Thursday, December 29, 2005

What I Don't Like About The Web

Web pages seem to be created by web designers and web developers using local network bandwidth, brand new high end computer hardware, with the latest web browsers that are loaded with every imaginable plug-in. Web pages seem to be never tested in any other environment.

For users at businesses, high speed network connectivity with hardware that is three years old or less seems to be the norm. These users often put up with slow pages, but the web sites often at least work.

One should be able to use Netscape 3.1 on my 1987 vintage Mac II, with my 2400 BAUD external modem, and pages should come up quickly. OK, so the real time kids games won't happen. Also, it doesn't matter that movies would take forever to download. The '87 Mac won't show them anyway, despite the fact that Quicktime was originally written on the 1987 Mac II. A 16.7 MHz 68020 just doesn't have the horsepower for full screen movies, without regard to video acceleration. For that matter, it takes an eon just to decode and display a full screen jpg image. Still, one ought to be able to read text with a few pictures without the thing locking up, requiring a reboot. I should be able to connect to my bank without Java, Javascript or Flash, and get my balance, and make simple transfers. And next year, one should not have to upgrade my computer, operating system, and browsing software just to do it. Netscape 3.1 understands forms, images and styled text. That's where almost all the content on the internet that is at all interesting is still.

OK, maybe 19 years is too much backward compatibility. The web isn't even that old. Perhaps it is amazing that such a machine could ever surf. But ten years isn't out of the question. That puts the bar at 1996. The web existed then. Any browser built back then that can cope with styled text, images and forms should be fine. In particular, Lynx is text only. It knows how to ignore styled text, and images, and handles forms. I can't use it with my bank, because it does not handle Javascript. Yet, my bank ends up using simple forms to actually allow account balances and transfers. Lynx is good enough to show the article about newly discovered rings around Uranus. Laugh if you like. This is content.

While we're at backward compatibility, consider PDF documents. One should not post PDF documents that absolutely require the most recent version of the acrobat reader. In particular, I shouldn't have to upgrade to the new version, because zero cost isn't zero cost. Adobe has started inserting adware into their free readers, and on a slow modem, it still takes roughly forever to download the new version. Further, most people on the internet are incompetent to install anything properly. That's right. Most people do not upgrade their computers in any significant way. They either get a friend who is competent to do it for them, or they don't upgrade. Richer people actually buy a new machine when it gets infected with malware, and abandon the old stuff to their basements. I'm not making this up. The upgrade and install burden becomes huge for the competent. Perhaps I should start charging. I don't want a shrubbery. Perhaps pizza.

So, here's an offer. Point me to your web site. I'll test it with Netscape 3.1, 4.7, Netscape 6.x, Lynx, and a couple versions of Firefox. I'll also test with a 33 MHz 486 with 16 MB RAM on a 2400 BAUD modem. Not only that, but I'll test with the '87 Mac II on a 14.4 KBAUD modem. All on a slow modem. My modem is 56K BAUD, but my SBC, sorry, AT&T, (it is hard to keep up with this merger nonsense thing too), phone line is so poor, that 5600 BAUD is not possible. Mostly, 28.8 KBAUD is all i get. I'll tell you in no uncertain terms what is wrong with your site, and all you need to do is send me $100. Cheap.

No comments: