12.23.11

Quoting Matt

Posted in Camino, Life, Open Source at 2:26 am by

Matt Mullenweg:

Scripting is the new literacy. A hundred years ago, the dividing line was the ability to read and write. Today, it’s between people who can code simple things, and those who can’t. It’s so liberating to have an idea and be able to bend the computer to your will. I’ve found that of the most rewarding experiences in life is to create something that provides a useful function for other people. There’s an intrinsic goodness in it, like how I imagine what a true craftsman would put into a chair, table or door. You build it for the ages.

While I disagree strongly with the beginning of the quoted passage, and somewhat with the end, the middle rings true with me. I enjoy being able to write simple things to help me accomplish a task, and sometimes those pieces of “software” are even useful to others. Like many before me, I started finding my way around the Camino codebase and attempting to pick up Objective-C and Cocoa in part to fix things that bugged me, to bend Camino to my will (to paraphrase Matt).1 And although I’ve gotten great satisfaction out of fixing some bugs that have bothered me or have required some persistent debugging to fix, the most rewarding fixes—then and now—have been ones that have helped out others. It certainly isn’t saving the world, but if some code I write solves a problem someone else is having and makes their life just a little bit better or easier, it’s time well-spent.

Wishing you all the best this holiday season.

        

1 The other part of my reason for attempting to pick up coding was to provide more manpower and help keep development moving—something with which nearly all small open-source projects could use a hand.

11.29.11

𝌙

Posted in Camino, Life at 4:37 pm by

If you’re reading this, it means that we have (finally!) released 𝌙, another major version of Camino. Camino 2.1 is not a revolutionary change, but a solid update—in fact I tend to think of it exactly as hansstatus noted on Twitter. So while there may not be as many attention-grabbing changes as in past releases, Camino 2.1 is, as its Unicode glyph codename indicates, an advance.

The road to 2.1 has been longer—and I think harder—than any of the prior release journeys I’ve been a part of, dating back to the long-awaited 1.0. While work on 2.1 began even before 2.0 was done (Dan Weber’s Summer of Code autocomplete work was already on “the trunk” when 2.0 was released), things really got going in early 2010, when Christopher Henderson banished Mork history and nearly single-handedly got Camino building and running on both Gecko 1.9.1 and Gecko 1.9.2. Unfortunately, the devil was in the details, and we (mostly heroic hacker Stuart Morgan) spent an inordinate amount of time tracking regressions caused by Gecko changes that ignored or didn’t work properly in embedding clients like Camino.

Still, we pushed onward, joined for a time by Chris Peterson (who made a significant contribution after Christopher Henderson had to cut back his involvement), and with a brief return visit from Camino 2 feature hero Sean Murphy alongside contributions from Camino stalwarts Ilya Sherman, Chris Lawson, and Philippe Wittenbergh. In all, we fixed approximately 400 “bugs” (problems or new features) on the road to Camino 2.1, with 15 different people contributing (for the very first time, and I hope the last, I topped the list, with 195 fixes—although about 50 of those are website changes1). Still, it was a much longer process than we had hoped or wanted, but as I noted with the previous major release, Camino 2.1 is still a major improvement over Camino 2 and a triumph for an all-volunteer, all-free-time development team in today’s world of corporate-produced browsers.

Sadly, due to increased demands on the time of our hard-working localization teams, Camino 2.1 is going to launch with a record-low number of languages—just six—though three more will be be available again in future updates. If your language is one of those missing, please stop by the caminol10n mailing list and see how you can help bring these localizations back. (Localizing doesn’t require much specialized computer/software knowledge, and the updates required for languages that previously shipped in Camino 2 are not as comprehensive as with past releases; you and a friend can bring Camino to thousands of users in your language!)

For the first time ever, I believe, both Sam and I managed to get a full night’s sleep before a major release! The website was all ready beforehand, although we have few tweaks and changes that were safe to postpone until after the release.

The road to 2.1 has been, for me, a grueling journey, as if I were sprinting a marathon and, at times, simultaneously herding cats. Between development team changes, monkeywrench bugs, and a trying spring, I am exhausted. I am, however, incredibly grateful to everyone who has contributed to this fine new release—developers, reviewers, designers and artists, localizers, testers and bug reporters, and the rag-tag “support staff” working in Bugzilla and on the forum to address problems—and to getting Camino 2.1 shipped to our users. It has been an honor and a privilege.

I may manage to take a short break that’s actually a real break and then jump back into fixing bugs for Camino 2.1.1. Beyond that, it’s still hard to say. If you have any development experience and would like to contribute those skills and your time, please join us on our development discussion list to help us chart the future of Camino.

In the meantime, however, enjoy Camino 2.1; we hope you find it familiar but better, like an old friend fresh from new experiences.

