Happy new year!

After weeks of work cleaning, building, painting, and moving, we held our first vespers service tonight in the new space for our church. Although we barely had the icons up in the santuary and many still need to be hung in the nave, praying there was beautiful. “Now as we come to the setting sun and behold the evening lights, we praise God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!” Vespers was timed perfectly: as we prayed, the sunset transformed the interior of the church in a wash of changing colors, a deep orange and then crimson. It feels so appropriate and good to be starting out in this wonderfully almost four-times larger space at the beginning of a new ecclesiastical year. As our new metropolitan, his beatitude, Herman, reminds us, the church year is about the mystery of our redemption. With every year, we learn a little better what it means to repent and be saved. Praise God for his goodness to us over this past year.

O designer and creator of all that is, in your power you arranged the seasons and the times. So now, bless this year we begin through your goodness, give all your people lasting peace, and by prayers of the Theotokos, save us.

Enthroned on high, O Christ, our God, you are the designer and creator of all things, whether visible or hidden from our sight, of day and night, of the seasons and the times. Bless this year we now begin, and preserve your people from all evil, O most merciful Lord.

Troparion and Kondakion for the New Year by New Skete Monastery

Mozilla bites the hand that feeds it?

Tony Davis complains (with much profanity) that All Mozilla does is steal Netscape’s thunder. Well, yeah. Read eWeek recently?

Tony says:

I am sick and tired of Mozilla…. Yes, Netscape makes bad decisions regarding problems that should be obvious, but their motivation is in the right place; to make money to pay for engineers…. Netscape engineers are paid to do things that no one else would do (if they weren’t paid for it). Period. Engineers who checkin patches composed of hundreds of files with thousands of lines of code. No kid working after school in his basement is going to do that…. Oh, and the majority of code contributed to Mozilla.org comes from Mozilla engineers PAID for by Netscape.

All Mozilla does is steal Netscape’s thunder. They release a product that is in reality Netscape 7.0…. If Mozilla.org had never released a browser with pop-up blocking in it (no matter how cool that is, and no matter that it doesn’t work correctly – it breaks Netscape Radio and several other features) no one would be using that same feature to slam Netscape.

But Mozilla’s not Netscape, right? Let’s be frank: Netscape 7 is getting slammed because it deserves it. Instead of focusing on the customer, Netscape 7 annoys the customer. I don’t want a dozen AOL advertisements sprinkled around my system. Adding them will not improve your chances of gaining my business. I do want popup ad blocking. The differences between Mozilla and Netscape are few. Mozilla, however, doesn’t annoy me (other than the UI problems that it shares with Netscape 7), and is ahead of Netscape in features I want (popup ad blocking, incremental find, chatzilla, javascript debugger). Mozilla just shames Netscape 7 by pointing out that it didn’t have to be frustrating.

The motivation for Netscape 7 seems to be desperation. Blake pointed out good ways to make money from the browser. Hint: they benefit the user in convenience not annoyance.

Blake Ross censored

It looks like Blake pulled his rather venomous August 29, 2002 blog entry about the Netscape 7 release. It’s a shame the blog is gone, I thought it was one of his better ones.

Mike Pinkerton apparently saw it too:

Jinglepants writes:

Are you paying attention now, you ignorant, stupid, incompetent buffoons?

Yeah, i pretty much agree. The management chain at Netscape deserves this one 110%. It was only a matter of time before CNet (who are also incompetent and obvsiouly didn’t even run the product they were reviewing) called us on the carpet and made us pay for our greed.

We told you so. We told you so. We told you so.

David Hyatt also rants about how Netscape managers refused to listen. It sounds like the same story.

Blake ranted about the decision to pull popup ad-blocking technology from Netscape 7. He characterized it as making Netscape look money-hungry and stupid. Reading between the lines, it sounds like many Mozilla developers pointed out that because it was in Mozilla, it would be more noticable when it was pulled, and therefore shouldn’t be removed.

Blake also rightly critiqued the competence of the review at CNet, saying that it was obvious that they never used the browser. He asked why the review compared Netscape 7 to Mozilla instead of more appropriately to IE 6.

