Sure, evolution as such is not to be found in the book containing what God gave Moses as an explanation of origins suitable for illiterate nomads. No, and beer is not mentioned in the Bible either, though man has been making it for about twelve centuries.
Bishop Tikhon of San Francisco, Los Angeles and the West

«— Verizon Vexation
—» Lexington Church Closed for the Holiday

Firefox 1.5 Released

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MozillaZine article on Firefox 1.5 release

I’ve been using the beta versions of Firefox 1.5, and I’m very happy. I thought we were going to lose Greasemonkey, but I downloaded the updated plugin for Firefox 1.5 this morning. Security issues make continuing to use Explorer worse than playing with obsolete kid’s stuff; it’s dangerous.

Get Firefox 1.5 now. You’ll be happy you did.

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Filed under: — Basil @ 7:40 am

«— New and Unimproved
—» Interpreting the OCA Advisory

Firefox and Nutscrape

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How Stuff Works is featuring an article on Firefox explaining some of its superior features such as extensions and pop-up blocking.

Also in Firefox news, Netscape 8 beta was released today. Screenshots reveal a hideously unusable interface. Unsurprisingly, it is only being released on Windows platforms. Mac users don’t go for blecherous interfaces. (Well, sometimes they do; but they’re spoiled by the goodness of the Mac interface, so it’s less likely.)

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Filed under: — Basil @ 12:00 am

«— On Modernism
—» Forgive Me, Father….

AP News Coverage of Firefox

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Surfing news.google.com this morning, I found a bushel of newspapers and internet news portals all over the nation carrying an Associated Press article lauding Mozilla Firefox over Internet Explorer. “Firefox Browser a Good Alternative to Microsoft’s

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Filed under: — Basil @ 12:52 pm

«— Mutterings for October 10
—» A Short Instruction on Marriage

Devedge Murdered

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devedge.netscape.com has been killed. Mozillazine reports that Mitchell Baker is hoping to revive much of the content on mozilla.org. For the time being, much of it can be found on the Wayback Machine. Specifically, if you were using the great sidebar tabs provided by devedge, then you can hack the bookmark URL to keep them working. Add the following immediately before “http://devedge.netscape.com/” in the bookmark manager:
http://web.archive.org/web/20031215154156/

Unfortunately, the links will lead to the webarchive version of those pages instead of the W3c sites, but that is acceptable for the time being. Long live the wonderful Wayback Machine, savior of online content everywhere. And good luck to Mitchell Baker and the Mozilla Foundation in recovering the content.

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Filed under: — Basil @ 12:22 am

«— Not Much of a Leap
—» Interpreting Saint Maximus

Shocking

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Did I just read Tim blog positively about tabbed browsing in Firefox?

In other news, I think I just saw Satan ice-skate to work.

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Filed under: — Basil @ 5:12 pm

«— Saint Vladimir, Equal to the Apostles, in Baptism Called “Basil”
—» Taizé, Orthodoxy, and Ecumenism

The Return of the King?

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With the recent developments in the Mozilla community, I have to ask with baited breath: Will users everywhere be blessed with the return of usability prodigy mpt? Or has Mozilla really lost forever one of the brightest lights in its tragic, torpid history?

I really wish I had time to work on Mozilla again. Perhaps mpt does, too.

The release of Mozilla from the stranglehold of Netscape/AOL could be perhaps the best news about the internet application suite in years. It has been slowly building a rock-solid codebase — literally under everone’s noses. The final judgment of this moment will elude all but the most prophetic technologists, because Mozilla’s success depends entirely on the support, without chains, of many wealthy patrons.

This means that it must become more attractive than it currently is for these patrons to pledge their support for the foundation. These next few months hold the possibility of proving or disproving the viability of a N/AOL-free Mozilla. We have been given what we wished for — a Bastille Day of sorts for Mozilla. Now, let us hope that we do not find the anarchy that followed upon the historical Bastille Day.

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Filed under: — Basil @ 7:21 pm

«— A-hem! A Point of Clarification.
—» Quickblog

whoami

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Blake clarifies that he was not talking down to Tim. Cool; in spite of my acerbic tone, I respect his work on the Mozilla Project, especially Phoenix. (I’m pretty sure Tim does, too.) As for who I am, if you have ever read Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury, you will find that I bear a striking resemblance to Benjy. I’m just a mumbling fool, ejaculating at random intervals.

