Opera Boggling: June 2005 Archives

The Weekend In Opera

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The reason, presumably, why so many news organisations do "features" on the weekend would be because there's literally no news. Though from the looks of it, still readers, simply unable to find fresh content. I'll probably have to endeavour to do more feature-like posts on the weekends then, since I've got to find a way to amuse myself. Hopefully idle people like me will do similar things, for all our collective amusement.

But yes, everyone is away from work, including journalists, and presumably most people who have lives decide that smurfing is something they tend to do at work to skive-off rather than anything else.

People like me, however, try their hardest to think up of story ideas about Opera, and what next to write about. Hence what I've posted in the last day or so. I actually write down ideas and go back to them when I run out of news being reported.

For better of worse, the ideas I've been having are often derived from the West Wing. One is to retell what occurs between Stackhouse and Bartlett, where Stackhouse relates being told by Josh a story about the tendency of new pilots. The other is about Josh and the civil rights lawyer up for confirmation as Asst. Att. General, Breckenridge I think - ie: Dixon from Alias; talking about the Pyramid on the back of the dollar bill.

In case you didn't know, Opera Composer has just been relaunched for Opera 8, so that if you are an ISP or company, you can distribute your own customised version of Opera. Basically it's a way for companies to provide their own skin for Opera, since that's the part of the process that allows for the most customisation. So you can have your own company's graphics showing up etc. If only to remind them that Big Brother sees all smurfing :).

Other fun things include the ability to activate the personal bar by default, and add certain links/urls to it. You could even provide your own custom bookmarks file, though for some reason that doesn't include an option to turn on the personal bar. Most fun of all, you can even rebrand the browser, such that people could now be going around smurfing with their own customised fallingbeam.org browser.

I suppose the point of Composer is more towards showing off what Opera can do rather than a be all and end all tool for companies. I'd assume that if your company wanted to populate its thousands of seats with Opera, Opera would step and customise it up the ying yang for you. So they're offering a limited version of what can be customised for the benefit of the small to medium sized business, that still likes to do things themselves, and know how.

Now my problem with that is that I'm sure companies that want to do it themselves would probably want quite a bit of control over the product that's sent to their workforce. Just one example would be the ability to customise the search.ini. I'm not saying that Opera should disregard its bottom line and not put the paid default searches there, I'm just saying that allowing people to insert, even as default perhaps, a search field to search their company's website etc.

I mean, I'm sure it can't be difficult. The last I checked, the Opera installers I downloaded are simply archives with the installation files inside, so if they could be edited in the archive, that would be a nice way of tweaking without giving away too much of Opera's intellectual property. Certainly a little documentation couldn't hurt. If you could just drag and drop customised .ini files, skins and setup files into a folder in the install archive, that would really be the bees-knees.

Though it's now occurred to me that why Opera might not do this is that it could be abused by people putting dodgy (ie: malicious) files in the installers - but they they could just as easily exploit browser flaws in the default bookmarks.

In the end though, I think at the very least, there might be options to enable the personal bar when you have a custom bookmarks file, simple things like that, that seem like inconsistencies within the Composer interface, would make companies think just a bit longer about how easy Opera makes it for them to switch. And really, it would project a much more robust and professional image for Opera to put forward to its potential big customers.

Basically what I'm saying is that if you can upload a opera.adr file to customise, and can upload a custom created skin, why not allow that functionality for any number of .ini files?

Considering AOL used to own Mozilla, this is all the more infuriating. Basically you need to ID as IE to get in. Something that wasn't exactly mentioned in the Inq's otherwise glowing review of the service. After signing up/in for the service, I appear unable to do anything complicated, like say read mail or change settings.

If you don't ID as IE, you get sent to the wonder that is their "supported software" list, which doesn't provide for any way to move forward with your registration.

This might be an annoyingly big deal, especially as Opera tries to break further into the US market, where AIM claims a large portion of the IM scene. Who would have thought someone could get it even more wrong that Microsoft? At least Hotmail works now, even if we can continue to ignore MSN.com, because, well, it's rubbish.

AIM.com. I started a thread. Since it's one of my pet peeves, I'll point out the knuckle-dragging idiocy, not to mention the hideous double standard, of the fact that sites insist that they are able to support SoFurry on the Mac, but can't get their act together for Opera - especially since their market shares aren't that dissimilar (and especially not if you consider the potential inaccuracies of how those stats are derived).

