Opera Boggling: April 2005 Archives

I am convinced that there are talented and articulate people out there who want to write about Opera. Certainly there must be more of them than there are now. Just in Opera Journals there must be dozens. I think that while certainly having a prize for the top Bog at the end of the month is a good thing, I'd suggest that Opera work towards rewarding the top say 3-5 bogglers, so that there is more room for people to feel an incentive to write more and better. And really just to show up and submit their feeds, even if they post once or twice a month. A lottery for showing up perhaps.

Certainly having a top prize is a wonderful mind concentrating force, if only to let people know that number one is the place to be and that all others are about to go (more or less) unrecognised. I know it's made me more willing to devote my time to writing about Opera - to a point that probably isn't as productive as it should be - though I'd challenge people find something I've written that was unwarranted, or not at least in some way funny.

I can't honestly say that I've contributed entirely constructively to the community here, except to get at least some people to write more than they would otherwise. Conversations are always good. I'd hope that when I'm not trying so hard to monopolise the front page, that people will be encouraged to add their feeds and have a more rounded conversation about Opera.

Also I'd encourage Opera to implement a summary page for the posts - full text posts would be a bit much to ask. That puts less pressure on people to game headlines, when they know that part of their preview/extract will be available. I suppose it'd be too much to ask for Opera to archive posts, but perhaps to allow more than just 5 posts in the entirety of the site - sure, limit the number of posts on the front page, but older posts should be allowed some space, if only for continuity.

A randomiser would also help to even the playing field, just as it does with Opera Journals. Also a ranking by most commented, last commented etc. would introduce some variety from the click-through ranking.

An RSS feed for the Opera Blogs page is essential.

It might also be useful to have parsed(?) feeds for each boggler - so that there can be a ranking for most subscribed boggler (the highest prize should go there, if it can be verified) - presumably some people will only want to read these people when they're writing about Opera.

And speaking of feeds, users should be allowed to manage their own feeds. They should be allowed to change or remove them if they wish. Perhaps they should also be allow to choose whether all their posts should be submitted, or just those with the word Opera. For instance, OperaWatch shouldn't have to conform to the latter requirement, since even when it's not boggling about Opera, it's still relevant to the users etc. Making people *have* to use the word Opera (unless that's the only way they know to seperate their posts), is a rather odious way of going about things. Obviously moderators will be needed to make sure that the feeds correspond to the member claiming ownership, that the feeds are actually Opera related, and if the filter is waived, that all posts are relevant etc.

When it ends up being a couple of sites duking it out so aggressively for a top spot, it can turn people off. The best way to combat this is to have a *lot* of people writing. There must be some way of maintaining hope for people to win just by participating, and some way for people falling behind to get a push - a featured boggler, perhaps on the main Opera page (a prize in itself) or the My Opera page, or just pinned at the top of Opera Blogs. A post of the day or something.

Personally I'm happiest about the fact that this has boosted my circulation - I can't believe the amount of hits and page views, not to mention unique users, I've been getting since I started Boggling Opera - helped not a little by Asa Dotzler :P. And I would think that's what most people would want to get out of it.

But most important of all, is that Opera Blogs should become more than just a sub-section of My Opera. It needs its own, prominent, place - bloggers.(my)opera.com perhaps? weblogs or blogs could be confused with these being dev blogs or competition for Opera Journals. If you want to make use of your fan base to evangelise honestly their feelings about Opera, it needs to have a bigger audience than the choir that is myopera. It would also be damaging to the reputation of the project and the intention of evangelism if it were to become too much of an echo chamber rather than address a broad spectrum of interested and potential users.

Only Nixon could go to China. And I have two words for you: Empress Sato.

Martin Larsen, the creator of Optool, sent out this e-mail as a teaser to beta testers:

Dear Optool Testers,

In only a week or so Optool 2.1 is ready for testing. There are new features, lots of improvements and bug fixes in this version.

For example, you can now invoke Optool by a so called "long right click"
in the browsers, which almost seemlessly integrates Optool with the browsers.

You can also close the original window before opening the new by pressing the Control key when selecting the target browser. Or you can optionally make Optool always close the original browser if you like that. Another option is to open the new window with the same position and same size as the original.

In 2.1 you can add as many window sizes as you like for the resize window feature.

Optool's ability to close other browsers etc. is augmented and the algorithm improved.

There are more new features and improvements, but I will make a full list when I mail the program for testing!

Since you are used to testing Optool and have contributed with many important bug reports and suggestions in the past, I would appreciate your feedback this time also. But of course, if you don't have the time or interest anymore, please tell me and I will remove you from the list of testers.

Best regards,
Martin Larsen

I've been a loyal Optool user for years now, and I use it on an hourly, much less daily basis. If you haven't tried it, it's an essential browser tool that lets you seamlessly switch from one browser to another. Martin Larsen deserves a fucking medal, especially since his program has been a staple of the Opera user's arsenal for as long as it has.

As the mail says, the new version will be mailed to beta testers. I'll ask if it's okay to release it to a people at MyOpera if it's stable enough, but I will respect his wishes if he wants to keep this close to his chest for the time being.

If you have any suggestions for the program, there's an e-mail link on Martin's site - or you can comment, and I'll pass the suggestions along.

This is the first proper part of my series on Opera Boggling, though you can read the Introduction here, where I encourage you how easy boggling can be, even, or especially, with Opera.

I haven't always boggled using Opera, largely because I haven't always been able to. I started off, as most people did/do by going to Boggler.com and getting a Bogspot hosted Bog - which incidentally is still there. But this post is about giving you a broad idea about what your options are, which fit roughly into 3 tiers, free sites, paid services, and software requiring hosting. The next post in the series will deal with Opera specific issues with the various services.

For the beginning Boggler, you'll be wanting to get your feet wet with the free services, the most prominent of which is Boggler.com, and to a lesser extent LiveJournal. Of late I've also become aware of Bogsome.com, which is new(?) and small(?) (and apparently Irish) - at least I assume it is compared to Boggler. MyOpera's Opera Journals also offer a free service that many Opera users avail themselves of, which is similar to things like Slashdot Journals etc.

The next tier of services are those where you pay a subscription fee for what is supposedly a better service than would be provided by the free services. Of these, Typepad is probably the most well known. All of the free services will also have paid equivalents, which offer a bunch of different features.

What I'd recommend to the discerning boggler though, is to look closest at the software packages that allow you to use hosted space to blog - without the need for subscriptions (like Typepad) and with the most ability to customise etc. Not for the faint of heart, but definitely cheaper than a subscription service (because you'll have to get a proper paid web host, which isn't expensive), and really really not as difficult as you'd imagine. If people ask, I can go into more detail with these issues in upcoming posts.

The 2 biggest software packages that I know of and have used, are Movable Type and WordPress.

Movable Type has been around for a while now and is actually the back-end behind TypePad, which I mentioned above. It's incredibly popular and relatively easy to use and install, and it's what I'm using now. It also doesn't *require* a MySQL database, though it can make use of one if you want that. It's also free for personal use, though for unlimited use (which most people won't need), you have to pay for it.

WordPress is an open source solution that honestly, I've really been blown away by. I'm in the process of testing it to make sure it fits my needs, but it is fantastic in so many ways. Firstly it's feature set is everything movable type is, and more - which means that it can be a bit overwhelming for the newbie, but not so much that it's not usable - far from it. Second, the install is the easiest I've ever encountered, and the upload size is tiny. But from an aesthetic point of view, it's the way that it handles Themes that is most amazing, and there are an abundance of looks and feels you can apply to it much more easily and comprehensively than you can with Movable Type. If things turn out well, I'll be moving this place to WordPress. I'm testing it over here.

The best thing about WordPress though, is that there's an easy way to get your feet wet - because Blogsome.com is basically a hosted version of WordPress, and it's free. Which is why I said in my first post that new Bogglers would do best to give Blogsome a go and see how they like it. Unfortunately there's not a free version of Typepad to try.

Don't worry about your posts that you'll put into the free services. In most cases you'll be able to export your posts and move them to your new service - though this will require a bit of knowhow and forethought.

