Font comparison and thinking about it

A nice post from Joel Spolsky about the different approaches in font rendering between Microsoft and Apple. I like very much the second part in which he talks about the general behaviour of liking something you’re used to and that people generally don’t think about the differences between things, but that one is the one they are used to and the other is just “different”.

Font smoothing, anti-aliasing, and sub-pixel rendering

What if Google entered the Music downloads biz?

I found a very interesting article on Blog Maverick. The blog, in case you did not know, is maintained by Mark Cuban, the owner of the basketball team and a number of companies related to internet (read more on Wikipedia at the link above).

The post is entitled Googlenomics , Itunes and Zune and describes a few reasons why Google might enter the Music downloads business, how much it would cost and what it could bring to them.

It makes some sense, but I don’t think it’s going to happen, or at least not as it is described. I can hardly believe that the music labels would be happy to give away the music for free. The first billion songs for free is A LOT and would cost them A LOT (Mark says about 575M USD). That would mean a really low price per song and the music labels are already fighting with Apple to raise the 99c per song.

While Google and Apple are friends, I doubt the service would be compatible with the iPod and Google and Microsoft are not so much friends, so I hardly think it’ll be compatible with Zune. What’s left? Something that maybe is not in Mark Cuban’s article, you home-media-center. An all-in-one tiny computer (as big as your VCR) that connects to internet, lets you watch TV shows, listen to music and read news online. Wouldn’t that make more sense for Google?

new MS IEMobile user-agents

A couple of weeks ago there was a post on wmlprogramming about the user-agent for the new MSIE Mobile.

MSIE Mobile has always been hard to detect for server-side software. All mobile devices running Windows present the same user-agent.
user-agents changed when new OS versions or browser versions were released, but there is no way to detect the device model from the user-agent. You will never know if the device hitting your site is an HP, HTC or another device.

Manufacturers are free to customize the user-agent. O2 does this most of the times, examples are the SPV C500 and SPV C600.
Unfortunately most manufacturers don’t do this.

So how do you understand that a user-agent that looks a lot like MSIE is actually IEMobile?

  1. the user-agent is not EXACTLY like MSIE for desktop windows
  2. there are some extra headers that you can use

Extra headers set by IEMobile (all versions):

  • UA-pixels: {i.e. 240×320}
  • UA-color: {mono2 | mono4 | color8 | color16 | color24 | color32}
  • UA-OS: {Windows CE (POCKET PC) – Version 3.0}
  • UA-CPU = {i.e. ARM SA1110}
  • UA-Voice = {TRUE | FALSE}

As you can see, from the above data you can probably get some extra information about the current device.
Too bad that this is in perfect Microsoft-style, which is NON STANDARD. If you want to support Microsoft devices you need to do ad-hoc development.

Jumping back to the original reason why I wrote this post, IEMobile is now going to have a new user-agent:
Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows CE; IEMobile m.n)

‘m’ is going to be the major version;
‘n’ is going to be the minor version.

Not a big step forward in device recognition, you will have to admit!

Anyway, we can clearly see how Microsoft is working towards standardization and making the developers’ lifes much easier. Here is their idea of making mobile sites accessible. When you tailor your page for mobile devices, use this brand new meta tag and IEMobile will not adapt the page:
<meta name=”MobileOptimized” content=”width”>

It goes by itself that this is not standard; that Microsoft made it up on its own and that no other browser on the market supports this.
So forgive me for being so ironic in the text above. I know I gave you the illusion that something good might happen and then it was a lie. Sorry.

If you really want, you can read the full article here:
http://blogs.msdn.com/iemobile/archive/2006/08/03/Detecting_IE_Mobile.aspx

It is sad to see so many comments from the readers excited about the new features… These are not new cool features, IMHO.

Microsoft first to bat with direct-to-television movie downloads

Via AppleInsider: “The Redmond, Wash.-based software giant said it plans to offer over 1,000 hours of content by the end of the year“.
And then “Microsoft’s Xbox live will only offer film downloads for rent. Customers will have a window period of two weeks from the time they first purchase films to they expire. However, once a customer begins watching a flick, they’ll have only 24 hours to finish.

I bet this is for US residents only.

This is also supposed to be the plan of Sony and the PS3.

Buying games online or renting them online can be very powerful. You’re home, bored, turn your Xbox on, pick a game and buy it within 2-3 clicks. Super!

I bet this will work with Movies too.