Wednesday, November 16

The best date format. And more.

Numerical date formats vary around the globe. Let’s just consider the Gregorian calendrical system, which is what most of us use every day.

The American version is the worst. Month (med), then Day (small), then Year (large). Huh? Not good for sorting, and makes little sense to the human mind unless you're inculcated with it from birth, kinda like Fahrenheit temperatures. It's arbitrary.

Example: 9/11/2001 (September 11th, 2001)

The version most of the rest of the world uses (not counting religious or other ‘traditional’ calendars), is better. Day (small), then Month (medium), then Year (large). It’s in ascending order at least...

Example: 25.12.1972 (Christmas Day, 1972)

However, it still fails when it comes to standard computer sorts, because we need descending order for that. They got it right, except that it's backwards! Well, unless you write in a right-to-left language, I suppose. Tower of Babel indeed.

It turns out the perfect date format would be [year].[month].[day], which is in descending order of magnitude, and thus lends itself perfectly to computer sorting.

Example: 2011.11.16 (today – year: 2011, month: November, day: 16th)

The delimiter (slash, dot, etc.) could be anything, really. Neither of those are probably ideal because forward slashes are used in Web URLs, and dots are used as periods (full stops). Maybe the ‘>’ sign would make sense because the big end is always opening toward the larger concept. Year > Month > Day. Simple. It could even be extended to delve right down into hours, minutes, seconds… the problem with that symbol is that half the people get it confused with its sibling, ‘<’ – ah well, we could find something I’m sure, if we put our collective minds to it. Or rather if our mechanical successors do.

However, two forces remains an obstacle. Inertia (people don’t like to change) and lack of widespread reasoning skills (people seldom do what makes the most sense).

The fact that the proposed system does makes the most sense is the reason it’s probably never caught on anywhere. Still, I’ll bet its moment will come, whether it takes 20 years or 50 years, to achieve some kind of worldwide ISO status, simply because it’s the best ‘sortable’ format and the world’s information, including dates, is being converted to computer data at a rate that has been growing astronomically for some decades now, and that train isn’t about to slow down.


I’ve already changed the way I label music, for example, so that it sorts correctly for me: [Artist] - [(Year)] [Album]. Inside of that folder would be the song file itself: [TrackNumber]. [Title]. Note that the “.” after the track number is part of the file’s name construction and that “TrackNumber” is a 2-digit number (XX) so that even that sorts properly. Thus, if I want to listen to the Dan Fogelberg song “Illinois” I would open my music folder and find it in the “D” section (I don’t like using LastName, FirstName mixed with ordinary band names; it’s too confusing and involves commas)…

(list continues above)
Dan Fogelberg - (1972) Home Free
Dan Fogelberg - (1974) Souvenirs
Dan Fogelberg - (1975) Captured Angel
(list continues below)

Aha, there’s the correct album in the middle!

Now before we go on, you’ll notice that the big downside of this is that you have to know which album the song is on, or use Ctrl+F/Cmd+F to find it, which defeats the purpose a bit. This system is for neatness and sorbability, not for finding things most easily. That’s why multi-sort databases like iTunes, using an information tag system such as ID3, will always be superior to a hierarchical folder-and-file system. But I still name and store them this way: It gives me the best of both worlds. I can use iTunes, sure, but if I want to share a few albums from a particular artist with a friend, for example (so they can evaluate them and then buy them themselves, of course), I can do so very easily and the friend will be delighted to see how organized it is even outside of a database.

So, to get back to our example, I open up the Souvenirs album folder with a double-click and see that the song I want is the second track…

01. Part Of The Plan
02. Illinois
03. Changing Horses

Some people don’t like the leading zeros in single-digit track numbers, but they are essential if you want to assure accurate sorting on all systems in all situations. I’ve grown used to them and quite like them now! It keeps the names lined up rather well.

That’s just one more example (in addition to the date formatting example above) as to how we’re going to have to pay attention to sort-orders in this increasingly digital world. When an average person may have hundreds or even thousands of files ranging from text and presentations to music and video, it’s vital to have a system to organize it all somehow, just so you can find things. And cleaning your naming system up might even make you enjoy browsing your files again. Sure it’s practical, but I think you’ll find it’s aesthetically nice as well once you’ve done all the hard work of renaming everything.

