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January 2006


  • Technorati still won't quit showing my test WordPress installation in its results. It seems to have filtered out this blog now, evidently I'm duplicate content and WordPress blogs are So Much Better.

    *le sigh*... What's the use of all this Web 2.0 crap if I still have to use manual coding to keep a search engine away?

  • Netscape Browser 8.1 was released. I can't really tell what's new, since just about everything on the website except the vaguely-worded release notes page redirects to the download screen, proudly displaying this small print:

    Whats Included in the Download? Installation may include Netscape 8.1 Browser, Netscape ISP, McAfee, Rhapsody, Real Arcade and WeatherBug.

    I'm absolutely outraged! They missed an apostrophe.



I thought I'd revisit my Todo list from last month and see how much I've actually done.

  • CZ/XR patch update: yep. Built 0.9.70 from trunk, and added a suffix to the version number to distinguish it from official builds.
  • Search UI on nah, didn't bother. It's still on the imaginery todo list, as is converting it to HTML4 (since XHTML doesn't parse incrementally in Mozilla and gives me no other benefits).
  • IdentD rewrite: no, but I have started rewriting it as a ChatZilla patch for bug 40879.
  • TV guide work, and XML-fixing in RdMise: nothing done yet.
  • Compiling PHP and APD: Didn't need to. PECL4WIN is a wonderful thing.

Pet peeve #906: "average"

Tony Blair had his big monthly press conference this week. It was mostly about education education education, which is fair enough. But what annoyed me was this bit:

It is to make sure ... that average schools become good schools and that good schools are able to expand and develop in the way that they want.

So basically, either the average school is failing after 9 years of Labour, or the good schools are determined to fail so that the average schools can become above-average. Neither of which are what I think he meant...

To clarify...

Got CT scan results back. There's "significant improvement" which means the lymph nodes have shrunk and there's no fluid where it shouldn't be.

I feel great at the moment, which is odd considering I just had chemo a few hours ago. Just the drugs talking, maybe. Anyway, two more times after this and I'll be free of Doxorubicin, Bleomycin, Vinblastine, and Dacarbazine...

And in my first proper test, posting from Openwave on my phone worked. For all the times I kept coding on digest despite the urge to wimp out and use basic auth, I am thankful.

Remission Accomplished

That is all.

Getting cynical...

The current trend in browsers seems to be close-buttons-on-tabs, instead of a single close button. When I last tried Opera 8 and Netscape 8 I didn't like them, and now Firefox 2 and IE7β2 have them. I could say the world is against me, but that'd be a slight exaggeration. Besides, I can always flip some prefs like I'm used to, right?

------- Comment #5 From Mike Connor 2006-01-21 15:49 PST -------
The old behaviour will be available as a pref.


------- Comment #7 From Ben Goodger 2006-01-21 23:53 PST -------
This sounds like bloat. -> extension.

Uhh... okay.

The danger of extensions

I've been concerned for a while about the quality of Firefox extensions [...]

[...] I worry that the Mozilla community is staking too much of its communal reputation on something that the community as a whole has too little control over.


So Firefox is left cleaner, with end-users installing unreviewed, bloated, leaky extensions just to get back the behaviour they were used to. And who gets blamed when things go wrong? Clue: the name's in the title bar.

Progress? Bleh. I'm really not sure anymore.

Edit: Oh, and now there's a bug that's both blocking-firefox2+ and WONTFIX. That's just silly.

<a ping>

Hmm. I'm undecided.

Firstly, I don't buy the privacy/security/bandwidth concerns. ping isn't the only way to do Bad Things, and it's probably not even the simplest way.

Secondly, whilst valid HTML is usually something I stick to, I'm not that bothered about this not being sanctioned by the W3C. Whilst it would be nice if the WHATWG stuff was implemented in a namespace on top of XHTML 1.1 with the full backing of everyone else and served with the right content type and character encoding, that's just not consistent with this planet. What is consistent, at least in recent history, is adding stuff that works, doesn't break old browsers, and has at least some consensus. It's the best we could hope for, really.

