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Category: work

10/01/10 09:54 - 53.ºF - ID#52871

Trying to get Google Chrome Frame Installed in a Corporate Setting dominated by Microsoft Products

Sorry for all these boring work posts. They probably only interest (e:tinypliny). When I was on vacation the other day I saw that Google's Chrome Frame came out of beta. I was very excited at the possibiliy of being able to have all the features of chrome to develop with at work, where we are stuck on IE due to vendor compatibility.



When an email was copied to me mentioning that symmatec, a security vendor suggested chrome frame to speed up their web apps, I was even more excited which started this whole conversation. This is a perfect example of what I often go through at work. No matter how simple the technology is, the resistence is overwhelming unless it is a microsoft technology in which case money, time, and effort flies to it like a magnet.

I really hope this works out because it would make web development so much easier. I am so sick of the lack of proper debugging tools in IE and the serious lack of modern web technology and speed in that browser. Its almost hard to imagine how much javascript kludgery I could get rid of if I didn't have to support the outdated IE javascript and CSS engines anymore.

Original Email From Person A: Fyi – just remembered the web team mentioning enhancements possible due to IE chrome pluggin and also just saw this on the Symantec console. Maybe a future discussion is in order. See lower portion of screenshot where Symantec mentions it helping console performance. Not sure what other situations or software applies.


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Me:Hey All,
Wow, that's great that even symantec is suggesting it. Now that it is out of beta, I suspect you will see it mentioned more often.

The loading of the plugin is specified by the web application itself so that it won't affect applications that don't call it. Google came up with this strategy because their newer apps have many HTML 5, CSS 3, javascript functions that are not offered by IE, including IE 9 and they recognize that corporations are locked into even older IE because of the vendor products. By offering the chrome rendering engine as a plugin for IE, they didn't need to get people to switch browsers or install two browser.

It does not force all apps to use chrome, or even let the user choose. Instead it lets the website say that it is chrome enabled by adding some extra headers which then triggers the page to load usig the chrome engine instead of the IE one - thus avoiding conflict with applications that were built to be IE only.

I am not saying don't test, I am just saying the likelyhood of it affecting any apps that do not purposely specify that it should be loaded is very low.



Person A: Well, I have it enabled on my machine and I will begin watching for any problems/concerns. I expect we can get some more people to try it out.

Is there anything that those that have it enabled can access/do that would show it's value?



Me:
Really, the value is in what it could potentially provide both in terms of browser features and speed but only for sites that have it enabled. The google apps such as google docs/gmail would be a good place to start.

That being said, the real test is not what it provides but seeing that nothing changes with your normal usage of vendor apps internally. For those apps it should offer zero benefit, but also zero detriment.



Person B: A few other things to consider beyond compatibility. How do we patch this? What is the business need for the additional effort? Is this going to notify users of updates that they cannot install. There needs to be a real business value for us to add software that increases our work load for desktop maintenance. Adding something because it is "cool" isn't a justification, especially when it increases someone else work load and eventually introduces vulnerabilities sooner or later as all plug-ins do.



Me: This has nothing to do with being cool. The time it will save us as developers and the features it offers end users are significant. HTML 5, CSS 3 and advanced javascript are the future of the web. In fact most of that is the web since two years ago but we are left behind because of being stuck with IE and especially IE 7.

Web page will rendering much faster, it allows us to use more desktop like interaction with the following features:

  • Lightning fast standards compliant javascript engine that responds 100x of times faster than IE.
  • an amazing set of developer tools in the form of a web inspector, javascript console, javascript debugger and task manager that will speed up development and testing time for us
  • Offline mode that allows apps to work offline and store data and then send when network is available
  • SQL based client side storage for keeping things like preferences etc and not needing the HTTP overhead of cookies or the 4k limit
  • drag and drop of data to and from the desktop
  • native multi file upload
  • CSS 3 - many things we currently design in web pages with code and be declared in stylesheets
  • A canvas tag which allows 2D and 3D rendering of vector data within the page an opens a whole world of flashless graphing and real time widget possibilities to our web apps.
  • An extensible element class which allows us to more easily program the DOM.

We will also have a platform that is OS agnostic as chrome runs on all three and safari uses the same rendering and javascript engine called webkit as chrome. So does mobile safari and mobile chrome.

Lets be honest, even if IE 9 supports HTML5, it is missing many of the developer and end user functions of chrome and we probably wont have it until 2015. By using this plugin we remove ourselves from having to worry about new versions of IE breaking stuff until the vendors are ready to approve it.

Additionally, google came out with an MSI installer for chrome frame that can be pushed:
Here you can see a video about it...
Paul



Person B:Not really germane if it increases operation hours maintaining it for zero business reasons. Same litmus test that all software has to pass. The cost of software maintenance on 3500 machines has to be substancially less than the demonstrative dollar value of the benefit.

It is incumbent on IT to provide a stable cost effective environment that gives the highest return the business needs.



Another Email From Person B:We don't want people using these tools and leaving proprietary data off site. So this isn't really a justification. We provide resources to do work securely.

