July 28, 2005

JEP landed

I landed the Java Embedding Plugin today, tomorrow's build will bundle version 0.9.3 of the plug-in so most of our java problems should go away. Of course, the dmg is a lot bigger. Oh well.

Posted by pinkerton at 10:37 PM

July 25, 2005

New Camino Roadmap

I wanted to take a few minutes to lay out our new roadmap and some of the reasons behind it. It’s been year since we’ve released 0.8, but over the past 13 months, we’ve released four updates that have added some very significant features and fixes, back-ported from the trunk. As a result, it hasn’t really been a year. Now with two solid alphas behind us, we’re poised to take the next big step.

My basic assertion is that the trunk is in very good shape right now. There are some well-known regressions, but overall, it’s close to where we need it to be for a release. Mozilla plans to branch tomorrow for Mozilla1.8. We will live on that branch for the next few months, transitioning at least one of our trunk tinderboxes over to the branch (probably binus). That doesn’t mean we’re abandoning the trunk, it’s very important to stay on top of new development, but all the focus and QA is going to be on the branch and we can piggy-back on the attention for Firefox 1.5.

A lot of us that are very aware of the day-to-day happenings with the project, and that causes us to get a little blinded to true public perception. We see every blemish, every bug, every glaring defect that prevents us from wanting to put a “final” branding on that build. Some of these are big, some of them are small, but we are deluged by the daily bugmail and the regression chatter on the forums. We lose sight that a lot of people really love this product we’re making, blemishes and all. I can’t count the number of feedback emails I get that say “First off, I love this browser, and I’ve tried them all...” and only after a few sentences of gushing come up with a very small detail, usually one we’ve fixed in a recent nightly or have had since version 0.4. Even riddled with bugs, people try Camino and enjoy it enough to take time out of their day to say “thank you.”

We need to take advantage of our growing popularity and come out of our shell. We have to draw a line in the sand and deliver 1.0. How far away from that are we? I believe that we’re much closer than some might think. Yes, we know we still have bugs, and there have been some rendering regressions from 0.8, but fundamentally we are very solid, fast, lean, full-featured, and ready to plant our flag. Simon reminded me that we talked seriously at Netscape about declaring 1.0 when Safari came out. That was years ago. We could be on version 3.0 by now! Think about how many bugs Safari 1.0 had, or any 1.0 app. We can’t polish and preen forever. Real artists ship.

We’re also, in the court of public opinion, still competing with Firefox for mind-share. With them going to 1.5 this Fall, we’re falling further and further behind in the “version number war”. We know it means nothing, but which would most people rather have, Version 1.5 or Version 0.9? Not a hard decision for most. It’s not a real reason to make any decisions, but it’s yet another factor leading up to where we need to go.

Taking all that into consideration, Simon and I have come up with a new Camino roadmap. Here’s a quick summary:

  • Release 0.9beta shortly
  • Triage the 1.0 list to about two or three month’s of work for crashes and major regressions
  • Start releasing 1.0 “release candidate” builds for feedback and to help hone our remaining priorities.
  • Release Camino 1.0 this Fall off the 1.8 branch

Mozilla is branching for 1.8 tomorrow, and as I said before, we’ll take the bulk of our resources with them. Yes, this means that we’ll have to begin checking into two different trees and it will be a bit more of a pain on developers. That’s just what you get with stable branches. We still have a few more things to do, such as bundle the Java Embedding Plugin into nightly builds (and solve probably 90% of our existing Java bugs in one fell swoop), but we should be able to beta in the next week or two.

After we declare beta, we will move all of our focus to delivering a solid 1.0. I envision “release candidate” builds (or whatever we decide to call them so people don’t think we mean “final candidate” builds) every month or so. The key is demonstrating progress and getting feedback on what’s still remains to accomplish our goal. Note that there’s no mention of releasing 0.9 final. We haven’t ruled this out entirely, but right now all it does it distract from the 1.0 goal. If 1.0 does happen to drag out, we may go ahead and release 0.9final in the meantime, but I don’t expect that to happen. With such a small team, we must be focussed.

We will also be trying to do much more promotion of Camino in the coming months. I’m sure there are a bunch of you who say it’s simply not ready and we’ll just fall flat on our faces if we put 1.0 on something that’s not ready and ask the world to come try. I couldn’t disagree more. You don’t see the feedback that I get on a daily basis. We’ve worked hard for the last three years, it’s time that everyone had the chance to see the fruits of our labor. It won’t be perfect, that’s what 1.1 is for.

Speaking of 1.1, I'm sure it will be a very large bin of all the things that don’t make 1.0. There will be a bunch of architectural improvements, new features (RSS?), and still more bugfixes. 1.0 isn’t the end of the line, it’s a stepping stone. Sure, it’s a damn big rock, but it’s still just one in a long line.

