Top 5 News - Browser Bonanza, Google Nav Incorporates Traffic, OSGeo Live, Cheap Aerials, Saved by Maps

This month saw more news on the web browser front than you can shake a stick it. First and foremost, IE9 has been released. It marks the first time since IE6 that Microsoft has had a competitive browser since…well, ever (I’m still calling shenanigans on the IE vs Netscape business). If you’re a die hard IE user on Vista or Windows 7, stop reading and go get it right now.

The IE folks at Microsoft also launched a IE6 Countdown page, trying to get people to finally move off that 10 year old crashware turd of a browser. To quote the web site:

Its name was Internet Explorer 6. Now that we’re in 2011, in an era of modern web standards, it’s time to say goodbye. This website is dedicated to watching Internet Explorer 6 usage drop to less than 1% worldwide, so more websites can choose to drop support for Internet Explorer 6, saving hours of work for web developers.

I think Microsoft has learned a lot from their mistakes when it comes to web standards compliance, and IE9 is a big move in the right direction. Perhaps one day we’ll never have to see crap like this on our web sites:

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<meta http-equiv="X-UA-Compatible" content="IE=EmulateIE8" />

That, by the way, is from Microsoft’s home page. Doh!

IE9 racked up 2.5 million downloads in the first 24 hours after it was released, which seemed impressive until Firefox 4 launched a couple weeks later. It amassed a whopping 7.1 million downloads in the first 24 hours and passed 15 million in 48 hours (this just illustrates the fact that IE users use IE because it’s already there when they take the machine home from Wal Mart – they won’t be on IE9 until Microsoft pushes it out). If you’re a Firefox user you’re probably already on 4, but if not, stop reading and go get it right now. Firefox 4 is awesome. It’s fast (Google Chrome fast), stable, has much improved HTML5 and CSS3 capabilities… it’s everything I was hoping for. I don’t know that I’m switching from Chrome, but the decision is a lot harder than it used to be. Firefox is also promising a much faster, Chrome-esque release schedule.

Good news Android users – Google Maps Navigation now factors traffic into all its routes. As someone that lives in the Charlotte area and spends a good deal of time either on or trying to figure out how to get around I-77, that is awesome. When I got my Droid I figured it would be a good-enough GPS replacement. I didn’t think it would monkey stomp my dedicated GPS and ship its brains back to its mother.

The OSGeo Live DVD 4.5 is out. There isn’t a better way to check out a ton of FOSS GIS projects, and they all come ready to go out of the box. It includes 45 GIS software packages, free world maps, and instructions to get you started.  Besides a DVD image, they also have a 4GB thumb drive image and a 2.6GB VMDK for VirtualBox et al. It’s based on Ubuntu Linux.

Need some aerials but your budget is abysmal? For $100 you can make your own that are higher resolution than satellite imagery (at least the ones you can get ahold of). Check out the slideshow on GOOD for equipment and results. How cool would that project be for a K12 class?

And finally, everybody needs to read On Salvation from Daniel Huffman (somethingaboutmaps). It’s a moving post, and nothing I can say about it will do it any justice. If you love maps, you owe it to yourself to close your office door, turn off your email and your facetwit, and read it. Posts like that are why blogs will always have a place in our 140-character, attention-deficit world.