Microsoft releases Internet Explorer 9

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At 04:00 this morning (UK-time) Microsoft released the latest version of its Web browser software Internet Explorer 9. Needless to say I didn’t stay up for the launch… although, thanks to my youngest son I was awake at that time.

Why 4am?! Well, seemingly it coincided with the official launch during the South by Southwest (SXSW) conferences and festivals in Austin, Texas.

The road to IE9

I was genuinely excited following the development of IE9. Over the years it’s become almost fashionable to be negative about Internet Explorer; Internet Exploder.

Hey! I have a poster on my wall in the office that says “God made the earth in 1 day and then spent the next 5 trying to make it look good in Internet Explorer 6”. And another that says “Keep calm and debug IE6”.

I found Internet Explorer 7 a disappointment. It fixed some of the IE6 bugs but introduced a few new ones. It was reminiscent of the Philip Larkin poem ‘This be the verse’:

They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.

IE8 was an a great improvement over both IE6 and IE7 but it was still lagging in terms of keeping up Web standards.

So IE9 had a lot to live up to if it was to claw back respect in the Web development community. And from what I was reading on the IE9 blog and in the Web-media I was genuinely quite excited about the prospect of a Microsoft browser holding its own alongside Firefox, Opera and Google Chrome.

What’s it like?

Having checked out a couple of the beta releases and the release candidate during the last 6 months or so, my initial excitement was quickly crushed.

Each version of IE9 beta plus the release candidate broke my personal homepage that I run on my ‘localhost’ webserver, installed on my PC.

It wasn’t a huge deal, the code is pretty old now and clunky, but it was very disappointing as it has worked perfectly in IE6, IE7, IE8; Firefox 1.0 – 4.0 RC; Opera 7 – 11.1; Safari 3 – 5; Chrome 1.0 – 10.0; and even some archaic versions of Netscape, so why not IE9?!

In installing the final version this evening, however, I was pleasantly surprised. My homepage now works perfectly in IE9.

IE9 is fast—really fast. It starts in only a few seconds and having checked out a few websites and web applications it handles them at an impressive speed too.

Goodbye IE6

I look forward to checking out IE9 more in the future. In the meantime I welcome their “Internet Explorer 6 Countdown” campaign which is dedicated to ensuring that usage of Internet Explorer 6 drops to less than 1% worldwide. It currently has around 12%.

Shockwave Flash crashing in Google Chrome 10

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Probably about a year ago I moved from using Mozilla Firefox as my number 1 browser to using Google Chrome.

I didn’t mean to switch from Firefox. I’d been a huge fan of Firefox since before version 1.0 was released. Hey! I even contributed financially to Mozilla’s appeal to raise money for the launch and my name was published with thousands of others in a full-page advert in the NYTimes in December 2004.

But Google Chrome was just so fast.

It started quickly (more quickly than Opera), it rendered Web pages quickly and being built on the WebKit engine it supported Web standards well and supported the latest HTML5 and CSS3 developments.

Chrome Chrash

But since upgrading to Google Chrome 10 (and 10 beta) I’ve had nothing but trouble with the Adobe Shockwave Flash plugin crashing every few websites.  Since Chrome 5 (released in June 2010) the Flash plugin now comes built-in to the browser, rather than relying on the separate plugin installation that Firefox, Opera and Internet Explorer use.

It seems that I’m not the only person to experience this, which comes as something of a relief to me. There is currently a discussion on the Google Chrome help forum entitled ‘Chrome 10 – Flash Crashes’ which is making for an interesting read.

One suggested fix/workaround is this:

  1. Go to about:plugins
  2. Click on the [+] Details link (top right).
  3. You’ll see two listings for Shockwave Flash. I’ve got “10.2 r154” and “10.2.r152”.  The former is located in C:\Users, the later in C:\Windows\system.
  4. The advice is to disable the built-in version (the C:\Users version).

I’ve been running this workaround all evening and as yet haven’t experienced a crash.

I’ll be watching this issue very closely… who knows, I may be moving to Opera 11.1 for a while very shortly.

Update

Tuesday 15 March: that workaround didn’t last. Shockwave Flash has been crashing again this evening. So I’ve just re-enabled it, if that’s not going to do anything.