Edit: huh, it appears Proxomitron was at fault in blocking the page loading properly - but the blocking of non-IE-ID'd Opera is bad enough, and made worse by the fact that it might otherwise work (vaguely, it was crawling while I was trying it out). - now that it's not crawling quite as much, I was right above, reading/writing mail is too difficult for them to make work.

If you want an e-mail service that isn't stupid, and offers you free IMAP as well, check out the wonder that is Fastmail.fm. Or get your own domain and hosting and offer other people the chance to get fallingbeam.org e-mail accounts.

Edit 2: I suppose I should make clear that personally I'm of the opinion that Webmail is for fuckwits. I take issue with browser sniffing here mainly on principle.

On close inspection, I can do enough in Opera so that I can use the AIM.com address for IMAP, and they helpfully provide SMTP, which is nice. So really if you wanted to think of it that way, if you desire a free account, you'd go for GMail for pop3 and AIM.com for IMAP. Theoretically you'd be able to use them without ever seeing the web interface except to sign up.

But at least GMail works in Opera. But GMail still functions on invitation only, whereas AIM. I can guarantee you your favoured fallingbeam.org account isn't taken up yet :).

Apparently security only applies to things that IE deigns to consider as flaws - so when a new way comes out to exploit design flaws in a browser that is many many years old, you just point to the sign on the door that says - bugs? patches? security? you do realise we're *Microsoft* right?

I mean, to be fair, just because a security firm says something is dangerous doesn't mean it is, but surely there can be no harm in helping out the people who buy your products? I can't see how Opera's way of handling the flaw is anything other than an enhancement of the browsing experience.

And as I've mentioned, if it's not a big deal to patch something, even if you/other people don't see it as a flaw, why not just do it as a gesture of good faith, as a concession to the public's (perhaps sometimes irrational) fears? I mean it's not as if IE is refusing to patch on principle to fend off the wages of paranoia.

And so there's a reason why it's worth it (yes, this is a Loreal ad) to use a browser that actually is in active development, rather than waiting for the vapourware that is the perpetually phantom IE 7 - which won't even begin to catch up with the features and agility of Opera.

Check the box, whoa-oh.

Apparently we all should fall on our knees and thank the Advertising Gods that we are allowed the *privilege* of having Flash, animated gifs, viagra ads etc. peddled to us on a daily basis. I'm shaking so hard I came in my pants.

I've done very extended spiels about my attitude towards ad-blocking, in particular, ad-blocking in Opera. Basically, despite the fact that I'm an unflinching supporter of rationalisation, ie things paying for themselves, I choose to block ads like they called my momma a ho.

If you want to block ads so aggressively your head will start spinning, have a look here. Opera certainly isn't going to help you out there.

So yes: Hey, cocksuckers - no one actually *likes* ads. Neither do I like you threatening me - view my ads or I'm going to take the InterWeb away. Pull the other one, you fucking moron.

Until I've lived in your apocalyptic world where newpapers (what are those anyway?) are $5 - following which the skies will open up and rain blood - you can bite my shiny metal ass. Kill all humans.

Advertisers really have to discover for themselves that they've got to stop annoying the fuck out of people long enough for them to give a flying fuck.

Between proxomitron and bittorrent, I haven't seen an ad for months.

I wonder whether they realise how absurd they can seem sometimes spouting the nonsense that they do.

I posted this on Haavard's bog, but I'm just so clever I can't help quoting myself,

My perspective on what the reporter did is simple. You guys were using them to get your message out. They use you guys to get a good story. What exactly is it about that arrangement that you guys pretend not to understand? http://newblog.fallingbeam.org/blog/archives/2005/06/opera_crimes_mi.html

There's times when people rending their garments about how the media treats them becomes very much like a surreal version of crying wolf.

The idea that Opera and Firefox are going to hold hands and skip is simply a rather carnivalesque fantasy. My suggestion is that you put a leash/muzzle on your CEO, and learn how to put a more professional face on what it is that you do (and do well) - after all, you guys (unlike other attack dogs) are the ones getting paid for it.

You see, that's what happens when you don't do trackbacks.

Olli replied, so I replied back:

I'm not saying you asked ZDNet to write you a rather ambivalent article - that'd be just silly. Someone approached someone and you guys had a chat - the understanding being, on your part at least, that you were going to get good press about the fact that you have a good browser (because you do).

But in case someone didn't tell you, reporters write stories they think will interest people, they don't re-print press releases for you. The press aren't the people with whom companies like yourselves hold hands and skip.

