Remove Customization

REMOVE CUSTOMIZATION button from Virb.comThe new like-myspace-but-more-hip website Virb has a feature worth noting. Like many sites where you can create a page about yourself, you can do all kinds of visual customization to your page. On the same place (notably) on each page, though, there is a “remove customization” link. Clicking this link shows you the page using the default layout, fonts, colors, and overall style.

It’s an interesting idea to allow people to customize their pages to be as beautiful or ugly and as readable or obscure as they like. Then, give the visitor – the reader – the choice between seeing how the creator wants you to see the page and the plain original format.

I have the vague sense that there is a profound conclusion to be drawn about this, but it escapes me.


Cairo Corners in Firefox 3

The latest alpha releases of Firefox 3 use a library called “Cairo” for much of the graphics work (note: I don’t understand exactly what that means, but it doesn’t matter).

Thanks to this new graphics infrastructure, boxes with corners rounded by the pre-CSS 3 property border-radius are rendered with beautiful anti-aliasing (currently accessible as the non-standard -moz-border-radius and soon -webkit-border-radius). Stated more simply, rounded boxes are prettier.

Here’s a quick comparison of a box with CSS rounded-corners rendered in Firefox 3.0 Alpha 1 versus Firefox 2.0:

Firefox rounded corner comparison

The difference is subtle, especially with lighter colours like these, but this example represents a significant improvement in the abilities and quality of rendering in Firefox.

Also note that Firefox 3 probably won’t be released until the second half of 2007 (that’s not based on anything official – just a guess).


Windows Vista: Right on the Button(s)

After experimenting briefly with a beta version, I have determined the best new feature of Windows Vista.

I complained back in 2001 about the rough edges on large form buttons in Internet Explorer. After installing Internet Explorer 7 on Windows XP, this was one of the first things I tested. I was dismayed to discover that the problem still persists.

However, on Windows Vista using IE 7, the corners of wide form buttons are not broken. That alone is worth years and millions of dollars worth of development.

Windows XP vs. Vista form buttons screenshot

That said, I still don’t understand what determines how wide the form buttons actually become (seems to be some kind of length_of_button_text × 1.N formula).


Tango Theme for Firefox

Garrett LeSage and a group of other good people have completed a nice upgrade of the Tango theme for Firefox 2. The theme brings the icons from the Tango Desktop Project to Firefox along with many improvements in making Firefox look and feel more like a native application on Linux.

Tango theme for Firefox 2 preview

There are also a series of “sub-themes” as well. The Gnome sub-theme matches with the default Gnome icon theme, Tangerine matches with the Ubuntu theme, and Industrial for the old Industrial Gnome theme.

Highly recommended for those using Firefox on Linux. There are rumblings of an update for the Tango theme for Thunderbird 2 as well.


Firefox 2

Since you are on the internet right now (admit it, you are), you are probably aware that Firefox 2 has been released. My congratulations to all involved. While I was much less involved in the visual design this time around, it was still a pleasure to have been involved at all.

The website has been updated as well. This website update was something that I was much more involved with than the actual browser update. The design itself was done by the Nobox Marketing Group (get it?) with the implementation handled by our team at silverorange and the good people at Mozilla.

My favourite new feature in Firefox 2 (after the spell checking and recently-closed tabs, that is): Try entering a math formula into the Google search box (I’d recommend 57 * 4 / pi). Notice that the solution to your formula is instantly displayed in the suggested results. Thanks to Paul Kim for pointing out this gem.


Gaim Needs You

Gaim dude

The fabulous instant messaging client, Gaim, could use your help. That is, you’re a talented and generous web designer.

With the impending release of Gaim 2.0.0, the Gaim website is in need of an update to be as slick as the application it represents. If you are a web designer that is interested in helping create a new, better Gaim website, please let me know.

There may be some budget available, but we’re really looking for people to contribute sans-monetary-compensation. That said, if you’re worth it and can’t afford to volunteer, but are still interested, let me know.

I’d love to do it myself, but I’m too fabulous busy doing other stuff.


Cable Not Included

When did it become acceptable to sell printers without the cable to connect them to your computer? I’m not only talking about those crazy-cheap practically-disposable ink-jets either. I’m talking about $400 color-laser printers with no cable. Isn’t that like selling a toaster without a power-cable?

This also seems oddly counter to the “batteries ARE included” movement I’ve noticed in other electronics devices. Just about every battery-using device I’ve bought in the last few years came with batteries (even if they are the cheap kind, it’s fine for something like a remote). Maybe they got tired of ruining Christmas.


How to tell if your web-mail system is any good

Commercial Web Mail providers
HotMail No
Yahoo Mail No
Gmail Yes
Open Source Web Mail packages
IMP/Horde No
RoundCube Yes
SquirrelMail Yes
Hula Yes

Here’s a quick test to see if you web-mail system is any good:

When you first log in, does it show you your mail (your Inbox), or something else? If it shows you something other than your mail, what do they think you were logging in for?

The table to the right shows how the leading commercial and open-source web-mail systems stack up.