Archive: March 2nd, 2002

Information Wants to Be Worthless

Here’s a great article by Bruce Sterling who’s going to be speaking at the South by Southwest festival in his native Austin.

He talks of web designers:

"Lotta Web designers. They’re always there. They travel in clumps. Because they speak their own unique languages, these people. Specifically, they speak ActiveX, ASP, CGI, HTML, Flash, and Java. It’s a wonderful thing to see a profession so young, yet already so arcane."

and Open Source:

"I’m not trying to wax all Noam Chomsky here, but those Open Source people … they are, like, a multinational, leaderless, heavily networked outfit with little-known agents and sympathizers in dozens of countries. Countries like Finland. And Norway. It’s definitely the Axis of something, I dunno what, but something Scandinavian and fishy."

If you’re more interested in reading Sterling’s science fiction, I can recommend his book of short stories, "A Good Old-Fashioned Future" which I read recently.

Cross-Platform Testing

There’s a new article up at A List Apart on cross-platform testing on the Mac.

It’s very, very comprehensive and quite complicated. If you have a reasonably new Mac there’s a much easier way of setting up a good testing environment: VirtualPC.

Installing browsers on the Mac for testing purposes is generally a piece of cake. You just install it and go. You might need to reset your internet preferences if the newly installed browser tries to make a bid for "default browser" status but that’s basically it.

On a Windows machine, you can only do that with Netscape and Opera browsers.

See, part of the big fuss with that whole monopoly court case thing was that Microsoft were integrating their browser very tightly with their operating system. One of the effects of this is that you can only ever have one version of Internet Explorer installed on a Windows machine (unless you partition the hard drive, that is).

So setting up a cross-browser testing platform on a PC can be a pain. On the Mac, VirtualPC comes to rescue (actually, it’s also available for Windows now but you won’t be able to emulate a Mac on a PC).

You can set up multiple drive images and install a different version of Internet Explorer on each one. I have one drive image with version 5, another with version 6.

The funny thing is, at the recent Mac OS X roadshow, there was a guy from Connectix at the web publishing seminar who failed to mention this great advantage of the software. I waited for the "any questions?" bit and took it upon myself to point out how useful this can be.