Monthly Archives: January 2010

Roundup: Google Nixes IE6 Support, Google Chrome 4 And GTA IV DLCs

Google dumps IE6 development… and it’s about time!

I have been waiting for this news for years now. Albeit this is may or may not exactly be the reason (IE6 support for YouTube ended six months ago), in the aftermath of the “IE exploited from China” fiasco, Google has decided to cease developing and supporting web-based applications for Internet Explorer 6 starting with Google Docs and Google Sites. While this does not mean the web-based applications will not work in IE6, this means that Google will not be testing new features for it’s web-based applications for IE6 compatibility.

I have been whining and moaning about this in other postings on my blog. Microsoft tried and failed at making the internet the way they thought it should be made. I’m well aware that there are people still using IE6 and heck, they are even some people using IE5.5. Thanks to these people/companies, it’s become a gargantuan task to make sure that the websites developers, like myself, make are compatible with IE6.

An issue arose one time at my last job, when the guy above me mentioned that something I had made was not working in Mozilla Firefox 1. something. He showed me some statistics showing that a couple of people were still using around that version of Firefox. I argued that we shouldn’t be slowing down development because a couple of people use an old version of anything – including Firefox. As I stated in other postings, Microsoft has left the job of weening users from old versions to new versions of browsers (I still disagree that it should only be up to us, not MS). The old thinking that we developers need to create and support for those in the minority who are still using very old browsers, in effect, is stifling development and innovation. Regardless of what the reason, kudos to Google for dumping IE6 compatibility.

Google Chrome… now with bookmarks floating on clouds

Earlier this week, Google dropped Chrome 4 on to us touting faster performance, better HTML 5 support and synced bookmarks. While faster performance and HTML 5 support are always nice, the synced bookmark feature is something that I have been wanting for some time now. It’s very annoying have to export bookmarks on one computer and put them somewhere else. By using your Google ID, you can sync your bookmarks at any location. So if you add or delete a bookmark in one location, the changes will be made the next time you use Chrome at another location.

“Episodes from Liberty City” coming to PC and PS3

Finally GTA IV’s “Episodes from Liberty City” will be coming to those of us who do not have an Xbox 360. For the past year, 360 owners have enjoyed exclusive rights to download and play first the “Lost and the Damned” episode and then “The Ballad of Gay Tony”. 360 exclusive rights to “Episodes” will end on March 30th. The episodes can either be downloaded or bought on disc. The disc version contains 3 new radio stations, extra music and it is standalone, meaning you do not need to own GTA IV to play “Episodes”.


The iPad… It’s A Giant iPhone!

What happens when you spill Miracle Grow on your iPhone? This:

Photo credit: Engadget

My first impressions of the iPod/iPhone could be summed up as, “Hey, this is cool. Daddy like.” When I saw this, all I could think was, “Um, what the hell?” Seriously, all you could shove in there was 16, 32 or 64GB? IT’S AN IPHONE…. ERR IPOD… ERRRRRRR……………………..

K, I’ve gone cross-eyed.

The real deal

After a night of sleeping and not thinking about the iPad. I have had some time to digest Apple’s latest creation. Here are the specs:

Processor: 1GHz
Screen: 9.7 inch LCD, Resolution: 1024×768
Hard Drive: 16GB, 32GB or 64GB
Wireless: Built-in 802.11n with Bluetooth. 3G capable.
Battery life: 10 hours
Weight: 1.5lbs/.7kg
Connectors/Ports: The usual Apple 30-pin dock connector

In typical fashion, Apple has once again disregarded hopes for a USB (mini-USB) port in favor of it’s 30-pin dock connector port. I was under the impression that agreements have been made regarding the standardizing of the mini-USB port on all devices. This agreement rids everyone of collecting different types of cables for any portable device we carry around. I guess either Apple didn’t agree to this or they just don’t care. Whatever works I guess. In all fairness to Apple, one 30-pin connector should work on most of it’s portable devices. I’m sure Apple will ship a cable with the iPad, like they do with the iPhone and the iPod.

