Friday, July 20, 2007

Firefox goes to 11.

It's pretty well known that Firefox 2 for the Mac has some CPU and memory issues. It's also pretty well known that Adobe's Flash Player for Mac is a bloated, processor-hogging swine that wouldn't know an optimization if it were bit on the ass by one. In case you have a Mac and were wondering why everything would slow down and your browser might even lock up if you were on a page with more than one YouTube video, that's the reason. But today it got out of control. I loaded a background tab that probably had a bunch of Flash embedded in it, but I'll never know as the app locked up so fast I couldn't get to the tab. And then I saw why: Firefox was using over one hundred percent of the CPU! It was fluctuating between 102% and 104%. Before any of you heavy math types get all huffy with your talk of impossibility, let me just say that my iPhone was docked at the time, and I think its processor can probably just about handle an extra 5% of my Macbook.

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Saturday, July 14, 2007

ATT needs 10 business days to execute two SQL updates.

I just had an amusing phone conversation with AT&T. It turns out that in order to transfer a DSL account - with permission and cooperation from both parties -- they need ten business days. As every computer geek knows, this should be matter of two statements issued to a database. I already have an AT&T account (for my iPhone) so, if my customer_id were 12345 and the land line 123-555-1212, it would be something like:
UPDATE residential
   SET customer_id = 12345
   WHERE phone_number = '123-555-1212';
UPDATE dsl
   SET customer_id = 12345, contract_start = current_time()
   WHERE phone_number = '123-555-1212';
Granted, I'm joking a little bit -- but only a little bit. Presumably there would be a few more INSERT or UPDATE statements to make note of the fact that the previous owner gave up his service, and that I'm an iPhone customer, and so on. But presumably that would all be nicely hidden away behind a pretty little web application for the customer service representatives who are now kept busy explaining that it all takes 10 business days and there is nothing, oh nothing they can do about it. Like hire competent programmers for example. The representative understood why I found it frustrating, but assured me it had gotten much better: it used to take 30 days. Even now, they turn the thing off, wait for it to be really-really off, take a break, eat a sandwich, have a beer, then turn it on again. And furthering the irony: I'm reasonably sure I'm going to end up with a second account, and they will be unable to consolidate billing onto my existing AT&T account. So why bother with all this anyway? I happen to be going on vacation exactly when the 10 days should happen. And while Speakeasy has much better service, it's probably not worth the money for my expected use of the line.

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Blogger can't parse HTML entities.

I was just setting up a post about the company formerly known as Ma Bell, and Blogger informs me:

ERROR
These characters are not allowed: &

Presumably they're worried about the dense jungle of HTML entities. The dense, well-documented, utterly predictable, routinely parsed jungle. Of course they can parse them in some places, just not in others. And of course the big G. makes it really really hard to file bugs, so we just have to blog about it.
To: Sergey
From: Frosty
Subject: Again with the Google problems!

Sergey,

You can make four billion dollars a year on text ads, you can map the
known universe, you could probably put a man on the friggin' moon;
but you can't write a regular expression.

What gives?  Is it the coke, or the bloated HR apparatus?

Get Eric on this one, it's embarrassing!

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Friday, July 06, 2007

static.google.com

If you're a web developer, you probably get the whole idea just from the title of this post. It's not my idea; it's probably been had by a lot of other folks to, but I ran across it first on Richard Tallent's blog: http://www.tallent.us/blog/?p=7 In a nutshell:
"I think it’d be spiffy if Google hosted a few FOSS Javascript, CSS, and image resources, and encouraged all web designers to link to them rather than hosting the files themselves."
Things like Prototype, MochiKit, various icons and so on. The main upside for Google is that give a really big push to rich web apps, just at the moment when they're starting to really break through (witness iPhone). The big win for everyone else is that rich web apps load a whole lot faster (effectively centralizing the caching, and serving from the fastest servers anywhere). Potential downsides? Google knows more about your visitors, but do you care? Aren't you using Analytics and AdSense already? Also, your site's availability is tied to Google's. Again, do you care? At this point the Internet is down if Google is down, at least as far as normal users are concerned (and this is all about normal users). The other really cool thing I could see coming out of this is a general increase in the quality of free graphics (icons, backgrounds, etc.). It would be a very serious mark of prestige to have Google hosting your icons; and it would mean enormous exposure (assuming they're good). There are already some very good free icons out there, but this would be the incentive to bring that to the next level. And then everyone wins: talented designers get fame and lucrative contracts, developers and users get fast-loading high-quality graphics, Google helps push the Online App experience. Well, maybe Microsoft doesn't win. But hey, they have Vista, right?

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