Bog Roll :: web

It's Not Magic, It's Work!

04 Apr 2011

Web Stats

It's been a while since I reported web stats for my web server. A lot has happened since 2009. Google has thrown a lot of effort at pushing their Chrome browser, Microsoft have eventually woken up and released a half decent browser - though only for their new operating system, and Mozilla have radically updated Firefox.

Browser Engine 2007 2008 2011 to date
MS IE 72.3 66.4 31.8
Mozilla Gecko 22.7 30.2 54.8
Opera 2.0 1.5 2.2
khtml/web-kit 3.0 2.0 11.3

It's fair to say that MSIE has lost a catastrophic amount of market share. While IE9 is generally considered a good browser, it's limited to Windows Vista and 7, which still don't have much market share, relative to Windows XP. All the competition make their browser available for Windows XP, so many Windows users are clearly voting with their feet and using another browser than the one Microsoft provide.

Mozilla seems to be doing very well with Firefox. Version 4 hasn't been released long enough to show up much in these statistic but as in previous years most Firefox users are using the more recent versions, suggestion more upgrade loyalty than IE.

Opera continues to hang on, it clearly hasn't made the break through they would like, but it also hasn't disappeared without trace.

Finally there is the amazing khtml/web-kit family of browsers. In the past this was just the Linux/KDE browser Konqueror, but more recently Apple use it for Safari and Google based Chrome on it. Most of these hits are from Chrome (7.6%) with Safari picking up the balance (3.8%). While it's clear that Safari has gone up, more than doubled, Chrome is clearly the winner in the new browser stakes.

18 Nov 2010

Apache Proxy

Many moons ago I set up a number of Apache web servers. I tinkered with various modules, one being the proxy tools. While I may have a go with nginx in the near future for performance reasons, Apache/mod_proxy isn't something I've used or needed in a very long time.

Today I set up mod_proxy and mod_proxy_http on a work server, to solve a problem with sub-optimal server architecture because of weak technical understanding in the marketing team in another part of the company in another country. It's a classic technical fix that should not be required...

11 Apr 2010

Microsoft Panic

For years Microsoft left IE to rust and in the process held the whole Internet back for years. There was no point in making a decent modern web site that followed the standards, while every modern browser would work fine, IE didn't and as it commanded a near monopoly you excluded most users.

Gradually Mozilla's Firefox and more recently Apple's Safari and Google's Chrome have increased market share to such a point that many people have actually upgraded to a better browser and it's now worth making modern sites. As people have started to use modern sites they have started to notice that IE is poor and slow in comparison to everything else.

Microsoft couldn't do anything other than actually upgrade their browser, even they couldn't spin their way out of the mess of their own creation. First came IE7 then IE8, and even though it was possible that they would give up, there may even be an IE9. It's fair to say that while each new version is better than it's predecessor, they are not as good as the alternatives, IE is slow and buggy no matter how you look at it when compared with Opera, Chrome, Safari and Firefox.

A few weeks ago the EU forced Microsoft to offer their Windows customers a choice of browser to European customers. Now that people know that they are actually supposed to pick a browser and they don't have to have IE, the market share of ever other browser than IE has gone up again, and IE has fallen drastically low in some markets.

As as result Microsoft has gotten of their arse and started to improve their product, IE9 may support an almost complete set of standards, nearly a decade late but still better late than never. Secondly they have started to advertise their product, as they can't rely on ramming it down people's throat as they have done previously.

Love them or hate them, but when Microsoft became a monopoly they stopped bothering and just milked their monopoly for all it was worth. Even if you like their technology it's very hard to defend their almost total lack of innovation in the past decade.

09 Feb 2010

British Government Insanity

Just as most other governments are advising people not to use Microsoft IE, the British government is actually encouraging people to use it. It's utter insanity...

Government advice: Browse safely with Microsoft (sic).

Anyone who knows anything about the Internet would not let a child use it unsupervised or use IE when there are many better and safer browsers to choose. Yet again the UK government in the pocket of Microsoft.

14 Oct 2009

Arora and Chrome

Now and then I do some web development work. I therefore play around with various web browsers to see how the render different pages, and see how fast or slow then run.

I used Netscape from the early betas through to version 4 when it became an obsolete and buggy monster. I then spent a lot of time using Opera until the Mozilla Gecko browsers became stable and useable, when I switched to Firefox (in it's many names). I've mostly used Firefox ever since. Even though it's always better than IE (which is slow and buggy) I've started to find Firefox too slow for general browsing.

