Computers Archive

Monday, October 13, 2008

Tabbed Browsing

Tabs - Just Say NoDouglas Adams once wrote, "Anything that is in the world when you're born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works. Anything that's invented between when you're fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it. Anything invented after you're thirty-five is against the natural order of things."

Well, I must be a little advanced, because I'm already not understanding why it is that the kids do what they do these days. I won't even get into the silliness of using a cell phone to send text messages. No, my rant for today is on tabbed browsing. What's the point?

In my opinion, one of the best things Microsoft ever did was to implement the taskbar, and to make programs like Word give each document its own icon on the taskbar. Say I'm editing a document, and I'm pulling in sections from a few different documents. All I have to do is glance at the taskbar and click once to get to the document I want to copy from, and click once more to get back to the document I want to paste to. And it doesn't matter what any of those documents are. I could be pulling from web pages, Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, pdf's, etc. And vice versa, I could be pasting into any of those types of documents. It puts the focus on the documents, making the applications themselves almost transparent.

Now, enter tabbed browsing, and all of a sudden, web pages are organized differently than everything else. It's no longer a quick glance at the taskbar to see what I have open. I have to switch to the browser, first, and then use its interface to see what I have open. I've now increased the number of clicks to get to documents, increased the time to find the documents, and, worst of all, reverted back to a mindset concentrating on applications instead of the documents.

Maybe some people push their browsers harder than I do. I've read of some people who have dozens of tabs open at once to handle the web sites they're visiting. Me, I typically only have between 20 to 30 documents of any kind open at one time. When I start doing some serious browsing during my lunch break, I seldom have more than half a dozen instances of IE open at once, and it's never seemed to be a problem.

I guess I should also mention that I use a handy utility called Taskbar Shuffle. It allows you to drag the icons around on your task bar to organize them however you want. I have no idea why it took a 3rd party to do this, and why it isn't just built into the OS to begin with, but at least it's a simple fix. I also use a pretty big monitor (1920 x 1200), so making my taskbar 3 lines tall doesn't really detract much from the real estate available to programs.

Oh well, to each their own, I guess. I just don't understand all the hubbub over tabbed browsing, when to me it's just an annoyance.

Update 2010-12-04 Okay, fine, I've finally come around. I use my browser now almost exactly like Eric described - related sessions as tabs in the same main window.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Stupid Line-In and Line-Out Symbols

Another short entry today, but this makes two entries for this week, which makes up for me not posting anything last week...

Anyway, I was hooking up a computer today, so I had to do something which always irritates me. Usually, whoever's around me when I'm hooking up the computer has to listen to me bitch about this, but I figured with a blog, I can bitch to the whole world. The problem is figuring out which damn plug goes to the speakers, and which is for the microphone, and this computer only had a line-in and line-out. Now, I don't know if I'm the only one that gets bothered by this, but tell me, how am I supposed to figure out what these symbols mean:

line-in symbol

line-out symbol

I'm guessing the curves are supposed to represent sound waves, or the microphone or speaker, but what about the arrow? Does it also represent the sound waves, and whether they're going in/out of the computer? Or does it represent the signal wire? To me, that first symbol could be either a speaker with the signal wire running into it, or a microphone with sound going into it. Just like the second could be a microphone with the signal running out of it and back to the computer, or it could be a speaker with the sound going out into the world. Well, since I had to look up this issue to download those symbols, I've learned that the arrow represents sound, not signal cable, so the first image is line-in and the second is line-out (maybe I'll still remember that by the next time I hook up a computer). But seriously, what a completely non-intuitive couple of symbols. I can't imagine how those became the standard that get put on the back of every computer.

Okay, I'm done complaining.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Microsoft Security Not So Bad?

Well, this isn't the type of thing I would normally write about, and I'm not trying to become a Microsoft fanboy, but I recently read something that does tie in pretty well to that post I made earlier this month about Macs vs PCs. A lot of the anti-Microsoft comments I've read are about security. People point out how many viruses, worms, trojans, and other security threats are aimed at Microsoft products, mostly Windows and Internet Explorer. True enough, that's the case, but I'd always wondered if the main reason for that wasn't inferior security in MS products, but rather just because they're the biggest target. I mean, at one point, IE controlled something like 95% of the browser market, and I'm sure Windows has a similar advantage in the OS market. If you're a hacker writing a program to, say, try to steal bank account information, what programs are you going to focus your efforts on looking for security loopholes? If it takes a similar amount of time to find loopholes and write a program to exploit them, why waste time on programs that are going to give you far less results? I think another contributing factor may be that people that use alternate OSs/browsers tend to be composed more of computer nerds, who are going to be using better practices, anyway.