Of course what he said was entirely true (which I made very clear in my post) - that's not the point. If you say the words, they will print it - that's what they do.

Lashing out at the press is probably as helpful as your lashing out at browser stats companies - I'm sure you could get a lot more done if you asked them nicely. And if they say no, then you can wail about it in public. I again refer you to: http://newblog.fallingbeam.org/blog/archives/2005/06/opera_crimes_mi.html

The fact that the issues raised are still there to be raised, begs the question why these things aren't already resolved. If there was no tension, no notion of Firefox and sugar daddies, he wouldn't say the words, even in jest, and the reporter wouldn't bother - it's only juicy because there's something behind it and people can smell it. Which part of this being called "browser wars" don't you guys understand?

You guys do great things when you throw down the gauntlet and challenge the other browsers - like Hakon did with CSS compliance - but you have to be in the driver's seat, not being taken for a ride by some hack of a journalist.

Sometimes their media strategy is fantastic, like how the ended up handling the whole PCWorld debacle (not how they got into it though) - but sometimes they're just nowhere.

Thanks to OperaWatch's rather helpful Link Blog, the Holy Grail of Opera Fanboy-dom has come my way. Basically some poky company or other (whose website doesn't validate, by the way) claims that 1 in 10 sites fail to provide access to smurf-tools other than IE. And that this potentially leads to a loss of revenue and users for those sites.

It's amazing how they can do a piece on this (and the company can do a survey on it) USING ONLY FIREVOLE. They didn't even have the temerity to include Safari, as seems to be the trendy thing nowsadays. Opera user's litany has always been that we are, if not the cleverest and most well endowed of all smurfers, at least (like SoFurry's Mac-Tax paying heathens) the ones who are most comfortable spending money - and spending money online.

Not that their rather alarmist tone isn't a bit welcome, and that other than with regards to browsers sniffing, I've yet to see a FireVole compatible site that Oprah can't handle - but Oprah users well know that the vast majority of spites work fine (if not better) in Oprah. The only real anemones are the ones that specifically work to block Oprah with their annoyingly silly sniffing fetish. Oprah even holds developers' hands through their user-string, and still the bastards don't listen. Will there never be justice in the world?

Apparently SciVisum (sounds dirty doesn't it?) has been sounding the gong for a while now, as their Press page (which strangely enough denotes the Other Plaice under that description) shows.

This standard disclaimer seems strange: "SciVisum is independent of all web technology providers, and do not build or manage web sites" - well, honestly, it shows - and they need to check themselves before they wreck themselves. Word.

I've never found Ctrl-Alt-V quite so useful before :) - it allows Oprah users to validate pages.

As I mentioned, I had wanted to do a piece on Opera's very conscientious handling of security - on all fronts, especially the way they handle their relationships with security firms. The new (admittedly minor) phishing exploit that just popped up, seems as good a catalyst as any.

I was surprised to find, and perhaps even more annoyed that most "news" organisations failed to mention, that Opera has this already fixed in 8.01. Presumably, as I think most of these things go, the various vendors had been informed of this some time ago, but most figured it was too small an issue to be addressed like there's no tomorrow. And obviously Opera was already issuing a security release in the form of 8.01 for 3 other vulnerabilities, so the fact that they plugged the release before it was even publicised could well be seen as coincidence.

That's not how I see it.

Opera takes security seriously. There's hardly been a case where they haven't released an update in prompt anticipation of the security company publishing the exploit. With most other browser vendors, it's normally the other way around, the exploit gets published and then the company/foundation is shamed into fixing it - even though they would have been told about it for some time previous (that's how Opera can time their updates). Everyone should be able to do it as quickly and simply and conscientiously as Opera does - but they don't, and that's one of the many reasons why Opera is a safer browser - it's produced by a good company who takes these things seriously.

And really, it doesn't seem as if the fixes are that difficult, or rather they just shouldn't be. The exploit is simple, all that's involved is that the javascript popup (available on the Secunia proof of concept page) hides the small window that launches the popup - so that you think you're otherwise at google.com. All 8.01 does is ensure that the malicious window is made very evident (did I err? - see edit below). Personally it doesn't seem like the most superb of fixes - but then it's not the most superb of hacks either - and people who fall for it might not know what's happening, unhidden window or otherwise. But those people are just stupid anyway.

