Archive for January, 2006

I subscribe to the IE Blog RSS feed and this came across the wire today: IE7 Beta 2 Preview Available. I’ve been meaning to check out the new Internet Explorer 7 (IE7), but I just haven’t had the time. Well, the time is now! And I bring to you, dear readers no one, my first reactions to IE7.

  • As any sensable web user, I use Mozilla Firefox as my de facto web browser. This posed to be a slight problem, really just an irk actually, when I went to install IE7. The IE7 installer requires validation that you are using a valid Microsoft Windows installation. It does this validation by way of the Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) Program. Basically, WGA is just an ActiveX control that has access to the Windows product key. You must validate your Windows installation before proceeding. To do so, you press the Validate button and it will open up a Microsoft web page that will run the ActiveX control. Only problem, Firefox can’t run ActiveX. At least not natively. The web page it took me to said I could download some file to install that would do the check, but I decided to just change my browser settings to say IE was my default browser (A cold shiver runs down my spine). And the page then opened up in IE. Validated and moved on.
  • After the install I had to restart. Damn it.
  • The new IE7 icon looks neat, I guess. It replaced all my IE6 icons. Sure would be nice if IE was a stand-alone program and not integrated into the OS. C’est la vie.
  • Upon going to my first web site – Yahoo! – I was prompted to turn on a phishing filter. I’m smart enough not to go to any phishing sites, but I can easily see how others could get confused. So, good job there.
  • IE7 apparently got rid of the main toolbar present in nearly all GUI programs. You know “File, Edit, View…”. Gone. More space for the viewport I suppose.
  • Navigation buttons are rearranged as well. The Back/Forward buttons are to the left of the URL dropdown box. The Refresh and Stop buttons are to the right. To the right of that is original-in-Firefox search box. Functions just like Firefox as far as I can tell. Default search provider is MSN Search.
  • IE7 finally got tabs! And they did some stuff right! And by right I mean better than Firefox. First, there is a sort of mini-tab to the right of the tabs that, when clicked, opens a blank tab. I like this. Although I use Ctrl-T to open new tabs in Firefox, this mini-tab could still be very useful. For reference, Ctrl-T also works in IE7. Also, as you add more than one tab, you get a little X (Close Tab) button in the corner of the tab. Why Firefox hasn’t done this yet remains a mystery to the entire universe.
  • Along with tabs, IE7 has an Apple OS X Application Switcher-esque Tab Switcher/Viewer. This switcher/viewer is represented by a button that has four small rectangles on it and sits to the left of the first tab. When you click it each tab is shown as a cropped screen shot of each web page. Pretty neat feature.
  • Another Firefox feature in IE7 is the text-scaler. This feature is in the bottom right corner of the browser. If clicked, it will zoom the entire page, not just the text. If memory serves me well, I believe this is how Opera does zooming. The button also has a dropdown associated with it and it has zoom from 10% to 1000%, plus a custom zoom. Also, the Ctrl++, Ctrl+-, and Ctrl+0 keyboard shortcuts work, as they do in Firefox.
  • There is a built in Feed Subscriber in IE7. I personally don’t like to subscribe to feeds with the default browser subscriber, but people may like it. Also, if you just click the feed button in IE7, it will load the feed and display it for you. You can’t click on the RSS Feed link embedded in the web page, but the button will load it and display it. Nice feature, I suppose.
  • It also seems as though the IE team was truthful when they said they had fixed the IE CSS bugs listed at I can’t seem to find any that break in IE7.
  • Also PNG alpha channel support seems to be working. W3C PNG Test here.
  • :hover support seems to be working. Eric Meyer’s pure CSS menus seemed to work, but they didn’t look like they do in Firefox’s, not exactly sure if this is explicitly related to :hover, though.

For the web development that I’m doing at work, I use Zend Studio 5.1 Professional. When I work from home I use the built in FTP client to access my files. No problems there.

Well, usually.

I knew something was wrong when I went to the web to view the files I had worked on previously and noticed that the page would only half-load. I ssh‘d into the server and ran a df. It showed me 100% usage of the hard disk.

As it turns out, I had broken my daily backup cron script. Every day it was backing up the backups directory. And consequently, it was doubling in size each day. The natural progression here is that it fills up the entire hard drive of the machine. Which, as it turns out, is exactly what happened and this, of course, is a major problem.

So I deleted the huge backups such that I would have some free space on the hard drive. I then went and looked at the two files I was working on. One was just the next sub-project I was working on and was very early on in development. The other was the index page for a large application I’ve been working on. Things were still kind of wonky it seemed, so I decided to restart the server – this isn’t a production server yet, so it wasn’t a big deal.

And then there were problems.

After the restart I went back to the web and looked at the two pages again. Hmm, I had the same problem: half loading pages. What was going on? So I went back into Zend Studio and brought up the two files. What did I see: a zero-byte file and another file that looked as though it was cut right in half. The second half of the file was simply gone. Grrrreat. For whatever reason, when the hard drive filled up, it must have erased those two files. How that happened I have no idea.

Ok, no big deal, I’ll just grab the two files from yesterday’s backup.

Wait a minute; I just deleted those backup files because they were ginormous. Awesome! Now, the most recent backup I have is a week old.

The moral of this short narrative is a time-tested truth: backup often and make sure that the backups work.

Thankfully it only took me 2 HOURS to get everything back to normal. Huzzah.

Let’s say you’re using Internet Explorer (IE) for web browsing. First off, stop it! Use Firefox!

Ok, for sake of argument, let’s say you have to use IE. Say you happen upon a form that you decide to fill out.

If click on a text input box and start typing text and hit Esc, it will erase the contents of that input box. This behavior also seems to exist for other text-entry form controls, i.e. password input boxes and textareas. Now, if you Tab or click to another form element, then come back to to that original input box and hit Esc, it doesn’t erase the contents at all. The single-input erasing seems to only work on your initial focus of that input box.

One more thing, if you hit Esc and then hit Esc again, it will reset the entire form to its original form.

I found all this out after playing with some AJAX additions to some forms I’m creating.

Comments are welcome.