I really like this recent Mozilla poster:

Mozilla: Don’t hurt the web

(As far as I know) it first came up as a concept (see below) at the Firefox on-site meeting in Mountain View in November 2006, and because it's pretty irresistibly cute, we really couldn't let it catch dust in a drawer :)

Fligtar caught the presentation slide at the Firefox summit:

Don’t hurt the web, concept

Good job, Dave and the rest of the marketing team!

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Friday is approaching fast. It'll be my last day as an intern with the Mozilla Corporation!

Mozilla MascotIt was a fun and exciting time, and I learned a lot. Six months long, I was working full-time on the Remora (addons.mozilla.org version 3) project, and during my journey through the complete software development lifecycle I got to tackle quite a few tricky issues that turned out to require new and unique solutions that I really enjoyed inventing and implementing (to use morgamic's recent words: "things you can't google for"), and I am proud that part of all this now carries my signature (if you are interested, at the moment, that's something like 60.000 lines of code svn blames on me).

Yet for now, I have to go back to school and finish up my degree: After all, I want to become a "Diplom-Informationswirt" (that is, a Master's Degree in Information Engineering and Management), and that'll take me pretty much another four semesters.

I want to thank my fellow AMO web devs (morgamic, clouserw, shaver, sancus, fligtar and Cameron) for their (ongoing) work on the project, their efforts to get me integrated into the project and Mozilla in no time, and their constant valuable input on my work. Thanks to schrep, Mitchell, John and cbeard who did their very best to help me get the most out of my internship. Thanks to all the other employees who sparked my inspiration and expanded my horizons time and again in interesting conversations, presentations, etc. Thanks to dolske and faaborg who I never regretted to share a "cube" with. And last but not least to the countless others all over the Mozilla community who I got in contact with (and there were a lot!).

That being said, I'm not out of your hair yet ;)! Even after my return to the college campus, I'll stay on the Mozilla webdev team, and I'll keep contributing to Remora and other projects to come; only I'll be on IRC at slightly different times of day...

See you in Europe!

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When I just closed Firefox (on OSX), I got this window:

Firefox New Settings Window

Firefox -- New Settings New Settings have been created for this application. Do you wish to use these settings from now on? [Use new settings] [Use original settings]

Quite frankly, I am confused. Now I don't know if this is a Firefox window or one that the OS gave me, but since I upgraded to OSX 10.4.9 earlier today, it is possibly something OSX asked me. Yet, I have a few thoughts on this, if you ask me, unfortunately bad piece of UI.

  1. May I see your ID please? Who are you, after all? Not only did the window itself not have a title in the title bar, also the menu bar was completely empty. I had no idea whatsoever, what process/entity/program asked me this question. I actually still don't know. Let alone...
  2. ... why? As a basic rule of thumb, I expect dialog windows to tell me, at least, why they they showed up in the first place. "New settings have been created" is fairly vague. What kind of settings? Who created them? And why do I have to make a decision? But worst of all...
  3. ... what will happen? Now that I don't know what the decision is even about, I am even worse off since I don't know the implications of either of the decisions. If I click "new settings", will you overwrite my Firefox profile? Will I lose data? What will change, compared to how it was before? Or, if I click "old settings", (still assuming the window has a reason to show up in the first place:) will that make my Firefox instance unusable/incompatible with some sort of magic and important component?

I clicked "Use new settings", and, judging by the fact that I can still blog, that doesn't seem to have been the "wrong" decision. But you never know...


Update: The fabulous little box is apparently an effect after several subsequent crashes of an application on OSX. There's an Apple help document about it, thanks for pointing that out in the comments, Michael.

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If your webservice breaks, at least give people a reason to smile when they read the error message -- like Technorati this morning:

The Technorati Monster escaped again

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Wordpress Logo; source: enWPUh, version 2.1.1 of the popular Wordpress blog software was compromised by a hacker who introduced malicious code into the version that was downloaded and installed by quite a few people across the globe.

While I wasn't directly affected (I hadn't upgraded to 2.1.1 yet), I upgraded another instance of WP on my server immediately because it did have the malicious code, as a quick grep for "ix" in the wp-includes directory showed.

When I decided to upgrade my own blogs to 2.1.2 as well today (skipping the bad release ;) ) I realized again how painful upgrading Wordpress is. While, once the code is in place, it's a one-click upgrade, getting the new code where it belongs is a pain in the arm. Code backup, database backup, disabling plugins, deleting code files (yet not deleting the user files that are heavily mixed up with actual application files), running the upgrade script, re-enabling the plugins.

Upgrading Wordpress should be easier than that. After all, it's an open source project. RERO is what makes it strong, and therefore even weekly updates should be desirable, but easy to do. So far, the Wordpress people haven't done much to solve this: And that is even more surprising considering how many releases they've pushed out since their 2.0 milestone.

I could imagine an options page in the admin interface automatically downloading a diff for the most recent version, trying to apply the patch (incl. merging) and failing gracefully if a conflict occurs (for extra credit, give advanced users an interface to resolve the conflicts). It should also do the DB backup and code backup itself: After all, it has at least read access to both its database and code directory.

This is a similar idea to what the Mozilla project calls AUS: The Application Update Service. It applies binary diffs to Firefox and friends in order to make staying up to date easier for people and save their precious time.

For now, I switched my wordpress instances to an SVN checkout of the latest tagged version, making the download process easier, but not solving the whole backup-disable-update-enable issue.

I like Wordpress -- and I don't seem to be alone: Wordpress is probably one of the most popular blog engines in the world. Now if they made updating as easy as installing it, they could show that their popularity has a good reason.

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Funny, the German Heise Verlag sent us a voucher copy of the current issue of c't, because it contains a small article about Firefox 3 including the new Gecko 1.9 rendering engine (page 39).

c't voucher copy

As the person here who's most fluent in German, I inherited the magazine and will gladly read it soon. Thanks for passing it on to me, pkim! (And thanks to Heise for sending us a copy of their magazine).

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I sure am not the first person to link to this video recently and some of you may have seen it already. But it's so cool and well done that I just couldn't resist to put it here too. Enjoy (and spread it -- it's CC licensed after all!)

By the way: The author gets extra credit for not using the bad, bad A-word even once. :)

(via Larry Lessig)

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Today, Wordpress managed to make me cry: I realized that there were 100 comments stuck in the moderation queue and Wordpress had decided not to send me emails about that anymore. I didn't notice, because the comments of the people who most commonly give me feedback did show up on the page immediately, so I just thought I didn't get much feedback :(

Moderation Queue

I moderated all of them through now and I sincerely apologize to everybody who commented and never found their comment online. They weren't lost, just stuck in the queue.

I am going to fix the problem and promise to pay more attention next time! Thanks! :)

P.S.: As a positive side note: Everybody who I just moderated through will not have to wait for moderation the next time anymore, I think.

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While I was traveling, my mailbox filled up with a few letters, one from the OSU Foundation who I asked to resend their letter because I never received the one they sent me in 2006.

Now I am pretty sure I know why I never got it, because this is how the address part of the letter looks like:

Frederick and Donna

Even if I -- friendly as I am -- ignore the multiple misspellings of my first name and the random middle initial, one question remains: Who is this mysterious Donna Wenzel?

(As a side note I wonder if there is actually an quasi-namesake out there somewhere who they confused me with.)

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MozillaZine zeppelinThe mozillaZine knowledge base uses a Google Custom Search Engine so people find what they are looking for.

And as you can see on Google CSE's "most popular" list, it's currently the number 3 most popular custom search engine there is (provided, of course, their list is actually sorted).

Not bad, mozillaZine people, not bad! :)

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