Oh Calcutta!

Sorry to have skipped last week. I was at the fag end of a fortnight’s vacation. And was too relaxed to even lift a finger. Waited on as I was hand and foot. To stir and write the previous week’s column. And if you wonder how I managed the previous week’s installment. Well thank the kind WordPress developers who have thoughtfully included a Publish On feature. Allowing your peripatetic columnist to pen some episodes in advance.

It’s taken me the better part of the last week to change channels from vacation to work. At least insofar as researching and evaluating new web tools. As I invariably drop off to sleep by 10 PM and need at least 10 hours straight sleep! But I seem to be shaking off this not quite unwelcome habit and spent most of this weekend past catching up.

There’s new software aplenty. But of special interest in release of Opera for Windows 9.0 Beta Build 8238. Which continues Opera Software’s fine tradition of very stable Betas. Opera 9 Beta Build 8238 features an improved Content Blocker. And in this version support for GMail Ajax scripting seems to have been improved. For the first time during the Opera 9 Beta have I been able to login to a GMail account when using Opera. But all this technological prowess comes at a cost: Opera seems to have abandoned charting its own course in favor of cloning Firefox’s dialogs, keyboard shortcuts and features. But this apart, I really like the new version. Which is a big improvement of the 8.5x version. And with OperaGet some of your problems getting Opera to correctly interface with download managers may be a thing of the past. However this software seems a bit buggy so use at your own risk. Flashgot it ain’t!

And if you like reading lots of blogs. Yet are still under-whelmed by email. Or would like some mail that’s not junk to be delivered to you. Do visit Squeet that delivers blogs to you via e-mail. The free service is very customizable. More details in the Squeet FAQ.

And there’s a fix for Firefox’s runaway resource use. According to Ben Goodger (one of the browser’s lead developers), by design Firefox allocates read-ahead page caching by installed system memory. And

To improve performance when navigating (studies show that 39% of all page navigations are re-navigations to pages visited < 10 pages ago, usually using the back button), Firefox 1.5 implements a Back-Forward cache that retains the rendered document for the last few session history entries. This can be a lot of data. It's a trade-off. What you get out of it is faster performance as you navigate the web. For those who remain concerned, here's how the feature works. Firefox has a preference browser.sessionhistory.max_total_viewers which by default is set to -1. When set to this value, Firefox calculates the amount of memory in the system, according to this breakdown:

RAM Number of Cached Pages
32MB 0
64MB 1
128MB 2
256MB 3
512MB 5
1GB 8
2GB 8
4GB 8

No more than 8 pages are ever cached in this fashion, by default. If you set this preference to another value, e.g. 25, 25 pages will be cached. You can set it to 0 to disable the feature, but your page load performance will suffer.

Calcutta (India) street circa 1945-46, Claude Waddell via Van Pelt Library at UPennIf you’re interested in seeing what one of Asia’s great cities looked like during 1945-46, there’s a visual treat in store for you courtesy the South Asia Section of the Van Pelt Library, University of Pennsylvania.

Who recently acquired a photo album of 60 photographs of Calcutta by Claude Waddell, a military photographer. Who also provided interesting glosses accompanying each photograph.

That’s it for me this week. Stay Safe and we’ll continue next week.

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