Around The Web Mozilla

Browser Tax?

We all know Tax season is here (in the US). So don’t forget to file. We also know there is a Microsoft Tax (you know, the price of the pre-installed copy of Windows on your soon to be Linux PC), and it is possible to get it refunded. New this year is a browser tax, as seen on Digg.

Want to know how much you’ll be paying? There is a formula, but I’ve got a cheat-sheet to help you out. Simply find your browser/platform and look at the filing price. Click to see the full screen and get all pricing. I did this myself between 6:40 and 7:00 PM EST today. Took a little while to crop and get it all together. Yes they are real. No photoshopping done. Note that free filing is offered in certain cases and not in others (which I presume is the offering as part of the free filing program).

Want to get the biggest deduction on filing your taxes with TurboTax? Just look below for the best deal.

For more great financial tips keep an eye on this blog. Next time we’ll talk about how my 401(k) is also incompatible with my browser, and since I used the contact form to mention the bug, it now warns me on every visit.

I’d love to hear Intuit’s explanation of why they are serving different products to certain browsers, and why they are charing different prices in some cases. Amazon tried something like this based on user profiles a few years ago, and it caused some trouble. You can find some information on that by searching Google for amazon price fixing.

Is it legal to make the Free filing option less visible to some users? Hard to say. There is an agreement with the IRS in place that facilitates all that. Didn’t see much about promotion or hiding the offering.

Images in various browsers/platforms can be found below on this post.

In The News

Wireless TV Remote Inventor Dies

Robert Adler, inventor of the Wireless TV Remote as passed away. A hero among men. If it weren’t for him, we wouldn’t be all that we are today. We’d likely be a few pounds lighter. His work changed the way we live.

A 21 click salute in his honor will be performed by overweight TV viewers everywhere.

Mozilla Programming Web Development

Komodo Convert

After reading about Myk’s use of Komodo, I decided to give it a try. I’ve yet to find the truly perfect IDE, so I’m always open to good alternatives.

For years I used BBEdit Lite, which was good enough for my somewhat basic needs, TextWrangler came and I moved over. On the Windows side of things, I had tried numerous editors for years, ultimately using Eclipse, ConTEXT, and (on a few occasions) jEdit. Mainly on the Windows side it has been ConTEXT, since it didn’t have the restrictive feel many IDE’s have. On the downside, it didn’t do much.

At work, I’ve been using Macromedia HomeSite. Overall it’s not too bad, but it does have it’s quirks. There’s definitely a bug in FTP that causes it to occasionally not show all the subdirectories when you nest to deep. Then it sometimes randomly throws errors at you. Most of the time they can be safely ignored, making me wonder if they are still errors when nothing bad happens.

So I downloaded Komodo Edit (free) on my Windows Laptop, and my Mac Mini, installed it on both, and played around. First order of business was playing with some local files. End result was that it handled things very well. I didn’t have to fuss around to much to get things accomplished… I like that. Next step was to try the FTP functionality (SFTP and SCP as I don’t like FTP). It worked, I was able to edit a few files and it performed rather well. Also nice was that it let you know it read the directory from cache. Most will hide this info from you.

In the end I decided a few things were missing. The most notable thing missing and preventing it from replacing HomeSite was the sidebar file manager. I work on many files, so I need a quick way to get to them. File –> Open wasn’t going to work. I decided to file a bug and request a similar feature as an enhancement. Other editors do a similar sidebar file tree, this wasn’t something revolutionary.

Ends up there is an Remote Drive Tree Extension that provides the functionality I desire. Sweet! The usual install process, restart and I’m going. Works perfectly. Only thing missing is drag/drop support so I could easily add files or move them around, renaming would also be helpful. Perhaps those features will come in the future.

So after a little time with it, I’ve decided I’m ready to try it for a week, and see if it handles my needs for the week. It has now qualified for testing.

I think I like it so far. I do have a few pet-peeves though:

  • FTP support is still a little buggy.
  • Slow startup time.
  • Prefs feel somewhat awkward and not as intuitive as one would hope.

But it’s still beta, so there’s time for it to grow.

Audio/Video Google

Gmail Theater

Gmail Theater

Cool video by Google on why to use Gmail. Intentionally very cheesy. Gotta love it.

[Hat Tip: Justin Uberti]

Apple Hardware

Crucial RAM

I upgraded my Mac Mini with some more RAM. I purchased a Crucial 1GB PC2700 DIMM. Surprisingly it didn’t have Micron chips, but Samsung. The label was obviously Crucial. I found it strange that they are using their competitors chips on their retail products.

I don’t really mind, since I consider them both to be of equal quality, but I did buy Crucial specifically because of the quality. With many of the other generic brands you have no idea what chips will actually be found on the stick. Bad RAM is a drag, so if I upgrade, I do my best to make sure I do it right and get the good stuff. IMHO Crucial/Micron, Samsung, and Hynix are all good choices. Will a generic brand use these chips? Absolutely. Guarantees when ordering online that one of these chips are used? Nope.

