SitePoint Podcast #136: A Single Browser Issued by the Government

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Episode 136 of The SitePoint Podcast is now available! This week the panel is made up of Louis Simoneau (@rssaddict), Brad Williams (@williamsba) and Patrick O’Keefe (@ifroggy).

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Episode Summary

Here are the main topics covered in this episode:

Browse the full list of links referenced in the show at http://delicious.com/sitepointpodcast/136.

Host Spotlights

Interview Transcript

Louis: Hello and welcome to another episode of the SitePoint Podcast, we’re back with a panel show this week, one man down.

Patrick: Unfortunately.

Brad: Stephan!

Louis: Yeah, Stephan’s not here, he got caught up with work, is that right?

Patrick: Yes, yes that is right. I’m sure he wishes us well (laughter).

Brad: Work’s always getting in the way.

Louis: I’m not sure I’d jump to those conclusions, Patrick.

Patrick: Yeah, I don’t know, well, we’ve got to do this anyway.

Louis: Yeah, so how you guys been?

Brad: Good.

Patrick: Good. I’m good. I’m just working hard getting things done before heading on the road this weekend to go to a wedding, my first actual wedding that I’ve attended.

Louis: You haven’t attended a wedding before?

Patrick: No, no, I haven’t. I keep meaning to watch The Wedding Crashers to figure out how it all works, so I need to do that before I leave.

Louis: (Laughs)

Brad: I’ve been to four weddings this year.

Patrick: Wow.

Brad: So I’m definitely done I think, I hope, for the year anyways.

Louis: Yeah, hopefully. Well, I imagine there’s not a lot of winter weddings in the northern hemisphere so you should be safe.

Brad: I hope so.

Patrick: Yeah, yeah, I’m headed down to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina for my friend Jared Smith’s wedding to his fiancé Stephanie, so looking forward to getting down there, it’s a little south of me but not too far south; I’m North Carolina that’s South Carolina so it’s just a state away.

Louis: Yeah, you guys want to dive into stories this week?

Patrick: Alright, so I’ll go first, I found an interesting little, very little, study from Dan Zarrella, danzarella.com, he works for HubSpot, he is the Social Media Scientist, self-proclaimed.

Louis: Oh, boy.

Patrick: He looks at data, large data sites, from sources like Twitter, Bit.ly and whatnot, and then publishes his findings, and I found this link through ReadWriteWeb to his blog, and basically it tells us the CTR, the click-through rate, of links and Tweets based upon where the link is included in the Tweet. And there were 200,000 Tweets at random that were gathered that were analyzed containing Bit.ly links using the Bit.ly API to calculate the click-through rate, and the clicks on a link were divided by the number of followers of the Tweeter. So, and then he took a look at where the link was included in the Tweet and basically displayed this simple heat map, so if you haven’t seen it, I don’t know if you guys have seen it or not, what do you think the best place to insert a link would be?

Louis: Well, I’m looking right at the heat map so I can’t really, uh —

Patrick: Okay, great.

Brad: I would’ve honestly before seeing this I would’ve guessed the end —

Patrick: Right.

Brad: — the end of the Tweet.

Patrick: Because that’s where they are mostly, and I think we’re trained to put it there almost at this point. We start with the title, describe it and then put the link at the end of it, but the heat map here with this sampling demonstrates that the link is best after about 25% or so of the Tweet, so 25% through that Tweet, through that 140 characters, that is where people are getting the best click-through rate right now.

Brad: Who thinks to check into stuff like this? Like it just seems like is this something that’s going to alter how people Tweet when they look at this, I mean are you going to change and move all your links up front of your Tweets from now on?

Patrick: Well, I think if your goal is to generate traffic from your Tweets then yeah, like Sarah of SitePoint, Sarah the community manager of SitePoint uses the Twitter account and I know others do for SitePoint, and part of the reason that article Tweeted out is to get traffic, so if you look at this then I would think you would at least experiment with the idea of seeing if you can work it in there earlier and how well it works, how well it impacts the click-through rate. There was a mention in the comments on this article from a John Gordon, and he mentions that he’s seen people offering a short description like “New Study,” “Funny Video,” something like that, then the URL, then the little longer description after the URL and that’s one way that people are working it in.

Louis: Well, I think that kind of rings true to me because if you think about it when someone introduces something then posts a link then goes on to talk about it, that sort of speaks to “I found this interesting, here it is and here’s what I have to say about it,” so there’s more engagement on the part of the Tweeter with what they’re Tweeting rather than, oh here’s a cool link and just throw the link in; a lot of the time those can be, you know, the automated Tweet if you click on the share button on a post you’ll get sort of something with the link at the very end.

Patrick: Right.

Louis: And that maybe is less interesting because it doesn’t tell me that the person really wants to engage in a discussion about this or thinks it’s really cool, thinks it’s cool enough to comment on beyond saying what it is.

Patrick: Right.

