Jorge Villalobos
Ideas, technology and the occasional rant

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Firefox 1.5 is out! Get it while it's hot!

Firefox 1.5 has been released today! I you are a Firefox user, you should upgrade as soon as possible to enjoy all the cool new features. The most important: automatic (patch) updates and drag and drop reordering of tabs. It's freaking sweet.
I you haven't used Firefox yet, then you have a lot of catching up to do. Download it now and you will know what a real browser should be like :).
There's also a lot of interesting activities going on at, so if you want to know how the world is promoting and celebrating the release of 1.5, then be sure to drop by.
On related news, the Mozilla Corporation has launched its new website, which strongly promotes its products and seems to be the new home for Firefox and Thunderbird. I wonder what will happen with the Mozilla Foundation website...
I know I have been posting a lot of random stuff lately; I have been very busy and have been setting back some of my personal projects. Don't worry, nobody, it's all in the making and will be posted eventually. Be patient, I will post more interesting stuff soon :).

Upgrade to Firefox 1.5!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Get a Firefox band for your site!

Did you notice the diagonal Firefox band on the top right corner? I hope you did. I think it's very appealing and unintrusive, and a great way to do marketing without affecting the general look of the site. Most sites don't have content on that area, so I think it's more than appropriate to place your advertisements there.
If you want to get your own I recommend you to visit, specifically this post. All you have to do is fill a simple form and you'll get a one-liner that you can paste to your website. You can link it to your SFX affiliate link or to your Google Ads account. I prefer the first one, because the second one does some stuff I don't find very user-friendly. Give it a try for yourself and see what I saw.
Since I like to keep it simple, I made some changes so I don't have that many script elements on my blog and reduce the dependencies to John's site. His approach is simple to implement for most people, so I understand he did it that way. I just like to know everything that's happening on my site.
Does that mean I'm removing my Get Firefox buttons from my signature? Hell, no. You'll just have to live with that.

Get Firefox!

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Air typing

This is just some random flashback I had just now. It has nothing to do with... well, anything. It's just a funny anecdote that some computer people might enjoy and/or relate too.
Some time ago I was discussing with a friend about password length, and the importance of passwords being long enough. I'm not very paranoid about security, but I like to have strong passwords, that are longer than 11 characters and have a little bit of everything. You know, the usual security recommendations.
Anyway, when asked about my password length, I didn't know it by heart so I started going through the characters in my head and air typing the password at the same time. It's just a weird reflex. I think some of us have those common words we type wired somehow into our hand muscles or subconscious and start typing them without giving much thought to it.
Stupid as it may sound to most non-tech people, the funny part has yet to come. See, I'm a very bad typist. I never learned to do it properly, but I have learned to evolve (yes, evolve) a rapid typing style which is efficient enough. Still, I make a lot of errors, so the backspace key is one of my best friends. So, I'm air typing the password when I make a mistake on my air (non-existent) keyboard! And without thinking for a second about how ridiculous this was, I pressed my air backspace key enough times to erase the faulted air characters. Even though my next step would be to finish typing the password, I couldn't continue, shocked by what just happened.
Why would I remember something so stupid and publish it to the world? I don't know. I laugh a lot at other people's expenses, so I might as well provide enough material for payback.
Hope you enjoyed my little tale. I you're still waiting for the funny part, well, this story was not for you (sorry).

Get Firefox!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Firefox around the world

A very powerful tool with a very odd name came to my attention today. This tool is a simple website called Frappr!, which sits upon the Google Maps API with one basic idea: globally locate people that have some common interest. You create your group and ask anybody to join the group. People that join the group enter location details so that a bubble appears on the map for each group member. I love it. Simple, and extremely useful.
I found about it on SpreadFirefox because one member had the brilliant idea of creating a Firefox user group, which as of this moment has 243 members from different parts of the world. If you love Firefox, please add yourself to the Firefox world map! You can look me up near Syracuse, NY. As you may see, I don't like using real pictures of myself very much...
This map might become a good reflection of Firefox usage and acceptance around the world, so this page has undoubtedly made it to my bookmarks. Go Firefox!

