OnSwipe redirect code

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Undo "Always display images" switch in Gmail

Gmail has this nifty and very useful feature to avoid mostly annoying images being displayed in our incoming emails. Whenever we get an email containing an embedded image, it is not displayed by default. Instead there appear two links at the top of the email saying:

"Display images below"
"Always display images from <this sender's email>"

The first one is a one time thing and the second one is a setting for that particular email id.

I once clicked on the second link accidentally and had unwanted images cluttering my email view. I looked for this thing to be turned off in the settings page, but found nothing. I had a very hard time undoing this accidental setting. Finally I discovered the solution also accidentally. The switch to undo this setting is "hidden" under the "Show Details" link for the email header.

The right end of the very first line of the email, which contains the sender's name/email id", has this "Show Details" link. This shows the email header with several details. At the end is the link saying something like this:

"Do not display images from this sender".

Just use this switch to go back to the good old times of emails without images. :)

Monday, March 23, 2009

My first Mozilla Education Status call

Mozilla is the only open source community which I have understood a little and also to which I have contributed a little. I always wanted to make my college a sort of Mozilla hub with several contributors and many feature developments happening out of my college. It actually started with an idea of a "Complete Open Source Hub", but it got reduced to just "Mozilla Hub" (either because of my laziness or because of lack of resources). Anyways I did not take any proactive steps towards that wish of mine, until recently when our college got the "Autonomous" status. That is when I realized that bringing open source software development in the course mainstream has become a lot easier as the power to form the syllabus and conduct the tests and examination rests with my college itself and not the University.

Just when I thought of doing something tangible, Mozilla came up with their "Mozilla in Education" program. This is a brilliant idea to drive open source into the student community and also give the students opportunities to work on real world applications. I was impressed by this program the very moment I read about it. I decided to present this idea to my HOD at the college and get him to start working offering Mozilla education to students in my college. I started reading more about it and today I also attended my first Mozilla Education status meeting conference call, which happens every week. I got a wealth of information.

This week we had Pascal F presenting to us about the "Design Challenge" program organized by the Mozilla Labs. He talked to us about the way in which they organized this program. It was all very inspiring. They had nearly 30-35 people from different parts of the world (literally). In this contest the students initially submitted mock-ups of their ideas, nearly 40 of them. Amongst those, 30 fully completed mock-ups were chosen for the second level, in which the students got mentoring by some the well known names in the Mozilla community. The mentoring consists of 10 Webinar sessions conducted using WebEx, over a period of 3 weeks. This is going on currently and will end at the end of this month. These mentoring sessions aim at converting those mock-ups into working prototypes. At the end, the best prototypes are given honors.

During the presentation Pascal mentioned some interesting things. Of the students from various countries, it was the students from so called "2nd World Countries" (like Romania, India, Argentina, etc.. ) who showed a lot more interest than their US counterparts. There was tremendous enthusiasm in them where as the students from US expected -- in his own words -- "being entertained" and "spoon-fed". Though this is an alarming thing when viewed from a global perspective, I was personally very happy that Indian students, my fellow country-men, have shown such dedication. Pascal also mentioned that they were so interested that they were up in the middle of the nights for the webinars. All in all, I am even more motivated to bring open source in general and mozilla in particular to my college.

I decided to take this program as an example and present it to my HOD this Saturday and try and make him accept this and similar programs as official ones and the projects done in such programs be considered for the completion of the course goals.

Thank you Pascal, thank you Mozilla. Lets hope to have a Mozilla India Center, at least an unofficial one at my college SJCE. :-)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

An official full-fledged Firefox Add-ons dev guide

Having done a little work on Mozilla Firefox and extensions for it I have always felt the lack of an official, step by step document for extension development. I do accept that there are a lot of resources available on the internet. Innumerable number of blogs and tutorials explaining the process step by step. But most of them become outdated with newer versions of Firefox and the authors are not really keen about updating the info. That is why an official tutorial or guide from Mozilla itself would be the right thing. It will make sure the contents in the guide are up-to-date and worth reading for developing an extension for the currently available version of Firefox.

