September 2004 Archives
"Microsoft should be watching Firefox carefully because Firefox is better than Explorer by leaps and bounds. I don't miss Explorer one iota. Give Firefox a day's worth of Web surfing, and you won't either."
That's Arik Hesseldahl, of Forbes Magazine who says, Better Browser Now The Best, "Once I turned my back on Internet Explorer, I never looked back."
Give the whole article a read. What's even more interesting to me is that he's on a Mac, where Firefox lags behind a bit.
She was a fine little car.
I was getting ready to take her to the carwash for a cleanup before donating to the local public radio and television station.
At least no one got hurt and I got to meet some of my neighbors who came out with garden hoses to keep the small blaze under control while we waited on the professionals of the Woodside Fire Department to arrive and put it out for real.
I learned one very important lesson. Those "emergency auto fire extingushers" are a joke. Don't waste your money unless the worst you're expecting is a cigarette on the floorboard.
I also learned that I'm capable of getting out of a parked car a lot faster than I would have expected :-)
Deanna, who was standing outside the driver's door, probably had a broader view to the first few seconds of the chaos than I did. She also walked away unscathed.
I'm still trying to find out now if the public radio station will take it or if there are any other charities or worthy causes that will take a slightly crispy car. If you live on the peninsula and know of anyone that would be willing to tow it away for a good cause, please let me know.
update: A few people have asked what happened. Well, I'm not quite sure yet. Something blew up and caught fire and it flamed a lot. I didn't see any big hole in the side of the engine so I suspect electrical. Maybe I'll look more closely in the morning.
Many of you already know, but for those who don't, the Blogger and Gmail teams over at Google are quite Firefox friendly. At the Blogger Help pages, for example, Firefox is listed as their recommended browser.
Today I read over at Photo Matt's blog that the "forgot my password" email from Blogger says "we recommend Mozilla Firefox".
The developers of those Google products have worked hard to make all of their great features work equally well in the major two browsers, Firefox and IE, as well as trying to give solid support to the alternative browsers like Opera and Safari.
Building powerful tools that work cross-browser is no small task and we certainly appreciate that effort. Thanks guys! I'm a big fan of Blogger and Gmail, and it's great to know that such influential developers appreciate Firefox.
A lot of people were asking about the Firefox guidebook and what kind of content they could expect. Since I'd only seen early drafts and not the final copy, I didn't have a solid answer but Blake has posted the guidebook's table of contents online so now you can see for yourself. Head over to the Mozilla Store and you can view the TOC before making the purchase. It's a good book.
If you're turning people on to Firefox, hand them this book and save yourself a few support calls :-)
You also get that warm fuzzy feeling knowing that a portion of the proceeds go to the Mozilla Foudation which pays my salary and keeps food in my cat's dish :)
Wil Wheaton is considering a move to Firefox.
Until then, I strongly encourage WWdN readers who have had it with pop-ups and spyware to take a look at the latest release of Firefox. I started using it a few days ago, and I like it (and its totally bitchin extensions -- especially bugmenot) so much, I'm considering switching from Konqueror, and making Firefox my primary browser. That probably doesn't mean very much to anyone, unless you know how much I like Konqueror, which is a lot.Make the leap, Wil. You won't regret it.
With the release of Firefox PR, the newly formed SpreadFirefox.com community marketing project set a goal of getting 1 million downloads in the first ten days of the release. Well, not only did we beat that goal, we smashed through it, reaching an estimated 1.95 Million downloads ad of last night at midnight. Wow!
update: I spoke too soon. We get logs at midnight, PDT, but the release and campaign didn't actually start until morning and so we're estimating that we've actually broken 2 million downloads in the first 10 days of the sfx campaign. Awesome! (This is all estimates, anyway, so no point in being too picky one way or the other.)
Thanks to everyone who helped. We shipped a solid product that got some great press and we built on that momentum with an amazing grassroots marketing campaign which today is in excess of 10,000 volunteers strong. Join us, as we work toward the biggest Open Source software release of all time :-) and thanks again to everyone who helped to make this release such a success.
