Microsoft recently launched a program for “moving the world off Internet Explorer 6” called the Internet Explorer 6 Countdown, aptly at IE6Countdown.com. For some of you reading this, hearing about this may be somewhat amusing, for others, you may not know why Microsoft would want this to happen. I will try to address the reasons for upgrading your browser here, and why many – including myself – want IE6 to go away!
A Lot Has Happened In A Decade
IE6 was launched on August 27, 2001. A lot has happened in the area Web technology since then. Web programming standards have changed, with an emphasis towards heavy use of cascading style sheets (CSS) to position content on a Web page, when previously HTML tables were used. This has made Web code “lighter” in it’s physical file size, as well as ease of maintenance. As IE6 itself has not changed, many newer Web pages may display differently, or not display at all. This forces Web designers and developers to add functionality and code to display specific code on IE6 that is different than on other browsers, which only adds to future maintenance.
As well, other browsers have entered the marketplace, including Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome and Opera. These browsers have been designed to render newer Web standards properly, though each has its own nuances. Not to mention newer features to the browsers, such as tabbed browsing and subscribing to RSS feeds. One feature of these other browsers is in their ability to “self-update” and apply incremental changes to the browser software, and prompt the user to download completely new versions of the browser. IE6 does not do this. Windows Update will prompt a PC user to install a new browser version or incremental browser update, but the user can opt not to install them. In some cases, a user may not even have the option – these tend to be corporate users, who centrally control what updates are made on a corporate computer.
Another reason why corporate users may not use the latest browsers is due to some corporate Web applications requiring IE6 to run. Many of these apps may not have a business need to change, thus corporate IT staff have made no efforts to upgrade the browsers. Only newer versions of Windows have come with newer versions of the browser, and hopefully by then these apps have changed for the newer versions.
So Why A Campaign?
Microsoft relied on people to upgrade the browsers themselves, and in many cases the browser never updated or upgraded. Also, IE6 was viewed as slow and unfriendly, which attributed to a migration away from them. People may use IE6 on occasion – for certain Web apps that required it – but would use Firefox or another browser as their primary browser. Thus not only did IE6 lose market share, IE browsers overall lost market share. So why not a marketing campaign to bring attention to the browser already installed on your PC?
Where the idea of a campaign around a countdown to IE6 going away is interesting, it’s just that – clever marketing. If you look at the chart on the IE6 countdown Web site, the country with the largest use if IE6 is China, which raises all sorts of questions around piracy as well as their ability to even get access to the newer browsers.
As someone who build Web sites, I have IE6 installed on a computer I use, and this is namely for testing my Web sites. My primary browser is Firefox 3, and I also use Google Chrome on occasion, both for Web browsing and testing Web sites. I agree the world would be a better place without IE6. Unfortunately I don’t think this campaign will make it go away completely.
I once had an idea about how to rid the world of IE6 – rather than have a marketing campaign, hold a contest for someone to write a virus or malware which would replace a version of IE6 with a newer version of IE. Though ethics heavily come into play, it would certainly be more effective!
What do you think of this campaign? Do you still use IE6? I welcome your thoughts and reasons in the comments of this post.
Yet over 2 weeks after the announcement, there is no outward sign the store is opening. As you can see in the accompanying photo, there is no sign or bullseye logo at the corner of State and Madison Streets – only an exhibit by the School of the Art Institute is in the window.
When I heard of the name CityTarget, the first thing that popped into my mind was if Target had the domain name citytarget.com. It does, and wisely registered the name back in 2004. But if you go to www.citytarget.com, there is only a blank Web page. What does the normally boastful retailer have to hide?
Though no official date has been set for CityTarget’s opening, I do hope it’s soon, and I do hope they make some effort to promote it – the long empty windows of this historic building could use a little color.
A visit to the cereal aisle of a US supermarket is always an overwhelming experience, as with each visit it appears that there’s even more choices to make. In this crowded field of breakfast foods, you need to stand out somehow, and why not with a QR code?
A new variety of cereal, Crunchy Nut from Kellogg’s, featured a QR code on the back of its cereal box as shown below:
Note there was not a QR code on the front of the box, and I discovered this when I went to buy the cereal. The detail of the QR code is shown below:
Upon scanning the code, you are taken to a mobile Web optimized site where it shows a video reinforcing its marketing message about eating the cereal day or night because “it’s morning somewhere.” I have visited the site a few times and I observed different videos.
