FireFox 1.5

Everybody seems to be writing about the new firefox and as a loyal user, I shouldn’t stay behind. I’ve been using the alpha and beta versions and they have proven to be mostly trouble free (as much as you could expect from alphas and betas).

The alphas were a little unstable and I encountered a couple of crashes (over a period of several weeks). That hasn’t happened to me with the beta which I’ve been using since it was released. The largest problem has been the intially slow pace with which extensions are tested and ported. By now most of the more relevant (and actively maintained) ones have been ported. There are still a few extensions missing. Presumably the developers are waiting for the final release or simply not interested in immediately fixing their extensions.

Now the new features. At a first glance, not much has changed. Most changes are under the hood. The most visible change is no doubt the rearranging of the preferences dialog. IMHO it doesn’t make much difference but I agree it is slightly nicer this way. Also the rss button has relocated from the status bar to the locationdropdown. IMHO this is slightly awkward or at least unconventional. And finally FireFox now has error pages for timeouts and other server errors, just like IE has had for years. Other than that, I can’t think of any relevant, eye catching changes.

Then there are the changes under the hood. SVG and canvas are two new cool technologies. However, since internet explorer does not support these, I doubt they will be used very much. Firefox only sites are a bad idea IMHO. Sadly, this also applies to the CSS improvements (e.g. css 3 columns) and javascript improvements. Nice, but it’s not likely these technology improvements will see much adoption (except maybe in browser extensions where browser compatibility is not an issue).

The most visible change to end users will be the performance increase. When 1.0 was released last year, it was released off a branch which had been frozen quite some time by then. Meanwhile development on trunk (a.k.a. mozilla 1.8) continued and about 1.5 year of development has accumulated there, most of which will end up in FireFox 1.5. FireFox 1.5 has a new clever mechanism for back and forward which prevents it from rerendering a page and caches the results. Consequently, going back and forth between pages is now fast. Also normal rendering of pages has seen some improvements. It is hard to quantify this but it certainly feels faster.

Something that is often overlooked in reviews such as this is extensions. As I said there are some porting issues but these will go away when the final release approaches. What is worth noting is that some extensions have really evolved from nice toys to real valuable browser additions. IMHO the added value these extensions provide is often overlooked. You can’t really imagine doing web development without such powerful tools as the javascript debugger, the webdevelopment toolbar, live http headers and many more developer oriented tools. As a mere user, adblock, sage, forecastfox and context highlight make life so much easier and fun. And there are loads more of mature, well tested, valuable extensions.

So to summarize, some minor feature and gui development, lots of under the hood changes which you will notice in the form of snappier performance. Other than that it is still FireFox, a damn good browser, a solid upgrade from any browser you currently use.

migrated to wordpress

I’ve been playing around with wordpress for about an hour. Easy to use, feature rich and I managed to migrate my old pivot posts by importing the RSS.

Why migrate away from pivot? Well, I wanted to try something new. Referrer and comment spam has caused me to cripple pivot and frankly, I never really liked the plain text files, the messy templates and the lack of updates during the half year I used it.

WordPress seems to be popular amongst the ‘hard core’ bloggers and I like the look and feel. Also the default template is much nicer IMHO.

As for that, I am unlikely to change it much due to a lack of time and interest. That may sound a little unlike me but I am sort of bored with trying to make html+css+javascript do things it is clearly not very well suited for.

I simply no longer believe in this technology: it is primitive, awfully limited and hopelessly flawed by design. Most nice page layouts consist of elaborate workarounds for browser limitations, browser incompatibilities, ambiguous standards interpretations and plain parser bugs. The implementation of the more relevant CSS features are almost without exception problematic.

I have no wish to learn much more than I already know about yesterdays mistakes at Netscape and Microsoft. Every attempt at building something nice over the past few years has ended with me discovering it wouldn’t work in IE (position:fixed) or it wasn’t possible at all (vertical spacing, css columns with a row beneath) or it would sort of half work in version x and break down in version y of Firefox (never bothered to find out which version was behaving ‘incorrectly’).

bye bye nedstat

Nedstat (a company that has long offered a free site statistics tool) renamed itself to Webstats4U and made a subtle change in their license. As a consequence they may now insult visitors of my website by displaying advertisements (popups, unders, etc.). While I expect my dear visitors to use a decent browser I can’t agree with these terms of use so I have removed the nedstat counter after having used it from 1999.

Bastards ….

Another few bastards blocked. Good for 1.3 GB of trafic on my site alone in August these four assholes.

# Hits Files KBytes Visits Hostname
1 35225 30.75% 35225 31.84% 658443 31.99% 83 1.89%
2 17486 15.27% 17486 15.81% 319409 15.52% 7 0.16%
3 17571 15.34% 17571 15.88% 275995 13.41% 4 0.09%
4 5763 5.03% 5763 5.21% 113005 5.49% 3 0.07%