The advantages of using software and your own hosting is that you can also register for your own domain while you're at it, and have something like what I have here with fallingbeam.org. That said, it can lead to more headaches and worries, and more frustration in setting things up and making them work, though as long as you're willing to read documentation, you should be fine, and the forums can be friendly enough places if you're nice.

But as I said, if you're new and want to get your feet wet, stick to the free services. And if you're an Opera user, take it from me and start with Blogsome.com - as the series progresses, you'll find out why.

I've set up something on kgb.convoluted.net so that you can read the most popular of the Opera Blogs in full-text. If you want your blog added, e-mail me, or comment with your site url and your feed url. If you object to your feed being used, you can contact me and we'll discuss it. As far as I'm concerned, if you make your feed public...

I've left my own feed out of it as a sign of good faith - if you think this whole thing is a good/bad idea, feel free to tell me. I've neglected a couple of feeds since I can't get them to work, but this is meant to be more of a "proof of concept" rather than anything else. You can access it via this url http://kgb.convoluted.net/operablogs.

The thing about this is that I can't filter out based on the word 'opera', so it shows everything that you post. If you want, you can send me the relevant category feed or whatever that is related to Opera to be more about the thing itself. Similarly, if you want you can just subscribe to my Opera Boggling feed.

OperaWatch not too long ago posted a bunch of pictures of Opera staff members having a piss-up to celebrate their boss being lost at sea (apparently now the pictures are older photos, but it's still funny). I'd never seen pictures of the omnipresent Haavard, and was shocked by how boyish this otherwise steel fisted voice of authority was. Such boyish good looks, so tinged with that suspicious glint of steel in his eyes.

Reminds me of the line, of people who can "smile and smile and still be a villain". :D

It's the weekend, there's no news, what do you expect?

Indiana University Bloomington had been named Intel's "Most Unwired College Campus" in their survey published in 2004, the full list is here. My source at IU Bloomington - Michel Salim - is a Masters Student in Computer Science. Currently he says it's only really available as licences for CS students at Indiana to install on their own computers - but basically he just asked them for it, it was that easy. You'd think it'd only be a matter of time before the wider University follows suit.

So if you're a student at a University, just ask your IT department - it's free for them, and not a lot of work, especially if they don't deploy it on the network immediately - and you get a free license for raising your hand. You can point them to this page.

An anomoly that Michel reported though, was that they provided keys for various platforms rather than a single desktop key, as is now the case for paid desktop users - I'm just wondering if this is a throwback to the old licensing scheme that the Universities/Educational Licenses haven't caught up with, or, as Michel suggested, whoever just wanted clearer figures on who was installing how many copies etc.

As I posted earlier, OneStat had released new figures on browser usage earlier in the week. Apparently only BetaNews was looking at the text of the article, rather than just the stats, since most other news sites have been simply trumpeting the further gains in market share by FF, rather than noting the slow-down in growth.

Every other article available seems to have an irrational exuberance at whatever gains FF seems to get. It's not wrong then, to say the press loves an underdog. So much so that Bogglers report on "just the exuberance". But there's only room for one punchy insurgency? Of course I recognise that slowing growth may well be a naturally relative progression from the feverish downloading of the earlier days of FF 1.0 etc.

Oh, and apparently the 5 Day News Cycle has come to a close again marked by sluggishness on Opera Blogs. I'll probably be posting the follow ups to my series on Opera Boggling.

On the heels of the recent story about Safari passing the Acid 2 test, a new story has developed about the really rather naughty behaviour of the Safari crew.

Safari had initially been hailed for the fact that is was working off the backs of the Open Source Project that had been KHTML, the back-end of Konquerer, a part of the KDE desktop interface for Linux. The deal had been that Apple would more or less participate in the project and that whatever improvements Apple made, they would be passed back to KHTML development, for the betterment of all.

However it turns out that Apple doesn't play well with others and has been welshing on their markers. More details in the Slashdot story. This from the company that brought you the suing of Think Secret.

Apparently Apple's code and documentation hasn't been up to scratch, so much so that KHTML might well have to do all the work over again to comply with Acid 2.

I'm sure Opera is today especially glad that all its code is proprietary. I'd say don't be evil, but I think the more apt words would be,

All friends shall taste
The wages of their virtue, and all foes
The cup of their deservings. O, see, see!

King Lear:
And my poor fool is hang'd!

Chances are you already have a (well, soon to be) Acid 2 compliant browser on your PC - that is if you have iTunes installed. Which brings me to wonder whether that helps to up-tick Safari's numbers. Opera users are always wondering whether the fact that Opera defaults to ID-ing as IE (still true, yes?) leads to Opera's market share being under-represented. To this day, I'm still not sure I whether that concern is still valid (despite the fact that I might well have read something that explained it all). Ah well, I'm sure it'll remain a frequent war cry amongst the faithful.

Apparently it's a good thing that a gossip monger (other than myself) uses Opera. He's the august personage that told such worthy stories as Monica Lewinsky and the non-affair that Kerry had with an intern. Responsible journalism at its best, for sure. Honestly it puts me off Opera a bit to hear it. Read something worth a damn. Please. I mean, even the Inquirer isn't *that* trashy.

I refer you to my earlier post - Let's Go On a Witch-Hunt For Opera Employees - A Response to OperaWatch's Editorial, where I made very clear that the initial article that led to this non-story was a load of old toss. I can't be the only one who finds it offensive that Opera has to defend what otherwise sounded like an innocent remark.

Supposedly Hansen told OperaWatch she was misquoted anyway. I'm not saying I'm not a bit Opera mad, but this kind of rabid preying/pouncing strikes me as being that bit obsessive and objectionable. As I mentioned before, "You'd be pillorying people for speaking their mind and telling the truth. Yay you." Feeding frenzy anyone?

"Thankfully this issue has been cleared up." - you sound like someone who just needed to be told the war on terror can *definitely* be won.

I've just been reading a couple of posts by Virtuelvis. Apparently there's an app that runs in the background that can make sure you never have to endure the shocking terror that is flash-embedded-music. I honestly tend to jump whenever it comes on, esp. because my volume tends to be turned up a bit for when I watch TV. And really, who in their right mind would want/expect sound coming from their browser? Oh, and flash is a bane on the InterWeb, like spam and animated gifs. Flashmute.

Which brings me to Virtuelvis' opinion of sIFR:

"I hate sIFR with a passion, and I think it should die."

The first thing I noticed on the sIFR page was an icon that proclaims the fact that their site doesn't validate and points to this page. So apparently hippy-dippy tie-died "I think I'm a rebel" brain death is "in" this season. Opera users should sharpen their torches and fire up their pitchforks.

Random Thoughts brought up "Browse Happy", which I always assumed was a Firefox fanboy site masquerading as standards advocacy. It must be what, a year since it launched, and still only one Opera story? They must be fucking kidding.

I remember when it first launched I sent them an e-mail about the fact that no self-respecting Opera Fanboy would refer to Opera's MDI as "tabbed browsing" - apparently they decided to ignore it. So yes, FF Fanboys who now have an obsolete and un-maintained site from the looks of it. They still list Mozilla, when everything has pretty much moved on to FF and TB. If I'm not wrong, the list of people there are the same as they were when I first saw the site.

I couldn't help myself, the headline just popped into my head - it's basically the Seattle Times reporting about Tetchy's extended bath to commemorate the successful release of Opera 8 (look for "sea browser" on the page). They mention MS execs having similar delusions of being interesting by becoming donuts in the coffee that is "Lake Bill". Obviously a name William coined himself. Found this at OperaWatch.

I'm writing this in response to OperaWatch's editorial.

First of all, the article in the "Daily Illini" is a joke (and not even a cruel one). The guy writing sounds rather definitively like he doesn't know what the fuck he's writing about, or doesn't know good/clear writing from a hole in the ground (what were his editors thinking?). I'd parse the article, but you'd have to pay me.

