June 26th, 2003 § Comments Off on WaMCom § permalink

Based on the fact that the Mozilla Project makes it clear that the binaries they provide are just for testing purposes, a group of open source developers decide to create a project to distribute stable releases of the Mozilla Web and Mail components intended to boost confidence in those components among users.

Dubbed WaMCom, the initiative has recently released a new stable version. Also, the efforts of the group resulted in almost 500 bug fixes being landed to the Mozilla main trunk, obviously contributing to an overall raise in the quality of the source and future releases for all users. Kudos to the WaMCom team!

(Via Blogzilla)

Knife programming

June 25th, 2003 § Comments Off on Knife programming § permalink

Ned Batchelder commented today in his blog about his need to develop some quick code on top of a technology he doesn’t yet understand under a tight schedule. Humorously he calls this developing in the “machete mode”, comparing a programmer to a man dropped in the midst of a jungle and left to fend for himself with only his wits and a knife.

I guess every programmer can relate to that situation. (In truth, sometimes I think that is a programmer’s modus operandi.) Not much coincidentally I endured a similar experience at work in the past few days. In the project I’m currently working on I had to learn a lot about Active Directory to create an interface between it and the application I’m developing. I never had worked with that technology before, and, although it’s not very complex, there are some things you can only learn when you do it — like, for instance, translating names between two different Active Directory namespaces. Needless to say, I got some new scars. However, I was able to complete the interface, and now I can only hope it will work correctly on the customer’s machines.

Something I think it’s essential in those moments — as John Topley mentioned a few weeks ago — is to be able to tap into the collective wisdom contained in the Google Groups databases. It’s nearly impossible to find some problem that has not been already dealt with there in some way — even if it’s a simple confirmation that a certain course of action is not feasible.

All in all, it’s like Batchelder also said: programming in the “machete mode” can be funny and rewarding in its particular way even if the resulting code is not something you are proud of; there is always new things to learn and use in the next time.

Wizard’s Bane

June 21st, 2003 § Comments Off on Wizard’s Bane § permalink

Wizard’s Bane is the first installment in The Wiz Biz series, by Rick Cook. The series, as the name of the first book implies, belongs to the fantasy genre. However, a single detail makes it much more interesting than it would look at first: the main character is not a wizard, but a programmer directly taken from the Silicon Valley. The end result is an unorthodox and extremely funny story loaded with insider jokes and references that will appeal to fans of the genre and programmers alike. » Read the rest of this entry «

Cross-Browser Rich Text Editor

June 18th, 2003 § Comments Off on Cross-Browser Rich Text Editor § permalink

Via e-mail, I received a pointer to an interesting cross-browser rich text editor. It works on Internet Explorer 5.5+ and Mozilla 1.3+. Although it’s simple, it seems to work nicely. The resulting code is reasonable in Mozilla, but will still need to be tidied up.

This kind of text editors became a fever among the customers of the company I’m currently working for. I’ve tested dozens of solutions, but none was simple and extensible enough to be adopted as company standards. So I’m maintaining a lot of different components now. I will definitely have to take a look at this new editor.

Bible.org RSS feed

June 15th, 2003 § Comments Off on Bible.org RSS feed § permalink

I just noticed that Bible.org has a RSS feed detailing the latest additions to its Bible Studies area. It must be new since I didn’t see it there in the last time I visited the site a couple weeks ago. Anyway, it’s a really nice addition to a great site.

A quarter of century

June 13th, 2003 § 2 comments § permalink

Strange as it may look to me, I’m now a quater-century old. It almost seems like I have spent much more time on this planet that I really did. At least this feeling gives me the opportunity to think in what I was and learned, and in what I want to be and learn in the future. And let another two or three quarter-centuries come! 😀

It’s time to bury Netscape

June 9th, 2003 § 8 comments § permalink

This month marks the sixth birthday anniversary of Netscape Navigator 4, whose first non-beta version was released in July 1997. This version, one of the most famous in the history of the Web, was an attempt by Netscape to regain the market share it was losing to Microsoft, whose Internet Explorer was making huge inroads in the Web browser market. Even with the added support to then emerging Web standards, Netscape 4 proved itself unable to face Internet Explorer 4, whose support to new formats and technologies was incontestably better at the time. When Netscape made the fatidic decision of opening the source code of its flagship product and later of rewriting it from the scrath it became clear that an era had ended.

Although it lost the market, Netscape 4 continued to be used for many years, and it’s still used in some companies. Many Web development shops have labored to create sites that support this six-year-old browsers at the expenses of Web standards, usability and accessibility. I think it’s time our customers recognize the truth that Netscape 4 is dead. It makes no sense to support a browser which has little support for standards that are already a decade old and no support at all for modern standards — it only makes development harder and costlier. I have once developed a site that supported Netscape 4 because one man — yes, you read that correctly — in the whole company used that browser.

So. next time a customer asks for Netscape 4 support, politely explain to him the reasons that is not feasible anymore. Your customer and the Web standards will surely be grateful in the long run.

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