Mon, November 24, 2003

Fixing bug 23460

Earlier this year I mentioned that I had developed a fix for Mozilla bug 23460. After applying the fix, Mozilla will show bookmark URLs in the statusbar when you hover over bookmarks in the personal toolbar or bookmark menu. Although I wrote the description of the fix for Mozilla developers, interested Mozilla users have asked about what they need to do to patch their Mozilla version. I’ve added instructions to help you.

I know this works with Mozilla 1.4. I’d imagine if you make the edits instead of just snagging the patch files it would apply to any recent version of Mozilla including 1.5 and 1.6, but I haven’t tried it. I also got a report that applying the file uncompressed worked better for one user. Not quite sure why that would be—perhaps it depends on your zip tool—but thought I’d point it out.

Of course, you could also use Mozilla Firebird instead as it apparently already supports this feature.

Russian Orthodox Seek Unity

After a recent visit by an official delegation of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Alexy II expressed his hope for reunion.

The Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia broke off after the 1917 Bolshevik revolution. It was founded in 1920 by Russians fleeding Bolshevik rule. It severed all ties with the Russian Orthodox Church after Patriarch Sergiy pledged the church’s loyalty to the communist government in 1927, a move the Patriarch made to save the church from complete ruin.

The spirit and tone reportedly present in the meetings was described as “fraternal love”. Both groups voiced their desire to establish communion in prayer and the Eucharistic communion.

This meeting prepares the way for Russian Church Outside of Russia Metropolitan Laurus to visit early in 2004. It is is expected that official agreements will be signed during that meeting.

Sat, November 22, 2003

Sensitive inaction

The other day I left work and went out to grab a little lunch. As I drove back to my office with my “to go” order and turned into Lexington Green, I noticed a man standing on the median facing outgoing traffic and holding a cardboard sign. I couldn’t tell what was on the sign—I only saw the back of the man and sign—but I immediately thought that it probably said something like “Need Food.”

I recognized that especially during fast periods, such as the present Nativity fast, we should give alms. “I should go back there and give him my food,” I thought. “I don’t need it. I should at least go see what he needs—perhaps I can help.”

“But it’d be inconvenient to go back there,” the argument came. “I’d have to turn around twice and maybe he just is looking for a ride somewhere.” So I didn’t bother to do anything. Needless to say the meal wasn’t very satisfying. I chastised myself for only wanting to give when it was convenient or easy. Real love and charity is often messy.

“May the poor eat and be filled and may they who seek the Lord exult in him, and may their hearts live forever!”

I spoke with father about this and he pointed out that the poor are always around us. He encouraged me in growing a sensitive heart and to pray for another chance to give. He also suggested I remember this stranger in my prayers.

Lord have mercy. Show me and this man your loving-kindness.

Fri, November 14, 2003

New Mozilla.org

The new Mozilla.org website is up and while I somewhat appreciate the design change, the usability problems are disappointing—I know they got feedback on this. I never understand why designers mess with the link underline styles and colors to make them inconsistent. The site forces no underlining for links, which wouldn’t be so bad—indeed, it’s my preferred style—but it also has poor choices for link colors. Are links white, blue, brown, or red? Oh, that heading that’s blue and looks just like the links over there isn’t a link. Oh, that heading that’s brown and looks looks just like the links over there isn’t a link. Frustrating! I hate using my magic wand to find which of the text that looks like links really are. Worse, the designer decided that visited links should (almost) match the text color. So now you have to look through all the text for links.

Colors are also a problem on LCD monitors. Some of the text, particularly the brown when not bold, becomes faint so it isn’t read as easily. The visited link color might as well be the same as the text. The choice of the link colors seems to switch randomly as you progress through the site. Watch the colors in the left side navigation bar: sometimes they’re blue, sometimes brown, sometimes they become red when hovered, other times they become blue.

It’s really sad that the site suffers from these problems, because I really like the revised and much more user-centered content. If they’d just used the blue color consistently for links, the site would be a joy to use.