Louis: So, yeah, I mean it kind of makes sense, I don’t think it’ll alter my Tweet behavior at all, but then, you know.

Brad: So you think we subconsciously see a link at the end of a Tweet and assume that it was probably just clicked and shared like you said, that’s a good point, because you click the sharing button on the side or the Twitter button, Retweet or whatever they’re calling it now, and it does exactly that, it puts the title of whatever the post is or the page is and then puts a link at the end, so subconsciously are we automatically kind of discrediting those Tweets and saying, eh, someone just clicked a link, they probably don’t really care about that as much as somebody who maybe put a little commentary before or after the link.

Louis: Yeah, maybe that’s what’s going on.

Patrick: Yeah. I don’t know; there could be a blindness developing there.

Brad: This would kind of suggest that maybe, I don’t know, it’s an interesting point.

Louis: Well, it’s perhaps an interesting point for anyone developing an automated share button to make it so that it says, you know, cool article from SitePoint: link, then the title after the link sort of in your code to generate the automated Tweet; you could with something that sort of follows this pattern.

Patrick: Yeah, or to at least offer the option I suppose because different people, different reasons, it’s like from a personal account of mine it might not be a big deal but, again, from a publication account or from an account that’s for a blog or someone else like that then it may be worth at least experimenting. I think the type of people who look at this hardcore are the same people who would do split testing, AB testing to see like if you move a button to this side you get more subscriptions; the more people subscribe to your newsletter the button is colored this way or if it’s on this side or use this wording. So, yeah, I think that group will find this interesting.

Louis: Yeah, I guess it’s interesting because personally as a web designer/developer I find it very difficult to bring myself to care about this kind of story, but I suppose there’s a case to be made that your presence on the Internet, whether you’re a business or anything, goes beyond sort of the interaction that exists on your website and goes out into the interaction that exists on social networks, and this is an example of that.

Patrick: Yes. And our audience is online marketers in addition to web designers, so once in a while we have to fit something in there for everyone.

Louis: (Laughs) well, I’ve actually got more stuff for SEO’s actually, if we’ll permit to move on to the next story. This is a story that happened about a week ago, and Google has made a change to their web search whereby if you’re logged into your Google account the search will be encrypted so it’ll be served over SSL. So what that means is that for all the people who are logged into a Google account if you go to just Google.com to type in a search you’ll actually be getting the https version and not the http version, and that has the side effect that people who click on a search link the referral page won’t be made available to the site that’s receiving the traffic, so as a website owner you won’t be seeing the keyword string, the keyword search string, from traffic referred by Google.

Brad: Is that live now because I haven’t noticed that change.

Louis: I believe it is live now, that was my understanding, I’m not sure whether that’s — it doesn’t seem to be actually happening, yeah, that’s a good point.

Patrick: Yeah, it’s not happening for me either.

Brad: I wonder if it’s in the actual realtime pool behind the scenes and not actually the entire page being encrypted, just the terms itself.

Louis: Yeah, that’s a possibility as well. So the article I have is from Search Engine Watch, a really good breakdown of — I’ll get to this a bit later but there’s been some blowback from SEO and search optimizing community about this for a number of reasons, and we’ll talk about that a little bit later, so maybe this hasn’t been done yet. Although it seems from the article that it implies that it’s done already so maybe you’re right, maybe it is only the Ajax traffic that’s sent behind the scenes when you actually do a search rather than the content of the page itself.

Brad: I think it’s a good idea; I’m all for encrypting anything that — any type of sensitive data, and I think a search could potentially be sensitive data depending on what you’re searching for. I’m all about encrypting it so, you know, you’re going to make people mad when you make changes like this, especially the SEO industry which is, no offense, is a finicky industry anyways; you know, you make one little change and it blows up all their —

Louis: I think that’s about the least offensive thing you could —

Brad: Yeah, I’m trying to be nice because I’m sure we have SEO’s that listen to the show, and I’ve ran around with those crowds and they’re an interesting bunch; it kind of goes back to when the realtime searches and searching with based on location, I mean it’s a tough market to be in because the search is getting so specific to users versus just being very broad and everybody seeing the same thing, I don’t even really know how these guys do it anymore.

Louis: Yeah. So the interesting point that has been made here is interestingly so this applies to organic search results, so if I click on a link in the organic results, so that’s the regular sort of search results on the page, it will be identified in Google Analytics, for example, as coming from Google and it will be identified as organic but it won’t display what the search was. However, secure site searches that lead to clicks via search ads will still provide the search query. This is where it’s gotten people a little riled up, right, because on the one hand you can make the argument, okay, I understand, like you said, Brad, a search is private data, it shouldn’t be passed along willy-nilly to anyone who’s receiving that traffic except if they’re paying Google.

Patrick: Yeah, and here’s the thing, I don’t know that this is really private data in my view of it because it is, you know, it’s not tied to the individual user when we see it in our traffic logs, like I like to go in there and see what I’m ranking for and what traffic I’m getting. I don’t know that I view that as personally identifying information; I can see how it might be in an extreme fringe case, but for the most part it’s not going to be.

Louis: Right, but it could be, right, I mean there’s nothing preventing me as a website owner if you’re logged into my website and you do a search and click onto my website and then login or then create an account, right? I mean I have access to the data of what you searched for to get to my site.

Patrick: Theoretically you could but that’s also the way the Web works with your referrals, that’s not just from Google.

Louis: Yeah, but does the average person know that? Does the average person know that when they search for something and go to a website that website has access to the term that they searched for to get there?

Brad: Probably not.

Patrick: I don’t know that they do, but are we saying that every website now needs to go in and turn on https and to secure any referrals at all? Like do I need to go from my forums and all the referral links that come out of my forums do I need to block those or am I betraying my users by not doing so?

Louis: Probably not. And, again, the case needs to be made that this is only for users who are signed into a Google account —

Patrick: Right.

Louis: — which according to the estimates in this article is something like 7% of Google searches. Now, 7% of Google searches is huge, that’s a huge amount of data in an absolute sense.

Patrick: Sure.

Louis: But relatively there’s still a truckload of Google searching data that is being made available to people.

Patrick: Yeah, and the point that is made and I think to clarify, because I’m not sure if it was totally clear, it’s not from what I’m reading here, correct me if I’m wrong, the referred data that is being blocked in this case will be made available to people who pay for ads period, not just to pay for a specific term or who pay on a specific query, but they will be able to see that referral data that is otherwise hidden simply by advertising on Google.

Louis: Yeah, so when someone clicks on an ad on a Google search page, —

Patrick: Right.

Louis: — the search query is made available to the person who’s receiving that click.

Patrick: So it’s just on the ad click, it’s not on let’s say that person has also an organic link.

Louis: Yeah, so it will only be on the ad.

Patrick: In the results. Because it seems rather generic how it was laid out in the first couple of paragraphs in the article, so I wasn’t sure if it was just the ad or if it was also an organic link that might appear in the same results.

Brad: And it does also make mention that the search terms will be available through Google Webmaster Central, so if you’re using Webmaster tools to track those search terms it will still exist in there even on organic hits, so not saying it’s getting you out of Google, but if you’re 100% dependent on a third-party analytic outside of Google that doesn’t help, but if you are using Google Webmaster tools that data will still exist in there.

Patrick: Yeah, hmm, interesting, interesting. And I would say that in general, though, Google doesn’t really care what SEO’s think, they are sort of — it’s like when the link, when selling text links on your website was a big issue, Google doesn’t really care about anybody but the general public, and the general public isn’t going to care about webmasters or SEO’s.

Louis: Yeah, again, the case that would be possible to be made which is that we’re protecting the general public’s privacy by not passing along the search string is kind of undermined by still passing it along in the case of a paid link so, you know, Google’s clients get a different experience from the general web at large.

Patrick: Right, I mean I would think if it’s just the ad getting the referral on then I mean I can see how that might be different, if it’s the general term as well then that would be something that would raise my eyebrow a bit.

Louis: Well, it definitely seems like it’s just the ad from what I’m reading here, it would be only the ad.

Patrick: I guess I’m more okay with that, but what I’ve always been told about criticizing Google is it’s Google’s site, you can stop using it if you want to.

Louis: I guess so.

Brad: Have fun with that (laughter). Well, speaking of Google, —

Louis: Oh, boy, here we go.

Brad: It’s been announced that Chrome has passed the 200 million users mark which is pretty insane if you think about how young Chrome is, so Chrome was released just over three years ago, September 2, 2008, and they have passed 200 million users which I pulled up some browser stats which we love to talk about, and of course every site you check is different, but we generally seem to go with Statcounter, and worldwide usage for Chrome last month was 23.6% and Firefox was above it at 26.79, so only about a 3% difference right now between Chrome and Firefox worldwide which is impressive as well. So, the big question is do you think that Chrome is going to end up being the number one browser in the next year or so, is that a possibility?

Louis: Could be. What’s the total IE at the moment?

Brad: IE worldwide is at 41.6% last month.

Louis: So that’s all versions.

Brad: These are all versions, yeah, so.

Louis: Alright.

Brad: So still up there a little bit, I mean it’s definitely IE’s shrinking every month, the other two are growing, well, Chrome’s definitely grown, Firefox grows a little bit, I think it’s kind of up and down some months.

Louis: Hmm, very interesting, it’ll be very interesting to see. I think it’s maybe possible, it depends, you know we can’t really know what percentage of that IE use is the really core people who have no idea what a browser is, right, and those people are never gonna — I get the feeling that IE’s fall will stall at some point because you’ll hit the point where everyone who knows what a browser is isn’t using IE.

Brad: That’s a good point.

Louis: But there’ll still be this core of people using IE, it’s hard to see how you’re going to convert that last little chunk of people, I could be wrong, who knows; maybe everyone’s got a friend or relative encouraging them to use Chrome or Firefox.

