Posts Tagged ‘Opera’

Snow, Blood and Cookies

Friday, December 9th, 2011
CSSquirrel #90: Snow, Blood and Cookies

Today’s comic features Opera’s viking doing some nasty, brutal stuff. Because if a public community representative of Opera acts out of line, and the company doesn’t call them on it, they might as well be endorsing it. Luke Wroblewski also stars as the stand-in for well-meaning folk who are trying make peace at the expense of correcting bad behavior.

Buckle up.

I’m going to throw myself on the grenade and be the curmudgeon.

You don’t have to like what I’m about to say, but I think you need to read it.

We are, as a community, allowing ourselves to be abused. We’re Kevin Bacon in Animal House, bent over in our underwear and thanking someone for beating us. And, like any sadist with a free pass, they’re continuing to hit us again, and again, and again.

I get it. It’s the holidays. We’re stressed out by end-of-year deadlines, driving on icy roads and getting our Christmas shopping completed and hoping that at the end of the day we can kick back an egg-nog and just be merry. We don’t want the stress of confronting and condemning bad behavior, so we’re trying our damnedest to shrug it off.

Additionally, most of us want to be liked. And we want our friends to like each other. Whether it’s in our neighborhoods, in our Facebook profiles, or in our professional circles we just want people to be friendly and think highly of one another, but especially us. So when a flare-up starts between two peers we’d rather put our fingers in our ears and hum the Benny Hill theme song than owe up to the fact that there’s a problem.

But I’m here to be the bearer of bad news: there is a problem. Not only that, we’re responsible for it.

When I was growing up, my mother made it clear that certain behavior was not acceptable. Among other rules of childhood, I couldn’t go about tossing insults at people. Not my parents. Not my siblings and not friends. Heck, I was expected to maintain at least some decorum around the kids I disliked.

Going outside the bounds of socially acceptable behavior carried with it a penalty. Maybe soap in the mouth, or a spanking, or being grounded in my room, or at the bare minimum no desert after dinner. It was unpleasant. I was a pretty big crybaby, so any sort of punishment or chastising resulted in a waterfall of tears and a sniffling cry that would last for hours. I guarantee my mother hated having to deal with it. She probably would have enjoyed her evenings much more pretending I didn’t doing anything wrong, instead of listening to me cry and sniffle in my room as she desperately tried to read a book in peace.

But she did it anyway. As a result, I learned the difference between right and wrong and stopped doing the bad behavior. It didn’t mean that I stopped thinking ill of kids I disliked, or devising a choice insult for my brother when he provoked my ire. But it did mean I knew it was unacceptable to act on those thoughts, and it made me consider my words before I said them. If, after a good hard think I decided it was worth provoking my mother’s wrath, I’d still take the risk of insulting someone.

I did, however, think first.

In a pattern that goes back probably for quite some time but for certain seems to have flared up this week we’ve been permitting ourselves to be subject to bad behavior. We’d rather read our books in peace, so we are ignoring the misdeeds of an entitled few in the hopes that it will all go away.

And it’s not going away.

There’s literally thousands of amazing, talented developers and designers currently involved in making the Web a better place. A whole lot of them are like me, working hard for a very modest living in a small design firm that doesn’t get awards or fancy big-name clients. A great many also work as embedded Web people in a large corporation or other entity, thanklessly fighting the ignorance or misinformation of their bosses and co-workers while trying to apply their awesome skills to making their corporate site a better, slicker place to visit.

Then there’s the superstars, Web folk that work as community representatives and star developers for the big Web companies that take leadership roles (by fiat or by standards) in developing and proselytizing the advancement of the very technologies we use to make awesome Web stuff.

These people don’t just speak at conferences, they speak at dozens of conferences. They don’t just make cool web projects. They make amazing, cutting-edge projects that push forward the meaning of “good Web design”. They talk a lot about community participation and self-learning and being involved.

They’re intelligent, creative and successful people.

Sometimes, they can be utter dicks.

Anyone can be a jerk. From the drug-addled homeless man currently shooting up in the alley down the street from my office to the richest men in the world. Every person is capable of forgetting those lessons in basic decency that their parents (hopefully) taught them as children and slip up from time to time.

When it happens, it’s usually considered acceptable to say “Dude. No.”

The worse the bad behavior, usually the more stringent the chastisement should be. Action. Consequence. It’s a no-brainer, right?

But what happens when thought leaders, community representatives of important companies in the industry, and superstar talents start to repeatedly engage in or endorse bad behavior? It usually goes something like this.

