On the Fly Website Translation in Google Chrome

I stumbled on this neat trick the other day while having a look for information on a Russian website.  If you are browsing using the Google Chrome Browser and open Google Translate in one tab, when you surf to any foreign language sites, it will offer to translate the site for you.  You click yes, and bang, you’ve got that site in English. The actual translation is as good as the library they have, hence Spanish is pretty good, while you can probably bet that Urdu or Swahili will offer mixed results.

I’m now using Chrome for most of my browsing although I do use Firefox for css debug, and IE just to be sure my work is accessible in all browsers.  I expect we’ll see Chrome really take off this year.

New wider format

Looking at my analytics package, I noticed that virtually no one is reading this at 800 x 600 screen resolution, so I devoted a whole lot more width to the content section of the page.  I’ll probably juggle things around a little more tomorrow and sort out some of the minor formatting in the right side columns and such.  It’s the age old story, the web developer’s site is the last site he pays attention to.

In making this change, I thought it kind of funny how few blogs have moved to a 1024 screen layout, while most websites have.  800 x 600 is dead…and if you’re using it, you’re damned used to seeing sites that are broken for you.  In my case, the right column will hang off the page, which is a suitable result for me, as I’m not a huge fan of fluid designs.  If you’re still on a 800 x 600 presentation, I suggest it’s time to change.  Especially since 800 wide design looks like a postage stamp when viewed on a wide screen laptop.

The funny thing is I am working on a site right now where we’ve still got a fair number of users coming in at the small screen resolution, and even using the AOL Browser.  If you want a real experience, try surfing the web at 800 x 600 via an AOL Browser.  Better, yet, do if via dialup for the full experience.

Coincidentally, I called Charter Cable this morning on a support issue and the nice account rep offered to “review my services” which is usually sales speak for “sell you something you don’t need for more than you need to pay”.  To my surprise, she offered to double the bandwidth of my internet connection for $10 more a month.

“Why yes, I would very much like to double the speed of my connection, thank you!”

So today, I am playing with power.  It’s not that my bandwidth was low before (5Mbps), but with the streaming video I do, it was starting to lag occasionally.  And at 10 Mbps I am noticing a big difference.  Hmmm…I wonder how much their 15 Mbps service would cost…

There may be method to the Apple Madness

I haven’t tried it yet, but there are reports from many sectors that Apple is offering free wireless access for Iphone users at Starbucks locations. Very strange when you consider that we have Edge network access and generally don’t need a regular wireless network.

Here’s the method though: there is a minor hack that will allow PC or Mac users to access for free: all they have to do is fire up Safari and then going to Edit->Advanced checking off “Show Develop Menu” then restarting the browser and you’ll see a new menu called develop at the top of the browser.  Then go to Develop->User Agent and select “Mobile Safari – Iphone.”

So now we understand why Apple Update for the PC pushed Safari a couple weeks ago.  They’re making a play to get access to the PC market, and they’ve come up with an interesting way to get us to do it.  They’re not asking us to try it, they’re giving us a reason to try it.

There are no coincidences…

Adobe opens FLV and SWF formats

This is interesting, after so many years, Adobe has decided to open the FLV and SWF formats, which means that we’ll be able to do more interesting things with them now as developers. For those who may not pay attention, pretty much any animation you see on the web is in SWF format, and FLV is what is used almost universally for web-based video players, such as you see with YouTube.

Adobe will be removing the licensing restrictions on all platforms, including television, mobil devices, etc. for these formats as a part of the Open Screen Project.

The Open Screen Project is working to enable a consistent runtime environment – taking advantage of Adobe® Flash® Player and, in the future, Adobe AIR™ — that will remove barriers for developers and designers as they publish content and applications across desktops and consumer devices, including phones, mobile internet devices (MIDs), and set top boxes. The Open Screen Project will address potential technology fragmentation by allowing the runtime technology to be updated seamlessly over the air on mobile devices. The consistent runtime environment will provide optimal performance across a variety of operating systems and devices, and ultimately provide the best experience to consumers.

Specifically, this work will include:

  • Removing restrictions on use of the SWF and FLV/F4V specifications
  • Publishing the device porting layer APIs for Adobe Flash Player
  • Publishing the Adobe Flash® Cast™ protocol and the AMF protocol for robust data services
  • Removing licensing fees – making next major releases of Adobe Flash Player and Adobe AIR for devices free
What’s it mean and why’s it important?
Recently there’s been a move by Microsoft with the Silverlight product to get access into this space. This move will solidify Adobe’s position and make it much harder for Silverlight to gain traction.
Additionally, this will most likely mean that we’ll soon see support in the Iphone for SWF, more commonly known as flash. That will mean that in the future Iphone users won’t see vast empty areas on pages where flash objects should be. This was missing from the Iphone previously due to licensing costs.

Apple Wields the Power

Like almost every one of you, I get a regular “Apple Software Update” due to my ITunes installation. I got a little surprise today when the Apple update said it had Safari ready to install.  Safari?  On my PC?  What’s next, dogs and cats living together in peace and harmony?

Normally, I’d start off railing about this.  I hate it when software update functions, which I generally consider intrusive and unnecessary, try to install software other than that which they are professing to maintain.  I think back to the days of RealPlayer attempting to install all manner of crap on my drive.

But I’m now basking in the glow of Iphone-goodness.  I have embraced the light as it were.  In fact, I am considering limiting the number of buttons on my next computer’s mouse to one.  So I go light on them, this time.

I’ve been surprised they haven’t taken this step before.  Until now, the Apple Updater has pretty much stuck to the task at hand, handling the myriad of updates to Itunes in the background, in the hopes that I won’t notice that they send upgrades more often than I change my socks.   Honestly, if Microsoft did this, we’d be out with the pitchforks and torches, storming Castle Gatesenstein.  But we aren’t. In fact, very few seem to have commented on the issue (David Churbuck caught it though…), although Cnet did take them to task over an item in their license which would require you to only use Safari on a Apple machine.

Yet another Browser to Check?  Thanks…

So what do I think of Safari?  I’ve been using it for the past two weeks on my IPhone, so I guess I’m predisposed to liking it, but the truth is, I settled on Firefox with IE7 as a backup a long time ago.  As a web guy, I truly hate the idea of *YET ANOTHER BROWSER TO TEST* and I doubt that the IE version is that close to the characteristics of the Apple version of the browser that I can confidently use it to say “Yup, your site works in Safari.”

Yes, I’ll use Safari, but only rarely, or only if there is a compelling reason, such as some killer feature or software that I can’t get in Firefox.  And frankly, I use some of my Firefox extensions so much that if you don’t have extensions, and not only that, equal or better extensions, you won’t make it as my browser.

I think back to IE7, which promised extensions.  I downloaded their web developer-type extension, and it seemed like I’d opened visual studio.  The tool was nothing like my FF web developer tool which I use more than my telephone.

Browsers are tools, not consumer goods.  I’m not going to swap browsers just because a new one appeared on my desktop, any more than I would ditch a working wrench in my tool box.

This might be decent marketing, as it’s gotten me to try and write about their browser, but they’ve used up some capital here, to almost no gain.  As a techie, I get easily annoyed by this.  As a marketer, I wish I had that option for dispersing products…