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Browser Overload

September 18, 2008 at 12:00 pm PST

Lately I’m having flashbacks to the browser wars of the last century. For those too young to remember, that was the era circa 1997 when browser purveyors (Microsoft, Netscape, the Opera team, etc) were releasing a browser update about every week, and those of us in the business of running Web sites were constantly scurrying to make sure our sites For those of us who work on Web sites, this was an exciting time but also a nightmare of browser compatibility issues, where every new browser release held the possibility of making some of the millions of our pages appear inexplicably broken. As the world stabilized a couple of years ago with Internet Explorer 6 and 7 and Firefox, it seemed all was right in browserland, and we could move on to other challenges. But, it was the calm before the storm. First, of course, there are all the new “web clients” in the form of browsers on mobile platforms. At Cisco, we’ve made a conscious decision to keep our mobile interface simple and fast, since we know that’s what users on the go really want. You can visit it at our Cisco.com mobile site, m.cisco.com. But new desktop browsers are flooding in again, too. First, Safari for the Mac — which sometimes behaves differently from the other two — appeared on the scene. IE7, of course, has undergone several updates, all of which need testing. Firefox 3 was recently recently released (or escaped), with a much faster renderer but enough bugs and incompatibilities to drive some early adopters to downgrade back to the earlier version. Very recently, the Chrome browser from Google was released — which of course drove our team to scramble in testing various key pages to make sure they behaved well with this new kid on the block. And, if all that weren’t enough, when I was visiting the Web 2.0 Expo this week I was reminded that Microsoft is readying Internet Explorer 8, which is available for beta download today and should be ready for the masses in a few months. Here is Microsoft’s Sharon Cohen demo’ing it: image This first thing that indicated trouble brewing was the “compatibility” mode button built right into the IE8 interface. I am sure this will go away with the final release, but it’s scary to anyone like me who works on the Web because it means some of my pages might not work in the new browser — even if they have been painstaking tested to work today. For instance, mostly our Cisco.com site looks fine in IE8, but one page that Sharon and I looked at had an odd layering problem. This is a page that works fine in all of the browsers today. There’s actually a line of code that Microsoft is providing us Web types to make sure that our pages will be compatible with the new browser if you can’t test and fix each page. You’re supposed to put this in the header of every page to ensure compatibility: <meta http-equiv=”X-UA-Compatible” content=”IE=EmulateIE7″ /> or make sure the equivalent is send in the http header on a per-site basis.All of us here on the Web team are hoping this won’t be necessary. Oh, I knew there was something I didn’t like about the last century!

We’ve Got Your Number: 24726

September 12, 2008 at 12:00 pm PST

There’s so much happening from Cisco that sometimes I have a hard time keeping up, especially when I’m on the go. Fortunately, Cisco has a few mobile options to keep you connected. There’s our handy mobile site, of course, which you can access at m.cisco.com (and usually your phone will auto-sense when you go to the main Cisco.com URL as well).And, our SMS service is really taking off. Today, you can subscribe to text alerts right to your phone on a range of topics such as:

  • Field notices
  • New and press releases
  • Security advisories and recommended responses
  • General security news
In the US and Canada, you’ll receive the message from the number 24726, which cleverly maps to “CISCO” on the phone keypad. All text messages for outside the US and Canada will originate from 447797801642. These numbers allow you to validate that a text message is from Cisco and not a third party. Our mobile marketing guru Steve Lau said it best in a recent internal web article: “Everything we do with SMS is designed to provide our customers with immediate information and create more intimacy.” Go to cisco.com/alerts to sign up.Enjoy!

Virtual Worlds 2008 Conference Recap

September 4, 2008 at 12:00 pm PST

What a jam packed week it was in LA this week at the Virtual Worlds conference. I am beyond sorry to have missed it but folks did a great job of blogging and tweeting about the activities so it felt like I was there. Here is my list of the most interesting announcements made during the conference.

