Archive for Mozilla

My views on Firefox OS

[ music | Styx – Fooling Yourself ]

Initially I blew off the Boot 2 Gecko initiative (now Firefox OS or something close to that) as unnecessary and pointless. I freely admit I was wrong. It’s actually a good idea, I like the idea, and I hope it works well. that said, I still think some of the goals are pipe dreams and pointless. I’m specifically replying to some of the things written in this blog post by Rob Hawkes (no relation to Guy), There is something magical about Firefox OS.

Feature phones. What? This is nearly 2013. Yes, there are probably literally a billion feature phones out there. There are reasons for that. They’re cheap, much more rugged than smartphones, last a week on a charge, and fulfill a basic need for communication via text and voice. They have very small screens with low resolution monochrome LCD displays. These are cheap in financial terms, power requirements,  and processing needs. There’s nothing Firefox can bring to this market that the cheap, small embedded OS can’t do, and no new benefits. To do anything smartphone related, you’ll need at least a better screen. Instantly you double the cost and reduce the disposability. Double? When you’re looking at hardware that costs $6 to $10 to produce and can be sold for under $20, yes, double.

Cheap smartphones. There are already cheap Android phones. A Firefox OS based phone MIGHT yield better web performance than Android on an underpowered phone, but screen space and computing power is getting so cheap that a 1GHz ARM powered phone will be under a hundred dollars by the time B2G hits 1.0. Now, if you make that type of phone perform better, that’s great, but let’s not pretend that’s really the goal here.

The goal of Firefox OS isn’t to compete with high-end devices, but to offer entry- to mid-level smartphones at feature phone prices. – Bonnie Cha

No it’s not. It’s to create an even more open competitor to Android. You can’t make a cheaper OS than android, because there’s no licensing cost to undercut. You can’t make the phones cheaper with software. Maybe Firefox OS makes underpowered hardware more usable, that doesn’t make the phone cheaper, just less crappy. Hardware is getting cheaper every six months, the problem is that they’re so cheap that it’s not worth the dev time to put Android on “feature” phone segment handsets.

The truth is Firefox OS might succeed where WebOS failed, and that is the exciting part. That’s why I did a 180 and began to like what FireFox OS could be. It’s more open than Android, has more dedicated backers than WebOS in both software and hardware partners, and based on proved tech rather than new tech. But give up on the hippie mantra of cheat smartphones for the masses. The masses will use yesterday’s tech. Yesterday’s hardware starts out as tomorrow’s, which Firefox OS might just make awesome for entirely different reasons.

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Kill the Meebo bar

[ music | Styx – Show Me The Way ]

I heard about the Meebo bar via this Gizmodo article about it, and how Boston.com killed it within 48 hours. Well, the AJC here in Atlanta has begun using it now too. It’s crap, but I use Firefox which makes getting rid of it easy. Here are some simple steps to kill it on the AJC’s website.

  1. Find your Firefox Profile directory
  2. Open the folder labeled “Chrome”
  3. Create a new file named UserContent.css or edit the one already there if it exists. this file is just text, so use Notepad or another text editor
  4. Paste the following into the file:
    div#meebo.meebo-00 { display: none ! important; }
  5. Save the file, and restart Firefox.

That’s it. Now, other sites that use the Meebo bar can be cured just as easily, you’ll just need to know the proper identifier for the Meebo bar on that page. If you’re not technically inclined, find a technically inclined friend to do the following:

  1. Right click in a blank area of the toolbar, select “Inspect Element”
  2. Examine the DOM nodes in the breadcrumb bar at the bottom to find the parent element of the Meebo bar. Do this on AJC.com and look for the identifier I used for that as listed above for an example.
  3. Copy the above code onto a new line, and edit the line in the above directions with the identifier for the site you’re concerned with.
  4. Save and restart Firefox.

Thanks to Gavin Sharp for pointing out the incredible usefulness of the new inspection tools, and everyone who contributed to the ifantastic new devtools in Firefox.

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Apple’s Rusty Cage

[ music | Soundgarden – Rusty Cage ]

I see Joe Hewitt has quit iPhone development thanks to Apple’s “chickenshit approval process“. I’m easing my way into iPhone development despite my reservations about Apple’s incredibly arbitrary and selectively enforced rules, and find it incredibly telling that as time goes on more and more people are chafing under Apple’s leash. They appear to have responded to customer demand with changes like mature app categories, but reversing course on NIN’s app and the Google Voice fiasco show how incredibly schizophrenic and unfair the system really is. I don’t blame Joe at all.

