Securita, I’m starting (finally)

Well, I’ve been delayed by one thing or another for quite some time. Anyway, I’m starting to gather my thoughts, and the various emails and conversations I’ve had with people over the project for quite some time. Just to review, Securita is a project to create a content filter for Mozilla.

The first checkin will not happen until I’m at version 0.1. Simply because it’s to messy, and a pain in the butt. At 0.1, I’ll checkin the source, and perhaps add a few devs to the project as appropriate.

The goals for 0.1

  • Load RDF datafile
  • Scan page for matches to RDF datafile
  • Display error when scan returns true
  • Make XPI for Firefox/Seamonkey

At this point, I’ve got a mini engine that can scan (including regexp, thanks to caillon) and return true if there’s a match (from an array of items).

My time is slightly limited right now, but I don’t want my short time to hold this project up any more. So what I need is the following:

Most Wanted #1

Method to load RDF datafile, and loop through for each element. Sample

Brief Rundown
String: what to search for
Scan: type of scan to perform. Either string or regexp
Type: URL, text, image , hybrid

Simply get to the point of doing a demo loop like follows:

for (i=0; i<ELEMENTS; i++){
  scan(string[i], scan[i], type[i]);
}

Most Wanted #2

Also need a method to link the script that does the processing (filterRun.js) to execute on each page loaded. I’m not exactly sure how to do this, and time is a bit short right now. If anyone can write a simple extension boilerplate that attaches the script filterRun.js to every tab that contains the following code to be executed as the page loads:

alert("Securita beats up the butterfly");

Anyone who can contribute the these two things would be extremely helpful. Email submissions as per my contact info on this website.

Todo list remaining

It’s been a busy week, but here’s where I stand:

The rest of the “Week”
Math Test
Accounting Quiz
Legal Environments Paper/Power Point
Marketing Test
unmangle patch for importing .eml files (it’s either on my laptop or server).
Create Schedule for next Semester

Test and Quiz all done by 4:30 PM, and paper/presentation should be done by 8:00 PM. Then I can relax for the rest of the evening. It’s been a tough week.

My todo list for the weekend:
Schedule (carried down from above)
A little work on Securita (yes it’s silent, but I’m slowly making a strategy)
Project Aquarius
Study for Bio Quiz (should be really easy)

Note: My weekend essentially starts Wednesday afternoon, because Thursday I have one relatively laid back class in the middle of the day, and that’s it for the week, so Wednesday by 8:00 I’m wrapping up what needs to be done for the week.

Anyway, I’ll update this as the day goes on.

Spyware Blaster Supports Mozilla

Spyware Blaster has been updated to version 3.0. This popular Internet Explorer tool blocks most Spyware ActiveX components and Cookies. New to version 3.0 is support for Mozilla. Since there’s no ActiveX support, it blocks some cookies. Perhaps in the future it will protect against malicous XPI’s.

In any regard, it’s great to see a popular product making Mozilla a priority to support. It makes Mozilla even better for those who want security (without disabling all cookies).

Happy Birthday Website

It’s 1 year ago I turned this from a static never updated page into a rather rapidly updated blog style website!

Happy birthday to robert.accettura.com

Some changes coming soon I might add. I’ll be doing a little better with content soon. And some new stuff will come.

Did someone leave the lights on?

In case the news hasn’t reached everyone yet, Netscape will update it’s release sometime early this summer, speculated to be based on Mozilla 1.7.

Personally, I wonder who will be actually coordinating this update? And secondly, why not wait until Firefox is released, and market it as Netscape 8.0 Light, and make a pro version for use with it’s new ISP. At least that makes much more logical sense from a business point of view. It would allow them to promote their new business model by using their old business model. They can also advertise their service as having all the wonderful feature Firefox has. Could release Mac/Linux version as well. Capture that part of the market.

Then again, who said AOL/Netscape made logical sense from a business point of view? After all, it’s now known as: AOLTW for a good reason.