In case anyone was wondering, this is considerably more downloads than we've had for any other release in this time frame. I'm very impressed with our mirror network, our websites, and our other support infrastructure which held up quite well given that the load was roughly twice what we were expecting.
Mike Davidson blogs on the new ESPN Motion for Firefox and some of the misconceptions about the previous, IE only, version. Check it out.
According to Paul Festa over at news.com,
If you're one of about 200 million people using older versions of Windows and you want the latest security enhancements to Internet Explorer, get your credit card ready.
...Microsoft promised 'ongoing security updates' for all supported versions of Windows and IE.
The ongoing security updates do not, as Microsoft points out, include the latest security fixes with Service Pack 2, released last month. Those include a new pop-up blocker and a new system of handling ActiveX controls and downloaded content.
And it's those more substantial changes, rather than the bug fixes that come with routine upgrades for supported products, that security organizations have lauded for addressing IE's graver security concerns.
Apparently security is just "an enhancement" to Microsoft and one you'll have to pay for even if you're using Microsoft's "free" web browser.
Well, at Mozilla, security is not an enhancement, it is a fundamental component of our process and of all of our products. If you're one of the 200 million IE users feeling left out in the cold, you should consider Mozilla Firefox. No brower is ever going to be 100% secure, but wouldn't you rather be using one that takes security seriously and doesn't charge you $99 for it's mistakes?
update: Security matters.
If you're still without a gmail account, head over to SpreadFirefox.com for the biggest* gmail account giveaway in the history of the world!
*maybe not the biggest, but it is quite large.
As many of you know, I'm an amateur astrononer (fr. amare to love.) I poke around with a couple of small refractor telescopes, read Astronomy magazine, follow the exploration of our solar system and beyond, take photographs of the moon, read astronomy blogs, etc.
I'm sure you know that I'm also huge Firefox fan, and one of the guys that helps get Firefox releases out the door and into your hands.
Today, I'm pulling those two pieces together and the result is a desktop wallpaper based on the great Firefox logo from Silver Orange, and the great V838 Mon ASC photos from the Hubble Space Telescope.
In the early part of 2002, just about the time that the nacent m/b project (which would go on to become Phoenix, then Firebird, and now Firefox) was getting started, amateur and professional astronomers, across the globe were confirming the newly discovered V838 in Monocerotis.
Some months later, it was announced that this nova had a light echo which continued to grow in size as the original object faded from view. The light echo is an energized to glowing dust shell surrounding the star. The interaction between the energy coming off of the star and the surrounding dust scatters the light, making the entire object glitter and glow.
Just as V838 picked up steam, so did our browser project - skyrocketing to new heights with the release of Firefox 0.8. In March of this year, about a month after the 0.8 release, a final beautiful HST ACS photo of V838 was made Astronomy Picture of the Day where SkipK noted its similarity to the new Firefox logo and gave me the great idea to put these two together, resulting in my post on March 6.
Now, with lots of talk of Firefox wallpapers on #spreadfirefox and in the blogs at sfx, I decided to do a larger version for your desktop enhancing pleasure.
(Thanks to Stu for the image hosting. These are large files that would have killed my little account.)
Daryl, the lead sfx developer, has a great blog post about the first few days. Daryl spends a minute thanking all of the folks that helped keep the site moving those first few crazy days but misses one, himself. Thanks, Daryl, for spending every free minute you've had building and improving on this great tool. We all appreciate it.
Spread the word, all 30,000 of them. You can now order the brand new Firefox Guidebook from the Mozilla store.
I'm sure that all of you know how Firefox works, but does your mom? Does the librarian you just converted? Does your co-worker? Get the book for them when you convert them to Firefox or point them at the store so they can buy it themselves. You might save yourself a few late-night support calls :-)
The "one million downloads in 100 hours" news is on slashdot today. If you see this mentioned in any other big press sites, please let me know here in the comments. I'm trying to keep track of all the stories but it's just too much to do without some help. Thanks.