        

1 At least another handful of my remaining bugs were other non-code-related changes, and by lines of code or significance of patches, though, Stuart is still going to come out ahead. :-)

11.11.11

Veterans Day

Posted in History, Life at 11:11 am by

I’ve been thinking a lot about Veterans Day lately, especially since I let Memorial Day slip by this year without a post. It’s been an emotional year for me, and the various stories about our troops and veterans have affected me more than normal. I read today that there are only about 1.5 million World War II veterans still alive in the US; most of those I have had the privilege of knowing have now passed away. But, still, it surprises me how many veterans (or active duty members of our armed forces) I know, and every time I start to work up a list, I think of others (my sincerest apologies if I’ve still forgotten you; in particular, I would not be surprised if many of my Scout leaders had Vietnam-era service).

Today, I want to honor and thank them for their service to our freedoms and the freedoms of others all around the world.

I begin with the three remaining World War II veterans I know:

  • My Grandpa Porczak, my remaining US Army Air Forces grandparent
  • My Great Uncle Gene, last of the four Ardissons of Export still with us, and a veteran of the Battle of the Bulge
  • Professor Ruedy, one of my favorite grad school professors, who lied about his age in order to enlist

Moving on to more recent times:

  • My Uncle Richard, who served from the Vietnam era to the Gulf War era
  • Mr. Greene, one of my wonderful sixth-grade teachers, who brought his father, a Bataan Death March survivor, to class to help make World War II something more than distant words in a textbook to a bunch of twelve year-olds
  • Magister Coleman, my esteemed Latin teacher, who was trained for mountain warfare and deployed to the jungles of Southeast Asia
  • Reg S., an Air Force veteran who is the director of the assisted living facility where my grandmother lives

…And on to my own generation, beginning with high school friends and spouses of high school friends (all of whom have put in at least one tour in the Middle East/Southwest Asia):

  • Alan B., who lived down the street, and two doors down from a World War II veteran, flew jets for the Marines
  • Ryan N., my exchange-student-brother’s best friend and a sturdy defender on the soccer team, joined the Marines right after we graduated
  • DJ R., husband of my dear friend Kassia, is in his second enlistment in the Air Force
  • Matt G., husband of my dear friend Nicole (he’s the only one on this list I’ve never technically met, but I have gotten an email from him!), also Air Force

In college, I had the pleasure of knowing Hooman K., an Iranian from Toronto, Canada, who inexplicably had been one of the few, the proud, the United States Marines!

In grad school at Georgetown, I became friends with many of our bright young officers:

  • Michael B., US Army
  • Cheryl W., US Air Force
  • Dave A., US Army
  • Gary B., US Air Force
  • Abby T., US Army

And, finally, my younger brother’s buddy from years of soccer, Steven B., who is currently deployed to the Gulf.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you, my friends, and every other veteran and active duty service member, for your service and sacrifices. They do not go unnoticed, or unappreciated.

10.06.11

Ave et vale

Posted in History, Life, Software at 2:25 am by

The light of this world has grown dimmer; the light of another world now burns so much brighter.

Farewell, Steve, and thanks for changing this world while you were in it. My thoughts are with your family and friends tonight.

Ave et vale…

09.13.11

Verbum sapientibus

Posted in Life at 10:20 pm by

Mikey O’Connell, writing for Zap2it:

TV Guide reports that Gellar’s return to her daytime alma mater takes place during the Sept. 21 pre-penultimate [sic] episode — the same one ABC plans to dedicate to late cast member Mary Fickett.

The word you’re looking for is antepenultimate (from the Latin ante, before, pæne, almost, and ultimus, last).

08.25.11

Dear Steve…

Posted in History, Software at 5:37 pm by

Best wishes for the next stage of your journey.

…And thanks for all the Macs.

07.11.11

Code complete for Camino 2.1 Beta 1

Posted in Camino at 2:55 am by

It’s been a long time since I’ve made a Camino-related post (due to my new time constraints), but I wanted to pass along some good news quickly.

Sunday night Stuart and I landed the last two bugs we’d been waiting on for Camino 2.1 Beta 1, so our final preview is now code complete. There is still some release note- and website-related work to be done before we can build and ship Beta 1, but we’re close enough that you can start counting down the days!

05.27.11

Public Service Announcement: Flag Etiquette

Posted in Life, Links at 5:40 pm by

A reminder to those of you who display the American flag on a flagpole at your home, place of business, or other location:

The flag, when flown at half-staff, should be first hoisted to the peak for an instant and then lowered to the half-staff position. The flag should be again raised to the peak before it is lowered for the day. On Memorial Day the flag should be displayed at half-staff until noon only, then raised to the top of the staff.
          —4 U. S. C., §7 (emphasis added)

Public Service Announcement: Traffic Safety

Posted in Life, Links at 5:03 pm by

If a traffic signal is not functioning at an intersection, all drivers must treat the intersection as if a stop sign is posted for all directions.
          —2010 Driver’s Manual (GA)

This public service announcement brought to you by those of us who do not wish to be killed or injured in chaos at an intersection where power to the traffic signal has been lost.

05.24.11

On Privacy

Posted in Life, Links at 1:37 am by

The Chronicle recently published a good piece about the complex nature of privacy, vectors of assault on facets of our privacy, and the fallacies of the “if you have nothing to hide” justification commonly used by defenders of measures that intrude on our privacy. Plus, both Orwell and Kafka for the price of one!