For example, even my user-content folders (as opposed to System stuff, which I leave alone) are organized similarly. Something like this…

00 Meta-information
02 Text Documents
03 Music
04 Movies
05 Documentaries

Again, those would be folders inside a main “Justin” or “Documents” folder - the ultimate outside folder tends to be determined by your operative system. I prefer to put them on the root of my boot drive (C: drive for Windows people), but some people may not like doing this, and each new version of all major OS’s seem to keep further encouraging us to use a “(My) Documents” folder, which is usually buried in a user account folder, which is buried… Well, maybe you can see why I like to put everything at the root level so that I can get to it easily even from a command-line interface. When your multimedia/content folder is buried five layers deep, it may not be a nuisance when using the GUI, but it will be if from a command line when you have to try to remember where that sucker is!

I wish OS’s would stop trying to force us to organize things their way, or would at least give us a choice – say, to simplify the directory (folder) structure for single-user systems. If I’m the only one who ever uses my computer, I shouldn’t need a “Justin” account. I would rather see the root of the boot (C: or Main or whatever) hard drive look something like this:

00. Meta-information
01. System Files
02. Drivers
03. Applications
04. Programming
06. Music
07. Photos

Notice how I changed the formatting slightly in this example from the previous one. This is just to show that there are still stylistic choices to be made. The important thing is to be consistent.

This seems to me not only to sort correctly (or at least according to taste), but to be much, much cleaner than the current paradigms in use. It makes intuitive sense to me and I could navigate it from a command line if I needed to with little effort. Of course, the “System Files” folder may still be a big spaghetti-like hierarchical monster inside, but as users we needn’t really venture in there anyway; that’s where the OS lives and does its thing. The main point is that getting the user’s multimedia data - loosely defined as ‘the stuff you want to back up’ - out of some mess like that and putting it on par with everything else would make things easy to find them where they really reside without having this dated, tangled desktop metaphor in which both files and shortcuts (aka aliases) can be present, but in which the whole “desktop” itself lives in a folder insider the user’s account, yet can reference items outside that account… even the desktop itself. Please don’t think about that last statement too much, or you might grasp how Gödelian it all is and mentally explode or something. And I don’t want that on my conscience, not to mention my monitor.

j.sias 2011.11.16

Saturday, October 22


I am not the type of dog
That could keep you waiting
For no good reason
Run a carbon black test on my jaw
And you will find
It’s all been said before
I can swing my megaphone
And long arm the rest
It's easier and better
To just beat it from the chest
Of desire
I could walk into this room
And the waves of conversation
Are enough to knock you down
In the undertow
I’m so alone
So alone in my life
Feed me banks of light
And hang your hairshirt
On the lowest rung
It's a beautiful life
And I can hang my hairshirt
Away up high in the attic
Of the wrong dog's life chest
Or bury it at sea
All my life
I've searched for this
Here I am
Here I am in your life
It's a beautiful life
My life
It's a beautiful life
Your life.

(m. stipe)

Monday, October 10

Los Picos

Part of the Picos de Europa, a mountain range that runs through Cantabria and Asturias in Northern Spain.

Click for full-size. Pretty amazing mountains, eh? What Asturias lacks in sheer elevation is makes up for in dramatic peaks and sudden elevation changes, lush valleys snaking through snowy shards of stone poking out of the earth at all angles. Lots of nice granite, shale, and even limestone... a geologist's dream!

Sunday, October 9

In the wake

of adversity lies an opportunity,
a rebirth
the story is old, but it metamorphosed
when I told it

a sun rises, it knows nothing
but the people believe in something that
is grander than themselves
feelings are everything

ask Galileo on a moonlit night
or Kepler
if his elliptic tides are right, are precise;
ask Newton,

ask Feynman if your math's all right
Penrose, Einstein
the point is the lesson
that they are only brilliantly guessing

Seneferu, Khafre
Imhotep did the same thing
Sargon and the Maccabees
could see clearly the fog ahead of them

so please,
put away your mindset
and open up to another set of minds
and if you follow the Duat

and remember the names,
and your training
you may make immortality yet
not that you would want it.

It gets cold.

All waves view old, warm shores
Father returning.
Adventure is a sunny captain
Adventure is a lively ship.

Rise calmly like a hungry gull.
Seashells sail!

You keep waiting
The temperature is dropping.

Why does the sun travel?
Faith, love, and life.
Where is the sunny beach we dreamt of?
Winds endure like rough sailors.
Where is the dead captain I use to salute?

