Mozilla is ten
I remember being at the ACM SigIR conference in 1993 whrn the programme was interrupted to announce that Mosaic was released, and Marc (and I think Eric?) gave a demo. I went back to SoftQuad and managed to get Yuri Rubinsky and others excited about the new browser. The short-term result was work done on integrating an SGML parser into Mosaic for use on a CD-ROM. After that, though, in 1994, Yuri and I visited NCSA, and agred to produce an HTML editor. We made HoTMetaL available as a free download (with an upgrade of course, but the free version wasn't a demo, it really worked). It wasn't open source, but it was still pretty radical in our industry at the time.
The Web itself, of course, was already almost 4 years old when Mosaic was released: it was far from the first browser, and not even the first to handle images. But Mosaic brought a great many Internet users beyond Gopher, into postgopherism, a world where text, links, images, even sound and video, were all intertwingled.
It doesn't feel that long since I was first reading Usenet on a VAX (1982 I think, maybe 1983) and sudenly feeling connected to people all round the world.
I get maybe 1,000 visitors a day to my web site, with between 5,000 and 15,000 hits per day. Most people arrive by way of a search engine, and usually I can see what they were looking for in the referrer; I then look at which pages they visited to get an idea of whether my site helped them or not, and to see what to improve. (I wrote a script that sorts the logs for me to make this easier)
Some of the searches that people do show that they have no real concept of how web search engines work. Maybe they shouldn't have to understand, but given the current state of the art, a clearer understanding would help them a lot.
Some of the searches are amusing, strange, or unexpected - here are some recent examples, in no particular order but numbered for reference.
- What is a well-trained horse expected to do when given the command "gee"?
- greek dictionary using letter j
- have some one seen a real atom
- show me a crowd of people in a street
- fur on men
- How to put warning in word files after 20 word
- up skirts
- honore de balzac woman thirty
- Babe From Hell
- do chubby girls with big feet grow tall
- generating XML from Oracle database
- parent directory naked
- england wank
- what's the Earth's Core made of?
- What is the finger print ridge pattern distribution for the entire population of the united states (matched a story by Daniel Defoe)
Presumably before long primary schools (kindergartens?) will start teaching web search skills.
hub, two things I'd like to see in font chooser dialogues, although they are hard to do...
- a get more fonts button to take you to myfonts.com or a fonts.gnome.org portal or whatever;
- drag handles on the font BBox in the text preview area, that, if dragged let you change the default linespacing for use with that font, and compress or expand the fonts horizontally.
get more fonts Let's work on establishing the idea that fonts are copyrighed enties (outside the USA) or at least that they are thngs of value. The destination portal needs to have Free fonts (there are not many) but also link to individual type designers' pages, and resellers. A useful adjunct would be if the font dialogue could display the font copyright information.
line spacing and font matrix Very few fonts were designed to be used with linespacing single: traditional type was cast onto blocks of metal. For this to work usefully the individual metal pieces of type were made as small as possible, so you could set type close if you needed to. But that meant that for normal text, you had to add thin strips of lead between the lines of type. Hence the term leading for extra spacing. 10% to 20% is usual (e.g 10 on 12pt text) but it varies on the typeface, largely depending on the ratio of the height of an x to the height of an X in Western (Latin) text.