Also creates additional overhead for the people that work to keep things working. Every piece of software must have a business justification because that free software costs Company money to test,deploy, and maintain.



Me:I was never suggesting people use google docs to store any Company data. You took that totally out of context. Person A was asking me, what he could use to test the functionality of the plugin and I was explaining that they have features that take advantage of it.

I find it ironic that you would suggest that I would be wasting Company's money when I have probably saved hundreds of thousands by choosing open technologies that significantly reduced cost since I got here in 2005. If the web team had gone in the .NET windows server, MSSQL direction our budget would have already been in the hundreds of thousands just for licensing.



Person B:
Considering I have saved in excess of $2 million over 11 years, I do know how to save money too. I also am responsible for total cost of maintaining the entire companies hardware and software matrix. Adding complexity to the desktop costs money and time, something that unless you do it can get lost. Adding this or anything else costs and if no measurable business value it is wasted money. As to the savings of a dozen operating systems, SQL, and development software no way adds up to 100's of thousands of dollars. I manage the licensing and contracts and know what those systems cost and there is no way. There has been a software savings no doubt, but at what cost?



Me: This is a plugin for the current browser that does not require the user to be trained in any way. It even has an msi installer.

A good comparison would be the flash plugin. How much does it cost you to maintain the flash plugin? From this plugin we would be getting 1000x the functionality of the flash plugin with the added advantage of a reasonable debugging utility, quicker speed, and access to modern web technologies which would allow us to build significantly more advanced web applications. After all it seems like the future of all application development is the web at this point, why restrict us to using out of date technology for the basis of all development.

Its ironic because according to your user agent, you use IE 8, not IE 7 and yet everyone else on campus is subjected to using that browser. Maybe by not using it, you just don't realize how slow it really is. Just the attached graph for speed comparison of the various browsers running the javascript sunspider benchmark. Javascript is the language that runs all interactivity on a web app. While IE 8 is only slightly behind, IE 7 is 40x slower than chrome. Because of the vendor product environment we are in, we will see very slow switchover to IE8 and IE9. Even then, what IE 8 gains in speed it is severly lacking in terms of functionality or developer tools. IE 9 begins to address things like HTML5, CSS 3 and the canvas tag but as I said before, we will probably not have that for several years.

This plugin would allow to deliver web applications using 2009-2010 technology to our internal users now instead of in 2013 when its already out of date. Additionally, with the potential to speed up everyones web application usage, the cost saving is exponential.

Paul



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Person B:
Did not claim there is user training, never had a problem on its construction or installation. Does it have a business justification is all that is asked.

I spend at least 80 hours a year when Flash updates are successful, more time when it fails then there is HD time involved. What business need is met by the 1000x functionality increase? How does that make money with process improvement or improve patient care or research? We spend a lot time working with JAVA, quicktime, Shockwave, Adobe and the problems they create with incessant updates. All of them introduce vulnerabilities, so there is risk with each piece of software. Having one more vector for vulnerabilities carries a heavy cost, have more and more it becomes untenable.

That is all well and good, but this is a business and the version level right or wrong that supports the business needs is IE7, if it was something else we would be running that. Unfortunately we don't get to dictate I wish we could. Someday the vendors will hopefully be agnostic, just not today. Maintaining an enterprise is a combination of what we want and what meets the needs. Should we have more out there because it runs better sure, can we afford to maintain it or does it enhance the business? Most things do not enhance the business process. Does increasing complexity and maintenance costs help the business when no business need it being met do what is best for the business? There needs to be a business justification for everything we put out and support. What business line application will this enable or support? What are the costs? These are the answers we need to roll out another app. The software matrix here is difficult enough to juggle and maintain. Each additional app/plug-in/client increases the complexity just as the patches we apply each month. We are here to support the organization’s goals and needs. Those needs are stability, security, process control, and reasonable cost.

The users need the technology that helps them do their job for the business, and not technology for technology sake. We always need to find ways to improve things but within the constraints of the tools that run the business and cost benefit. That is the rub.

Computers spend 99% of the time waiting for people/input. Changing the speed a page renders has no impact on savings. Save more dollars optimizing the elevators in the hospital than would be recouped on faster web page rendering.

Come up with a business justification



Person C (my boss): All, the Web Team will put together a proposal that addresses all these concerns. We will work with the VP to articulate the distinct business advantages of going the Chrome Frame route, and with Person B regarding any maintenance/upkeep issues that may exist.

We all want the Company, and specifically IT at the Company, to succeed. We've all got different ideas on how that can be accomplished.

We are all on the same team here. Let's work toward a collaborative relationship that is mutually beneficial and respectful of each other's concerns.


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Words: 2281
Location: Buffalo, NY
Last Modified: 10/03/10 01:24


Category: web

09/30/10 08:35 - 56.ºF - ID#52862

API LaborWorkX Etime Sucks

This company I work for recently bought API LaborWorkX etime - time tracking software in order to do time tracking and payroll. As a professional web programmer, I can say this is some of the worst web software I have ever seen.

