Gecko 1.9a4 Released, Mac OS X Improvements

Gecko 1.9a4 has been released and it comes with a significant amount of progress on Mac OS X. I’m not going to list of individual bugs here but this alpha should be much better than 1.9a3 in the areas of focus handling, rendering speed/correctness, and IME input. If you were waiting for things to mature a bit before trying these alphas, this might be a good time to jump in.

Despite this progress, this is still an alpha release and you should expect alpha quality. We still have a lot of work in the pipeline and we’re hoping for a great Gecko 1.9a5 release in a month!

What can you do

I was biking home tonight with some friends at about 2 AM when we passed a young girl under a bridge in a somewhat deserted area of a rougher part of town. She was crying and had blood all over her face, neck, and shirt. We were biking pretty fast so at first we went right by her but then when we realized what we just biked past we went back. Being vague about the details here, it was a younger girl, under 16, minority, who’s relative had beaten her up several minutes before we found her (we know this because the girl told us right when we found her). The girl was from a couple hundred miles away, visiting. The relative was in sight down the path a little way, walking toward us, and the girl was scared that she was going to get beaten again. There were three of us not-so-small guys and there didn’t seem to be any weapons involved so we stayed between them while we called the police. The relative kept saying “It’s a family thing, stay out of it” to us, and insisting that they girl go home. Eventually the relative just ran off 5 minutes before the police arrived (nice – beat the crap out of her and then run off and leave her with strangers in that part of town at 2 AM). My life just isn’t this dramatic so the whole situation felt strange and foreign.

I have no idea what it is like to be the victim, the suspect, or the police in that situation. Must be really hard for all three (tiresome for the police as well, which was the impression I got from them). On a lot of levels I’m happy to be ignorant of those perspectives, but ignorance never feels that good. I do wish I understood more.

Mozilla Layout and DOM Architecture Videos

I heard that David Baron and Johnny Stenback gave some very informative talks about Gecko’s layout and DOM architecture, but until today I wasn’t able to find the videos. They don’t seem to be posted anywhere that people might easily find them, so here you go.

Johnny Stenback – DOM Architecture (Dec. 8th, 2006)
David Baron – Layout Architecture (Dec. 14th, 2006)

Note: Streaming videos that are this large can hit servers pretty hard. I certainly encourage anyone who wants to watch and learn to do so, but these aren’t for the weak so if you’re really not getting anything out of it please help developer.mozilla.org save some bandwidth and don’t watch them.

Java/Plugin Cleanup for Mozilla 2.0

After a hugely productive series of exchanges and meetings with engineers from Sun, we are going to be eliminating LiveConnect, OJI, and all of our XPCOM plugin interfaces from Mozilla 2.0. Sun’s Java plugin will be using NPAPI’s NPRuntime support and a very small number of NPAPI/NPRuntime extensions to do everything that they used to do with LiveConnect, OJI, and the XPCOM plugin interface.

This is fantastic news as it means we’ll be dropping a large number of interfaces and many thousands of lines of complex and largely unmaintained code. It also means that Java plugin performance under Mozilla 2.0 should be significantly better.

If you know of any consumers of these APIs other than Sun and the JEP plugin, please let me know. Currently we are unaware of any other consumers, but if others exist we would like to start working on a migration strategy with them immediately.

Flying Over San Francisco

My friend Suzanne and I went flying with Paul Reed yesterday – it was really awesome. We were in a 3-person Cessna and took off from San Carlos airport south of San Francisco. We flew up the inside of the bay and then did a pattern over San Francisco and the bay a few times before following the Pacific coastline back down south. Aside from the fun stuff you’d expect to see on such a flight, on the way home we passed over the Stanford Linear Accelerator – it is always so much bigger than I remember, especially from the air.

SF and Bay Bridge Golden Gate Bridge
Alcatraz Suzanne

Why I Chose WordPress.com

I’ve been asked by quite a few people in person and in comments why I chose to switch to a WordPress.com weblog setup, moving away from the Mozillazine Moveable Type installation.

Almost every person asks – why would you want to give up the power of your own installation and move to a free web service? The answer is simple: I prefer simplicity to power when it comes to maintaining a weblog. I can understand why many bloggers would want to have the power of a MT installation, but not me.

I don’t want to hand-edit templates, muck with CSS, or make my own designs. I don’t want to go through a confusing 10-step process just to get category-specific RSS feeds (never got that working with MT at all, WordPress.com does it automatically). I was always trying to figure out how to do simple things with the MT installation, but with this WordPress.com weblog I did everything I always wanted to do in about 1.5 hours. I didn’t have to use a help system or look something up on Google once. It may not be as theoretically powerful, but the WordPress.com interface is simple, intuitive, and it just works. It empowers me.

(Note: It literally took me 1 minute to flawlessly import my old weblog into the WordPress.com system, comments and all. Awesome.)