Archive for August, 2010

Find Compatible Themes and Add-ons

With Firefox 4 being right around the corner, are all of your favorite add-ons and themes going to make the cut?  In my own opinion, I think that the drastic changes in both the backend of Firefox and the visual frontend will lead to a lot broken add-ons and favorite themes.  Hopefully though, this will not be the case once Firefox 4 is ready for the general public at large.

Add-ons Compatible with Firefox 4 – First, lets take a look at the Firefox extensions.  Doing a quick search on Firefox’s Add-ons website I found 1,000 add-ons that claim to be compatible with Firefox 4.0.  That might sound like a lot – and it might cover all the basic bases, but Firefox currently has at least 10 times that amount in all.  So this means that possibly only 1 in ever 10 add-ons might be compatible.

Themes Compatible with Firefox 4 – So, what about Firefox themes?  Currently there are 412 themes for Firefox (or 694 if you count the ones that are un-reviewed). So how many Firefox themes are compatible with Firefox 4 right now? There are 29 themes that are ready for Firefox 4.

How Can I Get Involved?

So, how can you make sure your favorite theme or add-on is compatible with Firefox 4?  The best way would be to visit that theme’s profile on the Firefox Add-ons website – and then either find the official site for the add-on or search for the “E-mail your question” link on the profile page:

Contact the Author

Contact the add-on or theme author and let them know you would like to continue to use their wonderful work once Firefox 4 rolls out.

Add me on Twitter! Come follow my daily antics, links, tips and more @mitchkeeler on Twitter!

© Mitch Keeler 2010 | Check out my personal blog and my hosting podcast too!

 


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Find Compatible Themes and Add-ons

With Firefox 4 being right around the corner, are all of your favorite add-ons and themes going to make the cut?  In my own opinion, I think that the drastic changes in both the backend of Firefox and the visual frontend will lead to a lot broken add-ons and favorite themes.  Hopefully though, this will not be the case once Firefox 4 is ready for the general public at large.

Add-ons Compatible with Firefox 4 – First, lets take a look at the Firefox extensions.  Doing a quick search on Firefox’s Add-ons website I found 1,000 add-ons that claim to be compatible with Firefox 4.0.  That might sound like a lot – and it might cover all the basic bases, but Firefox currently has at least 10 times that amount in all.  So this means that possibly only 1 in ever 10 add-ons might be compatible.

Themes Compatible with Firefox 4 – So, what about Firefox themes?  Currently there are 412 themes for Firefox (or 694 if you count the ones that are un-reviewed). So how many Firefox themes are compatible with Firefox 4 right now? There are 29 themes that are ready for Firefox 4.

How Can I Get Involved?

So, how can you make sure your favorite theme or add-on is compatible with Firefox 4?  The best way would be to visit that theme’s profile on the Firefox Add-ons website – and then either find the official site for the add-on or search for the “E-mail your question” link on the profile page:

Contact the Author

Contact the add-on or theme author and let them know you would like to continue to use their wonderful work once Firefox 4 rolls out.

Add me on Twitter! Come follow my daily antics, links, tips and more @mitchkeeler on Twitter!

© Mitch Keeler 2010 | Check out my personal blog and my hosting podcast too!

 


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Almost every time I talk to Esther Dyson about Russia, she speaks of the importance of building civil society, of developing a world where people don’t look to government and formal “non-governmental organizations” for all the answers. Here’s a paragraph she wrote about civil society in an article about the Feb 2010 US State Department Tech Delegation to Russia:

Civil society is not just politics: it is a restaurant giving unused food to the poor. It is a for-profit company such as Twitter providing its service free to rich and poor alike (even though advertisers will focus on the rich). It is successful entrepreneurs mentoring start-up entrepreneurs, and NGOs engaging not just with the government, but also with commercial outfits to get support for activities that will address vexing social problems such as maternal and infant mortality.

I was reminded of Esther’s focus on civil society at the CrisisCamp event Friday night.

There are a lot of barriers to helping from a distance when a disaster strikes. Today information technology, the marvels of the Internet, and new tools focused on crowdsourcing and crowd-sourced data provide some new mechanisms. And so there are groups of people trying to develop actionable data out of the heartbreaking SMS messages (a partial example: “village of 200 houses, 100% destroyed. 100% crops destroyed. Village still flooded.”)

There’s no official government involvement. There’s not necessarily any direct connection between the people working at this and the villages or individuals affected by the floor. There is however civil society in action: see a problem, do something. Form an association (Ben Franklin formed a surprising number of associations), virtual or formal. Build a tool — or a product. Reach out. Don’t wait for government to set up a special official organization — plunge in and do things.

