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Posts Tagged ‘ie’

Find your best performing browser with Peacekeeper

All the browsers claim that they’re the fastest and offer the best Internet browsing experience. However, the performance of the browsers will vary depending upon your system. Therefore, you can test which browser gives the best performance on your system using Futuremark Peacekeeper. The site puts the browsers through a rigorous test which pushes them to the limits of their capability to do such things as: render websites fast, handle multimedia, and cope with data.

Results from the browser tests performed on my laptop

Results from the browser tests performed on my laptop

Peacekeeper is rather a joy to watch; whilst it’s taxing your browser by testing its capabilities, you receive a rather dashing show of colour, text, data, and at one point a beautiful video. These are designed to test your browser’s capability to handle the demands of the modern web. Leaving the browser alone whilst the test runs is your best bet, since using other websites whilst the test runs may slow down the test slightly and therefore cause an inaccurate result. Before you run the scan you have the choice of doing it with a system scan, or without. I chose without, since this saves installing a Java plugin. The scan runs fine and is just as accurate without the system scan, since it only serves to provide Futuremark with more data for their overall statistics.

You may be wondering what the point in all this is. Other than a rather pretty display of content, it’s actually very useful in terms of finding out which browser will perform fastest for you. Since the tests conducted by websites and magazines generally only test on their computers, their results may not be as useful to you. However, being able to test multiple browsers on your PC could prove very helpful in choosing which browser you’re going to use on a regular basis.

The test takes about five minutes to complete, and after doing so you’re presented with a screen which shows you on a graph the overall rating of the browser. You can click on the bar to see a breakdown of the scores to see how well the browser did in each area. Below that graph is a list of the top scores on the top processors. This is probably not of much use other than to make you drool over the expensive processors. You can also click the ‘Benchmark another browser’ button which gives you a URL to copy and paste into another browser. This then compares the results of all the browsers you’ve tested on a graph, allowing you to see a comparison of each browser you’ve tested.

I was surprised to see that Firefox was lagging a long way behind Chrome and Safari. However, this may be partly due to the fact that I use it most often and have quite a few addons installed. However, the overall statistics show that Firefox is markedly slower than Safari and Chrome. Whilst the tests tell you about speed and performance, you should also take into account the other features of the browser which the test doesn’t take into account – such as customisation.

You can run the test from http://service.futuremark.com/peacekeeper. Give it a go and see what results you get.

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Create custom web-slices with LiveSlices

July 2, 2009 3 comments

The LiveSlice website has been down for a number of weeks. It appears that it might not be returning.

During my brief stint with IE8 I’ve been making the most of the features that it has to offer. One of these is web-slices. You can also grab an addon for Firefox which replicates this feature, but doesn’t seem to work quite so well. However, the number of webslices provided by site admins is a bit limited. I therefore went on the hunt for a way to create my own. Low and behold, the Internet has an answer in the form of LiveSlices.

The Twitter WebSlice

The Twitter WebSlice

The site’s aim is pretty simple – create new webslices and enable users to create their own. The site doesn’t yet have many of their own creation, however, the ones it does have are quite useful. I especially like the Twitter slice, which allows you to keep track of your updates from Twitter without visiting the website or using one of the bajillions of third-party Twitter applications vying for your use. As with all other WebSlices, the text changes to bold if there’s new updates, then clicking the item in the favourites toolbar pops a little box down which lets you see your updates without leaving the webpage you’re currently on.

Aside from the rather spiffing Twitter slice, another great feature of the website is the ability to create your own slice from an RSS feed. I’ve never particularly liked RSS feeds because I’ve never seen the reason behind having updates to websites hidden away in your bookmarks. Therefore having an RSS feed in a web-slice makes more sense to me. It will add a drop-down item onto your favourites toolbar which can be clicked to see the latest updates to the feed. I’ve got three news sources – one of which was custom-made with LiveSlices, and a few from other sources. In order to create your own RSS  WebSlice you simply need to go to website you want to keep track of, find the RSS feed and copy/paste the URL into LiveSlice’s webpage for creating your own custom RSS slice. You will also need to provide a name and a couple of other settings when doing this. You can then click ‘Install’ to have the slice added to your favourites bar. I had trouble a couple of times when the slice didn’t work correctly when clicked and would refer me to a webpage instead of appearing in a box. I found that deleting it and trying again fixed this.