  1. The superstar does something socially unacceptable. Like refer to a recent article by the owner of a small design firm as drug-enduced bullshit. (original was deleted, here’s a retweet).
  2. Individuals call the superstar on the behavior, noting how unacceptable an action it is. Especially for a community representative of a major player in our industry (although, really, it’s just unacceptable period).
  3. The superstar sort of apologizes. Usually in the vein of “I’m sorry for using strong language” or “I’m sorry you got upset”.
  4. The individuals (rightfully) insist that’s not an acceptable response, and demand a genuine, public apology.
  5. The superstar does so.
  6. Supporters of the superstar retaliate by calling the original individuals the curmudgeons in this situation. They in essence defend the bad behavior by shaming them for “bullying” the superstar, say the “crap” they’re saying is undeserved.
  7. The rest of the community, straining to retain a smile, do everything in their power to bury the “firestorm” under a (likely well meant) pile of hugs and cookies universally handed out to everyone involved, including those that defended the bad action and the superstar that did it in the first place. All are pardoned, nobody is wrong.
  8. The superstar states how tired they are of the drama… seemingly ignoring the fact that it was their own behavior that caused it.

This is all sorts of messed up. Nobody’s learned a lesson, because as a community we’re too concerned about “drama” that we’ll do anything to quash it instead of uniting as a community to call down the person who started the drama with their attack in the first place. We’re sending such a mixed message of supporting the peace or the person without collectively condemning the behavior.

Anyone who ever raised a kid or was a kid knows exactly where that will lead. To more bad behavior.

I’m not calling for punishment. But the launch of a pro-community “make the web better” website (which I will not be linking or mentioning by name for reasons I’ll make clear below) should have been a source of joy in the holiday season. Instead, two individuals tied to that effort have engaged in either passive/aggressive sniping or outright insulting of individuals and their efforts in this week alone. And according to people in the know, this isn’t the first time for some of those involved. And what kills me, what hurts me is how highly I thought of these people prior to now. But how can I promote the work of people who engage in socially abusive bad behavior?

I can’t. No matter how much I agree with the message of their product, I cannot in good conscience promote their goods and services when they’re behaving in a fashion that I know to be wrong. And as near as I can tell, they’re not sorry for how they’ve behaved. They’re simply sorry they were called on it.

The only way we’re going to improve as a community is to grow up and realize we can’t hide everything under soothing hugs and cookies. People messed up. Worse yet, people who are well known and respected representing companies with power or social clout messed up. If they are protected for their behavior, they will continue to abuse us, the community. And many of us will, over time, mimic that behavior in a misguided attempt to become as successful as they are.

Shame on you, Divya. Shame on you, Paul. You’re grown adults. You know better.

Next time you want to blame the drama, stop for a moment and think about who actually started it.

And to the rest of you, I’m sorry. I don’t want a cookie. I want it made clear that this behavior should never have happened, and can’t be allowed to keep occurring.

Happy holidays.

Comic Update: That Is Fast

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

Today’s comic features the woodland creatures side of CSSquirrel, with the Opera Moose, Naepalm (the animal version of Mindfly Studio’s very own Janae) and none other than IE9 himself.

I’m actually shocked by the IE9 beta that was released today. It’s got a slick, minimal interface that is such a radical departure from what I’m accustomed to from Internet Explorer that I’m left speechless. It’s also fast. Surprisingly so.

These two facts are just a small portion of what IE9 brings to the table. Improved CSS3 support. HTML5 elements are now supported, including beautiful elements like <video>, <audio> and and the sexy girl on the block: <canvas>.

I could wax eloquent, but I prefer to direct your attention to smarter people saying the same thing with better word choices, like Rey Bango. Go check his blog post on the topic right now.

One beef people are pulling out to disparage the new release with is IE9′s lack of support on XP. I get the gist of where they’re coming from: the less operating systems IE9 is supported on, the harder it’ll get to make hardliners upgrade off IE6 or 7. But the fact is, XP is old. Really old. You don’t see people complaining because Safari 5 isn’t supported on Mac OS X 10.4, do you? I’m sure the reason Apple didn’t do backwards support is the reason Microsoft did what they’re doing. Both are in the habit of selling OSes. And if you’re not calling Apple down for that behavior, it’s more than a little hypocritical to do the same to Microsoft.

(Frankly, If you’re using a beast of an old OS, I suggest you go to other vendors like Mozilla and Opera for your modern web experience. Or upgrade your OS. Which path you pick is probably based on your pocketbook.)

Speaking of which, I’m not an IE user. It’s catching up, but it hasn’t surpassed my experience with other browsers like Firefox or Chrome (although FF is getting chunky in a way that alarms me, but I believe version 4 is going to correct that). But it’s improving by leaps and bounds, and I think we should acknowledge the effort Microsoft is putting into burying the mistakes of their past.

