IE6, are you still here?!

It’s August 2008, almost 2 years since Internet Explorer 7 came out.  So why on earth does IE6 still have almost the same market share?

Browser Stats

Fri Feb 1 00:01:02 2008 – Sun Aug 31 23:58:00 2008   213.0 Days

1. MSIE 7.x

15370300 (41%)

2. MSIE 6.x

13493578 (36%)

3. FireFox

6230544 (17%)

4. Safari

1276526 (3%)

5. Opera x.x

306845 (1%)


I was sure the world would be (nearly) free of IE6 a year ago, but adoption has slowed so much that it’s only given 1% to IE7 in the last 7 months.

Microsoft, you’re not pushing hard enough — get that fogey out of here ASAP!


And now back to futzing with transparent PNGs for IE6…


Technorati Tags: Internet Explorer,

Grab the nearest book…

Technorati Tags: general geekery


You will not sleep, if you lie there a thousand years, until you have opened your hand and yielded that which is not yours to give or to withhold.  You may think you are dead, but it will be only a dream;  you may think you have come awake, but it will still be only a dream.  Open your hand, and you will sleep indeed — then wake indeed.

From Lilith, by George MacDonald
Found in The Collected Works of C.S. Lewis, page 123


It’s a book meme.  I did this, you do it too:

  1. Grab the nearest book.
  2. Open the book to page 123.
  3. Find the fifth sentence.
  4. Post the text of the next 3 sentences on your blog along with these instructions.
  5. Don’t you dare dig for that “cool” or “intellectual” book in your closet! I know you were thinking about it! Just pick up whatever is closest.

New site

Business has been good.  Unfortunately, it has been so busy that the smelly old Slingshot Solutions website stuck around way too long.

When I say smelly, think:

  • IE-only (in 2002, IE was 95%+, and Firefox was still a glimmer)
  • IE6-only — IE7 often crashes (why can browsers still be crashed by web code these days?)
  • Outdated in various ways (6.5yrs)
  • Kinda ugly
  • Over-complicated
  • Wordy — can there be too little horn-tooting?
  • Did I mention IE-only?

So my goals for a new site were focused on simplicity and compatibility.  I started designing building it when I started back to Slingshot Solutions full-time, and have been alternating between false starts, second-guessing, and neglect ever since.

It’s finally done now, though.  Please meet the slim and trim new “ 2.0“:
slingfive 2.0  -sm.jpg

It works on any modern browser, plus IE6 (kicking and screaming).  Some other geeky goodness:

  • It’s Javascript-heavy, but it’s all non-obtrusive and progressively-enhanced, so it still works with Javascript disabled.
  • JQuery greatly helped simplify the visuals by hiding less important stuff until it’s needed.  Rather than a second page just for a contact form, Contact Us is just a popup.  Similarly, I built a hide/show toggle for less-important content details.
  • FONTS!  Every web designer hates the fact that you have to choose fonts based on lowest-common denominators (not everyone has your font on their system).  Alternatively, you can use images or Flash to get around this (carefully!).  I certainly wanted automatic as possible, so I tried SIFR (implementation stinks), then settled on DotIR.  Unfortunately v3 only outputs non-transparent GIFs, but with the wonders of open source, I’ve improved it to output anti-aliased transparent PNGs (including IE6 compatibility), and made it medium-trust compatible (for web hosts).  Hopefully my changes will reach the next version.

Weaknesses / to-do:

  • Still way too wordy, this time with TLAs (“acronymy”?).
  • I pulled over my old code section for developers.  I’ve tested none of it though, and will surely need to fix several server-side settings.
  • The layout wrecks at less than 1024×768.  Stats say that covers 90% of the world, but that’s hollow comfort.

For now I’m just happy it’s out and not killing anyone.  Hurrah!

Hooray, Safari is upgrading to IE4!

Dean pointed out that Apple’s Webkit team is finally adding Internet Explorer’s CSS Visual Filters (invented back in 1998 with Internet Explorer 4), and are calling it CSS Masks in Safari.

The sad news is that nobody’s giving the IE team due credit.  The good news is that that power is now there.

So hooray Safari for ignoring web standards!  Yes, I mean that.  I’ll take a good de-facto standard over nothing any day (anyone remember when the W3C actually did stuff?)  Step up to the plate, Opera, Mozilla, and Konqueror!