The iPad also does not have room for expansion. The hard drive cannot be upgraded and there are no SD card slots. While Apple will have proprietary devices/docks for external drives and SD card readers, the whole point is for the consumer to spend even more money.

What’s the deal with Flash?

This is a really good question. Tech enthusiasts have been pointing out since the inception of the iPod Touch and iPhone that these devices lack support for Adobe Flash. So what? The problem with Flash is that it’s a beast. A big Flash file can be tough on decent laptops and desktops. Flash is good for portfolio type sites much not much else. Flash ads have become commonplace at the expense of memory and processing power. HTML 5 is coming (someday…) and with it comes the new Video tag. Several major browsers already have some support for this tag including Firefox and the WebKit-based browsers, Google Chrome and Apple Safari. Flash is a thing of the past. Now, if only everyone could come to some agreement over what codecs to use. There’s always something….

Some thoughts

I assume that the iPad is supposed to be a netbook killer. At first glance, this is the killer. The iPad is a nice looking device and will suit low-tech users just fine. This would probably be the perfect device for my dad since he uses his iPod Touch for more than music. He also does a lot of reading and this would be perfect for e-books. This is for anyone who bought or is considering buying a netbook.

I’ve been reading comments on Ars and Engadget. Supporters of the iPad are universal in their argument that the more Tech savvy reviewers and commentators are being far too harsh in their criticism of the iPad. Well, they are tech sites and I am a tech blogger. We want all kinds of crap shoved into our machines. Also, in this economic environment, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to point out the fact that people will have to shell out more money for proprietary devices to connect to the iPad.

In the end, I know the iPad isn’t for me. I have an iPod Touch and it serves me just fine as a (more than music) portable device. And it will be that way until I get a smartphone. The iPad is for people who don’t want a lot out of their portable but want a faster browsing experience, and bigger real estate. If you can deal with the fact that you won’t be able to put this in your pocket, then the iPad is the way to go.


Has Facebook Been Slow For You Lately? (Updated)

(Updated: January 29th, 2010)

Facebook has posted an update in their security blog about the “Unnamed app” bug, which has been fixed. In fact, while I didn’t delete it from my Application Settings list, “Unnamed app” has been removed from the list. I have noticed that the site is working better for me. They also mention that people have been using this “scare” to try to get people to download malicious software.

Well it has been for me. Apparently I am not alone. One of my friends in Facebook, posted about something called “Unnamed app” in the Application Settings Profile. You can check to see if it is listed in your settings by going to Settings > Application Settings and select “Added to Profile” from the “Show” drop down box on the top right side of the page. In my account, “Unnamed app” was the first application listed.

I found information about the problem and the solution on Google by searching for “Facebook unnamed app”. According to this blog posting, this “Unnamed app” is NOT spyware or anything malicious. You may delete this application from the list. Other pages within the Google SERP testify that deleting this application does in fact increase Facebook performance.

According to this blog posting, this “Unnamed app” is the “Boxes Tab” and Facebook will be removing it from there system. This does explain why Facebook has been slow for me and the AJAX isn’t quite working correctly. My guess is that there’s junk code floating around the system clogging things up.

The bloggers I linked to didn’t know if Facebook was going to turn this “Unnamed app” into another program so you should delete this at your own risk!

Thanks to Ryan Schmidt for the tip!


Hide Cultural Learnings for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Uzbekistan!

How do you create negativity and show that your country is backward? You arrest a photojournalist for taking pictures of your culture and then attempt to rationalize it.

Authorities in Uzbekistan charged Umida Ahkmedova in December for “insulting and slandering the Uzbek nation”. She published a series of photographs for gender and human rights related projects. The sentence carries a punishment of at least 6 months in prison or 2-3 years hard labor.

The BBC has some of the pictures up on their site here.

In my opinion, I’m glad people like her take photographs like that so I can see how other people live in other parts of the world. I see no shame and I don’t think any less of the Uzbek people after seeing these photos. But I do think less of their government now.


