Friday, May 17, 2002

EAT YOUR PROTEIN PILL: What I always liked about The Future was that I'd get to eat "food pills" instead of fresh vegetables. Lima Beans? Bleccchhh! But serve it in a form that I could wash down with a single gulp of Hawaiian Punch, and maybe I'd actually look forward to eating my beans.

So, now that we're IN the future, and Food Pills are a reality, all I want to know is this: Why hasn't the Pill Splitter been adopted as the primary utensil at every well-set table?

The Brunching Shuttlecocks rate The Future here.

Wednesday, May 15, 2002

UPLOAD A GIF, GO TO JAIL There's a movement to dump the GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) from all websites -- or at least among web cartoonists' sites -- in favor of the lesser-known but arguably more efficient PNG (Portable Network Graphic) format, for both political and practical reasons. How is it that I'm always the last to hear about these things?

Christopher B. Wright, "The Internet's Most Dangerous Cartoonist," makes the case that Unisys -- which owns a critical patent at the core not only of GIFs, but TIFFs and PDFs as well -- could, at any moment, send out the Graphics Cops to start ticketing every two-bit mom-and-pop webmaster, demanding payment of overdue licensing fees.

But even if that farfetched scenario never actually plays out, there's a better reason to start making the switch. Chris explains:
There's another reason to switch to PNGs, though. A reason that's just as important in my opinion, though many of you might disagree. The reason is, simply, that it's better to use and support truly open standards instead of proprietary ones. Companies like Unisys (and Microsoft, for that matter) like to brush such comments aside, accusing the people who make them of being communists, or socialists, or at the very least, radical nutcases, but the truth is that the fewer hoops you have to jump through in order to get something done, the easier it will be to accomplish. That's why the internet has grown faster than CompuServe did, and why America Online, despite being the largest online service there is, is still tiny, tiny, tiny compared the the Internet itself.

While PNGs are well-supported by just about every browser at this late date, they can't be displayed by older releases of Internet Explorer (version 4 and earlier) and Netscape (version 3 and earlier). Does this still matter? My browser stat report shows that a significant 3% of the visistors to Mind Over What Matters still use IE4.x. A total of 37 visitors in the past six months came in through Netscape 3.x, and a whopping 12 of you were using either IE3.x or IE2.x. (Well, that may have been the same two people making six visits apiece. But still ... how can you people see anything with those clunkers? Join the 21st Century already!)


Here's a test: If you see two copies of Roger Dean's classic cover for the classic album Fragile by Yes, the greatest prog-rock band of all time, then your browser is both GIF- and PNG-compatible. If you see only one copy, you're probably viewing the GIF version, but not the PNG. If that's the case, do me a favor and let me know -- leave a message by clicking on comment prompt below, and tell me what browser and operating system you're using. Thanks.

UPDATE: Keyboard wizard Rick Wakeman will be rejoining Yes once again -- his fourth tour of duty with the band in its 33 years of nearly-continuous existence, if memory serves -- for their summer 2002 tour. It's the classic lineup -- Jon, Rick, Steve, Chris and Alan. They'll be playing Radio City in a couple of months. I'm there, man.