Wednesday, 25 February 2009

The demise of OmniWeb

And hot on the heels of Safari 4 beta comes the news that OmniWeb will now be free, as The Omni Group admit that it is no longer under active development. Those of us who have been using OmniWeb for years and hoping for a radical update have suspected this for some time, and it's good to finally have it out in the open. Still, it's a great shame: OmniWeb was, and probably still is, my favourite browser; feature rich like Opera but streamlined in a way that the latter could hardly dream of being. But the recent development made it feel more than a little sluggish; I switched back to using Safari (Webkit, really) as my main browser some time ago, seduced by the speed and standards compliance.

I can't help thinking that maybe it would have been better if OmniWeb had just been retired completely, like Panic did with Audion.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Some thoughts on Safari 4 beta

The hot issue in the Apple world is today's release of Safari 4 beta. And a cracker it is too. Fast, stylish, and standards compliant—I ran it through the Acid 3 test a few times, and it clocked in at somewhere around 1.4 seconds. Okay, I had to remove all my plug-ins to get it to launch (I've heard many people say that the problem is with the excellent Glims), but having done that it even works with the nightly builds of Webkit (at least on Mac), which is awesome to say the least.

And it's full of new features... which I can't help feeling I've seen before. Tabs on top? Most people are comparing this to Google's Chrome, but surely I've seen it before in Opera? The top sites screen? That reminds me of Opera's Speed Dial. Full page zoom? Er... Opera? Cover flow-based history search? That's History Flow from SafariStand this time. The smart search field? Glims, and the infamous Inquisitor (which I won't link to). And there may be more, but I've only be playing with S4B for a short while.

Now, I think that all of these features are great additions to a great browser. But you really do have to wonder whether imitation is the sincerest form of flattery... or something else.

UPDATE: Jason Snell on the same.

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Today's Dilbert

Dilbert.comSurreal, Scott. Sometimes I feel like a lump of wood, too.

Monday, 16 February 2009

Just say no

The Economist:

Since the start of abstinence-only programs, the federal government has spent over $1.5 billion on them, but the United States still has one of the highest teen-pregnancy rates of any developed country.

What more is there to say?

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Here Comes Everybody

Finally finished reading Here Comes Everybody by Clay Shirky:

Young people are taking better advantage of social tools, extending their capabilities in ways that violate old models not because they know more useful things than we do but because they know fewer useless things than we do.


My students, many of whom are fifteen years younger than I am, don't have to unlearn those things, because they never had to learn them in the first place.

Unlearning is the key.

Friday, 13 February 2009

The everything-bucket

In the debate about whether 'bucket' applications are a good thing or not, I'm inclined to think that computers are really just big buckets in general. I know that a tidy desk is supposed to represent a tidy mind, and I appreciate the idea that if I keep all my files organised, my productivity will increase because I'll be able to find things more quickly. Fine. But what I want—and what things like Spotlight or Hazel give me—is the ability to dump things somewhere, anywhere, and have the computer sort things out for me.

Take Hazel as an example. I don't use it to anything like its full potential, but I do have it set to clean up my desktop. I dump something on the desktop because I want to use it right now; after it's been there for a couple of weeks—time enough for me to file it away manually if I want—Hazel deposits it in a folder of similar files (jpgs, pdfs, and so on). Sure, organising files by type may not be the best solution. I'm sure I could spend some time with Hazel's preferences and have it tidy up more effectively. But the files are stored logically, and I now have a tidy desktop.

In the end, the more proficient operating systems and applications become at sorting out our mess, the happier I'll be.