February 24, 2005

While I Was Out

So I go away for a week, and a couple of big stories rock the blogosphere. It figures. That’s what I get for writing about so much local stuff lately, and ignoring the internet at large. So here’s what’s been going on, stuff you’ve probably already read on a hundred thousand other blogs:

New version of IE announced

It was kind of inevitable, but we didn’t know if it would actually happen. I speculated last month that Microsoft would release Internet Explorer 7 for Windows XP users before Longhorn was released, and now it seems like it’s coming true. The only details they’re letting loose is that it will have “better security”, leaving everyone to speculate on the likelihood of better standards support and tabbed browsing. There are way too many sites to link to, so just go through Google and Google News. The beta is due this summer. Of course, it may be too late to win back everyone who switched to Firefox.

Google pisses everyone off

Speaking of Google, they’re at the heart of last week’s second big story. It seems that they forgot how Microsoft got strung up by their nads for contemplating including Smart Tags in IE6, so now they’re doing the same thing with their Google Toolbar. The new Toolbar includes “AutoLink”, which is supposed to scan the sites you visit and automatically add links to the page in order to be “helpful”. It will link any ISBNs it finds to Amazon.com, and any street addresses will be linked to Google Maps. This is bad for the same reason Smart Tags was bad. It’s just plain wrong to go around changing people’s text like that, and links (or the absence of links) are certainly part of the text.

The usual suspects like Google Watch are speaking out against AutoLink, but plenty of people who have been pro-Google are also denouncing it as a Very Bad Thing. It looks like this is going to be a litmus test for Google’s supposed motto, “Don’t Be Evil”. The world has proclaimed AutoLink to be evil. Will Google pay attention?

The Diner

Okay, so this isn’t a “big story”, just a minor treat for making it to the end of the post. I came back to find that James Lileks had started a podcast, The Diner. The same kind of stuff he does on his site (e.g., going into way too much detail about some forgotten pop culture tidbit from before any of us were born), only now in audio form. It’s great. It’s should be daily, but since he already does more in 24 hours than I do in 24 months, I’ll cut him some slack.

Filed under The Computer Vet Weblog

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