Well, I recently came across an article that may confirm this idea, Report Says Windows Gets The Fastest Repairs. Here are the opening paragraphs from that article (with links removed - go to the original article if you want the links):

Microsoft is frequently dinged for having insecure products, with security holes and vulnerabilities. But Symantec (Quote), no friend of Microsoft, said in its latest research report that when it comes to widely-used operating systems, Microsoft is doing better overall than its leading commercial competitors.

The information was a part of Symantec's 11th Internet Security Threat Report. The report, released this week, covered a huge range of security and vulnerability issues over the last six months of 2006, including operating systems.

The report found that Microsoft (Quote) Windows had the fewest number of patches and the shortest average patch development time of the five operating systems it monitored in the last six months of 2006.

and then the closing paragraphs:

Analyst Charles King with Pund-IT said Microsoft has had to be aggressive about dealing with security issues because it's such a big target. In that regard, the company has met the challenge.

"I think in a way that a culture of having been under attack for a decade or more has led to the company taking a very proactive approach to fixing those problems," he told "In the last 24 months, they've taken a very aggressive stance toward the security of their system. In review after review of Vista, despite its faults, the security of the system has been considerably better than XP."

By contrast, King said there have been complaints in the past about Apple's lack of response to security issues. But as the Mac and Linux gain marketshare, they will have to respond much quicker.

"Are the old models of response to security issues going to be able to fly or will those companies start to take some serious publicity hits from these increasing vulnerabilities and a relatively lackadaisical response to fixing those vulnerabilities?" he asked.

Anyway, I found it interesting. One thing it does mention is that even though MS had less updates overall, more of them were high priority or severe. So, that may indicate that MS actually is worse at security than other companies, but I still think the reputation they've gotten has been overblown, and that lots of people ignore what a big target they are.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Macs vs. PCs

Mac vs. PC arguments are kind of like the nerd equivalent of Ford vs. Chevy pissing contests. They spring up all over the place on the Internet, and a couple of them happened to catch my eye recently on forums that I read regularly. So, I decided to send a reply to one of them, the Ercoupe Mailing List, that I decided to copy on this blog to get it off my chest to a wider audience.

Okay, I'll add my two cents on the Mac/PC discussion, and I'll even get it back to being aviation related, for those getting tired of a pure computer discussion. One of my responsibities where I work is taking care of our flight simulator ( - there's a picture of the sim at the bottom of the page). The program we use for the simulator is X-Plane ( We used to use an old Mac running OS 9. As newer versions of X-Plane came out with new features that we wanted to run, we needed to get a more powerful computer to run them. I thought about replacing it with another Mac just so I could get a chance to play around with OSX, but when I got to pricing the computers, I just couldn't believe the price difference between Macs and PCs for comparable hardware, so I went with the PC.

Between our old simulator and a computer lab back when I was in school, I got a fair amount of experience using OS 9, and I never really thought it was all that much different than Windows - certainly not head and shoulders better like all the Mac fans would have lead you to believe. I've never used OSX, but I have a sneaking suspicion that it's overrated, too.

So, maybe OSX is a superior operating system, and maybe if price were no object, a Mac would be my next computer. But unfortunately for me, price is an object, so I'll probably stick with PCs for the forseeable future. Then again, if all you need is a home computer where just about you'll do is browse the Internet and send a few e-mails, the supposedly superior Mac OS might be a better choice.

The other argument that caught my attention was from a comment thread over at Pharyngula, How Not to Teach Biology. Myers discussed a teacher using PowerPoint presentations during a biology class, and made the comment, "Aficionados of both bad creationism and bad PowerPoint will savor these." And obviously, that drew a few of the inevitable PowerPoint & Microsoft bashing comments. In defense of Microsoft, I've used PowerPoint quite a bit, and don't have any problems with it. Yes, I've seen horrible PowerPoint presentations - but it's the fault of the people creating the presentations. I've seen some pretty bad presentations running off of Macs, too, that weren't PowerPoint based, with annoying animations every time a slide changed.

I'm not trying to defend everything Microsoft's done. They've certainly had some stinkers. I just recently wrote a blog entry complaining about IE7. And where I work, the guy that maintained the website before me had used FrontPage, and it took me a couple months to go through all the websites with Notepad to fix the horrible code that Frontpage had generated. All I'm saying is, I'm tired of people assuming a program's bad just because it came from Microsoft, or that a different program's good just because it comes from one of Microsoft's competitors.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Internet Explorer 7 Sucks

The other day I took the plunge and upgraded to the latest version of Internet Explorer, IE7. Less than 24 hours later, it was deleted off my computer.

I didn't research it much before I installed it. I'd read a few things about it, how it had better printing support, some cool new features, and was supposedly more secure than IE6. I figured I'd install it for the extra security, and that I probably wouldn't notice that much difference in actually using it. Boy was I wrong. Microsoft completely overhauled the user interface (UI), and they didn't do a good job at it at all.

Continue reading "Internet Explorer 7 Sucks" »


Selling Out