September 2006 Archives

Music to have a coup d'état by

"During the 1991 coup attempt in Russia...Moscow TV programmes gave way to a looped broadcast of Swan Lake. [...] the coup collapsed two days later amid mass protests and divided military loyalties" Fun facts about music for coups from the New Statesman.

Goodbye IE7

I tried hard to like it, but ironically IE7 made me realise how much better Firefox is, and I'm now a Firefox zealot. It was all the websites that started hanging, or not displaying, the unpredictable behaviours, and the not-knowing whether it was IE7 or a site that was at fault that made me finally decide never to use IE7 again. Firefox is faster, fresher, friendlier, and bizarrely, it's kept some of the better features of IE6 that IE7 has ditched (the same icon size & layout, for example).
Get Firefox!

Raymonda revisited

"From Saracens to Socialites" is an interesting article in The Australian about Stephen Baynes' new production of Raymonda for Australian Ballet which opens in Melbourne on Tuesday. Corrie Perkin in The Australian very astutely explores the many contradictions of this can't-live-with-it / can't-live-without-it ballet. I've loved and hated it in almost equal measure, so the idea that someone has the courage to rescue it from its problems is good news.

IE7 - love it or hate it?

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ie7.jpgYou can tell it's raining, I just downloaded IE7, mainly because I'm keeping up with the Jones(es) who's had it for ages.
On balance, I think I hate it moderately. Google results for a polarised view are currently as follows:
Google search for I hate IE7 = 838
Google search for I love IE7 = 691
My reasons?

  • Having spent well over a decade using minimized windows in the task bar to tab through different pages in IE, and just starting another instance of IE or pressing Ctrl+N to get a new window, it's very annoying that you can't move the tabs in IE7 to the bottom of the screen where all other multi-window applications sit. It's early days, but I've also found that through force of habit, I keep opening new instances of IE, only to find that I then have 4 versions of a blog entry in different windows because IE can now hold many pages in one browser.
  • The refresh button is too small and squashed between two significant fields up at the top of the screen. And why change the icon?
    Although it's puffed as an improvement in design (sleek, allows more room for content in the window etc.), for me and maybe for other people who were used to clicking many times a day at the same place, it's just plain irritating and pointless. Yes, I know I can use F5, but for some reason I don't always.
  • The toolbar icons seem to be all over the place, and even when you make them bigger (it took me a while to search through the help menu to find that you have to right-click on the command bar and select 'large icons') they're still not as huge and foolproof as the old IE. I've tried to reassemble the browser window so it resembles what I'm used to, but I haven't succeeded yet.
  • Where's the history button? I must use this more than any other when I'm browsing. I guess I should be grateful that IE7 has taught me to do Shift+Ctrl+H instead, but I can't see the rationale for removing it entirely from the button options.
  • By contrast, the 'favourites' buttons, probably the nastiest and least helpful thing about IE ever, are in one of the hottest and most significant bits of the screen - top left corner. It was because favourites were so unruly and difficult to manage that I started my links page and with the advent of who the heck needs favourites anymore?
  • One thing I quite like is the option to set multiple pages as your homepage tab-array, so that when you start IE, you get, let's say, your four most commonly visited sites already loaded. But until I've learned to stop creating new instances of IE, this is going to drive me crazy, because it takes much longer to open and close a window.
  • Overall, it's like so many of Microsofts' 'upgrades' - they seem to punish the person who's got used to working with their previous programmes. From that point of view, IE7 is not nearly as bad as Word, where alt commands change and die between one version and another, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that you can still get home by pressing alt+H in IE7 - but what kind of praise is that, to say 'I'm so glad they haven't changed that?'

In fairness, I've tried Opera & Mozilla and Netscape, and the only reason I stick with IE is because I know it backwards, and can work faster with it than with any other browser. But for that very reason, it's really annoying that the changes they've made affect things like where buttons are and how you browse. The whole tabs thing is nothing new for those of us who always used IE like this in multiple windows, using the taskbar to move around - and when you take that away, what's left (and the ability to get RSS feeds is hardly an innovation, considering you could do it with bloglines and a host of other applications).

My verdict: It's probably an improvement for people who've never used IE before, but it's slowed my browsing down about 80%.

No apostrophes on these tomatoes Browsing through the entertaining pages of the musicology blog Dial 'M' for Musicology I came across this excellent posting called What Wikipedia is Good For, a gentle reminder to those who rail against the abuses of wikipedia by students that Wikipedia is host to some fantastic arcane articles like this one about the rock umlaut (aka röck döts). My inner pedant rejoices at the subsection on non-gratuitous umlauts in band-naming, and I'm so glad that there is an official-sounding term for the phenomenon, to join some other favourites of mine like CamelCase, sTudLy cAps, apps Hungarian notation and the greengrocer's apostrophe. For those who thought that this went out with the advent of shrink-wrapped mange tout in polystyrene trays, see this great page of photographic evidence of the greengrocer's apostrophe. If anyone knows the technical term for putting things in pointless quotations marks on notices, please "leave a comment" below (you see what I mean?).

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