Older blog entries for Cardinal (starting at number 17)

Clearing HTTP Auth in Mozilla

So over the years, I've wondered why certain things aren't commonplace features in browsers. One of those is a way to log out of HTTP auth, a long-standing issue with web apps. But it wasn't until recently that, when asked in #web about it, that I actually thought to check if Mozilla did in fact have an interface in its arsenal to do it. Lo and behold, it does.

Since it does exist, I sat down and wrote the world's most trivial Mozilla extension: Clear HTTP Auth. Now, the next time I'm testing HTTP logins, no more closing the browser. At least, not until the time comes to test in other browsers.

That's the beauty of XUL. Even a lousy web developer like me can tweak Mozilla, given a little digging around. Warning: this diary entry employs copious use of the <tt> tag.

dalke: Obviously the bug you quoted isn't resolved yet, so I don't know what the 'right' way to disable Ctrl-Q is (or rather, will be). However as a short term option, you can hack in a confirmation prompt to protect from inadvertant key combinations. This is, of course, a sub-optimal solution, since it'll get overwritten next time you upgrade Mozilla.

Short version:

Open up toolkit.jar and add this line (or something similar) to the top of goQuitApplication() in content/global/globalOverlay.js:

if (!confirm('Do you really want to exit?')) return false;

Long Version:

  1. Find toolkit.jar in your copy of Mozilla's chrome directory.
    On Windows, typically C:\Program Files\mozilla.org\Mozilla\chrome
    On Unix (Well, Debian at least), /usr/lib/mozilla/chrome
  2. Extract toolkit.jar into a temp dir. It's just zip file, so you can extract it with any zip tool.
  3. Open content/global/globalOverlay.js and add the line mentioned in the short version to the top of goQuitApplication().
  4. Re-create toolkit.jar with the changed file. Make sure the directory structure is preserved.
  5. Start up Moz and try Ctrl-Q. You should get a JS confirmation prompt, and selecting Cancel should keep Mozilla open.

Since PHP is an open source project, #php on OPN inevitably attracts the regularly repeated discussions on what free software is, should be, etc. It's always interesting to see what people think it should be, especially the people who aren't contributors themselves.

bytesplit's latest reminds me of one such discussion, since he uses the same example app to argue his point, editors. Everybody who wants to has written one, and that's fine. Are there "way too many"? Maybe, but who cares? Nobody owes you a quality editor, bytesplit. The individuals or groups that wrote these "way too many" apps that don't meet your expectations probably aren't too concerned. The reason is simple. When people work on free software projects, they do so because they want to. Everything you see around you, every little editor that doesn't have any unique features, or every major accomplishment in software development, it all came into being because somebody wanted to write it. So when you say that there aren't enough quality apps, and that this is a major issue, I can't help but feel a little indignant. But, I'm not going to start ranting about how a meritocracy works tonight.

So, there are a whole lot of sub-bytesplit-quality editors. Well, tough. The people who write them want to write them, and there's nothing wrong with that.

Moving right along...

The question I hear from many people, and mind you I am much more of a Windows user at this point than a non-Windows user, is this: Why should I move to another platform when there aren't very many great products like Office 2000 and games like Madden Football 2002 can't be played on anything other than Windows

I hear this question a lot too. Here's my answer.

Maybe you shouldn't. No operating system will ever be all things to all people. I don't know why anyone who is using Windows should feel compelled by another person to switch, as if they're doing something wrong by using one OS instead of another. If you need/want products like Office 2000 and games like Madden Football 2002, stick with the platform you can use them on. Why should you switch, if the games you like, and the tools you're used to are already available to you? Maybe you shouldn't.

As far as documentation goes, I'm not sure why you're looking to FreeBSD for a newbie-friendly system. That doesn't seem to be a high priority for the BSD community, but that's just what I've observed from afar. I don't even recommend my distro of choice to newbies, because it just doesn't feel like it's there yet. I tend to direct newbies interested in Linux towards Mandrake, because they've put a lot of hard work into that audience.

In any case, documentation isn't all that different from "low quality" editors. The folks that write it do the best job they can. Once more, nobody owes you perfect documentation. And again, I can't help but feel rather indigant about this gripe. Especially with my knowledge of some documentation groups like the PHP doc team, who have assembled and who actively maintain what I consider one of the better manuals for a language anywhere, and I know I'm not alone. We regularly get people in #php who have either started with other languages, or are starting with PHP, and almost without exception, they mention how impressed they are with the PHP manual.