Enough With Internet Explorer 6 Already!

In the news recently, Google has made accusations that people within China have used exploits within Internet Explorer to access Gmail accounts of activists and dissidents as well as going after tech and industrial companies in the United States. Versign’s iDefense unit confirmed that attacks had taken place.

A couple of days later, code used in the attack was released publicly. Microsoft confirmed that the code is included within Internet Explorer 7 and 8 but that the code could only be exploited in Internet Explorer 6 on Windows 2000 and Windows XP. Microsoft used this opportunity to tout Windows 7 and Internet Explorer 8 saying, “Hey! We have more secure products right here!”

I have a huge problem with this for a couple of reasons. Only a few months ago, Microsoft reiterated it’s continued support of IE6 explaining that people expect everything they got in an operating system will continue to work throughout it’s life span. Even with the massive security problems, Microsoft continued to support IE6. But with this newest and probably worst security flaw for IE6, is Microsoft singing a different tune? No, they are not. They only want to sell more Windows 7 DVDs.

As I explained in this posting, there are many companies – large and small – who are still using Windows XP. Many of those companies are still using IE6 to support web-based software written by hacks who thought it was a good idea to only develop for IE6. In that posting, I pointed out an Ars Technica article which supported Microsoft’s take that they could not stop supporting IE6. I still believe that this is a bad position to take. I can only point out the troubles I have developing web sites and programs trying to support a NINE YEAR OLD program. Web technology has left IE6 in the dust but yet we web developers are still expected to support it. And then we are told that while we support it, we need to tell people that they should upgrade to IE8 because, “It’s more secure!”

Cut the crap already! People won’t listen to people like me. I’m just some asshole with a blog. But they will listen to Microsoft. And the best thing Microsoft could say is that they will kill support for IE6. As for other web programmers, stop writing code for IE6. IT Admins, move the company to IE8. Stop hiding behind lame excuses about money, time or the “training” it will take to bring all of the automatons in the company up to speed with IE8.


Odd XMLHTTPRequest Check Error in Internet Explorer

For the past week I have been scripting, using the XMLHTTPRequest object. I use a check to see if the object receives the correct oks from the server so it can continue executing. It’s two items wrapped into a JavaScript if() statement. I test the readyState and the status. This was the if() statement I had written:

if(getXmlHttp.status == 200 && getXmlHttp.readyState == 4) {
codeToBeExecuted;
}

The code executed correctly in all browsers I tested (FF 3.5, Chrome 3, Opera 10.10, Safari 4 for Windows) and IE 8/IE 8 as IE 7. However, IE 8/IE 8 as IE 7 threw out an “Unspecified Error at character 3” error message. I did some googling and played around with some solutions (this try/catch solution worked as well). Then, I looked at some older code I did and I saw that I had written this if() statement backwards. So, I changed the if() statement to this:

if(getXmlHttp.readyState == 4 && getXmlHttp.status == 200) {
codeToBeExecuted;
}

The error no longer appears in IE 8/IE 8 as IE 7. I don’t understand why it matters to IE which goes first but this was just a big waste of time for something so trivial.


Tech Tidbits

A refreshing change of pace from the usual bitching and moaning. 😀

“There’s not enough free space to run Steam”

Are you getting this error message when trying to install Half-Life 2: Episode One from the DVD? I just did. Copy the contents of the install DVD into a temporary folder of your choosing and run the install program from the folder. Disco!

Windows 7 God Mode (LOL)

While some tech sites are referring to this easter egg (of sorts) as “God Mode”, I will just call it something cool and useful to know.

You can create a new folder, and name it “GodMode.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}”. This creates an icon that will link you to every single item under the Windows 7 Control Panel. A decent little trick. The problems is that this has apparently been around for quite a while and it is not limited to just the Windows OS environment.

Another fun fact about this is that what works the magic has nothing to do with “GodMode” but it has everything to do with what comes after it, “.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}”. In fact, instead of using “GodMode…”, I used “Control Panel.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}”. That worked just fine. Here’s a couple more hints via a commentator from the CNET article.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R… whuuuut?

