Thursday, 23 November 2006

Firefox Summit

I feel obligated to say something about last week's Firefox Summit, because it was a big event for our community and for me. For me the most important thing was to meet lots of contributors whom I'd never met face to face before, but whom I've worked with for a long time ... you know who you are. Even the people I had met before, I haven't actually spent much time with, so it was good to meet them again.

One thing I noticed was how huge the community is now. It's something you don't really grasp when you're just working through bugzilla and IRC. A lot of that is due to hiring by the Mozilla Corporation, but we also continue to acquire good old-fashioned volunteer contributors, and also the ecosystem around Firefox and Gecko is growing, supporting other applications and other companies. It's really exciting.

I ran sessions on Text and Typography and Offline Web Applications. The former basically was my summary of the status of the new text code, to bring people up to speed. Some issues were raised that I'll have to look into, like MathML's need to specify glyph indices directly in a string. Simon Montagu asked some difficult questions about ligatures that stack vertically instead of horizontally and how we can support those. We just don't know; someone needs to find an Arabic text editor that supports vertical ligatures and tell us how it works. Another fun problem that was raised: how should selection be rendered when you select part of a string in a font like Zapfino? The "advance width + ascent + descent" rectangle actually doesn't cover much of the characters selected...

The offline applications session had more discussion. I think we've converged on a plan and now we just need someone to implement it! The guts are in the wiki page; we need a way for pages to specify which components should made available offline, and then download and cache those offline pages as the user indicates, probably just by bookmarking the site.

Overall I had a great time. The scavenger hunt was a little boring --- I guess downtown San Jose isn't the best venue. But the other events were fantastic. Hats off to the Mozilla organization for running it and funding it.

Tuesday, 21 November 2006

Prophecy Fulfilled

Steven Friedlander, head of distribution for Warner Independent Pictures, which had one of the summer's few hits with March of the Penguins, suggested that it was unlikely that Hollywood will learn from the mistakes it made this past season. "In an ideal world, people would say 'OK, we have to think more creatively, we have to think outside the box and come up with new and different things, '" Friedlander told AP. "But I'm afraid what's going to happen is, we're all going to sit in a room and say 'We need more penguin movies.'"

5 September, 2005

The Warner Bros. animated penguin romp "Happy Feet" debuted with $42.3 million, grabbing an edge for the weekend's No. 1 slot.

19 November, 2006

Monday, 20 November 2006

Mail Forwarding

For years I've been using Zoneedit's free service to forward mail for accounts to various destinations (currently GMail accounts). Unfortunately Zoneedit's service seems to have deteriorated lately; many mails are delayed by half an hour or more inside Zoneedit's system, and I suspect one or more may have been dropped, although I can't prove that yet. Any readers have tips for a more reliable but free service to achieve the same thing? "Google Apps For Your Domain" is close, but apparently overkill for what I want since it seems to give you fresh GMail mailboxes for the domain email addresses, and I just want forwarding to existing accounts.

The Firefox Summit was fantastic. I met literally dozens of people I've worked with for years but never met face to face, and I had lots of fun. I'll probably write more about it soon.

Update! On the advice of an anonymous commenter, I tried using Google Apps For Your Domain, setting up one "email list" per, each containing one recipient, the address I want to forward to. It works great! Email propagation time is reduced from 10-30+ minutes to about ten seconds, and I only have had to create one extra GMail account (, the administrator). Thanks Anonymous (and Google)!

Thursday, 2 November 2006

Making Web Applications First Class Desktop Citizens

I was reading Joshua Schachter's blog and noticed he's commented about something I've been thinking about: we need to make Web apps fit better in the world of desktop applications:
Since web applications aren't first-class desktop citizens they therefore are missing several interfaces that normal applications have: you cannot Alt-Tab to them, you cannot launch them separately, they don't "install" and stick around on your desktop, and notably, they cannot control what happens when you close them.

Not "installing" and "sticking around on your desktop" are actually nice features of Web applications, in most cases, but we could certainly improve the situation here, perhaps by making it easier to create desktop links, and by treating launches from desktop links as instantiating a new application instead of just another browser window or tab.

Another thing that Web apps should be able to do is register to handle certain file types.