Archive: February 9th, 2005

Betamaps

Google Maps is in Beta. Normally, a Beta phase doesn’t last all that long. It’s a time to test, tweak and get things ship-shape before a final release.

At least that’s the theory. These days, Beta applications seem to be enjoy a sort of eternal youth. The Beta version of Google News was launched in September, 2002. It’s February, 2005 and Google News is still officially a Beta release.

I have a few issues with Google Maps. Don’t get me wrong: when it works, it’s a joy to use, a very seamless, intuitive experience. But it uses some kludgy JavaScript to get things done and it does not degrade gracefully. Normally if I have a problem with a Beta release, I don’t think much of it: I give the benefit of the doubt and assume that the application is still undergoing development. In this case, given Google’s fondness for the perpetual Beta label, I’m not so sure.

Somebody has already analysed the JavaScript and XML being used by Google Maps. The analysis closes with a statement that I disagree with completely. I’ve mentioned before that I truly hate the phrase “at the end of the day”. This one takes the biscuit:

“I also think it bears noting that Google is pulling out all the stops to build rich web apps, no matter how weirdly they have to hack the browser to make them go. And I strongly believe that this is a trend that is here to stay — XHTML Strict/CSS/etc be damned. At the end of the day, what really matters to users is compelling apps that let them get their work done quickly.”

To paraphrase George Santayana, those who cannot remember the browser wars are condemned to repeat them.

17th century boy

I’m jealous of Jessica.

She’s currently reading through Neal Stephenson’s superb Baroque Cycle series of books. When she finishes one book, she can start straight into the next one.

When I finished reading Quicksilver, I had to endure an agonising wait until The Confusion came out. When I finished that, I had to suffer through another interlibrum until The System Of The World was released.

Now that I’ve finished all three books, I don’t know quite what to do with myself. They are such superb exemplars of imagination and language that they make other books seem pedestrian and amateurish by comparison.

Right now, based on some favourable reports, I’m reading a new science fiction novel. It’s just not doing it for me.

I read through the popular Eats, Shoots and Leaves which should have been the perfect book for an anally-retentive stickler such as I. I even found myself mentally correcting the book, altering sentences that ended with prepositions. It was an entertaining read until the last chapter when the author makes the fatal error of stating, "the internet is…" followed by ludicrous generalisations about all writing on the web.

Some people clearly haven’t quite got their heads around the sheer scale of the internet. Imagine reading a handful of books and using that as a basis to claim, "all books are like this". If only that were true. If only all books were on par with the Baroque Cycle.

In lieu of more books, I’ll have to content myself for now with reading interviews with Neal Stephenson.