Most interesting of all was his comment that it’s hard to feel good about the Netscape release when in 3 days of working on his Phoenix project (formerly mozilla/browser) he’d made a 50% improvement in speed and added a history sidebar as well. He was advocating that management get some people working on real improvements.

Hopefully he pulled his comments because he realized he was a bit heated and not because of management pressure. If anyone has a cache of the story, I’d love to look at it again.

Extremists, meet the blog

Jon Udell: “What mainly fascinates me about this moment in history is the role of the blog. We’ve turned a corner, I think, in terms of pluralism. Authentic voices on all sides of all debates are heard directly. The world is profoundly more transparent. Given the irreducible and growing complexity of everything, this is a necessary and wonderful thing. I feel lucky to be a part of it!”

Get a grip

Idiotic bug comment of the day: “I for one will not use mozilla for browzing until the splash is changed, or more sensibly just deleted.” You’re not using a product because of the splash screen!? Just add -nosplash to the command line options and go on. First impressions matter, but there are thousands of problems more important than replacing the fire-breathing mozilla splash screen.

Can we talk?

I recently discovered that Ray Ozzie is experimenting with blogging. In case you haven’t heard of him, he was the creator and developer of Lotus Notes. He founded Groove networks in 1997 to take groupware in a new, more secure, and decentralized direction. Because of his years of experience, he’s got terrific insights into how users behave in collaborative environments, particularly with regard to security.

He predicts: “If we continue on the current trajectory, e-mail will become the place where you receive stuff from people you don’t know, and Groove and other collaborative environments will be where you work with people you know.” This is already true for me. I already do a great deal of productive work interaction through instant messaging and IRC. E-mail has become a tool for archiving information, exchanging less-pressing thoughts, and spam.

The architecture of our collaborative environment matters a great deal in our productivity and the quality of the conversation, he says. Blogs improve the signal-to-noise ratio by creating distributed conversation threads that naturally omit the spammers and flamers because nobody links to them. If you have a blog, you can participate in the conversation. The conversation can be guided as blogs link between each other. Civilized public discourse can return: blogs allow everyone to have the power of their own press.

Speaking of blog architecture, a number of folks are working on the BlogMD Initiative. The name made me think of medical blogs, but in actuality they are talking about ways to improve the metadata (MD, you see) exposed about blogs. There are other similiar projects: BlogChalking wants bloggers to add geographic and demographic information to their blogs. They’re off to a good start with thousands of people adding blogchalk meta tags, but the data isn’t completely reliable due to formatting issues (Some people use a postal abbreviation, such as TX, instead of the full state name, Texas). BlogMD seems to be focused on data that is typically available on blog web pages, such as last update time and URL. Having a way to access this consistently and programmatically for all blogs would be helpful. And I’m sure there’s other metadata that would be useful.

I’ve got to run to vespers at church, but I also want to mention there is a privacy concern with some metadata, particularly the demographic data available when blogchalking. Many times we read stories in the newspaper and have no idea about the demographics of the author or editor. This hasn’t particularly harmed newspapers. How much metadata should be available?

Bye bye spiderman, hello geckoman

Researchers at Lewis & Clark college have figured out how geckos can stick to anything. “Researchers found that the tips of the hairs on the bottom of gecko feet are tiny enough to take advantage of a weak attraction between individual molecules called van der Waals forces.” Because the adhesive technique is based on the structure of the hairs and not chemistry or capillary action, it has many possible applications in synthetic form. Imagine tape that works underwater or in a vacuum. Think of tape that doesn’t lose its stickiness and is self cleaning. I can’t wait for Band-Aids that don’t stick when you remove them. This is better than VELCRO.

Validators can’t

Ian Hixie provided an insightful quiz to show that there’s more to writing proper markup than running it through a validator. The answers are educational and identify several common misconceptions about which tags are required and how tags should be used. Proper and accessible pages take work beyond what a validator can easily check.

I was happy to get 4 out of 4 in a minute. The errors seemed obvious to me, almost as bad as someone using the <a> tag just to create underlined headings. Based on the results, there’s a lot of educational work to be done to teach people how to create proper markup. The quiz also makes it obvious why automatic conversions from a non-markup format (such as Word .DOC or Adobe Acrobat .PDF) to a markup language generate such poor results.