Re: Web vs. Desktop based systems
- From: rem642b@xxxxxxxxx (Robert Maas, see http://tinyurl.com/uh3t)
- Date: Sun, 27 May 2007 10:19:24 -0700
From: "sjdevn...@xxxxxxxxx" <sjdevn...@xxxxxxxxx>
In real life, it's not at all uncommon to hit sites that say
"Please install Internet Explorer to see our site" and provide a
helpful link to a Microsoft download page that doesn't have a
usable version for my system. It's also not uncommon to find
sites that require Flash, Java, or other plugins--and even want
you to upgrade versions over the one you have installed.
Those sites should be listed as non-compliant with the basic idea
of the Web of making clients of all vendors and servers of all
vendors inter-operate according to a well-documented protocol, as
well as the basic dream of providing easy access to all online
sources of information/data via a simple UI accessible to everyone.
Those add-ons (plug-ins) should be used only where needed to convey
the information. For example, a Java applet may be used to provide
a live animation under dynamic user control (unlike an animated GIF
which can convey only a canned visual display), or to provide a
live demo of some GUI being advertised/marketed.
And in practice a lot of common sites manage to render
incorrectly or hang the browser completely based on arcane .
Again, this is caused by violation of the protocol. By the way,
lynx complains about illegal HTML for just about any Web site I
visit. Does anyone know what's wrong? I'm afraid to turn on trace
output and spend a week trying to decode the resultant spew,
especially since I'm on a VT100 dialup with no flow control,
requiring 'more' as an output throttle whenever I output more than
about two screens full of text at a time.
The flip side is that your data is kept on your machine with
desktop apps, which can be particularly important for data that
you want to keep private.
The physical security on your ISP is probably better than the
physical security at your home, unless you are a millionaire who
can afford to hire multiple armed guards 24/7. Although one of my
previous ISPs (the one I had in early 1999) did suffer a physical
break-in which resulted in both theft of the hard disk and
unreadability of the primary backup, causing a 3-week downtime
followed by a rollback of all files to the next-to-last backup,
whereby all the e-mail I had exchanged with Heather Thompson was
*gone*, and all but the very first test message from Janet
<JackieChanFan@WebTV> was also *gone*.
If encryption is used on all seriously confidential files, and on
all communication between user's local machine and remote server
where the encryption key might be passed, and if all machines are
protected from trojans that might eavesdrop on encryption keys
either by reading protected memory or by installing a
man-in-middle, then this is all safe. But if you can't stop trojans
from infecting your local machine, then it doesn't matter whether
the confidential files are on the local machine or a remote server,
they're effectively public-view any time the trojan-master wants.
So the only difference in effect is whether you trust your ISP to
be free of trojans. I think that's a pretty safe bet if your ISP
(where remote archive is maintained) is running Unix or Linux
rather than MS-Windows. There might even be ISPs that provide a
contractual guarantee of security. (Not good enough for military
data, but good enough for *your* e-mail unless you're in the
military and trying to take shortcuts with the well-thought-out
rules of military security, which is surely grounds for a
court-marshall even if nobody *actually* steals some of your
military confidential data. MILNET exists for a *reason*, you know.)
And with, say, local email you can easily switch from one email
program to another (assuming they use the same storage format,
which is pretty common in my experience) and have all your messages
just show up properly in the new system
True, but Google already provides XML interface for some of their
services (haven't checked if they have it yet for gmail, because
their policy of eavesdropping on "private" e-mail to better
advertise to you is IMO abhorrent). As soon as some web-mail
XML interface, it will become feasible for you to have more than
one XML client for browsing your remote mailboxes, and switch
between them at a moment's whim.
if you switch webmail providers, you often lose all your messages
or have to somewhat painfully forward everything to the new accont.
With XML interface, it becomes relatively trivial to automate the
process of copying all your e-mail to a new place. In fact, to
guard against various disasters (Yahoo makes a mistake and thinks
you have abused your account and deletes your account and expunges
your archive; That actually happened to the very first Yahoo! Mail
account I had, and the telephone support person refused to give me
the slightest idea what violation of their AUP was alleged), you
probably want to keep a "mirror" of your e-mail archive on some
other ISP anyway, not waiting for a disaster to happen. And if you
can establish one "mirror", you can establish more than one, and
then have a smooth transition toward closing out the one you like
... new versions often introduce new showstopper bugs when the
old version worked perfectly well;
That's a good point. I've suffered that myself with both Yahoo!
Mail and Google Groups, where suddenly it all stops working for a
few minutes, or a few hours, or a few days. And of course Yahoo!
for virtually all functions, such as sending e-mail or moving file
to other folder or reporting spam or changing the filter recipes.
