Wednesday, March 9, 2011

WebGL & Hardware Acceleration in Different Browsers

There is a new race these days in the world of web browsers and it is how fast they can render graphics. As more and more people are trying to make web browsers as the rich media client, we see that hardware acceleration in browsers is getting the next point of race among the web browsers. If JavaScript benchmarking wasn’t enough, most new benchmarks these days are looking towards at WebGL (The JavaScript for 3D) and hardware acceleration in browsers.

There aren’t too many games out there yet, that use the WebGL extensions and so I believe this is another race from the browsers that isn’t about better user experience but more to win points in the benchmarks. Nevertheless, since the worst fairing browser IE9 has improved on the performance of WebGL and uses your computer’s graphics card to accelerate graphics in browsers, it is the every alternate browser’s moral responsibility of sorts to give you enhanced performance. This means that every other browser vendor will now tell you to update your graphics drivers, to prevent crashing of your browser and improve performance. While updating graphics drivers is not what the average computer user would do, the browser manufacturers will blame that crash on the graphics driver.

Here are some numbers comparing browsers in simple WebGL benchmark on a Windows 7 with Intel 2.5Ghz i5 and 4GB of RAM:

Browser (version/platform)

Frames per second (higher is better)

Firefox 3.6.15 6 FPS
Opera 11.01 14 FPS
Chrome 10.0.648.127 12 FPS
Firefox 4 Beta 12 60+ FPS

All browsers in the list are released stable versions, other than Firefox 4 which enables hardware acceleration only version 4 of their browser, but is still unreleased. Clearly, Firefox is very fast and possibly the ones who are running ahead in optimizations of WebGL. Nonetheless, other browsers (Opera 11.50, Chrome 11 and IE9) are also competitively close. I wanted to highlight really how fast things can get with some hardware acceleration.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Socio-materiality: Creating words for the heck of it

While last week, I was in NTNU, Trondheim for a friend’s PhD defense, I decided to stay back and listen to a seminar on “Socio-materiality”. The “jargon monoxide” (super lol!!) to describe that technology, work and organization cannot be viewed separately. We’ve definitely heard that human & non-humans are an assemblage and cannot be looked at separately... and I completely agree that academics deserve ridicule, when they do such things!!

Nonetheless, after the seminar I couldn’t believe that the whole 3hrs, we repeatedly kept hearing that technology changes social behavior and that in turns shapes technology and there is a case of “entanglement” that makes the social/human and material/technology to be only looked at as a single object. The cases were interesting (especially the case of Gartner and their Magic Quadrants) and in each of the case we see the entanglement and mutual shaping. What I still don’t understand is that why we didn’t have an uproar from the audience (… and those much more interested in the concept than me) to this jargon monoxide!!

As researchers we continuously look at ways in which we understand the things around us. Language is one to interpret, understand and communicate the different interpretations inside our head. My father shouts out while I’m writing this, “Research is only searching again and again, what already exists and is probably already known”. If that were true, then jargon monoxide is the basis of research… We create new jargons and retire old ones!! Is that our primary job??

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Apple wants 17+ yrs old only to use Opera

In another of Apple crazy works at the App Store, Apple does not allow users under the age of 17 yrs to download Opera. Opera is the first Operanon-Apple web browser to be made available at the App Store, but with that crazy restriction. Now Opera, just like Safari opens web pages. It actually does it better depending on which benchmark you are looking at.

Opera reacted in the following manner:

“I’m very concerned,” says Standal. “Seventeen is very young, and I am not sure if, at that age, people are ready to use such an application. It’s very fast, you know, and it has a lot of features. I think the download requirement should be at least 18.”

For those under 17, there is a workaround. Just visit and download it. We do not ask for your age or your credit card number. Please, get your parents’ permission before using this browser

Opera does have a sense of humor Smile with tongue out

iPad 2 : Something about Apple just fascinates people

Why do people get fascinated with Apple products? I’ve always wondered… Is it really that Apple products are so much better than what’simage available in the market? They had the iPod, the iMac, the iPhone and the iPad (…to name some) and gave them cult status. Now with the iPad 2, I see the same fascination in people in response to the launch and the ads.

The iPad 2 really isn’t the best in terms of hardware packed into the device. Motorola Xoom/Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 has the camera on both front and back better than the iPad 2. Battery life and processors are equally competitive. The ecology around Android is really awesome and growing rapidly. The iPad 2 is thinner, but wasn’t the iPad already thin?? The iPad 2 doesn’t have USB. It does not run flash. It will use proprietary formats for connecting to other devices. It does not have an SD card reader. So why are people still fascinated with the Apple iPad 2?

One thing is how Apple sells you the stuff... The ads make an emotional connection with you. The people who tell you things in the Apple ads, just like Steve Jobs speaks at the launch of these devices, make you feel fascinated. The “cool-ness” of Apple devices are another fascination. The external design and look-and-feel of Apple products are these days probably similar to other high-end devices, but the overall experience of the Apple software in my opinion is the biggest difference. How many times on the iOS have you seen a “Force Close” dialog, that an Android device would often throw? How many times do you feel an interface element to be out of place, when using an Android device?

I write this as I’ve just finished playing with a friend’s Motorola Xoom while at the library. I’ve tried the Galaxy tab, the iPad, but none of them are “Post PC” as Jobs describes it at the moment. Somebody nicely said, its an Apple vs Oranges comparison. You choose the fruit you like… I don’t like both yet!!