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17,000 Net Illiterates Can't be Wrong!

© June 2009 Anthony Lawrence

Amazing as it may seem, over 17,000 visitors arrived here last month by way of Internet Explorer 6 or worse. I'm not amazed that there are 17,000 people still using crappy old browsers, but it is astonishing that any of them looked at more than one page here.

You see, this website doesn't give a damn about old browsers. It's "broken" from their point of view. Pages can be jumbled, text can be obscured... actually nothing is broken here, it's their old junk Microsoft browsers that are (and always have been) defective. But the users probably don't know that, right?

Actually, I stopped caring about any browser glitches. We had something weird with the first Safari 4 betas and - surprise, surprise - I don't care. I am NOT going to write special Javascript code to work around the limitations of browsers that don't work to standards.

So anyway, a few weeks back someone asked me a question and I sent him to an article here. He immediately wrote back complaining that he couldn't read it. Yep, IE 6. I told him that he needed to upgrade, not just so that he can read the web pages of stubborn jerks like me, but also for his own safety and for his own browsing pleasure and convenience. Note that I said "upgrade", meaning IE7 or IE8 - I knew better than to suggest Firefox!

In the meantime, I told him to use the "Printer Friendy" link. That's plain Jane enough to work with anything. Some people (my wife is one of these) want to print everything anyway - that drives me crazy because it wastes so much paper, but these people just don't like to read on-screen. I can partially understand that; I can read a piece of paper faster than a web page, but on the other hand you have to wait for the printing. Makes no sense to me overall, but that link does let you read a page as simple, bare-bones text.

Stubborn as I am, every now and then I still do get the itch to do something about the "old browser" problem. Because I have mostly separated content from presentation, I can re-write 99% of this website to a new format in an hour or less. All I need is to figure out what I want it to look like. Unfortunately, that's the hard part, and summoning the will for that effort isn't easy for a few thousand net-illiterates.

Well, maybe someday. Certainly not today.

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-> 17,000 Net Illiterates Can't be Wrong!


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Tue Jun 30 19:11:20 2009: 6575   BrettLegree

Heh heh it might have been me, once or twice. Our work PC's are still stuck on IE6 because some numpty decided to code a lot of our stuff just for that... and sometimes I am too lazy to reach for my PortableApps USB stick!

I keep hoping that someone else at our company browses to the wrong page, infects a bunch of machines on the network, and then maybe someone will get the message!

Wed Jul 1 00:55:20 2009: 6576   anonymous

I'm in the same boat as Brett. I work for a mega corporation that is still hopelessly stuck in the stoneages of outdated and lousy apps. I regularly read your site using IE6 on my work laptop. Actually, the only problem I've ever noticed viewing pages here is the need to have to hit the back button twice to actually go back a page. Doesn't really bother me. I've been out of the IT game for 3 years now, but still enjoy reading your site. It's extrememly entertaining and well-written. Keep up the great work!


Wed Jul 1 00:58:09 2009: 6577   TonyLawrence

Maybe it's just some pages. I had sent that guy to (link)

Is that unreadable for you guys?

Wed Jul 1 01:09:50 2009: 6578   anonymous

The RAID page looks fine to me on IE6.


Wed Jul 1 01:12:58 2009: 6579   BrettLegree

Glad Shane could check it, my work laptop is still at work (thankfully it is the only computer I use that still has IE6 on it *shudder*)

Wed Jul 1 02:03:51 2009: 6580   Friar

At the risk of exposing myself as a computer dilettante, the only reason I started using Mozilla is that it was the default browser on the 2nd hand computer I bought from Brett.

Most of us just want to blog, browse the net or twitter. We don't have time (or don't want to spend the time) reading up to stay current and learn about all the new software upgrades. .

That's why we need guys like you and Brett to keep our machines in order. And that's a good thing for you, because we'll gladly pay for your services.

Wed Jul 1 08:19:59 2009: 6582   Michiel

Your site looks very readable in Safari 4, even with my bigger-than-usual font setting, and certainly not broken as so many other sites. It's best to stick with simple layout and simple CSS, in my view.

Wed Jul 1 10:35:36 2009: 6584   TonyLawrence

Yes, I try to keep it simple. If it validates with (link) I feel that's enough - I'm not going to run in circles to compensate for browser glitches.

Interesting that Shane says that page works. I suppose it could be resolution or something else odd about the other guys setup. Oh well, it's his problem!

Wed Jul 1 14:03:55 2009: 6586   BigDumbDinosaur

State highway departments don't build their roads to fit certain specific vehicles that use them. The roads are built to generally accepted standards and vehicles are expected to fit the roads. It's the same with your site. You built your site to W3C standards, which means you've done your part. It's up to the browsers to comply with the standards.

Fri Jul 3 15:31:04 2009: 6605   Sledge

It renders fine in IE6 under WINE on my laptop. I wonder what else could be the problem.

Fri Jul 3 16:07:58 2009: 6606   TonyLawrence

Very strange, yes.


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