I’m afraid it gets cold
Down here where we think
More than we were ordered.
More than we should have mutinied – even us.

In a cylinder of steel who couldn’t
After many months,
Spare a few thoughts
To the existential plight of
Being or not-being, seeing or being blind?

Mu! Moo!
All attempts fail
I realized it all in my dreams and
The waves lap happily forever
Compared to human lifetimes.

Tuesday, October 4



There is no end to this
I have seen your face
But I don't recognize all these things
You must have left behind

It's a problem, you know
That's been there all your life
I try to make you see the world without you
That's just so black and white.

At night it gets cold and
I'd dearly like to turn away
An escape that fills
That makes you want to turn on heel

Alone, alone, alone, alone.

There is no end to this
I can't turn away
Another picture but the scene
It's still the same

There is no room to move
Or try to look away
Remember life is strange
And life keeps getting stranger every day.

I try so hard but this attitude's
A type that won't subside
No matter what they say, remember
Your heart beats you day and night

Your heart beats you day and night.

(B. Sumner)

Sunday, June 26

I can't sail rhymes
And tell the tales of mighty kings
Keeping the letters afloat
With no broken rings at all

All I can do is call
I hope that the mighty shall
Hear the meek
In my own simple way

I loved all that was unique.

I can't change for you
I can't even change for me
We're high in the Picos now
What we've brought is what we'll need

If we stumble and die,
No one knows us, few shall care
But if we get to that peak
If we bother, if we dare-

Maybe we'll find meaning there.

There are no accidents
How we shall live is how we choose
So I chose you
Of seven billion lights to lose.

The courage to give it back
Trust in destiny, faith or muse...
We're all alone inside, but we can share what dreams may come
Lightning rends the night, all I know is what I've done.

Just maybe I will be the one.

The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

It’s all over
You’ve had your day out in the park
You better come inside
Before it gets too dark.

We’ve all had a great time
Playing with our private worlds
Event horizon
Here on planet Earth.

It’s all over
It’s the final curtain call
For too many life forms
There’s just no time left at all.

Whatcha gonna do when the rain comes
Are you going to sail on the rising seas like Noah?
Whatcha gonna feed your little orphans
When there’s no more fish in the sea?

No more Sundays
And no more religion for you
No more pie in the sky
And no man in the moon.

Whatcha gonna do when the rain comes
Are you going to live on your holy desert island?
Caught between the devil and the deep blue sea
As our world slowly stops turning

(B. Perry)

Winter in Hallstadt

(click for original size)

Can’t stop the hurt
Can’t stop the bleeding
I am invisible
Can’t stop the thought
Nor the feeling
I don’t exist at all

But when you call my name
Do you feel the same way
That we’re trapped in time
We’re both living a lie

I live in a tower
Of my own creation
I’m indivisible
From the thoughts that make up
All my memories


But when you call my name
Do you feel the same way
That we’re trapped in time
We’re both living a lie?

Many days have come and gone
Since the day I was born
Now the autumn of life has finally come
With the promise of winter thaw.

(B. Perry)

Wednesday, June 15


All that you touch
And all that you see
All that you taste
All you feel
And all that you love
And all that you hate
All you distrust
All you save
And all that you give
And all that you deal
And all that you buy
Beg, borrow or steal
And all you create
And all you destroy
And all that you do
And all that you say
And all that you eat
And everyone you meet
And all that you slight
And everyone you fight
And all that is now
And all that is gone
And all that's to come
And everything under the sun is in tune
But the sun is eclipsed by the moon 

Tuesday, June 7

Damaged People.

We're damaged people
Drawn together
By subtleties that we are not aware of
Disturbed souls
Playing out forever
These games that we once thought we would be scared of

When you're in my arms
The world makes sense
There is no pretense in crying
When you're by my side
There is no defence
I forget to sense I'm dying...

We're damaged people
Praying for something
That doesn't come from somewhere deep inside us
Depraved souls
Trusting in the one thing
The one thing that this life has not denied us

When I feel the warmth
Of your very soul
I forget I'm cold and crying
When your lips touch mine
And I lose control
I forget I'm old and dying.