Posted by pinkerton at 7:07 PM

July 23, 2005

A Called Strike At The Knees!

Back online after 14 hours downtime. I hate my ISP. Gotta love monopolies. I'd tell them to get under my desk if I could, but there's no more room with Jinglepants already down there.

Last week I ordered and assembled my new music desk, the "Producer" series from Studio RTA. It's a beast, but that's exactly what i want in a desk that can hold my monitors (audio and video), all my rackmount gear, a control surface (when I take the plunge), my computer, and still have room left over to have a pad of paper for writing stuff down. I couldn't be happier with this purchase. I sat down this morning and worked out a new song, perhaps I'll post it after I've given it a bit more work.

Saw Kansas (the legendary rock band) last weekend; they were playing a local "festival" where I live (yes, that's right, I could walk to see Kansas). Never my type of music, but a fun show nonetheless. Same number of bras as Toby, much older crowd. You do the math. Ewwww.

Making good progress on Camino. We're getting lots of great feedback and are pleasantly surprised at the high quality of alpha2. We're working to get the Java Embedding Plugin into the nightly builds, that's probably our single largest missing piece for beta. Look for some more roadmap updates in the next couple of weeks.

Posted by pinkerton at 3:47 PM

July 18, 2005

Camino 0.9a2 Released

We did it, 0.9 alpha 2 is available for download! We've fixed a lot of things in this build, including many long-standing problems: Pound signs displaying as question marks, slow typing with long paragraphs in text fields, and greatly improved back/forward performance. You've gotta see it to believe it. We've also fixed the top crashers that plagued alpha 1 and the talkback symbol uploading.

This app is really starting to look good. We will look for beta around the same time as Firefox 1.1 beta so we can piggyback off their bugfixing and tree lockdown to minimize regressions.

Posted by pinkerton at 8:42 PM

July 13, 2005

Alpha 2 update

We're close to having Camino 0.9 alpha 2 ready. We've made all the release note and branding changes on the trunk, now we're just waiting for Simon to land a couple of regression fixes. Expect something in the next few days.

We also discovered that we haven't been uploading talkback symbols for the last four months, including later releases of 0.8.x. Sigh. I'll try to get to the bottom of this, but its something buried in our release scripts. Grrrrrr.

Posted by pinkerton at 7:28 PM

July 10, 2005

Double Take

I almost forgot to mention a rather funny, if not disturbing and horrifying, part of the evening. Maybe it was because I wanted to try and block it from my mind.

The first opening band for Toby last night was Shooter Jennings, son of Waylon Jennings (the #1 Outlaw in Country music history apparantly. Personally I think anyone who names their kid "Shooter" deserves to be outlawed). He and his band (who wanted to be the Black Crowes but had zero talent) were selling tshirts that read:

Put the O Back In C untry

Well all right. Talk about mothers being proud.

Posted by pinkerton at 2:31 PM

An evening with Toby

Yes, I admit it, I went to a Toby Keith concert last night, primarily because Amo is a huge fan and I bought her tickets for her bday, but also because I wanted to see first-hand if my expectations were on target. Here's a little rundown.

We arrived at Nissan Pavilion a few hours early to tailgate, bringing enough beer to knock out the Bush twins, and enough food to feed a mid-sized (but not overly large) Boy Scout troop. Foolishly we didn't bring chairs. We were herded (literally) to the rocky area of the parking lot after being handed a very large trash bag at the gate. I guess we looked messier than the average honky tonk. I was prepared for the worst, but then I heard the last few country concerts at Nissan got pretty rough and there were lots of fights. I want my mommy.

The first thing I observed in my self-appointed role as anthropologist was that the entire parking lot (and I'm not exaggerating) was packed with oversized SUVs, pickup trucks, and 4x4s, all American-made. I was quickly assured of our forever dependence on foreign oil. The lone exception was parked right next to us, a trio of hoity-toity sororoty girls from DC in a beat-up Integra. They were drinking some fancy sparkling wine drink out of a can (if that's possible) and discussing the graphic details of their highly active sex lives. The SUV behind us was occupied by two guys, one in the front, the other in the back, with the windows rolled up. Now, let me mention that it was about 90 degrees. The guy in the front kept leaning over and doing something in the front seat. Lord only knows what. They spent about an hour in there at least.

The next thing I observed is that bras are not only optional, they're apparantly discouraged. Skirts that come within the same zipcode as the knees were also hard to find. Sure, there's no shortage of slim, bronzed college girls wearing next to nothing, but even the...er, plus sized...ladies were in similar garb. Just not right. I wondered if there was some dress code of which we hadn't been informed. Thankfully, I'd chosen to wear a Harley-Davidson shirt Amo bought for me, and not the "Thank Allah the North won the war" tshirt I was going to wear.