  • Myrl launched their open beta promoting outeroperability between 19 virtual worlds: read now
  • Congrats to IBM for their award for Innovation in Virtual Worlds for the Enterprise. During the conference IBMs integration of Sametime with Second Life was announced: read now
  • Rivers Run Red and Second Life enter a partnership to develop enterprise virtual world collaboration tools: read now
  • The U.S. Air Force published the RFP for their ambitious virtual world effort, MyBase: read now
  • Vivaty announced Firefox support for scenes: read now
  • What did you think was the most exciting or interesting announcement?

    Two Must Do’s In Second Life Now

    1. Get your Second Life Facebook account activated.Second Life on Facebook There are two applications that are relatively easy to communicate with your friends on Facebook either in RL or SL. Second Friends is tailored to work on your Facebook profile once you have added the app on Facebook and acquired a personal key at a SL kiosk on Eduserv Island. This will allow you to feature your Avatar photo on your RL Facebook profile and check on your friend’s status in SL.Second Life Link on FacebookThe set up and app functions are basically the same as Second Friends but goes a few steps farther. In this case there are two ways to get access to your personal key. Either in SL on Facebook or in RL. Your friends in Facebook get the opportunity if they wish to join SL from Facebook. You can now have the choice to contact friends from RL or SL as well see if they are on or offline and post the home of your favorite SL landmark in your Facebook profile. (This will get interesting when some one flings some food). LOL2. Attend SLCC 2008 VirtuallySecond Life Community ConventionThe 2008 SLCC will happen in Tampa, Florida from September 5th -- 7th. The 2008 SLCC is an opportunity for people of all interests to learn about the many activities within the Metaverse. This convention is an opportunity to present and share ideas, learn about new and interesting technologies and to explore what others are accomplishing within Second Life. There are 3 regions inWorld which will be opened to the public on Saturday and Sunday where you can come sit with fellow residents and listen to the Second Life Convention Streams.SLCC-Business SLurl:http://slurl.com/secondlife/SLCC-Business 137/128/28SLCC-Community 1 SLurl: http://slurl.com/secondlifeSLCC-Community 201/136/129/28SLCC-Community 2 SLurl:http://slurl.com/secondlife/SLCC-Community 202/128/129/28

    Virtual in the Cloud? Cinematic quality 3D rendering in a browser? For real?

    August 21, 2008 at 12:00 pm PST

    So last week a lil’ ol’ controversy cropped up regarding a video that LivePlace, owned by Brad Greenspan of MySpace fame, posted but says wasn’t supposed to be posted or made public…alas it got out there and the virtual community went a bit nuts trying to answer the question queried with the video,”Live or Virtually Live?” Read the blow-by-blow on TechCrunch.The video showed a virtual city that was billed as generated using the OTOY rendering system. While LivePlace and what it is, is still TBD and ambiguous, the OTOY technology behind it is 100% real and very exciting. OTOY is a technology that moves 3D gaming rendering to the cloud, which would enable superior graphics on old computers and handheld devices where 3D rendering has traditionally not been possible or a good experience. The only unfortunate I see with this concept (well depending on how you look at it, as it is certainly memorable) is the acronym, GaaS…gaming as a service. Watch OTOY in action…Not to knock any of the web based virtual worlds out there but this technology is just kicking their butts if you want a realistic, graphically rich environment…ala Second Life…but via your browser instead of an application. Not to say that the not as graphically intensive/less photo-realistic 3D web based destinations don’t have merit. I am eager to explore all these options to learn and see what types of audiences these spaces draw and how they differ and/or are the same. Hence the reasons we are hosting our Google Lively event next Tuesday, August 26th from 0900-1100 PDT; learn more about and join the event.With all this 3D web enabled, cloud driven graphic rendering and what not I can’t help but wonder does this signal the beginning of the end for all those walled garden gaming consoles? Could I really be looking at reducing my power draw, and I mean significantly so, in the near future by reducing the stack of gaming machines I have to just the single PC? Now before you folks reading this get all crazy, I realize the PC takes up more power than my Wii and is comparable to my XBOX 360 and PS3 when compared one to one but if I could eliminate all three and have just the PC different story…read for yourself. Pretty sure my sister would be ecstatic if this would happen as then my nephew might not be clamoring for an upgrade every time a new console launches and he could do his homework on it as well. Would that be the perfect gaming world?