(M. Gore 2005)

Saturday, May 21


The world is pain
Cut feet on cut glass
I sit and read and try to think
Watch and learn
Learn how everything works
Work on watching even harder
So I can somehow make sense of it all
But it never gets any easier

I'll overanalyze myself all my life
Existing only to look in I wonder
Why I was put inside my skin
To flail and flounder on the shores
Of a world where action is king
And understanding without conviction
Expressed by the movement of muscles
Is nothing

Just ask the YMCA
Where I played soccer and swam
Ask all the teachers I've ever had
Who have seen the look in my eyes
Peer into my dreams for just a night
Assuming I am sleeping
The world is full of pain
And I'm silently screaming

Wednesday, May 18


Craziness has come over me. I've gone mad. I'm not the same person from day to day. I don't recognize myself in emails I've written, don't remember people I've talked to at long lengths, things I've done and said and promised. I never go out, and time passes somehow, but I have no way to measure it and I can't tell if it's going slow or really fast. I'm in a body and life I don't recognize. I have a new computer, I've been talking to new people. Or are they the same people? People who were once familiar are dying off, slowly. That must mean life is rushing very fast. But I don't feel it. Is it the effexor? Is it the klonopin? Am I bipolar? Depersonalized? Insane without realizing it? Just what exactly is going on here? The Lakers lost? How long ago was that, and why are baseball games on the radio? When I have some yardstick, some mirror from the past to peer into, I feel completely different from one time period to the next (days? weeks? mere hours?)... but from within me, in the moment, I can't tell that anything is changing. Like a person who is in an airplane, moving fast, but hardly aware. But when I look back and see emails, notes, here people tell me things I said, remind me who they are, and cannot for the life of me make any connection, it's scary as hell. I'm so disconnected to reality right now. Disconnected to being a human being at all, more like some ambient presence always haunting these rooms, watching 'me' go through the motions of life. But it's not real. It doesn't seem real. And it's not a life I like or that's even worth living, yet I guess in each moment I find something to do and go on. I even see that I've been really giddy or talkative or profound or serious or flirtatious. But they all feel like different skins; different suits I've slipped into and slid out of. None of them feel like this person right now, ME. Or is this me? I need help.

Tuesday, May 10

A Lucid Moment

Grabbed a peek
Felt back inside
Came out of hiding
And it's all I seek
It's what I need
To see the sun before it
Goes behind the clouds again
Before the noise gets
Too goddamn loud again
Just need this peace

Grab me a seat
I want to get out of it
And run around doing
All that I haven't been doing
For my years have grown bleak
Like a film without a
Happy ending
But I'm bending the rules
For a day or two
Maybe more.

Friday, May 6

torch blown out

in the everlasting darkness
that always blankets me now I walk
about in circles looking for a way out
but these walls were built around me
there's nowhere else I can go
it seems I've got no will of my own
and I can't seem to find my way home

sleeping forever
dreaming forever
a forever sleep
is what you get
when you sink too deep

ça va sans dire
ça va sans dire
ça va sans dire

Friday, February 25

A little questionnaire for YOUR pleasure.

You can answer these how you want, since after all this time I know you will anyway.

1. Do you have a middle name? What's the first letter?
2. How many continents have you set foot on? Which ones?
3. Are you interested in history before the 20th Century? Where and when?
4. Are you interested in science? How much? Which sciences interest you the most?
5. If you could meet five people from history (in their time), who would it be?
6. Are you better at math or at cooking?

That's it! Painless, huh.

Thank you. I look forward to seeing your answers.

Thursday, February 24

An odd couple...

One of rock's biggest rebels and a legend of the underground scene in his home Australia and around the world, paired with one of the world's most successful pop artists, also from Oz, who's made a living on the charts spinning out dance tunes. But apparently they are good friends, being Aussies and all (heh), and this duet (there have been a couple others) comes from Nick's LP Murder Ballads.

If Kylie would make more music like this, she'd get more respect. If Nick made more music like this, he'd be more mainstream. Thanks God people are what they are and don't change! Still it's nice to see people out of their element, don't you think.

Saturday, February 19


Be courageous, not hesitating
Give me an honest surprise
Don't tell beautiful lies
Stop waiting
Life is not a rehearsal
For another life to come
Whatever people are saying

Do what it is you're thinking
Stop sleeping in, stop crying
Stop wistfully sighing
Start speaking
To people you know again
Only then will your mind relax
And your body start healing.

Lyra and Iorek.

Thanks to Raelha for this!

Tuesday, February 1

Really depressed.

I'm in a rut just in case anyone's wondering why I'm not very available.

Not this old chestnut...

What number comes next? 1 1 2 3 5 8 ___ ?