You don't have to be a good writer to contribute, either. If you find it so disturbing that all the docs around you are gibberish, all you have to do is send some suggestions on how to improve it to the authors. Maybe throw in some example paragraphs, as you'd like to see them, from the perspective of a user reading their docs. Who knows, maybe that's your calling in free software. Maybe that's how you can earn the certification of Journeyer you've already given yourself.

www.slashdo, er, www.advogat...

Sigh. I promised myself I wouldn't comment on this mess, but it's consuming the recentlog to the extent that it's actually degrading the value of the forum. So, what he hell. Into the fire.

Quoting one of bytesplit's many entries from today (or yesterday, by the time I finish these thoughts),

No, tk, you see someone who originally came to advogato.org to respond to someone else's childish games of slander.

This was a poor decision, I think. You've been basing your comments over the past three weeks on the assertion that you are a reasonable, mature adult. Yet the only reason you came to this forum was the lack of what I consider to be one basic aspect of maturity, that of restraint.

I can appreciate the affect that being publically insulted has on one's state of mind. We've all gotten caught up in a heated discussion before. I doubt there's a mailing list yet that I've been on where at least one flamewar didn't get personal and people got carried away. It happens, we're human. However, generally we learn from mistakes, and posting to a mailing list when emotions are running high is never a good idea. The same certainly goes for web forums.

But this mess, I think, is a slightly different situation. Sure, chipx86 may have been out of line in what he said, but to be blunt, I seriously doubt anyone who read his advogato diary knew who you were, or cared, until you felt it necessary to confront him here. Given some time to pause and avoid acting on heated emotions, I would like to think the option to ignore his post here would've been the preferred way to go.

Instead, we've witnessed your persistant efforts to get the last word in. In the process, labeling everyone who has disagreed with your view a child, an idiot, and morally bankrupt. This is hardly behavior that is likely to improve the situation in any way.

A couple quotes I find ironic, then I'm done.

i am known as a very fair person, by both people on this site and off. who they are is not important to you, their opinion is. and, i like to keep it that way. you treat me like shit, you'll get it right back!

Yes, very fair. An eye for an eye, truly an adult way of dealing with a situation. I won't pretend to suggest I'd have done any better in the same situation, I couldn't say that with certainty. But surely the contradiction in that sentence wasn't lost on you, if even after the fact.

So, I'll do the admirable thing: ignore the trolls and the liars and let them wallow in their own misery. I'm just going to use this site for what it was meant to be used for, unlike some others who like to start public battles on here.

You said that over a week ago, but it didn't seem to stick. Maybe a second try is in order. Don't try to get an agreement from everyone who has commented, that's not important. Just let the matter drop, and others probably will too. And if they don't, re-read the quote.

It feels funny to say, but I've been using and advocating the use of Debian for well over six years now. Its distinction as a completely volunteer-driven distro is something I find very appealing, and I have a lot of respect for the people that make that possible.

This is much more than merely the hundreds of developers across the world, this includes QA people, documenters, translators, advocates, and donators of bandwitdh and hardware. And it includes bug reporters.

So, when the behavior of some developers in this bug report comes to my attention, I get fairly pissed off.

Now, I'm not dilluted enough to think that just because evrybody's contributing to a greater good means that they'll get alone or be civil to one another in the process. Quite the contrary, some developer lists are home to some of the fiercest arguments I've seen. It pretty much goes with the territory that anyone who cares enough to donate their time to Debian has some pretty string feelings about how they think Debian's future should look, and won't hesitate to defend their views. I can appreciate that. However, there are forums where some degree of etiquitte is required. I consider a bug database to be one such forum.

One of the core ideas behind the success of free software projects is peer review. More eyeballs, and all that stuff mbp was recently talking about in his diary. When we talk about having more eyeballs, some of those are the eyes of other developers reviewing code. But most of them are the eyes of users submitting bug reports. This is what sets us apart from the properitary world. A user see something they think isn't working right, or something they simply think could be better, and they have the means to tell the developers. And they get a response. That response is a voice from somebody who has the authority to represent that project publically.

Put another way, developers who respond to Debian bug reports are representing Debian, all of it, in their words. Users are told that their report has been seen, and a problem they reported fixed, or a suggestion they've made noted for consideration. And, if the response is a good one, the user is thanked for their time to fill out the report.

