Blast from the past. Doing some email testing & dredged up my old address. Had to re-activate it, and the handful of messages I probably saved way back in the day were gone, and now it’s instead…but it’s still got my years-outdated contact list, including people I haven’t interacted with in a decade.

As near as I can tell, I put together the list when I was in college, and never updated it. It’s still got all the old and addresses.

Oh, wow…there’s a pager number in there! (Remember those?)

Originally posted on Google+

NetscapeFlock. When AOL first announced they were discontinuing Netscape, they recommended Firefox (a logical choice for many reasons). Since then, they’ve also started heavily promoting Flock—to the point of offering seamless upgrades from NS8 to Flock. (In theory, anyway; I fired up the copy I had for testing and couldn’t get it to do anything but update to the most recent 8.x version. Confirmed. I let it sit open in the background for a while, and it eventually popped up the offer for 1-click Flock migration.) Netscape 9 has an update notice that offers to download Flock or Firefox.

The key issue, of course, is moving as many users as possible from a discontinued browser—there’s no doubt that security holes will be found in it over time—to one that is actively maintained.

Why Flock, specifically? Well, sticking with the same toolkit and user profile makes migration easier, so that narrows the field to Firefox and Flock. (Not sure about SeaMonkey’s profile.) Since Netscape 8 and 9 were big on integrating with websites, Flock’s “social browser” seems a slightly better fit. And it turns out most of the Netscape 8 team went on to build Flock. Talk about social networking!

(via Flock: The Netscape Spirit Lives On)

Lisa the Barbarian: A woman poses with a viking helmet and a sword…and an Opera Browser T-shirt. (via Espenao’s Opera the Barbarian)

CNET UK presents The 30 dumbest videogame titles ever, including “Spanky’s Quest,” “Ninjabread Man,” “How to Be a Complete Bastard,” “Touch Dic” and “Attack of the Mutant Camels.” (via Slashdot).

Cowboy Bebop at His Computer — examples of media articles (especially about pop culture) in which the reporters (and editors) clearly didn’t do their research. The title comes from a caption on a still from Cowboy Bebop. That’s not the character’s name, and the character in question is female. It probably is her computer, though.

Archeophone Records: Actionable Offenses: Indecent Phonograph Recordings from the 1890s. Comedians telling bawdy stories, recorded on wax cylinders. The write-up is PG, though the track list looks to be at least PG-13. Looked up after reading NY Times’ article on voice recordings from 1860 (recorded with ink on paper), which is also worth a read. (via Slashdot)

Edit: Forgot to list the (temporary?) resurrection of 1994-era, the website of what was then Mosaic Communications Corporation and would soon be renamed Netscape. Subsequently picked up by Boing Boing and Slashdot. For more old web browsers, check out the Browser Archive at (via Justin Mason)

I’ve been meaning to post these photos for a while now, but with the discussion on Netscape’s impending doom, I should post them now.

Back in February, I was wandering the aisles at Micro Center and noticed a couple of odd software titles on the shelf:

  • Netscape Basics, a jewel-cased CD-ROM which contained Netscape Communicator 4.5 and boasted compatibility with Windows 95 and Windows 98.
  • Opera for Windows, a boxed copy of I forget-which-version, but judging by the “New! Voice Enabled!” badge, it’s probably 8.0.

Keep in mind that this was February 2007. So that was an 8-year old Netscape box, and a 2-year-old Opera box. Netscape had been free for 9 years, and Opera had been free for 1½ years.

Someone had sensibly marked the Netscape CD down repeatedly, ending with a price tag of $0.42. I was half-tempted to buy it just to prove that I’d found it, but decided taking a picture would be better, since it wouldn’t clutter up my desk. Incredibly, no one had thought to mark down the Opera box. They were still asking $39.99 for it.

Did I mention pictures?

Netscape Basics CD for $0.42 Opera for Windows for… $39.99

NetscapeIt’s been a long time coming, but AOL has officially decided to shut down the Netscape web browser. The final security updates for Netscape 9 will go out in February, and then that’s it.

It’s been on life support for a while now, as AOL has tried repeatedly to revive it. After they dismantled the Netscape team in 2003 (just before spinning off the Mozilla Foundation), everyone expected that would be the end, but they came back with a surprise update, Netscape 7.2, the following year. Then they hired an outside company to reinvent it as a mash-up of Firefox and Internet Explorer, producing the Netscape 8 chimera. And just a few months ago, they went back to the well and released the Firefox-based Netscape 9, trying for the Flock model of integration with social networking sites…but only integrating with their own.

So what killed it? Netscape was arguably the pioneer, building on Mosaic’s success to create the first widely-used browser on the fledgling World Wide Web.

  • Internet Explorer being pre-installed on every Windows desktop
  • The commercial-to-freeware transition. Back in the 1990s, the only business model for giving away a free web browser was to subsidise it with revenue from other products. This led to selling the company to AOL, and opening the source code.
  • The missing Netscape 5. IE5 was considerably better than IE4, and arguably better than Netscape 4 in some areas. And Netscape didn’t have a new version to compete, because…
  • The transition to open-source took a lot longer than expected, leading to…
  • The disastrous Netscape 6. While there’s something to be said for meeting deadlines, Netscape 6 was a prime example of why not to release early. The program just wasn’t ready (Mozilla actually declared the code to be 0.6), and it turned off many users who might otherwise have stuck around a little longer for a stable release.
  • Fundamentally, though, AOL never seemed to know what to do with it. Is it a product? An exploitable brand name? A threat to brandish during contract negotiations with Microsoft?

FirefoxIt’s interesting that, as I made this list, I realized that the transition to open source really didn’t help Netscape, the company. But it led to the formation of the Mozilla Foundation and the release of Firefox, one of the most visible open source success stories out there. The company and brand name withered, but the code itself flourished.

Like the demise of IE/Mac, it’s more of a symbolic end than one of substance. In my opinion, the true “heir” so to speak of the early Netscape has been Mozilla, and now Firefox, for quite some time.

Update: Asa Dotzler has a somewhat less nostalgic take on the matter, as well as a link to commentary at TechCrunch. I can’t believe I forgot to mention the crippling/crufting of Netscape 6-7 as compared to Mozilla.

Update 2: More comments at Slashdot. Gee, I wonder who submitted that story? 😉

Update 3: Some commentary from the Web Standards Project, with a somewhat familiar-looking title.

(via Opera Watch)