I just ran the stats on yesterday's Firefox downloads and we've broken 1 million downloads in just 4 days!! Wow.
Talk about blowing through the goal; you all blew up the goal! What an amazing week it's been. Thanks to everyone who has signed up at SpreadFirefox.com and helped to make this first week so awesome.
Head over to sfx to see the celebratory post, Fahrenheit 1 Million: Temperature at which the web explodes, and the challenge to break through 2 million!
6,000 people have joined sfx to help us take back the web. If you're not signed up, now is the time. Member benefits include an sfx weblog, the affiliate rewards program, and much, much more. Sign up today!
After a difficult start, with slashdotting, c|netting, etc, SpreadFirefox.com is finally whirring along at a decent clip. Thanks to Mike Shaver, Myk Melez, Vlad Vukicevic, Daryl Houston, and Dave Miller (and any others I missed) for all the hard work they put in on this issue. Now we can get about the business of taking back the Web! :-)
We've been getting some great press lately. A reader just emailed me the text of Walter Mossberg's Market Place front page article, "How to Protect Yourself From Vandals, Viruses If You Use Windows." It's an awesome read. Here are the nice bits:
If you use a Windows personal computer to access the Internet, your personal files, your privacy and your security are all in jeopardy. An international criminal class of virus writers, hackers, digital vandals and sleazy businesspeople wakes up every day planning to attack your PC.
And the company that controls the Windows platform, Microsoft, has made this too easy to do by carelessly opening numerous security holes in the operating system and its Web browser. Even if you install the recent Service Pack 2 update to Windows XP, you will still be vulnerable.
...[Microsoft] should take responsibility for shielding users from hackers, spammers, viruses and spyware -- the malicious software that hijacks your browsing and searching, pushes ads into your face, and secretly logs your activities.
But until that happens, you will have to fend for yourself. So here's a quick, rudimentary guide to protecting yourself in the digital world.
Browsing safely: I suggest dumping Microsoft's Internet Explorer Web browser, which has a history of security breaches. I recommend instead Mozilla Firefox, which is free at www.mozilla.org. It's not only more secure but also more modern and advanced, with tabbed browsing, which allows multiple pages to be open on one screen, and a better pop-up ad blocker than the belated one Microsoft recently added to IE.
Bottom line: If you use Windows, you're asking for trouble. But you can mitigate the risk by taking precautions.
Such a great recommendation from Walter Mossberg is a huge win for Firefox. You couldn't ask for better press than this.
update: You can read the full thing here.
It looks to me like our FTP mirrors are mostly holding up (though one or two of them are a bit slow,) www.mozilla.org is still quite responsive, update.mozilla.org seems pretty pokey, and SpreadFirefox.com is dog slow. Oh, the joy of popularity :-)
We're workin' on it, folks. More hardware and code optimizations on the way. If you're good at PHP optimizations or anything else that might help relieve some of the pressure at umo or sfx, please let me know.
Also, please consider making a donation to the Mozilla Foundation. We're a a California non-profit corporation exempt from federal income taxation under IRC 501(c)3 so donations are tax deductible :-)
As you spread the word about Firefox to your friends, family, co-workers, cable repair man, etc. you can use the easy to remember "GetFirefox.com" address. It'll be much better than saying "well, first go to mozilla.org and then go to the Mozilla products page and then click on the Firefox link," and maybe even easier than saying "just type 'firefox' into google."
Another quick way to get there is through my big image link over there on the left side of the front page. The image of the firefox down to that "Get Firefox" button is one big link (through the new SpreadFirefox.com affiliate program) to the Firefox product page :-)
Wow! After only two days, we're estimating the Firefox PR downloads have topped half a million. We're half way to our goal of 1 million downloads over 10 days. This is, without a doubt, the most popular release to date. I can't wait for 1.0!
