Inquisitor alters search results with affiliate links…users go mad

Inquisitor

Sigh. One of my favorite add-ons for Safari, Inquisitor, has unfortunately been removed from my computer.

As reported by TUAW, Inquisitor alters search results to insert the developers affiliate links higher up in the rankings. According to the developer, the affiliate links will gradually move further down the results the more you search for a term and do not click on the links (thus “learning” that you don’t want those links in your search results).
The issue most people seem to be having is that this wasn’t disclosed up front. I have to admit it’s a clever form of displaying advertisements, but I just can’t keep using the app when something as major as altering search results wasn’t disclosed…making me wonder what else wasn’t disclosed.
I, along with every other rational person, understands that bills have to be paid and that some compensation for the developer is a good thing, but transparency in the software business is a necessity if you want people to keep using your apps. Simple as that. People want to know if you’re altering their experience, and yes, altering search results is most certainly altering a users experience without their knowledge.
UPDATE: David was kind enough to drop in and he was correct in pointing out that I left out a link to his response. My mistake. I apologize. Here’s the link to his response about all of this. I would love for David to show where this has been “public knowledge” (implying that this info was easily accessible and known by most people who used the app) before all of this hoopla.

Last version of Tiger released – Includes Safari 3

Today, with the release of OS X 10.4.11, Apple’s beloved Tiger took its last breath. This update to Tiger is to be the last update to an OS that helped usher Apple in to one of its most profitable and market-share changing eras in their lifespan.

The biggest addition with this update is that Apple is updating Tiger users to it’s latest version of Safari, Safari 3.
A few other updates include:

  • Improved reliability when running VMWARE’s Fusion
  • Improved compatibility when using OpenType fonts in QuarkExpress
  • Improved syncing between iPhone and Yahoo! address books
  • Improved compatibility with third-party wireless wide-area network devices
  • Improved reliability when mounting external USB hard drives.
  • Support for Microsoft Presenter Mouse 8000
  • Addressed issues with certain Apple Dashboard widgets: Unit Converter, Calculator, Stocks
  • Allowed use of the special keys on aluminum Apple Keyboards to control Aperture slideshows

Full details available here. The download should be available in Software Update.

Safari 3 multiple feed support

RSS Multi-Feed Support

Here’s a quick tidbit on a new feature of Safari 3 in Leopard. The RSS button in the address bar now support multiple feeds for sites that have them.
Occasionally a site will have separate feeds for different sections of their site and other times they’ll have different formats of the same feed (such as RSS and Atom).
Firefox has long had this feature so I’m glad to see that Safari finally came around.
Thanks Luke Martin for the tip.

Three iPhone alternatives for Sprint customers

Apple_iphone_ads

James’s earlier post about the iPhone losing some luster for some owners has some good commentary going on. Drop in and add to the conversation, especially if you purchased an iPhone. Does it still glitter like gold for you? I posted my basic thoughts and won’t repeat them here, but the post got me thinking about alternatives to the iPhone. There actually are plenty that do much of what the iPhone does, if not more. While the folks that have used smartphones for years won’t learn much here, there’s no question that a larger audience is starting to understand what a smartphone is, largely in part due to the Apple iPhone. For these folks, here’s a listing of some iPhone alternatives for Sprint customers, not in any particular order. If there’s value in a follow-up for Verizon or T-Mobile customers here, I’ll do the same.

Read More about Three iPhone alternatives for Sprint customers

Save time in Safari

Single Click Downloading

safari I was cruising around looking to spruce up my desktop and got to a page that offered many wallpapers and different screen dimensions. All of these dimensions are of course linked to a file that has to be saved somewhere. A simple click on the link causes Safari to open a new window or move away from the page to display the file. This means the user has to then save the file, usually with File-Save As, pick where to save it, and click Save. What a waste of time! Instead of the maddening save dialogue boxes, simply hold down the Option key and click on the link. This tells Safari to download the file to the Desktop (unless the downloads folder was changed in Safari preferences) in one step.

Fill out forms

Safari will take a look at your ‘me’ card in Address Book and fill out web forms with anything it knows. Click on the first field (Name: for example) and press Command-Shift-A. This will fill out the forms in a flash. If the information isn’t spilling in correctly or not at all read this.

Emailing and Saving images

I taught my family how to do this with .Mac and we share a lot more pictures these days. Drag a photo from Safari onto a new email message and Mail attaches the file. However, if the image is dragged to the Mail icon in the Dock, Mail creates a new message but puts the URL of the image instead. Also if you CRTL-Click on an image Safari offers the ability to save to the Desktop (or whatever your download folder is). Hold down option and this changes to Save As…

Links, Tabs, and Windows

Links can also be opened in a new tab or window. To open the link in a new tab press Command and click. To open a new window use Command-Option-Click. Now in Safari 3 Tabs and Windows can be combined, separated, and reordered!

Disable In-Browser View of PDF Files

Safari can render PDF files in the browser using Preview by default or Acrobat if installed. However, Apple put the ability to view PDF’s in Preview/Acrobat in the most unlikely places! Open System Preferences, go to the Quicktime preference pane, and then the Advanced tab. Click on the MIME Settings… button. Under the Still Images category, uncheck the PDF Image box to disable this feature. When clicking on a PDF link, Safari will download the file instead of opening it. If ‘Open Safe Files’ is enabled, the default PDF reader will launch.