So, now that I've rambled for several paragraphs about what I think things should be like, allow me to be somewhat crass.

Daniel Stone, your response to that bug report was utter bullshit. I'm disgusted that you had the nerve to reply to someone who was volunteering their time to try to make Debian a little better in their eyes with such behavior. Now, perhaps I'm being too harsh, or perhaps you were trying to be funny in some odd teenage way that escapes me. But I think, in the future, you should take a moment of pause before corrosponding with bug reporters in the future. Think about how your actions will be viewed by the person on the other end of the message, and the people observing from afar. People like me, who have a lot of pride in what Debian has grown into, and don't like seeing this kind of shit from someone who is supposed to feel the same way.

7 Nov 2001 (updated 7 Nov 2001 at 23:50 UTC) »
24 was a so- so show. I like a number of the cast members from their past work, but the storyline was somewhat weak. We'll see how they do next week.

Particularly bothersome, though, was a chat between two characters.

Jack: Jamie. If I give you a phone number, could you hack in and get all the Internet passwords connected to it?
Jamie: Sure, if you have a warrant.

Y'know.. Once upon a time, a scene like that would've been amusing and silly. A fantasy of technology made up by Hollywood, something they're fairly good at.

Now, however, it's not rea lly all that funny.

Doing my part to push certain abuses of CSS off the recentlog...

UCITA continues to creep across the land (of the US) like a slow-moving plague. Which, in a way, is good. At least it isn't a fast-moving airborne virus like the mega-corporation lobby would like it to be.

There is hope for my state, at least. Recently a public hearing was held in Salem regarding House Bill 3910, also known as UCITA for Oregon. I regret I wasn't able to attend, however several members of my LUG did go, and one posted an encouraging report of the proceedings. My favorite parts of the hearing: The state representative pushing UCITA didn't show up. The only supporters that showed up were Intel goons. Boeing sent their MIS manager out to speak against it.

Why did UCITA even get this far in Oregon? Well, that's simple. The Legal Infrastructure Subcommittee of the Oregon Internet Commission was comprised of two IP lawyers, the Attorney General, and a Microsoft VP. Oh, and there's an Intel VP on the Commission, too.

But I'm not annoyed or anything. Nah. On the up side, the Legal Infrastructure subcommittee didn't outright recommend UCITA, they said it needed further study, due to its controversial standing in many states. The funny thing is, Oregon isn't looking to adopt UCITA because they think it's a great set of commerce laws. They want to adopt it as a means of attracting more Internet businesses to the state, on the grounds that Oregon is progressive and on the leading edge of supporting Internet business.

So, for the first time in awhile, I'm optimistic about the saftey of Oregon from UCITA.

4 Apr 2001 (updated 4 Apr 2001 at 02:10 UTC) »

Takaya Kinjo, you are my hero of the day. At last, a working jog dial on my Vaio. Now, if it'll map to pageup/pagedown, I'll be a happy guy. I'm also pleased with Sylvain Gil's S-Jog app launcher.

At last, the jog dial isn't a worthless knob!

In other news.. Why do I still bother reading Slashdot comments when an XP article comes up? About eight people out of over 500 had something worthwhile to say about XP. The rest either blasted the buzzword portion of the name, drolled on about pair programming (Regardless of if they were for or against it) or contributed to the typical noise of any Slashdot article.


I first heard the name Perforce mentioned less than two months ago in a discussion amongst a dozen or so people about a potential project. It was recommended over CVS by an individual whose arguments against CVS can be summed up as "CVS sucks" and "Only ignorant zealots would choose an inferior OSS tool over Perforce. Who says we have to use OSS tools to manage an OSS project?" Obviously a very well-spoken individual with excellent debate skills. I've since asked a handful of coders with a great deal more experience than myself what they thought of Perforce, and none of them have given a particularly shining review of it over CVS. Apparently it functions well, but in terms of it being vastly superior to CVS, all I have is the aforementioned "CVS sucks" argument.

Since mechanix mentioned Perforce in his article, I'd like to extend my question to this group and see if anybody has experience with Perforce, either for commercial or OSS work? To date, I haven't been able to find an OSS project using Perforce (Maybe we're all just ignorant zealots), and very little on the web that compares CVS and Perforce. Any insights would be appreciated, if only to cure my curiousity in the matter.

