Update to Cripple?

Today my Windows XP auto-update told me that there is an update ready for my system.

Windows Genuine Advantage Notification
The Windows Genuine Advantage Notification tool notifies you if your copy of Windows is not genuine. If your system is found to be non-genuine, the tool will help you obtain a licensed copy of Windows.

Now if I have read it correctly, what it means is that if I am using a pirated copy of Windows, I will be chided that I am doing something wrong, and would probably be given a link to an online store selling a legal copy of the operating system. On the other hand, if I am using a legal copy of Windows, nothing would happen – I would probably get a pat on the back from the update, probably.

I’m sorry, what was the purpose the auto-update was solving again? If I am a genuine Windows user, why would I bother to waste my bandwidth and download something, which… does nothing for me? And if I do not use a genuine copy of Windows, does Microsoft think I am a bumbling idiot that I would waste my bandwidth and download something that could potentially cripple my computer?

The only scenario in which the auto update would do something is when it finds a non-genuine copy of Windows, in which case the user does not bother with genuine software or Microsoft’s revenue in the first place. Why would they install that update then is beyond me. Can you figure?

Chrome: is it… worth it?

So Chrome is out. Wonderful. Is it good? Or is it like the others in the market?

To find out I tried a very simple (some might say simplistic) test to see if I’d like to shift to Chrome.

I am most concerned with memory usage and stability in all my applications, and since the browser is the one software I use the most, well, I’d like to test this new kid on those two counts.

And if you remember that I was dissatisfied with Firefox 3, I have been on the lookout.

So here we go.
Methodology:
check memory usage
a. of each of the following browsers: Microsoft’s IE7, Mozilla’s Firefox2 (I had FF2 only, remember FF3 crashes so often on my machine, Mozilla would sue me for this post :D), Apple’s Safari, Opera and Google’s Chrome.
b. with 1, 2, 3 and 4 tabs open
c. comments about observation and usage etc.

So here are the stats:

One window: facebook.com (my profile page)
IE7 – 206kB
Firefox2 – 92kB
Safari – 107kB
Opera – 53kB
Chrome – 38kB

Two windows: facebook.com (my profile page), flickr.com
IE7 – crashed!
Firefox2 – 81kB!
Safari – 116kB
Opera – 67kB
Chrome – 38kB + 21kB

Three windows: facebook.com (my profile page), flickr.com, gmail.com
Firefox2 – 101kB
Safari – 148kB
Opera – 68kB
Chrome – 38kB+21kB+16kB

Four windows: facebook.com (my profile page), flickr.com, gmail.com, xkcd.com
Firefox2 – 105kB
Safari – 153kB
Opera – 93kB
Chrome – 38kB+21kB+16kB+36kB

So? Do you want charts for me to tell you which is better? Well, if you don’t consider Chrome right away, Opera was the lightest browser around, but I don’t know why, to me it always seemed to be heavy.

Now what’s unique about Chrome is that every tab comes up as a separate process, though on the taskbar it’s only one icon. What it means is that if one of your tabs is not responding, then only that tab needs to be shut down, not the whole browser. So even though with a high number of tabs (over 3 on average) Chrome has higher memory usage than other browsers, what would you do with slightly lower usage for statistical purposes if for one malicious tab your entire “slightly lower memory usage” browser goes down? Atleast Chrome is better on that count. And if you want to just check your mail and facebook updates, you won’t have to block some 100 kilos of memory.

Touch and feel:
I agree to the Google Chrome comic when it says that the browser needs to get out of the way (and in my opinion, so should the Operating System) when the user is working. Chrome works well on those counts.
More screen space – good.
No status bar – but its functionality is there – with temporary status boxes which appear on a need basis.
No menu bar – but there are two buttons which club all the functionality of the menus. Smart thinking – it’s a browser, not an illustration package where you need detailed menus to list out everything.
The favourite/bookmark bar is also not there – bookmarks appear when you open a new tab, which also shows an Opera like, but dynamic dial-space listing out the most visited/last visited pages. Ofcourse if you want an always-visible bookmark bar, press Ctrl+B.

The browser feels nimble and light. The clicks are quick, actions are taken instantly. I like it.

Stability:
On my machine, where FF3 crashed everytime the population of the world hit a multiple of 3, and FF2 and Safari also would go for a toss every couple of hours (let’s not talk about IE at all shall we, after seeing the “test results”), Chrome has not crashed ONE SINGLE TIME so far – 5 days, and not even a tab has crashed. Rock solid so far.

Cons:
I’ve heard about search issues, but I’ve not needed that functionality so far, so can’t comment. But yesterday when I was browsing techmech.wordpress.com, I realised that the browser window did not have a scroll bar, the wheel did not work, even the up & down arrow keys did not work.Well, the content did flow beyond the first fold, because when I clicked in the window and dragged down, the content did slide up. I’m sure this is a minor bug, which should be rectified soon, if brought to Google’s notice.

Hypnos verdict:
Lighter than others. Stabler than others. I’ve faced a slight glitch, but I think I can live with that right now, given that I’m living a more peaceful life due to the two big plus points I already mentioned.

I'm not a fanboy

Yes you read it right.