The degree to which citizens believe they can, can, and do affect their own lives and the lives of others is a pretty potent marker of the nature of a society.

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The Alpha release of the next major version of Fennec is now available for Android and Nokia N900 users to download and test. Fennec (codename for Firefox mobile) is the first mobile browser to offer add-ons and is built on the same technology that powers desktop Firefox. The latest version of Fennec builds on the rich set of features from the previous release and makes it easier for you to bring your Firefox experience with you anywhere.

Fennec Alpha now creates one fluid Web experience between desktop and mobile devices by providing Firefox Sync built-in into the browser, which provides seamless access to Awesome Bar browsing history, bookmarks, passwords, form-fill data and open tabs.

The main focus of this release is to increase performance and responsiveness to user actions. This is being implemented using two major technologies, “Electrolysis” and “Layers.” This Alpha release includes Electrolysis, which allows the browser interface to run in a separate process from the one rendering Web content. By doing this, Fennec is able to react much faster to user input while pages are loading or CPU intensive JavaScript is running. The upcoming beta release will start taking advantage of Layers to greatly improve performance in graphic intensive actions like scrolling, zooming, animations and video. We’re also working to optimize these actions using the hardware-accelerated graphics rendering capabilities showing up in today’s mobile devices.

Watch the demo:

This first Alpha release of Fennec for Android is an exciting first step in bringing browser choice and customization, along with a seamless Web experience across devices, to a leading open mobile platform. Now, developers have the power to use the latest Web technologies like HTML5, CSS and JavaScript to to build fast, powerful and beautiful mobile apps and add-ons that can reach many millions of devices.

See the release notes for a full list of features with this release.

We value your feedback and will work to incorporate it in future versions of the browser, so please test Fennec Alpha and let us know what you think.

Stay tuned for updates in our newsletter.

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By Jan Dittrich, João Menezes, Ryan Bubinski, Zach Williams

Key Learnings – Status Quo and Gaps

Team 1 sent out a questionnaire form to all those who had participated in any Mozilla Labs Design Challenges. Thirty-seven past participants answered – thanks to all of them for supporting us!

Many of the participants had either a design (14) or Computer Science (10) academic background. In analyzing our outreach we had some interesting findings: The majority of participants found out about the Challenges through the Mozilla Labs website, others found out through blogs, news websites, or through their university. Though Twitter is supposed to be a popular and widely used service among designers or programmers, only 3 got to know about the challenge via twitter!

The majority of participants valued video as an efficient medium of explaining the Design Challenge brief, and almost everybody was satisfied with the information they found on the Mozilla Labs website concerning the Challenge.

93% felt they received good support from Mozilla. When asked about the evaluation of the submitted designs, 73% found the evaluation to be transparent and fair. Those who felt otherwise noted an inconsistency in judges providing feedback, while others expressed concerns on the voting system for submitted designs being gamed by participants recruiting friends to vote for particular submissions.

Since work in UX covers a lot of different topics we were interested if people worked in teams – less than a third did so which means that those who did the work alone are the majority but teamwork is nevertheless a common way of work that needs to be considered in our concepts.

As it would be great if people would carry on with their involvement in mozilla projects, we asked if they carried on with their work on the designs after the callenge. One third did this in one or the other way. Some tried to implement an extension while others said that the ideas they developed were integrated in other designs later.

When asked whether they would be interested in participating in future Design Challenges, 89% responded positively, and 84% responded they would recommend participation to their friends or colleagues.

The last point to talk about is a very important one: What were the motivations of the participants?
The most common answer (several could be given) was “furthering personal knowledge” (87%), followed by “Recognition” (56%). Analysing coherences in our data we found out that Resume-Building was more common among design students than among the ones with other academic backgrounds.

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I’ve been asked a few times what I think Mozilla can do to respond to the suffering caused by the floods in Pakistan. The answer is that I don’t know. I don’t know what particular expertise Mozilla has that can be put to use in a way that actually helps people. CrisisCommons works to develop technical solutions so that people can help, particularly to enable information sharing:

CrisisCommons is a global network of volunteers who help people in times and places of crisis. If you can use the Internet, a word processor, a cell phone or any other kind of technology, you can help. Right now virtually online or during one of our many CrisisCamps around the world!