Brad: They click that e logo and it opens up Chrome.

Patrick: I still haven’t even downloaded it.

Louis: Haven’t even downloaded what?

Patrick: Chrome.

Louis: Right (laughter).

Patrick: It’s like a meme at this point.

Brad: Don’t listen to him, he hasn’t even seen Star Wars, so you know what, when it comes to —

Patrick: Exactly. I feel like I can’t do it now because I’ve waited so long that it’s just I’m the last man standing, but just to put this in perspective, Brad mentioned that it came out September of 2008 so going back to the Statcounter global stats to September 2008 at that point IE had 67.16% market share, now down to 41.66 dropping about 26% of market share. Firefox was at 25.77 and, interestingly I suppose, it has gone up but it’s at 26.79% now, so just a small 1% gain over that period of time; it got as high as like 32% during that span but hasn’t seen the large gain or drop, in the case of IE, that IE and Chrome have seen respectively, and Chrome of course has gone from 1% in September of 2008 to 23.61 now, so a gain of 22% over three years.

Brad: Pop Quiz: do you know when, either one of you know when Firefox the original version was released without looking it up?

Louis: Oh, my God.

Brad: I’ll know if you’re typing.

Louis: No way.

Patrick: No, absolutely not.

Brad: I had to look it up, too; I had a rough idea but I would never have gotten it. It was actually November 9, 2004, so it had about a four year head start on Chrome, and Chrome is getting read to surpass it, I mean I think by probably early next year we’re going to see Chrome surpass Firefox, and obviously right now we’re talking worldwide usage, it obviously varies if you go by country. I was reading one article it says in the U.K. Chrome is already #2, in some other major countries as well, or larger countries, so it’s getting past that. You’re right, I don’t know if it’ll ever pass IE, I like to think it will, I like to think something will pass IE whether it’s Firefox or Chrome, but it’s just I mean it’s amazing to see how far it’s grown in just three short years.

Louis: In fairness, as a developer I don’t really have much of an issue with IE 9 & 10, like those are perfectly respectable browsers and I think they do most — I mean they might be a little bit behind the curve, but they’re pretty much keeping up the pace now, so I don’t really care whether IE is no longer the core browser; if everyone using IE is using IE on 9 plus or 10 plus then that’s great, but I think it’s 6 and 7 that we really need to kill.

Patrick: Right. And I think someone should set IE is a perfectly respectable browser to hot dance beats right now —

Louis: (Laughs)

Patrick: — and you can do that. But you know what, Mozilla has moved on to the next big thing, as we know the Open Badges Project (laughter), so I don’t know if they’re so concerned with this whole browser thing anymore.

Louis: I get the feeling personally that Chrome is a bit more kind of an end user friendly kind of browser and Firefox is much more of a techie browser.

Patrick: Yeah.

Louis: So for me it kind of makes sense to see all the people fleeing IE are moving more to Chrome than to Firefox, whereas the people, that core of Firefox users were mostly — I can’t say mostly developers, obviously, but, you know, more technical people, so maybe that’s the case, I don’t know. Let’s make some random generalizations about browser users.

Brad: There was a quote I was trying to find back when Chrome was released, and it was — and I couldn’t find it but maybe one of our listeners will remember, it was someone that worked at Google and they came out it was shortly after the first version of Chrome, the beta was out there, and they said look we’re not trying to take over the browser market, we would be happy with a very small percentage, and I want to say they said like 1 or 2% but I could not find that quote, so if anyone knows who said that or where it was said I would love to see that again and kind of compare where they’re at versus — because I know they’re obviously way past their expectations or at least what they initially thought it could do, I think everybody is, so it would interesting to dig up that quote.

Louis: Yep.

Patrick: Yeah, I think just because they may have set low expectations doesn’t mean everyone else didn’t expect them to grab a substantial portion of the market share.

Louis: Sure.

Brad: They obviously have a big reach, I mean they put something on the homepage of Google you know a lot of people are going to see it, so it’s certainly helped in other areas too where they promoted it, so, pretty wild though, 200 million users.

Louis: Yep, huge props to them because it has had the effect of sort of jumpstarting the browser landscape again, and a lot of the things I was praising in IE 9 & 10 might never have come about if it hadn’t been for Chrome kicking them into gear.

Patrick: Browser wars.

Brad: Absolutely.

Patrick: So it seems like we haven’t been talking about HTML5 as much as we had in previous episodes, at least recently, so I’m going to bring an HTML5 topic to the table, ReadWriteWeb’s John Paul Titlow reports that Amazon’s next Kindle format, Kindle format 8, “moves away from the previous Moby standard in favor of one that supports many of the rich layout and formatting features of HTML5 and CSS3. He says that the fact that Amazon is ditching its old format for a more web friendly one is a sign that it intends to make the eReading experience one that’s more akin to web pages in general, the use of CSS3 gives publishers a whole new toolkit for laying out and designing eBooks and one that utilizes the familiar and relatively simple syntax of style sheets for the Web.” Of course Amazon is getting ready to ship out the Kindle Fire on November 15th, and the new format is being released along with that, so I guess Amazon is tackling eBooks now on the Kindle as more web pages than that typical mobile book format, so probably another win for HTML5 here.