Regardless my point is this: Opera manages to maintain a superb relationship with the people whose job it is to find flaws in their software, a relationship you might otherwise think inimical. Opera are not coy about the fact that software (not least their own) is inevitably insecure (though they could do a better job of communicating that). And even when the flaw isn't the most earth-shattering, they make the effort to get the good report card that they so assiduously maintain. As opposed to *ahem* other browsers.

But I wouldn't be me if I didn't also point this out - that Opera's very cordial and productive relationship with Secunia just makes their inability to make things work with the browser stats companies all the more frustrating.

And so remember kiddies, even though Opera is your online prophylactic (I didn't use contraception, since you're not getting anyone pregnant online), it isn't 100%. The only way you can be really safe is to not be online. But no one will keep your browsing safer than Opera will (cue Trojan Man jingle). But as with all condoms, online or off, best to use one that's fresh (ie: update your software/browser).

Opera - not 100%, but at least it won't tear, and it won't make your hands sticky.

Edit: I stand very much corrected (by myself no less). News.com.com.com (and all CNut related appendages) managed to get it right that Opera 8.01 is not vulnerable - though it was naughtily saying that Opera "claimed" this to be case, whereas it's as plain as day on the Secunia site.

More importantly though, Opera's fix is much more elegant than I realised - they not only maintain the window so it's not blocked by the javascript, but they put the url of the script's page on the popup itself - in this case www.google.com.secunia.com - so if you can spot the classic signs of getting pwned, Opera gives you an extra leg up. How spanky Opera really is. I hadn't noticed it, mainly because I took it for granted - till I saw how the exploit worked in FireBadger.

But despite the Opera spokesperson saying (charitably I'm sure) that people supposedly scramble to fix these things - I don't see much hustle except from Opera (oh, snap/oh no you di'n't).

I had actually planned an editorial (which will still appear eventually) about how well Opera seems to have handled, for instance, security companies such as Secunia; cooperating about the timing of security announcements etc. And then this came along. As I've said before, there's a point at which I'm not sure if Opera is doing the right thing,

Surely Opera has been in contact with the peddlers of these stats - they seem to be large firms(?), and there can't be that many of them. I agree with most of the assessments Arve made, but this discussion has been going on for a while now, surely you've contacted these people to set them straight?

Because it makes more sense to me that you'd want to complain about it rather than help them get it right and sign off on their stats - if they still ended up saying your (our) market share was as tiny as it is now. If you're willing to contact sites that write broken code, wouldn't you want to set these stats people straight? Or is it more difficult than I could possibly imagine?

(Arve's post on the problematics of the stats is here.) I'm just wondering why the stats companies don't just count according to "unique users" as well as hits, in order to present a more broadly accurate picture of which browsers view the most, and how many people use each browser. Of course that would be misleading in an of itself - Firefox users might browse more enthusiastically than anyone else, or Opera users might browse more efficiently with their search boxes; though in most cases it just makes sense to differentiate between usage (ie: hits) and users (adjusted for dial-up changes of IP etc. of course).

Basically Opera are doing what they've always done, which is to attack these stats-gathering firms, saying that their stats aren't accurate. This was an issue with browser sniffing, and it's an issue now with pre-fetching. All kinds of caveats have been raised, I'm just not sure why they haven't quietly been addressed between Opera and these firms, and presented as an accomplishment on both sides - rather than complained about, by both, to the detriment of both, in the way that it has. And if Opera were rebuffed privately, why haven't they made more hay about that, rather than the stats themselves?

And whatever happened to "what is good for FireFox is good for us"? Unless Opera are grumpy about Asa pointing out their really rather egregious mistakes, I don't see where all this is coming from.

Supposedly Jon was misrepresented in the article; that it was a much longer and detailed conversation, but this is what got printed - presumably because it's sexier to talk about the recent fracas. Though there's really only so many ways to spin the "sugar-daddy" comment.

Which doesn't change the fact that Opera has been going on about something without having made the effort to compromise with the stat companies on a mutually agreeable means of accounting. And you can't be misquoted if you don't talk bad about people. Though to be sure, all that Jon said is simply factual - there is no doubt (in anyones' mind) that pre-fetching and browser sniffing affect the stats. Perhaps all his sentences from now on should begin with "Firefox are our friends, but..."

I want to be upset with the reporter, but I don't doubt that there wouldn't have been a story without the angle he put on it, so I think the consideration here is between not so great ink, or no ink at all.

For the second week in a row, Opera Blogs has managed to come to a grinding halt. All this seems to be part of wider malfunctions with Opera's web servers, as various portions of the site became inaccessible over the weekend and throughout the week. There were times when Opera.com could not be reached. I'd like to think it was in some way related to the release of 8.01, but that would really just be wishful thinking.

Personally, a lot of my Opera readership comes via the Blogs, so I'm not too keen to publish things till the interface starts working again. It's just that when it starts working again after these kinds of faults, it'll just repost everything it missed, which is fine, but then a bunch of posts end up getting buried, which is something I'd rather avoid. So my posts will have to wait till things get fixed. I've been working on a couple, and just feel a bit annoyed that I can't post them till things settle down.

I know that OperaWatch and Dan Yurman have posted and their posts aren't showing up, which is annoying since I also use Opera Blogs as a way to keep up with the world according to Opera. Those blogs in particular I have notification of anyway, but the point is that I shouldn't have to.

I'm still very committed to the project, but I just think that it's got to at least work, for people to continue to want to participate. The people I contact when things go wrong have been responsive enough, but it doesn't seem as if it's thought of as any kind of priority. And really, as I've said before, the fact that I have to be the one to tell them things are wrong isn't the best sign.

I think I'm trying to crib together a bunch of security notices, something that can be coherent in terms of making the case for Opera as a more secure browser - especially in regards to phishing, which seems to (rightly or wrongly) get so much coverage.

Opera did a release about phishing security. Somehow I'm not sure their security page quite strikes the right note of reassurance - it's not kiddy-dumbed down, it makes security sound too complicated. Though I suppose it's because the pretty pictures draw you away from the text at the top,

anti-phishing technology

excellent support for security protocols

visual feedback on security levels

automatic check for security updates

I suppose it's that simple. But the pretty boxes with the features should more directly address the specific threats they lay out above.

Oprah's Secunia record looks good, but still needs to be explained - regardless it performs favorably compared to FireVole. A way of saying Opera is, in comparative terms, Safer. I'm sure the checks (or lack thereof) are not too great a concern, but it certainly looks better. I'm too tired to look for a link that sufficiently illustrates Secunia's impartiality.

Also spare looks for their perhaps too extensive, but reassuring security tutorial, where the "phishing section" is euphemised as Shopping and Transaction Security.

As OprahWatch so fortuitously pointed out, Oprah 8.01 now supports Boggler.com - another significant step in Oprah overcoming people for whom standards compliant web design makes weep like teeny children. So yes, Oprah may now stride boldly across the InterWeb, spreading its gay superman juice over all that desire its succour.

In addition, Macs have now their first taste of Oprah 8 goodness - I actually just installed Oprah on my friend's Mac, over his objections, till he realised how much zippier it was than even SoFurry. Nothing impresses like multiple search boxes, instead of the hard limit of 1.

And yes notch one more for the suave suasion that is Louis converting the unwashed masses - a long-time hold-out no less. I tend very attentively to my ministered flock, providing them the wine and body that is my much expanded search.ini - now replacing TVTome with epguides.com and TV.com, and the additions of Technorati and the ability to search this self-same site.

If you need reasons, here are 3: Speed, Security, Simplicity.

To be fair though, 8.01 was necessary particularly because 8.0 wasn't quite ready for prime time, crashing much more than you might think or like. Steady steps towards Acid 2 compliance though.

Oh, and The Blogs, as I'm now calling them, are working again, though it's just scary that they got it fixed specifically because I noticed - twice. And I've finally gotten my Opera for Mobile key, and will have someone with a nice camera coming over tomorrow.

I'm personally hoping that it's because they're hard at work making it better, but you and I know that that's highly unlikely. What probably happened was that on Monday (which is when the last posts to appear did), someone fiddled with something and now it's no longer updating. I've e-mailed the guy who should be the one to make it all happen, but that's not always worked before, so we'll see. I mean, if it's fixed within 2 weeks, it'll still be faster than the last time.

If you want to stay up to date without Opera Blogs, you can subscribe to my feed, which you'll find in your Opera address bar, or on my main bog page under "syndication". That main page also has a link to category feeds if you're just interested in Opera Boggling.

I should really find out what OPML is all about. OperaShow is looking fun, but it all seems like work to me.

I'm up, so I'll probably stay up for the little chat.

I just thought that was a rather good headline - but then again, it is the Inq. Despite how some people might interpret my stance, this is one of those times when Security should be a big issue for Opera.

