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December 30, 2009

Browsing the New Year's Resolution

You probably don't wonder about my resolution, but I am very interested in your resolution. I thought I'd review the resolution of visitors to this blog.

The resolution tallied in this chart is screen resolution in pixels, given as (width vs height). These numbers represent the monitor resolutions of those visitors whose computers report their screen settings, so there's one source of bias - older computers with lower settings don't report their parameters. Also, the numbers represent monitor size, not window size - you may very well be browsing in a window that's 800 pixels wide, on your monitor that's 1280 wide.

It wasn't that long ago that websites were designed for 800x600 pixels, and today you'll see that 800x600 screens are only 1% of reported data.

You'll also see that 2% of the blog's visitors are 320x396, which means cellphones and PDAs. I think that's about to become our next big wave, especially when Google rolls out the Nexus Googlephone (as opposed to branded Android phones).

While we're getting our geek on, let's look at the browser distribution:

I've moved the bottom-left slices out a little bit, to segregate the Microsoft Internet Explorer users from ... well, from everybody that gets it. It's remarkable to me that Microsoft is down to 40% of the market. It's also remarkable to me that 6% are still using Internet Explorer 6.0, in spite of campaigns like IE6 no more, BringDown IE6, and IE6 Must Die.

Blogger, heal thyself!

Alas, I have a confession to make. While I'm at my day job, I'm required supposed to use an 800x600 monitor and IE 6.0 as a matter of corporate policy. Ugh, Double-Ugh. I'm a one-percenter on both charts.

How do you know which Browser is best?

Best is a subjective term, but we can objectively describe fast. A recent benchmark test by DailyTech produced these results (1 is fastest, 5 is slowest):

Celtic Kane's JS Benchmark
1. Chrome 4 - 432 ± 24
2. Safari 4 - 297 ± 3
3. Opera 10.5 - 252 ± 5
4. Firefox 3.6b5 - 157 ± 4
5. IE8 - 67 ± 3
1. Chrome 4 - 3984 points
2. Opera 10.5 - 3597
3. Safari 4 - 3570 points
4. Firefox 3.6b5 - 2905
5. IE 8 - 1006 points
1. Opera 10.5 - 470.2ms
2. Chrome 4 - 503.8ms
3. Safari 4 - 622.8ms
4. Firefox 3.6b5 - 883.2ms
5. IE8 - 4539.0ms

All tests were run in Windows 7 on a 15" MacBook Pro with a 2.8 GHz Core 2 Duo Processor and 4 GB of DDR3 RAM, running at 1066 MHz (Boot Camp was used to boot into Windows 7). The notebook has a GeForce 9600M GT, which has its own 512 MB GDDR3 memory, and a NVIDIA GeForce 9400M which shares 256 MB of the main DDR3 system RAM.

The Fastest Three Browsers

To simplify choosing a fast browser, the top three in each speed test are Opera, Chrome, and Safari.
  • Opera is the most web-standards-compliant browser, and has newly updated Javascript and graphics engines. It's as close to a pure browser as you can get (if that matters to you). It's on the Wii, it's on cellphones.
  • Chrome features "tab sandboxing", managing the memory for each tab separately, meaning that if you open and close lots of tabs for long sessions on a PC you might find improved performance with Chrome. If you're embracing the Cloud for applications as well as storage, Chrome should be your browser. Caveat: Pay attention to their privacy policy - Google's allowed to track what you're doing in those apps.
  • Safari brings the Mac aesthetic into the PC browsing experience. It's an excellent, fast browser. Minor gripe: I object philosophically to their default policy of requiring an ITunes update in order to get a Safari update.
  • If you're really into Social Media (Facebook, Twitter) you might want to experiment with new entrant Flock, which is Firefox adapted to Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Blogger, and YouTube.

My geek hopes for the new year:
  • computers using IE6 will self-destruct
  • IE7 and IE8 will be stigmatized and IE users shunned
  • IE9 will be cancelled due to European Union policy
  • everybody will choose a web-standards-compliant browser
  • HTML5 and CSS3 will be a great success
  • my day job will let me use Opera


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