Firefox
SVG Open Call for Papers Deadline coming up
The SVG Open is shaping up fast. The call for papers has been out there for a while now but if you're quick you can still present a paper or run a workshop but the deadline to submit for papers and courses is April 18 and that'll be here before you know it. The SVG Open is the conference for people doing SVG. The SVG Open has been running since at least 2002 and seems to get a little broader appeal every year it runs. Look at the broad areas to cover: client-side Javascript toolkits, map overlays like Google's, widgets in Opera, cell phones and other embedded applications, UI elements in Gnome and KDE, desktop tools like Inkscape. Those are just off the top of my head, that kind of a list just didn't exist 5 years ago - not for mainstream applications like these. SVG is growing in adoption and I don't see that slowing down anytime soon. I've been out of the scene for a while but things have really come a long way all of a sudden. There's some great support across the latest browsers - compare that half-green Firefox 3 to the qualified "about half of the tests passed that test features supported by Firefox" from a few years ago. There are solid, supported tools that make SVG creation accessible to anyone. Inkscape may only consider their release 0.46 less than a 1.0 but it's a real practical tool that's adding features in leaps and bounds. Want some graphics to work with? The Open Clip Art Library has piles of subjects covered. There are more and more compelling reasons to choose SVG every day. If you're someone who's been applying SVG already then share what you know and go present it at the Open.
A difference of opinion
On Pavlov.net talking about some improvements in memory handling on Firefox 3:
It isn’t reasonable to expect all those authors to write code to manually break the cycles themselves.
This reminded me immediately of an MSDN article that took a decidedly different stance on pretty much the same problem in Internet Explorer:
The good news is that memory leak patterns can be easily spotted if you know what to look for.
The fact that the MSDN article is from 2005 really drives home just how stunned I was when I first read it. The page goes on to describe how web developers should analyze their Javascript and write their code to work around bugs in garbage collection. I understand the idea that sometimes users have to work around bugs in a program but that's definitely not the message I got looking at the MSDN article. It read a lot more to me like "we sent out IE 6 SP2 about a year ago and we have no intentions on fixing this any time soon." Then look at the audiences that these two very different standpoints are aimed at. The Mozilla post is about extension developers, a relatively small and advanced group compared to the number of web developers - the ones most likely to understand the issue if anyone does. The MSDN post talks to "every web developer" and says to "Use defensive coding practices and assume that you'll need to clean up all your own memory." While this may be practical advice for advanced coders, in this context it says to me that there's no intention from Microsoft to really fix this problem. Kudos to Mozilla for working to improve efficiency and close leaks instead of blaming web developers.
Flickr Search, UPS Tracking and more with OpenSearch
I know I've written about a couple of the OpenSearch plugins that I've done but there are a few more I published and never really mentioned. I had a UPS tracking number for a package and I saw that Google could look them up easily (just put in the tracking number as your search) but going straight to the UPS site was actually slower. So I wrote a search plugin using the same URL structure that Google does. Then there was the time a friend asked for a search plugin that would just look for Creative Commons licensed photos on Flickr. I whipped up something quick.
Updated Firefox Search Plugin for WoWArmory.com

I've got a new update for the search plugins I wrote for the World of Warcraft Armory. Blizzard changed the search results URL slightly and that broke my old version. While I was at it I added a general search (all realms) that might work for Taiwan and Korean realms.

If you're a new user, the basic idea I've used is that sometimes people want to search all realms for a character name but usually you want to look for a character only on a specific realm. Looking on a specific realm is a lot more useful since most of us only play on one realm or at most a few. You can install the realm-specific search for each of the realms you play on and the name shows up when you pick which you want from Firefox's search box.

The search plugin shows up on the top right corner of Firefox. It might also work on Internet Explorer 7 since it's written as an OpenSearch plugin. It doesn't add anything to the browser except this new search engine provider - it's not as big as a normal Firefox add-on.

