Internet Explorer 9

So Microsoft has finally unleashed Internet Explorer 9 on the world. It comes with a faster JavaScript engine that can actually compete with the likes of Chrome and Firefox 4. It is also the first released browser to have hardware acceleration. Firefox, Chrome and Opera also have browsers with this but they are still either in alpha, beta or release candidate. It also has HTML 5 and CSS 3. Brand new user interface as well that I think will get a lot of complaints from the usual “we don’t like change” people.

Now on to the downsides.

Their video tag will only play .h264 files. Originally the specifications stated that the video tag would use the open source OGG codec but then Apple complained and so any codec could be used. Not that the fact both Apple and Microsoft own parts of the .h264 licences or anything. Now Google has purchased a company that was working on a new codec called WebM and has made it freely available with Firefox already supporting it as well as Chrome. Microsoft say they refuse to support WebM until Google can guarantee there will be no patent claims against WebM in the future. This is typical MS hypocrisy since their own licence for letting you use .h264 clearly states they offer no such guarantee themselves.

No support for the text-shadow CSS despite the fact Internet Explorer has offered text shadow as one of it’s filters since IE5.5.

Flash can be very laggy. My current favourite game, Zuma Blitz, is damn near impossible to play due to it being so jerky. This is possibly down to the hardware acceleration as Firefox 4 also suffers from this.

 

Still I think for most people who only use IE this will be a major breath of fresh air.

Do One Hundred Push ups

We all need goals to aim for and I’ve found a new one for me. To do 100 push ups (press ups to us Brits). I was inspired by the website Hundred Push Ups which breaks it down in to sets. It’s five sets per workout, three work outs a week and it’s set over six weeks. They also have an online log for you to keep track of your progress as well as publish it on Facebook and Twitter if you wish.

They also have Two Hundred Sit Ups, Two Hundred Squats and Fifty Pull Ups if push ups aren’t your thing.

Trillian 5 beta

Cerulean Studios have just made a beta version of Trillian 5 available for the public to download. I have to say that after the ugly mess that was Trillian Astra it’s a relief to see the new clean interface. Because they’ve been doing this for ten years you know that the messenger protocols they use are the latest versions and their code is stable.

They have seriously improved how they handle newfeeds such as Facebook and Twitter now giving them their own tray icons if you wish as well as their own windows. It also has a very small memory footprint and usually uses around 10MB. It’s email handling has also been improved but it still lacks Digsby’s ability to delete emails from Yahoo, Hotmail etc as I only seem able to delete emails sent to my Gmail account.

You can get more information as well as see screenshots and download the beta it’s self from http://www.trillian.im/learn/tour-trillian5.html

The Great Google Chrome Con

Google Chrome is now at version 5 despite being only four years old. Version 6 is in beta. Before I began my rant I just need to explain how the versioning of programs usually works. The first number is the major build number should only change when there have been major changes to the program. The smaller numbers are there to indicate smaller changes such as security and bug fixes. Since it’s release Chrome, as far as I can see, has only had two major changes to it and they are the addition of themes and extensions.

Firefox has been around about eight years and is only at version 3.5. Opera has been around over ten years and is only at version 10.50. With both of these browser they have only changed the major build number when they have made major changes to their browser.

So why is Google increasing Chrome’s build number more often that it has birthdays? Well others believe this is Google’s attempt at making the gullible believe that Chrome is a more mature program than it actually is. The less computer savvy are going to look at it and think, “Oh it’s on version 5 so must have been around a long time”. I tend to agree with their opinion as there is no other reason for Google to be doing this.

Stupid Items For Sale

I just noticed an advert in the adsense I use on my site that is offering 12,000+ ebooks on a DVD for £14.95. So I thought I’d take a look at the site. The image they use to show the DVD you are buying is obviously just a Lightscribe DVD they have burnt the books on to. A quick look at the ebooks they are charging you £14.95 shows that they are all in fact ebooks that are available to download for free anyway from sites such as Project Gutenberg. So apart from about £1 they paid for the blank DVD and then about £0.50 it would cost them to post it that’s about £13 profit in their pocket because of gullible people. A search on Ebay shows me that they are also trying to sell the same DVD on there as well.

If you want free ebooks then check out my previous post which contains links to sites offering both classic and new works for you to download for free.