This a good example of a presentation of a QR code as well as what it links to. In a prominent location, the message offers both the option to send an SMS message or to scan the code, and below it tells the cereal eater how they can get a reader app, and if they do so, they may be charged for it. In this case, Kellogg’s chose to call it a 2D bar code, and my guess all of this text was vetted by their legal department and thus it is called as such, as technically QR code is a trademarked name, but offered as an open standard.
Only if the cereal lived up to the quality of the QR code presentation – it was a little bland for my taste, and not that crunchy either, but I digress. The QR code won me over in this case.
Last week I received an email from Yahoo indicating it will be shutting down the service MyBlogLog on May 24, 2011. For some of you reading this, you may be saying, what the heck is MyBlogLog anyway? Allow me to explain.
MyBlogLog was a social community for blogs. Bloggers joined MyBlogLog and would put code into their theme or template pages to display a widget. If you were a member of MyBlogLog and visited the Web page of another blog who was also a member, your avatar would appear within the widget. This would show that you - and others - visited the blog site. The widget could be adjusted to show a small or large list of avatars, as well as the names of the person and blog behind the avatar. By clicking within the widget you could go to the MyBlogLog page for the blog itself or for the visitors.
For myself, MyBlogLog was more of a merit badge for how many different people would visit my blog more than a way to learn about my visitors. I rarely went to the MyBlogLog Web site itself. Overtime, the widget was slowly demoted on the sidebar of The Hot Iron and other blogs which I had signed up for it. Where it was something I would recommend for client blogs, eventually it was not. The accompanying image shows the latest status of the MyBlogLog widget for The Hot Iron as of this writing.
My guess is its popularity waned for others as well. Here’s the text of Yahoo’s email:
Dear MyBlogLog Customer,
You have been identified as a customer of Yahoo! MyBlogLog. We will officially discontinue Yahoo! MyBlogLog effective May 24, 2011. Your agreement with Yahoo!, to the extent that it applies to the Yahoo! MyBlogLog, will terminate on May 24, 2011.
After May 24, 2011 your credit card will no longer be charged for premium services on MyBlogLog. We will refund you the unused portion of your subscription, if any. The refund will appear as a credit via the billing method we have on file for you. To make sure that your billing information is correct and up to date, visit https://billing.yahoo.com.
If you have questions about these changes, please visit the Yahoo! MyBlogLog help pages.
We thank you for being a customer on Yahoo! MyBlogLog.
The Yahoo! My BlogLog Team
When I read this, my first reaction was, “people paid for this?” It was always free when I signed up for it, which pre-dated Yahoo’s acquisition of it. The link to the help pages originally linked to a MyBlogLog page which basically stated what was in the email. As I write this it links to a help page on Featured Listings, which looks like another soon-to-be discontinued service.
My guess is after May 24 the widget will not appear on Web pages, and soon I will remove it from The Hot Iron’s templates. This appears to be yet another change Yahoo is making to slim down its operations, including the shutdown of Geocities and using Microsoft Bing’s search marketing services instead of its own. With MyBlogLog, and the same can be said for Geocities, why didn’t they just spin it off and give this away to someone to let them continue with it? Perhaps they didn’t want to incur the cost of doing so, or perhaps it was easier to just shut it down. I don’t know, as the help topics don’t pertain to it.
So long MyBlogLog – it was fun while it lasted! What do you think about this latest decision by Yahoo? Should they have kept it going? Did it provide any value to you, even if only as eye candy? Please share your thoughts in the comments on this post. And perhaps you will see your avatar in the widget when you do so?
The photo shows an ad for The Real Southwest, which is being sponsored by the Tucson, Arizona Convention and Visitors Bureau. All of the ad spaces in this train car are for the same campaign, which is becoming more and more common place. What is interesting about the photo above is that it is of the ad affixed to the ceiling of the train car! The photo below shows a similar ad, but at eye level, and with a one word difference – can you find it?
The actual train car I was riding on was full so I was not able to get other pictures without annoying other passengers any more than I was when I took these. Not every ad had a QR code on it, but there was always within a standard field of vision.
What’s unique about this ad series is that the instructions are prominent within the ad copy. Many times if there are instructions along with a QR code on what to do with it, they are in small type and located in the corner of the ad. It tells you to get the Scanlife, not to download a QR code reader, which is also unique. And by placing the URL to scanlife.com alongside the code is, again, unique. Of course if you know what a QR code is you will just scan it.
