Getting a modern browser

Slashdot found that MS IE6 SP1 will be the last standalone version that Microsoft makes available.

Joel on Software writes that he is making Mozilla Firebird his default browser

After downloading virtually every Mozilla release over the last three years, this is the first browser I’m actually going to make my default web browser. All the little problems are fixed. It loads fast. It’s not ugly and clunky. My beloved Alt+D/Ctrl+Enter work perfectly. NT challenge/response authentication is supported. And there are new features, too: tabbed browsing, which is better than it sounds. Incremental search, which is brilliant and I already can’t live without. Text size adjustments that always work. A download manager. Excellent cookie management. Oh, and no more whack-a-mole, the reason I’ve been trying to switch for so long in the first place.

TiVo is going to give Nielsen a run for their money.

TiVo collects a lot of information on user’s viewing habits. You can opt-in fully and opt-out fully by calling their customer service line. The company, rightly so, is very paranoid about keeping this information anonymous and secure. First, because it’s a very valuable asset that competitors would love to have. Second, it would be a PR disaster if the information could be tied back to individuals. Most likely, it would be enough of a disaster to kill the company.  However, Tivo has been very honest and open from the beginning about what data they collect and how they intend to use it.

The networks should be able to rely much more on the data TiVo produces than the statistically sampled Nielsen ratings.  These ratings are, I am guessing, very susceptible to variation at the low end of the rating scale below the 2.0 rating mark.  This makes niche shows (like Buffy / Futurama / etc) and sports (like umm non-World-Cup Soccer) quite unatrractive to the big networks who are looking for the next big audience getter like Survivor or American Idol.

If Tivo’s data can more reliably show the consitency and size of niche programming, along with the valuable demographic data about the audience, these programs are likely to command more ad dollars and get picked up, even if its a cable network. A poster on Slashdot summed it up pretty well.

As usual, there’s a pretty good discussion on Slashdot about this issue.  Just filter the comments to score 4 or more.

The Anonymity of Fame

Interesting article on the Washington Times about the popularity of sports message boards in which Sachin Shah mentions how we ended up being roomates at the beginning of this year.

"Basically, a lot of us over the years have gotten to know each other on BigSoccer," Shah said. "I know of at least two couples who have gotten together because of BigSoccer. I’ve been on a date with somebody I met on there. I’ve made lots of friends."
Shah isn’t kidding: When he moved back to the D.C. area from Lynchburg, Va., early this year, he posted a housing-wanted note on the United board.
"In 20 minutes, I had a place lined up, rooming with a guy I had met at a World Cup party last year," Shah said. "He had heard about the party on BigSoccer."

If you really cared would you need this service?

Kudos to this site for finding a market niche and exploiting it. I can’t say that I think its a sign of a healthy relationship when a guy resorts to using this service.

"I think that this is probably one of the best ideas I’ve seen out there to help keep the romance going in a relationship. He gets credit for thinking of her, she gets a tengible reminder that he cares. Thank you!

So its a serivce for the kind of guy that decides taking the time to show he cares isn’t his core competency or fits his schedule and decides to outsource it.

Regular Expressions are your friends.

Two and a half years ago, when I first dove into web development, I wasn’t very familiar with regular expressions. They certainly didn’t look regular to me, looked more like someone’s keyboard exploded. Now, having figured out a thing or two about them, I came across the following lines:

		$pos = strpos ( $this-&gt;user-&gt;privs, 'del');<br />		if ($pos===FALSE)<br />		{ // edit not found in string privs<br />			return FALSE;<br />		} else {<br />		// figure out where the string ends by looking for a comma, return that substring<br />			$next_comma = strpos( $this-&gt;user-&gt;privs, &quot;,&quot; , $pos);<br />			if ($next_comma===FALSE) $next_comma=strlen($this-&gt;user-&gt;privs);<br />			$len = $next_comma-$pos;<br />			$epriv = substr ($this-&gt;user-&gt;privs, $pos, $len);<br />			return $epriv;<br />

Which I was able to boil down into the following:

    if ( preg_match(&quot;/del_[a-z]+/&quot;, $privString, $match) )<br />    {<br />        return $match[0];<br />    } else {<br />        return false;<br />    }<br />