Categories
In Brief

Epic Mosaic Netscape Maneuver

It’s hard enough browsing the Web with Netscape 4.0 these days, but it’s downright impossible with Mosaic Netscape 0.9b. You have to see it to believe it.

Categories
Best Of Observations

Web design thoughts

I completed a dump of my old jwswebenterprises.com domain to my drive today in preparation for some serious archival (and dumping a hosting account that’s burning a $100 hole in my pocket every year that I don’t really use anymore). jwswebenterprises.com was where I did a lot of my work in my senior year of high school. While I certainly have come a long way in terms of design, I still think that some of the graphical pieces I did for my sites (mainly The Realm, my former personal site) were some of the most artistically aggressive work that I have ever done, especially as it relates to the typography I employed.

Putting aside the fact that it fully embraced the Internet Explorer monopoly and incorporated so many IE extensions that it made Mozilla 1.0 vomit when it was released in mid-2002, the fourth incarnation of my old Realm site is still my favorite — yes, of all time — in terms of sheer expression. It utilized a rich palette of deep blues, striking greens, and vivid oranges. The typography ran the gamut from futuristic lettering in OCR A Extended, to a grungy typewriter font in Batik (Harting) Regular, to dabbling in the classy with Vladimir Script. All three come into play in this rare graphic displayed in the early going of February 2002, when the news script was operating but the rest of the site was still being put together:

Realm 4 Transition Phase

The juxtaposition of the fonts was just out there and worked really, really well — it wasn’t something I would have expected myself to do. These themes were weaved in throughout the entire design and just lent a class to it — a pity I never finished the content of that site before moving onto another design.

As I’ve gotten older and allegedly grown up, I definitely have become more conservative with my design. My work is definitely more calculated; much more matters now on the Internet than it did then, when there was only one viable browser and platform, and search engine optimization was sticking “content” and “description” META tags in the top of all the pages. CSS for layout was an ideal that was seemingly impossible, and Netscape 4.7 would probably crash if you used CSS in your page anyway.

My, how times have changed.

Phantom of the Opera (Web Browser)

…and no, I’m not joking, either. The Opera browser is an amazing piece of software; it’s achieved what Mozilla could only dream of — true portability. While Gecko was notable in that it would render largely the same on Mac, Linux, or Windows, Opera takes it a step further and ensures compatibility over a wide variety of devices, including phones, other embedded products, and even the Nintendo Wii. If you visit jaredwsmith.com on a Wii, you’ll see that everything — including the dropdown menus — renders with complete fidelity. This is amazing to me; devices other than Windows PCs used to be a pain to develop for.

It’s not only the portability of Opera that makes it stand out — it’s also the fact that it does not suffer from the performance problems that absolutely dog Firefox in the latest releases. Firefox constantly likes to get on this kick of consuming 100% CPU every five seconds, stalling my typing and general progress in the application. I don’t have many extensions installed, either, so that makes it difficult. Opera just seems snappier, too, and it gives detail about page activity that no browser has given since the days of oldschool Netscape.

It has its downsides — there are far too many Web developers who ignore its presence, so some portions of the Web (particularly those that are not standards-compliant) appear funky. Luckily, though, people have finally embraced the W3C’s standard versus Microsoft’s standard, so this problem is alleviating itself. Opera’s UI also needs some toning down (though that’s easy by switching to the native OS theme).

It’s a great browser. I’d recommend giving it a shot.

The New AT&T: Team Hollywood, Internet Police

News is traveling quickly of AT&T’s intent to filter copyrighted content on portions of the Internet it controls. It’s been repeated a million times before, but briefly: The New AT&T wants to transform itself into a content provider, serving up Internet TV. Obviously, people trading copyrighted television shows for free over the Internet(s) is a direct contradiction to that business model. Conveniently for The New AT&T, they also have a stranglehold on much of the Internet backbone in the United States. Thus, they’re going to use that capacity and attempt to start filtering out content that doesn’t pass muster as legit.

