Posts tagged ‘IE’

Dear Bank of America: Are We Still Living in 1995?

I just encountered my second major piece of software used by Bank of America for my business accounts that will only work with Internet Explorer and most definitely will not work with Chrome.  Their ACH/Treasury/Direct Payments system has to run on Internet Explorer (only) and now I find their secure email system that sends me all my merchant account notices does not work on Chrome and only works on IE.

I am just waiting for the moment that a Bank of America tech support person tells me I have to use Netscape.

Identity Theft

My wife and I signed up for Lifelock this week.  Lifelock is a company that puts rolling 90-day fraud alerts on your credit files at the major credit companies.  In practice, this means that the credit agency must call you and get your verbal permission to issue a credit report or check to any third party.  They also claim to stop most pre-approved credit offers.  Their approach to identity theft is the best one that I have heard about yet.   I will see how it works in practice.  Anyone with experiences with this or similar companies are encouraged to post comments.

By the way, I saw a week or so ago that there is a bill in Congress that touches on this practice in some way, but now I can't find the link.

Postscript:  I had trouble with their web sign-up using Firefox.  It went smoothly when I switched to IE.

Microsoft Browser Mistake?

About ten years ago, I remember Microsoft started to get pounded by observers for "missing out" on the Internet.  One of their responses was the development of Internet Explorer, which, thanks to a good design and the fact it was bundled with the OS, quickly beat out Netscape and other incumbents.

Recently, PC-Pundit John Dvorak has argued that Microsoft's foray into Explorer has been its biggest blunder.  I'm not usually a Dvorak fan (I find him to be too much of a technocrat, tending to favor top-down standard setting over messy bottom-up innovation) but I thought his take was pretty interesting:

I think it can now be safely said, in hindsight, that Microsoft's entry
into the browser business and its subsequent linking of the browser
into the Windows operating system looks to be the worst decision"”and
perhaps the biggest, most costly gaffe"”the company ever made. I call it
the Great Microsoft Blunder....

If the problem is not weird legal cases against the company, then
it's the incredible losses in productivity at the company from the
never-ending battle against spyware, viruses, and other security
problems. All the work that has to go into keeping the browser afloat
is time that could have been better spent on making Vista work as first

All of Microsoft's Internet-era public-relations and legal problems
(in some way or another) stem from Internet Explorer. If you were to
put together a comprehensive profit-and-loss statement for IE, there
would be a zero in the profits column and billions in the losses

Yeah, I know, the Internet was supposed to be the next platform for applications taking over from the PC.  This has always been a slow phenomena to emerge (I LIKE having my applications on my own PC and available even if Cox cable is having another hiccup) and its not at all clear you need a browser to play well anyway.  While Microsoft has screwed around with Explorer and dot-net, Google has become the gold standard of web-based applications, and they don't have a browser at all.

By the way, if you are waiting for the new version of Explorer, just get Firefox instead.  It is everything Microsoft is trying to make Explorer and it is there already.  And you don't even have to think in Russian to use it.  (OK, did anyone get my movie reference there or am I a total loser?)

Hat tip to the Mises Blog.

Browser Market Share? Depends on Who You Ask

I have been a marketer for almost 20 years, and one of the classic mistakes in marketing is to rely too much on your own experience and preferences.  Its often easy to fall into the trap of saying "everyone I know would like that" or vice versa, only to find that "everyone you know" are not necessarily representative of the market as a whole.

When I was a consultant at McKinsey & Co., we often asked people we were interviewing questions like "what is the market size for window glass in Mexico".  The key to successfully completing the exercise was to break the problem down into cascading assumptions, each of which could theoretically be researched and checked.  For example, with the window glass problem, a good answer might be:

The glass market is probably made up of housing, commercial buildings, automotive, and other.  Take the housing market.  Assume 80% of the market is new construction.  Assume the population of Mexico is 50 million, and there are 5 people per home, so there are 10 million homes, and lets assume the housing stock is increased by 5 % a year and that each home has 100 square feet of glass..  etc etc.

It was kind of fun to see if they get to the right answer, but the whole point was to see how they could break down and analytical problem.  The reason I bring up this whole episode was sometimes we would ask our recruits, typically Ivy Leaguers, to come up with the market size for annual snow ski sales.  So they would work through the logic that there are 300 million people in the US and x% ski and these people replace their skis on average every 5 years, etc.  However, it always made me laugh that these folks would be guaranteed to miss the number way, way high.  Why?  Because in coming up with the percentage of people that ski, they would look around the room and say, well 80% of my friends ski and so lets assume 30 or 40 or even more percent of Americans snow ski.  In fact, I have not looked up the number lately, but the actual percentage of Americans that ski is something less than 5%.  Recruits intuition was fooled because, at least in terms of skiing, they were surrounded by an anomalous population.