Though I am a big fan and user of Mozilla, I am not a fanboy. Why do I say that? Well, because I went back to Firefox 2 today.

Though I use Thunderbird in an office full of Outlook, Entourage and Outlook Express users, though I was one of the millions who pledged and downloaded Firefox 3 on download day (and I have a certificate to show for it), it didn’t work out for me. I had sort of grown fond of the improved address bar, and I simply love the improved zoom feature, but the basic reason I use Mozilla or GNU software was lacking in this release – it wasn’t stable. FF3 crashed – everyday, some 10 times a day, on unfortunate moments. I tried searching online for the reason this would happen, and potential solutions. All I could gather was that there was a conflict between some Google software, and if this software is uninstalled and installed after FF3, the problem would go away. But surprise! I never used that Google software, so what would I uninstall in order to solve this problem?

Then came the second release of FF3, and I hoped that this would solve the issue, but nothing doing. FF3 kept crashing. And I could do nothing about it. To avoid using the “inherently evil” browser, I used Safari, and liked it. But I still kept missing FF – the plugins, greasemonkey, and zotero. So out goes FF3, and back it comes – FF2.

So what do I think went wrong? Mozilla, known for its superstable software and responsiveness to consumer feedback, released a piece of software that is unstable for quite a few users as I gather. Could it be because they gave in to hype-mania – of releasing a not-yet-stable software on a particular date and setting a record? Now where have I seen this before? Hint: it’s a big company producing a software that is FF’s biggest competition. Set deadline, create hype, rush to release without testing. And then release another version which still has the problem.

If I were a fanboy, I would have gone ahead and blamed myself, my computer for the problem and been heartbroken. But since I’m not one, I simply uninstall FF3 and start using FF2. And it’s been working so far for me – I am writing this on FF2 (without the fear of it crashing midway 🙂 ).

Till the time Mozilla comes up with a super stable release, which is its hallmark, I’m sticking with FF2 – only that I miss the zoom 😦

Choices

Which do you think makes a better connect with you, or whom would you buy from?

We are your only choice
The only company selling blah-blah with blah-blah technology.
We are the only option if you want blah-blah on your blah-blah.
(In other words, if you want blah-blah and not choose us, you’re doomed. Where will you go, eh?)

or

We appreciate your choice
We are equipped with blah-blah on our blah-blah, but we appreciate that you have a choice of going to other people but have chosen us.
We appreciate that you have chosen us amongst many others who are giving similar (not the same) offerings.
(In other words, we are better, because you chose us; The blah-blah on the offering might be just one of the reasons you did.)

MetLotus – are they getting it right?

I came across this Facebook ad today, and clicked on it. It was an Indian site, which is… I don’t know what. On reaching the site (www.metlotus.com), I see the following:

metlotus.com screenshot, click to enlarge

What’s wrong with this? A good design, nice layout, soothing colours, slick animations. But where is the information about the site or the company that it represents? There are the generic social networking promises flashing in neat animation clips, but apart from that? What is its USP, positioning, the hook that would make me want to click any of the links on this page?

When I clicked on ‘Take a Tour’ (which I did purely for the reason for writing this blog), I am presented with another slick flash site in a pop-up window, which has description on how to use this site. Apparently it is a social networking venture. But didn’t the Facebook ad mention something about widgets? I clicked on that link thinking this might be a site specializing in making widgets that we can use on other social networking sites.

Now if it is trying to be a popular social networking site, why is the interface so unusable (for lack of a better word), and not intuitive? How many of us had to go through a tutorial when we first started using Orkut, Facebook or MySpace? Why does a new site, which no one knows about, insist that users log in on the front page without showing any tangible benefit to signing up?

And because I’m a designer of sorts, I also have a problem with the way the consistency with the sans-serifs in the entire design system is not maintained – they’ve used Arial in Flash animations, where they don’t have to worry about embedding fonts! That’s sacrilege in graphic designer-speak 🙂

Leaving this last bit about font puritanism apart, how many times did my mind go “negative” while going through that site – can you count?

Please provide a what???

A Calcuttan missing his hometown opens up the website belonging to the most read newspaper in that town. Pleased with what he saw, he clicked on one of the sections of the e-paper. The site tells him that he needs to be registered in order to go deeper into the contents. No problem. He is ready to register. So he clicks on register and fills up a form. Presses Submit. And see what he gets:

Email ID? The form does not mention email ID anywhere, let alone ask for it. Oh, the error page tells him that the “Username” field should have been populated with his email ID.

Who would have thought? 🙂

If you were that person, would you fill up that form again and continue to use the website? I didn’t. Who knows what other ‘mistake’ I would be chided for next? Is the phone number field actually supposed to contain my height?

Is it so difficult for web designers and companies that hire them to make websites that are free of inconsistencies and are helpful instead of carrying the old ’80-90s attitude of “I made this thing and it works at my end. You need to learn how to make it work for you if you want to use it.”?

It is all adding up to the user experience and thus the brand in the end.

Work – Foostor

I have been doing some work for this e-commerce site called Foostor. They build custom e-stores for IT companies for their employees to shop from.

So far I’ve worked on three banners (animated and static), and I’m on a major project with them (details to be disclosed later).

Do leave behind your comments about these: