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Preview: phil ringnalda » planet fodder

planet fodder – phil ringnalda

a digital magpie

Updated: 2008-12-11T17:08:26Z


pink and repink


Since Pinkerton got kicked off the planet(, somebody's got to keep people up to date with him, don't they?

Quoting from Sucking less, on a budget, for reasons that will be obvious to some:


A friend asked me today if Camino 1.1 was even in alpha. Heck, we’re on alpha two, but I guess we haven’t really done the best job of promoting it. To some extent, that’s reasonable, alphas generally aren’t the kind of thing you want your grandmother using. However, our standards are usually a little higher than most, and I’ve been running 1.1a2 daily on both home and work machines for a while.

In fact, we’re really close to beta. We wanted to have something for Presidents Day (Abe Lincoln is a *huge* Camino fan) but we extended our deadline to pick up some last minute crash fixes. I promise to blog about it when we do reach beta, and we’re going to have an increased presence, both on the Camino website and among download sites. It’s important that we get a lot of people to try it out and send us feedback before we go final.

Ben disputes my claim that Camino never crashes. Personally, I think he’s on crack. I have 1.1a2 running for over a month and a half of intense usage on both my laptops and my work desktop without a single crash. Maybe it’s because I turn Java off. What’s Java, you ask? Beats me. I think I used it in 1995. Really, would you allow a 12-year old to run wild in your browser? I think the blink tag is more relevant these days….props to Lou Montulli.

If Pacman Jones can make it rain for $81,000, then I want to be a stripper. Seriously. What’s the visual of a man walking into a club with $81,000 in his pocket?

Oh, I’m sorry, did I digress from Mozilla-related content? Oops. I did it again.

(In fact, they did go beta, but that was just today, so you can’t expect pink to know yet.)

Where’s Mama Bear’s update notification?


Baby Bear's update notification, a red Christmas tree by the throbber, was too little to be seen. Papa Bear's update notification, a dialog that interrupts you until you let it interrupt you by restarting your browser, is annoying. What does Mama Bear's just right notification look like?

Paul Bausch is absolutely right that Firefox’s current update notification, a popup dialog that gives you the choice between “stop what you are doing and restart your browser right now” and “be nagged at some random later time until you stop what you are doing and restart your browser” is the sort of annoyance we use Firefox to avoid, not to seek out.

But the previous version, a red Christmas tree that I think was supposed to be an arrow displayed up by the throbber, flat out didn’t work. For every single non-geek on whose computer I installed Firefox, that was something for me to see when I was doing something else for them, my little Christmas present of also getting to update their browser, and not anything for them to even notice, much less do anything about.

A couple of hours of thinking about less extreme methods of reminding people about an update without being invisible has only left me reinventing Clippy. So, what sort of notification can’t be missed, but can be ignored until you’re ready for it?

Don’t (server)push me


Turn off Bugzilla's annoying "Please stand by," "here's some of your results," "here's the whole list" use of multipart/x-mixed-replace by just adding a query param.

Bugzilla serves search results as multipart/x-mixed-replace, a mime-type which lets it send the “Please stand by…” page, have that displayed, and then replace it with the search results once the query completes. That’s probably fairly tolerable if you have a fast connection, a slow Bugzilla, and typically small queries. Me, I don’t.

I tend to do triage, when I do it, with broad “Find a Specific Bug” queries including closed bugs, to pull in all the synonyms that appear in duplicates, and sometimes (for narrow enough components, like Password Manager) with bookmarked searches for every open bug in a component, and I’m doing that over dialup. The “Please stand by…” splashscreen is tolerable enough, but then as my 200 results trickle in, and I scroll down them and find the bug I was after while the page is still loading, I start to get the second set of replaced content, so that my click on the link doesn’t actually load the bug I want, it just hurries along the re-loading of the same list that had already served its purpose. That’s particularly annoying when I click a bug link, switch to another tab (to do something like start the process of marking a duplicate) only to come back and find that the tab that should have my dupe target still has the results list that has my target in it. Somewhere.

Luckily, the other day I was reading buglist.cgi and discovered that I can quite often avoid the multipart/x-mixed-replace, because any URL that includes &serverpush=0 just gets served straight text/html. Fixing the search forms would require a bookmarklet, or more usefully a Greasemonkey script, to insert a in the form, but for my main bookmark and quicksearch use, just adding it to the URL makes using Bugzilla vastly more pleasant. Of course, I really ought to fix bug 298995 to get a user pref to turn it off completely, but now that my itch is scratched…

Trying to reward quick responses


A quick response to a weekend email about a problem may or may not make you money, but it will sure make me a fan.

I’m not entirely sure that it makes business sense to always quickly respond to anything that any random person contacts you about, but it pleases me so much when someone does that I’d like to pass out kudos:

A couple of weeks ago, I noticed a bug floating past in Bugzilla saying that posting in MSN Spaces wasn’t working with recent Firefox builds (which was actually a duplicate of an early August bug that we’d just mostly ignored). Since I sort of approximately know Dare, I emailed him at a bad choice of public address, and then noticed that Mike Torres exposes his work email on his weblog, so I sent him an email too, at 6pm on a Saturday. Within half an hour I got a response, saying that he’d do what he could, though they were in crunch time. The following Monday, I got an email from Scott Isaacs, saying that they’d figured it out (despite my misleading claims about what the problem was, since I’m always wrong on my first guess) and the fix just needed to work its way out to the live site. I didn’t check every day, so I don’t know when it actually went live, but when I checked this evening, it’s working like a charm in 1.5rc2, with plenty of time to spare before people want to post about how much they like their brand new Firefox 1.5 on their Space.

Oh, the crunch time? This was the weekend before Windows Live launched. And belay that carping about the presentation: they’re programmers, not PR. Me, I’m impressed.

Planetary damage


If you fail to write about something because it's already on a Planet that syndicates your posts, then the Planet is positively harmful to your readers.

Danny Ayers writes:

I can’t really be bothered blogging all the new SemWeb stuff these days, most of it ends up on Planet RDF anyhow.

What Danny probably doesn’t realize it that he’s pretty much my only connection to the Semantic Web stuff, leaving me with a rather false impression about how much actual stuff is coming out these days. Of course, I read Shelley Powers, but she’s more of an RDF Comet than a planet, and the other five or six RDF-heads I subscribe to almost never post about anything, RDF-related or not. I’m not about to subscribe to the Planet RDF feed, since I’d wind up reading Danny twice, and other people I don’t choose to read, so Planet RDF actually deprives me of RDF news.

And, prior to this post, Planet Mozilla was doing the same thing to my readers: since most of what I might write about has already long since shown up there, I don’t write about it, and as a result I’ve certainly got at least one reader who would have and should have installed Firefox 1.5 rc 1, but hasn’t because I didn’t write about it being available, and what’s in it, and who ought to be testing it, because it had already been on planet.m.o half a dozen times before I might have written about it. But no more: the main reason I’m writing this post, beside wanting to put the idea in some heads that a Planet isn’t always a good thing, is to create yet another category, so I can redirect the feed Planet Mozilla fetches to only get things I put in the “Planet Fodder” category, which will let me start writing about Mozilla again. Odd, that.