Who decided you should legislate what people say? Just because you don't like what's being said doesn't mean you get to invoke some vague notion of impropriety onto the person saying it. Especially when you got it wrong, and he didn't say what you say he said.

In what for you would be the worst case scenario, what Berit Hanson meant was what you said he meant, "that IE should be used as an alternative for webpages that aren't properly displayed in Opera". That, however, wasn't what he said. Perhaps you should RTFA. This is where that idea is (rather sloppily) put into your head:

"But Spektor also said that while Opera is better, it cannot replace IE because many pages are specifically designed with IE and do not follow the same standards as Opera."

Aforementioned "Spektor" is "Alex Spektor, [a] senior in engineering" at the university. It is following that sentence that the writer links that comment to Hansen's comment,

"Opera, like most web browsers, follows the w3c standards for web page design but IE does not, Hanson said."

Now, I could say that that was the intention of the writer, but I don't credit him with a great wellspring of ability/intention in what he writes. Confusion breeds confusion.

First, if Hanson had been saying what you think he meant to say earlier, I'd still be defending him, if only because he'd be displaying a decided candour as to the conditions on the ground for InterWeb users - I still use IE (and Firefox) when things don't turn out the way they should in Opera - and if you're advocating end-users not use IE at all, how would they get to Windows Update? Sure it's wrong for MS to lock things in like that (similarly with MSNBC), but that's the way things are - you're not happy with it? poor baby. You'd be pillorying people for speaking their mind and telling the truth. Yay you.

That, however is not how things went down, nor how they've progressed. What Hanson said, in isolation, is this:

"You can use them side-by-side. We recommend that," Hanson said. "Opera is a tool for the internet."

Perhaps "Penn State took IE off of their computers and instructed their students to use Opera instead" as Hanson claims - I suspect he means that IE is hidden or locked down requiring admin privileges on the school network. But normal end-users like you and me still need more than one browser - no administrator updates my computer for me.

What Hanson was referring to (unless I'm grossly mistaken) is the advent of choice - which is what Opera has always presented itself as - as a choice rather than as Grand High Poobah of All Browsers. Opera is a tool for the internet, just as IE is. Of course Hansen hopes that using them "side by side", since IE hasn't been summarily locked down, will mean that the students will realise what they're missing and switch over as much as is possible. I can't imagine IE Fanboys at Penn State being particularly friendly to Opera if it was forced on them.

OperaWatch, if you want to retract what *you* said (ie: post a response), you can e-mail me.

This is why you have many eyes. Stained-glass window anyone?

Yeah, okay, I'm getting my ass handed to me. OperaWatch has a fantastic story about the advent of Opera at some of the US' largest universities. Apparently once things are free, no one is in a position to say no. He also has an editorial piece lambasting an Opera employee - I might comment about how silly it is later.

Opera's entry into the educational market is just starting to make me think what a wonderful position Opera is in at the moment. Sure they have only a limited amount of market share, but almost all of those users are monetised, in that they are all paying customers or they smurf with ads - which other company can say that people pay money just for their browser?

But more importantly, you see the potential for what can happen when Opera is made free. In the future, if Opera is acquired by a larger software company with a level of perhaps irrational exuberance and cash, Opera might be made free - though maybe with a "Pro" version; there'd be no sense in wasting the monetised customers already there.

I wouldn't hold my breath though, especially now that Opera has gone public and seems to be doing well. In particular, their position in the phone market alone should be reason enough to want to stay in the game - I can only assume that the potential market is enormous. And since Opera is able, small as it is now to achieve what it has, I don't see the management wanting to put that in jeopardy by being assimilated into a flabbier corporate culture.

That said, Adobe seems to be in an acquisitive mood recently - you never know.

The Slashdot headline sort of gives it away - Safari Passes the Acid2 Test. Apparently the developers have done it, but the build isn't publicly available. Slashdot references the developer's blog, which is at least a little slashdotted. Anyway, congratulations to Safari.

I don't know about you, but this seems to, at least in some part, bear out my suspicions regarding why Opera handled Acid 2 the way it did - it was all a cunning plan.

Obviously my suspicions are just that, and it's as likely to just be chance as much as planning that led to this sequence of events. But somehow I just can't see them not having played all this out in their heads such that they knew exactly where they wanted to end up. We'll know more as the narrative of Acid 2 compliance progresses.

What's good for standards is good for Opera - and it appears to be a good day for Opera, in more ways than one.

Apparently Tetchy is going to do a round of Truth or Dare, though frankly without the Dare part, and probably with his (still damp) toady of a PR director next to him.

Not so much with the Dare only because he's so recently faced his own mortality.

I heard about it from Rijk first, then Haavard via Opera Blogs. OperaWatch gives some details about Tetchy's hazy past - apparently he was an Oggsford man.

You can tell me if my tone crosses a line, but it's just not as funny if it's not mean. And I suppose I do it so that I'm not basically boggling the same post as the other 3.

I thought what I'd do is a little series on the experience of Boggling, and specifically Boggling with Opera as your main/only browser - a hairy task for the uninitiated. I've been at it for a number of years now, and while the situation has gotten more or less better for Opera users, it's by no means ideal or by any means trouble-free.

Also, depending on what you want to do, how much work you're willing to put into it, and how much you know about web design, there's plenty to take up your time and effort, but also a range of choices that can be found to suit your situation. Really, even if you know nothing and aren't willing to do much, Opera Boggling is still within the grasp of your tender child-like hands.

And in as smarmy a way as you'd ever think possible, I'm saying to you that Opera Boggling can be easy - if only you knew how, and had someone to guide you through the path of least resistance.

As to why you'd want to, that's between you and your keyboard.

Just so you know, despite your undoubted impression of me as maven of all things Boggle, I had absolutely no formal training in anything related to web design when I began, and even now I have only the sketchiest of ideas of what's what - mostly acquired through trials and error. And hitting things.

I'm a writer. Who happens to have more interest in these things than is healthy or advisable.

The series will be split up into various sections, which I'll link/update to as I post/write them

- Introduction: Can I be an Opera Boggler Too?
- Part I: The State of Boggling - Free and Paid Boggling Services/Software
- Part II: Boggling with Opera Limits Your Choices (For The Better)
- Part III: How Opera's Zoom Feature Makes Boggling That Much Easier

etc. as I think it up.

Along the way I'll also probably address issues of particular importance to Bogglers, Opera or otherwise. For instance how to get people to read what you write, how to boggle for profit, how to get and place ads, and how syndication and RSS are the most powerful tools at your disposal.

Obviously this is a work in progress, so we'll see how things progress. Part I coming soon. Subscribe to my RSS feed on the right (also the address bar if you're using Opera 8) or just pay attention to new posts on Opera Bogs.

However, if you can't/won't wait - you want something to figure out on your own - and/or don't already have a Boggling account, I recommend you register for a Bog at Blogsome.com - it's simple and easy, and that'll be what I'll end up recommending for new Bogglers anyway. (Thanks for which should go to LSR)

In my opinion, one of the most under-used but powerful features in Opera is (what could it be?) Hotclick. Basically it allows you select a piece of text and open a context menu that gives you a huge number of options as to what you can do with it. In most cases this involves click on a word, but I often use it for things like selecting URLs formatted in plain text (and then Go to URL) and selecting phrases to search with. With a customised search.ini, you can not only change what dictionary and encyclopedia you use, you can also search using any number of search engines. Like so:


For a very good intro tutorial to the ins and outs of Hotclick, have a look at nontroppo's Visual Tutorial. As I've mentioned, he has a whole series of them. I wonder if his name has anything to do with George Harrison's "Gone Troppo".

What this basically does is eliminate the need for you to copy and paste items into your search boxes, unless of course they're from outside Opera, in which case let me introduce to you the evolution of ctrl-v - ctrl-d! What ctrl-d does is "paste and go", so you don't have to click on "go" or press enter after you paste. Isn't Opera fun? To find out more keyboard shortcuts, just press F1 in Opera to go to the Help page. If you really want to kick it up a notch, you can learn how to navigate using the keyboard only - which is more useful than you'd think.