The Bill to Tax VoIP
Something came up a while ago on Slashdot about taxing Internet service in the US and the idea that VoIP would be excluded in a new bill that extends the tax free status of Internet access. As usual most of the details of the proposed law are completely lost in the movement from the bill as it's written to Infoworld to Slashdot. In the course of discussion when I asked about how to see the bill itself, someone kindly provided a link to Thomas, the legislative information resource at the Library of Congress. Unfortunately the search results there aren't RESTful - there's no way to get a permalink to HR 3678 (apparently the bill in question). Anyhow, after looking up that bill and seeing the sponsors I thought it would be informative to look up the politicians named on the bill at Open Secrets and see who funds their campaigns. There were a number of names and what I found was interesting in relation to the changes outlined in this bill. I'll just quote the reply I made on Slashdot.
A Couple Ways to Debug mod_rewrite
At the risk of turning this into an Apache fan blog, I have to mention the handy directive I found today. Many webmasters run in to mod_rewrite at one time or another and every one of them will have at least a little trouble with it. I just came across the RewriteLog Directive and corresponding RewriteLogLevel Directive. You're not going to be able to turn these on with shared hosting, they can't be used in .htaccess. To set up a debugging log for mod_rewrite, you need to add them to your httpd.conf somewhere. In my case I'm working on a server at home so I added
Fixed: Firefox Automatically Adds www. and .com
This has bugged me for a long time but it just took a little searching to fix. I enter the URL http://copper/ and Firefox can't connect so it decides that I really meant http://www.copper.com/. This is never what I meant. I don't know who runs copper.com, but they can rest assured that they'll stop getting requests from me for the internal web services that I run at home. The same thing happens even if you use the name localhost. I fully expect that most visitors at http://www.localhost.com/ are Firefox users who are trying to access a web server on their own computer. Apparently it was turned in to a preferences setting years ago as a result of this bug. The feature is called "domain name guessing" or a URL fixup and according to the site that tipped me off to this it might be a feature of Thunderbird as well. In current versions (Firefox 2) it can be found and turned off by entering about:config in the address bar. This brings up a huge list of settings. Find the setting browser.fixup.alternate.enabled (typing the name in the Filter box at the top makes it easy to find). Double click the name of the setting or its value to set it to True or False. You want False to stop this behaviour.
Armory Search Plugin updated for European Realms
I've finally got the search plugin I made last month to work for European Realms. The idea is the same, so the info in the original release still applies but I'll recap here.

Background

This is an OpenSearch plugin, it only adds a search provider to the list at the top, not generic functionality for Firefox. Since it's done with OpenSearch, my understanding is that it might work in other browsers too. My instructions and experience are specific to Firefox though. If you still don't have Firefox, you can go get it from Mozilla or get . I've approached the search two different ways, one way is to search all realms for a character. The other looks for a character only on a specific realm. I think looking on a specific realm is a lot more useful since most of us only play on one realm or at most a few. You can install the realm-specific search for each of the realms you play on and the name shows up when you pick which you want from Firefox's search box.
The Tab One Timesaver
Firefox has a feature whereby you can press Ctrl with numbers from 1-8 to activate the corresponding tab in the browser. Put another way, Ctrl-1 activates the first tab (counting from the left) and Ctrl-8 activates the eighth tab from the left. I thought Ctrl-9 would do the ninth tab but it's actually the right-most tab. I'm a keyboard guy, but this feature never mattered to me much. I used Ctrl-Tab and Ctrl-Shift-Tab to cycle through my open browser tabs. Then I realized that there are a few pages, which some could describe as web-applications but that's less important, that I almost always have open. I mean things like webmail or Pandora. I made a simple change of always having those tabs on the first few spots and now I can always get to them easily.
Firefox Plugin to Search for WoW Characters at the Armory
The Armory's a pretty cool addition to the World of Warcraft site. Finally I can take comfort in knowing that while that rogue who jumped me is all decked out in purples and though I don't stand a chance against him in PvP, I can out-herbalize him any day. That's right - somehow he got to level 63 without getting past 150 herbalism! So that Felweed is mine all mine.
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