Archive for the 'Internet' Category

I stopped using Safari this week

December 24, 2010  (Jeffrey Kabbe)

I have mentioned before my dissatisfaction with the stability of Safari.  It just seemed odd that in this day and age, a web browser would need to be “rebooted” occasionally to keep it running smoothly.  But the memory was also a concern.

As the Chrome releases piled up, I decided to give Chrome a test drive.  Using it for a bit revealed a very small (in comparison to Safari) memory footprint.  The final ounce of courage to make the switch was provided by a report showing Chrome blowing past Safari and reaching almost a 10% share of the browser market.

The Chrome experiment has been quite successful.  A quick check of Activity Monitor after using it for some time reveals a memory footprint about 75% smaller than Safari’s.  I did have one crash (that took down the entire application), but Chrome recovered gracefully when I restarted it.  Overall, I’ve had a good experience with Chrome.

MobileMe calendar takes a step forward

October 20, 2010  (Jeffrey Kabbe)

Before today’s Apple event begins, I thought I would squeeze in a note about an important Apple release from last week.  Apple updated the MobileMe calendar application.  The MobileMe web app now much more closely resembles the iPad app.  But more importantly, it now supports calendar sharing.

We previously had been using iCal server on Mac OS X server.  But this setup limits us to syncing our shared events to our iPhones by plugging it in.  Two years ago, that wouldn’t have been a problem because my iPhone couldn’t last an entire day.  But batteries and cell efficiency are far better now.  My iPhone 3GS lasts a couple days without being plugged in.  And working off a two day old calendar is a big no-no.

So we’ve tried setting up a few shared calendars using the new MobileMe sharing, and it works pretty well.  I ran into one situation where I updated the text of an event and it didn’t sync to the “shared” computer.  But other than that one hiccup, the sharing has worked quite well.

We still have big plans for Mac OS X server, but right now it seems that the plug is being pulled on iCal server.

Steady. Aim. Firefox!

July 7, 2010  (Jeffrey Kabbe)

Mozilla released the first full beta of Firefox 4 a few days ago.  As with Firefox 3 beta, it comes with some cool art (which, if the pattern repeats, will change to cooler, newer art when we hit beta 2).

The headline features are a more complete HTML 5 implementation, better support for (non-flash) internet video, and better performance for web applications.  No, wait, scratch that.  Actually the real headline features are that tabs have moves slightly and you can now type tab names rather than working up a sweat moving the mouse.  But the good news is that they threw in all that other stuff for free.

I plan to put the Firefox 4 beta through its paces.  I am still running into slowdowns after about a week with Safari (on several computers, so I am pretty sure its not just a single system acting funky).  In fairness, Safari did better than Firefox 3, which could only last about a couple days of my internet usage (if that!).  But I’d like to get out of the habit of restarting Safari every 5 days or so just to keep it usable.

You see, for me, a web browser isn’t just a fancy newspaper.  Something I pick up once a day, read for a bit, and put down.  It’s a workspace.  I keep a couple dozen tabs open at any one time for the various projects I am involved in.  And when I have to shut down Safari and reload all of those tabs, there’s always the chance that something goes wrong.  I want a browser that I can keep using for a month or longer without restarting, just like I do with Mac OS X.

Maybe Firefox 4 will be my savior?  Only time will tell.

Ending the Boycott

August 16, 2009  (Jeffrey Kabbe)

Ok, I haven’t exactly been boycotting Microsoft products, but I have been trying to avoid them wherever possible. I still use Microsoft Word, but I do so sparingly (and only for the tasks that it truly excels at like complicated tables). And I have replaced Excel and Powerpoint with Numbers and Keynote with very happy results.

So I was a little surprised when someone suggested using Windows Live Mesh to replace Syncplicity as my synchronization solution. Two weeks ago I grudgingly installed the beta for Live Mesh and set up my first computer. Nothing seemed to break or disappear, so a couple of days later I set up my second computer and started synching.

Live Mesh and I didn’t get off on exactly the right foot because I turned synchronization on for the second computer from the website. That plopped the synched folder right on my desktop, not exactly where I wanted it. But after doing some quick internet research, I was able to delete the desktop folder and put the synched folder right where I wanted it by using the local Live Mesh application.

Two weeks later and I am pretty happy. Synching isn’t as fast as with Syncplicity. I don’t know exactly how fast it is, but it can take more than a couple minutes to get even small files from one place to another. I’ll probably run some tests to narrow that number down so I know how to plan my workflow on multiple computers.

Importantly, I haven’t lost any files that I am aware of. And I haven’t created any unnecessary duplicate files from hitting Save too often (something that was a problem with Syncplicity and may have been related to them pulling the Mac client).

In fact, I have had only one spotty problem. For a period of about 3 days, the Live Mesh client had trouble connecting. It looked like it was trying to synch, but instead of the new or modified files I expected, there would be 0Kb files with a different extension (which I can’t remember at the moment). I learned how to detect this problem, though, by looking at the Live Mesh menu extra. If it wasn’t connected properly, quitting Live Mesh and relaunching it 2-3 times would generally fix the problem. It’s been clear sailing for the last few days, though. So its possible the problem was on the back end and has been fixed.

If you’re in the market for a synchronization solution, I would suggest giving Live Mesh a look. It’s free, and you get 5GB of storage for your files.

The one thing I did that made my Mac five times faster!

April 17, 2009  (Jeffrey Kabbe)

No, this isn’t an infomercial. And, yes, I did pull the number five out of the air. But it’s true that my iMac is much faster now after doing just one simple thing. Lately my iMac seemed really sluggish. I would beachball frequently and the entire system would just hang for what seemed like ages. I had a sneaking suspicion that the Safari 4 Beta had something to do with it because Safari seemed to be bearing the brunt of the slowdowns. I couldn’t be sure, though, because the system was often slow when Safari wasn’t even running.

So two days ago I uninstalled the Safari 4 Beta. The improvement was immediate and noticeable. After the restart (required by the install/uninstall), I could tell things were faster. I have been using Safari 3 for a couple days now and haven’t had a single issue with beachballing or experienced any slowness. I liked some of the new features of Safari 4, but I don’t care how much faster the Javascript performance is if it brings my whole system to its knees.