Firefox 2.0 Released!

Firefox 2.0 was released earlier today. I wrote previously about this latest release while it was still in Beta. I recommended then that you check it out, and with the final release here, I’ll say it again! This is one of the best browsers out there. Give it a try, it’s easy to uninstall if you find you don’t like it!

Internet Explorer 7.0 Released

Well, it looks like Microsoft has finally released Internet Explorer 7.0 to the public. Initially you have to download and install it manually, but they plan on releasing this on Windows Update in the near future.

I’m a huge fan of Firefox, so why am I bringing this to your attention? Well, there are a couple of reasons. It’s more secure than IE 6.0, much closer to being standards compliant, and if you have to use IE at all then this should make life a little safer and easier.

If you use Firefox exclusively, then please, continue doing so! And maybe even take a glance at version 2.0! But if you need IE at all, even for the IE Tab extension for Firefox, then please update IE to this latest version.

Interactive Searching

Saw this over at LetsKillDave.. I guess the Windows Live team has been playing around with the idea of interactive searching. They’ve come up with something they call Ms. Dewey. It’s pretty neat to play with. Just ask her a question and just before she returns the results, she converses with you. Some of the responses are quite funny. Check it out.

Some ideas for questions :

r u hot? (Thanks Ozy)

These are from one of the comments at LetsKillDave :

Where can I get a date?
Where can I get tested for STDs?
How do I tell my mother she’s a grandmother?
Are you gaining weight?
Where do republicans come from?

Or ask her about Bill Gates or George Bush. I think I’ve seen about 20-30 different responses so far. I’m not sure how many there are total.

Other ideas.. Ask about suicide, the weather, or just simply curse at her. All unique responses.. This is quite the time waster.. Highly recommended!

Update : Try telling her to take her clothes off… No, really, try it..

powered by performancing firefox (yeah, I’m checking it out)

Windows Live Writer Beta

I’m writing this post using the new Windows Live Writer Beta. It’s a blogging tool that allows you to write your blog entries offline and upload them later. Useful, I guess, if you’re not connected all the time. For me, it’s just something to play with. Time will tell whether I like it or not.

To use Writer with a Serendipity blog you’ll need to install the XML-RPC plugin. Once that’s up and working you need to tell Writer what kind of blog you’re using. After it fails the auto-detect you’ll need to choose the API to use. I’m using the Metaweblog API and it seems to be working fine. It also asks for the URL for publishing. For the XML-RPC plugin, the URL will be something like this : http://www.example.com/blog/serendipity_xmlrpc.php

So, for now, I’m just messing around with the system to see what it’s capable of. It seems to be a fairly nice system, pretty at least. Just a document editor with the standard font options on the surface. Hyperlinks are available (as they should be), and it seems to handle media as well such as pictures, movies, audio, etc. I’ve haven’t dealt with media yet on this blog, so I’m not that interested in those capabilities.

Writer won’t download the categories I have set up on my blog, so I’ll have to hand-edit that after I publish. No big deal I guess, but kinda defeats the purpose of this utility. I also don’t see a way to add serendipity tags, so that’s another hand-edit. You can add third party tags such as those from Technorati, LiveJournal, and others, but I have no interest in that.

The web preview is pretty nice. It shows you exactly what the web page will look like when you publish it. It’s pretty cool and seems to work well.

Well, I guess it’s a little nicer than the JavaScript WYSIWYG editor that’s built into serendipity, but between the need for XML-RPC and the lack of serendipity features, I don’t think I’ll be continuing to use Live Writer. While trying to get Writer to work, I also ran across two other tools, w.bloggar and Performancing. The first is a program similar to Writer that seems to allow offline editing. The second is a Firefox plugin that seems to have a ton of features. I’ll be checking both out in the near future.

Firefox 2.0

The latest incarnation of the Firefox browser is nearing release. Version 2.0 brings with it a smattering of nifty features as well as an updated UI and enhanced add-on handling.

I’m particularly fond of the built-in spell checker which comes in really handy. It works in a fashion similar to how the spell checker in MS Office and Openoffice works. Each misspelled work is underlined in red. When you right click on the underlined word, Firefox pops up a list of suggestions. You can choose one of the suggested replacements, or add the word to your dictionary. The spell checker only checks text boxes by default, but you can right click on any text entry field to force a spell check.

The new UI places a close icon on each tab, allowing you to close a tab in a rapid fashion. I can see this causing slight problems with people that are too quick to click as it doesn’t prompt you to close the tab. If you have a large number of tabs open, it begins to suppress the close button on all but the current tab. There is also a drop down on the far right side of the tab bar that shows you all of the open tabs in a list, allowing you to read the full title before jumping to the tab you need.

Firefox now defaults to opening all links in new tabs instead of new windows. I prefer this behavior to simply opening new windows. In addition, the popup blocker has apparently been enhanced. Since installing 2.0, I have not seen a single popup.

The default search bar now supports suggestions. As you type, the search engine you have chosen will offer suggestions for search terms, helping you find the information you want. This is the same technology that Google uses for Google Suggest. The new search engine manager allows you to add in additional search engines as well.

Overall, I think this is a real positive step in Firefox’s evolution. You should check it out, it’s a really great browser!

Think of the Children!

