Computers Rants

Google The Conqueror

The open web is dying. Corporations are moving, almost silently, across the landscape, tweaking pieces here and there, closing doors and setting up walls. Chief among them is Google. The once proud standard-bearer of openness and standards, now a hunched, twisted reflection of itself. “Don’t be Evil”, it’s one-time motto, now a mocking phrase with a Wikipedia-esque “[Citation Needed]” attached to it.

Google has, by and large, won. The vast majority of browsers run some version of it’s Blink engine. Even that is an almost prophetic echo back to when they forked the WebKit engine from Apple; breaking compatibility. Now they forge forward, ignoring standards, intentionally breaking or slowing competitors down in whatever way is most effective while also giving them sufficient cover.

They publish new formats and standards, like WebM/WebP and SPDY in the name of speed and efficiency, when in reality they’re just looking to push the discourse of the web deeper into their own territory, where they can control more aspects. They offer free tools, like Public DNS to beleaguered Internet users trying to escape out of the, somehow even worse, ISP experience. CDNs to developers and website operators promising faster user access and lower bandwidth bills for the small price of adding further tracking methods to their already frighteningly powerful panopticon of surveillance tools.

People eat it up, too. Free email, office, calendars, contacts, voice chat, search and a whole raft of other services? All I need to do is sign up and agree to let you paw through everything I do? It sounds too good to be true! Tie it all in with your cheap smartphone and ChromeBook, also powered by their tools, and suddenly you’re enjoying the connected life with all of this sweet stuff. All it cost you was your privacy. Haven’t you heard, though? Privacy is dead. Besides, I’ve got nothing to hide…

Computers Rants

Browse Bugs Bite

I don’t know when it first started.  All I know is that every time I load a browser, I’m compelled to whine about something.

I’m not a programmer by any standard.  I’m not even all that good at scripting.  I just know that when a browser like Safari comes along with it’s nice integrated look and smooth widgets, I feel bad when I load up Firefox, a program built by a team of developers several orders of magnitude larger than Apple’s, I often wonder why such a basic feature is missing.

Don’t get me wrong, the current UI elements (buttons, drop-downs, text-fields, check-boxes, etc) look worlds better than their Windows-esque counterparts.  However, there is something fundamentally irritating about widgets that look like native widgets, but behave in a manner all their own.

Maybe I’m just spoiled by using a browser that was designed to use the system widgets, whereas Firefox has the prickly proposition of having to cater to no less than 3 major platforms.  All with different ways of doing things.  I mean, I know the Safari guys aren’t even going to bother trying to use native widgets on the Windows build (though, they are getting native text rendering).

I mean, does this look good to anybody?  Especially when you have widgets that look like they belong.

Sometimes I don’t even have to do anything out of the ordinary.