Fun with todo lists

Todo:

Legal Environments Paper/Power Point
Math Test
Marketing Test
unmangle patch for importing .eml files (it’s either on my laptop or server).
Create Schedule for next Semester

Filling in any spare moment with Project Aquarius, MacVillage.net work, and perhaps a few hours of TV or even sleep.

So yes, I’m alive, but if I’m not replying to bugmail, Email, IM, private messages, forum posts, banging on dumpsters from a county over, look above and you know why. I’m still reading, but not replying unless it’s critical, or I have a few moments to relax.

I guess someone agrees with me

According to this, Mozilla Foundation at least agrees with me, that from both a marketing, and end user support point of view, tech support suck, and it’s only going to get worse as more people use Mozilla products.

I mentioned this first a few days ago on the Mozilla Marketing mailing list, drawing a few +/- comments.

Personally, I’m inspired two take two successes, and put them together for even more benefit. Here’s my somewhat brief half-butt analysis. Yes, I’m writing this rather quick, I’m in the middle of many things at the moment, but hopefully someone will read/understand it.

Current Situation

Mozilla tells users to get support a number of ways. Lets look at them one by one.

Expensive Phone support – good for corporate users, who need contracted professional support, but what end user will plunk down that cash? I don’t think many, if any would be willing to. Especially since phone support has such a bad reputation these days do to oursourcing (imagine spending that money to speak to someone you can’t even understand).

Mozillazine Forums – either register and give a third party (which an average end user knows nothing about) your information during signup, or keep checking your post to see if someone replied. Not very efficient. Don’t even know the quality you get, since anyone can/not reply.

IRC – how many average end users know how to use IRC? How many have IRC software already (Seamonkey include it, but how about Firefox or Thunderbird)? Do you see an average end user on IRC? I think not.

Newsgroups – newsgroups are not very well known by many people. Most people started using the net well after newsgroups passed their prime, and instead went right to forums. So another strange technology they need to use. Again, could mean more software, if they are just a Firefox user. And newsgroups have a terrible association with spam thanks to it being the #1 thing to avoid if you don’t like spam according to most general audience computer news columns.

Knowledge Base (new) – Best decision mozillazine made, besides making the website itself, and the forum. But it’s still growing. Personally, I think it should be made as a development project to match the product cycle of the browsers. When browsers go stable, stop new articles (without review), proofread, edit, revise. And when a release goes final, a non-edit copy of the KB goes on mozilla.org’s website as a searchable FAQ. That would maintain a higher level of quality, and allow it to feel more official for the end user.

What others do

Phone Support – Free is hard/impossible when giving out a free product like mozilla does, so it would have to be fee based. Keeping costs low is hard

Forum – Forums work great, but they can be slow and cumbersome. They are great for development and community building, as Mozillazine has so elequently shown us, but they aren’t perfect for support.

Email – Email Ticket based support seems to be the most popular. A user submits a form, and a representative reads and replies. The ticket number associates all messages together.

Chat based support – Various Java based protocols

The ultimate solution for Mozilla

I’m going out on a limb here. I know the Mozilla community is filled with many who spend hours a week helping in various support matters, from the Forums, IRC, newsgroups, and mailing lists. There arepreferred hundreds of man hours a week, but it’s inefficient. I propose consolidating support into 3 main methods, all community run:

Knowledge base – I discussed this before. This should be the preferred way (push users to browse this before using any other method). This already exists, and is running. Phase 1 complete.

The second and third require recruiting members of the community. We should establish criteria, which I will discuss briefly later.

Support Ticket – lets implement a support ticket based system, there are several open source projects available we can use to provide the method to allow such a system. Most of users questions are answered either in bugzilla, or the Knowledge Base. I’ll venture to say the “top 25” questions occupy more than half of all questions asked. Mainly duplicating the popular bugs.

