Posts in category internet - page 7

Cable & Wireless Guernsey network failure

So the phone lines here have been out now for well over an hour. ADSL is still working as is Guernsey-to-Guernsey mobiles but everything else is giving dead tones, no tones or “Network failure” messages.

So much for a single point of failure or resilient network. They currently boast;

Can you remember the last time your call didn’t connect or was cut off? We consistently maintain a success rate for call connectivity of over 99.99% which puts us amongst the world’s most reliable telecoms providers.

I can indeed – about 20 times today from 3pm onward…

Perhaps the government will realize what privatizing the telecommunications monopoly on which their entire banking industry relies on was just plain stupid.

In the mean time the web-sites of local media at BBC Guernsey, Islands FM, Channel TV and This Is Guernsey (Guernsey Press) are all offering absolutely no information whatsoever.

Maybe they are on dial-up.

[)amien

Google nuggets

As a frequent user of many of Google’s various services I continually find myself finding new tips and tricks for getting the most out of them. Here are a few to share;

Gmail extra features

Gmail are constantly introducing new features however the localised user-interfaces are often lagging behind and failing to expose the options. Set your language to “English (US)” to get access to the latest options.

Current options revealed include: Vacation responder, integration with Google Chat, Send mail as an alternative address (not just a reply-to) and web clips.

Gmail compose with mailto:

Many web sites use the standard mailto: syntax to indicate email addresses. This works great for local mail applications such as Outlook and Thunderbird but fails miserably with web based mail providers.

Ideally web browsers would handle this but in the mean time a GreaseMonkey script is available called MailtoComposeInGmail that will internally rewrite any mailto: scripts to head over to your Compose option in Gmail :)

If you don’t have GreaseMonkey already installed give it a shot. It effectively gives your machine the ability to customize the page just for you by running small scripts on your own computer.

Gmail on your own domain name

Google have just opened registrations for getting the Gmail interface, account management and mailing lists on your own domain name. This will no doubt mean MX records have to change and it will be interesting to know what SMTP/POP options they offer. Will let you know if I get in!

Google Analytics availability

If you, like me, have been itching to get into analytics but are still waiting for Google to re-open sign-ups then there is something you can do. Find somebody who has an account and get them to add your web site to their monitoring – they can monitor up to 10. Add the snippet to your site and wait.

They can then grant access to your reports and statistics information to your Google account so you can browse at your pleasure.

If you want to know when you visit a site being tracked by Analytics there’s yet another GreaseMonkey script to do the job.

Keep tabs on the Labs

Google’s engineers are always coming up with something new to play with, sometimes it will become a new product, sometimes a feature inside an existing one. Either way there’s usually a few interesting or useful nuggets to play with.

Google Suggest is very cool and the Site Flavoured Google Search is rather interesting.

Google Video

Currently one of the items in the labs but certainly soon to graduate with its selection of home videos, commercial TV shows and great clips. The commercial stuff is US-only at the moment and costs $1.99 a show but there is plenty of free amazing clips to enjoy.

There is also a GreaseMonkey script to hack round the US-only limitation by firing it through Google’s own translator… Let’s see how long that works for.

Google Maps

They’ve just improved the detail of their UK aerial data once again. It’s a shame Guernsey isn’t covered despite a local company having the information available but hidden away to those willing to pay. The route finding options are pretty useful and this is going to just get better and better.

The 3D real-time Windows application Google Earth is, well, incredible. I wonder how long before they add real-time weather simulation and predictive ones based on forecasts.

Google Search operators

This is pretty simple old stuff but you’d be amazed at how few people still seem to use/know about it.

To search for an exact phrase put quotes around it. For example “sql server” will get you pages about Microsoft’s SQL Server product while sql server without the quotes will return you pages with the word sql and the word server anywhere on the page. In this example, pages about Oracle, MySql, DB2 and every other SQL compatible database known to man.

The other option worth it’s weight in gold is the – operator. This looks for pages without a term or phrase. For example Leopard -Apple -OS will let you find results for Leopards as opposed to getting back lots of pages about the next version of Apple’s operating system.

Hope you found something useful,

GrinGod points out that Google have acquired MeasureMap which provides much more Blogger-friendly statistics than Google Analytics. Sign up for when they’re ready to roll!

[)amien

Audacity of “Firefox Myths”

Since posting this article the author of Firefox Myths has addressed many of the points including an ‘origin’ of each Myth. As I do not wish to continually update this article it is now considered out of date.

I stumbled across a page that claims to debunk various “Firefox Myths”. At first read you might be fooled into what he’s spouting however a quick bit of Googling reveals just how far off the base he is.

Every myth he describes is in quotes, like he’s quoting somebody or an article somewhere and is attempting to dispel it.

