Browser Ping Pong

I have just transitioned into the next round of browser ping pong. I am an openSUSE Linux user. For years, I had been an avid Firefox user. Even as people were ranting and raving about Google-Chrome I remained true to Firefox for quite some time.

But then out of curiosity in the summer of 2010 I gave Google-Chrome a try and to my surprise was greatly impressed. My Firefox had become slow (perhaps because to many add-ons were installed). Google-Chrome was fast, very fast. Also, the installation of add-ons was very nice. Searching for add-ons and installing them can’t get much better than in Google-Chrome. Firefox still persists in forcing a restart after the installation of add-ons. It is reminiscent of the Windows OS, which seems to believe that the ultimate purpose of an OS is to reboot. As a Linux user I am accustomed to making major changes to the installation and using them immediately without the need of an interim reboot.

Anyway, back to the Browser tale. Google-Chrome was impressive on many fronts. A few things had been bugging me but I was willing to live with them. One thing I missed was the quick ability to switch search engines that one has in Firefox. Another was the lack of a sidebar. Normally, that is not a big deal but the Delicious add-on for Firefox is very nice and makes good use of the sidebar. Another thing that is bothersome with Google-Chrome is that it crashes whenever I try to upload an Image from disk. This is a well documented bug. The routine of watching Google-Chrome disappear, switching to Firefox to upload a file and then return to Google-Crome, becomes old very quickly.

Another thing that happened just today is that Google-Chrome decided to start displaying links with a red background. This is not a bug in WordPress. It happens an many different websites and I cannot figure out why.

So I then upgraded Chrome from version 7.x to 8.0 hoping that this would solve those two problems. Well, it didn’t. So that was the last straw. Looks like I’ll be Firefox user for a while until Google comes out with another release. It’s nice that the two of them keep fighting it out. It improves the product. In this process I was also pleasantly surprised to learn that xMarks is back in business. So syncing my browser bookmarks is once again simplified.


Consequences of a Postmodern Epistemology – Part 2

Just read an article by Pat Buchanan that really got me thinking. It didn’t convey much that isn’t already apparent but it presented it in such a way that it really hit me and made me think about how it relates to our epistemological cultural transition from a modernistic to a postmodern worldview.

It seems the so called “balkanization” of our society is continuing despite the desires of president Obama to unify. I don’t want to be partisan in these observations. I think no matter how you divide the palette of opinion in the USA at the moment all sides are exhibiting a similar behavior. To the political left the right are compared to Nazi’s and to the right the left are compared to communists. The right is accused of taking away rights and the left is accused of taking away freedoms. There are greedy capitalists and inane socialists. One could go on and on. The mudslinging seems to be increasing.

This may be a distorted view on my part due to the media coverage but I do think these are symptoms of something that is taking place below the surface. Namely, a transition of worldviews and an indication of a negative side of postmodernism.

As I see it three things are at work:

  • A mixture of modern and postmodern elements:As I described in part one a postmodern view lacks the ability to provide order and consensus since it cannot claim any epistemological certainty about the knowledge claims that it makes. Yet at the same time it appears to me that we are still acting from the modern mind set that such certainty is possible. We have the goals of modernism but now lack the means to achieve them. This results in the next observation.
  • Argumentation based on character and not on facts:When factual arguments are absent all that is left is the tactic of demonizing the opposing view. Instead of discussing the issues now we see that the character and motivation of the proponent of opposing views are called into question. Yes, this has likely always been a part of American culture and politics (think of the scopes trial or the civil war just to name a few) but my sense is that we again are witnessing an intensification of this phenomenon. Were we not able in previous generations to go about things in a more civil manner? Perhaps one of you historians could fill us in.
  • An incomplete picture of our true anthropological nature:The popular articulation of the postmodern paradigm as I know it assumes a positive anthropology. If we all just live and let live, do not attempt to take power by declaring things right or wrong, then everyone will get along just fine. This, of course, runs contrary to a Christian view of anthropology, which has a unique view of how human beings tick. Namely, there is the positive side capable of love, harmony, courage, beauty and a host of other things. But the Christian view also posits that humans have a depraved side which produces war, greed, hatred and selfishness etc. If the negative side is truly present in our nature, then we have major problems if we ignore it. I am of the opinion that most of the evil in the world is not solely the result of political or religious systems but an outworking of the true nature of mankind. This I believe is missing in the popular worldview.

Maybe I’m overreacting. This is not the first crisis that the USA has had to deal with and not yet the most serious. I hope that we can successfully overcome this one like in time past but that is not guaranteed. Maybe with some effort we can return to a degree of unity and civility which is sorely missing at the moment.


PHP Installation with IIS

Recently, I had problems installing PHP with the Windows IIS server. I was installing PHP 5.2.1 on a Windows 98 machine running IIS 5.1. The PHP website offers the option of using a Windows installer or doing a manual installation using a ZIP file. My recommendation is to use the Zip-File. I had installed PHP using the Windows Installer and indeed everything was comfortable, went quickly and seemed to be OK. Yet, when I tried to run a PHP program I had many problems. Many times it worked but many times I got an Html-Error 500 in addition to many other errors. At times it the PHP program would work and then suddenly an error. It was one of those nasty bugs which is not directly reproduceable but occurs somewhat randomly. After much googling I installed PHP using the ZIP-file and the php.ini-recommeded file as a starting point. And it was like magic, no problems whatsoever. Again avoid the windows installer, do it manually.