A couple of people asked questions in the previous post about platform breakdown and previous rates of download. So far, the platform ratios are a bit differnt than in the past with Mac taking second place with about 10%. Linux is third with about 7%, and Windows takes 83%. I don't have good numbers on how quickly previous releases reached 1 million (maybe mozillazine had a story?) but I seem to remember that the best day of downloads we'd ever had before was something like 200K, so we're definitely doing better than that.
We have many volunteer mirrors that host Firefox downloads and they allow us to keep up with the massive demands our releases create. Without this mirror network, we'd be doomed on release days and maybe even days after the release.
Unfortunately, the mirrors aren't all capable of giving us the same logs on a regular basis (our download stats page accounts for only 7 of our 9 mirrors and doesn't include ftp downloads which traditionally account for another 10%,) so we take the solid information we do get and make some estimates for the mirrors that don't report in as often or at all.
Yesterday, at about mid-day, everyone was asking for some preliminary download stats but we only had logs from one of our 9 mirrors. We used that to make some estimates about what we'd done for downloads in the first half day after the release. Now that we've got our full set of logs in, we've discovered some errors we made in parsing and worked it all out so we can provide some reasonable estimates of the first day's downloads.
For these estimates, we're looking at the total of our 7 logs from yesterday and then doing something like 9*1.1*daily total/7 to estimate in the ftp downloads and the missing two mirrors. This gives us a total of about 312,000 downloads for day one. Not bad. I think we'll start regularly updating our numbers at SpreadFirefox.com each day around 2PM UTC when we've had a change to process all of our available logs. This might change if log delivery times change.
This is only an estimate and it should get better as we bring in more logs from sources like download.com (which is now hosting our windows builds rather than just pointing at our servers.) We'll never have completely accurate stats. It's just not possible unless we're willing to give up the wonderful contributions we get from our mirror network and that's just not worth it for improved statistics. But as our tools for tracking downloads improve, and as our mirror network grows and matures, we'll continue to improve the precision of our estimates and the speed with which we deliver those numbers to the public.
Thanks for your patience while we work all of this out. Check out SpreadFirefox.com and help us on our March to 1 Million downloads.
Firefox is getting some good press today. Paul Festa's yesterday headline that suggested 1.0 was in the bag has been supplanted by Festa's new article on SpreadFirefox.com (which, by the way, already has over 1200 new members and lots of active blogs).
If you know of any good press articles about the recent releases and website launch, please let me know. I'd like to pull them all together into one big post.
Well, it's been an exhausing couple of weeks leading up to the Firefox Preview Release, but it's finally here. Get Firefox. If you didn't already know, we're also releasing several other great products. Don't miss the new and improved Thunderbird mail client, some security fixes for the legacy Mozilla app suite, and be sure to check out the all new SpreadFirefox.com, our community-powered marketing website. There's lots new in the land of Mozilla today.
More when I wake up, hopefully :-)
Thanks a lot, Kevin, for your generous contribution. The Firefox.com domain will surely be a big help.
Since I can't think of any good reason why someone would be using XP without SP2, and I can't think of any good reason why someone would be using XPSP2 without Mozilla Firefox, it seemed like a good trade to me.
I've added the link to the new section over on the left titled "I recommend" -- the beginnings of a blogroll of sorts and the sort of thing that I was talking about several days back.
I look forward to seeing which Firefox button Robert chooses for his blog. Maybe he'll go with this one :-)
update: The button's posted. Thanks, Robert.
We have automatic plugin install for Macromedia Flash on Windows Firefox!!
update: and we have Linux Flash too! JST kicks ass!
It seems that this blog got mentioned in a Paul Festa article. I love that lead, "Barring any last-minute surprises, the Firefox Web browser on Tuesday will turn 1.0." (um, no. it's 1.0PR).
