Want to feel inspired about Mozilla today? Mitchell just blogged some Firefox Summit Reflections. Go give it a read. The final few paragraphs are totally worth it.
August 2008 Archives
Back to the issue at hand. Silverlight, video, adobe, multimedia, market power. How do we compete? Or, really, how do you compete? Because Mozilla isn’t going to create this change alone. We’re very very small by any standard in the tech marketplace. Our reach is pretty good with Firefox 2 + Firefox 3, and we’re starting to have real market effects, but we’re not going to be able to buy our way onto millions of computers by sponsoring the olympics.
People who have talked to me have heard me talk about two things on this topic. I usually say something like “you need to learn how to build a product” or “you need to find out what you can lead at and go do that.” There’s usually more than that, but that’s the main part of the message. And I think that if we want to make sure that the web isn’t overtaken by the acts of industry giants, that there are real actionable things we can do to make that happen.
I’ll use video on the web as a simple example. Here are the things that I think need to happen to make Theora a player in the real world.
1. Make sure there’s a really great video plugin for Apple Quicktime that delivers the OGG Theora video format to people who use the video tag in Safari. When I tried to play the ogg theora video from my post the other day the ogg plugin jumped around, showed a white screen for long periods, paused for a few seconds at a time - bad!
2. Create a control that brings the video tag to IE like Vlad did for the canvas tag. The world is much bigger than just Firefox. This would make it very easy to deliver and build content and make it easy for consumers to get access to it. Bring ubiquity to content like Adobe was able to do with Flash. (Note: Cortado isn’t good enough - it’s still stuck in the plugin prison!)
3. Make a super-easy, consumer-focused, high-quality encoder for ogg theora that anyone can use to encode their videos for the web. (Here’s a hint: Handbrake is still too hard to use.) Hook it up to the various video camera providers on mac and windows so that it’s super easy to create content, encode it, and with the tools listed above, upload it and make it available to others.
4. Even better, build a business around the tools above. Or even a service for people to upload to. Sustainability is an important component and it should not be left behind.
5. Create awesome demos of what you can do with the video tag, or even better mixed with the recent stuff we’ve been showing off with video + svg filters. Blur effects, video driven by content, content people can create and overlay onto existing videos, etc. Some of this stuff is out there, some of it isn’t. But it’s a start. Try mixing video with other content on the web - mash it up, cover it up, add value and context to otherwise boring videos. Its easier to do with the video tag than it is when it’s hidden inside of Flash or Silverlight.
This has been another edition of What Chris Blizzard Said.
For as long as I've been working on Mozilla projects, it's always been a breeze to create Windows shortcuts to the Profile Manager or to a specific profile. You simply created a desktop shortcut and added
-P name to the end of the shortcut's path.
Mac doesn't do shortcuts like Windows. While it does have aliases, you can't modify them like you can shortcuts on Windows. So, for years, I and many of my friends and colleagues working on Mozilla projects, especially the less technically savvy of us in the QA and testing community, have resorted to the tedious process of launching the Mac Terminal and typing in something like
/Applications/firefox.app/Contents/MacOS/firefox -profilemanager to launch the Profile Manager. Some more savvy of the group would save some of those keystrokes by creating a shell alias for that long-ish command. Still, involving the Terminal meant moving from the mouse to the keyboard and opening and closing a second program.
Thanks to some help and inspiration from my regular Mac Hero, Eric Shepherd, I can share with you all a super-simple way to create a "shortcut" on Mac so that you can just double-click a Desktop or Dock icon to launch the Firefox Profile Manager or even a specific Firefox profile.
I'm going to use some scary (to me, at least) words and phrases but don't be turned off, it's actually really simple. We're going to write a small AppleScript to do the work that we were doing manually in the Terminal. That's it. Don't be like I was and turn away at the first mention of writing script ;-) I promise this is really, really easy.
Step 1: Open the Script Editor
If you're like me you probably haven't ever done this before, or if you did, it was an accident :-) To launch the Script Editor, simply open a Finder window and navigate to Applications -> AppleScript -> Script Editor. Double-click on the Script Editor to launch.
Alternatively, you can just hit Command+Space to active Spotlight and then type "script e" and hit Enter.