Someone mentioned to me Mozilla’s Addons site, but there’s a fundamental difference between that and Apple’s App Store. You can choose to develop for Firefox without ever looking at AMO, and you can distribute your addon independently as well. With Apple, you either go through the App Store, or you restrict yourself to EULA-violating methods like Cydia and other jailbreak-only solutions. I have nothing against those solutions, but it severely restricts discoverability and freedom of both developers and users.

What I find so unbelievable is that is that, at least from my perspective, Apple’s policies seemed doomed to failure eventually, and yet they’re still trying to stand by them. I see a redux of IBM of the 1980s. The PC took off thanks to IBM’s wide open policies on clones. IBM felt if they could maintain more control over the platform, there was a lot of profit to be made, and used the genuinely advanced MCA bus to help further those business goals. The consequence in the end was the complete eclipsing of IBM in the PC market. Android may not be on the same level as the iPhone OS yet, but the market seems to have demonstrated time after time that lower cost and greater freedom wins. If Apple keeps strangling their very promising platform, they very well may wind up the next Betamax.

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Sometimes it hits, we made a big difference.

[ music | Talk Talk – Life’s What you Make It ]

I was reading this article with was an interview with Big Mitch Baker and Mozilla CEO John Lilly and stumbled across this sentence, and it made me double take.

As of April 2009, Firefox claimed 22.48 percent of Web browser market, according to Net Applications. That makes it the second most popular browser world-wide, after Internet Explorer, which holds 66.1 percent. An impressive feat.

We’ve helped take IE down from over 90% of users to a hair under two thirds, and dropping. We did that, you, me, the entire Mozilla community. We took Gecko from the marginal-at-best suite to Firefox, 22.48% of Internet users, and paved the way for alternative browsers like Chrome and Safari to be able to carve out a viable existence. Ten years ago people were wondering how long Mozilla could keep plodding along before IE snuffed us out, what would happen when AOL cut the umbilical cord, and laughed at the idea of a real alternative to IE ever rising in the shadow of MS.

Impressive indeed.

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Why APNG?

APNG is a good thing. Some people think it’s not, that it’s just Mozilla carving its own course. It’s not Mozilla just being difficult, it’s that MNG missed the mark by a mile. Don’t believe me? Turns out other companies have encountered similar situations, as Raymond Chen explains why it’s ok to reimplement a subset of functions as a simple solution to a simple problem.

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A Time for Mourning

[ music | Samuel Barber – Adagio for Strings (Opus 11) ]

My mother passed away this morning. This is about a year and nine months after her stroke, when I had to admit her to a nursing home, and about 3 years after her diagnosis of dementia, specifically what we believe to have been vascular dementia. In retrospect, I can see the onset was somewhere in early 2002, with significant symptoms emerging in 2004. But she was active and agile into the start of 2008, even though she had have more care at the nursing home than I could provide. She was hit by it quite early in her life, relative to most patients, and sadly the earlier it strikes, the more aggressive it is (and vice versa). If it manages to affect a younger brain, it’s a more severe case, and the prognosis isn’t good. She died at about 8am today, halfway through her 65th year.

She was my only parent, and meant the world to me, we were very close, and I will miss her terribly. But I’m also glad she’s no longer suffering from the cruelest family of diseases, one that robs a person of their memories, their very being. She passed quietly and without much suffering at all. For a short while my site here will be in this monochrome scheme as a form of modern armband of mourning.

I’m leaving for the funeral and mass tomorrow morning, and should be back Saturday. Additionally, I’ll probably be slow on responding to contacts for a bit even after that. Bear with me on that. Please support stem cell and other research into treating Dementia, Alzheimer’s, and other neurodegenerative diseases so that maybe some day soon no families need ever see their loved ones slowly slip away from the inside out, and no one ever need forget who they are. Thanks.

Grey

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Travellin’ Man. Same cast, new show, new stage.

[ music | Steve Winwood – Valerie ]

You know, I’ve moved quite a few times in my life. I think I’m currently at move number 24. Most were within a small radius as a kid. A couple were across town, a couple were around 75 miles, and now I’ve finished my third move of 500+ miles. That’s not counting travel; I’ve never been overseas, but I’ve been to Mexico once, and Canada three times (four if you count veering into the Canadian side of Lake Erie, but that was an accident), and 28 states. Also, I hate lines, I much prefer pacing. Apparently I’m not one for standing around, neither metaphorically nor literally.