How about this one? 1 2 5 4 9 6 ___ ?

Ok, enough of that for now.


I've got loads of things to post. Just have to get around to it... Please be patient and February should be better than the past few months.

Blogwise, I mean.

Saturday, January 29

Two from Gordon Lightfoot...

'If you could read my mind'

'The wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald'

Kristeen Young, 'Life's Not Short, It's Sooo Long'

Posted this a long time ago, but it was a video, not a live performance. Some of you will really like her, others will plug your ears or run out of the room. It matters not!

I saw her and met her and talked to her for quite a bit so I happen to like her and most of her music. And by most I mean probably half. She has some punkish stuff I don't like. But she had some slow, haunting stuff like this too that sounds totally original.

Oh, and she's a very nice person. Very polite, even to a total stranger like me. That goes a long way in my book when so many people in this world just blow you off unless you're someone they can use for their own ends, or you're oozing money and bling.

Jeff Buckley covering...

Morrissey, his idol. This is a Smiths song from 1985, the Buckley version is from 1995. He also left a number of Smiths covers on his own (presumably at home) which were not found until after his death in 1997.

Thursday, January 27

Which do you like better? Or do you say "Mu!"

The original, from the 1989... Except it's not the original, it's a version. Though it's still Robert Smith from The Cure, who wrote it... I'm guessing this is live or something. Original enough.

(There was a cover version by a musician called "Adele" here, previously.)

Lost the Adele version already, on account of copyright violation. Yet you can go to YouTube and watch it. Isn't streaming something to people you have an influence on just free publicity for an artist, so that those people may buy the album? I don't understand the strongarm tactics of the music industry a-holes. I just love music and want to share it with people; I'm not filling my site with ads and trying to make a nickel off anything. If the people I know like something enough that I put up, they are likely to buy it legally. Everyone I know well will, if they have money. If they don't, they wouldn't buy it anyway! Duh...

Well, so much for the comparison. By the way, about the Mu reference...

Simple version

More accurate version

Basically saying "mu!" to a question is to "unask" the question. Useful for paradoxes and being questioned by the FBI.

Saturday, January 22

My current Comcast connection.

After a few tries it seemed to keep coming out almost the same...

I know the reported upload speed is too slow. I observe traffic both ways pretty religiously, and it should be quite a bit higher. The test told me my ISP might be experiencing a heavy load or using "upload compression" whatever that is.

Also, I've got lots of apps open and haven't rebooted in ages, so that doesn't help. The download speed of 11 Mbps seems pretty accurate, though. On a good day on a good site, I can download things at between 5mb and 10mb per second. That's a music CD in about 10 seconds, a watchable-quality movie in about 5 minutes (less or more depending on the number of seeders), and a 720p Blu-ray rip encoded as an H.264/.mkv file in about 20 minutes.

Want to test your speed?

Caveat: I'm not sure this will work for non-North American users. Feel free to try, though.

Friday, January 21

Just got this to watch.

Amazed I'd never seen it before with those three actors in it. Looks a bit creepy too. Based on a Tennessee Williams play, and by the director of On the Waterfront. Must be good! I know the title of course but really know nothing about the film. Anyone seen this? Don't spoil it if so, just interested if you have.

Just went through all 10 Star Trek flicks recently, so now I'm on an "old" movie kick to change gears, so to speak. Stuff with Monty Clift, Richard Burton, Liz Taylor, Cary Grant, Marlon Brando, Katherine Hepburn, Gregory Peck – all the interesting actors. And in good films too. If you've got some favorites from the past, whether well-known or barely-known (the latter would be better), please share them.

Always looking for quality films I haven't seen before.

Wednesday, January 12

Enigma, "Sadeness"

Official video gets blocked in countries outside the US, usually. Still, this one contains a translation of the Latin and French parts - bonus!

Wednesday, January 5

being held down by darkness

Anyone trying to get hold of me, or wondering why I've not been around much on email, phone, facebook, or my blog... I'm just very depressed right now. I'm having a horrible time trying to sleep, horrible nightmares and insomnia and sleep paralysis and lucid dreaming and night terrors, and this lack of needed, healthy sleep has drained me completely during the day. I'm on my normal meds and not aware of any specific cause, it's just one of those things that happens sometimes. Usually I get myself out of it in a few days - it just lifts and I'm able to get motivated about something, and then it's back to the normal ups and downs of life, the normal feeling that things are real and I'm inside myself and there's not a 1000 lb weight on me and I can see or hear something or talk to someone without wanting to run away or burst into tears or be gone completely. But there's nothing I can do until it lifts...