Louis: Is it really though? (Laughter)

Patrick: That’s like the ultimate contrarian question: Are you certain?!

Louis: Terrible lead in. No, but I mean to say by that, that the Kindle format is still — it’s a DRM’d format that you can’t, you know, that isn’t available via the Web, it’s not something that — so it’s not really the Web; whether or not they’re using HTML5 in it I don’t think that’s a victory for HTML5, I think if you ask the W3C what was the intention of HTML5, what were the goals and, you know, it’s to make content easily accessible via the Web to everyone, right, or it’ll be some variation of that, and that’s definitely not what’s happening here, right, it’s just co-opting these technologies to use them in a closed format that sort of cements Amazon’s monopoly on this industry, right.

Patrick: So, two things; first, if you ask the W3C if they would rather Amazon not support HTML5 and CSS3 (laughter) I’m pretty sure they would say they would prefer they do.

Louis: Maybe, I don’t know. Probably they’d have a committee about it and get back to you in 12 months.

Patrick: Right. But the second thing I would say is that, yes, DRM or not Amazon the thing that has made the Kindle so successful, though, is Amazon’s ability to make their Kindle books available on so many formats, not only the Kindle devices, iPhones, iPads, Android, even browser based viewing now for the Kindle Book, so though it is I suppose still DRM it’s not DRM I would say in the traditional completely inflexible format where you’re expected to use one program or one app or one device, you know, Amazon lets you view your content on many devices.

Louis: Yeah, I guess that’s a valid point. It just has this note of kind of icky to me, like I don’t immediately buy into the, oh cool, HTML5 yay, hurrah kind of thing. And this is from, again, this is coming from a Kindle user and I’m really, really happy as a Kindle user, I really like it, which is kind of where the cognitive dissonance kicks in, right, because I know that it’s not as good as it could be; if it relied on an open format I’d be a lot happier with it.

Patrick: So the Kindle could be easier for you to use if it was in an open format, is that what you’re saying that the experience isn’t seamless enough?

Louis: In some respects it’s not. If it supported EPUB which is an open format, it’s been standardized for a long time, you know, I could buy books from wherever I wanted to which is wherever they’re cheapest or get public domain books from a variety of sources and more easily load them on nor have to convert them; anything I get from Amazon I can’t really backup and if ever I lose my Amazon account or for some reason I decide I don’t want to deal with Amazon anymore then it makes it difficult for me to carry those books across to a different platform, right?

Patrick: Yeah, I would say that’s right, but as far as backups go Amazon backs up all your content that you purchase from them into The Cloud, so one of the selling points of the Kindle was that you can delete anything you want on your device and still get it back anytime.

Louis: Yeah, they back it up.

Patrick: How many backups do you need?!

Louis: I just need a backup that’s under my control is what I’m saying.

Patrick: Oh, gosh.

Louis: I’m just a little bit too paranoid and old-school here.

Patrick: So I guess if we put that all aside from that perspective of it —

Louis: Yeah, let’s not —

Patrick: — from the perspective of someone who is developing for the Kindle, perhaps, which is now a color device, it’s going to be easier for web developers, web programmers to now develop for that platform if their clients want them to, is that fair to say?

Louis: Yep, absolutely. And, again, you know like from the perspective of getting HTML5 out there and people start familiarizing themselves with technology and using it, I mean it also makes it easy if you’re developing a book that you want to make available via the Web and I think bring it across to the Kindle is another possibility; I don’t exactly know how much overlap there is between the two formats, like if it’s an easy thing to just take a webpage and turn it into a Kindle book, like, for example, take a blog and turn it into a Kindle book.

Patrick: Right.

Louis: Or whether it’s actually a somewhat more involved process where the format is kind of different.

Patrick: That’s a good point.

Louis: But in theory it’s a great idea, you know.

Patrick: Yeah, they have a list of supported HTML tags and CSS elements on the Amazon site which is linked from the ReadWriteWeb article, and from the look at it a lot of the popular elements that you would expect in HTML and CSS appear to be included here, certainly not all of them or probably even a majority of them, so, yeah.

Louis: Yeah, it’s interesting, seems to have a lot of stuff; there’s no div though.

Patrick: Yeah, there is.

Louis: Oh, look at that. I just can’t read so that’s the problem.

Brad: There’s no Blink here, where’s my Blink?

Patrick: Happens to all of us.

Louis: There is, in fact, no Blink, but I don’t think an E Ink screen would actually be very good at representing that.

Brad: I don’t think we want anybody to represent that in a good way (laughter).

Louis: I don’t know, I think Moby Dick would be a lot better if it was blinking.