Blake Ross survived the hurricane. Too bad ;-) I hope he won't mind that I stole his display while he was gone. That old blurry CRT looks better on his visitor desk anyway :-)
It looks like Gecko's finally starting to pick up some real steam with web developers as measured by w3schools.
If you add in the couple percentage points from Opera, non-IE browsers are more than 1/5th of the w3schools readership. Not bad at all!
We're switftly approaching the Firefox 1.0 release and it's then, I believe, that we can expect to see more traditional browser users start to mirror this web developer trend line.
What's the magic number? How many web developers do we need and how quickly do we need them if we're going to stave off the proprietarization of the web, and will Opera and Safari help us get there?
What are your thoughts on browser stats or web development trends?
update: I got a somewhat rude email asking me how I came up with these stats so I thought I'd just post here and pre-empt any further emails (I hope). I added together the Mozilla and Netscape 7 numbers and added together the IE 6 and IE 5 numbers. Then I messed up and posted the wrong starting numbers. I'll be correcting that shortly but until I do, it's Gecko: 7.20% Opera: 1.70% and IE: 87.20% from July of last year. Sorry 'bout that. Opera has indeed made a larger gain in the last year than this graph suggested.
update 2: I've corrected the image.
update 3: I've replaced the image with a less colorful one since this post got slashdotted.
Just to be absolutely clear, this is the Firefox Preview Release, not Firefox 1.0. (Sometimes you gotta shout or they won't hear.)
Looks like we're getting some good advertising for this testing release. We'll probably get a decent little flood of new bug reports and comments at slashdot and around the blogosphere. If you all want to help out with a bit more than just testing the builds yourself, please check out what others are saying and if you see something that looks bad, help us find out by either convincing them to file bugs, of filing or finding and nominating the bugs.
I try to keep my eye on all the feedback but it looks from the trackbacks at my blog alone, like there's going to be more of this feedback than I can handle myself. Any help you all can give in gathering up any valuable feedback and getting it in front of our eyes, would be great.
We had to take one more important change into the builds last night, moving from a blacklist to a whitelist for external protocol handlers, so today's builds are the new candidate 1.0PR builds.
If all goes well with these builds, they'll become the official Firefox 1.0 Preview Release builds on Tuesday morning. Please help us test these bits and if you find any major regressions, please file bugs and nominate those as PR blockers with the bug flag "blocking-aviary1.0PR" so that the Aviary team will see.
Download the 0.10 (1.0PR) candidate builds here:
(Other formats can be found here.)
Update: see the latest info above.
We have a set of builds that we hope will become Firefox 1.0 Preview Release (also known as Firefox 0.10). You can get the Windows build here, the Mac build here, and the Linux build here. Please help us test these builds and let us know if you find any recent regressions that should prevent this from becoming the 1.0 PR release build. If all goes well in testing, we should have ourselves a release early next week.
I heard from a friend of a friend that Firefox got another mention in the Wall Street Journal today. Anyone have a subscription? If so, could you excerpt the relevant text for us?
Thanks for the link!
We're very close to having closed out the Firefox 1.0 Preview Release buglist. As soon as we've hit zarro boogs, we'll announce a candidate build. Any and all help testing that candidate build is very much appreciated. If all goes well on that testing, we should have ourselves a 1.0 PR shipped early next week.
Doron and Johnny have landed their new plugin finder service into Firefox. Doron explains how to test. Please test this out and let us know how it works for you.
Slashdot has a very interesting topic up, unsung heroes of open source software. I think I'm gonna go chime in.
Today I spent a couple of hours using IE with the default toolbar config and it felt pretty nice. The Firefox toolbar configuration feels a bit crampted to me so I did some rearranging.
What does your default look like? Is the current default good enough for 1.0? Should we make changes?
This is why I fear for Linux.
For all of this talk about taking Linux to the desktop, the Linux desktops (KDE and Gnome) aren't doing enough to get there. Does the average desktop user really need an entire "control panel" for picking an OS splash screen? C'mon.
