Reading Mozilla blogs

Reading the blogs of Mozilla contributors is a great way to keep up with the latest news about Mozilla. (Reading mozillaZine is required.) To save you time, Henrik Gemal has put together a page of Mozilla Related Blogs aka Blogupdates that shows a snippet from the latest few posts from each blog. Even better, each time you visit the page it marks which blogs have been updated since your last visit. Many thanks for the page!

To save a few more seconds, I created a bookmarklet that will open a new window for each blog that has been updated. Go to his Blogupdates page and click the bookmarklet. I wish there was a way to get them to open in new tabs — opening lots of windows can be slow — but that doesn’t seem to be possible from a bookmarklet. (I’ve heard that there’s an extension (multizilla?) that might support this but haven’t checked. Perhaps there’s one that lets you force opening of new windows to use tabs.) The bookmarklet also leverages code and specifics of his site, so it may break if he makes any changes.

Open New Blogs


I’ve found that a quick way to switch between them on Windows is to use Alt+Tab immediately after they finish opening. If you close each blog window after you read it and then press Alt+Tab, you’ll jump to the next one. This also lets you read them oldest to newest.

Update: Well that didn’t last long. I fixed it to work with the site again after some style changes caused it to break.

Mozilla Firebird renamed Mozilla Firefox, 0.8 released

Revised Firefox Logo showing the Red Panda head

I’ve had a chance to play around with the new and shiny Mozilla Firefox release. First, I have to say that the new logo makes a surprising difference. With its bright colors and obvious polish, it makes the browser feel more like a real product. I am surprised that the logo has the fox facing the globe. They had a tremendous opportunity to create a friendly “mascot” for the browser based on the cute red panda and passed it up. Ah, well. I played with the logo to quickly try a front facing variation that looks more like a firefox (that’s it on the right), but I’ll go with the official brand.

Second, the name change is good. I complained about Mozilla Firebird stealing the name of another open source project and I’m glad they’ve done the right thing and changed names. Again. (This makes at least five, but I may have miscounted.) The amusing Firesomething Extension lets you attempt the difficult task of changing the name more frequently than the developers. Actually, based on the trademark registrations, I expect Mozilla Firefox will be around for a long while.

I was stunned to find that I like the new download manager. It just does what I expect it to do and then gets out of the way. Wow. It has a slick appearance and shows the download percentage in the titlebar, which suits me fine. If only I could get rid of the completely unnecessary “biff” that pops up near the taskbar at the end of a download. I think it’s only there to show off. It almost ruins the experience for me.

I continue to be impressed with the Firefox Preferences, er, Options dialog. It’s well designed and elegant. I heartily agree with them moving the Proxies selection to the General panel. Much better than Advanced in Mozilla.

Firefox still has areas that need to be improved. Below are things that I believe will frustrate users switching from Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) yet can be easily fixed. These are also some of the most long-standing and contested bugs in Mozilla. Although I’m including the bug numbers, if you’re wise you won’t go and read them. They’ll just annoy you with the mindblowing lack of common sense.

  • Replace File|Exit with File|Close. bug 65121 (or bug 171892)–This used to trip me up in Mozilla relatively frequently, but after repeatedly bashing my head on the keyboard and crying I managed to learn not to use the bottom menu item. Firefox’s IE-like qualities must have lulled me into thinking I could trust menu items again. “Where’d my browser windows go!?” Just fix it already.
  • Add Print to the page right-click context menu. bug 24221 (and more optimistically bug 204519 This has been “won’t fixed” since 2000 and has gotten many duplicates. There are specific cases in pop-ups where there is no menu other than the context menu. This would likely be my third most frequently used context menu item after Back and View Source.
  • Improve plugin installs. bug 224227 and others. While it’s better than it was before Netscape 6 shipped, plugin installation is still not as easy as in IE. Some of this would be mitigated if “typical” plugins were preinstalled or detected automatically.
  • Show the URL of bookmarks in the status bar when mouse hovers over them. bug 23460 IE does this in the favorites and it’s quite useful. I even developed a fix for this bug. Hyatt’s comments in the bug made me think it was fixed in Firebird. If it was, I don’t see the fix in Firefox.
  • Support multiline tooltips 45375 Sites often use tooltips for extra information. Firefox crops the text so you may miss the important bits. IE shows it all.
  • Add a help system. (bug 165960) Mozilla 1.6 comes with a help system that even includes tips for those switching from Internet Explorer. This is a great idea that needs to be included with Firefox. After reading through the bugs it looks like this is already fixed on the trunk. Looking a little deeper I found the Firebird Help Project at Good!

