IE7 Beta 2

The IE7 Beta 2 Preview is now available to the masses – While many of the new features have been available for the last 2 or 3 years in Firefox or Opera it’s good to see the Windows O/S default browser catching up and becoming a much better tool for the average user who would never think of changing from IE.

So – whats new? The list below are the main features (links to Flickr piccies where possible)

  • Tabbed browsing is the biggie. Browse the web in a much more efficient manner. Easy to open new tabs and there’s a nice Quicktabs button that shows all tabs as small screens allowing you to easily pick the one you want.
  • Rendering – much improved. Support for png’s and better css standardisation. My site is looking pretty OK considering it’s IE. Binary Bonsai which has always struggled in IE is looking not too shabby. Pity MSN UK’s website looks shabby – a bit embarrassing.
  • Phishing filter. Will highlight a dubious website and also allows you to check against a list of known phishing sites. Should improve security alongside a pop-up blocker and also a nice tool for checking which add-ons are currently running in IE. This will make it easier for users to remove spurious search toolbars that they have installed over the years.
  • RSS support. Using the now adopted RSS standard icon you can add feeds to IE and then check via a feed view. Great to have this as built into IE instead of having to add a separate program although it’s fairly light on features.
  • Search engine selection. You can now add various search engines – Google, Yahoo, AOL as well as Amazon, EBay and others. Nothing special but good to see Microsoft opening out their software away from MSN defaults.
  • Cleaner interface. Makes for a bigger browsing window.

These features alone should have been added to IE a long time ago. It’s only thanks to the in-roads that Firefox has made that has forced Microsoft to release an updated browser. Thank heavens for competition especially as it’s the majority of users not in the ‘know’ that will benefit most from the final IE7 release.

4 Things

I’ve been tagged by Gordon so without further ado…

Four jobs that I’ve had

  • Database design
  • Database support
  • Business analyst
  • Trainee rottweiler – joke for those in the know – all of these have been at the same firm

Four movies I can watch over and over

Four places I have lived

  • Kelvingrove, Glasgow
  • Kelvindale, Glasgow
  • And thats it’s – only two
  • I’ve lived a sheltered life

Four TV shows I like to watch

Four foods that I like

  • Curry – and if I could choose one it would be South India Garlic Chili from the Spice of Life
  • Ice Cream – Vanilla Haagen-Dazs
  • Black Pudding
  • Pizza

Four websites I visit daily

Four things I want to do before I die

  • Find me a woman!!
  • Pay off the mortgage
  • Retire early enough to enjoy my grey years before I depart from this earth
  • Learn a musical instrument

Four places I would rather be right now

  • Lottery headquarters picking up a cheque for £105 Million
  • Japan
  • Alone in a yacht
  • Out in the country, in Scotland, staring at a non light polluted starry sky

Four people I’m tagging

Switch it off

Article on BBC News highlights how much electricity is wasted by having devices constantly in stand-by. For the UK alone it’s the equivalent of the output of two power stations a year – that’s amazingly high and a lot more than I expected. I’m bad at leaving things on for convenience but more and more I’m switching things off, not just to standby but actually at the mains socket as well. The energy that we waste would only be brought into focus if we went through some of the power blips that California suffered over the last two years or the threat to our gas supplied turned into reality – who’ll know what Russia will do next?

It’s time that a sliding scale for paying for our gas and electricity came into use. Like the proposed new road tax where the more you drive the more you pay we should introduce higher unit costs for those that use and abuse energy. There would need to be a scale of when this kicked in i.e. a guy living on his own should use less than a family of four hence their increased unit charge would kick in at a higher level. Awareness alone doesn’t make a difference – hitting people in their pocket certainly would especially when most of the waste is due to our convenience led society.

It was a joke!

I laughed while watching the weather yesterday – not only was it to be a dry day in Glasgow but the presenter who was Scottish had a fun poke at Rangers by saying “wrap up warm if they are heading for Castle Grayskull”. For those not in the know this has been the slang term for Ibrox stadium for a long time. Pretty funny – nice one Kirsty.

I should have know there would be those who can’t see the funny side. Sunday Mail, page 5, outraged Gers fans. Twats – get a grip. Whats worse is the shoddy Sunday Mail reporting. Firstly it’s Grayskull not Greyskull. Secondly, and something I always thought was a bit odd – Castle Grayskull is where the hero’s are based in the He-Man cartoon, not the baddies. So whats the big deal? I’m more concerned about being 4th in the league than a throwaway comment on a weather report.

Pronto Marathon

I do love my Pronto remote but it takes ages to update. I had three new devices to add – new tele, new Freeview box and the 360. Thankfully I managed to find discrete off and on codes for the TV (Philips 32pf9830) and the Freeview box (Sony VTX-D800U) which means I’m now in macro heaven. One touch and all the devices will switch on and off as I please – the ultimate in couch potato laziness. The ccf file for the Pronto can be found below – I would upload to Remotecentral but I’ve set things up just so for me so I feel it’s a bit of a waste dumping it on their site.

downloadMy Pronto ccf

While I was updating the Pronto it struck me I would hate to replace this remote – it’s had a few knocks and mishaps but it’s just so expensive for what it is. A PDA with an IR port could do a better job and is more cost effective – just need the right software and a good range on the IR port.

Broadband Joy

Finally I have a fast and stable broadband connection thanks to NTL. It was installed last Friday and since then I have not had one disconnect. Contrast with Freedom2Surf’s LLU service which was flaky and prone to disconnects. I also seemed to suffer some accusations of lag while gaming online although I was never entirely convinced it was me. Saying that, there has been no lag at all since NTL was installed.

Secondly the speed is impressive – most impressive. About 30 minutes after the line was installed I took an ADSLGuide speedtest which you can see here. Almost a full fat 10Meg connection. Real world speeds i.e. downloading, streaming and general web surfing have also been very impressive. Web pages were a lot snappier than previous suggesting that NTL’s DNS servers are working really well compared to my last two providers.

Contention however can definitely be seen with NTL but not to the same extent as the ADSL network in my area. Yes I’m in a Glasgow on a big exchange (western) but to slow down at night to less than 50k/sec is pretty unacceptable. I should have been seeing 6Meg. I find NTL is dropping to 4-6Meg in the evening but at other times maintains the 9-10Meg speeds. SO after one week I can only recommend NTL’s cable service. I’ll update later in the year once I’ve had more experience of their long term performance.

Finally – Freedom2Surf have lost the plot. I cancelled with them last week but they had the cheek to phone this week and offer 2 free months connection and a promise to fix all my issues. I wasn’t impressed with this at all – why not fix the problem while I’m a paying customer and not when I leave. Sounded like they have had quite a few users leave recently. They also admitted today that they have been traffic shaping over the last weeks. I wish they had been up front so that people knew this was happening – it would have saved a lot of wasted time and money in contacting their support desks. Their reputed honesty and good support seems to have gone out of the window. In case you haven’t figured it out I didn’t take them up on their free months offer. Good riddance.

1 in 76,275,360

Thats the odds of hitting the EuroMillions jackpot. Did it stop our work syndicate placing 280 lines on tomorrows £70 Million jackpot? Of course not! Post New Year blues has a lot to answer for.

Think lucky!

*Update* We had 10 winning tickets which netted us a grand total of…….£77.30. For a £420 outlay. Still, gets some lines for next weeks Lotto.