Crack Certs (Minty fresh)

Zeevon: It may seem that xcyber is on crack, or he may just have different standards from most people of the cert levels. It seems he's even certified two people who haven't even set their name, and two people who have set only their name.

Guess that sorta puts his Journeyer cert of you and I in perspective.


mrorganic: I know a lot of Russians share your sentiments. Indeed, members of Russia's lower parliament are still trying to give Mir another chance, if only to keep it there for transfering equipment off of to a new station, Mir 2.

Still, whatever sadness Mir's coming down may bring should be kept in check by realizing just how much Mir has meant to the advancement of the global space program. Russia's engineers and scientists faced and solved questions and problems with manning a space station that the US still doesn't have answers to, and they did it 15 years ago. The technologies and experience gained from Mir's tenure is absolutely invaluable, and the ISS simply wouldn't be able to happen without it. Whatever fate Mir itself has met, any manned platform we see in orbit will always owe a debt to Mir's existence.

Doesn't that just figure. An article appears which I'd like to reply to, so naturally my apprentice certification vanishes before I can get to it. Oh well, it's all transitory. Begin random musings.

cvs commit -m "Why am I here?" ./ChangeLog

My ill-fated reply wasn't so much to jtauber's article as it was to ftobin's first reply that mentioned cvs2cl. I'm not sure mapping a CVS log directly to a ChangeLog is the right thing to do. The cvs2cl page has a link to some writing on CVS Logs and ChangeLogs that addresses the relationship between the two logging systems towards the bottom, in the paragraph headed "ChangeLogs and the CVS log".

His reasons are mostly semantics, though, and I imagine cvs2cl can address those concerns (Namely the first bullet point, the difficulty to sort log entries by date). The underlying issue I see, though, is audience. What generally goes into CVS logs isn't what should go into a ChangeLog, imho. ChangeLogs are higher level than CVS logs. The folks that read them aren't interested in what code fragment changed or that a typo was corrected in a header file comment. Yet these sorts of messages will end up in the CVS log as a matter of course. After all, that's what it's for. The CVS log describes the sequence of changes to the code. Instead, the ChangeLog should be a narrative of general changes. Features added or modified, problems addressed (Including bug #'s if a bug tracker is present) and the like. So. I would argue for maintaining a ChangeLog, rather than relying on the CVS logs to be useful to the public at large.

OSS Project Organization and/or Politics

I had an interesting conversation earlier tonight that spanned a host of topics, one of which was the scalability of the development tribe. For a nominally sized group of developers, there's little need for a structure of control over the project. Development can progress by virtue of each developer doing his or her thing, and discussion and peer review keeping the project aiming in a fairly consistent direction. However, take that group and double it a couple times over, and that falls apart. Some controls are needed, and in many projects we can catagorize them as benevolent dictatorships or as commonwealths. Both can work, but there's a third model that I think can work better than both, which is a commonwealth, but with some people being more equal than others.

The horror! In a given project, the votes of all contributing individuals must be equal, right? Well, not necessarily. What happens when an individual is completely off his rocker, and his vote or influence puts the well-being of the project at risk? Surely it would be clear to a the majority that said individual is indeed inviting trouble, but what if it wasn't so clear? A core group needs to have some veto power, especially in a large project. Smaller projects can cope with dissent, but in a large setting the problem can grow more difficult to manage.

So, how far do these various models scale? Linux has been the subject of criticism before for Linus being a benevolent dictator, but it certainly seems to be working. And even then, he has his core group to which he's delegated much responsibility. So I'd say that model scales fairly well. How about the others?

GNU Lobby?

Don't like the DMCA? No, I imagine not. Lots of people don't. But the Internet is leaving the hands of geeks and techs and entering the eager clutches of business and its lawyers. Sure, we have our advocates, and while we could always use a couple more solid representatives, what it seems we really lack is the legal power. The EFF and FSF make an admirable effort to defend liberty from the onslaught of corporate interests, but the sad truth is those big businesses have a lot more lobbyists than we do, and when it comes to the laws that threaten to shape our net, that's all that matters. So wouldn't it be nice if the community at large could get a strong support group of lawyer and lobbyist types to help in the fight? It seems that way to me, at least.. At 1:41 am.. Maybe I'll have something more thought-out in in the afternoon. End random musings.

It's the year 3030.. And here at the Corporate Institutional Bank of Time, we find ourselves.. reflecting.. Finding out, that in fact, we came back. We were always coming back.

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