Apparently I’ve been talking a little too much about interfaces lately
Dear web (I’m not going to insult you and call you lazy like some people I’d mention),
Why is it that even if I’m just adding a tag to a wordpress post it deems it necessary to update the date of the post causing places like planet to republish the post? Surely there must be some way around this that I’m missing?
It’s been a hectic couple of weeks for me and I wanted to touch on a few of the highs and lows before I forget them all.
It started with flights to get me to Toronto (for those of you that don’t know I live and work out of the UK). I was speaking at the Toronto Developer Day as well as attending a Firefox team work week (two things that conflicted more than I would have liked unfortunately). I normally manage to find direct flights but this time I had to connect through Amsterdam which wasn’t too bad, even if they seem even more mad for security than Heathrow. Incidentally terminal 4 at Heathrow is miles nicer than 3 where I normally come from, even if the 6 police officers armed with automatic weapons was a little disconcerting.
The Developer Day seemed to be a success and I hope all the attendees got something out of it. I’d encourage those that didn’t to let us know where we went wrong of course, not point in us running these things if they don’t give you anything. I think the people at my session found it useful, though I suspect I really need to work on my presentation style for such things. I feel kinda bad though that I’m not more confident about speaking and so could have taken some of the massive workload that Mark Finkle took on off his shoulders.
The rest of the week was spent with the rest of the Firefox team either figuring out concrete plans for the immediate future or working on those plans, interspersed with pizza, barbecue and poutine (Who’d have thought that Canadians would mash together some of the quick takeaway foods I used to get here and serve it in a restaurant!).
Next stop was Mountain View, via Detroit this time. I have to say that Detroit is a really nice airport to change at, even if it does mean that you’re probably flying Northwest if you do so.
I had a weekend to kill so on the Saturday a friend took me to a Renaissance Faire. I thought it might be a bit too geeky even for my tastes at first but it turned out to be a lot of fun, not sure you’d ever get me dressing up to attend like many do though. Fairly fun to watch Americans celebrating a history they never had.
Sunday I headed to the Winchester mystery house. I probably wasn’t in a good mood for it to be honest, jet lag had hit me and then the tour guide was a stereotypical over the top American tour guide trying to make every little oddity out to be spooky. Still it was an interesting place to walk around and the gardens were quite spectacular.
Tuesday I headed into San Francisco proper and went to meet up with the guys at Songbird. One of the things I really want to do is avoid writing the add-ons manager for just Firefox so it was good to chat with them about what they would like to see and how important they find the future plans that we’ve already toyed with.
That evening I had a great meal with some new friends at a German restaurant (yes I had to go to California in order to eat at a German place for the first time). I also got to experience the fun of driving out of the city back to MV at eight in the morning. I think I’ll be avoiding that in the future.
Thursday it was fun to attend one of the monthly labs meetups. Pretty cool to see plans for what is coming both in experimental stuff and in Firefox itself. I think it’d be really useful to stream these events so more people can get an insight in what is coming and why. Too often we can land things in the nightlies seemingly without any discussion when in actual fact a lot of thought does go into pretty much everything.
Finally Friday morning was painful. I maybe took people too seriously when they advised me on how long it would take to get to the airport and to check in, and then I added some for safety leaving me getting up at 5am and then ending up waiting at the gate for an hour and a half.
Seriously, why are so many people carrying on multple bags rather than checking them. I suppose I understand the risk of lost luggage but it is getting really annoying when I have to stick my single carry-on bag under my feet, decreasing the already sparse space there, because the overhead lockers are filled with trolley cases.
Northwest has to be one of the worst airlines I have flown. Poor food, very little movie selection, no tv episodes available at all. Thank god I have taken to putting movies onto my iPod so I always have something decent to watch.
Now I’m sat in a hotel room trying to stay awake for a bit longer. After I get back to Heathrow, after some 20 odd hours travelling (and I can never sleep on planes) it seems to be a good idea for me to sleep before taking the final 3 hour drive back home. But I also need to start the shift back to UK time. I shall probably be waking myself at around 3am for a leisurely drive back to Wales and then slowly shifting myself a couple of hours a day for the rest of this week.
I’ve finally taken the plunge and switched my website to a more modern blogging software (WordPress) and a dedicated media gallery (Gallery 2). Hopefully through the magic of redirects most shouldn’t notice much difference. I just hope planet hasn’t decided to dump all my posts onto the front page, if it has then I apologise.
I’ve also taken this opportunity to move all my extensions to addons.mozilla.org. Most are currently still in the sandbox, hopefully they will come public soon. I’m also using the nice new AMO API service to populate details on the add-on homepages, means there is only one place I need to make most changes to.
Spam is one of those evils of the modern age. It looks less and less likely that a real 100% effective solution will be found which is a little sad but not a major deal to my mind. I’ve managed to turn off my old junk email accounts and train my filter to clear out 90% of the junk I receive. Surprisingly I’ve had more problems with spam comments on this site than I have in my email lately. Even with comment moderation turned on the Tab Sidebar extension was receiving a silly amount of junk comments. It probably still is but I’m now using a simple blacklist to catch it all.
