Tag Archives: Safari

Check Your Plugins!

It’s a safe bet that your web browser uses at least one plugin, and probably several. Maybe it’s just Flash for viewing animations and video (think YouTube and Hulu). Maybe it’s Silverlight for watching Netflix, or Shockwave for playing games. You’ve probably got Java installed.

Just like your web browser, these plugins must be kept up to date or you’ll run into problems: missing features, instability, or (worst case) security vulnerabilities. Unfortunately, most plugins don’t update themselves.

Several months ago, Mozilla introduced a service called Plugin Check that will identify the plugins you have installed and tell you whether they need to be updated — and how to do it. At first it only worked on Firefox, but now it’s been expanded to all major browsers: Chrome, Safari, Opera, and even Internet Explorer.

It’s worth taking a few moments to check. Think of it as a pit stop for your computer’s web browser.

Webkit display:table-cell Problem

I recently tried to retrofit a mobile layout onto an old table-based site using CSS. It was a fairly simple layout: A banner across the top, two columns, and a footer. I figured I’d use CSS to “unwrap” the table and make the sidebar and main content area into full-width sections instead of side-by-side columns.

In theory this should be simple: CSS handles tables by using the display property and assigning it table, table-row and table-cell for the <table>, <tr> and <td> elements. You can assign these properties to other elements and make them act as tables, or you can assign block or inline to these elements and make the table act like a series of paragraphs.

Initial testing worked perfectly in Firefox 3.6 and Opera 10.5x. Internet Explorer 8, as expected, ignored the changes entirely. Chrome, however, did something very strange, and Safari reacted the same way: The banner shrank, and the columns changed from a narrow sidebar to a 50/50 split…making it actually worse for small screens.

Clearly WebKit didn’t like something I was doing. Unfortunately, WebKit powers the exact platforms I was targeting: the iPhone and Android!

I dug around with the developer tools a bit to see if I could figure out what was going on. Was the browser not applying the property? Were the table cells inheriting the “original” property from somewhere else? Did I need to change properties on thead and tbody as well?

What I found was that WebKit did recognize the display:block I had added, but somehow the computed style was reverting to display:table-cell. This only applied to table and td, though. Table rows actually did what I told them to, which was why the result ended up looking bizarre.

If it hadn’t changed anything, I probably would have chalked it up to the capability just not being implemented yet. But since it worked on table rows, but not on cells, I decided to treat it as a bug in WebKit and went looking for the best way to report it. I ended up creating a WebKit Bugzilla account and reporting it as bug 38527.

Check out the testcase in Firefox 3.6 or Opera 10.5 to see what it should look like, then take a look in Chrome 4 or 5 or Safari 4.

Hazards of Keyless Ignition and Office Chairs.

  • Today I learned that keyless ignition makes it easy to accidentally leave your car running. Good thing it was only 5 minutes. # The fact that it idles silently (no need to run the motor unless it’s charging the battery) was probably a necessary factor too. #
  • Amusing: Apple has released Safari 4.0.4. Seems appropriate for a web browser. #
  • By Fox “The Cancelator” standards, waiting 4 episodes to cancel Dollhouse Season 2 is generous. #
  • WTF? I just tweaked my *other* shoulder doing nothing more exciting than reaching for my mouse. Nowhere near as badly, at least! #
  • Right shoulder seems OK. Left shoulder still recovering from whatever the heck I did to it yesterday. The dangers of…office chairs? #

USB Uncharged, Safari Whizbangless, Android + iPhone

  • D’oh! Plugged my phone into a loose USB data cable last night instead of the charger! I’ll just have to use company electrons, I guess. #
  • Ah, that’s probably why the new whizbang features in Safari 4 don’t exist on my work PC: video card requirements. #
  • Need to read up on this: Appcelerator framework lets you build apps for both iPhone and Android #
  • Software updates are traveling in packs. Today I hit Windows, OSX, Office, Safari, Adobe Reader, Chrome & Java. Plus new Fedora & WordPress! #

Apple Updates Software Update, Addresses Criticism

In conjunction with the Safari 3.1.1 security release, Apple has also released a new version of Apple Software Update for Windows. With version 2.1, they’ve taken the opportunity to fix one of the problems that caused so much criticism last month.

It now shows two lists: one for updates, and one for new software. This takes care of one of the three easy steps that I culled from discussions back in March:

  1. Separate updates from new software and label them clearly. Done.
  2. Leave the new stuff unchecked by default. Bzzzt! Try again!
  3. When run automatically, don’t pop up a notice more than once for each piece of not-installed software. [Edit:] Done.

Unfortunately the new software is still checked by default, but one hopes that the separate list would be enough to make people stop, look, and make a conscious choice as to whether or not to install it.

I don’t know yet how it handles new software when run automatically, or whether they’ve made the ignore option apply to an entire piece of software rather than a specific installer. I’ve taken iTunes off the ignore list and set it to check daily so that I can find out. [Edit:] I haven’t seen it pop up in the last 24 hours, and according to eWeek, “Apple will now only prompt the user if there are critical security updates available.”

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