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Friday, November 04, 2005

Open Source welcomes you to work

I don't see myself as an open source zealot (try to ignore the multiple Firefox ads and contain your laughter if possible), but I think it has a great deal of advantages over closed source. I would like to discuss one that I haven't seen mentioned anywhere else and I think is very important. As a reminder to my reader(s) I don't do any research before writing so I'm pretty sure this is far from being an original posting. I just want to give my point of view, as usual.
I think open source projects are an excellent way in which a company or corporation can look for future talent and intellect. If a project is popular enough, it will get the attention of thousands of developers around the world, who will want to contribute for various reasons. Some do it only because it's cool, others will do it because they feel like they are part of a true cause, others will do it because they would love to be part of the core development team some time in the future.
Applications like Bugzilla allow the formation of a meritocracy in the development community. Those who show their worthiness will have the right to demand higher privileges. This is how life should work. Democracy is overrated, but I disgress. To give you and example, in the Bugzilla set up for Mozilla projects, first they'll let you add keywords, then edit bugs, and finally they will give you write access to the CVS repository. Now that's scary. Luckily that last privilege is shared by very few.
People who earn these high distinctions are probably worthy of getting a full time position in the company. If they ever need to hire someone new, they won't have to go out doing college recruitment, or putting out ads that will bring in every person with more than dubious skills to apply. They already have a very well-defined and properly evaluated pool of candidates who would probably take the job happily for half the salary. Not that they should be exploited, though...
So, what advantages would they get from selecting employees from this pool? Here are some I can think of:
  1. Familiarity with the project.
  2. Familiarity with the development tools.
  3. Demonstrated skills.
  4. Demonstrated compromise towards the project and the company. They have been working for free! How much more could you possibly ask for?
Sounds like more than you will ever get by posting ads all over the world, in my opinion.
It seems very clear that the openness of software works in many ways. This of course does not apply to all types of open source projects. Some of these limit their openness to publicly releasing the source code, and don't allow external participation in feature development or bug patching. A bit dumb in my opinion, but they can do whatever they want. The ones that go all the way benefit all the way as well.
That's probably why I won't see Mozilla stands at career fair anytime soon. Or maybe it's because I live on the other side of the country... Either way, Mozilla doesn't need to go out and look for talent, there's already thousands of candidates fighting for being the greatest contributor.
I am proud to be one of them. We all have evil plans, and mine is pretty obvious. Thanks to open source and openness in general, I think I have a shot.

Get Firefox!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Google Ads? Yes, please

A friend of mine decided to put Google Ads on his personal site and that got me thinking about it. I had never considered using it because I didn't see much point to it. In the end, they are just ads. I browse through possibly hundreds of pages per day and I have developed complete immunity to advertisements. I don't even use the very popular Adblock Firefox extension. I don't need it. I just simply don't see the ads anymore, be them fancy Flash animations or "relevant" text only ads.
But then you have to think: they exist for a reason. The first one is obviously annoying every single person using the Internet, but the second one is that a lot of people actually read them and use them. And if this "ad relevance" is actually working, then it's actually helpful to have these kind of ads on my site. People might find stuff they were actually interested in.
On the other hand, this is obviously selling out. I'm defacing my blog in the name of the mighty dollar. I hate ads, but the main reason I didn't want them on my blog is because they make it look so... commercial. Yuck. Pretty much like the rest of the Internet. And it's not like I have a ton of readers. About 90% of my readers must be search bots, anyway. Why sell out just to make hundreds of cents? Well, one reason would be that I'm in college and I'll be pretty much broke by next semester. Any additional profit will help and this might actually work.
It seems to me that the pros and cons are somewhat balanced. So, why use the ads? As usual, funny gets to me more than anything. I was testing the Google Ads on my friend's site and saw the funniest thing. On one of his pages his ads were showing something like: "Vote for the sexiest coed", or something like that. I guess Google got the fact he was a college student and just decided to appeal to the larger college audience that's horny as hell :). So, in the end, I decided it would be interesting to visit my blog every now and then and see what's relevant for Google Ads. It might actually show up interesting stuff, or at least some unrelated funny ad that will make my day.
I hope it doesn't matter much. I created this post with the sole reason of putting it right next to the ads, so that it serves as kind of an apology. At least you will know the reason they are up there making my blog ugly.
The ads will be up in a couple of days. Please don't hate me (for this).

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