It's behind a free login (you do have the BugMeNot extension installed, right?) but it's worth a read. The Baltimore Sun's article is titled Mozilla nips at Microsoft: Firefox makes modest inroads in browser market and it does a reasonable job covering the last few months worth of excitement.
update: the text of the article seems to have made it in to the comments. I wonder if I should remove that.
update2: ahh, it's the Wall Street Journal article I'm told. OK. Cool.
Today we're gathering on irc.mozilla.org, #mozillazine, to triage and otherwise cleanup all the bugs in the Thunderbird product. If you're interested in helping to make Thunderbird 1.0 a rockin' success, join us today on #mozillazine to help comb through all of those 1000+ Unconfirmed but reports.
Take Firefox with you wherever you go! This 16MB distro, called Portable Phoenix Project (R0.1) looks very promising. Give it a try.
update: And of course, there's Portable Firefox. The more the merrier :D
I've been blogroll-less for a while now and it feels kinda nice to not be so visually cramped and to not feel like I had to keep it up to date with various friends', colleagues', family, etc. blogs.
Today I got an email from someone suggesting that I was "being a blog snob" by not linking to others. I'm not really sure how many people read this or whether or not they care what other blogs I read so I don't know how snobby I'm being here. What do you all think?
I do read a few weblogs that are just outstanding and I intend to continue promoting those with occasional posts. This effort, which I've been completely worthless at following through on, was intended to be a weekly feature called "Blog Plugs". Unfortunately, like with "Ask Asa", I just haven't been very good at making it happen. In light of that, I think that maybe a blogroll would be a useful mechanism to point out some of the blogs I read.
If I do add a blogroll, I expect to keep it very small, possibly just a "featured blogs" list with one or two links. That would mean that lots of people wouldn't be getting links, which seems almost worse than no links at all.
What do you all think? Do you care? Is this really an important piece of blog etiquette?
Robert suggested that thunderbird needs a bug day. He's right. This Tuesday, I'll return for another BugDay (I've been absent the last few weeks) to focus on Thunderbird bug triage and cleanup. If you'd like to help make Thunderbird better, join us for a day of fun on irc.mozilla.org #mozillazine.
I'm assuming they're about to open things up because the invites are coming fast and furious. I've just sent out about 40 so if you asked for one here, check your mailbox. If you don't see one and you're still interested, post a comment here with your first and last name and email address in plaintext with no anti-spam munging.
update: OK, that's it for now. If you responded, check your inbox.
It's been a while since I posted on the Mars missions. That's not because I haven't been keeping up or lost interest, I've just been really busy with Mozilla and Firefox-related work. It seems like months since my last posting so here's a quick update. (caution: most links here are to large photographs so you might want to open them in background tabs or skip them if you don't have a serious internet connection.)
Spirit, 185 sols into her journey, with over 2 miles on the odometer and continuing the climb up the Columbia Hills at Gusev Crater, underwent a late July "tune-up". The tune-up included an attempt to lubricate her right front wheel's drive motor (which was drawing considerably more power than the other wheels,) and re-calibrate the front hazard avoidance model to help Spirit hit targets more accurately with the tools on her robotic arm. The tune-up for the robotic arm was a complete success, but the right front wheel lubrication was only a partial success and engineers decided to move to a new driving mode which has Spirit driving in reverse and dragging the ailing wheel when its use isn't critical. They hope this will extend the lifetime of the wheel as Spirit continues her trek up the hills looking for interesting rocks to study.
Heading into the Martian winter, power is becoming one of the primary issues of day to day maneuvering and science. With the sun getting lower in the skies, Spirit gets less and less charge on her batteries and positioning and tilt of the rover is crucial to getting the most out of the sun's weakened rays. "If Spirit parks with a northerly tilt, the rover will see between 350 and 380 watt-hours of energy, but if Spirit stops on flat ground or with a southerly tilt, solar energy is as low as 280 watt-hours. So engineers make a concerted effort to find the north-facing islands along Spirit's path."
