Monthly Archives: January 2003

Making Sense of Safari

After Apple’s announcement Tuesday of Safari a number of us at QuickBase were puzzling over the announcement. We read the reviews by Ben, Mark and others, but still couldn’t quite understand the strategic imperative that led Apple to develop its own web browser. Were they so desperate to be independent from Microsoft? What was going to be so compelling about Safari that would induce web developers to support yet another browser with a minority share on a minority platform?
It was a brief post by Brent Simmons at Ranchero that finally made Safari make sense. Apple needed an real, OS-level HTML rendering engine, and none of the other makers of major browsers have had any incentive to implement one for the mac.
Here are some of the places Safari will likely be used:
Mail.app – one of the most frustrating aspects of switching back to Mac OS X from Windows earlier this year is the inability of Mac mail clients to correctly render HTML email. Most of them (mail.app and Entourage) make a halfway-decent attempt at it, but as soon as you forward or do anything with the message, the HTML disintegrates.
Although the whole point of Sherlock 3 is to provide a polished way to find and access structured data on the web, it is also badly in need of an embedded browser, usually to display the results of searches for things like eBay auction items, dictionary entries, etc.
Third-party apps – Probably the most important. One of the main obstacles preventing QuickBooks for the Mac from achieving parity with QuickBooks for Windows is the fact that large portions or the interface of the Windows version were implemented using the OS-level version of Internet Explorer as a rendering engine. You can also tell from Brent’s post that he’s excited about using the Safari rendering engine in NetNewsWire.
So go Apple. The ironic thing about this argument is that it bolsters Microsoft’s longstanding and controversial contention that the browser & HTML engine belongs as part of the OS…

New Tech investment

On Scripting News today, Dave Winer laments the lack of VC investment in new technologies in the past year.
I’m not sure I fully understand his point. The VC industry is in business to make money. For the last forty+ years, they correctly believed that investing in new technologies could be an excellent way to make money, and set up shop in Silicon Valley because that’s where most of the people that create interesting new technologies choose to live and work.
At the risk of sounding like an apologist for the VC industry, I don’t think they’re under any obligation, especially in this environment, to invest in new technology without some some firm idea that they’ll get a healthy return. Right now, that’s what’s missing.

A plug

In the past year, the best $15 I spent was for a service that shouldn’t have to exist — Fastmail.fm. For your $15, you get lifetime access to Fastmail’s authenticated SMTP server. This way, you can use your laptop to send email from any network, and circumvent annoying policies by certain DSL providers I won’t name.

Focus

Adam Curry writes that one of the things he likes most about flying a helicopter is that you can’t be distracted by anything else.
That’s also one of my favorite aspects of my two-year effort to learn to drive my old car on the racetrack. It demands (and gets) your total concentration; while you’re out on the track, you simply cannot think of anything else. So far, I’ve been here, here, here and here. It’s a real skill, combining tactile/motor skills with a real knowledge of geometry and the physics of how different actions affect a car at speed. And it’s a lot of fun.