So that brings me back to the third 500+ mile move (I’m going to gloss over the first two). Technically I’m counting road miles and not as-the-crow-flies partly because it sounds more impressive and partly because I’m not a crow. From north western PA (a cultural desert, if I may say so (and I may, I was born in Pittsburgh, I can get away with insulting the crappy parts of PA, so bugger off)) to south eastern Virginia. I packed my car up, and hit the road. It’s fun driving on the freeway with a table strapped to the roof of your car, you should try it.

And you know what? For the first time in my life, I have absolutely not a single ounce of regret or homesickness. It’s fabulous here. I arrived a bit ago and never got around to blogging about it until now. The fact that it’s so flat here is starting to sink in, but other than that, it’s great. And I never thought I’d wind up in The South. Granted, Virginia isn’t exactly on the equator, but it’s below the Mason-Dixon line, and it’s a place I never imagined myself until last November.

And tonight I went to a “tweet up”. What’s a tweet up? It’s like a meet-up but for Twitter people. What’s Twitter? It’s like crack for the ADD crowd; tell the world what you’re doing in 140 characters. Yes, I have a Twitter page too. It’s a lot harder for me to use though. I’ve written a ream of short fiction and two books with a third in process. For me to say anything in 140 characters is like packing a dozen clowns in one of those little cars. I’m most assuredly 10 pounds of manure, and Twitter is a 10 ounce bag. But the tweet-up was awesome. There was a whopping 6 people tonight, and I’m quite sure I talked enough that none will ever come to another one, but I had a blast. I forgot how much fun I have jumping into the deep end feet first.

So here I am. New town, new home, a whole new smorgasbord of opportunities, and I feel 20 again. I don’t look 20, but I sure feel it. Of course, I didn’t look 20 when I was 20, so that’s nothing new. One person at the tweet up was a quite ambitious, hard working, impressive, and beautiful young woman who was a touch older than me, but looked easily ten years younger than she is, and mentioned her husband is about that much older than her. This told me two things: one, that he is a VERY lucky man, and two, there might actually be hope for me yet. If a guy who is that much older can land a beautiful and amazingly talented woman like that, a guy like me who just looks it still has a chance. 😉 Hidden Egg

All in all, I’m glad to be here. Stay tuned, it’s the same old me, but this is going to be a whole new show. and you bet your sweet bippy it’ll be even more interesting.

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Bring back some v3 features in Safari 4

[ music | Jason Mraz – The Remedy ]

If you’re a web developer, or a developer of web browsers (which is another kind of web developer, I suppose), you’ve probably grabbed betas of Safari 4. I haven’t had it long enough to give a full review, but I CAN say tabs on top? NO SIR. So, how do you undo that? Well, some swell soul has already dug out some of S4’s hidden prefs. I’m very thankful to this kind chap, and I’m just sharing the knowledge.

Now, if you’re on Windows and want to change these prefs, obviously you can’t do it the way that article mentions. This article has some good tips but there’s a caveat. The potential problems are twofold. One is if the file exists and it’s a binary plist, you’ll have to delete/rename it and create a new XML based one. Two is if similar but very different directories. The proper path is %APPDATA%\Apple Computer\Preferences and not %APPDATA%\Apple Computer\Safari\Preferences despite what it may look like.

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ISO: Webhost outside the US for long walks on the beach

[ music | Jesus Jones – International Bright Young Thing ]

I personally am quite happy with Dreamhost. However, I have a customer who is based in Europe, and would prefer a European web host, or one based elsewhere in the world. So, Lazyweb, does anyone know of a non-US web host with a comparable feature set? A healthy bandwidth allotment, PHP, several domains and subdomains per account, and supporting HTTPS/SSL are required, and SSH access is a really welcome feature. I’m more than open to invite or referral codes for good deals to get us in the door. Please email me or leave a comment. Thanks.

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Pittsburgh Steelers – 6 time Superbowl champs

[ music | Queen – We Are The Champions ]

No team has ever won 6 Superbowls until now. One for the other thumb.

No team has ever won 6 Superbowls until now. One for the other thumb.

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