For the past month or so I've been using the Arora Browser. It's based on the same KHTML/WebKit rendering engine that Konqeror and Safari use but uses a light weight Qt front end. I've found it much faster than Firefox on the same box and even faster than Konqeror.

Today I tried Google's Chrome. Like Arora it's based on KHTML/WebKit but uses an (ugly - in my opinion) GTK front end rather than Qt/KDE. Web pages seem fast, the more complex ones are faster than Arora and therefore everything else. The less complex the page the less the speed advantage over Arora. So far no crashes, but without an AdBlocker I don't think it will get that much use...

29 Jun 2009

To Bing For

Recently Microsoft replaced their also-ran web search engine MSN Live Search with an all new Google beating search engine called "Bing". Their old search engine wasn't actually that bad, it's just that no body used it, so along with a redesign they came up with a new name that they thought would be more catchy.

Just like Google they want Bing to enter normal language and for people to use it by default - gradually pushing Google into the same obscurity as Netscape, Stac, AOL, Yahoo!, Real and countless other companies that MS decided to destroy.

So here we go with some examples of how to use "Bing".

  • To Bing for - to look in vain
  • I Binged it - I looked and couldn't find it
  • I've been Binged - I've been swamped with irrelevant commercial data

and so on... The old MSN Live engine wasn't too bad, sometimes it was even better than Google but no one used it. Considering this is Microsoft's nth go at search it's sad that it's actual worse than it's predecessor...

05 May 2009

IE's Fall From Grace

IE is one of the most hated browsers if you are a web designer. It's buggy, unreliable, incompatible between versions and very common. To be fair, after many years of neglect, Microsoft have upgraded it and version 7 and 8 are clearly much better than version 6. The problem is that most Microsoft users don't seem to have upgraded from 6 to 7 and almost no body is using version 8.

For most of this year the ratio of IE users to Mozilla Gecko based browser has been shifting strongly against Microsoft, with Firefox and IE now at equal billing as the most common browsers most of the time. If you factor in the other Gecko based browsers, then Microsoft is no longer the most common browser almost all the time.

It's clear than IE users are not upgrading to the newer versions even though they are better. It's also clear that Firefox will be the dominant browser to visit my site and indeed many more sites by the end of this year.

Of the other browsers Opera continues to struggle, which is a terrible shame as it's very fast, works on many systems and has a good security track record. The KHTML based browsers such as Safari, Chrome and Konqeror don't seem to be making headway either, of them Safari is clearly the most common and though backed by Google, Chrome is less common than Konqeror - which is odd as Konqeror is a Linux browser and Chrome is Windows based and there are far more Windows desktops than Linux ones.

Next year's aggregate statistic may show some striking differences with last years stats.

09 Apr 2009

Internet Explorer 8

So far this year I've not seen many people use IE8 to visit my web site. Of the IE users, IE6 is still by far the most common version with 68.5% of the IE user-base, with IE7 coming in a very poor second with only 27.5%. At the moment there are more IE5 and IE4 users out there than IE8 - that can't be good news for Microsoft.

Amongst Firefox users, 82.8% are on the latest version, which should give them the best possible user experience and the safest browsing possible with the Firefox platform.

Comparing the two and excluding all other browsers, the most popular browser on 48.1% is IE6, followed by FF3 on 24.7% and in third place is IE7 on 19.3%. The overall split of IE to FF is very much as last year - no major change. Microsoft are still holding on to their monopoly but dangerously for them they are getting very little upgrade to newer versions.

As with browsers, Windows users seem to be reluctant to upgrade to the latest version of Windows, XP still outnumbers Vista users by an order of magnitude, which can't be good news given that XP is antique and Vista it's self is due for replacement this year...

04 Apr 2009

Search Words

I check my server logs almost every day. I'm mostly looking for broken links or strange behaviours. For example a few years ago I spotted a lot of bandwidth theft from MySpace users so I put a stop to that and this spring I saw a lot of probing for PHP bugs (I don't use PHP myself, but other less fortunate people do). Normally I'm not usually interested in what people actually look at on the server.

The search word hits that show up are interesting though. The top word hits for 2009 are:

  • d'enguerrand / enguerrand
  • ecuries / ecurie
  • debian
  • dns / bind
  • dhcp
  • linux
  • ddns
  • perl
  • dynamic
  • file

I host my sister-in-law's stable web site Les Ecuries d'Enguerrand, I wrote an article on how to set up Dynamic DNS and DHCP on Debian and I wrote a finding duplicate files script in Perl - an interesting subset of the site. Last year XML/RSS and XSLT were popular search terms but not this year...

23 Mar 2009

SlideShare Fame

It may only last a few hours but my most recent presentation: "How-To Impress", has been showcased by the SlideShare editorial team in the "How-to & DIY" section.

