FryUp’s amazing Firefox scoop

Teh Intarweb real-time, an amazing scoop on Firefox and, wait, there's more on Telecom and unbundling

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- Teh Real-Time Intarweb

- FryUp’s Amazing Firefox scoop

- Slow LLU on Telecom’s standards and terms

Teh Real-Time Intarweb

Internet attacks, latency and traffic at a glance, courtesy of content access accelerators Akamai. I think New Zealand is grouped with Australia, but this is still a very good site. Be great to have a local version actually.

- Akamai Real-Time Web Monitor

- Akamai: Visualising the Internet

FryUp’s Amazing Firefox scoop

It’s true: the upcoming Firefox 3.0 will not support colourable scroll bars, as per the de facto Web standard Internet Explorer. So says Robert O’Callahan of Mozilla. This means in all likelihood that animated scroll bars are also out, which is an amazing departure from true usability and popular demand. Can you imagine a web in 2007 without such features?

On the other hand, it looks like intelligent hyphenation of text and automatic ligatures for web fonts are in, ditto animated PNG and lovely SVG vector graphics, judging by ROC’s demo, last night at the Auckland Meetup, that went without hitches on a development build. The <video> tag for Ogg Theora by Chris Double that means you can play back video - files and streaming – without having to download plugins or even CODECs for your browser is excellent stuff.

I do like the idea of someone fighting the open standards and access battle and what’s more, that there are people getting paid for it. Better yet, some of these people are actually in crass, unprincipled Auckland, New Zealand, at the Mozilla Foundation office here. They’re looking for more staff, so now’s your chance to contribute to the survival of an Open Web. Not sure about shorts and tucked-in t-shirts as the corporate uniform though.

On the other side of the fence, where proprietary software running in a browser lives, there’s also some interesting stuff going on. I’ve never been keen on Flash but hearing how the Terabyte peeps built ElectroCity for Genesis Energy was great fun and I was struck by the creative and practical approach as well. Not to mention all the hard work that went into producing a very slick little game that conveys a message rather nicely, in a very short time.

The Man From Microsoft, Nigel, showed his mettle with Silverlight and WPF and got all hairy and codey with it. Despite the audience’s misgivings about Microsoft trying to embrace and extend the web, it was some very impressive stuff. Also, Microsoft’s development tools are very nice indeed.

- Robert O’Callahan’s blog

- Chris Double’s blog

- ElectroCity

- Nigel Parker’s MSDN blog

- What this was all about: The Auckland Web Meetup

Slow LLU on Telecom’s standards and terms

I can see now why Telecom needed more time to file its proposal for LLU standard terms. The incumbent has certainly been “comprehensive enough” with “sufficient detail” with it, as the Commerce Commission requested, and churned out over 1,200 pages of documentation.

That’ll take a while to digest, but the long time-frame for the LLU implementation stands out immediately. After the determination, we’re looking at a “soft launch” whereby a mere five unspecified exchanges are prepped for LLU. If the providers jump through Telecom’s hoops in the specified manner, they can start installing gear in the exchanges after 65 working days. That’s over three months. All in all, the soft launch is set to last 120 working days; full implementation of LLU starts 125 days after the Commerce Commission’s determination, with everything supposed to be ready fourteen (14) months after.

So, that’s in reality a year-and-a-half after the determination. The determination itself will take a while, because according to the Telecommunications Act, the ComCom must move forward like a sloth on valium:

“Initiation of the determination process;

• At least one scoping workshop;

• Commission issues notice to provide a standard terms proposal;

• Access provider submits a standard terms proposal;

• Submissions from access seekers on the standard terms proposal;

• Commission issues draft standard terms determination;

• Parties to provide submissions on the draft standard terms determination;

• Commission issues standard terms determination”

Those of you who think this means two years at least before LLU comes into play are probably being optimistic. If we’re lucky, 2010 is the year of LLU.

Of course, the Commission doesn’t have to accept Telecom’s delay and stall proposal and can nut out its own. However, by the time the regulatory wrangling is done, DSL is expensive dead tech served up by a heel-dragging incumbent. This whole process should’ve been set in motion around the new millennium more decisively and without all the ridiculous gabfests and pen pushing, as we would’ve had working LLU now with a large market that has investment incentives to build faster networks.

As it is, we should stop the nonsense. It’s not worth the money and effort, as LLU won’t deliver what we need in just a few years time for broadband. Let Telecom keep its crap copper and build a fibre to the premises network that will be usable by 2010 and with open access. There’s no other option now.

But take heart, Telecom is also proposing a $100 + GST charge to wholesalers for hard copy invoices. No doubt that will be passed on to ... you and me.

- Telecom Standard Terms Proposal submissions

Fixed Width (cartoon from www.xkcd.com)

Robert X Cringely

Surfin' Safari

Pop quiz time. Please sharpen your number 2 pencils and complete the following sentence: What the world needs now is a) love sweet love

b) more media coverage of Paris Hilton behind bars

c) another Windows browser. If you answered “c” you'll probably like Apple's Safari 3.0, now available in XP, Vista, and Original Mac Recipe. As for the rest of you, well, have you heard about Paris's latest public breakdown? The new Safari beta brings some nifty features to Windows surfers, along with security holes big enough to swallow Steve Jobs' Mercedes. Security researchers claim to have found 18 vulnerabilities within 12 hours of the browser's debut, including some that would allow remote attackers to compromise a machine running Safari. It's gratifying to see Apple fitting so well into the traditional Windows framework. Safari's biggest claim is that its rendering engine is faster than the rest; in my own extremely unscientific tests I found it a smidge quicker than Firefox, but nothing worth changing your boxers over. And as for IE, Opera, Netscape, and Mozilla... who cares? The 'Snapback' feature, which lets you jump quickly back to your search results when you get lost following a Google thread, is a nice addition. There's a very cool bug feedback button, which has probably been getting a bit more action than Apple anticipated. And Safari has parental controls, which Firefox lacks, though they are grayed out and unavailable on my Windows XP system. When I asked an Apple minion what was up with the ghostly controls, he replied they were there “to enable the parental control features built into Leopard.” In other words, that other operating system that isn't Windows. You get the feeling maybe they rushed this thing out the door so Mr. Turtleneck would have something new to talk about at the WWDC? The question is really how much of Firefox's lunch Safari will eat. My guess is maybe the snack and some of the fruit. Unlike iTunes, Safari brings nothing essential that Windows browsers don't already have. IE haters have already switched to Firefox, and true Apple diehards already use Macs. Safari could benefit from the introduction of the iPhone, which will have the browser embedded. There may be cool widgety things that work well on the iPhone and Safari and not so well on other browsers; that could bring a few Windows converts to the fold. Will that include all 10 million iPhone users Jobs plans to have by the end of 2008? Don't bet on it. Apple may call it Safari, but this dog won't hunt.

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