I mean, of course not everyone's as much of an attention whore as I am (but then who is). I suppose I can think of a number of prominent voices that aren't showing up on this little free-for-all, but on second thought, a lot of them are Opera Staff, and I wonder if those guys are holding out because they don't want to be the ones to "accidentally" win prizes meant for the peons. Which would make sense, except Haavard's bog is entered.

I mean without even trying there are a bunch of people you'd have expected to just submit their feeds if nothing else, saito, Jor, as well as a bunch of Opera staff other than Haavard, like Rijk and Junyor (who I always suspect of being from the UK and hence having a very colloquial representation of "Junior"). And these are people who have posted since this whole thing started. Also, since Tim Luoma's new version of 30 Days... for Opera 8 is being presented in MT, I don't see a reason it couldn't be here - unless the glamour of the main MyOpera page has gone to his head :P.

I mean, if this (Opera Blogs) isn't meant to be a one-stop-shop, where else would be?

But really, I'd like to think I've not crossed a line by posting as much as I have - all my posts have been substantive in some way or other - sure I brought out a couple of my Greatest Hits, but I'd assumed it'd be good to have a lot of discussion. So far no one's told me to step off, and really, how long do you think it'll be before I run out of steam?

Favicons Getting Restless?

| | Comments (0)

I had planned to do more of a post, with screenshots etc. but then I do what you're supposed to do and searched the fora, and discovered that, as always, I'm late to the party and that everyone and their left testicle knows about the problem already.

Basically what's been happening is that certain shorcuts have been displaying the wrong Favicons - so for instance, I now have a Broadvoice shortcut (hopefully not for long) that has a Yahoo icon etc. If I'm not wrong, this has been an issue since Favicons came into effect with Opera 7.6(?) beta?

Anyway, I've just organised the forum posts in order of the the date of the first post this is the oldest, not quite so, just a bit, newest. Basically they all follow a similar pattern - I've got a problem, but don't know if it's been reported, blah blah, here are screenshots blah blah, oh whoops, it's been reported blah blah, is there a workaround? blah blah. Pretty standard stuff. I haven't tried the workarounds, but they sound sensible enough, though I'm sure there's still something that will eventually get fixed.

I'd be interested to see favicons for some of my customised searches,whose favicons aren't showing up presumably because they're taking the space of some of the default searches - though doubtlessly I'll get a painful lecture on how this is not a priority and how this undermines Opera's business model and why it might never happen in the most obtuse way possible. Well, at least that's the way it was with "is post", which took forever to show up again in Opera 7.

So apparently WordPerfect is starting to claw its way back in terms of facing off with Microsoft Office. One of the big things people have always complained about is that their office suite didn't include an e-mail client, allowing Outlook to become the standard - though I understand Lotus Notes is still quite frequently used, especially in big companies.

I suppose the reason why this would be in any way interesting to Opera users is that the mail client WordPerfect are including (with their Small Business Edition only) is Bloomba. Bloomba I remember hearing about because it had a database approach to mail sorting - sound familiar already? This is very much what M2, Opera's e-mail client does best. Is it stretching it to say that this must be a good thing for Opera's vision of e-mail handling?

I've never actually tried Bloomba, but from the screenshots I've seen, it looks very much like another Outlook clone, though presumably with a more impressive back-end. Personally I can't say I'm too convinced by the whole entry points thing that M2 goes for, but it seems to be the wave of the future, especially with everyone buzzing about search on the OS being the next big thing. I suppose I'm just old fashioned, liking to file things away in folders - a means of organisation I still find remarkably useful.

Anyway, just to draw you attention as well to the fact that WebMail is for Intellectual Midgets, so anything that makes people start using proper e-mail clients has to be a good thing.

But not *so* wrong. New stats out for browser usage, reported by my favorite news site, the Inq. Supposedly Safari actually has slightly higher market share than Opera, about 1.26% as opposed to 1.03%. What annoys me about that is some sites now explicitly state that they support Safari, leaving Opera out, which makes me want to hit things.

0.23% isn't reason for exclusion is it? Most likely the problem is that Mac users are too stupid to get things to work and make more noise, whereas long suffering Opera users are probably too used to having to jump through workarounds.

But I suppose Haavard is right, every time FF gets mentioned, Opera gets mentioned, which has to be a good thing. Hopefully Opera 8's big push will change the dynamics a bit. I'll eventually get around to doing something along the lines of what have you done to spread Opera lately etc. Tell your friends, put a button on your site, there's a new sherrif in town etc.

I Am a Sad Sad Little Man

| | Comments (2)


I honestly don't - it's been happening quite a lot, about once or twice a day, I don't know why. I know it looks dodgy, like I'm trying to bump my posts, but I'm as frustrated a you might be about it. I have no doubt is has something or other to do with Movable Type and the way its feeds work - if someone can tell me how to fix it, that'd be great.

I know it can happen with Klipfolio some times, old posts showing up as unread. I submitted the RSS 1.0 feed, that seemed to most sensible, but MT has Atom and RSS 2.0 if that'd be better (I'm doubtful though). If Opera allowed us to modify our feeds, I'd use my category feed for Opera Boggling, so I'd have more control over what I sent to the aggregator, and wouldn't be so constrained about when to use the word Opera.

It's also frustrating that older posts don't show up on the aggregator - only those on the feed itself, which MT defaults at 15. Makes the aggregator seem a bit too much of the moment don't you think? Or maybe you're meant to explore the bogs through the most visited? Ah well, we'll see how it goes. Personally I think it should aggregate either the entirety of posts, or at least a character limited summary, perhaps like feedhouse.mozillazine.org.

And just to say, since I'm doing a nothing-post, that OperaWatch - your ass is mine :D. If you want the phone, that's one thing, but for me it's become about being able to topple you from number one. It's childish I know, but I've apparently got too much time on my hands and TV tends to dry up over the weekends. Much like the 5 day news cycle.

Has anyone else noticed that the ones topping the affiliates charts appear to be in some Eastern European language? I'd be more specific, but I'm not sure if it's czech, serbian, polish, russian or whatever. Supposedly the cheaters have been weaned out, there's a column on the right "outing" them and a forum post - which brings me to my question - is the language mix of Opera users about to tip towards that region of the world?

I mean there's probably something to be said about the fact the the bogglers on Opera Blogs are posting in Japanese, Chinese, Greek(?) etc. I'm sure Opera must have internal numbers that differentiate their various language bases - though looking at their forums (fora), you'd presume English is predominant, followed by German and then the rest - I count about 20 auxiliary languages supported in the forum.

I wonder how tech support works, especially for paid non-english users - though I assume they'd have to read some english to go through the buying process unless there are special buying pages tailored to the various language versions of the browser. Maybe they do some creative outsourcing to knowledgable users? Though really, if you're not a n00b, your primary source of support would be the fora anyway.

I don't know how to put this tactfully, but the average personal income of a number of countries is well below that of richer ones, so are these the places where Firefox makes the most inroads, or are there simply plenty of ad-supported Opera users there? I wonder whether Opera will ever practise differential pricing to "third-world" countries, beyond their licensing efforts to education/large organisations.

A lot of the affiliates listed seem to be portals of some kind - though really why the owners would need so many licenses is a bit beyond me.

I'm wondering if the text ads in their non-english ad-supported browsers are as prevalent as in the English, amongst other things. Is the growth of Opera taking on an even more of a geographic bent? Though of course we know about Opera's attempts to woo users in the US, outside its base in Europe. I just wonder if Tetchy's swim to the US is representative of downloads or simply wishful thinking - and that the market is elsewhere. And I wonder if the market grows away from places that can afford licenses to places that use the ads, how that would affect Opera's bottom line. Apparently ads still aren't as lucrative as licenses, though I suppose that would depend on how long the ad supported versions are used for.

First off let me just say that Firefox in general is just ugly and that I find it's interface clunky and really a bit stilted. So there. It's not like I'm saying anything I haven't said before. So's yer face; *yo* momma - etc.