Speaking of which, what is up with mpt? He blogs about life after Mozilla! Did I miss something? (This is possibly where it shows that I do not follow the newsgroups.) Am I reading this wrong? Has he finally despaired of inspiring clue in Mozilla UI design?

What a sad state of affairs that would be — but not completely hopeless. In spite of my use of hyperbole earlier, I am well aware that not all Mozilla developers are created equal. I would start a list of those in addition to Blake I regard as endowed with clue, but that would only expose the vacuum in my cranium. Oh, wait.

That great whooshing sound you hear is my brain being filled with passing detritus.

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Filed under: — Basil @ 11:12 pm

«— The Fallacy of Pro vs. Am
—» Ranting Again

Hacking Chimera

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Chris is working on some hacks for Chimera. Hacking WebsiteDefaults.strings to use JavaScript in its URIs is quite cool. Since it’s basically the same idea as a bookmarklet, I tried improving on Chris’ hack by using the Google bookmarklet that Tim developed a few years ago. As expected it works like a charm in WebsiteDefaults.strings.

Here’s the code:

javascript:Qr=document.getSelection();if(!Qr){void(Qr=prompt('What do you want to search for on Google?',''))};
if(Qr)location.href='http://google.com/search?query='
+escape(Qr)+'&num=10&sa='

Use this for SearchPageDefault in WebsiteDefaults.strings. The advantages of this code are several.

  1. Since it’s JavaScript, it runs in the context of the current page. q is a relatively common variable name. Using Qr reduces the possibility that it might collide with a variable in the current page.
  2. Qr=document.getSelection(); allows you to select some text in the current page and access the search engine directly. No prompts, just go!
  3. By omitting client=googlet from the URI, it does not falsely bloat Google’s stats. To Google, this means that a specific client was used, which is false in this case.

Keep up the good work, Chris. Let us know when you actually have something to download. I’d love to see what you’ve got.

By the way, if you are not a Mac über-poweruser like Chris, you have to ctrl-click on the Chimera icon to get the context menu, then click on “Package Contents” to access this stuff.

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Filed under: — Basil @ 6:30 pm

«— Do You Know Jesus as Our Corporate Savior?
—» Pride Cometh

A Word is Forever

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Once you post something on a website, you’d better be damn sure that you want people to see it. Once you have posted it, there is no way of telling whether you will be able to “unpost” it by simply removing it. Case in point: Blake’s rant about the Netscape 7 release. Thanks to Hixie for the link.

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Filed under: — Basil @ 12:38 am

«— The Unknowable Knower
—» Exchanging God for Kizmet

Repent! The Lizard is for Users!

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Asa : “I don’t have any usability data to back up my claim either but it seems pretty obvious to me…” blah blah blah, lots of blather that is neither obvious nor intuitive.

User interaction design means thinking outside the box of user interfaces. Looking at interaction from different angles increases the possibility of solutions that increase an interface’s usability. Repeat after me:
User interaction != user interface

From this perspective, broken pages are a usability problem. User Foo goes to a page written badly (say, using a poor joke of a WYSIWYG HTML generator, like FrontPage). In the dominant product, Internet Explorer, the page works just fine. In the browser that does not ship with my computer and is a pain to install (from the end-user perspective), the page does not display correctly. Why would I think the problem is with the browser that is simple to use because it’s a seamless part of the operating system? That’s the browser that’s displaying the page “correctly”!

Better example: user Bar goes to a page designed using another wussy-wig application, say Dreamweaver. It has all sorts of JavaScript inserted to do important things, like say, submit the form on the page. Let’s further pretend that the user really needs this form to work. It’s a form on her bank’s website. The page designer has tested it in Netscape 4.7 and Internet Explorer 4x and above. It does nary a thing in Mozilla. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilcho. What end-user is not going to think, “That’s a nasty bug. I guess Mozilla’s not ready for prime-time”? Only the power-user that’s a Mozilla evangelist with enough time and energy to sift through the steaming piles of MM_foo scripts and enough knowledge to find the non-ECMA/non–W3C-DOM objects and functions.