Anyone play that funny little game called Stalker: Shadow of Chernobyl? Awesome story and great concept until you run into bugs and bad programming. A while ago, a person named “Artistpavel” created a mod called STALKER Complete 2009. This greatly improves the quality of play and graphics in the game. Download it from here. This mod will automatically install into your Steam directory if you have the game via Steam. This will work in Windows 7 64-bit. Make sure you download and install the 1.4.3.2 patch!!

You will have to create a new game in order to use this mod within a game!

A couple of things about it. To use the black and white night vision instead of the crappy green night vision navigate to the anims folder in the gamedata folder which is in the root stalker shadow of chernobyl directory. You will see two files there: nightvision_bad.ppe and nightvision_good.ppe. Change the extension file extension of nightvision_bad.ppe from ppe to bak. Next copy the nightvision_good.ppe and paste it into the same folder (anims). Rename the copied file to nightvision_bad.ppe.


Bono… Crusader For Lost Profits!

Anyone remember the U2 song Sunday Bloody Sunday? Apparently Bono doesn’t and it shows after writing a piece in the New York Times telling the Movie industry not to make the same mistakes the Recording industry made by not cracking down on file-swappers harder.

We know from America’s noble effort to stop child pornography, not to mention China’s ignoble effort to suppress online dissent, that it’s perfectly possible to track content…

Eh? So you are all for someone to sit around, with prying eyes to constantly watch us and your precious content to make sure that it’s all legit? Wow. It sounds like someone needs to experience The Troubles again.


THEY TOOK OUR JOBS!!! DERKA DERRRRR!!!

So is the battle cry of those who feel “wronged” by the presence of immigrants in their country. The recent mall shooting in Espoo on New Year’s Eve has highlighted that Finland has more in common with America than anyone can actually imagine.

The case

A 43-year old Kosovo Albanian by the name of Ibrahim Shkupolli, killed his ex-girlfriend, traveled to Espoo’s Sella mall and then shot and killed 4 people inside the Prisma superstore. His ex-girlfriend has a restraining order against him. Police are speculating that the shootings in the mall were not random (no wounded, no injured by-standers) and that each person was targeted because of the woman. Shkupolli went back to his apartment and killed himself after the shootings in the mall.

The rise of the Facebook Group

So the other day, my wife pointed out the Finnish Facebook group to me, YKSI rikos ja matkalippu kotimaahan !!! (One crime and a ticket back home). This group believes that Finland has enough trouble with it’s own population and that Foreigners need not bother to act a fool here.

To date, the Facebook Group Cause has taken the place of the online petition. The online petition was practically useless and no one cared enough to pay attention. The Facebook Group Cause would probably have just as much meaning if it were not for Google (index and it’s new real-time indexing feature), RSS, Twitter and other Web 2.0 features that allows people to consume information almost instantaneously. Unfortunately, this has also led to the rise of impatience when it comes to fact-finding.

Judgmental and bigoted go hand-in-hand?

In America, people have increasingly become more quick to judge based in little to no fact and the opinions of pundits and talking heads. Thanks to the 24-hour cable news network and the real-time dissemination of information. Now, it seems that Finns are becoming more like their American counterparts.

While groups like this “one crime” group are started with the best of intentions. There are many people who have more extreme views who will latch onto groups like this. Eventually, it will lead the population to believe that the group is anti-immigrant, racist, bigoted and 100% ignorant of the facts (Perussuomalaiset/True Finns anyone?).

If someone needs an example of what could happen to groups like this, you need not look any further than to the Tea Party groups in America. There whole cause was to protest the government’s free-for-all bailing out of Financial industry. Now the whole movement is poisoned by bigots, racists, right-wing fringe elements and ignorant idiots who wouldn’t know what was going on outside their own home if someone held a loaded gun to their head (no pun intended). Oh and don’t forget, the Fox News Entertainment Channel.