By mid-August, Spirit had climbed to an elevation of roughly 120 feet (above the landing site at the floor of Gusev Crater,) to the target rock dubbed "Clovis". Spirit used the "rock abrasion tool, microscopic imager, alpha particle X-ray spectrometer, and Mössbauer spectrometer to probe deeper into the history of this rock. Clovis is the most altered rock encountered by Spirit to date." Along with several days of amazing science work, Spirit continued to take Pancam photos for a large color mosaic (low res version) from this great viewing location.
Spirit continues her journey up the hills with more than 2.24 miles on the odometer with little or no slowdown in science gathering, driving, and taking great photographs (It's nice to compare the journey map above with the rover trails on the right hand side of this image. gives you a great perspective on Spirit's trek.)
On the opposite side of the planet, Opportunity also engaged in some "tune-up" and testing activities including similar robotic arm calibrations, investigation into some problems with the door on the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer, and experimentations in taking photos while sending UHF data. Everything is in working order and with about 0.9 miles on the odometer, Opportunity continues her investigating descent into Endurance Crater.
On July 30th, Opportunity worked her 180th sol on Mars, twice the mission nominal lifetime. Slippage is one of the major concerns as Opportunity descends into the crater. The rocky surface varies in composition with some areas of the "pavement" providing great traction and other sand covered areas causing the rover to experience as much as 50% slippage. The rover team spends quite a bit of time calculating and compensating for this slippage. It seems like they're starting to get a good "feel" for the surfaces and the rover's interaction with those surfaces, hitting targets with increasing precision. Early August experiments in traction strengthened the rover team's confidence that Opportunity would be able to climb back out of the crater at a later date.
In addition to the mobility tests, the team also attempted a very cool turn in place maneuver during communications with Odyssey to try to "keep Odyssey in the sweet spot of the rover's ultra-high-frequency antenna pattern as the orbiter swept across the sky. The total data return was about 135 megabits." This was about 20 megabits better than they could have pushed up had the rover just sat in place. These kind of experiments provide great data for this and future missions.
Opportunity continues to conduct great science investigation with all of her toolkit intact and functioning (though not without glitches). The rover team is currently in "restricted planning" mode. This restricted planning "happens when the timing of the rover's sol on Mars and our day in the California time zone get out of sync due to the nearly 40-minute difference in length of Earth days and Mars sols". During this period, things move a bit slower because rover mobility (wheels and arm) is limited to every other day. On non-moving days, the "restricted" activities include remote sensing (like these beautiful cloud images) that doesn't require knowledge of the current position of the rover or the robotic arm, things like imaging, self-diagnostics, and data relaying.
Earth and Mars are quickly approaching conjunction and that means limited or no radio communication for several days. The rover teams have planned to pad this few days and will stop sending daily instructions to the rovers for nearly two weeks starting on September 8th for Spirit and September 9th for Opportunity. During that time, the rovers will continue to perform Mössbauer integrations and atmospheric analysis but won't be making any wheel or arm movements (I'm sure the scientists will appreciate a few days off :-). Normal operations will resume on September 20th. I'll try to get back into more regular updates after that.
update: If you can't wait for me to update, or even if you can, you really should keep an eye on Martian Soil, The Eternal Golden Braid, or if you're interested in more than Mars, check out Lunar Soil :-)
Lance Ulanoff, over at PC Magazine says that the battle is lost:
Mozilla's Firefox is, for now, the model of what a browser should be. It's lightweight, unobtrusive, and trouble-free. Yes, there are some things that it can't do, but the benefit of running multiple instances without my system coughing up a hairball keeps me coming back.He points to the Google Zeitgeist graph which, contrary to his assertion that it shows "the meteoric rise of Microsoft Internet Explorer 6 use and equally catastrophic decline of all other competing browsers," actually shows that IE 6 is only taking users from IE 5.5 and 5.0 and that alternative browsers are finally starting to make gains against IE.