If you’d like to check IE9 out, you can download the beta here.

Comic Update: Moose & Squirrel

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

Next week we’ll be concluding my AEA stoyline. Today’s comic, a continuity-free interlude, features Opera Mini. I should say, rather, that it features Opera Mini if it were a moose instead of a browser installed on hand-held devices. A short moose. A midget moose with some sort of glandular problem.

I hope you’re able to follow the metaphor I’ve created, as I don’t think I can devise another way to repeat what I just said above.

Frequent readers may be aware of the fact that I have not been too kind to Opera in the past. Typically, these tussles have dealt with how they’ve handled conflicts with certain competitors. Today,  it’s a different story.

What Matters With Mobile: Speed

I own an iPhone, a device that comes pre-installed with Mobile Safari. Safari is a great modern browser that renders most (non-Flash) websites beautifully and accurately. And when I’ve got a decently strong connection, it even does it in a time-frame approaching (but not reaching) quickly.

The fact is however that my phone’s provider is AT&T. And when I’m at home, my WiFi access is through Comcast. Despite their many bold claims and lovely commercials stating otherwise, neither vendor provides what I’m going to refer to as a fast connection. Quite the opposite, I’m positive that there are several times in any given day where a 28.8k modem would more quickly deliver me the information I am seeking to consume.

Tell me, why as a society is it acceptable to charge people for a speed that they might, but usually won’t, receive from any given service, rather than the speed that they actually are receiving?

Regardless, these modern day robber barons aren’t making my service any better anytime sooner, so experiencing the web through Safari on my iPhone is similar to experiencing a milkshake through one of those really tiny coffee stirring straws. Yes, sooner or later you’ll get the shake, but it’s not exactly at a speed that’s enjoyable.

This is where Opera Mini comes in. Yes, it’s a less-capable browser in the rendering sense. But if I want to wait for a minute or longer per page,  I can certainly do so for my rounded corners. Usually when I’m on a mobile browser, I want data quickly. Very quickly. So Opera Mini serves me just fine. Better than fine, in fact. It’s very fast. Which makes surfing the web effortless again. Which I dare say is how it is supposed to feel.

Addendum: Privacy & Security

A few days back, I made the following pro-Mini tweet: “Speed matters. Especially on mobile. And that is exactly why I’m using Opera Mini more than Safari, despite the rendering deficiencies.”

Ben Adida offered the following question as a counter: “Does privacy matter? Cause Opera Mini proxies all of your connections, even SSL, via its servers.” It’s a valid question, especially considering his expertise in the field of privacy and security. Not being an expert on how Opera does things, I poked at both Bruce Lawson and Molly Holzschlag, both Opera employees.

Both of them said “If you don’t trust us (Opera), then don’t use the service,” and then each followed up with more details.

Molly backed up the security conversation with this gem: “Regarding proxy serving in Opera Mini? We are a public company in Norway, which has some of the most stringent privacy rules.”  as well as the very honest tweet: “As such if you cannot trust based on the integrity of a product or its company, no matter who, then don’t use that product!”

Well said.

Bruce gave us reasons to trust Opera with two security-related links. First, he indicated that Opera Mini is actually more secure on public WiFi than other browsers (with this link to back his claim) as well as linking to a post about how well Opera scored with security according to Symantec (here’s the abridged version: very well.)

So is Opera Mini fast? Yes. Is it secure? Yes.

That’ll do, moose. That’ll do.

Comic Update: Opera’s Rough Edges

Monday, November 16th, 2009

When all else fails, I resort to poking a little at Opera in good jest. I take these sort of risks because Oslo is very far away and the last invasion of North America via the Scandinavian peoples was over a thousand years ago. If anything, it’s far safer than my cheap shots at Microsoft, when my town is less than two hours away from Redmond by car.

Today’s comic is one of those little jabs at everyone’s favorite European browser maker. I’ve got issues with Opera that this comic makes light of (while wishing squirrel snogger and Opera employee Bruce Lawson a belated happy birthday). Yes, Opera is a far smoother experience for modern web features than Internet Explorer. That’s not in question. But I’m getting a bit exhausted by the relatively slow adoption speed of CSS3 features by the browser in comparison to the increasingly popular Firefox and Webkit-based browsers.

Rounded corners are, admittedly, largely a non-issue. If visitors using Opera get square corners in a design, I’ve taken steps to ensure it’s at least a good looking square design. It’s an example, though, of a slew of features that Opera’s failing to keep pace with. Due to this lack of universal browser support (in the modern browsers, at least), It is hard for me to sell adoption of these designs to clients when roughly 1% of a customer’s visitors are getting a bad experience as a result.

