The Death of IE6?

March 4th, 2010 Mike Kohn

Google dropped a bomb (albeit a relatively quite one) on Monday when they began their phase-out of support for Internet Explorer 6 and announced that YouTube will follow suit in a few weeks. For IE6 users this means that certain parts of these site won’t work quite right, and you’ll get a pesky pop-up from time-to-time reminding you to upgrade. For web developers, this (hopefully!) means that it’s time to celebrate, because IE6 might finally be dead.

You see, IE6 is the grandfather of modern web browsers. Not the old, wise kind, though. More like the grumpy kind that yells at you to get off his lawn. It’s an old fellow: it’s been around for almost 8 years in a world where brand new technology becomes obsolete every day. This is the main cause for web powerhouses like Google to drop support for it: the latest-and-greatest web technologies simply don’t work on old browsers, and trying to accommodate for this would only hold Google back.

One of the biggest challenges as web developers is trying to work around IE6′s quirky and illogical behavior. Every website we create at Insight Designs is tested on no less than 8 different browsers including IE6, and IE6 is the one that single-handedly causes the most problems.  Because about 10% of all web surfing is done on IE6, though, it’s impossible to ignore the old browser. But hopefully Google has the kind of clout to change this by strong-arming IE6 users into upgrading.

As if there weren’t already a million reasons to make the switch (including speed, reliability, and security), maybe Google’s announcement will finally convince the last handful of web surfers still clinging to this sinking browser to jump ship.

Posted in Web Technology | No Comments »

NCWIT turns 5!

May 12th, 2009 Beth Krodel

Congratulations to our friends at NCWIT – the National Center for Women & Information Technology!

Executive Director Lucy Sanders and the rest of the NCWIT team are at the Google Campus in San Jose, CA, this week hosting their semi-annual meetings AND celebrating the organization’s 5th birthday. (Not bad to have the world’s coolest company throwing your 5th birthday party, huh?)

NCWIT – a non-profit established in 2004 with the goal of increasing women’s participation in information technology – today boasts a coalition membership of more than 170 prominent corporations, academic institutions, government agencies and non-profits.

And based on the numbers, they have a huge task ahead:

  • In 2008 women earned only 18 percent of all CS degrees. Back in 1985, women earned 37 percent of CS degrees.
  • Women hold more than half of all professional occupations in the U.S. but fewer than 24 percent of all computing-related occupations.
  • Only 16 percent of Fortune 500 technology companies have women corporate officers.

NCWIT’s goal isn’t just about parity for parity’s sake. It’s about ensuring that the information technology that this world creates is the most innovative and useful it can be. And having women involved in the IT creative process makes it better: A study on U.S. technology patenting reveals that patents created by mixed-gender teams are the most highly cited (an indicator of their innovation and usefulness); yet women were involved in only 9 percent of U.S. tech patents.

In January, I attended a talk by NCWIT Communications Director Jenny Slade at the Chicks Who Click social media conference in Boulder. Jenny’s talk about “Enlisting Women in Tech” was informative, eye-opening, clever, funny and accessible. She used the right mix of data with real-world examples of why women’s participation in IT matters. The example I loved the most was about the first voice-recognition software used in answering machines. When a woman tried to use the system, it hung up on her because the machine hadn’t been programmed to recognize female voice octaves; the creators – all men – had only tested it using men’s voices.

When I recently asked Jenny about the creation of NCWIT, she recalled this of the organization’s initial plenary discussion in 2003: “A huge snowstorm blew in the night before and it snowed all the next day, but almost everyone showed up anyway – many from out of town. There were industry folks and academics and researchers and marketing types and several people who had been single-handedly working to attract and
retain women in computing for decades. We gathered in a conference room at the UMC. …In the afternoon we split up into groups to brainstorm what solving the “problem” of women’s lack of participation in IT would look like, and when we re-gathered it turned out that every group had proposed creating some sort of united, national organization. Originally we called ourselves the National Center for Gender and Information Technology, but then that seemed opaque when it was clear our focus was to be on women (why not just say what you mean?).”

A year later, NCWIT was on its way, with funding from the National Science Foundation and others.

At NCWIT’s board of directors dinner at the end of April, Brad Feld – NCWIT Board Chairman and well-known venture capitalist – told the audience that NCWIT had always considered itself a two-decade organization. It had spent the first five years figuring out why there’s a derth of women in IT, and now it will spend the next 15 years changing that.

