Monthly Archives: July 2009

Web 2.0 – Satellite Killer

Satellite internet connections have for a few years been a good substitute for direct wired broadband connections in rural areas.   The first satellite internet systems used the orb in the sky to beam down a fast signal, and used a modem to send data back upstream.  Even though it takes 2-3 seconds for the page request to get from your computer up into orbit and back down to earth and out on the internet, once the page started coming, it came fast.  That worked okay – but was a bit slow for lots of uses particularly if you wanted to email an image to your grandson or whatnot.

With the advent of services like Wild Blue that have true satellite uplinks as well as downstream,  things got better!  Sending files became more responsive, but there’s still a large lag problem because the signal has to travel up to a satellite and back.  Gaming, of course, doesn’t really work well over this kind of laggy (or high latency) connection.

Now, there’s another problem.  Boom.  Boom.  Boom…. the death knoll for Sattelite Internet.  Web 2.0.  Boom. Boom.  Boom.  You can hear the drumbeats in the distance.

The reason things are getting bad again is that  the lag time is becoming a problem.  Web 2.0 web-based applications work by sending bits of data back and forth between your computer and a web server on the internet.  From periodic saving, to getting the contents of a dropdown menu….  from moving the mouse around in a document to positioning and streaming of video….. Web based applications require frequent small communications between your computer and a web server.

That doesn’t work well when it takes 3 seconds for your “hello!!!! I’m here!” to get from one end to the other and back.  I’m using my mom’s Wild Blue connection now, and there’s a lot of things I simply can’t do.  I can’t watch video on Ted.Com.    (I suppose I could download them.) Most interactive websites just don’t work at all.  Gmail works.  That’s nice!   Chat… kinda works..  Those “software update” tools don’t work.  They often get the mistaken impression that the connection goes down.  It doesn’t.  It’s just slow.

The new breed of web-enabled apps need reasonable latency.  You don’t need uber-fast connection speeds, but uber-slow just doesn’t cut it.  I’m not so wild about wild blue anymore.

IE-only CSS for Your Sanity

I stumbled upon an accident the other day. One of those oh wow moments.  Haven’t you always been a bit ticked off how Microsoft has gone and decided their own way of implementing many things in CSS, deciding to be different where the standard doesn’t specify, if only to be a pain in the….. yeah.

You know the story.  CSS differences between IE and Firefox / Opera / Safari / Chrome / Everyone Else have always been a pain.

Well, as it turns out, most browsers use C-Style comments in their CSS.  C has two style of comments:  /* Like this */ which comments out a block, and // Like This

The above comments everything after the // on the line.

I haven’t found // in the CSS standard, and … IE just ignores these characters.  It proccesses anything after the // as if the // wasn’t there at all.  Other browsers seem to think it’s a comment, and ignore the // and everything after.

In other words if you have this tag:

#myblock {
margin: 0px;
// margin: 10px;
}

IE will use a margin of 10px, and all the other browsers: 0px.

I haven’t tested it out with IE8 yet.  But works in IE6 and 7 which are the biggest pains anyway.

I’ll come up with a better example later but this is HUGE!  Now we can put IE-specific CSS in our CSS files, to make IE do things that the other browsers will just ignore!

Of course, anyone that’s reading this that’s using IE6 or IE7 – UPGRADE.  You are exposing yourself to serious security problems.  Latest news is that these old browsers are susceptible to virus attacks that can take over your machine.  I’ve a mind to make my websites display “Upgrade your browser – You’re in DANGER!” if they are using an old version of IE.

Now, I could do that conditional stuff with just CSS!

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