I couldn’t find any of these claims made on the Firefox homepage so I thought I’d use Google to try and find out who is claiming it. In most cases nobody, in some a few random people on forums or blog comments.

It seems to me he takes something known about Firefox then either exaggerates the claim or slightly twists it with a new word or two and then disproves that.

I’ve put “official claim” to reference the closest thing I could find on the Firefox homepage.

“Firefox has lower System Requirements than Internet Explorer”

0 matches. Google knows of no such claim.

Official claim: Nothing on the Firefox homepage other than the list of higher requirements than IE…

“Firefox is the Fastest Web Browser”

5 matches, all individuals talking on forums. 2 of these phrases include the prefix “I believe” or “I think”.

Official claim: “Faster Browsing – Enjoy quick page loading as you navigate back and forward in a browsing session.” has no comparisons to other browsers.

“Firefox is Faster than Internet Explorer”

Okay, lots of matches here but the author cites an article as proof IE is faster. In this table you will see that with the exception of start-up times Firefox is significantly faster in many areas and the areas where it is slower are within a second.

I’m not even going to get in to the start-up times. Developers are quite aware that most of IE’s technology is so embedded into Windows that the rendering engine is pre-loaded with the rest of the shell so it’s hardly a fair comparison.

It’s also interesting that IE7 beta’s CSS benchmark is now slower than Firefox having been faster in IE6. Given that IE6’s CSS handling is quite buggy and incomplete that’s only to be expected.

Official claim: Firefox homepage does not mention Internet Explorer at all.

“Firefox is Faster than Mozilla”

In the same benchmark article as last time the author claims that Mozilla is faster over all despite only winning two of the seven benchmarks by less than a second each time. Ironically the start-up times he considered so important for IE being considered faster are ignored in this myth busting with Mozilla having the slowest start-up times of all the browsers tested.

Official claims: Firefox homepage does not mention Mozilla browser at all.

“Firefox is Secure”

The author claims that because 26 vulnerabilities have been reported since the browser was released it is not secure. While Mr Myth fails to tell us IE’s going rate the same source he uses tells us that Internet Explorer 6 has had 75 vulnerabilities since it’s release as well as 6 prior versions to try and get it right.

Official claim: None.

“Firefox is the Most Secure Web Browser”

1 Google match. From a computer shop in Orkney. Enough said.

Official claim: None.

“Firefox is More Secure by not using ActiveX”

Our friend points out that Firefox also has technology to download and install third party code and that both browsers warn you. This much is true.

What the author fails to realize is that Internet Explorer will happily and silently let any web site you visit use any ActiveX objects already on your computer marked as safe for scripting.

Some of these objects include Microsoft’s ADO and MSXML objects which have been used in conjunction together before to load a virus executable straight off a sever and trash your machine. It took about 7 lines of code anyone familiar with VBScript could knock up and wiped out your machine… just for viewing a web page on the default settings without a single warning.

Official claim: None.

“Firefox Extensions are Safe”

I only found 1 Google match for this phrase and it starts “Firefox Extensions are safe and as unsafe as any other software you can download…”

Official claim: None.

“Firefox is a Solution to Spyware”

Your search – “Firefox is a Solution to Spyware” -myth -myths – did not match any documents.

I guess nobody is using this phrase… Using Firefox certainly prevents IE focused exploit or “Accept” spyware of your machine by the nature that it doesn’t support them. This is a short term benefit for now.

Official claim: “Browse the Web with confidence – Firefox protects you from viruses, spyware and pop-ups” is a little misleading and could do with the word “helps” in front of protect.

“Firefox is Bug Free”

Plenty of Google matches here but generally it consists of people saying that it’s NOT bug free or occasionally a random forum poster thinking it is bug free.

I don’t see anyone credible saying this about any software.

Official claim: None.

“Firefox Blocks all Popups”

The author refers to a page called the PopupTest that indicates two examples of pop-up’s that still work on Firefox.

Both of these are not pop-up windows at all but rectangular elements of the page that sit on top of other content on the page. Well, that’s HTML and CSS and the web would be a bit screwed without it.

I couldn’t get his other source to pop up anything at all here on Firefox 1.5.

_

Official claim: “Browse the Web with confidence – Firefox protects you from viruses, spyware and pop-ups” <span is a little misleading and could do with the word “helps” in front of protect.

“Firefox was the first Web Browser to offer Tabbed Browsing”

I couldn’t find anyone claiming it was.

Like many of the myths here I suspect the author takes a concept people push “Firefox supports tabbed browsing, Internet Explorer doesn’t” and adds a little something to it “it was the first” and then disproves his new statement.

Official claim: “Use tabbed browsing to open multiple Web pages in a single browser window, and quickly flip back and forth. Drag and drop open tabs to keep related pages together.”

