Archive for November, 2008

IE 6 mobile standards compliance tests

So, I was challenged on my assertion that the new Internet Explorer for mobile that is going to be unleashed in China next year is based on the web developer’s mortal enemy and the virus-writer’s best friend, IE 6 for desktop.

I was wrong, people said: IE 6 mobile isn’t IE 6 desktop back from the dead and dripping goo and pus like a George Romero zombie; it’s an accident, a coincidence of the numbering system. Microsoft are good guys now, they said, committed to web standards.

After all, look at the claims for it:

Internet Explorer Mobile 6 [is] a full-featured browser for Windows Mobile devices that brings the same high-quality browsing experience to the user as desktop browsers. Internet Explorer Mobile 6 supports desktop-quality rendering and has the best compliance support of all versions of Internet Explorer on a Windows Mobile device to date.

So I downloaded the emulator and ran a few tests.

Conditional comments and * html

Firstly, I tested a simple page to see if it picked up Conditional Comments targetted at IE 6, and whether it picked up CSS rules aimed at the valid, but nonsensical * html elements.

The test page is

p {color:red}
* html p {color:blue;}
<!--[if lte IE 6]>
<h1>Conditional comments think I'm IE6!</h1>
<p>Red for non-IE6, blue for IE 6</p>

So, IE 6 (or below) will show a heading, and a paragraph in blue. A modern browser will have no heading and the text will be red. The screenshot shows that IE 6 mobile believes it to be the same as IE 6 desktop on both counts.

screenshot showing heading and blue text

IE 6 mobile and the Acid tests

29% of all internet users in China only ever use a mobile phone to acess the Web. But Microsoft’s “new” mobile browser doesn’t quite have the standards-compliance that Chinese people deserve.

The Acid 2 test:

a very bad attempt at rendering acid 2

and the Acid 3 test:

a very bad attempt at rendering acid 2

IE 6 mobile and CSS support

A big problem for web developers was IE 6 lamentable support for CSS, so I ran the CSS selectors test. The results say “from the 43 selectors, 10 have passed. 1 are buggy and 32 are unsupported”.

selectors test result

Even IE 7 passes 13 of the 43 selectors (“4 are buggy and 26 are unsupported”).

So what IS IE 6 mobile?

Well, it appears that the heart of it is chucklesome old IE 6 desktop, with a few extra bits grafted on from IE 7 and IE 8’s JavaScript engine. So it’s cross between a zombie and a Frankenbrowser.

To verify, I opened up the back of my mobile and hiding behind the battery, clinging onto the SIM, I found the true face of IE 6 mobile, its lips mouthing “Ni hao” in anticipation of its imminent Beijing exhumation.


Joking aside, this is a terrible situation. 20% of the world’s population are being offered an ancient, discredited browser. Who knows whether we’ll imminently see China’s phones paralysed by viruses—after all, the U.S. government’s Computer Emergency Readiness Team advised

there are a number of significant vulnerabilities in technologies relating to the IE domain. It is possible to reduce exposure to these vulnerabilities by using a different web browser.

We need web standards. And China deserves them, too.

(Last Updated on 12 March 2009)

Opera Indonesian tour slides

After 8 days, 11 universities and 9 kilograms of Nasi Goreng per person, the first Opera university tour of Indonesia is finished.

Here are Bruce’s slides: Web Standards for the Future, (PDF 550K). Note that I was tweaking and changing the slides depending on the University’s focus, so here’s the “full” version that includes everything. No university got all of these. The format is accessible PDF to make it small, as I’ve experienced Indonesian bandwidth speeds..! If you need another format, drop me a line. You’re welcome to share these with your friends or classmates – I hope they make sense. If notwell, you’ll have to invite me back again!

The HTML demos are available, but you’ll need a special video build of Opera to watch the videos.

Here’s the cool canvas demonstration I talked about: Super Mario in 14kB Javascript.

Zibin’s slides: Web Browser Industry (PDF 1M). This presentation is about the mobile web industry -trends today and tomorrow. I’ve also presented Opera’s four main products. The slide about top ten sites transcoded by Opera Mini in Indonesia was the showstopper. Audience giggled upon finding out that friendster bandwidth was more than the 2nd to 10th spot combined.

To celebrate the success of the Indonesian tour, we’ve published a new State of the Mobile Web report focussing on South-East Asian mobile browsing. Bad news for any web site that doesn’t follow Web Standards, with data like this:

  • Indonesia and Malaysia lead the way for mobile Web adoption, followed by Thailand and Brunei.
    Indonesia leads the top 9 countries in page views, with each user browsing 358 pages on average in October 2008, well above the global average.
  • Growth rates are soaring: Malaysia leads the top 9 with 462.6% growth in users this year, followed by the Philippines (396.4% growth) and Indonesia (329.5% growth).
  • Friendster is the premier social-networking site in the region, with hi5 coming in second.
    Nokia is dominant in the region, with brands like Sony Ericsson and Huawei competing for a distant second place.

Bruce’s Indonesian photos are available on Flickr.

Cross-posted to the Opera Developer Network blog, so comments there please – no registration necessary.

Dear KLM

As sent to their customer service people. Bet I don’t get a reply.

Dear KLM, I travel regularly around Europe for work and our corporate travel agency books me flights with KLM. For leisure I usually fly to Asia, and go by Emirates.

I was sent to work for 2 weeks in Jakarta and was given the choice between KLM and Emirates. I chose KLM. The flight KL810 is the worst flight I’ve taken in a long time (it reminded me of Aeroflot in the 90s).

Firstly, at my seat (39G) the light wouldn’t operate–preventing me from either reading or using my laptop to do some work. I could not watch the in-flight entertainment, as the sound was stuck at maximum volume and was therefore unintelligble and painful to listen to.

I asked the stewardess for another aisle seat (I have a medical condition which means I must get up and walk regularly) but there were none left. I asked to move to business class, but was told that was impossible.

A stewardess apologised, saying that it was an old plane and some things don’t work properly. Travelling at 500 miles per hour, 4 miles above the Bay of Bengal, this was not very reassuring.

So the only thing to for the flight was have some drinks and sleep. Unfortunately, no-one ever responded to my armrest call button (my colleague in a nearby row had the same problem) so I had to get up and search for water in the dark by myself.

Therefore, instead of a relaxing flight that allowed me to do a couple of hours work and then rest, I had 12 hours of extreme boredom, unable to read, work or watch TV and must now work when I get home to catch up with the work I hoped to do on the plane.

My future trips to Jakarta, Bangkok and the like will be by Emirates.

Proper Java Script

Javanese characters

I bought this t-shirt that shows the old script used to write Javanese, so I guess it could be called proper JavaScript.

All my Indonesian photos are on Flickr but not tagged yet as I’m too cold and knackered, so please add comments if if you recognise yourself.

Brrr. It’s zero celcius tonight and I’m not enjoying it AT ALL.


So our university tour of Indonesia finished in Jogjakarta, a city that I liked immediately. It helped that we had a great turn-out for our final lecture at Gajah Mada University and some really challenging questions. Then a group of students who organised the seminar (led a groovy punk-loving girl named Alfina) kindly took us for good food and a tour of the Kraton, where the Sultan of Jogja still lives, with the ceremonial army and a legion of staff.

A previous Sultan gave Sukharno and the Republican government asylum in the 40s, and established Gajah Mada University in the grounds of the Kratong, so Jogja has a special administrative status that continues to this day. Our guide, a Gamelan music teacher who’s toured the world, explained that now the Sultan works to promote peace and Javanese culture—the kratong now offers free courses in Gamelan, dancing and puppetry. To demonstrate, he pointed out the pillars of the coronation room which contain symbols of Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism in syncretistic fusion, and explained that his family celebrate two major festivals, Eid and Christmas as he is a muslim and his wife is a christian. He went on to pronounce that all religions are as valid as each other and that it’s only the “stupid mafia politicians” who cause religious divisions. It’s rumoured that the current Sultan might run for the Indonesian presidency; if what I saw is indicative of his manifesto, all the best to him from me if he chooses to stand.

That theme of liberal egalitarianism continued the following day (a day off!) when we visited Borobudur, an eighth century temple that reminded me of, but pre-dates, Angkor Wat in Cambodia which I visited last year. Our guide was a lady in a hijab named Aysha, who obviously venerated the monument and didn’t hesitate to scold local youngsters who weren’t showing sufficient respect when climbing to the central stupa. There was also the surreal experience of finding all the local people’s cameras turning from the beautiful monument and onto me, while seemingly every schoolchild in the district quizzed me as to my opinion of Indonesian culture, food and Manchester United’s future prospects.

We also had a great meet-up with loads of local students, some of whom made me somewhat nervous when they examined this site’s CSS and quizzed me about my choice of image replacement methods. Jogja has a lively blogging community which just won an award of 10 million rupiah for their efforts and which meets face-to-face every Friday on Malioboro, the main drag to the Kraton. There was knowledge and appreciation of English designers, and excitement that Jon Hicks has joined Opera. I pointed them to some sites they hadn’t been to: 24 ways, A List Apart, and PPK.

So now I’m just about to go out with Zi Bin for food, and just possibly a couple of Bintangs for our final night in Indonesia. (Putri got sick and has returned home to her family for couple of days.) My suitcase is swelling with some framed carved stone copies of Borobudur temple reliefs and some CDs: Mulan Jameela‘s ballsy “Wonder Woman”, and some traditional Javanese music which I find relaxing to work to. Best of all is the cheesy earworm Indo-pop by “Bukan Permainan” by Gita Gutawa. I dare you to watch her live and not hum the damn chorus for a week.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say that Jogja is my favourite city in Indonesia, as that would do a disservice to the other universities that welcomed us so graciously, but I do feel a special affinity with the city, despite its earthquakes, recent tornado and the constantly smoking volcano that looms above it.

