Bryan Ruby


Thoughts, Words, and Deeds

David Baron: New Firefox 2 theme and lessons learned

I just got done reading an interesting and important post by David Baron of Mozilla. Although his initial focus is on the Firefox 2 browser, he makes some valid points that easily carry over to lessons learned involving software development and general project management.

The post in focus from Mr. Baron is "New Theme, Old Problem" and as titled centers to some problems with the new Firefox theme. Mr. Baron states that he doesn't "really care one way or the other about most of the changes". But what does care about are the changes done to the tabs in the new theme. Mainly that the new tabs no longer blend well from the operating system it is running on. He likes the "old way" better where:

In previous releases, the tab strip used native-looking tabs on Windows and GNOME, which have an appropriate native tab concept...I've long seen the ability to build multi-platform user interface that looks and acts native across those platforms as one of Firefox's strengths, and one of XUL's strengths, and I think improving the native-ness of the user interface is an important goal. Native user interface means Firefox fits in with the appearance and conventions of other applications, making both Firefox and those other applications easier to use.

Should Microsoft Financially Support Open Source Projects?

A series of posts and questions on the CMS blogs are asking whether Microsoft should help finance the costs of open source projects. I have no opinion to give that would add value to this topic. However, I'm happy to give the rundown so far of the posts that speak the loudest regarding Microsoft and open source projects.

The thread of blog posts seems to originate with a post at Dave's Tech Shop (blog uses Subtext). In that post, Dave talks about the need for Microsoft to better support open source projects. Dave's reasoning:

In my company's commercial application we depend upon DotNetNuke, Nant, log4net, NUnit and other open source tools. Those open source projects help support us. (In fact, without DNN, we would probably be out of business because our developments costs would be too high.) In turn, my company helps support Microsoft (because we purchase licenses and MSDN subscriptions). Yet Microsoft does not complete the circle by financially supporting any of those open source projects. NDoc stands out as an example.

In response to Dave's post, Phil Haack, another .Net user and Subtext founder writes:

Ultimately I think Microsoft is not a charity and should do what’s best for Microsoft. Ultimately, I think it is in its best interest to look at this seriously and consider helping projects (like NDoc) out.

Work by day, Drupal by night

Last night, I was up late doing some administrative work for my sites as well as writing some posts. This was my attempt to procrastinate working on an osCommerce site that I promised someone would be done by the start of October.

One of those posts I made was Drupal related and available via an RSS feed for Planet Drupal to ingest. Unfortunately, I found that TinyMCE (a WYSIWYG editor) had changed my absolute links to relative links in the post. This caused references to links and images back to my site to not display properly for anyone aggregating from the RSS feed I provide. This particular issue with TinyMCE and associated Drupal module is not so much of a bug as it is a configuration issue that can easily be corrected.

As I was troubleshooting the problem I was also monitoring new posts arriving at Planet Drupal. As midnight approached, three additional posts appeared from Planet Drupal. Those posters seen at Drupal late in the evening were from pingVision, Earl Miles, and Bryght. Prior to my post, Greg Knaddison has made a post in the early evening hours. Interestingly, there has not been a single post put on Planet Drupal during the day (relative to CDT). In fact, if updates are made on Planet Drupal during the day, many of those entries take place on the other side of the world and late into the night for them.

Proof spammers are no good

Screen shot of Akismet Filter in Wordpress 2.x

A few months ago, I posted that I use Akismet in both Drupal and Wordpress. Akismet is a spam filtering service that can be used in content management systems via plug-ins and modules. The Akismet plugin ships with Wordpress 2, but some setup is required.

While visiting my Wordpress site I noticed the specific number of comment spams the Akismet filter had caught so far and made sure I took a screenshot. The image below was taken by me and I assure you that no altering of the photo was done. I'll let you be the judge whether you agree that spam through site comments represent the evil the number shown implies.

I do use Akismet to filter out the spam that is posted through comments here at CMS Report. As most of you know by now, my content mangement system of choice for this site is Drupal. The Akismet module for Drupal is now at version 1.1.2 and available at phpMiX.org (Open Source experiments).

Headaches from security updates for Firefox and Thunderbird

Sigh...another round of security updates coming from the folks at Mozilla. It looks like version 1.5.0.7 will be at our doorsteps soon.  Now at home, updating Firefox and Thunderbird on the Windows PC is a snap since it is all automatic. However, updating in a secure enterprise environment is a different matter.

In most enterprises, most users don't have administrative privileges and without those rights Firefox and Thunderbird in most cases will not auto install the new version. What would really help is if Mozilla would provide their software in a MSI package. Until MSI packages are provided by Mozilla, it is difficult for me to accept Firefox and Thunderbird as "enterprise software". In a Windows Server 2003 environment, MSI packages are a must for easy deployment, management, and auditing.