On a sidenote, typically OEM Crucial RAM is cheaper (and just as good), but with the 10% off, it was cheaper to buy from Crucial directly and get free shipping than to buy OEM from someone like NewEgg and pay for shipping.

Around The Web Internet Mozilla Web Development

JavaScript Badges And Widgets Considered Harmful?

Jeremy Zawodny has a great post about common JavaScript usage where he concludes it’s harmful. Whether you agree or not, you have to admit it’s a great blog post. Here comes another long blog post.

Apple Mozilla

Walmart Blocks Other Browsers/Platforms

Walmart Video Downloads blocks all browsers but IE on Windows. I tried it from Safari on Mac OS X 10.4 and still wasn’t able to get in (they wanted me to still download IE 6). As noted by TechCrunch, initially it looked like someone didn’t include the stylesheet correctly. Now it’s blocked with a formal error page. Initially it worked with a reload, now not at all. Spoofing the UserAgent let me in, and revealed only a small CSS goof with the header. Didn’t try a purchase since there’s nothing there I would really want. I guess this could be considered a feature: My browser prevents me from downloading You, Me, and Dupree.

Apparently they use Windows Media Player for the DRM. I’d be surprised if it didn’t function properly in WMP when downloaded with Firefox. Thus far I haven’t seen any real difference between Windows Media Player 11 on IE and Firefox. It’s a great thing that Microsoft has drastically improved support.

I’m surprised they didn’t just redirect to a more compatible store.

There has been a fair amount of improvement in website compatibility with Firefox and Safari over the past 18 months. Unfortunately this isn’t an example of that.

In The News Internet

Root Server Attack

The root servers were attacked this morning. My guess would be few (if any) really felt the effects. This just goes to show that the net, despite being a distributed mess of networks still has a few critical points in its infrastructure. They didn’t take them down, and didn’t even get them all. Here’s a creepy graph. For the record there are more than just the physical A-M servers. C,F, I-K, M are using anycast so they are distributed among many networks, making it even more redundant, and closer to most users. Because it was done by a botnet, and all but one of the targets were using anycast (according to Wikipedia), the load would be distributed across the servers, making it even harder for an attack to succeed.

Mozilla Web Development

Pinch Hitting For CSS… SVG

I was thinking the other day about CSS shortcomings. CSS is good intentioned, and usable, but it’s also very unintuitive. It’s far from friendly to designers, and makes some simple tasks rather complicated (such as multi-column layouts, and vertical positioning). Of course CSS3 is coming, but is there some other way?

Apple Hardware

AirPort Extreme’s Shortcomings

Apple is now shipping the AirPort Extreme. I personally think it’s a pretty nice wireless access point, but it has a few shortcomings which would make me a little hesitant. I’m hoping on the 2nd gen they fix it up a little. To be fair, I haven’t found the perfect Wireless device yet and AirPort Extreme’s shortcomings don’t exactly put it out of the running. For the price I’d expect to see more. Here’s what popped into my mind after reading more about it. Why is this on my mind? Because I just saw some great pictures on unboxing the AirPort Extreme.

  • 10/100 Ethernet – Now 100Mbps is pretty good, but when 802.11n is supposed to reach 540 Mbit/s, I expect Gigabit Ethernet. Especially on a device that expensive.
  • 3 Ports Switch – At first glance you may think the device includes a 4 port hub. The reality is it’s a 3 port hub. The 4th is the uplink (where you plug your modem in). Granted you can get a switch for cheap, it’s not the same. All that money, wireless capacity, and your sharing a wired 100Mbps port? Something is not right.
  • VPN Endpoint – Apple still hasn’t included a VPN Endpoint. Apple includes support for common VPN protocols like L2TP, IPSec, PPTP with Mac OS X for a while, as does Windows. A built in VPN endpoint would be a great addition.
  • Security – Documentation doesn’t mention anything about Stateful Packet Inspection (SPI) or DoS protection. Instead it mentions a vague “NAT firewall”. Not quite sure what that exactly is.
  • Other Features – Also lacking is WMM (Wireless Multi-media) , IGMP snooping, and UpNP (though I don’t care too much about UpNP). If there is support for any of this, it’s not mentioned anywhere I could find. Not even a mention about WDS, which was the most surprising to be missing from the list of acronyms. According to a comment below WDS does exist.
  • It’s not 802.11n certified – Truth is nobody has certification because the standard isn’t official yet. I’d personally like to wait to ensure I get something that is certified.

On a sidenote, did anyone else notice that neither the Airport Extreme website, nor the Apple 802.11 page give any numbers in regards to 802.11n performance? It won’t say more than “Up to five times the performance and up to twice the range compared to the earlier 802.11g standard.” I found it very strange to see no numbers “up to XMbps”.