Thu, November 06, 2003

Running multiple versions of IE simultaneously

Webmasters and designers of the web rejoice: a way has been found to run multiple versions of Microsoft Internet Explorer on one windows partition simultaneously. No longer do you need multiple machines, partitions, or vmware. Just grab the relevant dlls and files and add a blank text file named IEXPLORE.exe.local to the directory.

The technique was discovered by Joe Maddalone when he examined the files Microsoft included in the developer’s edition of IE6 that was released in response to the Eolas lawsuit. He was surprised by the limited number of files and the fact that it ran side by side with his existing version if IE. Adapting the technique, he was able to run IE5.01, IE5.5 SP2, and IE6 all at the same time. There’s a few problems, such as using the favorites menu crashing the browser and that the about menu reports the wrong version, but I’ve used this to have both IE5.5 and IE6 running on Windows XP. I also used IE5.0 and IE5.5 on Windows NT 4. I noticed a few oddities when loading the same test page in multiple browsers. They apparently share the cache, so they don’t always show the appropriate page.

This is great news [via LCKY]! I look forward to seeing refinements of this technique. Personally I’d like to be able to use this to run not only different versions of IE, but IE with different versions of the Microsoft and Sun Java VMs. I don’t know if that will be possible. For those that need to test CSS and DHTML, this will be very helpful.

Tue, November 04, 2003

This Old House

I’m sure some of my faithful readers wonder about the eccentric juxtaposition of topics discussed on this site. I occasionally wonder at it myself, but then I run across other truly strange sites and enjoy a good laugh at how odd my site must appear in return. One recent site was The New Wookiee Workshop, a site that combines a love of woodworking, and of the New Yankee Workshop in particular, with Star Wars fandom. It’s a brilliant site that mimics and I’d say improves on the appearance of the original. As they say, it’s “Not Quite the Norm.”

A Sunday family tradition has been to watch This Old House and The New Yankee Workshop. We watch it enough that we were quite surprised to see Kevin O’Connor replace Steve Thomas as the host of This Old House. In trying to find out what had happened to Steve, I noticed that Steve was awarded a Daytime Emmy Award in 1997-1998 and has a total of eight nominations for “Outstanding Service Show Host”. How amusing! It always came across to me on the show that Steve was basically incompetent and therefore asked a bunch of questions. Apparently he’s fairly knowledgeable, has renovated several old houses of his own, and just plays stupid on T.V. He sure had me fooled. Kevin O’Connor apparently doesn’t have that benefit at the moment—he’s asking the questions because he really doesn’t know. Although I’m sure he’ll learn over time, it will be interesting to see how a bank vice president approaches the show. I was most struck by how similar he acts and looks to Steve. Perhaps that’s just because he’s been a long time fan.

I found a number of stories about Kevin joining the show and Steve leaving. This Post-Gazette story provides a nice background on Kevin’s hiring. And this North Shore Sunday article talks about the first episode as well as the hiring.

But what about Steve? In a footnote added to Kevin O’Connor’s new host bio, it says that Steve left voluntarily to pursue other creative opportunities both in front of and behind the camera. How will the fans react? As the Post-Gazette story says:

Steve Thomas fans will no doubt be disappointed at his exodus, but the show has weathered a change like this before: In 1989, when Thomas took over after the contentious departure of Bob Vila, Vila’s fans were slow to accept Thomas, who brought a confident manner and an eclectic background as a carpenter, sailor, writer and world traveler to the show.

In the years since, Abrams, Trethewey and Silva have slowly eased into more prominent on-camera roles than they had with Vila. Each one now hosts different aspects of the show, speaking directly to viewers instead of to the host. By the end of the Steve Thomas era, “This Old House” was almost an ensemble piece, sort of a “Friends” with toolbelts.

Yes, we certainly weren’t watching the show for Steve. I’m sure Kevin will do just fine.