Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Google Chrome

It's not what I expected. I never read any of the hype about Google's new web browser because I assumed that it would just be Mozilla with a Google bar built in. And the name led me to believe that its main selling point was flashy appearance. I visualized a nightmare of animated partially transparent doodads rotating and sliding around the screen every time I moved my mouse. Google Chrome is the opposite of that. It's actually a very bare-bones browser with some nice features.

There's nothing amazing about Google Chrome, but I think Google is taking a page from Microsoft's playbook. When you are that big, you can be a lot worse than your competition and still grab a significant number of users. Then over time you improve the product enough that it actually deserves all of the users. That's how they did it with Blogger, which started out as a pretty stark blogging platform, far behind other products in terms of features. But Blogger has caught up to other blogging software over the years. Google Docs seems to be following that plan as well. It really isn't very good compared to Microsoft Office or Open Office, but it has some interesting features, it is just good enough to be usable, and it is from Google.

So I expect Google Chrome to follow the plan and gradually add features. They will be smart about it and only add features that users complain about not having. In the end they will be left with something that has all of the important features but is still leaner than the competition.

I like the idea behind Google Chrome. I downloaded it and tried it out, thinking that I might become a beta tester. But a half hour of experiencing the web the way website designers think it should be experienced put that plan away. I just cannot read web pages with moving things on them. It is so distracting to me that I have several Firefox extensions dedicated to shutting things down. If Google wants users like me to use a minimalist browser, they could make a single configuration option on it that stops all motion on web pages --all animated gifs, all movies, all flash, all Javascript animation, everything. Then they could have a single button that you press for a given page that allows the page to run. That would be my dream browser. But until Chrome gives me some control over how web pages are displayed, I'm afraid that I'll have to stick with Firefox.

speaking of spite...

Speaking of spite ... an anonymous commenter just tried to out me in the comments to this post to punish me for speculating about Light Blue Optics and their mysterious lack of anything to ship even after announcing products and evaluation kits. Doc Rampage is only semi-anonymous anyway, so the threat has less effect than he probably thinks it does. Still it seems like bad strategy if he wants to put a stop to bad publicity for Light Blue Optics. I was only interested in finding out the truth about LBO, good or bad. If my speculations are wrong, all he had to do was email me in his own name to answer my questions. Assuming that it really answered my questions (in unambiguous language) I would have published the letter, said "there you have it" and gone on to other interests.

But whoever is making these marketing decisions at LBO seems to have chosen instead the strategy of trying to piss me off. I'm not sure how he thinks that making this personal is going to help Light Blue Optics with their image problems. They think a pissed-off critic is going to give them less bad publicity than an idly-curious critic? The only way this would be good strategy is if they really are trying to hide something and they figure that their only option is to try and scare me off.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

on spite and apologies

Anonymous commenters on my second post on Light Blue Optics have suggested that I should apologize for my posts about LBO. One accused me of "spiteful and unfounded insinuations". I haven't yet read the latest links that have been left for me to peruse, but given the quality of the previous links, I'm not expecting much. Still, I will read them eventually and if I decide that they answer my questions, then I will write another post acknowledging the new information and update my previous posts accordingly.

However, it is hard to imagine a circumstance that would make me feel that I had to apologize for what I have written about LBO. There is an argument to be made that people are entitled to the benefit of the doubt, and that you don't post suspicions about random people without some sort of evidence. I am more sympathetic to this view than not. For example, I think the ridiculous speculations about Gov. Palin's child not really being hers would never have been published by a responsible person.

But LBO is not an individual; it is a company that goes out to investors and asks them for money (large amounts of money) based on their own reports of their own achievements and potential as a company. When they do this, they give up the presumption of innocence. They have to be ready, willing and able to confront criticism openly and effectively. If the best that they can do is to post anonymous links and outraged comments then they need to grow a thicker skin. I'm a pussycat compared to an angry investor.

In addition to my criticisms and suspicions of the company, I did question the credentials of two individuals who work for the company. However, these two individuals are high-level employees (one is a VP and the other is the CTO) who have lent their prestige to the company, so their credentials are also open to criticism on the same grounds as is the company itself. Furthermore, none of my published comments would do them any harm at all if I am wrong and if I am right the only harm it would do them is to make it more difficult for them to deceive people. In fact, if I am wrong, I imagine that they would find my suspicions more amusing than troublesome.

And finally, I would like to say (again) that there is no spite or ill-will in any of my remarks. Those who see spite here are just projecting their own anger and spite onto the person who is making them angry and spiteful.