Categories
Android Browsers video

Testing the new Vimeo Universal Player

On Tuesday Vimeo released their new Universal Player in an attempt to serve up videos to the ever changing landscape of web enabled devices (ie. iPhones, Androids and iPads etc). As we all know video on these small devices has been a bit of a struggle, especially with Apple flat out refusing to support Flash of any sort. Vimeo, like YouTube, is now turning to HTML5 video to try to combat this issue.

The new Universal Player uses an iFrame along with some fancy code to serve up the appropriate type of video file to different devices and browsers.

UPDATE 2: It works… ish

I’m getting sporadic reports of everything from “it works, what the hell are you on about” to “I can’t see the iFrame”. It seems that the videos (from a Plus account with Mobile version activated) works properly on iPad, iPhone 3GS and 4 as well as Android devices running 2.2 (Froyo). On my Rogers HTC Magic which still runs 1.5 due to Rogers’ complete disregard for customer satisfaction it does not work. In the native browser the video still shows up with buttons but nothing happens when you click the buttons. In Opera Mini the iFrame doesn’t even show up. It looks like growing pains and one could argue that backwards copatibility to smartphone firmware which was obsolete a year ago is a bit excessive, but then people with Android devices have very little choice when it comes to their carriers refusing to roll out updates. Until I hear otherwise I’m going to write Vimeo videos not working on Android 1.5 down to outdated firmware and put it on the long list of reasons why Rogers needs to get their act together.

UPDATE: Plus users only (and you have to activate the feature)

A bit more digging lead me to this page where I found that the new Universal Player is only universal for Plus users. If you have a regular old non-paid account your videos won’t play on mobile devices. What’s more, to get the feature to work you have to first activate Mobile Versions in your account. I tried doing this through my web browser but the feature was nowhere to be found. When I logged in using my phone and went to My Videos there was a huge button to activate Mobile Version. I’ve now clicked the button and it says “Mobile versions of your videos are being made right now. Check back here later!” No idea how long the conversion will take.

The good news is that once Mobile Versions has been activated it automatically applies to all future videos uploaded as well. The bad news is, like I said, that it only applies to Plus users. The Q&A on the blog post indicates that the feature might be released to everyone some time in the future so I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

Stay tuned for another update once the videos have been converted properly.

But does it actually work?

I’m working on a large project with a lot of video integration and we needed to find a solution so that the videos would show up on the iPad and iPhone in particular. In the old days (3 days ago), Vimeo videos didn’t work on these devices but the new Universal Player looked to solve these problems. Or rather, it solved the problem for the iPad. On the iPhone (and Android for that matter) it doesn’t work and causes some weird effects (if you have one of these devices you can take a look for yourself by opening this post and playing the video above):

The video iframe is severely cropped vertically and does not play. No matter what I do. And no, it’s not a matter of bad code or an uncompliant server. I’ve tested this on 5 different servers, in different sites, and with different configurations. The videos do not play in the native iPhone browser nor in the native Android browser or Opera Mini on Android. All I get is the cropped (and very wide) frame with the video thumbnail and a play button.

I want this to work, but as of right now, at least as far as I can tell, it doesn’t. If you have a different experience, please drop a line in the comments.

Categories
Browsers News

YouTube joins the movement to phase out Internet Explorer 6

YouTube IE6 warning

One of the cool things about SuperPreview (the browser testing application that comes packaged with the new Microsoft Expression Web 3) is that it lets you check any site against older browsers. So when I have a couple of minutes to spare I test out well known sites to see if they comply with web standards and if they still support Internet Explorer 6.

Big was my surprise this morning when I ran YouTube in IE6 mode: At the top of the page they’ve now added a big blue box warning visitors using Internet Explorer 6:

We will be phasing out support for your browser soon. Please upgrade to one of these more modern browsers.

The warning is followed with direct links to download Firefox 3.5, Internet Explorer 8 and (of course) Google Chrome. (On a related note, as a designer you should have all these browsers installed as well as Opera and Safari.)

I’m glad to see that big American players are now getting on board with the movement to phase out Internet Explorer 6 which so far has had most of its success in Europe. And with the support of a player as big as YouTube I can see a time in the not-t00-distant future when we can stop caring about IE6 and get on with our lives.

Categories
Browsers

StopLivingInThePast.com – the whys and hows of the IE6 movement

This is a condensed version of an article published on StopLivingInThePast.com. I urge you to read the full article. I just don’t like cross-posting which is why you only get the excerpt here.

Read the original article

How did the IE6 campaign come about?