On a similar note, I noticed that the concert was, let's just say, not multi-cultural. I don't think I've ever felt so uncomfortable in a crowd of 40,000 white people. It's one thing to assume it's going to be that way, it's another to actually see it in real life.

Once inside, we proceeded to consume enough beer to qualify us for 2% dealer cash back on our next purchase of a Nissan automobile. At least, I sure hope all that $ got me something besides a drunk girlfriend and a slight hangover. Our seats were actually quite good, I'd never sat in the pavillion at Nissan, but we were in row B of the back section so we were high enough and had nobody in front of us so we had a nice clear view. Thankfully, the 7 foot man in row A decided to stay seated the whole performance.

The show itself wasn't half bad. Toby has a bunch of slow songs, but didn't play them, keeping the excitement level in the crowd pretty high. There was lots of pyrotechnics to wake up the drunks every now and then and lots of hootin' and hollerin'. I even knew just about all the songs from Amo's Toby crash couse and the car-ride in. I used the opportunity of some of my less favorite songs to purchase a tankard of water-like beer for Amo. I can handle one less song about bombing Afghanistan into the stone ages, thankyouverymuch.

The interesting thing I noticed was that Toby's guitar was basically silent the entire concert. Even on the songs where he played (there were many he didn't), he might as well have been strumming a duck. Wait, the duck would have made more noise. I wonder if the sound guy did that by accident, or if Toby is such a bad player that they don't let him take part in the music mix. His guitar did have a gigantic Ford logo on it. Funny, I didn't know Ford made guitars. Maybe that's why they wouldn't let poor Toby play with the real musicians?

We headed out a tad early because Amo was turning green and made our way back to the car. While we were sitting there waiting for the other couple we arrived with, some young punks walking by the car opened and shut our passenger-side door. Who does that? We were also treated to the site of a college-aged girl with her pants around her ankles, urinating into one of the oversized garbage bags. I guess they are good for something. She then stood up and gave us all a glorious view! Thanks hun, your parents must be so proud!

Needless to say, a good time was had by all. However, I appear to have missed a sizable chunk of American culture growing up. I'm not yet sure if that's good or bad.

Posted by pinkerton at 1:09 PM

July 7, 2005

Blink.

So I order and install iWork '05 to get the new Keynote upgrade for my class this fall. For starters, I had to wait at home all day today because, for some reason, Apple made this $50 software shipment "Signature Required". They left the $1000 LogicPro on my doorstep with no problem, but iWork? Now they're paranoid.

I wait at home all day for it (the guy comes at 7pm, of course), rip it open, install it, and am asked to type in my serial number. Type in all 23 digits and...the OK button is still disabled. Huh? Oh, i typed lowercase. Let's try uppercase. Nope. No dice. Check, recheck, and check again. I got it right the first time.

So I call Apple's tech support. Before asking me anything about iWork, they ask me for the hat size and blood type of my Powerbook. The guy is surprised I'm calling about iWork, despite it was the first thing the automated system asked me about. I explain my problem, he asks me to reboot. Even though my system has an uptime measured in months, Ok fine, for him, I'll do it. Nope, surprisingly that doesn't fix it. He puts me old hold for a while, then comes back with a shocking announcement: the serial number I have is too long. It should only be 20 digits, not 23. WTF?

So he puts me on hold again to talk to level 2 tech support. That's where I am now. I'll keep you posted.

UPDATE: So iWork 1.0 has a 20-char serial number. iWork 1.0.1 has a 23-char serial number. I apparantly got a 1.0 DVD and a 1.0.1 serial number. A quick software update for Keynote and Pages and I'm up and running. Thank you to William, the level 2 rep, for helping me out.

Now, let's go back to why they made me stay home all day for a $50 app....

Posted by pinkerton at 7:22 PM

July 1, 2005

Just saying...

I feel like I should clarify so that nobody gets too bent out of shape.

The genius that helped me at the Apple store wasn't a jackass. He was actually quite helpful considering that it was lunchtime and he was short two helpers and the queue was getting longer and longer, not to mention the fact that the problem I came in for couldn't be replicated in his presence. He did talk down to me as if I knew nothing about Macs, which arguably is my own personal baggage, but in the end, the clean install seemed to fix everything.

I was happy to have personalized service for no charge available to me as a mac owner. Geniuses (as well as all apple employees) should be proud of the service they provide.

And now I'm done being happy, where's my drink?

Posted by pinkerton at 2:09 PM