Wal-Mart Don’t Support Firefox or Safari

Last week I wrote about the total screw up that Wal-Mart made in coding their new service for buying and downloading movies on-line. I went back today to see if they have fixed the problem with the coding and what I found I am even more surprised at than the original.

Rather than fix the code they have decided that they will not support Firefox. End of story.

Instead I find this bit of advice on the page. I might add that it is correctly rendered so it isn’t like they can’t do it when they want to…

“We’re sorry …
Our website requires the browser Internet Explorer version 6 or higher. It appears that you are using Firefox, Safari, or another browser that Wal-Mart Video Downloads doesn’t currently support. Click here to get Internet Explorer for free from Microsoft.

Thank You ”

Wal-Mart Unsupported Browser Page

I would refer to the comments that I made previously in that who the heck are they expecting to buy movies on-line? Mum and Dad? I don’t think so, they don’t trust this type of medium at the best of times let alone spending money for zeros and ones. The early adopters are going to be buying movies and most of them are not stupid enough to use Internet Explorer. Boom goes the bulk of their target audience. Oh and by the way Safari and therefore Mac users they don’t support your browser either. What! Wait… It gets worse, correct me if I am wrong but I thought Internet Explorer would not install on a Mac machine…

I can understand that Microsoft might make some services only accessible through Internet Explorer. Although that is changing. However, for an eCommerce site to not support a browser that a significant number of people have and use is just plain stupid. I am not sure about the percentage of Safari users, can anyone throw a figure in the comments? What Firefox and Safari users that might have purchased from your site you have just excluded by choice. I am no marketer or have any sort of education in business but I am sure they are breaking so many fundamental rules of business that they deserve to crash and burn.

Stupidity in the extreme. I intend to boycott Wal-Mart for everything and I don’t blame other Firefox and Safari users for feeling the same way. Yes we tend to hold a grudge.

Related Link: Nice Job Wal-Mart

Apple Rock the World

Well that is how I feel at any rate. I have often wonderewd if I would like a Mac. Watching Steve Jobs and his keynote presentation makes you want one. Huge announcements and the biggest (if the blogosphere is anything to go by) being the iPhone.

If you have not watched the keynote then I suggest that you do, for the whole effect and demo’s of the devices that are presented. The streaming video is about two hours. However, for those of you that might be a bit bandwidth impaired there is a blow by blow written account of the presentation with photos on Engadget.

I have watched it and I was indeed blown away. But there have been enough people blog about what Steve has said so I am not going to repeat it. But from another angle, I was reading through my feeds and came across an entry made on 37 Signals and I would have to say that it is a nice “prediction” of what the “Apple Phone” was going to be. As it was written before the announcement it is an interesting reflection and not far from the truth.

No doubt the details of the keynote will provide weeks of blogging material for a lot of people and then some. The details make for much more interesting reading this is mainly hype at the moment. I don’t see Microsoft anywhere, I do think they have reason to worry. I want a Mac.

Huge Free Wallpaper Resource

I don’t know about you guys but I have had some real trouble in the past finding wallpaper for my desktop. One thing is that a lot of sites that offer wallpaper are full of spyware, pop-ups or some other nasty crap. Not only that there is usually not that much on offer and what there is of it is rubbish. InterfaceLIFT is totally different and I was surprised at the offerings and what they cover.

Interface lift offers hundreds of wallpapers for download. In addition to this they offer a huge range of resolutions to suit. From an average of 320 X 240 right up to 2560 X 1600. Not all images offer the same resolutions or the range but it looks like there is something for everyone and purpose. They also range from nice pleasant landscape pictures to futuristic and Photoshop’ed images. Nice. Looks like most, if not all wallpapers are free.

I was impressed at the extra offerings that I found as well. There are icons, themes plus a developers section. Some of the developers tools are not free.

The most amazing thing is that there is stuff for Mac, Windows, Linux and Mac! There is an especially nice selection of Mac icons. The name definately fits this site, check out InterfaceLIFT to give the view from your desktop a refreshing new look. Just one tip: Careful with the embeded ads that appear in the list of available downloads, not a nice way to place ads but they are fairly obvious. The only critism I would have on an otherwise nice resource.

InterfaceLIFT Screenshot

Video Calling Here… What it Means to Me

Video for phone calls may be here but not the way the we might have expected it would be. Certainly not the way I thought it would when I was a kid.

So I thought when I was younger that one day we would have phones that had video in them of the person you were calling. As in home phone that is. I know this feature is available on some mobile phones but it costs a bomb and I would not say that it is widely available and it is price restrictive.

Skype on the other-hand is available, functional and free. The power of Skype was made very clear to me a wile ago when I got a web-cam and a close friend of mine got one as well. We could talk and see each other and it was second best to being there. It is that feeling that, if I can’t be there then this is great and I am feeling like we are hanging out; that is the difference.

