IE8 beta 2

Windows Internet ExplorerImage via Wikipedia

Internet Explorer 8 beta 2 was released yesterday.

I’ve been a fan of Firefox for years, and nowadays I only use IE when I have to (i.e. when someone’s web site only works in IE), but I still keep track of what they’re doing and of course I’m into anything with “beta” written on it.

Beta 1 was a bit of a disappointment because it was a lot slower than IE7 and had a lot of rendering problems on sites I use regularly.

Beta 2 is faster and has less rendering problems than beta 1, but it’s still not release quality.

What I really like about beta 2 are the features they’ve added to keep pace with Firefox:

  • Smart Address Bar – so far it seems basically the same as Firefox 3’s smart bar (and there’s nothing wrong with that)
  • Favorites Bar -seems a bit smarter than any of Firefox’s bars, not sure how much I’d use the cleverness though
  • New Tab Page -Mozilla are only at the Labs stage with coming up with this type of feature
  • Tab Grouping -I think there’s a Firefox extension that does this – meh
  • Find on Page -as of Firefox v1…
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Ubiquity for Firefox from Aza Raskin on Vimeo.

A couple days ago, Mozilla Labs released a preview of a Firefox extension called Ubiquity. The blog post and video do a very good job of explaining what and why it is, but basically it lets you easily combine information from different web pages and services.

For example you can select an address on a web page, look up a map for it and put that into an email in one step.

It works like Quicksilver (Mac) or SkyLight (Windows) – you press a hotkey (default ctrl+space, which is reminiscent of SkyLight’s alt+space) and then type a few letters.  It shows you matching commands, and you keep typing until you find the one you want (e.g. just pressing “g” is enough to select “google search”).  Then you either type some data for the command to use (in “natural” language) or type “this” to insert the current selection and hit enter.

Additional commands for Ubiquity are easily written, so it can be extended very simply.

The preview is obviously not release quality yet – the UI is pretty basic and if you put the wrong input in you get a floating error message that you can’t get rid of.  Nevertheless it is extremely impressive, and I can’t wait for the final version.

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3D model view of Piazza San Marco, Venice usin...Image via Wikipedia

Years ago, Microsoft released previews of a technology called Photosynth that takes photos of a place and builds a pseudo-3D model of it.  You can navigate around in 3D and view the photos from that angle.

One of the problems with the technology are things that aren’t the same in all pictures.  For example if you took 100 pictures of a monument from all different angles, that would be an ideal subject for Photosynth, but if there were tourists in the photos that would confuse it because they’re in some photos but not others, and they move around between photos.

Photosynth looked really interesting and I was very excited to try it out, but apart from periodically updating the previews, nothing was released.

And then out of the blue, a few days ago they released it!

I’m eager to try it out, but I don’t have a lot of photos of one subject to use.  If I ever get around to it I’ll post the results here.

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Super Cache!

Image representing WordPress as depicted in Cr...Image via CrunchBase, source unknown

I was a bit worried about how long it takes some of the pages on here to load, so I’ve added the WP Super Cache WordPress plugin.

It’s a bit of a pain to install because you need to get .htaccess and permissions all right, but once it’s up and running it takes care of everything else.

I was a bit worried that the static cached versions of the pages might have some problems with dynamic content, but so far I haven’t noticed anything breaking.

I haven’t had it long enough to be able to measure what difference it makes.  It’s not like I have a lot of traffic, but the last thing I want to do is scare people off with a slow site.

One of the things I was concerned about was that if my site loads slowly it could negatively affect how I’m crawled by the Googlebot.  Again, I won’t know how much of an improvement the caching has made for a while.

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