[LINK] Prangz!

Craig Sanders cas at taz.net.au
Fri May 22 07:20:38 AEST 2009

On Thu, May 21, 2009 at 06:18:17AM +1000, Stilgherrian wrote:
> [Insert standard Link-required whinge that Google Maps requires
> JavaScript, eats babies and can't be transmitted by Morse telegraph.]

you completely miss the point about complaints over inappropriate use of

for an application like google maps, js is appropriate because it
can't be done any other way. (more precisely, js *IS* the most open,
user-checkable way of doing it because the js source code is available
for examination and review - unlike flash or active x or java or
silverlight etc)

it's when people use javascript for things like menus and buttons when
they could and should be done with HTML, that it's a problem. i.e.
when they make an otherwise ordinary and straight-forward site require
javascript for no good reason. or, even worse, compiled binary-only 
stuff like flash.

using javascript etc as optional enhancements for these things are OK,
as long as the site still functions without js (e.g. using js to enable
expandable/collapsible menus, where the menus still work perfectly
well without js). but rigging the site so that it doesn't work without
javascript enabled is just plain stupid (and in Australia, probably
contravenes various anti-discrimination Acts). and making them require
flash (etc) is even worse.

youtube(*) and similar sites are big offenders for stuff like this -
there's no need at all to run some inscrutable flash application just to
display videos. they could be just embedded media links and, in fact,
the site would run better if the media were embedded directly (e.g. as a
.avi or quicktime or ogg etc file).

encouraging end-users to accept as a matter of course that arbitrary web
sites will run unknown code on their computer just because they visited
the site, is encouraging a scenario that inevitably results in the rapid
spread of viruses and spyware on insecure systems (i.e. those running
Windows - the majority of desktops).

the only sane thing to do is to browse the web with executable content
(js, flash, etc) blocked by default and only enabled when you need it
for sites that you trust enough to want to allow them to run arbitrary
code on your computer.

and not only is it saner, it's also far more pleasant. i have one
browser (plain old mozilla) set up so that executable content isn't
blocked, just to view the occasional site that won't work without all
that crap. occasionally i visit my usual sites with it. the difference
is truly amazing - what normally seems quite pleasant becomes unreadably
ghastly and garish with half a dozen or more animated advertisements
at the same time, each demanding attention and distracting from the
content....and the CPU load meter running on the panel jumps from a low
idle to extremely high.

i can't see any possible justification for why i should allow my
computer's processing power to be used to annoy me.

and i honestly can not understand how anyone could even want to use the
web without the NoScript and AdBlock Plus plugins (or similar on other
browsers). the web becomes like a constant stream of those extremely
annoying TV "shouty" ads (you know, the ones that make you think "right,
those bastards are on my boycott list forever", although a lot less

(*) i rarely use youtube directly. mostly because the vast majority of
stuff on youtube is complete crap that isn't worth watching. for the
rare thing on YT that i want to see, i usually use the DownloadHelper
plugin for firefox which can automatically download the flash video
and transcode it to a plain media file that i can view in any one of
the video viewer applications i have installed (mplayer, totem, etc).
this is not only a much safer way of viewing YT content, it's also
less annoying - no weird pauses and stalls while the video content is
streamed to my browser.


craig sanders <cas at taz.net.au>

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