About the only thing I can do with Yahoo! Mail in the past three
years is log in, see list of folders, see message list within
folder, go to additional 200-message sections, and view individual
message. And just a couple months ago I discovered I could *also*
search-result page the ability to move message to other folder does
a (very painful) way to move a file that I see in my InBox to
- Copy some text from the message, and past in local edit buffer
- Go to Advanced Search page
- Paste in the text you want to search for, that you copied above
- Submit the search
- Find the message amongst the search results page
- Click the checkbox for it
- Choose new folder from menu and click MOVE button.
- Retrace your way back to where you left off browsing your InBox.
- Repeat that entire process for each message you want to move to other folder.
Yahoo! Mail provides no way for me to use the version of their
server which allowed me, more than three years ago, to do the other
functions. Most painfully, when I get a new penpal, there's no way
to set up a filter recipe to effectively white-list that person,
With a desktop application, it would have been possible to roll
back to the old version when I discovered the new version was
unusable for most common functions. But on MS-Windows, the only way
to roll back is to reformat the hard disk and re-install the
operating system and re-install all applications and restore all
data files, so is that really any better than simply switching to a
more lynx-friendly webmail provider? (Fortunately I have a Mac, so
the above reformat+reinstall hassle doesn't apply to me.)
with desktop apps, you're not forced to upgrade if what you have
is working well to your tastes.
But how do you *really* know the important upgrade that keeps
popping up an alert-window you every time you run your computer is
an attempt to break what ain't broken, rather than an important
security upgrade to prevent trojans from getting in your computer?
The alert-window doesn't exactly say *why* you need to install this
upgrade to Mozilla Firefox as soon as convenient, several times per
week it seems from my experience in our apartment complex's
semi-public computer lab. How can you decide whether to upgrade or
not? And it'll keep alerting you repeatedly until you finally give
in and let it download the upgrade, so what good is it to refuse
and consequently suffer repeated harassment like that? And if you
do make a mistake and download a upgrade that breaks everything,
what's best, wait a few days for the next upgrade and hope it fixes
the problem, or reformat your hard disk etc.?
With web apps, you're at the mercy of the people on the other end
as to when you upgrade.
True. But see caveats above. Desktop apps are equally bad in different ways.
Even if there aren't killer bugs, you can often run into an
update at an inconvenient time--you _really_ need to get
something done today, and the interface has all changed.
Not to mention that I have more than one Yahoo! Mail account, and
some have been forced into the Beta version while others were
allowed to stay the older version after a bit of hassle about
whether I really don't want to try the Beta version today. (I
answered yes on one account, hated the Beta, totally broken, but
there was absolutely no way to revert to the previous version. I
never made that mistake again, but some of them got auto-Betafied
anyway, and some still haven't gotten Betafied months later, I have
no idea why the difference.)
Whereas with desktop apps you can time the upgrades to be much
Yeah, every time you re-start the computer you simply minimize the
alert-dialog about how it's really urgent to upgrade to fix an
important bug that affects security of your computer, then the tab
occupies real-estate at the bottom of your screen, making all
future UI operations require you to consciously skip that tab when
searching for the tab you really want. Still, I agree that's an
advantage to desktop apps. On the other hand, of you have fifty
different desktop apps, and each one of them is requesting you
authorize an upgrade once or twice a week, the combined number of
alert-dialogs can really bog down your UI time.
The main disadvantage of Web-based serverside software is that you
can't get live animated action that way.
You can do some primitive stuff with AJAX
AJAX is not generally available in Web browsers AFAIK. I've never
seen any Web site that offered AJAX content, whereby the Web
browser (in public computer lab) either opened a new window with a
title containing the word AJAX, or the browser complained that AJAX
wasn't available and offered to download and install it. I *have*
seen that sort of stuff with PDF and Flash/MacroMedia and WAV etc.
etc. (New window for PDF, all the others we don't have in computer
lab and aren't allowed to install so we get the alert-dialog
that's really a question of taste.
Yes, that's why I pointed out a few of the differences (mostly
biassed in favor of Web-based serverside apps), and why I'm glad
you pointed out some more differeces (mostly biassed toward desktop
apps; so-far nobody said much about clientside apps such as
an intelligent decision based on ample information/ideas and
Your IP number shows that you're a customer of a spam-friendly ISP.
Nobody in their right mind likes spammers, nor their automated assistants.
To gain access to this site, you must demonstrate you're not one of them.
Please spend a few seconds to jot down the text that you see in this box:
Then crumple that paper and stuff it where the sun don't shine.
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