While I also opposed the Obama Administration’s handing out piles of cash [to the people who have created the current global economic condition] I cannot fathom supporting the Tea Party movement as morally bankrupt as it has become.

Meanwhile in Finland…

While this Facebook Group might be well-intended, the immigrant issue is used as an excuse to ignore the larger issue at hand. This is that Finland’s criminal justice system is a joke. “Life sentences” are slaps in the wrist in comparison to sentences handed out in the States. Even though Finland does not have a maximum length of time for a Life Sentence, usually the sentence is not any longer than 15 years. Also, local Police Departments do not have the resources or manpower to go after criminals.

A perfect example as to why this system is flawed is Juha Valjakkala, who is now knows as Nikita Fouganthine. Fouganthine was convicted on 3 counts of murder in Sweden and sentenced to life in prison. After some time, he was transferred to Finland to server the “remainder” of his sentence. During his prison term he was allowed to go on furlough from prison (one furlough was unsupervised). Which leads to problem number one: Why are prisoners – especially violent triple murderers – in Finland allowed to take a break from their prison sentences?

During his 19 some years in prison, Fouganthine attempted to escape from jail 5 times. if he was punished because of his escape attempts, you wouldn’t know it. Fouganthine was paroled (from prison in early 2008. Killing 3 people and you only serve 19 years with vacations! It’s not much of an incentive to keep people from freely murdering each other. A couple of months after his release, he was convicted of violating the terms of his parole and served most of 2008 behind bars until the Finnish Supreme Court suspended his sentence. When Fouganthine was sentenced for the killings in Sweden, he had already been convicted 11 times for other crimes.

Do you remember Pekka-Eric Auvinen and Matti Juhani Saari? Auvinen was the author of the massacre at Jokela High School. He killed 8 people and wounded 12 others in 2007. Saari was the author of the massacre at the Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences. he killed 10 people and wounded 1 person in 2008.

As an immigrant

As I said previously, using the immigrant issue to ignore the larger issue at hand is really what is troubling Finland today – the criminal justice system. Immigrant crime is small in comparison to crimes committed by Finns. It has gone up in recent years (helped by a growing immigrant population). However, crimes caused by immigrants will never exceed the crimes cause by immigrants. It’s pretty obvious as to why – the population of Finns far exceeds immigrants!

The Facebook Group name simple spotlights immigrant crime while completely ignoring Finnish crime rates. Oh sure, the creator mentions that there are a host of problems and she also calls out Finns. However, you cannot simply ignore the name of the group. Currently, there are 8,000+ members for this group. I wonder just how many of these members knows what it’s like to be an immigrant? I’m willing to bet that it’s very few of them.

When an immigrant in Finland commits a crime that makes headlines, it affects the rest of us immigrants. I was reading some of the comments on Finlandforthought.net about this subject. A couple commentators attempted to argue that they should not be lumped into the same category as a murder. Fair enough, you have the right to feel this way. However, in reality this is not the case. A crime committed by a foreigner in Finland is a crime committed by all foreigners at the same time! It also works this way in the States. While it’s usually a person in the minority who actually subscribes to this line of thinking, just like in the States, the vocal minority has a big influence on public opinion.

When some people ask me what nationality I am, they are relieved to find out that I am an American. Should this make me feel better? Well, it doesn’t. It makes me feel worse. I have a child on the way who will be half American and half Finnish. If things keep up the way they are now, what is my child’s future going to be like? I used to think that when it comes to matters in Finland, I would let the Finns worry about Finland. I can’t afford do that anymore. Finland is my home too.

In conclusion

Shkupolli abused his privilege to reside here in Finland and he needed to be deported a while ago; and he would have been if the Finnish criminal justice system was actually tough on crime. However, a “one crime” fits all approach is really not the answer. I cringe at the thought of someone being deported for getting caught smoking a joint. If this is the approach to take, why not expand it? How about a mandatory 5 year sentence (with no bullshit vacations) for any crime committed by anybody?

Change doesn’t come by bandwagon, it starts at home and in the system. Let’s start focusing on the real issues.