Posted in Rants, Technology and Software

Pointing Back Down the Trail

Mood: Cooler, under a Great Grey Cloud
Listening to: Some breathy noise (?)

This is a wee bit of a rant, but it’s been building up for a long while.

Luck at last! I obtained a second hand iMac G4 with System X. It was a big leap forward from my old Mac. It looks better, holds more, takes up less room, runs more quietly… and I can finally use the Firefox and Safari browsers.

I can’t describe the relief, as the old system was crumbling about my ears. When you’re on System 9, you can’t visit all the sites because of the unsupported browsers, and the ones you can visit load slowly and look terrible. You keep coming across people saying if you want to view their site properly you should switch to Firefox, Opera or Safari. Some say it more pleasantly than others – I don’t mind if it’s said kindly, but it makes my hair stand on end when someone says this in a waspish tone to the world at large. Perhaps they don’t realize you can only use Firefox, Opera and Safari if you have System X, and you can really only have System X if your computer is up to it – and not everybody can afford to upgrade.

Surfing around on my creaky old browsers in search of a compatible solution, I found some even worse attitudes – those who claimed (in accents of withering scorn) that anyone still using System 9 on the Mac should have their heads examined.

Well, I’ll try and be patient – perhaps they were only 13 and thought they knew everything.

If you’re still using System 9 on a slow old Mac that crashes when you have more than three windows open, takes ages to download a simple news page, has a really serious blackout when it tries to load a Sky ad, and there’s no chance of getting System X any time soon… well, iCab could be the way forward.

I had an iCab beta browser and it was very neat, very quick to download, installed beautifully, showed some sites correctly when I.E.5 didn’t, and visited those sites (may they crash and burn) which, if you tried to visit them with I.E.5, simply fobbed you off with a notice along the lines: “your browser is too old to handle our wonderful, sophisticated site. Go away and bother somebody else, you lowly earthworm.”

A friend from a computing lab tells me he refuses to visit sites like that on principle. Quite right too. But if you still need to visit such a site and I.E.5 doesn’t get you there, iCab might.

The main problem with my iCab beta browser (the version I had) was a JavaScript issue… probably something I could have fixed if I’d looked into it. Every so often it would freeze, and then deliver the following error message: ‘JavaScript execution is too slow or the script is stuck in an endless loop. Would you like to run the script another 15 seconds or would you like to abort this script or all scripts of the document?’

Needless to say I always opted for ‘abort’ – which usually meant bloggers in Blogger didn’t get my comments unless I went back to I.E.5 to deliver them. Well, as I said, maybe there was a way around that problem I didn’t find.

Meanwhile, Internet Explorer for the Mac has been withdrawn – there will be no further development and it’s no longer available for download. A potted history of this browser is in Wikipedia.

My sister didn’t seem to mind – she waved her fingers happily at the screen. “Bye bye!” she cried, beaming. I was just thinking I should check new websites in I.E., but I can’t… hmm. I shouldn’t get rid of my old Mac just yet, perhaps, as I still have I.E.5 on it. Maybe one day they’ll put it in the museum.

It’s fantastic not to have these problems any more, and to be able to see people’s sites the way they want me to see them. Yet I haven’t forgotten that, not so long ago, I was straggling behind – and it wasn’t out of sloth, cantankerousness or any other undesirable personal trait…

Edit Feb 2008: Comments to this post when it was hosted on Blogigo:

mistwarrier wrote at Jul 29, 2006 at 09:12:
fantastic about the new computer and am so happy for you

Pacian wrote at Jul 30, 2006 at 17:08:
Ooh, yes. You’ve touched on a pet peeve of mine here – computer snobs. It never seems to occur to them that people might not be able to *afford* an upgrade, or that they might want to spend their money on something other than computers.

Diddums wrote at Jul 30, 2006 at 20:08:
Sometimes I wonder if they know where to get things cheap, and assume it’s the same for everybody.



I live in the UK with two cats -- Samson and Delilah.

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