It's really not surprising that browsers have become one of the biggest attack vectors for the bad guys, since most people can't even seem to figure out how to update IE - and if they're not using XP (SP2, to be exact), they're not likely to. And really, who's been doing a better job than Opera at combating phishing?

Sure, installing Opera still means you should figure out that software needs to be updated, but it, in general, is still Safer. In fact, it's as safe as it gets, since it's got the best security record. As long as you keep it updated (since Opera is so conscientious about issuing security fixes promptly) you can be assured of as high a level of security as you'd be realistically be able to expect.

That wasn't so hard, was it? Because while you're getting a Safer Browser, you're also getting one that's faster than anything out there, and easier to use. Convenient download button available on the right.

Spread Oprah Fatigue

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I imagine people just being very spent after the whole PCWorld debacle. I mean there haven't really been substantive updates for days, even if you don't count the weekends. I think people, me included, have just gotten tired of pouncing on every other headline that has some peripheral relevance to smurfing, or yet another knuckle-dragging incompetent reviewing Opera.

People have been saying though, that Oprah needs to get more prominent news coverage - but short of crashing planes into buildings, I'm not sure what exactly gets headlines. Maybe Oprah could molest small boys.

The other idea is to make Oprah available to government use and for non-profits, which might be fun. But it's not like I see OpenOffice making that significant inroads, despite having been given to China. After all, MS Office is free.

I'm suddenly thinking Oprah could do a little campaign along the lines of "All Your Base..." - which got some people in such trouble before. It would make a fantastic stealth marketing move, but would require quite a bit of coordination. And banner making. I'm sure that would get at least some coverage. The loom of Oprah.

Oprah could also insult Republicans, that might work.

There's something I'd like to say about OperaWatch, but I shouldn't (well, in a way, I sort of can't), so I won't. But I'm happy that my place is what it is.

What's more important though, is that I've figured out the what and how of OperaWatch's very clever "link blog", which you see on the right column of his main page. It's actually fed by his del.icio.us page, the feed of which is http://feeds.feedburner.com/OperaLinkBlog, which you can get to via http://del.icio.us/operawatch.

That, however, reminded me of Acid 2 and the fact that iCab has passed it, beating out Konquerer (allegedly). Which reminded me to link to my little conspiracy theory regarding Opera and Acid 2. Just to bring it up again, because I think it's worth the fun.

Oh, and you can see both FireVole and IE 7 trying to emulate Opera features (which is good for all concerned, except when those two emulate Opera as badly as they sometimes have). Microsoft: IE 7 to have "fit-to-page" feature and Firefox's answer to Opera's sessions.

Of all the ways that Opera could have dealt with it, I'm actually so pleased at what they've ended up doing, that I might wet myself. So what they've done is this - they've made it into a little joke - Oops!, as Haavard put it. That, and they've dealt with it in the same breath as pointing out people who have very definitely (and not in English) said that Opera is the best. A "proper" release/retraction will come out some vague time in a future because this is no big deal.

And instead of putting a "retraction" on the main page, they tucked it away as a blog post from Haavard, and they've put it (solidly below the fold, and below the posting about Chip) on the MyOpera Community Page - so that other than people who gave a crap (ie Opera and FireVole Fanboys) - no one has to know. Superb - a retraction that's been turned into a solid win. Laughing it off and making partisan hacks look like partisan hacks. You couldn't have asked for a better outcome.

(Unless you were dead set on making Opera look bad, for some reason that had less to do with facts, and more to do with mudslinging)

Edit: It's more of a win that I'd have thought - CNET's boggled about it, in a way that sends people straight to Oops! and leaves Asa with a bloody nose. I'd compare him to Howard Dean, but then I actually *like* Howard Dean. I'm tempted to change my headline to "Asa Dotzler the best thing to ever happen to Opera" - but then I'm not the National Review.

Oh, further cleverness - now that Opera have "issued a statement", they've felt empowered to just go back and "fix" the old one, so that they've left virtually no trace of the gaffe on the main page. Such genius.

"Me too, but at the end of a prize-fight, you look at the guy who's dancing around, and that's who won." Red Haven's on Fire.

At this point things have gotten a bit silly. I mean really, I had posted about this days ago - PCWorld: Opera Second String to Bushy Tailed Rodent, when everyone else on Opera Blogs was jumping up and down about Opera being there in the first place. Opera was one of 100 products on PC World's 100 World Class Products - of which FireVole was the product of the year.