Patrick: Yeah, how about Marquee, is that still around?

Louis: Ah, I don’t think so. Hopefully not, hopefully not. Yeah, so interesting, it’ll be cool to see what happens with these new formats of Kindle, it’s like a real screen, it’s not in the ink display, right?

Patrick: That’s correct, it’s not the same E Ink display, it’s a color 7-inch display.

Louis: Right. Well, it’ll be cool to see how that performs, I mean I know a lot of people really like reading on E Ink displays because there’s not glare and your eyes don’t get tired, but then a lot of other people really like the tablet experience, so it’ll be cool to see how this does. Does it have a browser; is it going to have a browser?

Patrick: Yes, it has a browser called Amazon Silk that you may have heard about where Amazon is using the processing power of its server to speed up web pages if you so desire, similar to Opera Turbo and that’ll be included with the tablet as well, so yeah it does have a browser and it’s based on the Android platform of course.

Brad: One more browser we have to support.

Patrick: I have a feeling it’s not going to be something you’re going to have to program out of your way for necessarily, I think it’ll probably work pretty seamlessly, just a guess, I don’t think Amazon’s going to throw a browser out there that’s terrible.

Louis: We’ll definitely have to revisit it once it’s out and if anyone’s had a chance to play with the browser or look at how their websites render on it.

Patrick: Definitely, sounds like a reason to buy one.

Louis: No.

Patrick: To test your websites that’s the excuse.

Louis: (Laughs) that’s a good excuse for buying a lot of gadgets, you know.

Patrick: Yeah, I only have a cheap pay-as-you-go phone, and I don’t have to do any testing as you can see (laughter), so don’t have to worry about it.

Louis: Cool. Next story?

Patrick: Is yours, right?

Louis: So, what happened, and this actually leads into what we were just talking about, is there was this thing, a Tweet by Aral Balkan (@aral) who is a user experience designer, and made a — or posted a Tweet a little while back that he sort of described as a one version manifesto, and his Tweet was “#oneversion, #manifesto- My websites will only support the latest versions of browsers, it’s the browser makers duty to get users to upgrade.” So my story isn’t actually about this Tweet or the ensuing Twitter battles, this was re-tweeted by Leah Verou and then they got into a pretty big huff with John Allsopp who sort of disagreed with this sentiment, but my story is actually the sort of blog post that John wrote on the Web Directions blog as a counter-argument to this; I think it’s a really interesting read, it’s called The Next Six Billion, so it’s sort of about the idea that, you know, enormous numbers of people are coming online everyday probably, and that a lot of those people are going to be using a very wide variety of sort of mix of old hardware and old software and that it falls on designers as a responsibility to support all those platforms rather than kicking the responsibility to someone else or relying on a platform like IOS or like Android or like anything to be a way of sort of absolving us of the responsibility of designing for one web and one platform that everyone can access. So it’s a really interesting read if you like the old kind of old-school web standards idealism as I do (laughter) which is perhaps a little bit less absent in the web design discussion now than it was a little while back, but it’s definitely a refreshing read and highly recommended. I don’t know if you guys have any thoughts on this.

Brad: It’s a lot of people.

Patrick: I think it’s an interesting point, I think it’s a good discussion and it feels like in a way we’re getting closer to this or at least closer than we’ve ever been before as far as browser makers getting their users updated. Firefox has always been, you know, really good at that, Chrome forces you or I don’t know if they’ve recently — I think they might have recently done something to slow that down or not, I don’t know either way but they basically force you to update. IE’s the only one that’s essentially lagging out of the big three other browsers, Safari is a 5% browser, I don’t really use Safari; how does Safari handle that?

Louis: I think doesn’t it just go along with the — it comes from the system updates from OSX, right, I think.

Patrick: Okay. So Safari’s the same way.

Louis: Oh, no, it’s on Windows also so I don’t know how, I don’t actually know how.

Patrick: Right, so let’s say it’s the same, you know, so we’re getting closer to this utopian society for web designers where the browsers basically update themselves, and users have very little option; they may be able to slow it down a little bit but pretty soon it’s gonna happen. So, I mean I think this stance —

Louis: But is that the case for everyone? Is that the case for like an old brick phone with Opera Mini on it or an old laptop running Windows XP? I mean in some cases, yeah, you can put Firefox on Windows XP but, you know, can we just throw out all these other browsers because we don’t feel like spending time browser testing?

Patrick: So are those people still human (laughter) or I mean how do we view them I think is the question? Are they still humans, no, I’m just kidding. No, I agree with you really because I think this is while we’re closer than this than ever I think this is also a good way if you are not client-rich, let’s say, to stance yourself out of clients, I mean you know if you need clients and they want their websites to work in browsers that aren’t the current one then maybe you don’t need those people if you’re this person but maybe other people do, so I think the market will take care of that but as developers I guess we all, or not we, I’m not part of that camp, but they need to make a decision that they are going to do this or not do this. So, I think there’s room for both, and I think like I said it’s getting better for those people, I don’t know if it’ll ever be perfect but we’re getting closer and maybe one day I think maybe you can push for just a single browser issued by the government, I think we’d all like that.