There are documents for extension development on MDC like the various links present at: https://developer.mozilla.org/en/Extensions but it was either scattered or pretty brief in most places though it did touch most parts of extension development. Nevertheless a wholesome "official" guide was needed and here it is now. I went through the guide and as the blog post says it is still in BETA with a lot of "TO-DO" tags in there. In spite of that it is very much usable. Do visit it and post back your feedback to make it a much better guide.

Add-ons Blog » Blog Archive » Firefox Add-ons Developer Guide (beta release) - Calling all Add-on Developers!

Lets hope we will have more and more quality extensions now. :-)

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Browsers are undergoing continuous innovation.

It was sometime since I blogged about anything. I have had several things on mind and many of them are presents as drafts. But this one really caught my attention and I felt I should put in my thoughts about this.

Until a couple of years, people rarely looked beyond Internet Explorer for their browsing experience, though they kept cursing it a lot. After that came the Mozilla Firefox web browser with its pack of addons allowing users to actually customize for their needs. They could actually make the browser do what they wanted it to do and not just set some options. The browser wars had started again. At least I started reading about browsers and started following up on things happening with these browsers. Opera and Safari and a few other, actually used, browsers were not really "news" as such.
This was dying off. Firefox had created a sizable chunk of user base and was pretty stable with it. Except for few traditional enhancements like memory optimizations, bug fixes, etc.. nothing big was happening. It was a lot silent.

Then came the next wave with Google announcing the release of its browser with a nice, easy to understand "comic" book. It came with a whole new paradigm for building browsers with the "process-per-tab" concept. It was really innovative. Though discussions about this happened in other browser communities also, Google Chrome was the first one to implement it. Also it boasted of its super-fast V8 JavaScript Engine and also the browser UI, which gave more screen real estate to content than chrome. This was a real big thing and made the browser wave go much higher than what it had ever been. With the Google branding a vast majority of internet users rushed to have a sneak peak at Google Chrome or may be try it or even keep it as their regular browser. There was a lot of noise about this and people indeed listened. Mozilla and IE people were not silent and did responded very well. Mozilla came up with its ultra-fast "Tracemonkey" JS engine, implementing the trace trees and there by making it much faster than V8. IE8 also has the "process-per-tab" and "private browsing" features first presented by Chrome. But like any other sound this too dampened a little after it was created and browsers were back in the silent phase doing traditional improvements and bug fixes. At least that's how I percieved the situation.

[Edit 06-Mar-09 : Shawn Wilsher suggest that Tracemonkey had appeared before Chrome made the pubic appearance. He certainly knows these things better than me and I believe he is right. But still I wanted to keep my original post as it is and instead I put this separate edit note. :) ]

But I was clearly, totally wrong. People have realized that internet is the place to be in the future and thats where a large part of our life will be. With browser being the main and central interface for people to use that internet, it makes a real good sense to make this browser as robust and reliable as possible. New things keep coming on the internet, both and bad, the latter being more often, and the browser has to keep up with all of it. What we thought yesterday as being a good design apporach might just look senseless tomorrow. There just seems no end to it and researchers appear all ready for it. I am coming across so many innovations happening in the browser domain. This article : Researchers Say Gazelle Browser Offers Better Security -- Campus Technology -- gives us an idea about how much effort the scientists are putting in making our internet lives better. The article is about Gazelle, but it also mentions about another experimental browser OP.

This browser Gazelle, uses the Trident rendering engine (used by IE) but builds upon a OS based process architecture where websites form the processes and they communicate by passing messages like IPC (Inter-process communication).

I am not yet sure how this will all work out. Probably the websites need to built with some intelligence so that it can do the so called IPC when it actually has to. But the evoltion in browsers is for sure. They will not be same as they are now. Several things are going on along the UI front. When these things mature and come togther you can have the scenes of your favourite sci-fi movie scenes right in front of you everyday.

Lets just hope these come soon enough for people like me to enjoy, not when I am all grey hair and toothless.

Hari Om.