Return of the Blippage (May 17 Edition)

May 17th, 2007  |  Published in etc

» k on Nerdmeyr: Cute Porn:

My love of cuteoverload has given me an appreciation for the tradition of pin-up girls. Pin-up girls are cute in the way baby bunnies with their tongues sticking out are cute. And I can understand now why mechanics would want a few such images hanging around the garage while they’re working; it’s sort of a mental break – something to look over at that makes you feel squishy inside when the rest of your day makes you feel empty and dull.

This gives me hope.

» CNN: Is it time to crack down on the blogosphere?

I blog, therefore I am: the Internet has become the place where “citizen journalists” broadcast their thoughts to all. This haven of free speech is treasured by thousands of online writers, each ready to leap onto their virtual soapbox and broadcast to the world.

But the blogosphere may not be the electronic utopia that we thought. It has been wracked by cyber-bullying, hate mail and even anonymous death threats. Are the golden days of the Internet over? Is it time to curb more extreme behavior — and start to regulate what people write online?

The golden days?

Where the fuck have these people been? What Internet have they been using?

“Crack down?”

» Venture Beat: Google’s move to “universal search”:

Google said today it will offer a range of new features in its search results, including things like a new navigation bar at the top left side of the home page to things like Google’s Calendar, Docs & Spreadsheets and Picasa Web Albums.

The effort is part of what it calls a move to “universal search,” much of which will be subtle at first, but will change over time.

I just looked. It’s a simple navigation bar, unadorned with the little icons other portals are fond of. It preserves the largely uncluttered feeling Google usually projects at its entry points. It’s, um, “nice.” I’m for it.

Although Universal Search will give results from a variety of media, it will also provide tabs for a user who is only interested in searching for a particular type of information. For example, a search for Bill Richardson will pull up links to websites, news, videos, blogs, and books about the U.S. governor. Users can then click on specific category tabs to narrow down the search results.

I’m for that, if the interface is good. I do often find myself forgetting to leave a particular search mode in favor of a better one. The news/general search is a good example.

A major new feature of Universal Search will be the inclusion of video clips from YouTube and Google Video embedded directly into search results. Content from other online video sites, including Metacafe, will also appear as thumbnails that link directly to those sites.

The embedded use of YouTube video in search results will presumably drive further traffic to that site, which Google acquired last year for $1.65 billion.

This bothers me. I hope we’ll be able to toggle that off. I like “drive further traffic” when it’s a simple navigation ribbon or a mildly privileged collection of results at the top of the organic results (the way a keyword in the general search may net a small collection of “News results for foo” links.)

Marissa Mayer, Google’s vice president of search products and user experience said Universal Search “does open way to more rich media in the search results page. We hope we can bring same advances in terms of richness of media to ads as well.”

Oh god. “richness of media to ads”

I am not hopeful.

» More Firefox Bloat? Say It Ain’t So, Mozilla

Statistics are hard to come by, but our own experiences with the browser include crashes, memory hogging, molasses-slow page loads and the spinning beach ball of death. The problems are even worse for Mac users, so much so that last month, Firefox developer Colin Barrett broached the question on his blog: What sucks about Firefox on the Mac?

Mike Schroepfer, Mozilla’s vice president of engineering, concedes that performance can be an issue, especially with memory handling. But he’s also quick to place the blame outside the browser.

“Memory usage is dependent on the environment,” he says. “Other software, add-ons, extensions and other things can impact performance.”

Ah, yes, those damned add-ons.

That was the initial genius of Firefox: It made the end user responsible for bloat by offering a million opportunities to indulge in it. And we all indulged, and in some way validated the Microsoft Word model, even as we all continued to hypocritically excoriate it.


“I really wish Firefox would go back to the lightweight browser it once was,” one commenter wrote. “The power was the ability to have extensions to do anything you wanted, but it was my choice which ones I wanted using my system resources.”

Firefox developers have so far ignored that advice. More enhancements, such as a data manager for microformats, are expected when Firefox 3 arrives in late 2007. If the suggestions playing out on blogs, forums and bulletin boards are any indication, however, a return to Firefox’s original principles of modular design may be the most desired feature for the next release.

Mozilla’s Schroepfer says so-called feature creep is always a concern to his coders. To counteract that, he says, the main criterion for accepting new features has been that they enhance the browser without bogging it down.

“The general philosophy, and one of the reasons it takes so long to get features in the browser, is that any new features should not affect the startup time or performance of the browser,” he says.

To keep the bulk down, Schroepfer says his team sets a high threshold for the addition of features. New features aren’t built in unless they are useful to at least 90 percent of Firefox’s users.

It seems most of those features could, perhaps, ship with the browser but have an obvious interface for turning them off. The horrific and crappy old Netscape let you pick whether you wanted the HTML editor, mail client or whatever at install time. Maybe, since Firefox is so modular at its base, the same thing should be happen with the feature list the developers are pretty much admitting is driven by a mob? Not at install time, but in a panel.

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