Louis: (Laughs)

Brad: That’s exactly what we need.

Louis: Awesome, Patrick.

Patrick: When Google becomes the government I think we’ll all be Chrome users.

Louis: Fantastic, man, that’s clearly the endgame for web designers.

Patrick: Yes.

Louis: Vote Google 2012.

Patrick: (Laughs)

Louis: Okay, yeah, let’s do spotlights, why not.

Patrick: So I’ll go first then. My spotlight is the commercials from Sony Ericsson advertising the Xperia mobile phone, the Xperia Play, featuring Kristin Schaal who is a comedian, and the two of course I like the most are called T-Squared and Built for Kristin, but if you — and we’re going to link to the YouTube channel, YouTube videos for those, but if you click on the channel indicator go to the channel and search for Schaal, which is S-c-h-a-a-l, you’ll find the array of commercials and they’re all just in my view hilarious, and I’ve been laughing quite a bit this week at the assortment of them, so check that out for a laugh.

Louis: Yeah, Kristin Schaal’s a really funny woman.

Patrick: Yeah, she is.

Louis: The first time I saw her was on Flight of the Conchords, I don’t know if you guys had that.

Patrick: Right. I’ve heard of it I haven’t seen it, but I know that that’s where a lot of people have heard of her from.

Louis: Yeah, and then she’s been on The Daily Show recently as well a couple of times and just, you know, one of those people who’s just systematically hilarious, and these are great ads, so awesome.

Patrick: Yeah. There’s just a lot of things going on there, not only her humor but her voice and when she gets angry (laughter), and it’s all very funny, I think it’s great. She also voices a cartoon character on a show on Fox called Bob’s Burgers which is really funny as well. So, Brad, what do you got?

Brad: What do I have, I have ants fighting and killing each other.

Louis: (Laughs)

Brad: In a completely artificial intelligence kind of way. So my spotlight is the aichallenge.org, it’s a challenge back from fall 2011 for artificial intelligence, it’s sponsored by Google but it’s not actually ran by Google, and the gist of it is you basically create a computer program in any language that controls a colony of ants which fight against other colonies of ants for domination, I mean whoever ends up winning or creates the best or the smartest colony of ants will win this competition. So it’s actually pretty cool because they have these starter packages which have basically a place to get you started with your ant colony in all different languages, so you have C, C++, Java, JavaScript, PHP, Pearl, Ruby, I mean any language you probably can think of there is a starter kit available, so you don’t have to try to figure out how to make a colony, it starts you with that and then your job is to make your colony smarter using artificial intelligence. So the contest will run through, let’s see, it ends December 18th, so you have a couple months here, and then at that time they’ll start the final tournament, so you can actually logon now and watch some of these battles happening in realtime, so there’s all these little ant colonies running around the screen fighting other ant colonies, and it’s actually these are actually programs that people have written and this is how you test out your program, and then when you’re happy with it you submit it and then when the tournament starts that’s it, they’ll start the tournament, whatever ant colony comes out on top is the winner. So it’s a pretty interesting idea if you ever wanted to play around with AI definitely this is a good place to start because they give you those starter packages, so I’m going to keep an eye on this because I want to see which colony dominates.

Louis: Yeah, looks pretty cool. So what are they doing, they’re collecting food and I imagine sort of reproducing and also fighting other ants?

Brad: Yeah, you know, doing ant things (laughter). As I understand it, it looks like you’re looking into like an ant hill of some kind, but there’s all these different colonies separated by colors so you’ll see the green ants running around the red ones and the blue ones; it seems to be a little bit of that between the food and then also the fighting and the battles, so if you get attacked or your ant’s gonna come to the help of the ant that’s getting attacked or is it just gonna die because your programs not smart enough to go help, you know, that type of stuff. And if you help how many resources you sent; it’s artificial intelligence, so you can imagine there’s a million things that you need to try to account for if you’re gonna come out as the winner. Pretty cool, this actually reminds me of SimAnt, you guys ever play SimAnt back in the day? I mean it’s obviously much more basic on the graphics level, but I’m having some pretty cool nostalgia here thinking about SimAnt.

Louis: Yeah, this is definitely cool.

Patrick: No, I never played SimAnt.

Louis: I might have a look depending on how much programming’s required to just get something up and running, but maybe I’ll just make a colony where they just run around in circles.

Brad: (Laughs) they spell things and die.

Louis: (Laughs) that would be awesome; make one where they just spell things and that’s the end of it.

Patrick: And the worst ant colony, least cooperative ant colony, belongs to Louis Simoneau of the SitePoint Podcast! Wonderful, no, I’m just kidding.