First of all, the system only works in Internet Explorer and seems to have been designed that way. The UI is also beyond quirky and dated with heavy reliance on split frames.

This is their website
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This is what you get for your million (i'm guessing) dollars.
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Just check out those icons
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As I said before it does not work in any browser besides Internet Explorer. I wanted to investigate why and found that on every page it loads up this seriously ancient javascript browser detection library but never really needs it because it blocks non Explorer agents on the server side.

The interesting part is that the code reads like a historical compendium of what was the web between 1999-2001. The are references to mac 68k, windows 3.1, vax, vms, irix, etc.

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Here is the whole thing in a PDF ::READ PDF::

To make it worse, most of the code on that script is commented out. Then why freakin' load it on every page load! If that glaring mistake didn't catch any sort of code review, it makes me think the entire application is probably full of crap speghetti code, copy and pasted from all over the internet.

The whole system seems so rickety. Search for them I found some org has their system on the internet which is even scarier considering how sketchy the code might be if there is the likes of the script above lying around. You can see their browser detection script in action there

In the end this is why I never trust websites with big glossy pictures of people. For some reason business people seem to think they are the best image but to me they scream lipstick on a pig.
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Location: Buffalo, NY
Last Modified: 10/01/10 01:51


Category: food

09/29/10 01:42 - 60.ºF - ID#52856 pmobl

Blue Fin Bistro on Elmwood

The food was tasty. I am a fan of the mixed Asian cuisine. I had fried rice and the nigiri lunch special. The menu was overwhelmingly similar to the one at Wasabi. Either they are related the menus are prefab for Asian restaurants, or they totally ripped them off.

The food was really yummy. I would totally go back.

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Location: Buffalo, NY
Last Modified: 09/29/10 01:42


Category:

09/28/10 12:40 - 69.ºF - ID#52847

Ace of Diamonds

I love gems, so the opportunity to dig up came up I jumped on it. (e:terry) and I spent Sunday afternoon smashing up rocks with sledgehammers in the hopes of locating crystals.

It is hard freakin work. In the first half hour we found like 20 gems. After that it went downhill and we spent like 2 hours smashing rocks to no avail.

I left the one big crystal we found in the matrix to remember the hard work.

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And the video

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Location: Buffalo, NY
Last Modified: 09/28/10 07:30


Category: haircuts

09/28/10 11:44 - 68.ºF - ID#52846 pmobl

New Haircut

I am not sure how many more possibilities there are.

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Permalink: New_Haircut.html
Words: 12
Location: Buffalo, NY
Last Modified: 09/28/10 11:44


Category: houses

09/26/10 05:36 - 60.ºF - ID#52840 pmobl

House For Matthew

Not even sure where I took this pic - I think it was in Herkimer - but I made (e:terry) pull over because I knew (e:matthew) would love this house both in style and color.

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Location: Buffalo, NY
Last Modified: 09/26/10 05:36


Category: hiking

09/26/10 05:32 - 60.ºF - ID#52839

Mass Grave

While hiking we came upon a mass grave for picnick tables at Glimmerglass state park.

It looked like this from the top.
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And like this once you saw over the ridge.
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Location: Buffalo, NY
Last Modified: 09/26/10 07:12


Category: food

09/26/10 05:28 - 60.ºF - ID#52838 pmobl

Camping Dinnet Saturday

Ever meal at camp was amazing. My favorite was rack of lamb cooked on a campfire with homemade mint sauce.

(e:hodown)'s boyfriend Max and I made coals from some pine we collected.The Lamb was cooked perfect. I think (e:hodown) and I ate one rack each.

I made the mint sauce with peppermint tea and sugar. We had salad, heirloom tomatoes, brocolini and garlic smashed potatoes as a side.

After dinner we sat around the fire for hours. I brought organic heavy creme and strawberries for the trip but no beaters. No one thought it was possible but I managed to whip it into whipcreme with two forks and a speghetti ladel. Although it had a faint Smokey flavor from beating it around the campfire, I think that made it even better.

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Location: Buffalo, NY
Last Modified: 09/26/10 05:28


Category: camping

09/26/10 05:14 - 60.ºF - ID#52837 pmobl

Luxury Cabin Camping

For a completely different kind of camping experience than usual, we met (e:hodown) and her friends (Lisa and Max) in the middle of the state at Betty and Wilbur Davis state park. Unlike, our normal tent camping this cabin had it all - it came wirh dishes, utensils, sheets, hot water -even a refrigerator and dishawasher. Had I realized how it was ahead of time I would have invited (e:Mike). It would have finally been a camping experience he could handle :)

It was a great time.

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Permalink: Luxury_Cabin_Camping.html
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Location: Buffalo, NY
Last Modified: 09/26/10 05:14


Category: driving

09/24/10 05:06 - 84.ºF - ID#52828 pmobl

Highway on the beautiful day

Outside on the cold cloudy days.

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Permalink: Highway_on_the_beautiful_day.html
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Location: Buffalo, NY
Last Modified: 09/24/10 05:06


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