Firebug: A Web Development Must-Have

I’ve been messing about with Firebug, a web development extension for Firefox. The site itself does a much better job of explaining FB than I ever could, so I would direct you over there for definitive information.
At base, FB exposes everything about the webpages you view, from HTML to CSS to JavaScript to the download times for each portion of your page. It also allows you to change the CSS values for any given DOM element, meaning that you can preview HTML changes in real time. It’s really slick, I have to say. If you have any web design inklings, I’d pretty much say you have to check out Firebug.

Firefox 2: It’s The Little Things That Count

I’ve been using the Mac version of Firefox 2.0 on my Mac Pro at work for the last few days and I have to say that it’s a pretty nice package. It remembers your session if your browser happens to crash, meaning that you won’t lose all those hard-fought tabs if FF should crap out on you. It seems to be generally faster, which is nice.
Spell check 1
But nicest of all is the integrated spell-checker. Now, forum posts, blog posts and yes, even work-related stuff benefits from an immediate “your spelling sucks”-type feedback mechanism.
Spell Check 2
Expect the quality of my posts to skyrocket, baby! I know y’all only come here for the spelling and grammar. Philistines.

A Virtual Cornucopia Of Cool Software

Google has been on a “pro-Doug” tear recently as far as I can see, releasing first Picasa, then Google Earth for Linux, along with the cool-in-concept Google Browser Sync plugin for Firefox. The Google Sync extension only ranks cool in concept because, well, in order for it to work to its capacity, you have to store all your bookmarks, history, cookies, tabs and, most importantly, passwords on Google’s servers. The data is encrypted prior to being sent to Google, but it’s only done with a PIN as the encryption salt, meaning that Google has access to both the algorithm used to encrypt the data and the encrypted data itself. The PINs, they can guess. The “Oh wow!” factor is probably mitigated by how much one trusts Google to not be evil with personal data.
The Picasa port was accomplished using Winelib, meaning that it’s not a true native port, but I’ll take what I can get in terms of being able to run the best image management software out there. The Google Earth port is apparently native code, as it’s based off of QT. Now, we just need a SketchUp port for Linux and a Picasa port for Macs and the awesomeness will be complete.

Testing Vanilla

Vanilla preview
There’s been a lot of buzz surrounding Vanilla lately, including Michael Heilman moving his forums over to the Vanilla platform.
What is Vanilla? In short, it’s an Open Source forum framework that seeks to reenvision the forum/bulletin board concept. It has a lot of nifty AJAX effects and an extremely streamlined CSS-based design. It really seems to be a simpler take on forums and seems to be trying to match up to users’ workflows.
I decided to give it a whirl and grabbed the latest copy from the Lussumo svn server. After initially pulling my hair out in my attempts to configure the thing, I’ve finally got it working (as you can plainly see). I’m not sure if my site is big enough to require a forum, but I’ve started this as more of an experiment than anything.
All in all, Vanilla seems like a pretty cool app and a nifty take on forum software in general. I’ll post more as I find out more.
Tangential note: The Lussumo team also developed the excellently simplistic File Browser, which is well worth a look for those seeking a simple gallery program.

Bill Gates: Apple’s Best Pitchman

Heh. Looks like Microsoft’s continuing troubles with security patches may be bearing fruit for Apple and Linux distributors (in the satire market, at least).
Scrappleface: Microsoft Extends Apple Sales Promotion to Jan. 10.

(2006-01-05) — Microsoft Corp. today announced that it would extend, until January 10, its program to promote the sales of rival Apple computers, as well as its drive to double the daily downloads of Linux operating systems.
The previously-secret promotional program, dubbed Operation Why Not Switch?, uses delayed-release of a Windows security patch to prompt customers to take a look at alternatives to Microsoft products.

Again I say: heh. Go and read the whole thing.

RAZR V3, Bluetooth And Audacity: A Hearty Endorsement

Audacity LogoAs I recently mentioned, I moved my wife and myself over to Motorola RAZR V3s on T-Mobile. The phones are very nice, featuring big, bright screens, Bluetooth connectivity, a compact form and a decent camera, as my Flickr page will attest to. They also feature the Motorola phone OS/menu scheme That. Just. Works. Ahhhhh, so nice to be back on a Moto…
In any event, one of the coolest features has to be the RAZR’s ability to play full-up MP3s as ringtones. Turns out all one needs to do is connect via Bluetooth and plunk .mp3s in the “audio” folder on the phone and the .mp3s become usable as ringtones. Sweet.
Given the fact that CNN Headline News decided to ruin my year by showing a “Top 10 Most-Downloaded Internet Videos of 2005” last week, topped by none other than the Numa Numa Dance, I decided that I simply had to convert “Dragostei din Tei” over to ringtone format. I’d heard tales of the excellence of the Open Source linear audio editor, Audacity, so I headed over to their site and snagged a copy of the Mac binary. I was up and running within five minutes and, after a little messing around, figured out how to cut the first minute and a half of the song into three neatly-arranged ~30 second clips appropriate for use as ringtones. I uploaded ’em to my RAZR and, et voila!, I had my ringtones.
Now, I’ve just got to find some non-annoyingly-catchy-Europop songs appropriate for use as ringtones. Suggestions?