Below is a list of a few things that bother me about Firefox. I use and develop web-applications all day, so I want a powerful and elegant browser. Firefox feels and is incomplete in areas compared to Mozilla. (It is also better in others, such as the form autocomplete dropdowns and customizable toolbars.) Yes, there are extensions that would give me the functionality I want, but Mozilla already has it so I’m not sure I see the point. Still, I’m finding it hard to stay away from Firefox.

  • I want the Mozilla history window. Sure it’s nice to have quick access to history in the sidebar in Firefox, but when I really want details Mozilla’s history window is superior. Why can’t we have both like we do with the Bookmarks sidebar and Organize Bookmarks window?
  • I can’t change my language preferences. I’m frequently switching my default language in Mozilla to test various language versions of sites. I’m told this is a not uncommon experience in internet cafes. Firefox has no current support for switching languages.
  • The backspace key goes back!? I know this is an IE-ism, but this is terrible. I use Find As You Type all the time and frequently revise it with backspace. In Mozilla I can backspace multiple times with no problem. I seem to do the same in form fields. In Firefox I’ve found myself multiple pages back for no apparent reason.
  • Bring back MNG and JNG support. It looks like this will soon be back on the Mozilla trunk. It’d be great for Firefox, too. While the current IE market dominance limits the web usefulness of these image formats, they can be used in fantastic ways in themes. And I hope Firefox can steal some marketshare.
  • Ok, this is a bit silly, but get a better throbber. I’m sure it’s cool to have your personal logo as a browser’s throbber, but the Q-scythe doesn’t do it for me. Mozilla’s M/Mozilla head throbber has the benefit that it is extremely obvious when it is active. I gotta give some credit to Firefox: at least the throbber is there by default. Can’t we make one based on the new Firefox logo? Perhaps this provides the chance to show the front of the firefox?

Icons: Theology in Color

Karl posted some notes from a recent lecture by Fr. John Chryssavgis. Josh took issue with it and critiqued the idea that icons convey theology. Instead of writing a long comment Karl responded on his blog. Something struck me when I read Karl’s notes and I’ll get to that in second, but first I’ve been thinking about what Josh wrote.

From Karl’s notes:

Faces in icons are always frontal—the eyes always look out, look forward toward us, inviting us inward. They are alive and present. Icons show us that we must face the world with our eyes open.

Josh responded:

Of course, the most dangerous possible way of doing theology is proving things from human inventions. Karl will probably retort that the Holy Spirit has inspired and guided EO icon painting, but of course, this is an a priori assumption that has little or no foundation anywhere except the idea that the EO communion is infallible. It bears no material difference from the Roman Catholic doctrine that the Holy Spirit gradually reveals new articles of faith through the papacy. The main difference is that RC’s have a more consistent source of authority—how do you know which sources in the EO tradition are sources of new divine revelation? This is, of course, an argument for sola scriptura, since nothing is more subjective than proving something from your own creation, whether it is writing or icons. I might as well start making theological statements with my own blog as an authoritative source. The fact that Easterns paint icons a certain way doesn’t prove anything about God or heaven.

Josh leans on scripture as an authoritative source and rejects the icons, but I’d say his concerns also apply to the scriptures. The scriptures and the icons developed through the Holy Spirit working in the church. The canon of scripture was decided by the church. It’s not like they dropped out of the sky already intact and created by God.

Josh later writes:

If I want to know about the eternal perspective of reality, I’m not going to look at a painting some guy painted, no matter how holy he may or may not be. He’s not infallible. I’m going to go to the Gospel.

What makes the scripture preferred? Why shouldn’t we say this:

If I want to know about the eternal perspective of reality, I’m not going to read some book some guy wrote, no matter how holy he may or may not be. He’s not infallible. I’m going to go to the icons.

Icons have been called “theology in color” and teach us truth. As with scripture, we must read them with care, and check that we are understanding them in accord with the teaching of the church. They are certainly worthy of study. Saint John of Damascus said if a pagan asks you to show him your faith take him before the holy icons.

And now to the point that struck me when I read Karl’s notes. Faces in icons point outward in direct response to the Old Testament scripture. “No man looks on the face of God and lives.” (Ex 33:20). Moses, hidden under a cleft in the rock, sees only God’s back (Ex. 33: 21-3). In contrast, through the incarnation of Christ, we now know his face. With an open gaze, he invites us to know him. The depiction of the saints in the icons does the same: they invite us to know God as they themselves do.