Take for example, Jonathan Snook’s text-rotation tutorial. It provides a way (via filters) to get even IE to come to the ballgame with producing vertically-oriented text. Everyone, except Opera, can play with this toy. Even if IE couldn’t, thanks to conditional comments, I could provide a fallback solution for that browser. But as Opera lacks such (and I’m not recommending they adopt conditional comments), there’s no way with just CSS to provide an acceptable fallback that makes the browser not create something hideous with the text out of place. (I’ve concocted a JS-based solution, but I don’t want to have to rely on that to get CSS to work).

Opera’s not alone in the modern browser category in being the last to adopt a given feature (I’m looking at you, Firefox), but there’s definitely a lot of seemingly basic CSS3 techniques that the browser’s fallen behind on. Just because you can wait on adoption, gents, doesn’t mean you need to do so. The future isn’t coming any more slowly, and designers will have to jury rig solutions that would be solved much more cleanly with CSS if you’d keep pace.

Or, even worse, there could be more situations such as when I’ve suggested to some people who’s sites don’t have any notable Opera traffic that they just not sweat Opera support at all. With as small a market base as you have, it’d serve you better to keep pace (rather than not sweat the details, as Microsoft can afford due to its market share).

Curious about a browser’s support for various features? Check out When Can I Use.

Comic Update: Opera’s Childish Antics

Monday, May 11th, 2009

I don’t need to write too much about this particular topic, as I’ve ranted about it in the past, but I couldn’t help but notice Andy Clarke’s micro-rants on Twitter about Opera’s recent bad behavior towards Microsoft (see here, here, here, here, here and even here for some samples of his thoughts). I was hoping to see a blog post manifest from him that I could read while laughing deeply, perhaps even shooting milk from my nose. Alas, Andy’s better sense took hold and he did the smart thing and went and watched Star Trek.

I also saw Star Trek. It was good. It was better than good. Go watch it, you’ll love it. I promise.

As it stands, I’ll take a swing or two in his place. First, let me direct you to today’s comic featuring Andy Clarke, wherein a couple of cheap shots are made at Opera’s expense. Then, continue reading.

First, I’m aware that browser usage statistics are like a dark art, much akin to necromancy and astrology, where accuracy isn’t really achievable. But the fact is (and take a look at Wikipedia’s page on the topic) that Opera according to some of these browser usage sources does in fact have less users than Netscape.

That’s right, there’s still people using Netscape. How scary is that? I wonder if they think grunge is alive and watch reruns of Family Matters while downloading websites on 14kbps modems. And just to reiterate, there’s more of these people (according to some sources) than there are people using Opera.

Beyond that, Google Chrome is the new hot browser in town and has already exceeded Opera’s user base in less than a year. That’s right, less than a year.

Look, I’m not saying it’s the number of users that count. After all, IE6 is utter rubbish and it’s still being used by too many people out there. What I am saying is that instead of wasting your company’s public image whining about the fact that Microsoft is doing us all a favor and forcing IE8 updates over their update system, you could be spending time looking at your own browser and figuring out why among other things a browser that has been dragged along for a decade by AOL then finally shot in the head (aka, Netscape) still has more users than your product.

Instead of making absurd suggestions that your competition serve your product via their update service, maybe you could look at Google Chrome and devise how it so rapidly out-paced you in such a short period of time?

Microsoft’s browser, even its newest version, isn’t even close to the coolest browser on the market. I don’t like Internet Explorer, and I only use it to check website compatibility in my job. But I don’t use Opera either, and that’s because (among other reasons) it has thus far convinced me (and the rest of the world) that it’s not worth the effort of installing and using rather than Firefox, or Safari, or the other web standards-compliant browsers on the market. It’s enough to make me wonder why we consider Opera part of the Big Four (now the Big Five). At this rate, with even terminated browsers giving Opera a run for the money, should we expand that name to the Big Six?

Is Opera a good browser? Yes. If that’s not the reason that it’s being ignored, than what is? Perhaps a lack of add-on support. I’ve always felt that Opera’s too busy telling people how to surf the web, and not spending enough time figuring out the features people want. Firefox isn’t popular on accident.

But I’ll tell you the number one reason why I don’t use Opera. It’s because of the company’s public behavior with their legal actions and petulant whining. The rank-and-file employees are talented people creating a worthwhile (albeit, not standout) product. But the big shots on top cost the company their credibility every time they make a cheap, transparently spiteful shot at the current market leader.

And lest I let the others off the hook, shame on Mozilla and Google for getting involved with the EU nonsense. Focus on your products, not on begging the government to get people to install your browsers for you.