation, but excited about what I’d read of its ability to eliminate the need for things like Flash, using functionality native to HTML 5.

So far so good. I haven’t hated it enough to go back. It does seem to load pages faster, which is always a plus. It’s tough getting used to the interface changes, some of which may not be gratuitous. YMMV. I hate the gratuitous change of menu position for opening in new tab versus new window on the right-click of a link. My surfing is a rapid series of right-click then click on 2nd item in menu. Every time I forget it changed, many times a day, I get a new window and I get annoyed. That may be recognition of open in new tab as the new normal, but it handicapped me for the moment.

There are shortcuts otherwise, like Ctrl + and Ctrl -, or Ctrl and the scroll wheel on the mouse, but I hate my zoom toolbar button add-on being disabled. I never got used to having scroll mice and am as comfortable with the old style. Surfing is a mouse-driven activity and pausing to hit keyboard shortcuts is a discontinuity. Much as it’s a discontinuity to have software in which a lot of typing takes place and most things are done with keyboad commands, then have some vital function that needs to happen regularly and can only be done by stopping to grab the mouse.

I am not sure I see the point of condensing the toolbar or moving the tabs. It confuses me and slows me down every time I want to switch or close tabs, and it feels harder to tall at a glance which tab is active.

I don’t miss there being a status bar, and rather like the tooltip style display of URL at the lower left when hovering over a hyperlink. I’ve been told there are add-ons for changing elements of the UI back to the way they were, so if I have not become comfortable with one or another after a while, I could look into that. I suspect I’ll be fine, though.

No idea how it will run on a slower machine. This one has Vista, 3.2 GHz CPU and 2 GB RAM. We haven’t tried it on the 2.4 GHz XP machine that only has 512 MB RAM and, interestingly enough, gets bogged down beyond belief by Flash. Since it’s possible to revert, we should probably try it.

Computer Show Shock

I went to my first computer show in 1992, almost 19 years ago. I used to go regularly, buying parts to build or fix my own machines, or ones for other people. It was the place to go. It was routinely mobbed.

With my own business, parts vendors, and limited need, I stopped going very often, and haven’t been to one… probably since 2003, come to think of it, maybe 2002. If they weren’t exactly the same then, they were still of interest.

I went to one today, since the local one, formerly one of the largest the show company held, was local. I was mainly curious to see what was new, what prices there were, and how it had changed.

It was sad to see what it has ground down to with time and internet. It took maybe a third the former space. There were as few as half a dozen actual vendors. Most of it was computers, mostly laptops, heavily Dells, at what generally seemed to be great prices for used/refurbished machines. If I’d had the kind of stray money I’ve had now and then, I might have come home with a machine or three. There was one that essentially matched or beat a machine I recently helped people with, similar to one of the two on my desk now, eighty bucks. I feel like I can toss most of the old machines that might have maybe been used by kids, or been parts for same, or for anyone who wanted to play legacy DOS games natively, because I can replace them and better for nothing.

Bottom line: If I decide I need a laptop but don’t care if it’s brand new, I’d go there and know I could get a buy on one. Ditto if I wanted a slightly (or much) older Apple machine, just to have used one and become more familiar.

It took me maybe 15 minutes to walk through and give it a good look. Since I was out of the house, alone – free!!! – I didn’t want simply to buzz home. Heck, I could have gone to a movie, come to think of it. I went to the supermarket I seldom visit because it’s not local. Got enough good buys to be happy.

Not sure what I’d do if I were running the show. Probably keep it going, if there were any money in it. Sounds familiar. It’d depress me, though. Sounds familiar.

First Real Vista Complaint

I have a history of paying retail for versions of Windows that are later considered duds, whether I have issues with them or not. Well, if two in all can be called “a history.” I bought WinMe when it was current, and when I built this machine, I bought Windows Vista Ultimate. The machine with Me had no issues… until it died, no fault of Windows. Hardware.

This machine has also had no real problems. I could see room for improving the OS, but maybe not the excoriation of it that happened. But if that led the what seems to be an amazing outome in Windows 7, all to the good.

Anyway, I have twice recently needed to boot into safe mode.

Both of those times have left me in the Windows Classic appearance. Not that I’d modified things before the first time it happened. After the first time, my six year old daughter art-directed me to her liking. New wallpaper. New colors. Not bad, but wallpaper made seeing the desktop items harder.

It did it again. How hard is it to retain changes to the appearance of Windows? And not merely betweem version upgrades, but between boot variants on the same install!

Also, I have noticed that when you first bring up Personalization, the “window color and appearance” option takes you into an entirely different set of options that it does later, once it saves your initialy changes as a “modified theme.” Then to get back to some if not all of what you’d played with before requires choosing “Themes” instead.

Now I need to go change my changes, since I seem to have made text in BlogDesk harder to read…

More on the Merger Plus Wireless News Generally

Fear the merger? Don’t fear the merger? Mileage varies!

Maybe everybody loses and it’s unthinkable, or maybe the industry overall is so vibrant there’s no need to block it (which we all know has no bearing on whether or not it actually gets blocked).

Perhaps the carriers ought to work on the problem of cell reception worsening, focus on service offering innovations that seem cool, or concentrate on technological solutions to the expense and regulatory hurdles associated with building up capacity with traditional methods in the face of NIMBY. All NIMBY were the suburbanites, and ye cell users outraged…

I still don’t like it, despite seeing some business and regulatory logic to it. It ought to be an interesting next several weeks trying to figure out who will be least evil and most useful as I try to work out my own phone decisions.

Fear the Media Meltdown

Not the nuclear one! Great and detailed sense and information on what is actually happening, what dosages mean, and the media and anti-nuke industry reaction have been. It’s not nothing, but it’s not Chernobyl and can’t be, nor is it Three Mile Island. But then, from what I understood, seemingly refuted by all the references to it, is that Three Mile Island wasn’t even “Three Mile Island.” In the sense of an “OMG we’re all gonna die and let’s no never again build plants” event that, hey look, the media and the anti-nuke industry again, wanted us to believe. Yes, I said “industry,” since any such reasonably organized and financed cadre of people for a cause, non-profit or not, amount to an industry, and will tenaciously cling to and attempt to expand upon their mission. Witness the MADD rush from drunk driving awareness to neo-prohibitionism.

I fear for the nuclear renaissance and the pending explosion (poor choice of word!) of new and vastly improved reactors, leading us away from our excess dependence on wood coal whale oil petroleum.

Cloud Backup Trends

Rob May has a great post at the company blog at Backupify on trends driving cloud backup. It sounds right to me, particularly the parts about data portability, it being managerially smart to prepare for black swans, and users being vastly more the problem than permanent data loss by a cloud provider is likely to be.

It has always irritated me when vendors try to “own” your data. It still happens, but I’d love to think it’s on the wane. In my ill-fated business, one of the key elements and benefits of our not-quite-finished document management software (and associated law firm case management, but the package could be used in other environments, or as a generic/personal doc manager) was that you owned your data and your documents. There was no lock-in. There was an easy ability to locate and access documents directly should the software not be available.

Thus I’ve always loved the data portability angle Rob brought to his startup.