All of the codes I scanned took me to the same web page on the Tucson Web site. What would have been interesting was if they had different QR codes, thereby being able to track which one people scanned to get to the Web site, or having a unique QR code on the ceiling to track how many people look (and scan) up.
What are your thoughts on this ad – is it as unique as I have said it is, or just a good campaign? Please share your thoughts in the comments of this post.
Dell’s Vostro line of PCs was created for the small business market, lower-priced PCs without all of the extra software. This resonated with me as I have purchased several for my Web consulting firm. Along with the low price came low design – basic black machines, whether desktop or notebook, without much for style.
When I was asked if I wanted to evaluate Dell’s latest release in the Vostro 130, I jumped at the chance. I have seen ads on bus kiosks around Chicago for the 130, which looked like a slim, sleek model, and it came in red. It arrived the other day from the Zocalo Group, and here’s a video of me unboxing the Dell Vostro 130, and my first impressions of it.
First, I will apologize as this was the worst unboxing video I have ever made! I will do better next time, but I digress. Shortly after unboxing it I charged it up and installed Skype to test out the built-in Web camera, which worked very well. I will be testing it out over the next few weeks and will report back my thoughts, and will probably include some pictures, especially comparing it with my Vostro 1410.
Have you used the Vostro 130? Do you have any questions on it that you would like me to check out while evaluating it?
Despite news and opinion out there regarding Nokia, one thing most everyone agrees with (realizing not everyone agrees with anything!) is that Nokia has some innovative designs for their mobile devices. This holds true for the Nokia E7, which I had the chance to get my hands on when I was in Berlin in November at Microsoft TechEd as a guest of Nokia.
Tomorrow, February 4, 2011 a new video is being released by Nokia on the design of the E7. However, I got a link to the video ahead of this release, and it is available for viewing now. You can view the embedded video below, or click this link to watch the Nokia E7 Design video on YouTube.
Thanks to the folks at WOMWorld/Nokia for sending me this sneak peek video link.
As to when the E7 will officially launch and be available in the US among other countries remains to be seen, unfortunately. Back in November, I was told it would be released “Christmastime” but shortly afterwards it was announced there were production delays. Once it is available, I hope to get my hands on an actual model and give it an actual run. In the meantime, this video will have to do.
My 3 words for your Web site are – Measure, Function and Backup.
Measure – Any decision you make for your Web site (or for your business for that matter) should be the result of facts or planning. Whether these are successful or not are determined by the numbers, and you must measure them to ensure if you are on track, way off, or need an adjustment. Many people do not measure their Web site. This starts with the hits, which many people use Google Analytics to measure. It then continues with feed tracking (for blogs or RSS feeds), social media links, surveying and so forth. If you are not doing any measuring, do so. If you have no data to work with, start collecting it.
Function – As much as a Web site must have great content and look good, it must also work. Links should not be broken. Forms should submit properly and accurately process the information entered. Any unique functionality should not only work but also work in all browsers. Where you may think these examples should be a given, many times they are not. The simple thing is to test your Web site on multiple browsers – Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Opera, etc. – and on multiple platforms – PC, Mac, Linux, mobile devices – and see how they look and perform. Ensuring your Web site works means it is working for your customers.
Backup – Do you have a backup strategy for your Web site? Or do you even have at least one, single backup copy of your Web site stored someplace secure? If not, then you should. Develop a plan of what to backup and how often. Backups can be as simple as a database dump or export of orders, blog posts or customer data. It should be done on an interval that works for you. One you create it, test the backup plan, as a backup is no good if you can’t restore from it. Fortunately your Web host more than likely has some form of backup procedures in place. But why wait until there’s a problem to fund out they don’t?
There are a lot of things to consider with regards to any Web site, as I have presented before with The State of Your Web Site. These are 3 core areas from which you can build the success of your Web site. If you have any questions or comments on any of these, please enter them in the comments area of this post below. If you need help to make these happen, please contact me personally.
When I was preparing to attend the Microsoft TechEd Europe conference last week, I was hoping I would get my hands on the new, yet-to-be-released Nokia E7 smartphone. As TechEd is a business technology conference, and the E7 is being positioned as a business mobile device, I was pretty confident there would be an E7 or 2 available for me to try.