I'll be fine again I'm sure, it always goes away (for awhile). I'm not panicking or desperate or suicidal right now - just flattened by apathy alternating with sadness, and almost unable to get out of bed. For those who are wondering about my sinus illness and other things, a quick update so that I can avoid talking to anyone in the meantime (sorry if that sounds rude, I don't mean it in that way - I just *can't* bear to do much right now)...

I went to the ENT doc but my appt was the last before their 2-hour lunch break, and they were running an hour behind by then, so I was going to have to be pushed to the afternoon. As I was already feeling anxious and depressed yesterday, I asked if I could reschedule. The doctor had no problem with it since my sinuses seem to be fine now, but said of course to call if they got worse suddenly. I'm scheduled to get my CT and see him both on the 13th now. Hopefully this time they won't overbook, and everything will turn out well. As of now I feel physically fine, I'm just in the doldrums for no reason that I know of, and can't get out of it in any way that I know of either.

This is common in major depression; despite medication, depression still breaks through now and then for most people, and the time around the holidays, around times of change or stress, are particularly likely times for it to happen. I'm trying to read, to meditate, to eat and to do little things like check my mail, but it's hard right now and to be honest I really have NO interest in anything.

I appreciate concern anyone has for me and just request (politely) that those who want to be supportive do so (again, not to sound rude - this is really what I need/want right now) by just leaving me alone to work things out for myself. Positive support is fine too, but I can't promise to respond and don't want to worry people if I don't. And any sort of confrontation about anything right now is just off the table; I can't and won't deal with it at all. I hope no one has any towering issues with me at the moment, but if they do they won't get anything out of me until I can get out of this funk. Again, it's not my will that this be the case but simply the way my disease works. I literally cannot deal with much right now, cannot "help myself" and run around getting things done and making phone calls and setting things up - if people suffering major depressive episodes could do all that, it would be quite nice, but they can't.

I'm not going to feel bad about it (being depressed), either, because I can't control when it happens and have learned that putting the blame on myself (feeling guilt, inadequacy, and so on) only makes things worse, and I refuse to fall into that cycle. I have done so far too many times in the past, causing myself to just spiral inward and get worse and worse, and I won't any more. I know it's an illness and not "me" and that anyone who thinks differently or thinks badly of me because I am the way that I am should correct their incorrect beliefs.

It's not that I don't care - it's because I do care (somewhere inside me) that I feel I must write this.

Resources for people who would like to understand depression better:

I won't apologize for being depressed either. I wish I weren't, of course. I will say thanks to those who are or have been supportive, and also that I know it is a very hard thing to deal with, not only for the sufferer but others in his family or in his life. I understand it can be extremely difficult and frustrating for those around me. Please understand it is all that to an even greater extent for me. Thank you.


Sunday, January 2


Yes, that typo was on purpose and designed to make you "lol".

Let's see... browsers. Over the life of the web I've gone from using Netscape to IE to Firefox to Chrome. I've also dabbled with Opera, Safari, Seamonkey, and a few others, but they've never been my primary browser.

At the moment I am using Chrome 8, the latest stable release, as my primary browser, but I have - get this - Chrome 10 beta, Firefox 3 stable, Firefox 4 beta, Opera 11, IE 9, and Safari 5 all installed just to play with, or use when Chrome 8 seems incompatible with something, or to compare look, feel, and speed amongst all the major browsers on certain tasks like loading pages (text-rich or graphics-rich), videos, flash, and so on. I also like to see how extensible each one is, how minimal I can make it, how useful and thoughtfully laid-out its interface is, and so on. The reason for the betas is just to see what's in the pipeline - I never use them when I'm doing something I care about, mostly just get the latest builds periodically to see a glimpse of the future.

What is your favorite browser and version? And why? Just because it's the default for your OS and seems to work fine for what you do (a perfectly good answer), or have you compared a bunch as have a list of actual reasons why you like one better than the other? What is most important to you in a browser? Stability, compatibility with web standards, speed, user interface, tools and extensions, supporting a company you like, or something else?