After finalizing the first version of the WordPress plugin for the StopLivingInThePast.com campaign and receiving more than 25,000 views in the last three days I figured it’s about time I sit down and write up a comprehensive article about what this is all about and why it is so important that you join the movement and help phase out Internet Explorer 6 forever.

Last week a group of large and wide-read sites in Norway including almost every major newspaper in the country along with a myriad of tech magazines, broadcasters and others added a warning box in their sites telling IE6 users they were using outdated software that can impede their user experience and put their computers at risk.

Seeing an opportunity to transplant the campaign to North America and especially within the WordPress blogging community I created StopLivingInThePast.com last Saturday. The project has actually been a sketch in my notebook since late 2007 but I could never find the right time to launch it. That is until now.

StopLivingInThePast.com is by far the only IE6 site and I do not claim ownership of the campaign. In actuality there are a myriad of old and new sites popping up that all convey pretty much the same message: Phase out IE6 now and go enjoy the web.

Why should I care?

Like I mentioned earlier, Internet Explorer 6 has been a favourite object of hate and ridicule pretty much since it went public in 2001. And for good reason. The browser is a quagmire of web-standards incompliance, buggy JavaScript rendering, security holes and general errors. Which begs the question “If IE6 is so bad, why on earth do people use it at all?” The answer to this question serves to explain both how big the problem really is and why designers and developers are now taking the fight to the streets to get rid of the browser for good.

Let me split the question in half and answer each in turn:

Why is IE6 so bad?

When you design a web site or application you have to have the end user in mind. And the way the end user accesses your sites and applications is through a web browser. Since there are many different web browsers available it is important that there is one true standard to which they all adhere so that a web site or application looks the same regardless of what browser or platform the visitor uses. To this end the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has published a set of rules known as Web Standards that spell out in more or less certain terms how different code elements should be used and what they should look like. And for the most part browsers follow these rules – some more strictly than others. I say “most” because there is a glaring exception: Internet Explorer 6.

Whatever the reason, the strategy of having a non-compliant browser backfired and lead to an uproar in the web design and development community and the implementation of so-called “IE hacks“: Because IE6 didn’t play nice with web standards, the people that build web sites started designing based on web standards and then added a bunch of extra code to force IE6 to comply. But although this strategy worked it was both cumbersome and clumsy and lead to sites being horribly bloated and slow.

Meanwhile other browser developers like Mozilla and Opera were hard at work exploiting the hatred and frustration caused by IE6 to get a bigger share of the market. And while Microsoft was hard at work plugging security holes Firefox and Opera introduced a long list of new and exciting features not available in IE6 including tabbed browsing, extensions and true standards based HTML, CSS and JavaScript support.

Then in 2006 Microsoft released Internet Explorer 7 – a much improved browser that not only stayed truer to web standards but also included much needed user conveniences like the now hugely popular tabs and integrated search.

Why do people still use IE6?

First off, because of all the thousands of security warnings and updates people had gotten with IE6 a large group of users were under the impression that if they now upgraded to a new browser the whole game would start over. And with that rationale as their modus operandi thousands upon thousands of end users declined the update to IE7 and stuck with what they perceived as a tried and trusted.

Secondly because IE6 had such a long run and such a large market share, a huge percentage of sites and applications on the web and in intranets around the world were designed to run properly only in the strange world of IE6 code interpretation. And when they upgraded their computers to IE7, their huge and costly applications no longer worked the way they were supposed to. So rather than upgrading and subsequently having to redesign and redevelop applications that until then had worked just fine these corporations bit the bullet and decided to stick with IE6 in spite of its flaws.

Finally a small percentage of users were still on older systems that either ran operating systems that didn’t support IE7 or didn’t have enough computing power to run the browser properly.

Whatever the reason for not upgrading, the group of IE6 users even to this day is slow to decline and is currently estimated to be between 25% and 30% of the total population of internet users.

So it’s a lost cause then…

Because IE6 does not render HTML, CSS and JavaScript like the other browsers and much of the new technologies and innovations we have seen over the last couple of years use precisely these code languages, the web and it’s designers and developers are being pulled in two different directions: Do we hold back on new technologies to accommodate the old browser or do we break free and leave it to drift and sink under it’s own weight? To many the answer is still the former – better to tow the piano for a few more years so as not to lose any of our potential clients – while others are already hacking away at the chain with saws, axes and whatever else they have handy.

And this is where StopLivingInThePast.com and the many other IE6 campaigns come in. More and more designers and developers are looking to move the web forward without leaving anyone behind and to do so they are including warnings in their sites telling those visitors still using the old and outdated browser that now is the time to stop living in the past and upgrade to a newer and better browser. In some ways it is self-serving – getting rid of IE6 for good will make life easier for those of us that design web sites and applications for a living – and in others it is an effort to elevate the overall usability and enjoyment of the web for the masses. I can only speak for myself here but I actuall feel bad for those users who are still stuck with Internet Explorer 6. Because not only will upgrading their browser make them safer from security intrusions, viruses and other nasty stuff, but they will have a much better experience surfing the web.

So what do we do?

In a word: Upgrade. Upgrade your own computer, upgrade your mom’s computer, your neighbour’s computer, talk to your IT people at work and ask them to upgrade and tell all your friends to do the same. And if for some reason they cannot or will not upgrade to the latest version of Internet Explorer, ask them to get one of the many other browsers available and stop using IE6. If you have a web site, add the warning code from this site to your own. If you run a WordPress blog or site you can install the Stop Living in the Past WordPress plugin that will do all the work for you. And again, ask all your friends, relatives, neighbours and even your company to do the same. I have no doubt that if enough people get on board this campaign and enough sites feature the friendly alert to finally upgrade from this archaic browser we can actually look forward to a future where IE6 usage is down to a one-digit percentage and we can finally leave the old and bloated code to rest for good.

Categories
Browsers

StopLivingInThePast.com is Live – Join the Movement to Phase Out IE6 Forever

StopLivingInThePast.comI’ve had enough. After years of mangling the otherwise clean and simple code of my site designs to try to make them work properly in Internet Explorer 6 (IE6) I have absolutely had it. No more! I am not willing to deal with an old and outdated browser that never really worked in the first place any longer. And I’m not alone.

This last week a conglomerate of Norwegian sites including almost every newspaper and a series of large corporations joined together in the fight to phase out Internet Explorer 6 once and for all. All the sites have added IE6 specific warnings for their IE6 using visitors telling them that they are using an outdated browser and that it is time to upgrade. This is far from the first time an innitiative like this has been launched, but I don’t think it has had this much top-level support before. Microsoft Norway even went out and publically supported the move. This might seem strange to outsiders but in actual fact it makes a lot of sense: After all IE6 was phased out by Microsoft in 2006 and they are on the brink of releasing IE8 to the masses.

The Stop Living in the Past IE6 warning

To help the phasing out process along I threw together a simple WordPress based site called StopLivingInThePast.com providing info, links and the all-important code that inserts a warning telling IE6 users they need to upgrade. The code is basic CSS and HTML and contains no JavaScript or any other elements that may interfere with the overall operation of sites and blogs. I even gave the style ID a really strange name so chances of style craches are minimal. The script uses the CSS commenting technique to filter viewers so that it only appears if the visitor is using IE6 or an even earlier browser. For reference it looks like this:


I’ll be adding a blog and more information to the site as time goes along but for now go to the site, get the code, insert it into your own site and tell all your friends, family, relatives, co-workers, IT professionals, designers, developers and anyone else you meet to visit the site, upgrade their browser and spread the word: Stop Living in the Past – Join the Movement to Phase Out IE6 Forever.

Categories
Browsers News

Internet Explorer Alert – Critical Product Vulnerability

This just dumped into my inbox. Since so many people use Internet Explorer 6 or 7 and it talks about a very bad security issue I thought it important enough to warrant a repost (for the full details visit http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/bulletin/MS08-078.mspx.

Basically the bulletin says that if you have automatic updates turned on, your computer will be updated shortly. This may mean your computer will reboot itself. By the way, if you don’t have auto updates turned on, do so right now. It’s not safe otherwise (that goes for Mac users too btw).

Executive Summary

This security update resolves a publicly disclosed vulnerability in Internet Explorer. The vulnerability could allow remote code execution if a user views a specially crafted Web page using Internet Explorer. Users whose accounts are configured to have fewer user rights on the system could be less impacted than users who operate with administrative user rights. The security update addresses the vulnerability by modifying the way Internet Explorer validates data binding parameters and handles the error resulting in the exploitable condition.
This security update also addresses the vulnerability first described in Microsoft Security Advisory 961051.

Recommendations

Microsoft recommends customers prepare their systems and networks to apply this security update immediately, to help ensure that their computers are protected from attempted criminal attacks. Please visit http://www.microsoft.com/protect to apply the security update.