Assign a keyboard shortcut to a bookmark

OS X includes the ability to create and override keyboard shortcuts for most applications. Bookmark the URL and put it in the Bookmarks Menu folder. It is better to choose a short name for this bookmark than the suggested one Safari provides. Copy the text of this bookmark name  (i.e. if you bookmark theappleblog.com and save it as TAB, copy ‘TAB’) Then, open System Preferences and click Keyboard and Mouse. Click on the ‘+’ button. Choose Safari for the Application. Paste or type in the title of the bookmark. The key combination has to be unique, so a good practice is to use Control and a letter (like ^T for TAB).  Once that is done, click Add. Quit Safari and reopen. Click on the Bookmark menu to see the newly assigned keyboard shortcut. This won’t work if you want to assign it to a bookmark folder.
Do you have a favorite time saver in Safari? Please comment and share with the rest of the readers!

iPhoney

Mac software maker Market Circle has released iPhoney, an open-source iPhone simulator for web developers. See how your websites look on the iPhone in both portrait and landscape.
It lacks a few iPhone features, such as pinch and zoom, but will let you test while developing apps for iPhone (without using your iPhone). I think this is a great piece of software. Even though I have an iPhone, it’s inconvenient to try and view sites on it over and over while testing. It’s much easier to just keep iPhoney open and click refresh.
I tested the site with Digg (digg.com/iphone) and Leaflets (getleaflets.com), and they both worked well. I look forward to testing one of our iPhone optimized sites on iPhoney.
iPhoney

Shift in Website Development Due to iPhone?

Web developers have been more and more concerned with coding for mobile devices. Now that the iPhone is here, I wonder if that may change further. The iPhone – unlike most other cellular phones on the market – browses using a wide-screen web browser and the touch interface makes it easy to do so.

I’ll be interested to see if web developers will come up with a pseudo-mobile development process specifically for Safari on the iPhone. Meaning, will designers embrace the iPhone’s click-to-zoom interface, making some elements a certain size for optimal viewing/reading, leading to an Apple-specific mobile development practice?

Will the use of web 2.0 apps (the standard SDK for the iPhone…) see a slight transformation so as to be optimized for iPhone viewing? I’ve got to believe there’s going to be a noticeable shift of some kind that results from this new piece of technolust.

If you’re developing mobile web pages/applications, I’d love to hear your take on this possible shift in development practices.

EDIT:
Thanks to Tom for pointing out an error that was published. I accidentally posted with 2 different thoughts combined in 1 and it sounded likea broad and absolute statement which was not intended. It’s been udpated.

Why Not Integrate Safari With Finder?

When Microsoft embedded Internet Explorer with Windows, it was an obvious anti-competetive move intended to thwart the growth of the Netscape browser and benefit from the company’s operating system monopoly. The tactic worked, helping to send Netscape into a death-spiral. But if you think about it, years after the dust has settled, and the court cases are history, it wasn’t a bad idea after all, to marry the browser with the desktop experience. And Apple has all the tools to do it themselves, the right way, without raising the ire of the legal system.

The WebKit engine underlying Safari also powers both Apple applications, including Mail, and many third party apps, like BareBones’ BBEdit. The next logical step, in my mind, is to WebKit-enable the Finder, letting me type in a URL, search Google, or access my bookmarks directly from my desktop, without having to open Safari. We can already see similar functionality with how you can play MP3 files within the finder without opening iTunes or view photos without opening iPhoto.

newfinder_400
Click to See One Mockup of a Safari-Enabled Finder

There’s no good reason that I can type a URL in Windows to open a Web site immediately, and my Mac won’t give me the same option. And Apple’s low market share may actually give the company an advantage when competitive questions are raised. I’ve attached a quick mockup with one way today’s Finder (pre-Leopard) would look with embedded URL entry and bookmark access. What’s holding Apple back? Wouldn’t this be a useful feature?

Seeking .Mac For Windows Safari

safari

Last night, I made Safari my default Web browser in Windows. With any luck, I won’t be turning back to Internet Explorer or Firefox any time soon. But while some initial issues with the beta version of Safari 3 have been well-documented, including security and font rendering, at least for me, the biggest hole in the current offering is .Mac integration.

Apple’s .Mac is an integral part of the Safari experience, especially if you routinely run more than one computer from different locations. Across computers, my bookmarks and folders in Safari are perfectly synchronized. If I make changes or bookmark a new site at home, the changes are made at work, thanks to .Mac. But on Safari for Windows, I don’t have those bookmarks at all – a significant blow to the user experience.

I see two routes Apple can go to remedy the missing .Mac functionality in Safari. First, and likely easiest, would be to add a .Mac tab within the Preferences of Safari. I would enter my login details, and they would be synchronized from Cupertino. The backup option would be to create a Control Panel for .Mac within Windows, similar to the preference pane in Mac OS X today. But adding a .Mac control panel for Windows might indicate support for other .Mac staples, including Backup, iCal and Mail.app.

If Steve Jobs and the rest of Apple don’t want to give away the full Mac experience to those who haven’t yet made the switch, .Mac integration in the Preferences section of Windows Safari is the way to go. In my limited time with Safari on Windows so far, I’m very impressed with how similarly the application follows its Mac counterpart, and I hope .Mac integration is coming soon.