By the way the fastest browser as of 1/1/11 (<cool!) that I've used is by far Chrome 10 beta. Though I would NOT recommend you use it, as it's far from stable. The fastest "official" (non-beta) browser right now I think is Safari on the Mac (debatable, but it seems to be for most tasks), and Chrome 8 for Windows (IE 9 is faster for some limited tasks, but not overall). Chrome 8 seems slower than version 7, though, and 9 - which should be out very soon - doesn't promise any speed boosts. I blame it on more people bloating it with more extensions - one of the things that doomed Firefox when version 3 came out and which 4 is trying to address.

Chrome 10 will probably be the fastest still by the time it reaches "official" status, though I wouldn't put it past either Apple or Mozilla to surprise us with something just as fast by that time. I wouldn't bet on it though. Betting against Google is a sure way to lose your money. Also, I predict Opera will remain in the middle of the pack as far as speed, but be the most full-featured and in some ways most user-friendly browser out there. You should give it a try sometime. If you have a fast connection, it' plenty fast, and it has more options to customize and extend it, not to mention more built-in apps (it's really a suite, like the old Netscape was, rather than just a browser), than any of the other offerings. I quite like it, and version 5 seems like the best yet.

I'll keep testing it on sites that use lots of so-called Web 2.0 technologies like Ajax, Flex, Ruby, FBHTML (Facebook), HTML 5, and so on, and report back what I think of it when I am more comfortable in doing so. Probably this means I'll force myself to use it for all my normal daily tasks for about a month and then report back on my experiences, good and bad. Here are links for the various major browsers, btw (excluding beta builds - google those if you want them as I don't want to be responsible for crashing your computer)...

Google Chrome 8
Apple Safari 5
Mozilla Firefox 4 beta (I just broke my own 'no beta' rule, but 4 is almost out...)
Opera 11
Internet Exploder 9 (also technically still a beta, though they recommend it over version 8! Stupid Microsoft.)

Be aware that my primary experience is from within Windows 7 Home Edition 64-bit on a medium-performance rig. Your mileage may very if you use another version of Windows, or Mac OS X, Linux, or any of the new army of mobile device operating systems - or old hardware. I can't possibly test every version of every browser on every version of every operating system on every piece of hardware! (Unless someone paid me to do it, in which case I would undertake the task cheerfully.)

If you really want my recommendations (I usually tell people to do their own research, and you should), I'll say that in my opinion only, if you use Windows 7, then Chrome 8 is the best browser at the moment, followed closely by Opera 11. I'll be intrigued by the official release of Firefox 4 and use it heavily when it comes out to see if Mozilla has got their groove back. If you are on Mac OS X Snow Leopard, I'd either sit tight with Safari 5 or use Chrome 8. Firefox is not a bad choice but again until version 4 becomes official, I wouldn't bother even messing with 3.x - it's too buggy and slow. I have now idea how Safari 5 does on Windows or how Opera 11 does on OS X - probably not even worth trying to find out. I would also caution everyone to stay away from IE 8/9 on either platform. They're finally making strides toward complying with net standards that all the other browsers use, but they've got a ways to go. And they continue to have an unfair advantage by bundling their browser with their OS, and by not allowing you to truly uninstall it. Until they make it a standalone app that must sink or swim on its own without help from it's parent OS, I'll never use it nor recommend it just out of principle.

And if you want my recommendations for Linux or Ubuntu browsers, sorry, I haven't a clue.

Good luck whichever browser you use, and be sure to report any positive or negative experiences here so that we can all learn from them!

EDIT: I just found this benchmark of the "big 4" Windows browsers (unfortunately, this excludes Safari), and some of the betas I was talking about above, on the fairly reliable site Lifehacker. As my gut told me, and their numbers confirm, Chrome and Opera stomp Firefox and IE into the ground at everything. And Chrome 10 with its brand-new "Crankshaft" engine looks to be the most exciting browser on the horizon. One nice thing is that ALL browsers (yes, even IE) seem to have gotten better over the last handful of years, probably because of the increased competition. There are fewer and fewer proprietary functions and more and more compliance with web standards like HTML 5. This is a good thing. Compatibility and security trump sheer speed and fancy features every time in my book. Here's hoping that the future brings true open-standard web fonts, a browser-agnostic extension model, mandated HTML 5/XML 3 compliance, and default robust low-level security across the board as well. This would excite me more than any speed increase or GPU-assisted 3D Flash gimmicks, though the average Joe will always go for the glitzy stuff, of course.

Saturday, January 1


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