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Last Updated: Friday, 09-Jan-2015 12:32:52 PST

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Why Upgrade to Latest Version?

Keeping up with the latest version of your web browser also helps protect you from Internet based worms, spyware, adware, scams, and identity theft. I am also very aware of the kind of features being used by other web designers and have factored that in, so if you stick with what software I recommend, for my website, you will be in good shape, for the best experience, at most other cutting edge websites, as well. Newer browsers generally give better performance including being much faster on the slowest websites and make better use of the hardware your computer has like RAM and GPU.

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Why Avoid Flash even with Internet Explorer?

The main reason why I ever used Flash is Internet Explorer 6-8 incompatibilities with Javascript and lack of support for CSS (which all the other major browsers support) which used to make it a nightmare, to do anything interactive, that needed to work with Internet Explorer 6-8 (even with having the great Javascript libraries like JQuery and Moo Tools). 3rd party Javascript libraries are now very free, easy to use, and do not require any programming skills, so they often are easier and cheaper than Flash, and even the performance in Flash Player is often worse, than Internet Explorer 6-8, for many things.

I no longer see the need, for Flash, for almost any reason: you just give up too much performance, compatibility with new Apple and Google devices, and CSS, HTML, SVG, and Javascript all work together better than before (but it is hard, to fully leverage them, with Flash because Flash kind of lives in its own parallel world). When you start trying, to update the formatting, on every page, of large sites, in one place, you will quickly see how useful CSS is and how many problems it fixes. In the future, we will be able to gradually fade out excessive Javascript, like we are now, with Flash, as CSS becomes more and more powerful and SVG support becomes more common.

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Solving Windows Specific Application Installation Problems

One of the ways of getting around the reality that Windows applications are hard to uninstall, because there is no way for Windows to keep track of what files belong to each application, is to use portable apps. Another advantage of portable apps is that you can take your applications on a USB flash drive and carry around all your applications to any Windows computer, without having to leave any personal data behind or mess with installing or changing the configuration of the computer you are using. All these applications are free and open source or freeware from reputable companies and are free from viruses and spyware. You can get Google Chrome, Firefox 14.0, Seamonkey 2.11, Maxthon 3.4.2, Foxit Reader 5.3.1, Sumatra PDF reader 2.1.1, Evince 2.32.0, WinDjView 1.0, VLC Player 2.0.3, Songbird 2.0, OpenOffice.org 3.2, LibreOffice 3.5.5, and Abiword 2.8.6, there.

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Best of Both Worlds

There is now a solution, for Internet Explorer 6-8 users, who are uncomfortable using a browser other than Internet Explorer 6-8, for whatever reason, including not wanting to learn how to use another browser. You can download and install something called Google Chrome Frame. What it does is allow website owners, who specifically ask for it, to use the Google Chrome web browsing engine, so there are no compatibility problems, with broken web sites who need Internet Explorer 6-8 or advanced sites, that use new web page features. This gives the best of both worlds.

It works on Internet Explorer 6-8 on Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7. Once you install Google Chrome Frame, just use the version of Internet Explorer 6-8 like you usually do. The only thing you will notice is that many web sites look better and work faster. Chrome Frame is made by Google is free and has no spyware or viruses in it. Google collects no more information from you than is collected, when you use any search engine, like Google, Bing, or Yahoo.

The only downside is for people who are visually impaired will not be able to take advantage of accessibility features like screen readers. In this case, I recommend downloading and using Firefox.

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Internet Explorer 9, 10, and 11

Microsoft has just released version 11, of Internet Explorer, to the public, as it has made it through testing. I have been able to test it today, on my website, through a web browser testing service. If you have Windows Vista, you can upgrade to Internet Explorer 9 (released in March 2011) and Windows 7 users can update to Internet Explorer 11 (released in November 2013). Windows 8 comes with Internet Explorer 10 (released in August 2012) and Windows 8.1 comes with Internet Explorer 11My website looks almost perfect, in the advanced version, with Internet Explorer 10 or 11 on Windows 7 and 8 (in both tablet and PC modes). Both versions of Internet Explorer render all my all my web designs very well. I was unable to test the audio, that works, without requiring another program, on the virtual machine I used.

Another thing to check is the performance of Internet Explorer 9, 10, and 11. If you can run Windows 7, with all its special effects, without any lag or slow downs, then it probably will work well, but if you bought a cheap laptop (or netbook), then it is likely that it will be slow (much slower than even the previous versions). One way to get it faster relatively cheaply is to add more RAM. I would recommend that you check the websites, that you frequent, to make sure they are compatible, as this browser has had a complete overhaul. Also the 64 bit version has much worse performance, to the point of being almost unusable, and should be avoided.

Security is improved greatly and the interface is now much more minimalistic - the controls are smaller, which gives you more space, for the web pages. If you use tabs, then you will likely have trouble using more than a few of them at once, because of Microsoft wanting to give extra space, for web pages. Search is now built into the address bar, so that would make me concerned about how the web browser knows, if you are typing in an address, or a search term, without having to type in special commands. The fonts look much smoother, but some people with poor eyesight will find the text harder to read. Things have also been changed significantly, for accessibility features, used by those who are sight impaired, so they might need to update screen readers, for these new versions of Internet Explorer.