But what it does do remarkably well is use CSS to block ads. Not that Opera can't do this, it can, and it also uses filter.ini to filter out ad sites - but the Firefox solution is simpler and more effective - even if it doesn't actually save on bandwidth. Of course ideally we could use Proxomitron, but I've found that despite doing its job fantastically well, it can break certain pages in a way CSS blocking doesn't. Personally I don't see why people even bother with the ad-block extension.

Digressing a bit I'd just like to say that the mouse gestures extension for Firefox, while servicable enough, is annoying - I'm not able to just hold down the right mouse button and keep clicking the left to keep going back, like I would in Opera. What's that about?

But getting back to ad-blocking, apparently it's just a matter of time before Opera includes the compliance with CSS 3 (or whatever, I'm not entirely clear on the whole thing), as they would, being a standards compliant browser. But then I've been hearing that for a while now. I get the feeling they're not in a rush to get it done simply because there's no urgency to it, since IE isn't likely to be supporting it quite so soon, and just because Firefox has it doesn't necessarily mean much.

Which brings me to why Opera (supposedly) isn't eager to block ads by default/make things too easy for users to turn ad-blocking on. Obviously I don't know for sure that this is *the* reason, and I'm sure it's part of wider concerns, but I've heard it mentioned, and it makes sense:

Web publishers won't like it.

Web publishers (which oddly and peripherally includes me I suppose) tend to like advertising. It provides them with revenue to pay for bandwidth/content etc. And of course profit, if that's their intention. The concern then is that Opera's market is already often treated as insignificant such that when pages are developed they're not tested in Opera, and worse, some sites can explicitly block browsers other than IE/Netscape etc. Making ad-blocking too easy in Opera would make web developers even less likely to want to support Opera, or even make them want to block the browser entirely as leeches. Opera doesn't even have the niche stranglehold that Safari does as the default Mac browser, such that sites are forced to support it - which is almost absurd given Safari's market share.

What also figures in the discussion is that Opera's already been the source of controversy regarding it's browser, in a way that turned publishers off - its built in text ads. These work on the basis of site context, so for instance they'd advertise RSS readers if you were smurfing for Klipfolio. Webmasters accused this of stealing their revenue - since Opera was making use of their content, which has its own ads or sells its own products, to advertise similar things. That seems to have died down since, but I get the feeling Opera didn't like the way that particular conversation went.

Without going into my whole spiel again, I have nothing against advertising, but I have no qualms about blocking ads whatsoever. I advertise on my site, but very prominently place a link on how to use Proxomitron. I don't see how that makes me anything other than well within the realm of human rationality. Can you really imagine the morality spiels? - blocking ads is like stealing a CD from the shop.

Anyway, my point at the end of all that is to say this - calm the fuck down. People are fucking stupid. And incredibly ignorant. As a corollary to that, what I'd say is that as long as a browser doesn't ship with ad-blocking turned on by default - or with it as a setting you can just turn on and off like that, web publishers shouldn't be complaining about anything.

The only people I know personally to use ad-blocking do so because I set up proxomitron for them. The learning curve required to make things "just work" at the end of it appears to be too steep for the majority of people - and in this I'm including the people who don't bother with Firefox's CSS ad-blocking. People are too ignorant/stupid to set up ad blocking if it isn't spoon-fed to them.

For the publishers, this stupidity helps you in another way. The stupid people are the ones clicking on your ads. And from the looks of it, there are stupid people around.

But at the end of this, why should Opera introduce/make easier ad blocking? Because it can. Because advanced users will be drawn to it - and advanced users are the ones who tend to convince the people they know about new products. You might not be able to openly advertise it as a feature - but then again why not - Firefox certainly is, with ad-block. It's also one of the things that Opera can do that IE can't - because IE is tied to MSN. If you want, wait till you're big enough that people can't easily block you - and then turn ad-blocking on by default/make it easier. And really, advertisers just need to learn to stop pissing off their consumers and learn subtler ways of enticing users - like encouraging user communities, like My Opera, and getting bogglers to pimp for you. But that's a longer conversation.

To be honest, I'm starting to get a bit tired of me too.

From what digging I managed to do, which wasn't much, it seems that Opera just decided that they didn't want to rename the browser. There was discussion about a name change, which was first suggested by Haavard (I think, there might have been something earlier), and later "confirmed", but I can only assume nothing came of it. The Oprah thing I probably first saw here. Oh well, it was funny while it lasted.

Who else gets the feeling that somewhere the marketing department had a list of marketing gimmicks titled "Ways to Create Buzz About Opera - For Free". Yeah ok, the new name is Opera 8, which makes me think they were really just out to stir up interest - carry as many news cycles as possible. And probably in particular to do so with their user base, which they likely view as an untapped source of evangelists - hence their promotion of Opera Boggling etc. Though I'm sure they genuinely must have wondered if re-branding would allow them to do an even bigger release - they seem to have done fine without it. Just as long as they didn't name it Sempr0n. Opera-Blank would have been too much like Mozilla Firefox.

I wonder if the chicken stunt from the West Wing Santos campaign would have been more fun. When you don't have the marketing clout to blitz the market, you do what punchy insurgencies do - you try to punch above your weight and find ways to endear yourself to a press that always loves an underdog, ensuring they megaphone your message for you with free press. And never loose an oppurtunity for free press - especially by being funny. 2 Slashdot headlines for the price of the Opera CEO getting into a wetsuit and some pretty pictures is a pretty good deal.

I suppose this isn't strictly an Opera post, but well.

I'm always a bit surprised when I see large numbers of people complaining about how GMail doesn't work properly in Opera - obviously now fixed (not for me though, since Proxo's filters are fucking it up somehow). I would have thought the most important thing about GMail is that it offers POP3 access - as well as free SMTP, which to be fair is something I actually find could be of great use.

But to use it primarily through the browser? I'm sorry, but Opera has a perfectly respectable e-mail client - and really any e-mail client is going to offer so much more flexibility and speed and power than the poky web interfaces available. And with GMail's storage/options, your mail can still be accessible remotely via the web interface when you must. I'd be pimping more for M2, but I still prefer Outlook - especially with the new(ish) vertical views and less restrictive html blocking that I've yet to find in any other mail client.

Can someone tell me really why anyone would use web based mail other than because they can't figure out how to configure a client or they're away from their primary work machine? If you have a GMail account, move today - you'll no longer get ads and smtp is free. First you enable POP, then you set up your mail client. The instructions are pretty generic, so if you're using M2, I'm sure you'll be able to figure it out. The important thing is to enable secure SMTP and use the right ports. Personally I still think Outlook Express is a viable enough e-mail client, and it comes with Windows.

If you already have an smtp account, say via your ISP, but you still want an agnostic mail service so you can move ISPs without losing your e-mail address, try Fastmail.fm, who offer free IMAP (my protocal of choice) - I've been using them for years now, and if nothing else, they're small enough that people aren't keen enough to use dictionary spam attacks on it. Using them I've been spam free, except when I deserved it. Actually nowadays since I have proper hosting here at fallingbeam.org, I just use the unlimited mail accounts available. I doubt I'd be moving web hosts (ICDSoft is pretty good), so I feel pretty secure, and I can get whatever names I want, and if spam comes, I can just remove the account. SMTP has been a bit flaky in the past, but I tend to use these mainly as incoming boxes.

And of course most ISPs offer mail services - but as I said I prefer to be able to move ISPs and not have to fret about my e-mail addresses.

I just saw this on the MyOpera main page and was sort of blown away. I'm sure in the pantheon of UI intros, it's not necessarily the *best*, but for Opera, I've never seen better compressed into such a short presentation. A triumph of the genre, surely.

It's done by nontroppo, who amongst other things, is known for the mammoth task of maintaining the Opera Wiki. If that wasn't enough, he actually has a whole series of UI intro animations, to be found here. To be honest I found out things I had never known about Opera, so I'd recommend it to all comers. Least annoying use of flash *ever*.

We're not worthy.