It's good that there's a pref, and that the spec requests UI, but I'll wait to see that before jumping to conclusions about what the "average user" thinks.

Distinctively cliché bottom line: how does this help me? Does it help users get laid? Hmm, maybe not... but seriously:

  • As a visitor of websites, and occasional clicker of - Steve forbid - adverts, this has a minimal effect on me. Sure, my page loads might get a split-second faster, but to me the only benefit of asyncronous tracking is if the tracking server is down, I can still follow links.

    And of course, some sites may end up giving me a choice on whether I get tracked or not.

  • As a bog-standard web developer, I can now track which external links some of my visitors click. But I don't really want to.

  • As a hypertext application coder, or as I like to put it, HAC, things are slightly more interesting. I track link clicks in my feed reader so the code knows when I've read them. Currently I do it with an ugly redirect, and whilst swapping invalid HTTP for invalid HTML is a bit academic, I'd be willing to experiment.

    The problem, of course, comes when I want to use my own site in a browser that has the tenacity to not support ping. Say... Links, IE, Openwave, Opera, or (so far) SeaMonkey. There's no way I can detect whether the browser supports ping, unless you include Javascript and/or User-Agent sniffing, which I don't. The attribute is useless in cases where the ping is a desired feature.

So, in what seems mandatory for most blog posts recently, some predictions:

  • Firefox 2 will be released, weeks after the target date that wasn't really a target date but somebody on the Neowin forums said it so it must be true. It won't have UI for the enabled-by-default browser.send_pings pref.
  • An extension will be released to flip the pref, with a name like "Evil Tracking Defender". Maybe that but without spaces, since it's cooler. It will quickly be updated with a new version including a statusbar indicator and sound alert for pages that use the attribute. It will get rave reviews on, and, somewhat ironically, Firefox Addons.
  • The extension will be posted to Slashdot, "dugg", and integrated into MR Tech Local Install.
  • Tracking companies will add the ping code to their links in addition to their obfuscated redirects.
  • The comments on Bug 319368 will start to rival the MNG bug in quantity, and lack of intelligence.
  • Google will experiment with the feature, first adding it to their Personalized Search service, then to their advertising. The latter change will cause AdSense users to complain of clickfraud and lost earnings.
  • The rest of the real world will continue as if nothing happened.

My honest opinion, after all these diversions? I'm really not bothered. And since I was bored, and Greasemonkey scripts are leet, here's one I made earlier: Pingping. For every page you load, it picks a ping attribute at random, and pings it after a random delay. Useful? No. Amusing, in a "nuts to both of you" sort of way? I suppose.

Attachment: pingping.user.js / 0MB / application/x-javascript


I got home from the hospital yesterday, slumped in front of the TV, and what did I see?

Live pictures of a Member of Parliament pretending to be a cat.

Please explain.


Ah, "stuff". The last resort of someone who can't quite be bothered to write separate posts about things.

  • I landed my code updates here. Not surprisingly, I broke it at first.
  • New year, uh, happened. I suppose I celebrated it, if looking up from a book and pretending to pretend to know the words to Auld Lang Syne counts.
  • Got the spam pretty much under control. Another spammer popped up at 1am on the 1st, but they had a static IP so they weren't that interesting. Thought a bit more about writing something so I don't have to modify the code every time spam changes, but I still probably won't bother.
  • Made some pointless things (1 2 3) with HTML and CSS. They work with Mozilla, and probably nothing else.
  • Got my WordPress installation working how I want it. To do: upgrade to 2.0 once FeedWordPress is compatible, install Referrer Karma and find out why it hates my feed reader so much.
  • Tried upgrading a MediaWiki installation I have. Failed with a database error, gave up at the sight of the size of the code.
  • ChatZilla stuff: Did some more poking into bug 291386. Didn't find much. Also started writing a patch for DCC auto-accept.