Wil Wheaton (Wesley from Star Trek) wrote an entry in his blog the other day about the current state of our government. This got me to thinking and I thought I’d toss out my thoughts as well. This is the first political statement I’ve made in this blog and I’m hoping it doesn’t become a habit..

 

 

I don’t much like politics and I try to avoid it whenever I can, but sometimes it’s necessary to dive in for a short time. Our country was founded on a few important principles. I’m sure you’ve heard them before, Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The first congress did everything in their power to create a stable, secure government. But, they knew that nothing is perfect and put in provisions to allow for changes to the founding principles. Since that time our government has been progressing ever forward towards the very form of government that we seek to eradicate.

The September 11th tragedy is being manipulated and twisted in ever more horrible ways as our government seeks to strip us of our liberties, all in the name of security. From illegal wiretapping to prisoner torture. And now they seek to make both of these things legal! For example, our illustrious president is seeking to have a bill passed to allow warrantless wiretapping. Thus far, this bill is intended to allow wiretapping only for suspected terrorist activities, but once the door is open… *sigh* With cries of “protect the USA” and “think about the children”, the government seeks to strip us of our rights and create what is essentially a police state

Other liberties are at risk as well. Are you aware that the government is currently seeking to pass a bill that forces ISPs across the US to keep detailed records of all internet activity? We’re talking more than just the standard radius records that are used to tie a user and IP together. This bill seeks to force ISPs to keep records of IM conversations, web browsing, email, and anything else they can use to “fight child pornography.” I work for an ISP and I can’t figure this out. They want this data recorded in advance of any wrongdoing. In other words, guilty until proven innocent. All they need is a warrant to go digging through all that data! I’m sure it will start out with a warrant that specifies exact IP addresses and time frames, but that will quickly change. I’ve had to deal with warrants that are very vague about what they want. In other words, give me EVERYTHING that deals with this IP between these two times. And, of course, if they find anything else out during their legal search then they can act on that. Imagine what can happen if they suspect a pedophile used your system between 1am and 4am on Saturday, but they don’t know the exact IP. And then they ask for everything between those times! Imagine the possibilities. Perfectly innocent people are at risk here!

“Well think of the children!” Yes, lets. I will agree that if the data is already available, it may be quicker to pull a predator off the streets. However, we’re dealing with child pornography here. Most of these cases deal with people downloading the porn. In that case, it’s safe to assume that they will do it again. Getting a warrant that asks the ISP to capture the data for a period of time is perfectly valid at that point. Besides, most ISPs retain logs for at least a week anyway. This is done purely for statistical and debugging purposes, but that should be plenty of time to get a warrant. Or, try this one out. How about creating something specific to the computer industry called a suspicion warrant. When served with one of these, the ISP starts collecting data. That data is not available to the police force until a “real” warrant is obtained via the court system. This at least gives the police a chance to save any data that may be rolled off after a period of time. Again, this is something I would be more than happy to do for the police if it helps get these predators off the street.

 

Well, enough ranting. The long and short is this. The government is trying to steal away our liberties, all in the name of good causes. And put that way, it makes you look like the bad guy if you don’t agree and fight against it. But please, if you truly care about this country and the freedoms you have, look hard at the issues. Vote in the next election and make your voice heard. I won’t tell you who to vote for, and beyond the above, I won’t even hint at it. Just get out there. Do a little research, and make your voice heard!

ZERT Patch for IE Vulnerability

ZERT is back at it again. They’ve released a patch for the latest Microsoft Internet Explorer vulnerability. Actually, it’s more of an automated script that disables the ActiveX controls that are vulnerable. Much easier than hand-editing the registry. Check it out if you use IE.

Small but amazing PC Games

There’s a post over at LetsKillDave about a small, 96kb, game called .kkrieger. It’s more of a demo than anything, but still interesting. It’s pretty amazing what computers can do these days. As I understand it, all of the graphics and levels used within the game are generated using procedural content generation. Essentially, they’re created using a mathematical algorithm. Quite amazing stuff.

 

I’d like to highlight some other really great games as well. Each of these is pretty small, the largest weighing in at just over 2 megs. They’re incredibly fun to play and very well written. The first two are written by Hikoza.T.Ohkubo.

Ray Hound is a unique 2D shooter where the object is to destroy the turrets that are firing at you. Problem is, you have no weapons. So, you use a tractor beam of sorts to capture the missle fired at you and sling it back at the turret. It takes a few minutes to get used to, but once you do, it’s incredibly addictive.

Warning Forever is a top-down shooter similar to 1942. The biggest difference is that there is no general gameplay, it’s all boss battles. And depending on how you destroy each boss, the next boss is adapted to defend against the strategies you used to kill the previous bosses. There’s a great article over at Wikipedia describing how the bosses evolve.

The last game is called Cave Story. I don’t know who wrote the game, but all the information you need to download and run it can be found here. This is quite the amazing side scroller, reminiscent of Castlevania or Wonderboy. I’ve played through once so far and found the story to be pretty deep and engaging. I’m planning on checking it out again as there are apparently multiple endings. It’s a pretty addictive little game and I suggest checking it out!

Holy Pink?!?

You’ve probably noticed the pink by now. Yeah, it’s a little blinding, but it’s for a good cause. There’s a site called Pink for October which is all about breast cancer awareness. Being a guy and liking breasts just as much as the next guy, I thought I’d try to help out a little. If you have your own website, perhaps you’ll join as well. Every bit of awareness helps!