PUBLIC BULLETIN WEBCAST

Microsoft will host two Webcasts to address customer questions on this Out-of-Band bulletin:

Title: Information About Microsoft December Out-of-Band Security Bulletin
Date: Wednesday, December 17, 2008 1:00 P.M. Pacific Time (U.S. & Canada)
URL: http://msevents.microsoft.com/CUI/EventDetail.aspx?EventID=1032399448&Culture=en-US

Title: Information About Microsoft December Out-of-Band Security Bulletin #2
Date: Thursday, December 18, 2008 11:00 A.M. Pacific Time (U.S. & Canada)
URL: http://msevents.microsoft.com/CUI/EventDetail.aspx?EventID=1032399449&Culture=en-US

To remain informed about security threats and solutions, please subscribe to the Microsoft Security News Letter

Categories
Browsers Expression Web My Book Silverlight Tutorials

Previewing Silverlight Applications in Your Browser With Expression Development Server

If you’ve tried placing a Silverlight application in a HTML page in Expression Web 2 (or any other web authoring application for that matter) and previewing it in your browser you know it doesn’t work. Here is a small exerpt from my upcoming book Sams Teach Yourself Microsoft Expression Web 2 in 24 Hours that explains how you can use the Expression Development Server to trick your browser into previewing Silverlight applications without having to run them off a server:

To make sure everything is working properly, you should preview the page in your browser. But if you do all you’ll see is an empty white page. This is because Silverlight is a server-side script that must be running on a web server to work properly. In other words technically you need to upload your files to a web server and test them from there. Fortunately there is a way around this problem: Because a big part of Expression Web 2 is the ability to create advanced dynamic websites using Microsoft’s server-side script language ASP.NET, the program comes equipped with a small application called Expression Development Server. This application creates a virtual server on your computer that behaves like a web server and lets you run server-side scripts in pages even though they are only stored on your computer. You will be introduced to the Expression Development Server in more detail in Hours 22, “Beyond the Basics: PHP in Expression Web 2,” and 23, “Beyond the Basics Part 2: Building a Site with ASP.NET.”

The problem at hand is that the Silverlight script will run only on a web server. So to be able to preview the application you need to make Expression Web 2 think that the page you are currently working with is actually an ASP.NET page. That way it will be previewed using Expression Development Server and the Silverlight script will run properly. Doing so is surprisingly simple: Open the HTML file that contains the Silverlight application you want to preview, select File, Save As on the menu bar, and change the file extension to .aspx – the extension for ASP.NET pages that can contain regular HTML code. Now when you open the page it will be previewed in the browser through Expression Development Server and the Silverlight application will run properly.

Clever eh? Now go crack open your piggybank and buy my book!

Categories
Browsers News

Most Popular Browsers (or Why You Need to Code for Internet Explorer 6)

I ran some stats today on this blog and Dabbler.ca to see what browsers people use to view the site. The results were pretty much as expected and prove that even though Internet Explorer 7 has been out for quite a while now and IE8 is on the horizon, people still predominantly use the CSS mangling Internet Explorer 6.

blog.pinkandyellow.com stats:

  1. Internet Explorer 6.0 – 18.34%
  2. Internet Explorer 7.0 – 11.18%
  3. Firefox 2.0 – 6.80%
  4. Mozilla 5 – 6.50%
  5. Firefox 1.0 – 4.58%
  6. Netscape – 3.34%
  7. Firefox 1.5 – 2.39%

Dabbler.ca stats:

  1. Internet Explorer 7.0 – 18.58%
  2. Internet Explorer 6.0 – 16.35%
  3. Firefox 2.0 – 15.77%
  4. Safari – 3.15%
  5. Firefox 1.5 – 2.92%
  6. Mozilla 5 – 1.40%
  7. Internet Explorer 5.5 – 1.21%

(If you’re wondering why these stats don’t ad up, it’s because I took out the Google, MSN and Yahoo! search bots)

These stats are actually quite interesting. First off, it’s obvious that people insist on holding on to older versions of web browsers. God knows why, but they do. Secondly, considering that this blog only contains info on programming and design and therefore should have visitors who are predominantly programmers or designers, it’s surprising to see that IE 6 tops the list. One would expect that the people who make web sites are the most up to date on the newest versions. I also note that Safari doesn’t figure on this list but comes in at #4 on Dabbler’s (guess Mac users don’t care much about Microsoft Expression). I’m glad to see that Firefox is climbing the charts even though it still has a long way to go before it can top Internet Explorer. But what really makes me scratch my head is #6, Netscape. Seeing as that company officially dumped the navigator last month, I don’t understand why programmers still use it. It’s crap people! Move on.