With Skype now supporting Mac on the video front I have had a few more of these “being there” experiences. My brother recently converted to Mac only, yup every machine that he owns is a Mac. He was bummed that video was not supported in the Mac, but a week or so ago it happened. Skype for Mac now does video and James and I were able to chat and talk and see each other for the first time. The cool thing in this instance was the fact that we had our kids with us and we were able to interact and have fun, the kids loved it. I think they found it a little strange as well though. This is something that I cherish, my brother’s family is the other end of Australia near Sydney. So Skype gives us something that we would not otherwise have.

Screenshot of Skype Call

Yet another experience that I had recently was that of the Trans-Continental variety. And we took a screen shot to boot. Good mate and podcaster Knightwise from The Knightcast Podcast (from Belgium) and I were chatting on Skype and we fired up the video. He has a Mac as well so this is new to Kinghtwise as well. But the thing that made it absolutely hilarious was the fact that I was talking to Knightwise, using the video and he was cooking potatoes. Don’t know what is was it was just funny. It gave that being there experience and the fact that it has all the ambient sounds of him making his dinner. It seemed a normal thing to do. Talk to The Rooster and make dinner. Not something I thought I would ever do when I was a kid.

The most amazing thing is that all this is free. I can chat for hours to anyone that has Skype for free. Admitedly; a broadband connection is required, but taking something that I would have anyway and using it in this way has blown my mind. That is to say nothing of the fact that this is a free service! Sure phoning me from a land line to Skype costs money, but it is very, very competitive at the cost of a local call in Australia or to call out from Skype is cheaper still at 0.027 cents per minute (no the zero is not a mistake). I am slowly dumping my home phone. I have been saying and will continue to say that the telecommunications companies have a lot to worry about. This is further demonstration of the fact that in the end they will either have to evolve or die.

My home phone just can not give me the experience that the Internet and Skype can. I ask what they are doing about it?

So the ride to where we are now is not what I expected it to be nor have we arrived to where I thought we would end up (since when is that the case anyway). But I am excited about being a part of it and will continue to integrate technology into my life. It is finally becoming something that is impacting my life. Although I still hate computers.

If you want to call me on Skype just call 07 3102 3535, try it out. Or better yet download Skype and call me for free!

Do Developers Favour the Microsoft Operating System?

Apple LogoThe other day my brother became the proud owner of a brand new Mac-Book Pro. He very excitedly messaged me and we had a bit of a chat and I asked if he had installed Skype yet. This lead to an interesting discussion.

James believes that Skype support for platforms other than Windows is poor. He stated that Skype probably had loads more developers for Windows development and few for other operating systems including Mac and Linux. This was in reference to the Video feature of Skype not being supported in Mac and certainly not in Linux. Linux have only just had an update (version 1.3 beta) released, the last iteration came out at the end of last year. While us folks with WindowsWindows Logo systems have been enjoying Skype with video support for a while now and we have had a number of updates as well as version 2.5 coming out recently. So I can see his point somewhat.

James also went onto make a number of other points in regards to this issue. Such as the Linux community asking for ALSA support in the Linux version, which I might add has been addressed in the latest beta version of Skype. It was also suggested that developers failed to recognise other operating systems for fear of upsetting Microsoft. The case in point being that the development currently being predominantly in the Windows arena and the fact that Windows programs tend to be very operating system dependant. This then increases the exclusivity of Microsoft, strengthening their market share and market dominance. In turn this threatens the neutrality of the Internet as a platform and communication medium. He also felt that this unfairly skewed people’s ability to choose the operating system they want to. Regardless of what might be superior.

I thought about this whole issue and came to the conclusion that it it is basic economics and market forces here. If you had 1000 Windows users and 100 Mac users then it makes economic sense to develop for the users of Windows. That is the biggest area for profit making. The economies of scale are drastically reduced. So you get a product out there for your biggest user base and start making profit. It is that same profit that enables companies like Skype to be able to deliver a product to a minority of users on other platforms.

James believes however that there should be parity and equality in features and releases between versions for different systems. He feels that the current state of affairs is such that it is the equivalent of selling the same car in say Australia and the US and one has airbags and the other does not and the reason the company gives is that we drive on the left side of the road. I guess this is in reference to the features not being present across the versions of Skype. To that I can see his point as I said earlier. But perhaps this is a way that they have used to market their product and attract users from the largest group based on operating system. I really do not know.

Another analagy that James used was that Windows users are being offered a BMW and the rest are being offered a clapped out Hyundai! Well I can see his point again. However, maket forces are very strong and I suggest that this is what we are seeing. I don’t know what he would say if the shoe had been on the other foot. Anyway it looks like the video solution for Mac will be here soon enough, but as James said they have been saying that for a long time.

Skype LogoI have used Skype in my post to reflect something that may be true across all types of applications, but only because our conversation was about Skype. But are we seeing a trend that will continue and how will it play out in the long term? Mac is certainly gaining in user base recently and perhaps we might see more specific support and development for it. In addition to that I think that there is a great divide between Mac and Windows users. Personally, I see advantages to both systems. I have never rubbished Mac and I have never said that Windows and Microsoft have the best operating system. As far as disparity between applications is concerned I think that it is a valid argument to a point but hard economics is difficult to fight against in the corporate world of profit and loss.