This ingeneous fellow has found a way to allow you to use right click left click to move back - even when you're hovering over a bit of Flash - I think it leads to unwanted side effects like you can't interact with the thing anymore, but it's cool for everyone who contstantly sees context menus when he just wants to get the fuck out of the flash hell he's been sent to. Flash is a bane on the interweb.

This guy writes about bloat and persuading a girl to switch to Opera. Because I'm loving trackback at the moment, have a look at this and this. I've also been thinking to myself that I should write something about the shortcomings of 30 Days, but that will come in time, and with the realisation of what a mammoth task it must have been.

This guy talks about the inital reactions to Opera since its launch, and addresses a number of complaints people have had about the browser, in particular its CSS support. I'm sure he's already seen my contribution to the bloat conversation.

This guy does a very friendly intro to people who are new to the browser.

This writes a bit about GMail compatibility, which reminds me that I should be doing a post on why WebMail is for Intellectual Midgets.

And having been pointed to Junyor's post about Acid 2 compatibility, I'm wondering whether after their bust out over the issue, they're willing to let someone else get the glory of first, just so they can give more credit to the test, and also to give the concept wider coverage, or maybe just allow IE to come in with a PR win - to the good of all really. Their marketing people really must be doing their work.

And as regards LSR's post responding to mine, I suppose I was generally trying to put my case forward to say why the motive for profit is a positive one, in response to his little fudge that Opera's employees do what they do out of the kindness of their hearts. Was that not clear enough?

LSR and Red Man's Revenge commented on me saying this:

"at the end of the day, Opera needs to make money and compete to make money - and I can't think of a better incentive for people to get things right, or make things right"

My response, as it was previously, is this:

"Give me that which I want, and you shall have this which you want, is the meaning of every such offer; and it is in this manner that we obtain from one another the far greater part of those good offices which we stand in need of. It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest."

"By pursuing his own interest, he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it. I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good."

Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations.

Also, if you would be so kind, please explore the link in my initial quote above, that links to this post: UnEconomic. Which was preceded by Opera Needs to Step Up.

Once you've done that, you can get over your hippie-dippie tie-died existences and realise that capitalism is not a bad thing - and even if you dislike it, there are ways in which it can be more useful to your ends than the equivalent of throwing your money off a bridge. Like saving the environmental movement perhaps, or maybe even the environment.

If you're unhappy with Microsoft about Internet Explorer, you should feel free to say so. Some times markets fail. Some times a single enterprise monopolises an economic space to the extent where competition is stifled. Economics is not unaware, or unwilling to admit, its own faults. "When the facts change, I change my mind, would you that it were otherwise?" But in the long run, when markets are left unhindered by stifling legislation (as opposed to careful regulation) things tend to sort themselves out - as is happening now.

Sure Opera and its employees are likely to be driven people who believe in what they are doing. That doesn't mean they'd be doing what the do as well as they do if they weren't being paid to do it. Do you really think Opera would be as prevalent on mobile devices if they hadn't decided that it was an area where there was un-tapped profit, and that they should put as much effort as they did into exploiting it? If they didn't we'd still be twiddling our thumbs (literally), waiting for MiniMo - whereever that is.

Oh, and I found the link I was looking for in UnEconomic - to explain my comment about the parasitic. From the Economist (where else) - Open source: Beyond capitalism?

I thought I'd try to be the first to write about it so that I wouldn't bore myself into a stupour writing about it after everyone else had. Surprise surprise, there were 1 million downloads, and Tetchy (as I call him) will be (I'm funny aren't I) taking the plunge. To be honest, I actually quite like what they're doing, and if nothing else, I find it incredibly funny, despite whatever else I might say.

I've been writing extensively about Opera's marketing with this round of releases, you can have a look at Opera's Second Day Story - ie Their Marketing Department's Been Watching The West Wing (Or Something), and You Do Realise You're Boggling About an Opera Press Release, Right?. Or just browse via the new Opera Blog aggregator. I also added a new category for my Opera Boggling.

Well okay, that might be overstating things. But it's still a very pointed, and really rather funny, post/reply. I defer to people who know more, and are able to speak with greater authority. He's the man. The man from Opera - our man in Oslo. Very much like CJ on the West Wing, only probably not as much of a fan of pant-suits and "The Jackal".

Just to say though, my last post happened without having read his, not that it really matters.

Isn't boggling fun?

Just because discussion seems to be continuing still, and because Opera is Opera, and they've made decisions that people have to live with, I'll say this - Opera, as far as I know, wants/tries its hardest to accomodate new users who "just want a browser" - one that is very little except faster/more secure etc. than their last browser, most likely IE. That's why they answer the question "What is a Browser?", and still maintain instructions on how to mimic other browsers. You might also be interested in Rijk's journal entry on updated versions of those custom setups.

Never, in all this, has Opera stepped away from their stated intention to be most things to whoever they can convince. It's still the same browser made by the same people - just set up by default to be easier for the newbies. Mail, RSS, IRC, etc. are all still there in what is without a doubt the most customisable browser ever made. If you know how, you could make it do cartwheels and dance and peel grapes. Macarena Time.

People who have been using Opera for a while (Fanboys by any other name) can have a vested interest in not wanting things to be "dumbed down" - as I've said, Go To Bed, Would You Please. There is very little that has changed that cannot be changed back to the way you had it before - you want it so badly, figure it out, or ask in the forums. Honestly I'm surprised there hasn't been a greater outcry regarding the new simplified Preferences Menu. Certainly the pruning of verbiage in the menu bar (which I turn off anyway) is always welcome.

Opera doesn't make it a habit of alienating users. When they change things they normally do it because it makes things better - just because that was how it was then doesn't mean it's the best thing now. Maybe you preferred pressing 1 to go to the next page or 2 for the previous - but the other way makes much more sense. And really, when Opera does things badly, they hear about it, even when the people saying it (ie: me) are being (let's face it) assholes. And at the end of the day, Opera needs to make money and compete to make money - and I can't think of a better incentive for people to get things right, or make things right.

No I haven't forgotten, Opera vs. Firefox is still coming up.

I'm sort of getting the feeling that this is supposed to be moving day for me as well.

It's a rather weasel-ly thing to say, but I suppose I do agree with Asa Dotzler's statement that "as long as we're all moving toward an improved web experience for more browser users, I'm happy". And to be frank, it seems that that's how Opera is viewing things - that what is good for browser diversity is good for everyone (well, perhaps everyone except IE) - and certainly good for the consumer/user of the modern browser.

More cynical people might see it as spin, but I think one of the strengths of developers/employees boggling is that you get more sincerity than you ever would out of a press release, and from what I know of (the really rather long-suffering) Haavard, I'm more than willing to believe he meant what he said.

Fanboy wars are one thing, but I'd like to think any move that puts web standards more to the forefront of peoples' minds, the better. Of course Acid 2, and the way it was announced by Hakon, wasn't the friendliest way to go about things (though assuredly a PR coup), though I'm sure the tone wasn't entirely undeserved. But importantly I think that anything that goes beyond a rather playful jab at one another would be rather unbecoming between Opera and Firefox - fans included. Not that MS or IE is the enemy, but clearly Opera and Firefox would have more common cause to band together, and until MS finds a way to engage the competition constructively...

I have to admit that I've said to people that if they can't bring themselves to install Opera, to at least move to Firefox - if only so I don't have to deal with their spyware problems again/later. Of course in most those situations, I can provide the most detailed support for Opera, so most of my friends choose that rather than be left to their own devices with Firefox. Agnostic up to a point.

You know that what's coming after this is going to be me trying to enter flamebait territory and write (what will surely be my particular take) on why Opera is better - and what Firefox does better. Yes, it's that time of year again. In the mean time I'll leave you with a rather embarassing earlier post I did. Most of it is now not entirely representative of what I think now, but it serves as a reminder of humility to me, if nothing else. Opera Needs To Step Up.

I suppose what I'm trying to say is that regulated competition is good - and the people that will benefit the most are the consumers.