I tend to think of spam in two categories. You have your normal junk, you know offers to help someone transfer $1,000,000 (ONE MILLION US DOLLARS) out of Nigeria and to enlarge various of my body parts. Then you have the stuff which is from reputable companies which have generally got your email legitimately, maybe I filled in something to download some trial software or maybe I was even interested at one point. Perhaps surprisingly it’s the latter of these types that irritate me more . In particular when I attempt to unsubscribe and I still keep receiving mails.
Take this example. When I left my last job (about a month ago) I cancelled my small business mailings from Microsoft as they weren’t relevant to me anymore. What do I find in my inbox today:
Dear Mr Dave Townsend
As part of a routine data inspection we have noticed you have elected to stop receiving communications from Microsoft.
So umm let me get this straight, you recognise that I have asked to not receive any more mails from you and as such you have decided to email me?
As Microsoft launches exciting new solutions and initiatives, there’s no better time to register for information that will give your business a critical technological advantage. We invite you to consider receiving communications from us again.
Oh well if you are wanting me to start receiving mails again then of course it’s acceptable for you to mail to ask me.
if you still choose not to receive communications from Microsoft, simply do nothing and we will not contact you again
Oh well that’s ok. Of course I haven’t done anything since I opted out and you still mailed me.
Really large organisations should know better. If I tell you that I don’t want to hear from you again, what I mean is “I DON’T WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU AGAIN”.
I guess it goes without saying that I’m fairly technically literate and as such I’m pretty well versed in both what makes a strong password and actually using them. I actually have a pair of passwords, one that I use for what I consider my more important logins (company accounts, servers and the like), and another that is for lesser services that if I lost or it got hacked then it wouldn’t be a major compromise of anything.
Given this it’s always particularly disappointing when I find something that I really want to use a strong password for but can’t, because the service in question can’t handle how strong my password is.
Take my new bank account with Lloyds TSB. The password for the internet banking is 6-15 characters, must contains letters and numbers, but cannot contain any spaces or anything non-alphanumeric. Bang goes about 4 characters from my strong password.
Lloyds aren’t alone either. I also have a savings account with Citibank. To log in to their online banking I am not allowed to type in my password by hand, instead I must use an onscreen keyboard with my mouse. Now I’m not quite sure what this is meant to serve, all it does is enter the characters into a regular html input box, you know, easily readable from an add-on or other form of spyware. And even worse the keyboard gives me just 51 possible characters to choose. At least Lloyds let me use both upper and lower case!
Maybe all these places having quite different restrictions on what characters I can use in my password is a cunning ploy to make me use a different password everywhere, but I find it a little disturbing that I’m able to use a stronger password with my online pizza delivery place than with my bank accounts holding thousands of pounds of savings.
Wow, it’s been a month to the day since my last post here, and quite a lot’s happened in that time. Those of you that keep up on Mozilla things might realise that I have changed jobs and I’m now working for Mozilla on the Firefox team under Mike Connor. I’m going to be putting work into the addons side of Firefox 3, in particular taking some of the main requirements as well as tackling some of the really irritating issues that have lain dormant for a little too long for my liking. Most exciting stuff for me right now (yes I know, I’m sad!) is that I’ve been working on doing unit tests for the extension manager component which makes testing new patches far easier to my mind as well as of course allow us to start catching regressions.
Getting this new position has been quite a fantastic achievement in my eyes and it’s allowed me to do other things that I’ve been needing to do for some time, like move house and various other personal goals that I won’t bore you with here.
In case you were wondering how this affects my extensions, well not much in all honesty. They are still all my personal work and all done in my personal time and the amount of time I have spare to work on them is (unfortunately) still about the same. I am however thinking about a fundamental change about how my extensions are available to the general public and in particular one that I think will encourage more outside contribution to my extensions, meaning that the burden is taken off me as a lone developer to add features and fix the bugs. I’m still mulling this over at the moment so watch this space for further news.
Yes I am shamelessly adding new posts in an attempt to make the front page look something other than sparse, well sort of…
Anyone who read my homepage for about the past year will remember some idiot sending me a pointlessly rude email. Well coincidentally it happened again so I thought I’d share this one as well. Now remember that (due to my shameless neglect to do anything about it) when people fill in the contact form on my site, I have absolutely no clue where they are coming from or quite often what they are talking about:
Comments: wtf is ur problem. put what the extension dus u sonofabitch
Oh I so enjoy some of the messages people send me.
No seriously most of the people that contact me are great, a couple though really need to remember that I write these things in my spare time and don’t charge a bean for them. As you should remember for the majority of extension authors.
Well here we are, the first post of what I'm trying my best not to call a blog, since I secretly snigger at my friends who have blogs.
For those of you new to this site, welcome, for those returning, check out the spiffy new look, ain't it thousands of times better than it was! There's still a bit of work to do, improving the information on my extensions and such but my website has always been a bit of a work in progress.
So I should say that this won't be much of an interesting blog unless you are particularly interested in Mozilla related stuff. I don't intend to write about my personal feelings (apparently I have them) and I'll be keeping rants about news/stuff to a minimum.
Displaying posts by tag and getting feeds for tags is in the pipeline, so hang tight and I'll post here when that sort of gubbins is done.