CrisisCamps are held to bring focused attention on particular disasters. There’s one tonight in Silicon Valley focused on the Pakistan floods. Here’s the description:

Non-techies with laptops are needed do Pashtun translation, data entry, blogging, text editing, classifying messages, user-interface testing, collating web-based news updates, etc. We will also create technical tiger teams to provide Silicon Valley-located expertise to CrisisCommons projects managed by camps around the world. These projects involve mapping, databases, crowd-sourcing, coding, user-centered design, etc. This requires techies with laptops. Range of coding skills (python), geo-, and user interface skills are required.

I plan to go — anyone else?

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Firefox Facts on Facebook

I have a quick and easy tutorial you can all do (as long as you are on Facebook, that is).  I have started up my own fan page for Firefox Facts and my other projects – and here is how you can make sure you do not miss any of the awesome tips, links, videos or anything else I post there for you.

Step #1

The first thing you have to do is go log into Facebook – and visit this link (I don’t yet have enough fans to have a personal short URL yet).

http://www.facebook.com/MitchProjects

Step #2

Next, you will want to click the “Like” button at the top of the page.

Click the Like Button!

Step #3

Enjoy!  This Facebook Fan Page is not for me – it is for you.  So if you have any questions, comments or just want to say, “Hey there!” please feel free.  Also the fan page is still a work in progress, so if there is something you would like to see there (such as a certain application or ability) let me know and I will try to make it happen.

For the last four years, I have absolutely enjoyed providing the over 7,000 subscribers of Firefox Facts with the best Firefox add-ons, the coolest themes, the neatest hacks and more.  This is just one more place we socialize, connect and make this resource even better.  Thanks for the future, “Like” and hope you stop in and say, “Hi!” too.

Add me on Twitter! Come follow my daily antics, links, tips and more @mitchkeeler on Twitter!

© Mitch Keeler 2010 | Check out my personal blog and my hosting podcast too!

 


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Jetpack SDK 0.7 is now available!

The release includes three new APIs:
  • The panel API creates floating modal popups that appear on top of web content and browser chrome and persist until dismissed by users or programs.
  • The clipboard API allows callers to interact with the system clipboard, setting and retrieving its contents.
  • The notifications API allows you to display transient toaster- or Growl-style messages to the user.
It also includes a number of other enhancements and bug fixes, including:
  • Firefox is now the default application for cfx.
  • The directories contained in XPI files created by cfx xpi now have correct permission attributes.
For more information about the bug fixes, enhancements, and known issues in this version of the SDK, see its release notes. To get started building add-ons with the SDK, download the SDK and check out the tutorial.

And don’t stop sending us feedback, which is really crucial for our efforts to make building add-ons with the SDK a great experience!

To provide feedback and participate in the Jetpack project:

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We’ve just released a new Labs experiment: Doctor JS, a web service providing type inference for JavaScript, written by our amazing summer intern Dimitris Vardoulakis. Brendan Eich has more technical background about Doctor JS and our many static analysis projects at Mozilla. Check it out!

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In late 2006 Mozilla made a decision to move to the mercurial distributed version control system. Today most Mozilla projects are available in a publicly accessible mercurial instance. This has served Mozilla well for many years, however many of us in Labs have watched the developments and rising popularity of git with interest. In response to a growing number of requests from the community, we have decided to start mirroring all of the current Mozilla Labs experiments to github!

Github is a very popular social coding site, who provide git hosting in addition to several tools to support collaboration, discovery, and visualization of software projects. Our hope is that by hosting projects there we’ll make it easier for more folks in the community to find, follow, and work on Labs projects.

What’s happening to mercurial?

For now, this mirroring is very much an experiment. The Labs mercurial repositories will remain the primary place where commits are pushed. So as far as mercurial is concerned, nothing changes. That said, some projects are considering moving to git as the primary host for code, and conversations with the community are ongoing.

How can I contribute via github?

For now, the process is very lightweight. Simply fork the project that you’re interested in contributing and issue a pull request. These requests will be treated as “review requests” and will be need to be merged back into the primary repository by someone with commit access.

How’s it work?

Mirroring from mercurial to git is trivial given the availability of hg-git, a mercurial extension which allows you to interact with a remote git repo directly from the mercurial client. Leveraging this extensions, we pull from mercurial and push to github. By also using the Github API, it’s very simple to automate the batch creation of multiple repositories and make it simple to add new repositories to the mirroring as new projects are launched. The scripts that we use to perform the mirroring are themselves hosted on github.

What’s Next?

Several folks have kicked around ideas on how to improve the submission flow, including streamlining the creation of review requests by automatically converting pull requests on github into formal Bugzilla review requests. Some people from the community are already exploring these ideas, so stay tuned.

Happy forking!

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