All posts by scottgale

Will IE8 finally rid us of IE6?

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IE8 was officially released on March 19th, 2009. Marking a great day for people begging for the deprecation of IE6. As of the 5th of April, IE8 was up to 3+% and based on IE8’s speed, standard support, and security, I’m hoping this trend continues upward, displacing IE6 which is showing ~22%. (Source: gs.statcounter.com)

IE8 has added numerous new security features. Some of which are more functional than others. IE8 has instituted two new filters; the cross-site scripting filter, and the smart screen filter (successor to the anti-phishing filter). The cross-site scripting (XSS) filter, sure to cause developer pains, blocks XSS requests from executing and pops up a notification that an attack has been blocked. I’m still waiting to see how this plays out for people using CDN’s like Akamai to host their static content. I haven’t noticed any problems on my sites as of yet. The Smart Screen filter warns you if there is one website impersonating another. This has become a popular attack method of sites for capturing private data or getting on to your machine so its nice to see Microsoft addressing this. Included in this is domain name highlighting, a feature sure to be missed by the average consumer. In terms of Security, IE8 also offers the InPrivate browsing feature (Porn Mode), that doesn’t log your history or cache anything.
In terms of Speed from personal experience the IE8 rendering has been quite good. Microsoft posted some speed comparisons (http://arstechnica.com/microsoft/news/2009/03/microsofts-own-speed-tests-show-ie-beating-chrome-firefox.ars) that show some excellent times. If anyone has seen speed comparisons to IE6 I would love to see them.

IE8 now passes the Acid 2 test completely. The Acid 2 test is a test page written to help browser manufacturers ensure support for proper web standards in their products. This makes me and many other web developers very happy, especially if they can get a better than 3.4% market penetration with IE8. Sadly IE8 doesn’t pass the next level of standards; the Acid 3 test, which tests for numerous items including DOM Traversal, DOM Events, CSS 3 Selectors, SVG, and ECMA Script. To Microsoft’s credit though, FF3 is only scoring a 71/100. Opera 10 and Safari 4 are the only ones showing promise of passing that currently.

So what we are left with is a highly secure, fast browser, which is out of Beta (unlike Gmail). So here is where I plead: Please, Please, Please if you are an IT person reading this, get your people off of IE6, the browser is now 8 years old, susceptible to all types of attacks and incredibly slow at rendering pages. Any costs associated with making an upgrade to the newest version of IE are trumped by the costs of trying to deal with and support the nightmarish flood of junk that IE6 brings with it. And if you are still concerned, don’t forget, IE8 has a compatibility mode. There are no excuses anymore to keep your people on IE6. I have a dream that IE6 will be below 3% by the end of the year.

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Congress, Camera, Click

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A new bill introduced by New York representative Peter King (Republican, you guessed it), will require all camera cell phones to make a clicking noise when they take a picture. Nobody seems to think that we need this bill. And there seem to be a number of flaws with it. Firstly, cameras can still take pictures without making a noise and from great distances. Secondly, nobody is behind it, the bill doesn’t even have a cosponsor. Apart from the obvious uselessness of this bill, it got me thinking about the last time I was in Japan. Not only do all their cameras have to make that noise, but they have special subway times where only women can ride to avoid groping. Is it possible that we have a less-perverted society than some others? When I was in Japan I remember everyone being so courteous and helpful, way beyond our American culture, so I feel bad even asking the question.

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Dynamic Fading Menu Post Redux

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Looks like the post that I wrote back in January is becoming more popular lately:

Saw some examples here: http://snook.ca/technical/jquery-bg/

and here: http://www.alistapart.com/articles/sprites2

I hope that as ui programmers move forward with these new effects, there is an effort to keep these effects clean. I always like to avoid the carnival look whenever possible.

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iPhone in Vermont

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It is ridiculous that the iPhone is still not here. Verizon bought Unicel for $2.67 billion and a major part of the deal was a swap between AT&T and Verizon Wireless. Yet the Vermont Lawmakers say that this deal would exclude Windsor, Windham, and Bennington. AT&T could now potentially walk away from the deal all together. The Vermont legislature needs to wake up and let AT&T in, all of VT suffers if AT&T walks on this.

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jQuery 1.5 Beta

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http://jquery.com

As I continue to try to keep my systems up to date with the new features of jQuery 1.2.3, the jQuery team is hard at work releasing jQuery 1.5 beta. Looks like there is quite a bit more support for the sortables, drag and drop, and my particular favorite the slider. I hope to have some time to tinker with the slider because those can make a UI feel nice, or feel clunky depending on how the code turns out.

They mention a large performance boost as well, I know we got a nice boost on one of the previous iterations.

Now if only my jQuery reference widget could keep up with releases: http://blog.medallia.com/2007/05/jquery_reference_widget.html

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Dynamic Fading Mouse Overs

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Mouse overs are fun and help indicate available actions but, is there any way to spruce them up? Transitions really help add polish to an application or site. One idea is a fading mouse over, so that the button gradually reaches a pressed state. I set this menu up accordingly to create this.

The menu uses a standard <li> setup and builds the rest from JS and CSS. Here is the markup:

<ul class=”topnav”>
<li class=”navLeft” hoveritem=”#sngLiHover0″></li>
<li hoveritem=”#sngLiHover1″> <a href=”#”>Home</a></li>
<li hoveritem=”#sngLiHover2″> <a href=”#”>Account</a></li>
<li hoveritem=”#sngLiHover3″> <a href=”#”>Cart</a></li>
<li hoveritem=”#sngLiHover4″> <a href=”#”>Help & Info</a></li>
<li hoveritem=”#sngLiHover5″> <a href=”#”>Contact Us</a></li>
<li class=”navRight”></li>
</ul>

The script then attaches the needed information:

//SNG popup and nav
//navigation fader
/* Written by Scott Gale (c) */
/* Requires jquery1.2.1 */

(function($) {

window.SNG = window.SNG || {};

$(function(){
    $("#cwdusacontainer .topnav li").not(".search").not(".navRight").each(function(count){
        var width = (parseInt($(this).width(),10)+24)+"px";
        var height = $(this).height();
        $(this).attr("hoverItem","#sngLiHover"+count);
        var div = document.createElement("div");
        div.className = "liHover";
        div.id = "sngLiHover"+count;
        $(div).width(width);
        $(div).css("opacity","0");
        $(this).prepend(div);
    });

    $("#cwdusacontainer .topnav li").not(".navRight").not(".search").not(".navLeft").hover(
        function() {
            $(this.getAttribute("hoverItem")).animate({opacity:'1'});
        },

        function() {
            $(this.getAttribute("hoverItem")).animate({opacity:'0'});
        }
    ).click(function(){
        document.location = $(this).find("a").attr("href");
    });

    $(".search input").click(function() {
        if(this.value == "Quick Search") {
            this.value = "";
        }
    }).blur(function() {
        if(this.value == "") {
            this.value = "Quick Search";
        }
    });
});

})(jQuery);
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