This might just be me finally catching on to how things work on the interweb - but it was brought into stark relief by me monitoring the Opera Blogs over the weekend. I suspect this is now the eggs and chickens work - on weekends, there are no press releases because people tend not to be working, but also because apparently a lot of people smurf from work, no one is reading stuff on the weekends either. I wonder if there is a spike in "traditional media" consumption over the weekends.

I thought I'd just use this post to vent my annoyance at a number of things (because, as you realise, I get annoyed a lot). How how how is OperaWatch still getting so many hits? He hasn't posted in days, so I can only imagine that people are trawling and find his "get a free Opera License" thing, or they're just clicking on the most visited blog and not bothering to move to number 2. Don't get me wrong, I'm over the moon that I'm able to go from nowhere to no. 2 in less than a week, but as the month is ending, I'm actually starting to get Nokia 6630 fever. I'm a naughty monkey.

Speaking of Opera Blogs, it might be nice if there were a number of improvements to offset some of the annoyances I brought up previously. An RSS feed for the blogs would be the most important of these. As I've said before, this is not a purely Opera blog, and the feed reader on the site simply filters in those posts that have the word Opera in them. If people wanted simply to read Opera related posts, it'd be nice to have a feed for the most recent posts etc.

I'm also brought in mind of LonghornBlogs, and though we're not Opera developers, I don't know, OperaFanBlogs.com or something might be a good marketing move - the only downside might be that Opera might be afraid that this would lead to excessive Opera bashing from users, since users are the ones with the most complaints, and might represent in writing how good things actually are. But then you could say the same about forums. Or fora I suppose. If they wanted to go beyond just posting the headline, that would be fun too.

Just to be clear, I am endlessly conscientious about not gaming stats - I don't click on my own links in Opera Blogs (unless to check how it works), and I don't post links that contain the urls that would add to my click count. Not that I'm saying anyone would, but those are the things that spring to mind that could be manipulated. The most I do is send the main url to friends who might be interested.

It's always cool when a "somebody" reads a "nobody's" blog and comments about it. Asa Dotzler is a "someone" when you're talking about browsers and Firefox in particular, since he's actively involved in the thing itself. I mean he's got his own wiki for fuck's sake. I (as anyone who's watched "Anne", the season premiere of Buffy season 3, would recognise) am nobody. More specifically I'm a nobody who happens to be a writer rather than a technology expert.

What I know is perception, and what I understand is how things are percieved, and the erotics of experience. To be fair I should be more careful about tailoring my prose to my audience, but I writes the way I writes. And that includes nuance in phrasing. To quote myself via someone else:

"the paradox of features is also that you always want to make things better, to add more - and yet the more you add the more complicated a thing can get - and the more you can contribute to an impression of clutter"

Again, you might not know that I write/wrote either academic prose or fiction (more or less) for a living, so you might not approach the writing with that in mind. But there's a reason why I say "and yet the more you add the more complicated a thing can get" (meta-me's italics). When Opera added a very prominent new mail client, things got at least a little more complicated - what I'm saying is not so different from what you're saying; sure there are times when new features just work, but more often than not, new menus are added, more options are available etc.

Even a simple thing like RSS - it now pops up in Opera's address bar, just as it does in FF's status bar (as a livebookmark). Now, is that clutter or is that the impression of clutter? That depends on what you definition of "of" is. People are complicated fuckers - some people might argue there is an objective notion of clutter, while others might well say that clutter is a function of the one percieving it. I was writing about perception (hence the focus on the marketing), so I'm just necessarily pointing out that bloat/clutter need not necessarily be either to anybody, unless wishing makes it so.

But my larger point was this - when you announce features, whether they are as you say things that just work, or things that add clutter, people are often going to conflate the two - hence the title "The Unfair Impression of Bloat". Features means you have a new version number, which is when marketers/evangelists go to work. But when they pimp mostly about the features (ie: press releasing the equivalent of a feature changelog) people are going to assume that the new components add bloat/clutter whether they do or not.

I wish I was a UI expert - but I'm not, I'm a bitchy end-user who has eyes.

As for my boo-boo about the size of Firefox, that's just me not having paid attention to file sizes since 0.8 or something - I was wrong, bad me - but in my sneaky way I'm going to suggest that it makes my point about how with broadband, download size is a lot less of a deal that it used to be.

But really what I was trying to do was write around the issue rather than lambast Opera for what you rightly point out is the relative clutter of their default install in relation to almost any other browser. I've (fairly, but more often not fairly) lambasted Opera before, and this time I was just pointing out that the new version number was a step towards simplicity rather than version-and-feature-bloat. "The Unfair Impression of Bloat".

And so Opera have decided they want rank newbies to rally to their cause. I think it's to their credit that they set things out as simply as they have on their new effort to get users to Switch.

Honestly I think only people savvy enough to ask the question would really want everything to be exactly the same when they move over - though there are people intractable enough that look at Opera and say - where are the missing buttons for blah. That button should be further to the left.

I wonder what the statistics are - how many people switch as a result of spyware. I know of at least 2 people that I personally persuaded to switch where spyware/virii was the reason - or at least the catalyst of what had been a long period of persuasion.

It's good work, is what I'm saying. Simple, direct, gently persuasive. Whoever designed the new opera.com front page deserves a medal.

Part of the reason I go on the way I do about new features is that in many ways it can be counter-productive. As you'll notice, this marketing cycle Opera have decided that they're stepping away from the notion of an "Internet Suite".

Fair or not, real or not, people can be obsessed with bloat. In many software packages, this takes on the shape of a huge download, or a turgid, unimaginative and intractable UI. The paradox of features is also that you always want to make things better, to add more - and yet the more you add the more complicated a thing can get - and the more you can contribute to an impression of clutter.

To be clear, Opera's download is *tiny*, well under 4MB, about half that of Firefox. But really, now that dial-up is for chumps, I don't know how much of an advantage it can remain. I haven't done the math, but I'd think in terms of filled UI space at default install - that is where Opera's impression of bloat mostly comes from. The word Opera must learn to hate is clutter.

From a marketing perspective, features (or general 'newness') gives you the excuse to make noise and spread your message. The trap is that often times these new features contribute to the impression of bloat, and can make very boring press. As far as I'm concerned, Speed, Security, Simplicity should *always* be the message.

When you persuade people of things, the importance is often on the persuasiveness of the narrative - the painting of the manifest destiny. Obsession with minutiae can be counter productive - sure a changelog is more "informative", but it's also boring as fuck. You don't launch products by issuing a changelog.

I think Opera is starting to think huge. They want the huge market of people who don't want much from their browser. As long as it has a back button - they're set. For these people, Speed, Security, Simplicity is a great reason to move over in reaction to bad press/bad spyware (deserved or not) for IE, or even Firefox.

Of course Opera would want you to get the most out of your browsing experience, but that doesn't mean it should foist features on people for whom they aren't welcome. Simplicity.

It's occured to me that Opera have decided that trying to lure "switchers" is the wrong way to go. With the launch of 7.5, it seemed Opera had tried to appeal to IE, FF and Safari users by pointing out how easy it was to duplicate the look and feel of those browsers. Either that didn't give them much traction or whatever, I can only assume that they decided against using that as a major selling point.

I think this mainly because the customisation page that did 1-click setups to emulate other browsers is not pretty much tucked/hidden away - I had to look for the old press release and that link redirected to this one.

My feeling on this is in many ways one of agreement. Opera is different - deal with it. Sure, the keyboard shortcuts are a bit different, the toolbars not quite the same - but I'd like to think it's not that big a hump to get over, after which you realise how good Opera is. Speed, Security, Simplicity. And I think it's in the last point that version 8 really tries to deliver on.

Obviously I don't use the default setup - I'm a fanboy, I go crazy - but the default as it is now is as close to simplicity for the uninitiated user as you're likely to get for a while without selling the feature-set short.

Of course it still rankles me that the menu bar area can largely remain wasted, and I have complaints about the way the toolbars function - but on the whole I'm happy enough that people who discover Opera on their own won't be too intimidated by the first thing they see. If they can download and install it on their own, they can figure out the default interface.

