Archive for November, 2008

Chrome gripes

As much as I want to like and to use Chrome, several problems are
still preventing me from switching, among which:

    No plug-ins. This is probably the most glaring hole. The best way to
    ship a product with features that you know are missing is to give
    developers a chance to implement these features for you. Firefox
    has made plug-ins an inseparable concept of the browser, it’s really
    a pity that Chrome didn’t follow in its footsteps and thought that
    v1.0 could ship without plug-ins.

  • No title bar. I don’t know what the team was thinking or if it was
    a deliberate omission, but the fact that the title bar doesn’t
    contain the title of the current HTML page makes it very hard for me
    to navigate through the multitude of browser windows that I usually
    work with. Having to go to the task bar to know which window is
    which is very lame.

  • Menu bar in a weird location. What’s up with all
    these developers that keep thinking that reinventing user interfaces
    is cool? It’s not. Putting the menu bar in the middle right area
    just to save 16 vertical pixels is dumb. Respect user’s UI muscle
    memory and put the menus and their menu items in the expected location.

  • No keyword search. Failing to have plug-ins, I could live with just
    being able to specify keyword searches. For people not familiar
    with this concept that came from Firefox, it lets you define
    variable URL’s that you can type directly in the address bar with
    different values. For example, I have a Wikipedia
    keyword that I assigned to “w” that lets me type “w saturn” in the
    address bar and that will show me that entry on the sixth planet of
    our solar system in Wikipedia right
    away. I have defined a multitude of these keywords (e.g. searching
    a colleague in our employee database, looking up a stock symbol,
    etc…) but Chrome is making me less productive by forcing me to
    have to do extra typing and clicking.

  • No “Reload all tabs”. Ok, maybe that’s just me, but I use this all
    the time on Firefox. On Chrome, I find myself having to go on
    all my tabs and press “Reload” on each of them. Again, the Chrome team didn’t have to
    incorporate this feature in 1.0 but a plug-in API
    would have guaranteed to make this a non-issue.

As it stands right now, the fact that Chrome is the fastest Web
browser on the planet is not enough to make me use it on a regular
basis as long as these functionalities remain absent…

Guido on Scala

Guido took a look at Scala recently and he came out a bit intimidated by the language, which matches my perception. I initially started with quite a lot of fondness for Scala but as I dug deeper in the language, the complexity and a few specific features started to worry me.

I have been following the Scala mailing-list for a few years now and the snippets of code I read on a daily basis have been increasingly complex and frightening, and it’s taking me more and more time to make sense of them. Not a good sign.

Anyway, read Guido’s take and especially the comments. Here is one I found particularly interesting, from David Pollak, the creator of Lift:

But, unlike my Ruby code, [with Scala] I only need 50%-60% test coverage (vs. 95% coverage) to have stable, deployable code.

This is an angle that I have often been defending in the debate that pits statically against dynamically typed languages, but it’s the first time that I come across such strong evidence.

2009 will be the year of Linux

Honest. At least, that’s what Jim Zemlin thinks. And he should know, because he is an executive director at… oh, the Linux Foundation. Mmmh.

The resilience of Linux advocates never ceases to surprise me. I think that nothing short of the sun going super nova will make them stop believing that Linux will ever become mainstream.

This article hits a new high, though, because the rationale behind this prediction is a new system that allows Linux systems to boot in just a few seconds. And just based on this wonderful technology, Jim predicts that Linux will ship more desktops than Windows in 2009.

I really wonder if I live on the same planet.

Regardless of the mathematical impossibility of such a prediction just based on market share alone (not helped by the fact that WalMart recently announced it would stop selling Linux computers), the claim that boot times are so important is just plain absurd. Most computers simply go to sleep or hibernate when users turn them off, and from my experience, Windows, Vista and Mac OS turn back on in less than ten seconds in these conditions. Ironically, Linux laptops are still struggling with the concept of hibernation, so it’s quite possible that Linux users shut their machine off completely much more often than Windows and Mac users do, which would explain why boot times are so important to them.

Linux users turning off their machines all the time… Anybody else seeing the irony in that?