LiveSlices is a spiffing little website. They’re also working on creating a slice to allow you to add Facebook to your favourites bar. You might be concerned that you’ll end up spending your whole time looking at your social updates from Twitter, but you can counter-balance that by creating your own unsociable feeds for news sources and other such jazzy locations. You can get the feeds and create your own at www.liveslices.com.

Bad news for European to-be Windows 7 users

June 27, 2009 1 comment

Windows 7 in Europe will come without Internet Explorer. On the face of it, this might sound like good news – chances are you use a different browser and aren’t much of a fan of IE. However, this has other much more detrimental effects on European users such as me.

Firstly, a brief overview of the situation. The EU ruled that Microsoft should include a choice of browsers to their consumers. This would pose programming and security issues to the operating system however, and of course, Microsoft aren’t exactly going to be thrilled about adding competitors’ products to their operating system. You may remember when the EU also insisted that Microsoft provide a version of XP without Windows Media Player. Unsurprisingly, only about 3 people bought it. So, taking the example from what the EU wanted them to do last time they get their knickers in a twist, Microsoft is shipping ‘Windows 7 E‘ to Europe, Croatia, and Switzerland at the release on 22nd October 2009.  However, the EU isn’t happy because this time they wanted Microsoft to provide users with a choice of which browser(s) they wanted to install.

Now, why is this bad for consumers? Let’s start with the lesser of the two evils created by this senseless chain of events. Shipping an operating system without a browser sounds absurd – it is. The Internet plays and ever-more vital role in today’s technological world, and we need to be able to access it. We’ll have to resort to burning a browser installer file to a disk or copying it to a USB drive in order to install it on Windows. Alternatively we could go through awkward FTP commands to download a browser directly. This seems like a giant leap backwards. The EU has succeeded in creating extra hassle for the consumer, all the while waving the flag in our name, under the reason that consumers should have a choice, and the Internet shouldn’t be held back by a monopoly. At this stage, I’d like to point out that anyone who wants to is more than welcome to download a browser of their choice by navigating to their website. It’s not like Microsoft prevents us from choosing our own software.

If that first evil frowns at you, then this one will give you a positively scathing evil stare. Due to the removed Internet Explorer, you won’t be able to run an upgrade installation to your Vista machine. This means you’re going to need to back-up all your data, install, and then transfer it back over. In addition, you’re going to lose all your programs and their settings, because these won’t be kept during the installation. Again, thank the EU and Microsoft for being unable to reach a sensible conclusion.

The EU’s actions may have been, at a stretch, admirable, if it weren’t for the fact that OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) are still going to be able to install Internet Explorer when they build or sell new PCs. This means, everyone who buys a new PC with Windows 7 will have it come with IE, but everyone who wants to upgrade their current PC has to go through the hassle of moving all their data and reinstalling all their software due to the EU’s ill -thought-out decision. Their plan was to give users choice when it came to browsers, but they’re still going to be receiving a new PC with IE8 installed by their OEM, whilst those of us who want to update our existing PCs have to go through a huge amount of unnecessary hassle.

Windows Mobile 6.5: new interface, old browser

February 28, 2009 1 comment

It’s been seven years since its first release, Microsoft nudges its users to upgrade, developers shove users to upgrade, yet it’s still going to be included in the latest offerings from Windows Mobile.

The Microsoft Windows Mobile platform has been allowed to lie dormant for quite some time, being vastly overshadowed by Apple’s iPhone offering. However, Microsoft is now trying to claw back this lost platform with the release of Windows Mobile 6.5. It sports a more modern and approachable interface, but with largely the same codebase as version 6.  Internet Explorer is also being upgraded in their mobile platform. Don’t get too excited.

Smartphones are increasingly used for their ability to connect to networks as well as the 3G world-wide services. A modern browser is needed to get the best out of the modern Web. However, the scourge of web-developers everywhere, Internet Explorer 6, is being put into the Windows Mobile update. First released in 2001, the browser is now hugely out of date, resulting in it being unable to handle modern websites and web technologies well, causing many hours of tweaking and fiddling for web developers to try to get their site working well on it. The announcement was made in late 2008, but the new browser will not be rolled out until version 6.5 of Windows Mobile is released. If Windows Mobile takes off, developers may find the browser that they love to hate sticking around even longer. With an update to the browser not expected until version 7 of Windows Mobile, we may just see this outdated browser sticking around for even longer.