Archive for October 1st, 2006

Nokia: bloody idiotic bugs

God darn it, I am so pissed off at Nokia again. I made a report in the past about this issue but now they have ported the latest version of their S40 browser to S60 (that’s the “Services” browser), but the bug is STILL there. So basically, I had a perfectly functioning Services browser on my E61, then I upgraded the firmware to the latest stable one, and now the “100% width” bug has been carried through from S40 to S60. I hate Nokia for that. How the hell is it possible to release a browser to the wild that its table widths are completely screwed up? Both osnews.com and gnomefiles.org render like shit now on the Services browser and a quick change to use CSS styling instead of the HTML width tag, did NOT fix the problem. The problem is that the browser does not know what “100% width” really is (happens on tables that have lots of text in them). It has a bug in the way it calculates the actual width of the screen (in either ’small screen’ or ‘original’ screen mode), a bug that was introduced with the release of the S40 3rd Edition platform.

Yes, I know that all future Nokia S60 devices won’t include the S40 “Services” browser anymore (they will only include WebKit), but the problem is that there are MILLIONS of users out there right now with these broken browser versions. WHAT THE HELL am I supposed to do about these users? We have HUNDRENDS of hits on osnews daily from Nokia users! And no, moving 100% to CSS is not a solution for our mobile version because that means that we leave out a large portion of our mobile users without proper mobile support, as the vast majority of embedded and mobile browsers don’t support CSS yet. I am definitely not going to create a yet another special version of osnews just for Nokia browsers (neither it’s possible to distinguish from the user agent between the ‘Services’ browsers 2.x and 3.x in order to autodetect and optimize for each). All I ask is for Nokia to fix the damn bug immediately because it’s a very embrarassing one!

UPDATE: I now try to somewhat autodetect the Services browser (even if it’s not the buggy 3.x version) and when such a browser hits osnews.com I don’t specify a width=”100%” on the tables and their cells. While this makes things a tiny bit better, it does NOT fix the problem completely (and it might even create problems to the Services 2.x version). Here’s the PHP code:

$agent = getenv("HTTP_USER_AGENT");
if (preg_match("/Nokia/i", $agent))
{
if (!preg_match("/WebKit/i", $agent) && !preg_match("/Opera/i", $agent) && !preg_match("/UP.Browser/i", $agent) && !preg_match("/Netfront/i", $agent) && !preg_match("/Doris/i", $agent) && !preg_match("/Nokia-Communicator-WWW-Browser/i", $agent))
{ $Browser = "Nokia-Services"; }
}
if ($Browser!="Nokia-Services") { echo "width=100%"; }

Nokia engineers, if you are reading this, because of my newly implemented hack above, osnews.com is not your best test site to reproduce the bug (although the bug still exists on some tables there). Please go to GnomeFiles.org instead to fully reproduce the bug and hopefully fix it.

A look at SongBird 0.2-pre

I just installed Songbird, the open source alternative to iTunes that’s built using the Mozilla XUL engine. It works and it seems pretty stable, but there are still a few things missbehaving. Namely:

1. Both the black and white themes are terrible and unusable. There are no clear cut lines to easily distinguish between widgets (especially in the attribute TAG dialog) and that makes the UI very tiresome. iTunes’ widgets and shades of colors used on the UI is way more pleasant as the brain doesn’t have to try hard to distinguish what is what and where one group of widgets starts and where it ends.
2. The Playlist bar on the left is too long and too filled up with crap. Sure, you can remove whatever you don’t need, but “defaults matter”. And the “Services” list is pretty long too.
3. It doesn’t support Bonjour and so I can’t load my husband’s iTunes library from his Mac on my Windows PC running Songbird. I can’t share either.
4. Each time I click on one of the services and then I go back to “Library” Songbird does not remember the song(s) I had selected when I left and so it displays the beginning of the list. This is extremely irritating, especially when trying to populate a DAAP and you need to change views back and forth.
5. I can’t drag n drop a song from the Library to the destkop or a folder. iTunes can do that.
6. NO Gapless Playback!! UGGH…
7. Slow. On my Powerbook G4 867 Mhz while using the OS normally and running Songbird, it results in non-smooth playback.

8. No way to import CDs and rip them. And even if they add that in the future, will it be as full-featured as iTunes’? (e.g. automatically rip after insert and then eject CDs)
9. How the hell do I add an .m3u or a .pls playlist on this app? I don’t want to open these files with a text editor and then copy/paste their URL to the “subscription” dialog! I want Songbird to “get it” automatically when I DnD such a file on it.
10. When I press a character in the Library mode it does not automatically select the first artist or song (depending how the list is sorted by) that its name starts with that character.
11. No EQ. No ability to minimize the application to tray.
12. Its preferences are complicated, because it’s a copy/paste from Firefox’s prefs. Users who use a media player want simplicity. “Songbird should check to see if it is the default BROWSER when starting“. What the hell?
13. You might laugh on this gripe, but it’s a SIGN as to how polished an application is or it’s not: The process name is “xulrunner.exe” and not “songbird.exe”.
14. When playing a song it doesn’t change its background color in the library listing. Sure, there is a “Find Current Track” button, but it’s not as intuitive because the user has to LEARN what all buttons do instead of having visual pointers as to what is what.
15. Starts at 35 MBs of RAM and after 20 minutes it’s at 90MBs. Changing the theme makes the app leaking some memory for a while, then it stabilizes and then it uses more and more memory but at a slower pace. I am currently at 107 MBs after 25 minutes of using the app.

I am not saying that SongBird is bad, it’s at version 0.2-pre anyways. But it’s no iTunes killer just yet and therefore I don’t see a good reason to switch to it — yet. My biggest gripes with it are performance and memory consumption problems rather than missing features though.