Louis: I could pull it off I’m sure. Alright, so my spotlight is this pretty cool illustration that I saw go around on Twitter a little while back, and I’ve been trying to trace down the origin of it, I finally did find the Reddit thread and someone in the Reddit thread has given credit to the artist and I’ve got a link to her Facebook page. An artist by the name of Moie Preisenberger has done this illustration sort of browser logos as women’s dresses I guess is the — I think she’s a fashion illustrator, and what she’s done is sort of taken the color schemes behind browser logos and turned them into some sort of very elegant evening gowns, I suppose is the way to say it, and sort of incorporated the color schemes, and it’s really pretty, and for us who are big into the browser scape I think it’s a really kind of geeky thing to check out, so we’ll post a link in the show notes and definitely check it out.

Brad: Did anyone else kind of expect Internet Explorer to look like a, I don’t know, beat up junkie or something?

Patrick: Don’t say it. Don’t you say it! (Laughter)

Brad: I expected, I don’t know, I expected the browsers to kind of represent their usage and what people think of them and they’re all just very attractive women in nice dresses.

Patrick: People; people being web developers.

Louis: (Laughs) it was just, again, like I said, I get the feeling she’s primarily a fashion illustrator and is really just going for the idea of the color schemes and sort of a way of putting it together, and like the — and there is sort of a theme, like Chrome because it has that sort of very playful sort of plastic-looking logo has a more kind of I guess playful dress as well.

Patrick: Plastic-looking dress, is that what you’re going to say? (Laughs)

Louis: You know; it’s got those kind of green clunky high heel shoes and a yellow fluffy skirt.

Patrick: Yes.

Louis: Whereas Opera’s a very more like classic, the kind of thing you might wear to an Opera, right.

Patrick: Right.

Louis: Not you, but — (laughs)

Patrick: When we go out one day, yes.

Louis: So, interestingly, in response to what Brad was saying, though, I first saw this, it came around on Twitter a while back, it was Tweeted by Erin Kissane, formerly of A List Apart, and the one that she Tweeted was actually someone had edited the original and sort of messed up IE’s face, and I didn’t even notice it at first because like it was fairly subtle modifications, let me see if I can pull it up to show it to you guys, I was going to bring that as the spotlight and then as I was looking it up this morning to use it as the spotlight I sort of pulled it up like oh that looks really weird, that doesn’t look like anything — that’s such a classy illustration overall I thought it was surprising that like the eyes were out of line and giant forehead and the mouth was weird, and I was like oh that really doesn’t fit with the rest of the illustration, so I went looking to see if maybe it was a tweak on the original because the eyes are just not even in the same plain, so here’s the one that I originally saw where someone clearly got a little creative on Photoshop —

Patrick: Those jerks!

Louis: — and messed with the IE woman. So, anyway, I went looking and I did find the original by the artist which is a bit — it was much classier let’s say.

Patrick: Right, classier, exactly; well said.

Brad: The modified one came from Reddit you said?

Louis: No, the one I eventually found on Reddit, the original, and the reason I went to Reddit is I was having a hard time finding anyone who linked back to the original and people were just linking to hosted versions of the images and not giving credit to the artist.

Brad: I’ll bet knowing Reddit if you scroll down far enough in the comments you’ll find the fixed version.

Louis: I’m sure there’s all kinds of (laughter) —

Brad: That’ll be exactly what I’m looking for.

Louis: I’m sure there’s all kinds of hacks in Reddit.

Brad: It’ll be much worse than just a little face modification. You’re right, though, it is a pretty classy picture.

Patrick: They’re gonna replace it with the witch from Snow White.

Brad: It’s great.

Louis: Alright, well, lots of cool links, everything we’ve talked about this week will be in the show notes as usual so be sure to check that out, leave us a comment. Do you guys want to quickly go around the table?

Brad: I’m Brad Williams, Webdev Studios, and you can find me on Twitter @williamsba.

Patrick: On the second third of the table I’m Patrick O’Keefe for the iFroggy Network, I blog at managingcommunities.com, on Twitter @ifroggy, i-f-r-o-g-g-y.

Louis: And completing the circle you can follow me on Twitter @rssaddict, you can follow SitePoint on Twitter @sitepointdotcom, that’s sitepoint d-o-t-c-o-m, and of course as always visit sitepoint.com/podcast to leave a comment on this show or to subscribe to get every show automatically, you can find all our past episodes and we’d love to hear what you think. You can also email us, that’s podcast@sitepoint.com. Thanks for listening!

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  • http://www.nosnetrom.com Jim Mortenson

    Just wanted to say that your headline about a government-sponsored/mandated browser is rather chilling to this fan of free markets and personal choice. Sure, I have to sweat over Luddite users on old versions of IE, but I would rather do that than be subjected to a lack of browser choice for myself and my users. (I know though, you all were just kidding… )

    • http://www.managingcommunities.com Patrick O’Keefe

      I think we’re all in agreement, Mr. Mortenson. :) Good thoughts.

      Patrick