The latest version of Internet Explorer 11, which comes with Windows 8.1, is not recommended because it will significantly degrade the quality of pictures on my website. Microsoft has made a decision that assumes every website has not been optimized, so the only way for my website to look decent in this version of Internet Explorer is to undo all the image optimizations I made and make everything unnecessarily slow for all other users. Hopefully their is a way to turn this feature off.

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New Developments: Don't Do Anything

I have learned some new things, after: finding some good design magazines online, having invested in some more software/services, and that some new techniques are now available, that have matured recently. The result of these new developments is, that I was able, to get the custom fonts and many of the special effects, on my website, to work, with Internet Explorer 6-8.

The performance appears fine software wise, bit I don't know how much RAM, or how fast a processor is necessary, for reasonable/usable performance. The custom fonts look much better, on Internet Explorer 9, or higher. I was able to come close, to making the ideal design available, similarly to how it appears, in most of the more popular new browser, in Internet Explorer 6-8, but the performance suffers noticeably, as well as there being 2 many layers, for all the background designs, to show up correctly.

I can now fully test, for every major version of Internet Explorer, from 6 on, and can now support most, of the modern features, on these versions. I still recommend upgrading your browser to a better one, because of the security and performance benefits alone.

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Google

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Google Started a New Format War

Google has now removed the Apple/iPod/iTunes version support from Chrome now to force its users  to use its own new format (WebM) or use Flash for video. This was designed to make trouble for the entire consumer electronic industry and its users.

Google is making trouble for Apple and its users, because Apple has decided not to allow Flash on its iPhones, iPod Touches, and iPads due to it radically lowering battery life, to not populate its store with poor performing widget apps, and because it was only available several years after the iPhone and iPod Touch were released.

Google's newly preferred format (WebM) likely  has patents on it, opening up those who use it on websites to likely but unknown liabilities, without any patent pools like, in the Apple/iPod/iTunes format, and has no hardware acceleration support in most devices, unlike the Apple friendly format, so it would destroy battery life as well. Google has also refused to pay potential patent royalties, for users of its new format, when the inevitable patent lawsuits begin.

Ironically this Apple friendly format is not owned by Apple or Microsoft (and both pay more for using the patents in software then they get from them) and every major consumer electronics manufacturer (including Google and many of its phone manufacturer partner companies) had not just agreed to it, but actually funded its development (and they all cross license each other as they are the patent holders).

Microsoft has recently added a free add-on to Google Chrome, that adds back in this removed video format support.

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Why I Changed My Mind About Microsoft Office Formats

Microsoft used to be the poster child of competing illegally and immorally and producing products that didn't work properly and had poor security, but some major things have changed over the last 5-10 years. Microsoft has (1) lowered the cost of Microsoft Office for home users to a reasonable price, (2) they have removed VBA in their default configuration and don't allow it in their new default file format (which effectively eliminates their MS Office virus problems), (3) they have issued a new documented and standardized file format, and are giving away their related patents royalty free, (4) Apple's iWork suite has become more important (largely due to the iPad and iPhone versions of the office suite, reduction in the price, now selling each one of the apps individually, and making them available on the Mac App Store) and iWork now supports the new Microsoft standard office format, instead of the OpenOffice.org standard. Now, it appears, that the main enemy of the consumer is no longer Microsoft, but Google.

Find more information on Microsoft's Open Specifications Promise.

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Why I don't use Google Specific Formats

I won't use Google specific formats like WebP image format WebM video format, because I don't trust that Google isn't using other people's intellectual property, without paying for it, like they did with Java, in their Android operating system. It also is becoming more and more apparent, that Google is using the same proprietary model, that Microsoft has used in the past, to add non-standard features, to its products, in order to make web technologies incompatible, and to lock people into their products.

Some examples include (from their web browser decisions): (1) being the only major company to drop support for MP4 video and audio support in their web browser (to keep the need for Flash Player), (2) the addition of the Native Client to Google's Chrome web browser (which no other browser maker will support like Microsoft's Active X), and (3) the disabling of the SVG support in their Android webkit-based web browser, until version 3 (because SVG gives key support for web technologies to replace Flash).

Some examples include (from their Android software decisions): (1) basing the entire technology on violation of Oracle and Apple intellectual property both in spirit and in practice, (2) duplicity about the open source nature of Android (by not releasing Android 3 source code in a timely manner and not accepting any outside contributions to Android, not releasing code until the fully tested version was finished, and their support for the very non-standardized and non-open source Flash Player), (3) the poor security record of Android and the poor quality of the Android software, especially the included web browser, (4) the inaccurate comparisons of Android to Apple devices (falsely insinuating that they are functionally comparable to iOS), (5) marketing of Android and general attitude of fans based on macho attitude and overhyping and misleading customers about Android phones regarding consistency of platform, Flash, price, and Google's helping lock down phones for carriers, and the (6) bundling of Flash Player with Chrome and Android phones. And I am unwilling to accept the poor security, that this continued push, for the use of Flash, and the level of control, that Google gives away, in its Android store, brings.

I am also concerned about Google's lack of respect, for copyright, in their posting of electronic versions, of print books, to the web, without first contacting the copyright holders. I also don't trust, that Google won't sell personal information, of my website users, or of myself, due to their business model being based, on selling personal information, to ad companies, the US Department of Defense, and anyone else, who wants this same information. Google also continues to release misleading information or outright lies about its market share and the horrific and untrue things that were said about Apple, like comparing it Steve Jobs the dictator of North Korea.

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