Live from Mozilla: A Brief History of (and .org)

Reporting today on location in sunny Mountain View, California and the lovely Mozilla headquarters.

A Brief History of (and .org)

I’m doing a talk in the Mozilla lounge about the history of the mozilla websites called A Brief History (and .org) today (April 12, 2011) at 12:30PM Pacific time (4:30pm Atlantic time for those back home on Prince Edward Island). The talk will be streamed live from the Air Mozilla website. Come watch.

The slides for the presentation are available in a few different formats. The video will also be archived – I’ll update this post with links when the video is available.

A Brief History (and .org)

Update: Video of the talk is now available download or watch directly (if you have Firefox 4+ or Chrome): A Brief History (and .org) – 14Mb Ogg Theora file (35 min). The lighting in the video favours the slides, so you can’t really see me. Just picture someone handsome and dynamic in the dark to the left of the slides.

You can also download the slides in Impress format, PowerPoint format, or as a PDF.


The Emperor’s New Close

A quick tip for those designing web interfaces with an “X” icon for a “Close” element. Rather than the letter “x” (or capital “X”), use the multiplication (U+2715) or heavy multiplication (U+2715) symbols.

There’s no semantic advantage as neither the letter X nor the ✕ symbol have the appropriate meaning, but we’re just using the character to define a shape (often rendered as an image).

In most fonts the multiplication symbol is vertically and horizontal symetrical and has angled end strokes. It really just looks better. The heavy variation looks even prettier.

Multiplication (U+2715) / Heavy Multiplication (U+2715)
X X Latin Capital Letter X (U+0058), normal / bold
x x Latin small Letter X (U+0078), normal / bold

Captcha’s Used Against Us With Comic Results

Nasty Spam Captcha image

I’ve always been bothered by the idea behind captchas (those weird looking things you have to type in to create an account on some sites). I resent that they make us, the good guys, prove that we’re good guys (or that we’re human, in this case). I feel the same way about having to lock my car, but after being repeatedly robbed, I have given up on that ideal. I’ve even had to use captchas on a few systems I’ve worked with myself (and I’m particularly proud of the catchpa on

The reasons captchas are bad have been well explained by people smarter than myself. I’m no fan of spam, but I find myself oddly delighted to see spammers using the very technology developed to limit spam, to actually defeat spam-prevention systems. Recent spam emails have been including captcha-like images that are presumably intended to confuse spam-detection systems.

Oh, and the images are cartoon penises. Hold your mouse over (or click on) the grey image to see the delightfully horrifying image I received in my inbox.

Note: I’ve obscured the image by default not because of prudish sensibilities, but because I just couldn’t have those little guys staring at me from my own weblog.


Is that a Website in your Pocket?

My good friend Peter Rukavina is always experimenting with web and mobile technologies. Often his experiments are best kept at the experimental stage, like the Open Bread project.

Other times, his experiments can prove quite powerful. He’s been a canary-in-the-coal-mine of geo-location. For example, he’s been documenting his physical location/status with the Plazes service. Today he has taken another step in that direction by setting up his own mobile website.

The phrase “mobile website” usually implies a special version of a website that is tailored to small screens and low-bandwidth. In this case, it’s not the visitor that’s mobile – it’s the website itself.

His mobile site, gives you a way to see his status, know if he’s on the phone, leave him a text-message, etc.

Back in 2003, I wrote (in a post cleverly titled Is that a web-server in your pocket?) about this very idea. I wondered if it was possible, and if it would be useful. Seeing Peter’s version of the idea in action made a light go on in my head. I think we’ll all have something like this in a few years.


Twitter to the Editor

While recently ranting about the office in my usual manner, I conceived of a scheme to write a series of one-phrase letters to the editor of our local paper. The purpose was vague, but the results would be hilarious. If only I had the attention span top follow through on such schemes.

Twitter to the Editor A friend and co-worker took the idea a step further. Why compose a complete and coherent “Letter to the Editor” 140 thoughtless characters will do the trick? He termed it “Twitter to the Editor”.

Somehow, despite not having the attention span to compose an email, we built a website for the idea. Thus,

Just send a Twitter or message starting with @ttte and in a few minutes, it will be collected on our stately one-page website.

Don’t think too hard about it. Here’s a few Twitters’ to the Editor that we’ve started off with:

  • @ttte it feels like fall today – global warming is obviously a lie.
  • @ttte tim hortons gave me half a coffee with too much sugar.
  • @ttte Potholes are bad!
  • @ttte Stamps taste gross.
  • @ttte Kids these days are too loud.