Chat Based Support – this might be a neat mozdev project for someone who wants to do something really geeky with web apps. Create a server, with XUL, and DHTML Chat windows (DHTML for non-mozilla users). So a user can open up a chat with an operator standing by. This would make a great replacement to end user support on IRC. Again operators would pass a criteria, and most questions would being the “top 25” category.

How to Q&A services, and recruit

Regarding this criteria, we should develop and administer tests to those willing/able to help out with support, and consolidate the support provided in the Forums/newsgroups/IRC. We could require a potential volunteer to take a multiple choice test, get 1 mozilla.org person to approve your application, then your in a “intern” status. All your corespondents is cc’d to a sponsor (already a full support volunteer) while you train. After a few weeks, that sponsor can certify you as a volunteer, and your a full fledged volunteer. This will allow for some quality assurance.

In addition, whenever a support ticket is closed, or a chat session is done, the enduser should be prompted to rate the volunteer from 1-5. So that we can see who ranks well, or poorly. Perhaps even do a “Volunteer of the Month” program.

Periodically, everyone may come up for a retest (when the test is updated, based on the top 25). And there may be a required “inservice” on IRC. Perhaps hold them once a month, you need to attend at least 5 a year. And a mailing list.

These two method will be a lot more efficient. Volunteers today unofficially spend countless hours on the Forums/newsgroups/IRC providing support. If we could channel and focus this effort, we would make much better use of it.

Conclusion
Support is inefficient and very unofficial, to remedy the solution, we should focus on finding a way to harness all the resources available.

The Apple community has many “Mac User Groups”. Perhaps if Mozilla users would group into a similar situation, it would also prove useful? Like the Apple community, Mozilla two has a very community oriented atmosphere.

Tongue Twister

Here’s some fun. From the roomie’s. Haven’t seen this one in ages.

Dr. Seuss’ lost tounge twister
see if you can do this:
This is this cat
This is is cat
This is how cat
This is to cat
This is keep cat
This is a cat
This is dumbass cat
This is busy cat
This is for cat
This is forty cat
This is seconds cat.

Now go back and read the THIRD word in each line from the top. Betcha you can’t resist passing it on!

NVU 0.2 Out

It’s out and available for download.

As expected, awesome work on behalf of Daniel Glazman. I decided once again to take it for a spin. I normally hand code all my pages, but sometimes, especially when working quick on web apps, I like to just draft quick temporary html pages for working, and make them good later. So an editor like NVU would still be useful to me.

Here are a few things I saw that prevent me from using it full time (remember it’s only 0.2, and already kicking butt, I expect it will be much more polished and powerful by the next release):

  • Ability to open multiple pages at one using the File -> Open dialog. I’ve got sometimes several files I work on quite a bit. Would be nice to get them all in tabs, so I can just toggle through them while I work. Tabs kick butt by the way
  • Ability to use a local directory, or a server share in the Site Manager. This would allow people that use samba to connect to their intranet server, or someone with a .mac account to connect to the server via webdav.
  • Normally when I write a template, I create one as a master, but leave a spot in the body where the actual contents will be included dynamically on the server. On the server, I normally have a bunch of .tmpl files that have chunks of html, but aren’t complete HTML files. Just body. NVU, and Composer finish them off for me (adding all the precursor stuff like a doctype, and title, body tags. I don’t want those. That would break my app. I would like it to open and preserve if it uses .tmpl extension and don’t modify my code. Just assume I know what I’m doing 🙂

My dream list (most likely shared by most power users, and corporate users):

  • Support raw html editing just as well as WYSIWYG, including code completion, and a method for third parties to implement support for other languages
  • XSLT support
  • Option to use XHTML

Ok, well that covers my quick little review. It’s worth a look, even if your not adopting quite yet. I’m not going to use it from day to day, but from what I see, that time will come soon enough. It’s already got some pretty cool new toys, and some polish since the Communicator days. Some cool new toys like templating, and that all to sweet color picker, which hopefully will be in Mozilla soon enough so I can use it in Thunderbird.