Let’s wish them luck as we all will surely benefit from NCWIT’s success.

Posted in Insight News, Web Technology | No Comments »

Will new search be competition for Google?

May 7th, 2009 Beth Krodel

People have long been wondering when some real competition for Google will come along in the world of internet search. Wolfram Alpha, a new tool set to be released later this month, could be just that.

The claim is that the software will understand and respond to ordinary language in the same way a person does. You could type in “What was the weather like in London on the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated?” and instead of getting links to 18,500 web links, as you would on Google, this system will simply return the answer.

Some internet watchers have gone as far as calling this the internet’s “Holy Grail.” Others are much more skeptical.

The software’s inventor, Brit Dr. Stephen Wolfram who showcased his system at Harvard University last week, is the first to admit it has shortcomings. For example, it doesn’t yet have a great grasp of popular culture.

Want to know more: Check out this article from The Independent and watch the software demo on YouTube.

Posted in Web Technology | No Comments »

Google’s Personalized Search: A New Paradigm?

November 19th, 2008 Ethan Stemm

Search Engine Optimization, better known as SEO, is an ever-present focus for Insight Designs as we work to improve the rankings of sites on numerous Search Engines. More of an art than a science, SEO today depends upon such things as strategically devised meta tags and the nebulous concept of link popularity. Search for “SEO” on the internet, and you will likely be exposed to a very lengthy and dense list of companies promising to improve your rankings. Sometimes enacted SEO does change the rankings of a site, and sometimes the rankings change for no apparent reason. SEO is a tough racket but an important one — and one that is about to change.

Google, the leading search engine, recently received a patent for personalizing search returns based upon the language of the user. This means that a search in Spanish will return sites that are also in Spanish. This technology will soon expand so that search results will be personalized based upon the user’s location, recent use of Google, and search history. Search returns might also be based upon factors such as whether the user is doing research or shopping. The intent of the Google user will matter as much as the SEO of the sites. This will fundamentally change what has been the focus of SEO. No longer will sites be ranked according to keywords or links. In the future, a search will return sites according to the user’s needs.

Whether Google’s shift to personalized search results translates into a new search paradigm remains to be seen. Regardless, we at Insight Designs will continue to pay attention to these changes and keep you aware of new SEO strategies.

Posted in Web Technology | No Comments »

Google’s Web Browser: Chrome – not quite there yet

October 24th, 2008 Ethan Stemm

Back on September 2nd, Google released the web browser called Chrome. Touted as a “modern platform for web pages and applications,” Chrome was quickly downloaded and put to use by webmasters and users eager to test this new browser. The initial usage numbers indicated that Chrome was well on its way to becoming a hit and Insight Designs began to consider what this could mean for current and future web development.

Now, seven weeks later, the early exuberance for Chrome has waned and has been replaced by a more realistic view of this new browser. While Google’s Chrome does provide an interesting start to the next evolution of the web browser, Chrome’s large number of bugs, frequent crashes and a lack of differentiation as compared to the more popular browsers has resulted in a decline in usage numbers and return by users to IE7 and Firefox. Google has since cut back on the marketing of Chrome and is now focusing on improvements.

What can we learn from Chrome’s story?

  1. Beware the hype. Chrome was released with great fanfare and promise but quickly failed to achieve expectations. It is always a good idea to use the resources of the Internet and find independent comments and test results for any new technology.
  2. Change takes time and while the internet may speed up the developmental cycle of a new technology, we should practice patience and make sure it works before integrating into our processes.
  3. Any new browser will be compared to the current browsers and since people are more comfortable using what they know, the new browser will need to offer something new to appeal to the user. This is a good rule to apply to any new web technology.
  4. Google is expanding and looking to move beyond being just a way to search the web.

A web browser is a vital component to how many of us access and use the web. In order to ensure all users can view a webpage as it was intended, Insight Designs will test a site on multiple browsers including IE6, IE7, Firefox 3 and AOL 9 on PCs, and Firefox 2, AOL 10 and Safari 3 on Macs. We haven’t added Chrome to the list — yet.

Posted in Web Design, Web Technology | 1 Comment »

Insight Designs Blog is proudly powered by WordPress