Thus, this is a top usability problem for Mozilla. It is a usability problem because it prevents users from using the browser for their daily operations. The answer? The answer certainly is not making Mozilla act badly, though recent checkins would appear to suggest that drivers@mozilla.org think otherwise.

mpt is simply suggesting a simple element in the UI to indicate to the user when the problems are not Mozilla’s fault. The happy standards evangelist, free with your download of Mozilla!

Of course, Asa will remind me that Mozilla is only made available for testing. It’s not for end-users. What bosh.

So, for everyone else besides Asa (who either won’t care or has already read them), some things to read:

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Filed under: — Basil @ 10:30 am

«— Bow Down and Worship
—» Well, I Swear!

Thou Shalt Not Move Me

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I just went to a site that moved and resized my existing window for no apparent reason. Happily, this annoying, user-unfriendly behavior can be turned off in Mozilla.

In the Edit menu, go to Preferences. In Advanced, go to the Scripts & Plugins panel, and uncheck
Allow scripts to:
[ ] Move or resize existing windows.

Voila! You retain control of your environment.

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Filed under: — Basil @ 12:13 pm

«— Finally, After Ages of Ages
—» Umm. Yeah. Or NOT!

This Is Not the Droid You’re Looking For

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Tim can’t imagine why anyone would want Mozilla to look like Internet Explorer. Well, let me give you a taste of the Cluestick: Some employers believe in forcing specific clients down their users’ throats. Yes, yes, I know. Amazing, isn’t it? Anyway, in such a situation, making a verboten Good Client look like the required Bad Client is a Good ThingTM.

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Filed under: — Basil @ 12:41 pm

«— “I Only Lied About Being a Thief”
—» Rule #1

Native is Better

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Kevin Gerich has created a native-looking Pinstripe Aqua theme for Mozilla. No longer does the Lizard have to look like a Windows freakshow reject when running on Mac OS X. I haven’t used it yet, but the screenshot looks beautiful. The description on the web page makes it sound like a little more than a theme (skin), though. He mentions hacking on the preferences dialog, and the installer fails on non-Mac platforms. This actually pushes into the realm of a distinct distribution, not a skin.

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Filed under: — Basil @ 12:33 pm

«— Stuff ‘n’ Stuff
—» Blinded by the Sun

Web Standards for Dummies

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AOL has a conundrum. They keep shipping beta versions of their software with the Gecko engine embedded, but Gecko never seems to make production AOL code.

My guess is that too many users complain about pages breaking in Gecko. The problem is that pages written specifically for Microsoft Internet Explorer, using Microsoft proprietary extensions, will break in Gecko-based browsers, like Mozilla and Netscape. This is because these pages break the standards for web pages set by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and other standards bodies. While Mozilla hackers and a few web developers like myself might care about this, users do not.

So how do we make them care? We must ship an evangelist with Gecko-based browsers, like iCab does. Only immediate feedback to the user will communicate that the page is the problem, not the Gecko browser they are using.

A rather suboptimal start would be a button that simply passed the page along to the W3C validator or listed the JavaScript errors, something like these bookmarklets: Check Page, and JS Console. (To use as bookmarklets, right click on either link, and choose “Bookmark This Page” or “Add to Favorites.”). However, as I said, this would be a rather suboptimal solution. The real solution needs to provide immediate feedback to the user that the page itself is borken. Bug 6211 asks for something like this. It’s too bad this bug is so old. That means that hackers don’t care enough to bang the code.

It’s also suboptimal because the information in the JavaScript Console and the W3C validator are aimed at developers. Users need information that is directed at their level. Users don’t grok “Error: window._content.document has no properties.” It’s worse than garbage as far as they are concerned. They need something as drop dead simple as: “This page is broken. The guy who wrote it is a moron.” This has the added feature of convincing developers to use web standards, since they likely don’t want to be identified as monkeys.

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Filed under: — Basil @ 8:28 pm

«— The Revolution Has Begun
—» Web Standards for Dummies

Stuff ‘n’ Stuff

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Hallelujah: mpt finally fixed his blog to have an almost usable link color.

Lord, have mercy: Chris mentioned yesterday’s festivities. In additon to having a Mozilla 1.0 release party of two at Tony Roma’s, Tim and I celebrated my birthday. Answer to Chris: NOYB.

Heavens to mergatroid: The Post 1.0 Manifesto has some problems. Tim and I were discussing it last night. Oh, wait. I still haven’t read it yet. Heh.

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Filed under: — Basil @ 9:57 am