Step 2: Write some AppleScript
The good news here is that the AppleScript can actually be very simple. The even better news is that I'm not even going to ask you to write it. You just have select, copy, and paste this text into the Script Editor:
do shell script "/Applications/Firefox.app/Contents/MacOS/firefox -ProfileManager &> /dev/null &"
That's almost human readable :-) and it's pretty clear that it's simply doing for us what we used to do manually in the Terminal. The odd bits at the end are saying something like "just do what I said and don't tell me about it".
Step 3: Save your new AppleScript
Now that you've written ;-) the AppleScript, you need to save it. Select File -> Save As... and you'll be prompted with the normal options to give it a title (Save As: text field) and a location (Where: selection). I named my AppleScript "Firefox Profile Manager" and selected my Applications folder as the location.
Since we want this script to actually run when we double-click it, rather than opening back up in the Script Editor, before pressing Save we need to change the File Format from Script to Application Bundle. Don't mess with any of the Options check boxes. They're not relevant here.
Step 4: Optional Sexy
You're actually done already. You can double-click your new AppleScript Application and it will launch the Firefox Profile Manager. But there's one more step I like to do and that's to give it a better icon.
If you haven't done this before, it's really simple. Just right-click on your new Firefox Profile Manager's icon and select Get Info. Now go to your Applications folder, locate your actual Firefox, and just drag and drop the Firefox icon right on top of little AppleScript icon in the top left corner of the Get Info window. That's it.
Now you can just double-click on your sexy new Firefox Profile Manager icon and it'll start the Firefox Profile Manager. For quick access, you can drag that icon to your Dock and it'll create a nice launcher there, too.
But what if you want to bypass the Profile Manager all together? No problem!
To launch specific Firefox profiles, you can follow the exact same process as outlined above, except you'll use Firefox's Profile name option rather than the Profile Manager option. You simply paste
do shell script "/Applications/firefox.app/Contents/MacOS/firefox -P name &> /dev/null &" into the Script Editor (replacing name with the actual name of your profile,) and you've got yourself a shortcut that opens Firefox with a specific profile.
I hope this helps some of you Mac Firefox users and testers out there struggling with multiple Firefox profiles.
Oh, and if you've got a better or easier way of accomplishing this, or any corrections to my instructions, please let me know in comments.
Firefox is racing to the head of the pack, overtaking Linux's Tux, that freakish little BSD devil guy, and all the others. Help him finish strong by heading over to GroundWork (anyone heard of them?) and registering your vote for Firefox.
From my initial evaluation, it looks like they got this mostly right from a usability standpoint -- something that's quite rare for an initial toolbar release these days.
The basic features of notifications and site-specific Digg status are right on and "just work."
I especially appreciate the easy on/off switches that pull the UI for those out of my way when I'm not using it.
My only gripes so far are really just feature requests that most Digg users probably wouldn't find terribly useful. The toolbar is simple and effective and I think it fits in with the Firefox approach of including not the most or the least features, but the right features.
Click the link above to watch a short demo from Kevin Rose, or go directly to addons.mozilla.org and install the Digg Toolbar
Consumer Reports joins the swelling ranks of those cautioning against using browsers like Safari that lack the basic security feature of Firefox's Phishing Protection.
In their latest Online Safety report, Consumer Reports says, "Apple’s Safari, has no phishing protection. We think it should.... Until Apple beefs up Safari, use a browser with phishing protection, such as the latest version of Firefox."
update: The Register notes the emergence of a pattern of Apple security shortcomings saying of Apple, "the consumer electronics giant has been lambasted for its slow response to a cross-industry DNS spoofing flaw, force-feeding Windows users its Safari browser under the guise of a security update and mismanaging the noteworthy Safari carpet-bombing flaw over recent weeks. A planned security talk by Apple's security team at the Black Hat conference this week was canceled at short notice after its marketing department objected."
Let's all hope (and Apple customers should do more than hope, they should demand,) that Apple ensures the next version of Safari includes the kind of phishing protection that every other browser, including even the niche browsers, already do. It's way overdue and Apple should not ship another release until they can include this basic security feature.