And I feel pretty convinced that the last people who should be allowed to decide what the default interface is like are the fanboys/girls - usability studies is how it should be done, and I think Opera's been good in sticking to its guns about that.

That said, when I install Opera for my friends, I inevitably customise it for them (I'll be re-doing my pre-customised package soon, updated for 8). The most important thing I give them is customised searches. That's what Opera is best at - unbeatable at the moment, but not necessarily at startup. This is especially important for people who are shy at customising their interface - many people are still afraid they'll "break it".

IMDB, TVTome, Dictionary.com (with Proxo blocking ads) and Wikipedia seem particularly popular.

It's always nice to be mentioned. I was going to reply in the post, but it got too long, so here we go(yes, I've blockquoted myself, you got a problem with that?):

Just to be clear, I wasn't referring to you, your blog, or any other blog (okay, maybe OperaWatch a bit). Also, I've never actually been to your blog before, so I don't quite get how I was commenting on your post. If I referred to anything, I was referring to my own posts. That said, I'm ecstatic that there's more meaningful discussion going on now among the Opera bloggers - mission accomplished.

As for writing about press releases - I only brought it up because it seemed that everyone and their left testicle was blogging about the same swimming thing, and after seeing 12 headlines as variations on the same thing, I wanted to stab myself.

Regarding your wrap-up of various reviews/mentions, I thought that was one of the many useful ways boggling can occur. Aggregation is not the sin here, it's doing so without meaningful commentary. And of course Opera doesn't get enough press, that's why I've been so impressed with the marketing push this time round. But we (as we keep getting reminded) are not the press.

I'm pretty happy that people are being more punchy - this guy for example, talking about Opera's choice for "mascot". Interestingly he's using Yahoo's new 360° boggling service. Personally I think the new marketing campaign is overall pretty good - the "mascot" is a bit camp, but not necessarily in a bad way. And if nothing else, it reinforces their "message" - Speed, Security, Simplicity. Like a mantra, over and over.

I'm now starting to think that I'd actually quite like to get the prize. I've always been interested in finding out how mobile browsing in Opera would be like, and I'm assuming that it'll have Bluetooth (yes it does), which I'd also like to have a go at. A short jaunt on Yahoo has found me this review. To have suddenly gone from nowhere to the first page of the most visited makes me think I'm in there with a chance.

The problem with writing for Opera is that whatever hits I get via the blog aggregator they have on MyOpera is probably from Opera users rather than people I'd be able to convert, probably a bit contrary to what this is supposed to be about. So technically I have to appeal to Opera's existing users in order to win, but ideally I should be writing for new users to get into Opera. Also, if I'm so good at what I'm doing, I'd be persuading people to come here just in general rather than coming here via MyOpera - not the biggest deal, but something worth noting.

I'm thinking I should do a post "I've converted X-number of users to Opera - what have you done for the cause" kind of thing. When I go where I go I'll definitely be evangelising - academic licenses are free anyway as far as I remember (yes they are). Perhaps I should do something on how the default setup should be - though I doubt that would be too useful - it'd make more sense to do a variation on my (now much outdated) search.ini made idiot proof post.

That's sort of what pisses me off about certain kinds of bogglers - they can end up being annoyingly like new aggregators. Now, Louis is very inclusive or human behaviour - far be it from me to legislate boggling - but I'm sorry, even *paid* (or in this case "incentivised") boggling shouldn't be like this. To be fair, I haven't read the posts by the other right honourables, but with the headlines they have - I'm not exactly optimistic.

First, they should feel a bit manipulated that so many of them are regurgitations of a press release - and really, I don't think that should be what Opera's marketing people want. What you want is buzz, true, and breadth of coverage, but why "your" bogglers are important to you is their willingness to use their credibility to talk objectively about your product.

Somewhere somehow, this boggler has a kind of bully pulpit and he/she's availing him/herself of it for your cause. Having them spout your press releases is counter-productive - that's what news aggregators are for (Slashdot, Inq, news outlets in general). Bogglers - if I may be so bold - are meant to be authoritative consumers who are able to sway their friends and readers; they are opinion makers and shapers, not just means of dissemination. I suppose there's something clever to be said about Fox News' CEO talking about the seperation of news and opinion.

In that sense I suppose, I'm just thinking that the CEO story is a funny news story, rather than a story I should write about other than as a process story (as I have).

Before I get into it, just to wonder, as I'll eventually discover, whether they simply filter the headline for the word "Opera". They don't seem to be vetting blogs - spammers take note. Honestly Opera Watch is the most loyal/timely and should probably get it, but it can (no offense) read a bit like an extended press release. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with shilling for the company you like, but it's not exactly the place you go for analysis and objectivity. He's welcome to bitch-slap me if he disagrees.

This is really a product of me sniffing around WordPress - since they offer feeds for every-fuck-thing, even comments. Now, I really like Klipfolio, and I'm not talking about migrating, but it's still best for monitoring stable headline feeds, rather than monitoring things that are more transitory and which could multiply exponentially.

I mean it'd be a hassle to create a new feed reader and paste the url just to get updates on a discussion - easier to just click and let Opera handle it. Though apparently Serence is working on making things easier. I wonder if the browsers would be obstructionist if that happened - if Opera is, they're in for an earful.

The last times I added feeds to Opera it was also because they were updates so often and plentifully that it didn't make sense to do anything else - but then those feeds tend to lose meaning, since without some form of editing, it's a bit meaningless. Oh, and once KF couldn't handle chinese characters.

Oh, and it's a bitch to get the feed menu up in Opera when you remove the menu bar and don't have a mail account so you can put it in your sidebar. I'm willing to be enlighted, but in general, I just find the "reading feeds like mail" thing a bit silly and not a bit ugly.

Jeez - how long is that headline? As I mentioned back in March, their marketing department must have decided that it's Moving Day, and that Opera's Nobody's Bitch.

I get the feeling they've decided to flex their agility and make use of this release to get things in order. I like "speed, security, simplicity", especially since I've always felt Opera stumbled in the past with their new releases. To paraphrase - it's not the new features stupid. I honestly couldn't care less that I can now give voice commands to my browser, just as I couldn't care less when they added a mail client - others might but I don't. For most people, that little marketing jingle is just the right note.

They're also doing a much better job of making the switch easier - basically putting the tutorials etc. up front on the main page, as well as the more advanced ones on the community page. The community page makes me think they've really decided to embrace the whole "new media" thing - like this, getting bogglers to create buzz. I can appreciate it, and I think they'd do well to allow as much dissent as is seemly off the whole thing.

But yes - humour is one the best ways they've had for getting headlines. Especially from the company that brought you the "bork" browser. I thought the buzz around Acid 2 (which is what I had been referring to previously) was similarly well executed. And I can't honestly think of it as being manipulative - they're "just" doing the politics - you play the same game the others are playing, using the same rules. The actual story (I can't imagine you missed it) is here. Thanks to The Inq and Opera Watch.

I do wonder if they're going to accept me as an "opera boggler", since I'm not going to just bog opera now - I wonder if they can just filter out the non-opera bits.

On another note, ICDSoft gave out free upgrades to their hosting plans, so I now have no excuse not to install WordPress for a spin. It looks really cool - I'm just concerned that importing from MT will be a hassle.

Just to be clear though - this is not about winning stuff - I'd (more or less) be doing this anyway. Unfettered.

Super-Opera to the Rescue

| | Comments (0)

Yeah, ok, it's *a bit* lame, but the super-opera thing is sort of fun. The new affiliate link on the right goes towards getting me a "free license" *ahem*. Well, that and it's sort of fun. For more information have a look at the list of referrers already in action, and the buttons and banners page.

So yes, new version of Opera. Apparently the new name was Opera 8. Inventive huh? Nothing much that I can see changed from beta 3, though I'm sure there are changes. You can see that and the rather effective new campaign for Opera 8 here.

I've been getting most of this news via OperaWatch - so much props.

Powered by Movable Type 4.1

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Opera Boggling category from April 2005.

Opera Boggling: May 2005 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Opera web browser - downloadOpera Mini - Mobile Web Browser