However, even if I do go all Firefox all the time, and I recommend it to all my friends and all of you dear readers, the IE juggernaut will continue....
This battle is lost. The only thing the alternative browsers are really useful for is to embarrass Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer into delivering a better Web browser. I don't hold out much hope for that, though.
Not only that, but other sources of browser statistics which focus on web developers, like the W3Schools browser statistics page, show IE losing about 10 points to Gecko-based browsers in the last year.
What do you all think? Are alternative browsers like Firefox in "catastrophic decline" or are we making gains on IE?
update: It looks like the w3schools numbers made it to slashdot this afternoon. Interesting coincidence :-)
The Mozilla Foundation (MoFo), through mouthpieces like Asa, is coming across as beyond arrogant. If you haven't written a patch, you aren't worth hearing. What these dicks forget is that there is a lot of help going on that they don't recognise: people test their apps daily, people evangelise their apps daily....Kiss my ass, MoFo.Apparently I'm completely out of touch with all the non-coding contributions. I'm obviously clueless about our QA and testing community, our evangelism and marketing volunteers, our Bugzilla triage and testcasing volunteers, and our community websites and documentation collaborators. Being a self-important, hotshot, master C++ coder, I only have time for other developers and could never hope to understand people doing nightly build testing and bug reporting :-)
It's so nice to be appreciated.
If you want to help ensure that Firefox 1.0 is rock solid product and you've got a few minutes to spare, please help us test the Extension Manager and Extension Update system in the latest Firefox branch builds by visiting Mozilla Update and doing various extension installs and updates.
You could also help us test by installing Firefox 0.9.3, installing some extensions, upgrading to the latest nightly Firefox build and checking to see if the extension disabling and update mechanisms are working properly. Please report any problems you're having with the Firefox Extension and Update Manager to Bugzilla (or if you don't have time for that, then here in the comments). Thanks a lot.
If you're still without a Gmail account and you'd like one, just post a comment with your first and last name and your email address in plain text with no munging or other anti-spam measures. I don't have time to do anything but cut and paste so if I have to do more, I'll just skip over to the next name.
Firefoxtoolbar.com, powered by Ultrabar, looks like it's shaping up to be a nice little product (you'll need an 0.9.x release build to try it out). Does anyone know these guys? They put together a very nice toolbar, one that I might actually use and keep. You can perform a search like you would with the google toolbar and then switch search engines and it loads up the restults on that term from the newly selected engine. It seems really, really fast switching between engines. I wonder if it's pre-fetching from all of the engines. I'm going to hack the version string to be compatible with nightly builds and see how it goes there.
Last night our champion hackers got a new update infrastructure landed into Firefox 0.9 branch builds and set up the new server and the new server-side code, moving away from the slow Java based stuff to some much faster not-Java based stuff. Grab today's branch builds and go hammer on this new stuff. Update should be working better and everything should be faster, hopefully.
update: some of you should really work on not being so defensive. I never said Java was slow. I never placed the blame for u.m.o.'s slowness on Java. Put your mother hen instincts on hold for a minute and re-read the post.
In case you haven't seen it, (you missed my post last month?) do take a minute to check out Browse Happy, a new site by the WSP folks dedicated to helping convince people to "switch to a browser that's more secure."
The Mozilla Foundation offers several such browsers (Firefox, Camino, and the venerable old Mozilla) and I encourage you to check out our beautifully redesigned website to read more about them. Browse happy. Do it. Now! ;-)
The first 40 people to comment with their first and last name and a working email address will receive gmail invitations. Inviting takes time so make it easy on me and don't spend too much effort obscuring your email addresses in the comments. I'm likely to skip over comments that aren't an easy cut and paste. Bonus points to those of you who have firefox buttons at your blogs.
update: Wow. OK, that's all for now. I'll send out the invites tonight.
update2: Invites sent. If you were high on the list and didn't get one then either your spam filter ate it or you didn't make it easy enough for me to cut and paste.