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    Re: Browser issues, not errors in USNO celestial data
    From: Frank Reed
    Date: 2010 May 1, 15:25 -0700

    Gary, you wrote:
    "I tried the same thing with my netbook and no problem with the data using Firefox so it appears that it is a problem with just my laptop computer when using Firefox but I have used that computer for years with Firefox to access the USNO website and never had a problem before."

    You should consider a fresh install of Firefox or a new browser. Details below.

    But it's not "merely" a browser issue. The HTML on that USNO web page is likely to highlight small bugs and peculiarities in different browsers. The "pre" tag that we use on NavList pages and the folks who built that USNO page use to create their almanac data pages is treated somewhat differently in different browsers depending on such things as the "DOCTYPE" for the page. It's a bit of a nuisance! Remarkably, the USNO page is not using a standard html "table" with a separate data cell for each item to display this tabular data. This is probably because this online tool was created five to ten years ago and someone decided, reasonable for then, that a big table would cause more trouble than it was worth.

    I wouldn't complain too much about this USNO web service. There are two options for them if you convince them that it's buggy: fix it --which costs time and money now and may produce more bugs than existed previously and leaves an open-ended issue for them, or remove it permanently --which costs almost nothing, closes the book, and definitively caps future costs. As a hedge against either scenario, we on NavList should build online tools with identical functionality.

    As for browsers, I don't recommend Firefox though I have it installed and use it on a regular basis to check browser compatibility issues, and its present problems may be fixed soon. If you are committed to staying with Firefox, you should make sure you have a clean installation: save your bookmarks, then remove all add-ons (these can be a big source of trouble), then un-install, then re-install from the most recent Firefox build, restore your bookmarks, and go look for recent versions of any add-ons you use regularly. For an alternative browser, try Google Chrome or Apple Safari for Windows, both of which are constructed from the same "WebKit" foundation which is the basis also for the browsers in the iPhone and Android phones (and thus it's thoroughly, extensively tested). And there's also the Opera browser and Microsoft Internet Explorer, which are both excellent. Folks are always look for reasons to dislike IE but it's still a fine product. There's a whole host of minor browsers out there, too. Very roughly (there's no way to be exact on these things) 55% of web page access is from Microsoft Internet Explorer and falling steadily, 30% from Firefox and falling or stable, 7% from Google Chrome and rising rapidly, 5% from Safari and rising, with Opera and minor browsers picking up the remainder.

    -FER

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