The good news is there was, however they were the personal devices of the Nokia staff who were there for the show and working at the booth. So where I was able to hold and try an E7, nobody handed me one and told me to walk around the exhibit floor and take it for a test drive. As a result, I had limited access, but enough to collect some initial thoughts and opinions which may be of value for others. I have also listed a number of things I would like to try out once the device is released. Interestingly, it was also the first time I had my hands on a Nokia N8, which came in handy for comparison of the 2 devices.
First, here’s my initial thoughts, and not necessarily in a priority order:
Good size – The E7 has a decent-sized screen. When the keyboard is “stored” under the device, it fits well in your hand and is not too bulky. After sliding the keyboard out, it is practical to type and use while holding in my hands as well as placing it on a flat surface. It is also a bit larger than the N8, as you can see from this angled yet side-by-side comparison photo I took.
Solid – A hallmark of Nokias is they are solidly built, and the E7 continues this tradition. When I attempted to slide out the keyboard for the first time, I was cautious as I didn’t want to do it with too much force. But once I did it and a few more times, I got the hang of it. The keyboard can take a little pressure on the slide mechanism.
Decent keyboard – The keyboard is more like the N97 than the E75, which is a good thing. There are arrow keys rather than a joystick, which is preferred to me, especially on a touchscreen device. I say the keyboard is good, and to make it great would be to add an additional row of keys so I don’t have to press an “alt” key to type numbers. But it does have 4 rows of keys as compared to 3 on the N97.
Memory – The E7 has 16 GB of memory on-board. I asked how much available memory was free on the device when it is shipped, and I was told it was about 14 GB, as there are core files and some audio and images and video shipped on the device. There is no memory card slot, and some have had issue with this. Personally, Micro SD cards are too darn small for my big hands. The E7 has a Micro USB connector, and with an adapter cable you can connect a USB Flash drive. I saw a demo of this – when connected, you can browse the Flash drive just as if was an inserted memory card. You can also run files off the Flash drive, including video and presentations, which to me looked seamless.
Video – I saw 2 examples of this. First was a video file played off a Flash drive, and as I said above it looked fine. I also saw NHL Gamecenter, an app which shows clips of hockey games. I watched this both on the device as well as when it was connected to an HDTV using its HDMI out port. The video quality was very good on the E7 and good on the HDTV, though there was some pixilation. My assumption is this was due to the compression of the video itself as it is probably optimized to deliver over a mobile network. The photo below is of a game clip on an HDTV from the E7.
Camera - The camera on the E7 is 8 megapixels, as compared to a 12 megapixel Carl Zeiss lens on the N8. When I asked about this, I was told part of the decision-making was the price of the device, and part was that in order to have the Zeiss lens on the N8, it extends from the back of the device, which if done on the E7 it would not be able to lay flat on a surface. This makes sense as you won’t always be holding it when typing.
So what did I want to do that I did not have the opportunity to? Here’s a few things:
Take video and photos and look at them on my PC.
Try reading text outside in sunlight and in a dimly lit room, as well as see how much I can adjust the text size.
View PDF documents.
Write and edit a blog post.
Surfing the Web, including hitting various eCommerce Web sites.
In short, I would want to use it as I do my E72 device on a daily basis.
One last thought – orange would be my color of choice! It’s a unique color and the metallic color looks impressive, plus it will match my luggage.
I hope my initial thoughts are of some help. What are your thoughts on what you have seen and heard on the E7 so far?
At Dunkirk Systems, LLC we are proud to have brought many clients to the Web for the first time. With the launch of the Web site for charter fishing service Spartan Charters we continue along this great tradition.
Spartan Charters is a full service charter company servicing Cape Cod, the Islands, and Southeastern Massachusetts and is a complete fishing guide and charter service. With their fleet of great fishing vessels and 2 experienced captains, Spartan ensures you have a quality and great fishing experience. As they say, they target big fish.
For this project Dunkirk partnered once again with Visible Logic, Inc. to great a highly functional Web site with a great design. The home page design is compelling to draw users to the various sections within the Web site, plus all navigational links are stylized text links, rather than images. A custom-developed content management system (CMS) powers the Web site allowing the Spartan Charters team to modify all Web site content. They are also embracing social media with their Facebook page and Flickr account with a wide variety of photos from past trips and catches.
Whether you’re a seasoned fisherman or looking to entertain clients or guests with a fishing experience, Spartan Charters is the one to call… or contact through their new Web site.