In two days it's had a quarter of the viewings that my most popular presentation has had in 7 months! Evidently Powerpoint is a better tag than Perl..!

11 Mar 2009

IE8 but no IE9!

If you believe /. IE8 will be the last browser in the IE family, there will be no IE9 as Microsoft are throwing in the towel. IE has been a security nightmare for them and as it makes them no money it's just a constant drain on resources.

What this probably means, is that they have at long last decided to stop hacking on the rotting corpse that is the IE Trident engine, and will probably do a clean write from ground up as only Microsoft can, or more sensibly and less likely just apply a skin to a freely available open-source browser engine as Google and Apple have.

02 Jan 2009

Web Site Statistics

Now and then I pay attention to my web sites statistics. Mostly I'm only interested it looking if there is any strange behaviour going on, I don't look at any other details mostly. Today I've updated my reports for 2009 and took the opportunity to collate simple descriptive statistics for the past few years.

Browser Engine 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
MS IE 80.5 76.4 86.8 83.8 81.5 74.1 65.6 72.3 66.4
Mozilla Gecko 1.0 2.6 4.3 11.0 9.5 18.6 28.3 22.7 30.2
Netscape (classic) 18.6 20.0 7.2 2.9 3.8 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Opera 0.0 1.1 1.7 1.5 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.0 1.5
khtml/web-kit 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.8 3.3 5.1 4.0 3.0 2.0

It's pretty clear to see that IE is the dominant browser over the past 8 years, though it's actual share fluctuates quite a bit and is an over estimate because it's a highly spoofed browser. The Mozilla Gecko family is clearly becoming more popular - of which the vast majority are Firefox browsers. Netscape (including Gecko based versions) have vanished altogether. Opera (a nice browser) seems to be stuck on not a lot. The various khtml/web-kit browsers (Konqeror, Safari and Chrome) are now more popular that Opera but the mix is across all three, no one browser is popular as with Firefox/Gecko.

Operating System 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
Windows 97.4 96.1 91.5 95.0 81.0 83.2 83.2 83.4 76.6
Macintosh 1.8 2.4 2.1 1.6 1.6 1.6 1.6 2.3 1.5
Unix/Linux 0.9 1.5 6.4 3.7 17.5 15.2 15.2 14.4 21.8

Again it's no surprise that the Microsoft Windows family is by far the most common visitor. It's also clear that the percentage of Windows visitors has fallen quite considerably over the past four years. The number of Mac (legacy and modern) visitors is pitiful small and hardly changes - it's a much smaller percentage than would be expected based on estimated Mac numbers. The Unix numbers (almost all Linux) are much higher than expected based on known market make up.

This server hosts my work (mostly Unix/Web/Perl focused) and a small general site, the statistics are mostly as one would expect: higher Linux and Firefox usage than a randomly selected web site. The very poor Macintosh figures are a puzzle: modern Unix based Macs are popular with both Perl/Web users which should fall in the same demographic category as Linux users.

20 Dec 2008


I normally read RSS feeds from the live bookmark feature built into Iceweasel/Firefox. It's simple and it works well. This week I thought I try using a stand-alone feed reader to see what difference it makes. I run KDE so I used a KDE flavoured RSS reader and selected Akregator for the trial.

Installation was trivial and simple: sudo aptitude install akregator and all the bits required were downloaded and installed (not much in my case). I set up a few feeds and played around - seems okay. I set up all the feeds I currently have in Iceweasel and added a few more that I don't currently have.

I like the fact that in minimises into the background and periodically updates, which allows me to quickly browse the news rather than the more pro-active style of a browser interface. Each has their advantage but I like the fact that I don't need to have Iceweasel running, akregator internally calls Konqueror if a web browser is required.

Yesterday, I downloaded a book from a blog entry and realised I have KGet installed - I install stuff then forget about it.... Akregator and Konqueror are integrated and automatically use KGet for smart background downloading, Iceweasel does not. However if you install the flashgot add-on you can use KGet, Aria2 or anything else from Iceweasel - most useful.

10 Dec 2008


For days bright green adverts at Basingstoke station with the work Oohgle on them have been bugging me. It looks like Google except google don't do advertising. A quick Google search brings back various blogs discussing it and a paid ad (which I ignored). Google interestingly thought I should have typed Oogle...

16 Aug 2008

Show Me Do

I'm currently listening to my backlog of ubuntu uk podcast recordings. There was an interesting piece on the Show Me Do site, that provides lots of educational screen casting videos on various open-source topics. Very interesting.