So no, PC World does not think that Opera is a better browser than FireBadger, as my previous post makes clear; in a side by side comparison, they choose FireVole. That said, in their individual assessment of Opera, PC World like Opera just fine (though they just want to be good friends).

I'm not quite so outraged as Asa appears to be about it, but I do think that at the very least Opera was negligent in their understanding of what was going on. Though what is as much, if not more, likely is that Opera out and out was just telling porkies, and deliberately misleading in their very public statements. Someone needs a spanking.

In a way though, it really has been a product of Opera's otherwise successful marketing campaign - I think some people were starting to get a bit sick of hearing about Opera; ie within the technophile crowd, which really doesn't mean anyone other than them has even necessarily heard of Opera. And I think with people getting sick of being marketed at, they'd want to latch on to what has really been a rather spectacular gaff that Asa was right to latch on to. It's not overstating it to say that Opera Lied - because they did. And they did it in a bad way at a bad time.

What this intersection of events has led to, to an extent that surprised me, is the very real anger that Opera's mistake has engendered - though admittedly a lot of it has been from FireVole Fanboys. Have a look at Asa's comments, and Neowin's thread. In the Neowin thread, you can see that the screenshot taken back then is different from what it is now - apparently Opera has changed it, and done so without issuing an apology, and also without having amended their press release, much less corrected it.

Opera apologists seem to want to just say that Opera were just incredibly stupid and/or illiterate, rather than malicious, but if that's the case, Opera are compounding their own stupidity by not owning up, doing a complete mea culpa and moving on. When you make a mistake you admit it and move on, not hide and surreptitiously change things and hope no one notices. That's what screenshots are for.

I was thinking all this was annoyingly boring a minute ago, but I'm coming round more and more to the feeling that Opera needs to make this right. If only for making me agree with Asa Dotzler.

Edit: The discussion has also moved to the MyOpera Fora. I've also followed up with a comment on OperaWatch's post, about how the change of graphic, and the hiding of the press release, is not enough - and can very easily be seen as an admission of guilt and a desire to hide (or disassemble, as some might say).

The review in the Boston Herald is one of those rare articles that manages to be both a good (as in positive) review of Opera, as well as be a good (clear, to the point) review. I'm sure that there should be a prize for any review of Opera that doesn't contain factual errors, so the fact that he gets things wrong is no surprise. He should hang out in the forums more, he'd learn a thing or two about how Opera can pretty much service your every lustful need and desire.

But what is particularly astonishing about the review is this - he's fulfilled my childhood wish of reading a review that didn't focus on features, but rather on the fundamentals of why Opera is fantastic. Speed, Security, Simplicity. I can just imagine him ticking those off as he was putting the review together.

And really, it shows that Louis is not an impossibly demanding judge of writing or style or intellect - if you do what you're supposed to do, and you do it clearly and with a little grace and pointedness, you get a gold star every time.

And let's just say he gets extra points for not making a meal out of Opera's security. Oh, and I should tell him about the wonders of Optool for switching between browsers - like from Opera to IE. Overall he was able to just be sensible and pragmatic, rather than absolutist and didactic. And he managed to not end the review with bullshit about Opera's cost, but instead dealt with it matter-of-factly, and with a shrugging kind of perspective.

I'd almost decided to ignore all reviews. Looks like we've got us a fanboy in the making.

I was going to chime in when every one else was jumping up and down about 8.01 (then Final, now RC) - but that would have just been freaky, given what's happened. OperaWatch did a piece on why they've stopped propagating the build, and apparently there's a bunch of bugs chirping away in the beta forum.

I actually did a clean install of the RC, which cleaned things up - moving my "mail" folder for the first time. I can't say I've been having too many problems, especially now that my P2P scratch drive is not longer so fragmented.

I have, however, been having this strange thing where after I download a torrent from a torrentbits.org based sites' description page, the page closes after the torrent gets handed off. I'm wondering if it's the pages or Opera - it's a neat feature, though a bit of notice would have been nice; either that or it's a rather abrupt bug.

Oh, and the new feature that shows the search you're typing for on the address bar is pretty cool, and very helpful for those of us with search.ini customised up the wazoo. So if you start typing g_, you'll get google search; or if you just type a normal word, the default search will offer itself to you. Much spanky. So yes, some features "just work". Though to be fair, it's in part based on an IE feature, if I'm not wrong, and this is sort of catch-up more than anything else.

