Firefox, Safari and Chrome: Battle of the Betas

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Consumers benefit from competition, and as the Browser Wars 2 heat up, Internet users have a lot of choice for web browser. 

As Apple and Google work to nibble at Firefox’s share of the browser space, all three vendors have a beta version available for users to try out.

If you use one of these browsers, you may be tempted to download and install the beta version. Running beta software can be fun, especially if you enjoy being one of the first to try out new features. Maybe there is one special feature you’ve read about that is begin added that you can’t wait to use. Or if your current version is crashing, you may be hopeful that installing the newer version, even if it is a beta, will make your Internet experience more reliable. Or you may be hoping to get faster performance out of the beta, since all three of these browsers are touting faster Javascript performance. 

The downside to installing beta software is that beta means it isn’t finished yet. This usually means the software hasn’t been completely tested, is at least somewhat unstable, and prone to crashing. If the software was ready for prime time, it wouldn’t have the beta designation.

I saw on Twitter this week where someone I was following was having crashing problems after upgrading to the 3.5 beta version of Firefox. My response, “Beta? Betta not, at least not on the computer you rely on to get things done.” And I’ve said this for years.

Maybe I’m getting old and cantankerous, but I’ve gotten to the point where I just want my computer to work and do the things I want it to do. I’ve suffered through enough buggy software and operating systems that I’m willing to wait until the developers iron out the problems and release a stable product. I’ve had enough with problems, I’m not signing on for more.

So if you’re going to install a beta version, have fun with it. But don’t complain about crashing — that is par for the course with beta.

That said, I dare you:

Note: Internet Explorer  8 was just released, so no beta for 9 yet. And I wish I could get excited about Opera, but the bug never caught.

The Simple Joy of Website Updates

Polish your business image while saving time and money with a Content Management System.

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I wish I could tell you just how many times we have heard the same story over and over. Talking to someone about the Internet and what we do here at Graphics and Motion, Inc., we hear a common complaint.

“Our company site is so outdated, we don’t show it to anyone anymore,” they say, “it hasn’t been updated in months. We hired a freelancer who set up the site, but now they don’t answer our calls or e-mails anymore. We can’t get our site updated.”

Sometimes, it isn’t a freelancer, but the owner’s nephew or an employee’s mother. Sometimes it is an advertising agency or another Web development company who stopped responding to their client once the site launched.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could update your company website as easily as you check your bank account online or edit a Microsoft Word document on your computer? And without having to rely on an outside vendor who charges a high hourly rate…

The truth is, to make small changes, like a name or title, or to rewrite a paragraph of information or post a new photo, there is no reason you should have to wait on someone else to take care of these minor updates. The solution is known as a content management system (or CMS).

At Graphics and Motion, Inc., we no longer build static HTML websites. For several years, every site we have built has been on top of a content management system that puts the power of site maintenance in the hands of our clients. As part of our design and development process, we assess our client’s needs and recommend one of several content management systems to meet those needs.

Our clients have the ability to log into an administrator section of their site to:

  • edit text content as desired
  • upload images to add or remove photos or graphics on pages
  • upload and link to downloadable files such as PDF documents
  • add new pages as their needs expand (or delete pages as necessary)
  • add new menu items to the site navigation system

Actually, nearly any edit you might want to make to update your website could be accomplished with an administrator login, your favorite Web browser, and an Internet connection. Training to use a CMS normally takes between one and two hours of your time, so you can get up and running relatively quickly.

If your business website is out of date, we can help. Contact us about converting your site to a Content Management System that would allow you and your staff to manage your website faster, easier and cheaper than ever. Let us show you how updating your website can be a simple joy for a change.

Originally published in the Graphics and Motion, Inc., April 2009 e-mail newsletter.

Block Flash in Your Browser

FlashBlock for Firefox in action - this banner ad was blocked until I clicked the logo in the center.

This banner ad was blocked until I clicked the logo in the center.

As a web designer, I have a love/hate relationship with Adobe Flash. Flash can be a great interface for displaying interactive information. But Flash is also a security vulnerability, and Flash is a common format for banner ads.

My main beef with Flash as a user has to do with the banner ads. Flash banners are almost never served off the same server as the website they appear on. Instead, Flash banners are served by ad network servers that can dramatically slow the performance of the page you’re viewing. 

Now, there is a plugin that gives you the power.

If you’re using Firefox, you can install FlashBlock, and on Safari you can install ClicktoFlash. Internet Explorer users can install Toggle Flash. Google Chrome users may have to wait a while for Google to implement plugins, though there are kludges for installing FlashBlock for the technically minded.

In both cases, the web pages you view will not load the Flash elements by default, instead displaying a button you can click to deliberately load the Flash element you want to see. By blocking the default loading of Flash elements, you minimize your security risk through the Flash plugin and should see an increase in page loading times.

To Blog or Not To Blog Daily

As part of getting this website and blog up and running again, I installed Twitter Tools, a plugin that lets my recent tweets appear in the right hand column, which is very cool and ubiquitous in the blogging world these days.

Twitter Tools also has a little function that will create a daily and/or weekly digest of your tweets which it posts automatically. This, too, is very cool. I had seen the results on other blogs and liked seeing the posts slipstreamed with other posts.

However, I don’t blog daily. And because I don’t blog daily, having a page of automated Twitter digests on my home isn’t very attractive. So I need to make a decision: begin blogging daily, or turn off the daily digest.

I may make a run at blogging daily. But until then, I’m going to turn off the daily tweet digest.

If you MUST see what I’m tweeting about, you can get the same information a couple of other places:

St. Jude Classic Banner Ad

Here is a quick little Flash banner ad I created this week for the St. Jude Classic golf tournament website.

Twitter Updates for 2009-04-23

  • Slinging HTML, updating client websites, building #joomla templates, setting up e-mail campaigns, woo hoo! #
  • Congrats to Apple Computer on 1 billionth iPhone application download — I’m responsible for only approximately 64 of those downloads. #