Free ebooks

I just thought I would share some of the sites I have found for downloading free ebooks. That is fiction ebooks and not reference ebooks as there are hundreds of sites offering reference ebooks as PDF files. With a few of the sites below they are just hosting ebook versions of classic books that are now out of copyright. Most sites just use the books from Project Gutenberg and reformat them for better reading. Quite a few of them give you a choice of what format you want to download the ebook in be it PDF, epub or just plain old txt. If you are looking for more original and modern stories to read then I recommend the first two links, Online Novels and Feedbooks.

Online Novels – Just discovered this excellent source of free ebooks novels.
Feedbooks – Not only does this site have the classics it’s also a good place to find new and original works.
getfreeebooks – Haven’t tried this site yet but looks promising.
ManyBooks – not looked at this site much but seems to have a good mix of classics and modern works.
Project Gutenberg – The main source of classics and they have their own proof readers. Poor formatting in their ebooks though.
epubBooks – Classics from Gutenberg but formatted for better reading and all in the epub format.

MobileRead also has a forum dedicated to free ebooks.

If you are lucky your local library might support the lending of ebooks using Overdrive. Have a look at http://search.overdrive.com/ to see if your local library is part of it.

Anyway if you know of any good sites for free ebooks from new authors then please share them.

IE9 Preview

IE9 Preview

IE9 Preview

Microsoft has released a preview version of Internet Explorer 9. It shows it’s CSS 3 support as well as it’s much improved JavaScript engine called Chakra. It also has support for some HTML 5. Certainly a big change from IE8. It is only a basic browser with no navigation menu and you have to use Ctrl + O to open a URL or file. You can read more about it on the MSDN IE blog or download it from here.

Microsoft has made it’s own range of tests that you can run and they can be found at the IE9 test drive site. It’s good to see how your current browser handles these tests as well.

Ebook Pricing

Thanks to a couple I am friends with I now have a Sony PRS-600 ebook reader. Brilliant as my book shelves are full. Anyway I thought I would buy some books to go on it from some of my favourite authors. My first port of call was Waterstones where I did a quick search for Neal Asher. For the hardback copy of his book Orbus they are charging £16.19 (apparently saving me £1.80). For the ebook version which requires no manufacturing, incurs no transportation costs and they only need to keep a single copy of on the server they want £14.39 and WHSmith’s want £12.59 for the ebook version. How the hell can they justify this? Another of Neal Asher’s book, Brass Man, goes for £7.99 for the paperback and they want £6.39 for the ebook version but apparently it’s only that price because it’s in the sale :? The same ebook on WHSmith’s is £5.59.

More Addictive Than Tetris?

I read an article in the Guardian’s technology section about a game for the iPhone called Drop7. Now I don’t own an iPhone (nor do I want to) but the reporter said it is one of the most addictive games he has played since Tetris. I managed to find the original version that the Drop7 game is based upon and it is addictive.

It’s a little hard to explain. Basically you have to drop balls from the top of the screen to the bottom to make rows and columns. The idea is to drop that ball into a row or on to a column so that you get a straight line (not diagonal) that is made from the number of balls on at least one of the balls in that row/column. So say you have three balls side by side with the number 3, 7 and 4. If you were to then drop another ball next to them it would make it four balls in a row which would make the 4 ball disappear and get you points. If the ball you dropped was also a four then both 4 balls would disappear. Occasionally you also get rocks that drop with no number but these are removed by cracking them open. You achieve this by making them part of a row of balls that is included in the number of balls to make a ball disappear.

Like I said hard to explain but damn easy to play and even easier to understand once you are playing.

http://chainfactor.com/

Spyware Block Lists

For years now I have used both SpywareBlaster and SpyBot to immunise my web browsers against malware. They both do this by adding a list of known malware sites to the blocked list of your web browser and, in the case of Spybot, also adding them to the hosts file. They also help to stop tracking cookies which are used to log what type of websites you visited.

Anyway I was updating them both today and I got to thinking, "How often do they check that the sites in their block lists are still active?" At present SpyBot is saying it has immunised me against 130712 sites and SpywareBlaster says 13138 sites. So I decided to test a random selection of 20 sites they have blocked. Out of the 20 all the domains had now expired and pointed to nothing (resulting in a oops message in the browser) or they were now a domain landing page. That’s one of these stupid pages you sometimes end up on when you mistype a web address which has a list of links loosely based upon the domain name.

I know both of these programs are free but would it be to hard for them to write a program that checks their list every so often to remove dead domains? The reason I say this is because Internet Explorers block list is stored in the registry and this can slow down your computers boot up time. Also the more sites are blocked the slower your web browser may become. SO come on programmers. Just write a program that runs through your list once a month and see if they are still active or not.

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