All of this is a long, long, overly long intro into an interesting set of facts around browser share between IE and Firefox.  A while back I wrote that, from my traffic logs for this site, Firefox appears to be killing IE.  In fact, since I posted this, Firefox has gained even more share on this site:


Now, to the issue of this post, one might suspect that my traffic might not be representative of the whole market.  I would argue that blog readers probably are heavier Internet users, more Internet-savvy on average, and therefore more likely to have investigated browser alternatives beyond the one pre-loaded on their PC.  It turns out that I have a way to test this.  I have another group of sites for my business, including sites for Forest Service Campgrounds, Lake Havasu Jetski Rentals, and Campground Jobs.  The readers of these sites tend to be older on average and less computer proficient.  The browser market share at these sites looks like this:


Wow, that is a huge difference.  Take it from me, its unusual to find a market segmentation that dramatic.  It makes me wonder about all of the talk about blogs replacing the MSM.  How much are we breathing our own exhaust?

Postscript: This is an age-old problem and takes many forms in many businesses.  For example, thousands of farmers have bankrupted themselves in the commodities futures markets making bets on worldwide crop prices based on their local weather and harvest expectations.

Disclosure: Yes, I did take the opportunity to shamelessly Google bomb my own sites.  Sorry.  I don't do it very often, maintaining a pretty solid firewall between my business and blog.

Firefox Share at 19%, IE down to 65%

This is my browser mix here at Coyote BLog this week:

UPDATE:  I just checked, and Firefox is at 25% today. IE under 60%. I seem to be
single-handedly bringing down Microsoft. Maybe thats how I will make
money with this site - Bill Gates will pay to shut it down [cue Dr.
Evil with pinky at corner of mouth saying "one Miiillliiiioonnnn

Dave Berry, Libertarian (and Dang Funny, too)

I found this interview with Dave Berry in Reason Magazine while cleaning up some of my IE favorites.  Its a bit old, but still fun to read.  A sample:

If we're spending $853 trillion on some program now, and next year we spend any less, that's "budget-cutting" to them. For them, the question is always, "What kind of government intervention should we impose on the world?" They never think that maybe we shouldn't.

It gives me a real advantage as a humorist because I get credit for having insight and understanding--and I don't. I don't have any insight or understanding on anything about the government. All I think is that it' s stupid--which is the one perspective that' s almost completely lacking in Washington.

His discussion of why libertarianism won't lead to everyone having sex with dogs is priceless.  No, I am not going to explain this, you have to read it.

Coming to Love FeedDemon

I have been looking for a good feed reader for a while.  I don't like the online solutions, for the same reasons I don't like web-based email clients  - they are slow and awkward to navigate.  I tried one or two that were supposed to integrated into IE, but they crashed my system, and I am trying to move to Firefox anyway.  I have not yet tried the new Mozilla email client called Thunderbird, but I am told it has a feed reader in it.

FeedDemon is a third party standalone app that is a combination of feed reader with tabbed browsing to pursue links in feeds.  The embedded browser can be switched between IE and Firefox, but even with the IE code, it has tabbed browsing!  I have been very happy with it.

The only complaint I had was that it was difficult to synchronize my already-read feeds between home and work.  For a week or so, I carried a usb memory key back and forth with the cache, but this was a Kluge.  Fortunately, the FeedDemon 1.5 beta has (almost) fixed this.  By integrating with bloglines, I do not get repeats at work of feeds I read at home.  There are only 2 downsides to this:

  • You have to go online to bloglines to add a new feed to your reading list, though this is pretty fast
  • Feeds downloaded at the office do not show up at all at home.  This is not what I ultimately want.  What I really want is to be able to download and have on my computer all feeds in both locations, but with the read/un-read status synchronized.  This may already be possible, but I can't figure out how.  Since this is a beta, I am sure more improvements are to come.

30 day free trial.  Recommended.

Spell Checking TypePad

So far, I have had a really good experience getting this site up on TypePad. The one problem I have had with an otherwise very well thought out tool is the lack of spell check. I am a completely dysfunctional speller, and HAVE to have spell check.

Another blogger recommended ieSpell, which can add a button to your IE tool bar, or, as I use it, add an option to the right click menu. So far, this tool has been a lifesaver. Highly recommended.