“Firefox fully supports W3C Standards”

I only found 1 person claiming this, in a comment, on a blog.

Actual claim: “Support for open Web standards in Firefox ensures you can get the most out of this emerging class of Web-based tools.”

“Firefox fully supports the most important W3C Standards”

The author here shows the results of the Acid2 test and how Firefox currently fails it. This is true of Firefox and most browsers currently shipping. As far as I know at time of writing (January 2006) only Safari correctly renders it.

The author completely failed to post what a mess IE makes of it and the fact that the IE team have already said that the forthcoming IE7 won’t pass it either.

_

Actual claim: “Support for open Web standards in Firefox ensures you can get the most out of this emerging class of Web-based tools.”

“Firefox works with every Web Page”

Google for this term and you’ll find nothing but people wondering where the hell he got it from. If there’s one thing Firefox users accept is that it won’t work with every web page because people writing those pages have created invalid HTML or abandoned the published W3 standards.

Actual claim: None.

Round-up

The author goes on to note that there are pages debunking his that are merely opinion and beliefs. As you can see from the list above, this contains nothing but facts which is more than can be said for his list of made-up “Myths”.

Also the pages debunking his list are mostly by Macintosh (I do indeed own a Mac laptop in addition to my PC laptop, server and desktop), Linux (no thanks) and anti-Microsoft (nope, I develop for Microsoft platforms and a daily basis). I’m also looking forward to IE7.

Apparently these same people’s opinions are worth nothing when they are “unable to stop something as elementary as malware infection when using Internet Explorer”. I haven’t had any problems with spyware on IE other than those that utilized unpatched security holes to wreck havoc. I would imagine these other people have the same issue. Perhaps Mr Myth has turned off the ActiveX scripting he adores or is capable of disassembling and patching the IE engine inside his…

Avant browser

His browser of choice which is described there as: “A custom Internet Explorer based browser that utilizes the Internet Explorer Engine for 99.99% web page compatibility and features all the new features of Firefox and Opera. It has a Built-in Pop-up Blocker, Flash Animation Filter, Tabbed Browsing, Built-in Search Engine, Built-in RSS/ATOM Reader, Safe Recovery Feature, User Friendly Interface and Full 100% IE Compatibility.”

I’m not sure where he gets that IE engine supports 99.99% page compatibility – there are plenty of pages that won’t work fine – anything that doesn’t take steps to work around the many bugs or issues.

Avant also has issues with blocking all pop-ups nor does it have a built-in search engine – it just forwards the box onto Google etc just like Firefox, Safari, IE7, Opera…

[)amien

State of the broadband

A few changes from the various players so a quick run-down.

While local ISPs could argue their bandwidth is limited they have no such excuse for charging 3x the price of a UK outfit for IP addresses as Newtel are doing in both islands.

Jersey Telecom

Announced broadband price reductions which affect their 512KB, 1MB and 2MB home services. Interesting to note that the contention ratio has gone up from 40:1 to 50:1.

  • 512KB @ £17.99
  • 1MB @ £24.99
  • 2MB @ £39.99

Newtel Solutions Jersey

No announcements yet on price reductions to follow JT but I’d be surprised if they don’t act soon. They have however dropped connection charges and are offering fixed IP’s for £15.99 a month.

  • 512KB @ £24.49 (£23.50 if paid annually)
  • 1MB @ £39.99 (£38.50 if paid annually)
  • 2MB @ £79.99 (£77.00 if paid annually)

C&W Guernsey

Put out a new broadband “Pay-as-You-Go” package that includes 500 minutes. After that it is 3p/minute until you reach the maximum monthly charge of £34.99. Still at 40:1 contention as far as I know, actual product guide has not been updated and still claims 512K alongside the contention. Still no announced plans to offer fixed IPs or 512KB/2MB services.

  • 1MB @ £26.99
  • 1MB “Pay-as-You-Go” @ £19.99-£34.99 (includes 500 minutes)

There has been debate over C&W’s offerings on the This Is Guernsey Forum. The C&W Gsy marketing manager Steve Eldrich addressed some of them.

Guernsey.Net/Newtel

Followed C&W Gsy with the double the bandwidth but are not quoting contention ratios for their home service anywhere I could find. Unlike C&W they are offering a fixed IP address at an extra whopping £15.99 a month. They are offering free install and rental until 1st January 2005.

  • 1MB @ £25.99 (£24.50 if paid annually)

Bulldog (C&W UK)

Prices have come down again with the 8MB unlimited package costing now a mere £29.50. They are also offering a fixed IP address for £4.99 a month.

  • 8MB @ £29.50

All the prices are per-month in GBP and do not include the additional monthly charge for a phone line and are unlimited usage unless specified.

[)amien