Sunday, December 27, 2020

Webpages and HTML5

I started working on my chess instruction website 25 years ago. I originally wanted to write a book, but I turned it into a website instead. At that time, only a small minority of people had Internet access, and web browsers were still at a primitive stage, with the first one being Netscape. Initially, when I got on the Internet, I didn't even have a web browser, but I was using computer programs to play chess and access email on the Internet. I was also accessing a type of text bulletin board called Usenet, which before web browsers was one of the more popular things to do on the Internet. Today it is almost nonexistent. When I finally did download Netscape to my computer, I wasn't even sure what I could do with it. The Internet was so slow, it didn't seem like there was much point to it. Over the last 25 years, but mostly in the last 10 years, there has been a quiet revolution going on. This has happened so slowly that most people didn't notice. The first web pages, like my website which hasn't changed much over the last 25 years, were no different than pages in a book. If you clicked on a link or a button then that simply took you someplace else. The most sophisticated thing that webpages could do was allow you to enter information, like a password or to type an email. However, people wanted to do more with webpages, like play video or play games. This is why in the 2000s many websites told you that if you wanted to look at their website then you had to download a piece of software, like Flash, to make the website work. There were so many versions of Flash that people kept having to download updates in order to access certain webpages. About 10 to 12 years ago people were criticizing Apple for not allowing Flash on their iPhone and iPad, saying that Apple wasn't allowing you to have the full Internet experience on their devices. However, Apple felt that Flash was outdated and slow, and they thought that the upcoming HTML5 would replace Flash, which it mostly did. HTML is like a computer language that runs on your web browser that controls how web pages will look and act on your Internet device. The revolution over the last 10 years is that websites now can do almost anything that you could do with a computer program. The site has a complicated user interface that does things that I would have thought not possible on a webpage. It is like a sophisticated computer program but inside a webpage. For the average user who is not technical savvy, it just means that webpages developed more features over time. Like I said, this happened so slowly that most people didn't notice the change. It also means that we don't necessarily need computer software to perform tasks, and computers like Chromebooks try to do everything on the Internet. If webpages have become much more sophisticated over the last 10 years, then what will they be like 10 years from now? I don't know, but in the 2000's I was noticing a trend where we were moving away from computer programs and more toward just doing tasks on the Internet. Maybe in 10 years, people will not need any computer software, except for their web browser. That is already true for people who just access social media and email.  


Saturday, December 26, 2020

'Deepfake' Queen's Speech: Channel 4 criticised for 'disrespectful' Christmas message

This is a computer deepfake of the Queen of England.

The actual Christmas message from the Queen was religious and hopeful.

I think that Americans took much more interest in the monarchy when it became an entertaining soap opera.  Also, we have felt a closer connection to England as an ally since World War II.

I think that "The Crown" series on Netflix is extremely good.  Also, the movie "The Queen" made in 2003 is critically acclaimed.  I liked the movie so much that I watched it 3 times.

Queen Elizabeth is an interesting figure.  As a young lady during World War II, she joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service (equivalent to the Woman's Auxilary Corps in America) and worked as a truck driver and a mechanic.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

How Microsoft Flight Simulator Recreated Our Entire Planet

No need to watch the whole thing.  I think that this program is awesome.  I will shortly have a game membership with Microsoft where I will be able to run this simulator on my computer.

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Review of Fire HD 10

Here is my quick review of the Fire HD 10.

If 20 or 30 years ago you were to say that in the future you could have a handheld computer with a 10-inch high-resolution display, built-in telecommunications, 2 gigs of RAM, 32 gigs of expandable storage, along with an 8 core processor running at 2 gigahertz, and it would only cost $80 (on Black Friday), then people would have thought that this was science-fiction and you were talking about the year 2100.

As a tablet, it is every bit as capable as my iPad 4, even more so since my iPad 4 is out of date. When it comes to browsing the web, reading email, listening to audio, or watching videos, it works flawlessly. This is like having a computer. It is as capable and as fast as a mid-range laptop.

This tablet is designed for viewing Amazon Prime member content. Amazon tries to limit your to their own app store, but there are ways to download the Google Play Store giving you the full Android experience, and I have already done this on mine.

The 2-megapixel camera is not great, but I don't think it is terrible either. I have owned worse and I was still able to take passable pictures.

The dimensions of the Fire HD 10 are a little taller and thinner than the iPad, which makes it better for watching videos, but a little worse for holding. I prefer the feel of the iPad in my hand, especially since the metal exterior gives it a cooler feel than the plastic exterior of the Fire HD 10.

My only problem with this tablet is that all the things it is capable of I already do on my phone or on my computer. I didn't really need another tablet, except that I like gadgets, and I wanted an Android device to test apps that I want to write. The only way I might get practical use out of it is if I were to take it on a trip or on an airplane. It would be fun to have on a plane because I could play games or possibly watch videos on it. Fortunately, it comes with an earphone jack.

I haven't tested this myself, but reportedly it has really good battery life.


No Forbes, The Xbox Series And PS5 Are NOT "Disappointments"

I'm 60, and a former videogame programmer. I got started with arcade videogames in 1975. I still love games and get excited over new hardware.

Let's take a brief look at history. In 1986, the typical home computer was an 8 bit CPU with limited sprite capabilities if you were lucky. I had a Timex Sinclair 2068 which had no sprite hardware, but I was still able to write games for it. In 1986 I bought an Atari ST for a ton of money, and it had no special graphics hardware either, but I could write games for it because it was a 16-bit system.

Most arcade games in 1986 were 8 bit, but they had sprite and other graphics capabilities that allowed them to have good games. Arcade machines cost $2,000 to $3,000 and this kind of hardware did not exist in consoles nor home computers. If you wanted to play the best videogames, you had to go to the arcades or your local 7-11 to play them. 

The hot new arcade game in 1986 was Super Mario Brothers. Along came a new videogame console, the NES, which for about $100 could play the same game. I could not believe my eyes when I saw it. For a relatively low cost, this system was almost as good as any 8-bit arcade game. No home computer was as capable, except maybe the Amiga, which cost $1,600. 

My point is that home consoles used to have capabilities that we could not get on computer hardware, at least not for a reasonable cost. This trend continued throughout the 1990s. BTW, the introduction of arcade-quality consoles pretty much killed the arcade videogame industry.  

Now the new generation of consoles is exciting because they do have hardware beyond what most people have on their computers. If you are willing to spend 3 times as much for a gaming PC then you can do as well or better, but the new consoles give you an amazing amount of power for the money.