As always, I find being an ass more and more difficult when confronted with sensible people - though it helps when they appear to be clever as well. This post, by Peter Matthews, one of Klipfolio's developers, presents a vision of what they expect to happen to their product in a post-RSS-ubiquitous world. Sensible stuff, and really, shows a level of forethought that is nice to see. All this at a time when I'm starting to actually miss viewing most of my feeds via KF. Opera's fine, but I'd gotten used to KF, despite it getting a bit cumbersome near the end. Looks like my little splinter rebellion was not unexpected. So far straddling seems to be going okay.

It's not really their fault, but now that I've figured out how to use views in M2 to do more or less a global "dismiss all items", Klipfolio suddenly seems a lot less indispensable. It's not quite as easy as hovering and clicking, but using the keypad to trawl through has it's advantages, as does opening in background pages etc. Can't do weather, which is annoying, but I really could just use Klipfolio for that :P.

Love is not love that alters when alteration finds.

I must say it is pretty, the new beta, but after awhile it gets a bit clunky - the problem is when it starts to actually look and feel a bit clunky. It is still the most attractive and innovative way to present feeds, but Opera is surprising me with its potential efficiency, and now a more ruthless kind of elegance. Though I'm sure I'll straddle the two for a while at least. I suppose what I should also do is have an email address just for listhost stuff, since I need an address anyway to activate my mail panel - an annoying workaround if I ever knew one.

I'm still very much against the lock-in of Opera's feeds - showing the url won't kill anyone - though I'm now really appreciating things being built in. Having problems getting Opera to recognise a .food file as a feed, shall have to remember to ask. Looks like I'm going to have to figure out how to transfer settings for M2 as well now.

I suppose what I should be saying is mo' features, mo' problems.

It's nice that I can use it for chat as well, though I think I still can't get beyond the desire for folders, so M2 as a mail client is gonna have to wait. Is it just me, or is it silly that there's not pure aggregated feed view - they could just put in in the root directory of "Newsfeeds".

And Starhub is really pissing me off that bandwidth really gets squeezed at primetime, starting from about 8. Allegedly.

I really don't think I'd ever smurf with the panel open though, having the mail window in the background should be enough. I'll see when the morning inundation comes. It's probably because of the end of the season, but I'm just too lazy to set up Azureus to batch download - though I suppose I'll end up bothering for the various summer series of note, not to mentions stuff like Celebrity Love Island.

I'm actually currently getting through the episodes of first season WetBoy with Kelly Brook in it. They probably needed external talent back then for all the languid bath shots. As in sermons in stones, and books in the running. But yes, DVD rips are really not as lovely as from hdtv, more pixelated if nothing else. Pissed-Off steak, nice pepper sauce.

I have since ameliorated my opinion of klipfolio 3, and reinstated it in a more limited capacity - for more information, see this post on the Serence forums.

While in the lovely fairy-neverland - that glories in the fact of Opera's recurrence (it's been there before) on PCWorld's top 100 list - all this is no doubt a big deal; but to those of us who don't get baked before noon, it's pretty much over the bra, under the shirt. True, Opera is part of a long list of web apps, tucked between blah and blah. FireVole managed to get the much much less prominent and prestigious placing of being ProDuck of the Yearling.

Though it's nice to know that while the link to Opera's little review-let is suitably pithy and glowing (oy! - with the features already), while FireBadger's no less smoldering assessment takes place amidst another mind numbing comparison shop, where Opera is so augustly mentioned. Well mentioned in as much as it's there to play second string to a Bushy Tailed Rodent.

Oh, look, a parade, but I'm fluffy and cute and black and hovering.

Guys, it's time to bring out the penguin, and shove the gay superman.

Opera Blogs on Hiatus

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I suppose I should think of it as a positive thing, that they're going to go away and get things right, I just hope it's not indefinitely delayed - there's times when incremental change isn't the worst thing. So yes, now you know why Opera never tells when it's products are being released :P.

In the mean time, I think of it as a time for the community to build itself - away from the competition. To that end I'd ask you to have a look at my suggestion for a "message calender", or a monthly/weekly topic for the Bogglers to participate in, should they find it useful in giving them ideas what to boggle about.

In the mean time though, I've also started a thread where you can post suggestions about what you'd want to see when Opera Blogs is relaunched.

This is the notice on the MyOpera main page:

Note: As of June 1st, we have decided to discontinue our blogging competition until we come up with a better implementation for it. It will be back at a later date. However, the existing system is still available below, but there are no phones to be won right now.

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

Opera Boggling: May 2005 is the previous archive.

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