Dispatches From the Internets

The Network Effect

Ars Technica revealed today that Comcast is injecting self-promotional advertising into web pages delivered via it’s Wi-Fi hotspots:

A Comcast spokesman told Ars the program began months ago. One facet of it is designed to alert consumers that they are connected to Comcast's Xfinity service. Other ads remind Web surfers to download Xfinity apps, Comcast spokesman Charlie Douglas told Ars in telephone interviews.

I wish I could say this is surprising, but it’s not: Any service that routes your content has the opportunity to modify the response being returned. Comcast is exploiting that opportunity and injecting JavaScript that, in turn, injects the ads.


The “Native” vs. “Stylable” Tug of War

In his astute post “‘Native experience’ vs styling select boxes”, Bruce Lawson correctly identified a common tension in the web world:

But why this urge to re-style page elements that end-users are familiar with? … Or is it that we love native look and feel, except when we don’t?

Speaking as the guy who not only wrote JavaScript to help me create an accessible select element alternative, but who also made it the focus of a case study (image) in AdvancED DOM Scripting, I am fully aware of the desire to have it both ways. I have not often seen the desire for both in a single individual, but it does happen in one particular instance occasionally.


Searching for the “Right Size”

This recent piece from Wired attributes dwindling tablet sales to cannibalization from larger mobile phones (aka “phablets”) which are nearly as big as 7-8˝ tablets:

Aside from the ability to make a phone call, the difference between a phone and a tablet comes down to 1.5 inches or less. … But the real issue is device makers are running out of good arguments for why these ever more subtle size gradations matter. After a point, the differences come down to personal preference rather than any meaningful new use case. As phones and tablets converge into this tight window, slightly bigger phones could accelerate the decline in tablet demand.

Personally, I’m not sure it matters. We’re in the midst of one big experiment being run by the device manufacturers. We’re in the scattershot. The industry is feeling out the “right” screen size (or sizes) that most people want to use and we are (in large part) footing the bill.