So, farewell Jogja and Indonesia: terima kasih (thank you very much).

Bahasa Indonesia

So I’m at Gajah Mada University, Yogyakarta, for the final event in Opera’s Indonesian tour.

The national language of Indonesia is Bahasa Indonesia (bahasa means “language — in Thai the same word is “Pasa). Zi Bin says it’s very similar to Bahasa Malaysian, so he’s been impressing the local ladies with his ability to woo quadralingually).

It reminds me very much of Turkish (my third language) because they’re both spelled phonetically, with the letter “c pronounced as English “j, and “ay is pronounced “I/ eye, but mostly because of the number of English words they borrowed: taksi, polisi, republik, informasi, politeknik, teknoloji, kharisma spring immediately to mind from Bahasa. (This borrowing isn’t all one sided; English borrowed “rambutan and “Orang-Utan from Bahasa Indonesia.)

Most Bahasa words remain mysterious yet mellifluous to me. My current favourite is the fun-to-say “dilarang which rather prosaically means “forbidden, such as “dilarang merokok (no smoking) or “dilarang masuk (no entry).

This homegrown word can be combined to pleasant effect with borrowed words. In a residential neighbourhood I saw the sigh “dilarang klakson which means, of course, “Don’t sound your horn- combining English/ Bahasa linguistic miscegenation with naïve optimism, given Indonesian drivers’ love affair with the “klakson

IE 6 back from the grave

Just when you thought you could soon forget about IE 6 and all its charming idiosyncracies, Microsoft have announced that they’re launching IE mobile in China, using IE 6 as the rendering engine.

IE 6 was released in 2001, and was has been called the 8th Worst Tech Product of All Time. And now, in 2008, with their desktop browser nearly at version 8, “Microsoft has brought the ‘full rendering engine of IE6 to the phone'”.

Lucky China.

Update: I tested IE 6 mobile’s standards support.

I work for Opera, which makes a modern browser for phones and desktop, but this is a personal opinion on my personal blog and does not represent official Opera position – you know the blah blah.

(Last Updated on 30 November 2008)

Indonesian earthquake

Thanks to all who emailed; the Indonesian earthquake was on a different island, and we were unscathed. In fact, we didn’t know it had happened until we read the emails!

I rue my nervousness about the trip; Indonesians have been delightfully hospitable. I’m glad I had experience of living in Thailand before I embarked on this university tour. It prepared me for the delicate art of South-East Asian smalltalk, formal speeches of welcome, the formal presentation of souvenir gifts by a VIP, and meant that I packed proper shoes, trousers and shirts—which leave me a sweating mess after an hour, but I know that the effort is appreciated.

Meanwhile, I’m just about off to bed. After two different universities, a press interview and a two-hour commute through a storm in gridlocked Jakartan traffic (not to mention Zi Bin breaking the zip on his only pair of trousers and losing his Mac power cable—presumably unrelated misfortunes, but you never know with these Mac fanboys) this bottle of Bintang beer is one of the finest bottles of beer ever brewed by man.


My wife’s just gone to Indonesia

Actually, that’s a lie. She’s staying at home, and I’m typing this as I look out of my 16th floor window at a panorama of the Jakarta skyline.

After being here a few hours (most of which I spent asleep after 15 hours in KLM cattle class, on which I can never doze), Jakarta seems much like Bangkok. The language on the billboards is different, and there are more ladies in hijab, but there is a similar skyline of high-rise hotels, overhead freeways and the air is filled with the roar of motorcycles and the impatient beeping of gridlocked cars. It’s 28 celcius, not too humid, and overcast as it’s the tail-end of rainy season. I already feel at home.

Breakfast was an eclectic mix of Japanese miso soup, fresh papaya, fresh guava juice, Korean kimchi with Indonesian noodles in chicken and coconut sauce.

As today is a de-jetlagging day, and my 42nd birthday, I’m going to have a long massage and a few hours in the pool. We move to another town near Jakarta late afternoon in time for an early start tomorrow when our hectic schedule for the Opera Indonesian university tour begins. I’m looking forward to hanging out with Zi Bin and Putri, Opera’s Indonesian marketing diva.

The Web is very slow here; gmail is practically unusable, and it’s taken me 45 minutes to download my (admittedly ludicrous number of) emails, so I’m adjusting my presentation to mention Opera’s low-bandwidth mode in the mail client and the ability to ignore specified threads.

(Last Updated on 17 November 2008)

Marina gets Bronze

Yesterday, the family turned out to watch Marina defend her title of British Champion at light contact kickboxing.

This year she was in a higher weight category with more people in it, and still managed to come third place. She was beaten for silver by Amber (who she beat last year) in the fight videoed below. Marina has the red headguard.

Personally, I thought Marina should have won this fight, as she knocked Amber over a couple of times, but I accept that I’m not entirely objective.

The gold went to the world champion, Lauren. Congratulations to all, especially my little champ!