In other words, The New AT&T is sacrificing itself as a neutral network provider — really, how could they be expected to provide neutral network services and be a content provider at the same time? Where would the incentive be, besides drawing the ire of regulators, to permit competitors on their network? When I say competitors, think YouTube — Alex Curtis believes they could be the first target of a joint Hollywood/AT&T hit. I’m only scratching the surface, too — there is much more to this than just the business angle. What about consumer privacy? (It’s bad enough that they forward traffic to the NSA.) Does AT&T, and only AT&T, reserve the right to regulate what is and isn’t acceptable on the public Internet? The answers to these questions will have a lasting effect on the Internet as we know it.

One thing is for certain: The New AT&T sure seems to be just as sinister as the old one. I hope the regulators get on the horn to AT&T and find out what the deal is, because so far to me this flies in the face of the provisions that were set when AT&T acquired SBC and later BellSouth. I guess they just haven’t learned their lesson from the first time they were broken up…

New Charleston.net

Looks like Charleston.net finally launched its Ellington redesign, and it is gorgeous. Many congratulations to the Charleston.net team — it looks fantastic.

Major props to them for using Weather Underground to power their weather apparatus, as my weather station is first on the list of personal weather stations if you scroll down. :) Too bad it doesn’t do the automatic updating like the main Wunderground page does, but hey…

Also, does anyone know what happened to Lowcountry Blogroll? Looks like it just disappeared overnight.

New site for phpBB modifications launched

Congratulations to Patrick — his latest site, phpBB3M0ds.com, has launched. Think of it as phpBBHacks.com with its expertise trained exclusively with the new phpBB 3 bulletin board system, which is expected to enter release candidate phase pretty much at any moment. Here’s his announcement of the new site.

Categories
Technology

Happy Birthday, World Wide Web

Slashdot reminds us that today marks the 16th birthday of the World Wide Web. I don’t think Tim Berners-Lee had any clue as to the monster he was creating when he put together the first Web servers. :)

Can any of you out there imagine your lives without the Web now? I know I certainly can’t — it’s been a central focus of my life since I was 13. Sometimes I ask myself what I would have ended up doing if it weren’t for the Web, and I’m honestly not sure. It’s a pretty amazing thing, no doubt about it.

Categories
Technology

The USA doesn’t monopolize insanity, either…

I saw this on Slashdot yesterday and was reminded of it by Brian Muller:

THE Government is seeking to prevent an EU directive that could extend broadcasting regulations to the internet, hitting popular video-sharing websites such as YouTube.

The European Commission proposal would require websites and mobile phone services that feature video images to conform to standards laid down in Brussels.

Ministers fear that the directive would hit not only successful sites such as YouTube but also amateur “video bloggers” who post material on their own sites. Personal websites would have to be licensed as a “television-like service”.

The Slashdot discussion brings up an important point: Broadcast licenses are to protect people from frequency interference — not so that arbitrary guidelines regulating decency can be laid down. Enforcing something like this would be next to impossible, anyway…so why bother wasting the legislative breath to try to enact it?

I can’t sleep…

…so I was checking out the hullabaloo over AOL’s announcement that their service has become free to broadband users. It’s kinda wild that they’re doing this, but not totally unexpected — their Internet access business is dragging them through the floor. It’s a smart move as Internet advertising is seeing a robust resurgence as a market force.

I have half a mind to set up a Windows XP virtual machine and install the AOL software on it to play around a bit. I never had full AOL as a kid (unlike a vast majority of my peers) so this might be a neat opportunity to go back and see what I missed (which, admittedly, probably is not much anymore, as most of the content is duplicated on the Internet). That, and I know virtually no one with full AOL now. It may be worth grabbing if only for the possibility of editing the “You’ve Got Mail.wav” and other fun files. LOL.

A rough month for DreamHost!

DreamHost, the hosting provider for JaredWSmith.com and about 95% of the other Web things I operate, has had a rough July thanks to the brownouts and such in Los Angeles. Their extremely detailed blog entry shows that they are sincerely working hard to try to mitigate any future disasters, and gives some insight into just how tough it is to run a massive hosting operation such as Dreamhost. It’s a great read, highly recommended.