Update 2

Wednesday 16 March: I’ve now updated to the Dev channel as someone said that version 11.0.696.12 dev was working fine for him without Flash crashing.

Reuben and Joshua’s new dining room seats

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Do you see what I see? This is a photograph of our dining room, taken at 06:36 this morning.

Look! No highchairs.

Reuben and Joshua ‘helped’ clean the two Ikea Antilop highchairs and put them up into the attic last night. It’s nice to get our dining room back

We invited Reuben and Joshua to choose which seats they would like, hoping that they’d chose the seats next to Jane and me (in this photo I have the blue ‘crabbit’ placemat, Jane has the turquoise ‘fouter’ one). But no, they wanted to be lords of the manor and sit at opposite ends of the length of the dining room table!

Ah! they grow up so quickly.

Mobile phone forgiveness–how I reinstall my PDA

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What better way to begin Lent than by offering your mobile phone complete forgiveness? It was getting slower and slower, and last week I was needing to soft-reset it every day or two.

So, last night I performed what is now becoming a six-monthly hard-reset and reinstallation of Windows Mobile 6.1 on my O2 Xda Zest.

Installation order

I’ve pretty much got it down to a fine art now, and simply need to follow the instructions on my custom-made Excel spreadsheet which tells me what to do and in what order.

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I have 5 main categories of actions:

  1. Hard reset which includes setting the date/time, the O2 Auto Installer, selecting the correct O2 network package (pay monthly), uninstalling the default (and outdated) Spb Mobile Shell and Opera.
  2. Connect to PC which includes connecting to my PC using Windows Mobile Device Center, and setting up Exchange.
  3. Basic Setup which includes setting up the owner (which is used by some software when registering applications), regional settings, calendar settings (week starts on Sunday, show 7-days, show half-hour slots, show week numbers, do not set reminders for new items), connect to WiFi, backlight and power settings (battery: 5 mins; external power: always on), change my ring tones, and schedule ActiveSync (set to manual and no email push service).
  4. Essential software which is now Spb Mobile Shell, Spb Wallet, SK Tools (for the registry editor), Opera Mobile, Microsoft MyPhone (to backup online my files, texts, photos, etc.), Agenda One (for improved handling of Outlook Tasks), CoPilot Live, moTweets (although I haven’t installed it this time and MyMobiler (so that I can view my mobile phone screen on my PC).
  5. Optional software which includes Pocket e-Sword bible, MobiPocket (eBook reader), DivX Mobile Player (for movies), FourWinds mahjong, Spb Keyboard, A-Z (Edinburgh, Glasgow and London).

This time I have purposely not reinstalled any of the optional software. Most of it I don’t use on a day-to-day basis so I just want to see how I get on without it.

Regional settings hack

By default in the UK regional settings the long date format is either

  • dd MMMM yyyy (e.g. 01 March 2011)
  • d MMMM yyyy (e.g. 1 March 2011)

but there is no option for including the day of the week. However, I discovered that if I did the following I could trick Windows Mobile 6.1 (and I’ve used this hack with earlier versions of Windows Mobile too) into using the format that I wanted:

  1. Start > Settings > System tab > Regional Settings.
  2. Set Region to English (United States).
  3. On the Date tab select dddd, dd MMMM yyyy from the drop-down.
  4. Click OK.
  5. Reboot Windows Mobile.
  6. Start > Settings > System tab > Regional Settings.
  7. Set Region to English (United Kingdom).
  8. Click OK.
  9. Reboot Windows Mobile.

If you now visit Start > Settings > System tab > Regional Settings you’ll see on the Region summary tab that the long date has remained in the format dddd, dd MMMM yyyy (e.g. Friday, 11 March 2011):

20110311-mobilephoneregionalsettings

Custom ring tones

The other thing that I have to remind myself every time I reinstall is where to store custom ringtones. I have two that I use an old phone ringtone for my calls, and the ‘24’ CTU phone ringtone for my text messages.

Once the files are in place I go to Start > Settings > Sounds & Notifications > Notifications tab to set the ringtones.

Phone ringtone

I have a .wma file that I drop into \Windows\Rings\ on my phone’s internal memory.

SMS ring tone

I have a .mp3 file that I drop into \Windows\ on my phone’s internal memory.

Conclusion

And that is pretty much it. It took me about two and a half hours to do, including backing up old files and photos from my Micro SD card.