Page Surfing: Improving Firefox in Ubuntu

I’m getting frustrated trying to scroll on pages and I’d like to introduce an idea:

Since we have a full screen app that really is taking up the entire screen, there seems to be a good opportunity to use the screen when an app is maximised to scroll the largest scrollbar in the app. I have no idea how hard it would be to tie the scroll bar into something which could be controlled via the operating system, technical details.

The idea here is to put the top and bottom infinities to use, allowing them to be used to allow easier viewing of the internet. This could obviously be made generic so it could be used to control all kinds of apps (optionally?).

Maybe this kind of thing could be made an extension, something to try out and do some experiments. Maybe others will see it as an essential part of their ubuntu experience.

Your thoughts, as always, welcome below…

Shared Bookmarks, do they exist?

I’m after a system where by users of my community computer labs can enjoy a new entry in their bookmark bar of items which are of particular interest and use.

Our system we use requires each user to have their own username and password and thus their own firefox profile, so we can’t do what the windows 7 labs would do which is just to add the bookmarks to the Internet Explorer session as the ‘User’ user.

So I had a look at social bookmarking services like delicious, but none of them provide a way to specify bookmarks or tags (which work) in a way that allows bookmarks to be populated.

I also looked for some scripts that perhaps might be able to open the firefox profile bookmarks html and edit it and sync one particular part of it up with a master file. But I haven’t been able to find such a thing.

So I turn to you dear reader; do you know of anything like this? Please comment below.

Stemming Spellchecker

I’m dyslexic, which means that my brain doesn’t function in a literary kind of way and instead functions in a very systematic way. The erratic nature of language doesn’t fit the total mental model and the lack of being able to spot errors and the frustration with knowing a word is spelt wrong from it’s appearance but not knowing quite why is the worst.

One of the common problems in Ubuntu is that the spellchecker is sub-optimal for all cases where I spell a word wrong. Often I have to copy and paste the word into google, because google does a much better job of correcting my spellings than ispell or firefox.

Annoyingly one of the common mistakes the spellchecker makes is assuming that because I’ve got a couple of extra letters in a word, that what I really mean is to add suffixes. So for instance misspelling alcohol suggested to me ‘alcoholic’ but not ‘alcohol’.

To aid this I wonder if it would be possible to use the full text indexing method of word stemming (removing the ends of a word) to see if it’s possible to get better suggestions. It’s more unlikely that a person has misspelled the suffix than the rest of the word, just as it’s less likely someone has misspelled the start constant of a word (but not vowels they’re treacherous).

I wonder what others methods could be used to improve spelling suggestions? perhaps some sort of web 2.0 social group think new age neural network pattern recognition software? Or we could just send the word to google automatically 😉

The Software Cooperative

I had the very good pleasure today of meeting with Joe Golden of the old Green Mountain Linux company up in Vermont. He expressed to me a strong desire to help people get in touch with Free and Open Source ideals and importantly get people to recognise the community efforts that go into making all this great software.

So I had a bit of a think, some of my in-laws up there took me to the local farmers market. It’s a great market if you’ve never been to Burlington town center, lots of fresh produce, cider, wine, bread, excellent stuff.

Well they’re involved with the Diggers Mirth farming cooperative where they all get involved and all get to share the rewards for their hard work. The food is even sold in the local supermarket.

So since people obviously value food cooperatives, why not explain the software that we write in those terms?

To experiment a bit and see what kind of results this could turn up, I’ve drafted a simple, alpha quality leaflet which could be used at markets such as these as well as other places such as libraries or whole food type supermarkets:

Flyer Image

Update: I’ve updated it to version 2.1, to fix a whole bunch of issues reported in my comments section.

Update: Download svg on deviantArt, click image for link through. also licence terms are specified.

Mozilla Firefox, Disconnected Installer

When looking at the front page of my Mozilla Firefox web browser today I notice a curious thing:

Teach your old fox new tricks by upgrading to Firefox 3.5 today.

With a nice link to downloading Firefox, the only problem with that is that when I clicked on this download for Firefox 3.5 it downloaded a tar ball. My first response what “what the hell” and my second “A common user is not going to have a bloody clue what to do with that”.

There are a couple of things that are on my wishlist for Mozilla Firefox in Ubuntu, getting it so that upgrade links from mozilla themselves are not tar balls is a new one for the list:

  • Not using the gnome or kde keyrings for password management.
  • Not using XDG directories (freedesktop.org) for cache or configs.
  • Not using a user wide cookies system.
  • Not using the apt packager for plugin management.
  • Hiding user data (bookmarks, tags, history) in a config directory.
  • New! Advertising new version of Firefox and expecting “Linux” users to download tar balls
  • From Comments Profile-Guided-Optimization, so Firefox is faster
  • From Comments 64bit TraceMonkey and more time spent on 64bit FDO release.

Purely my own thoughts though, your thoughts are welcome.

FakeSmile to per Frame XML

I want to be able to take one of my animated svgs and convert it to a set of png files in order to make video overlays.

I could use some of the existing raster based video effects, but I’d rather use some of the more interesting and familiar animations available to svg SMIL effects, I can then also write everything in xml.

The only problem is that there isn’t currently a way to generate frame by frame from svg SMIL animations. Unless anyone else knows of such a tool.

There is a tool called svgani which has it’s own animation specification but I’d rather use SMIL since I know it and there may probably be tools to create animations in the future.

So there is a tool called fakeSmile which I use to enabled svg animations in Firefox via javascript. It does this by editing the xml on the fly for each interation. I figure if I can use the same logic to generate an xml/svg output per frame, I’d be able to then use inkscape to (very slowly) generate each png frame.

But I figured I’d ask the community first.