Since 2010

AFL grand final public holiday

Saturday 26 September 2015

I love living in a country which declares public holidays for sporting events!

I, Philip Dalidakis, Minister for Small Business, Innovation and Trade, and Minister responsible for administering the Public Holidays Act 1993, appoint under section 7(1)(a) of the Public Holidays Act 1993 –

  • Easter Sunday; and
  • the Friday before the Australian Football League Grand Final,

as public holidays in Victoria.

Chrome user switching

Tuesday 15 September 2015

We’ve established that my last post had been on my to-do list for a while, but the thing that finally got me to pull my finger out and write it was the desire to remark on this comment on a Google Chrome issue.

The issue in question was regarding the addition of a new thingy to Google Chrome which some people were getting pretty upset about. The details don’t matter (although it was one of the things that made me question my dependence on Chrome), but the comments on the issue quickly descend into dozens and dozens of variations of “Chrome developers suck because they won’t do what I want”.

Now read the last comment by pkasting. I dream of being able to respond to similar conversations I have in my own professional life as calmly and succinctly as this. Emotions have been kept out of the response, each point is addressed, and advice is given to users on how they should proceed with their queries and concerns. Fine work Chromium stranger!

PS Google Chrome has over a billion users?! Wow.


Monday 14 September 2015

I keep a list of things I want to blog about. I realise how ridiculous that sounds given the frequency of posts here, but it’s true. Anyway, I’ve been meaning to write something about Firefox for a while, and why I believe the world desperately needs Firefox to claw back some browser market share.

I want to love Firefox. I certainly used to love it, but then Google Chrome was released and it was immediately obvious that it was a superior browser, with it’s per-tab processes, sand-boxed extensions, and fancy Omnibox.

Mozilla are working hard on the underlying architecture of Firefox, and are right on the brink of releasing a multi-process version which will allow the implementation of a whole raft of things, including a new add-on framework.

Now what I’m about to say goes completely against general wisdom, but I can’t wait for Firefox’s XPCOM and XUL based add-ons to be completely killed off. They are, in my experience, the source of almost all issues I have with Firefox, and have been holding Firefox back for too long. Stability, security, transparency, and predictability go out the window once you start adding extensions to Firefox. Peeking into the code of an extension is certainly possible, but who wants to have to do that just to confirm that some hidden preference won’t be changed by the add-on, or that it won’t sell your soul to the add-on’s maker? And isn’t restarting your browser to install an extension a little old-fashioned?

Over the years Google have added various bits-and-pieces to Chrome which encourages users to try out other Google products. Of course they have - Google are an advertising company. Why wouldn’t they do that? It makes me uncomfortable though. I don’t want to sign-in, so no need to bug me every time I open a new tab. I don’t want to sync my bookmarks with Google, and I don’t want to be reminded that I should do that every time I add a new bookmark. I don’t use Gmail or Google Docs or any of the other apps or extensions that come with a default Chrome install. And because Chrome is closed source and Google know exactly what they’re doing, I can never be entirely sure what’s being done with my browsing activity.

Google do a good job of laying out the what and the when, and weirdly I do trust Google with my data, but that doesn’t mean I want them to have it.

Extensions, add-ons, whatever you want to call them were what made Firefox great, but the overhaul of their implementation is way overdue. I regularly make a serious effort to switch from Chrome to Firefox, and my fingers are crossed that the promotion of Electrolysis to the stable channel will finally give me the confidence to remove Chrome from my dock.

In the meantime I’ll continue to help out on the Firefox support forums, attempt to resolve bugs, and continue convincing friends and colleagues that the things Mozilla stand for are for the good of the open web.