While you’re at it, don’t forget to grab IE’s other great dev features, too!  If we get DHTML Behaviors, Databinding, CSS Expressions, Conditional Comments, and Deferred Scripts, that will cover my 2005 Dev Wishlist for Other Browsers.
That done, MS-haters could complain less about proprietary/innovation and the the web could keep moving forward.  To be clear, I’m saying the effort to complain about IE’s extras would be better spent copying them in other browsers, helping web developers and by extension users.

Hooray for progress!

Eliza finds a new job as Microsoft’s PartnerBot

I saw Matt McSpirit‘s posting about Microsoft’s new PartnerBot IM agent and contest, and gave it a whirl.  The result was a bit disappointing, and then went downhill:

(4:45:55 PM) me: How can I combine SQL instances on SBS 2003?
(4:45:56 PM) MS PartnerBot: Welcome back…
Do you want more on How to buy SQL Server or SQL Server Product information?
(4:46:00 PM) me: no
(4:46:00 PM) MS PartnerBot: I’m sorry I couldn’t help – please try again
(4:46:16 PM) me: I’ll just ask instead
(4:46:16 PM) MS PartnerBot: Component Object Model
(4:46:20 PM) me: What?
(4:46:21 PM) MS PartnerBot: Partner Bot is unable to answer your query, please try again.
(4:46:30 PM) me: Like I said, Google will help.
(4:46:31 PM) MS PartnerBot: I’ll try to help – please type your question
(4:46:40 PM) me: No thanks.
(4:46:40 PM) MS PartnerBot: You’re welcome, please come back soon.
(4:46:55 PM) me: (for nothing)
(4:46:56 PM) MS PartnerBot: I cannot help you yet, could you refine your search?
(4:47:03 PM) me: Who’s asking the questions here?
(4:47:03 PM) MS PartnerBot: I’m sorry I can’t find that name in my directory – please try the Outlook Address Book
(4:47:17 PM) me: Ok.
(4:47:18 PM) MS PartnerBot: Partner Bot can’t understand your question. Please rephrase it.
(4:47:32 PM) me: Who is the Heartland District’s partner representative?
(4:47:33 PM) MS PartnerBot: Our partners are our priority – we want to help you develop and grow your business. Please visit the programme membership page at
(4:47:43 PM) me: Why don’t you show me that information here?
(4:47:43 PM) MS PartnerBot: In a competitive environment, having the right business intelligence can be the deciding factor in closing a deal. Gain a competitive edge with the information your customer needs to make a decision in your favour. Learn more at:
(4:47:58 PM) me: You’re Eliza, aren’t you?
(4:47:59 PM) MS PartnerBot: I am Partner Bot – code with attitude. Please type your question.
(4:48:04 PM) me: ha

“Code with attitude” — if only it was helpful too.

Common SBS gotcha?

I’ve fought with this before, and am getting it again on a fresh SBS R2 install in monitoring reports (and the Event Viewer/System log):

The application-specific permission settings do not grant Local Activation permission for the COM Server application with CLSID {E579AB5F-1CC4-44B4-BED9-DE0991FF0623} to the user NT AUTHORITY/NETWORK SERVICE SID (S-1-5-20). This security permission can be modified using the Component Services administrative tool.

It took a long time to track down/fix the first time.  It was faster this time, but I’m documenting it now for future reference.  I underlined the important bits above.

First connect the dots:

  1. Looked up that CLSID with regedit in HKCR\CLSDID\{E579AB5F-1CC4-44B4-BED9-DE0991FF0623}
  2. Looked up its AppID there: {56BE716B-2F76-4dfa-8702-67AE10044F0B}
  3. Open Component Services: Start > Run > dcomcnfg
  4. (Guess that it’s VSS related since SBS often has VSS errors, and) open My Computer > DCOM Config > Volume Shadow Copy Service > properties dialog.
  5. Confirm Volume Shadow Copy Service has that Application ID: {56BE716B-2F76-4dfa-8702-67AE10044F0B}

Then actually make the fix:

  1. Open Security tab > Launch and Activation Permissions > [Edit] button
  2. [Add] Network Service,  [OK]
  3. Allow Local Activation permissions to Network Service,  [OK], [OK]

My opinion: connecting the dots shouldn’t be so nearly much more involved than making the fix.

(Credit to this article for documenting the basic troubleshooting process.)