Neil's Place

November 5, 2002

5:50 PM

I've had this Weblog for less than one month, and 101 things that the Mozilla browser can do that IE cannot is currently number 2 on Blogdex.

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10:04 AM Fixed Security Holes

The headline "Mozilla Riddled with Fixed Security Holes" on MozillaZine made me laugh.

One of the six bugs (147754), and coincidently, the one I reported, was fixed way back in 1.0. What, are they having such trouble finding security issues that they have to use older versions of products instead?

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November 3, 2002

11:57 PM Building the Semantic UI

I've started putting the ideas I have had for the Microcontent/Semantic Web Client together into a simple prototype UI. I have something partly doing something, but not enough to show yet. Here is a description.

The user selects from a variety of categories, such as Movies, News, Weblogs and so forth, although the user can add more using a directory lookup or by manually entering information. Each category has two lists of information stored with it.

The first is a list of datasources that supply content for the category. One source might provide general movie info, another reviews, while yet another provides images and clips from the movie. The user may add and remove sources when they wish. The data is in RDF and is internally combined into a single source when used.

The second is a list of descriptions of how to present the information. I call these 'layouts', and the user may add or remove them as necessary. Basic layouts would present the data in various usuable forms, others would display as plain text, calendars, and so forth. Layouts would also contain UI for searching and sorting through information.

A third aspect, which I haven't worked out the details of yet, is the descriptions of what the data means. The Semantic Web people call these ontologies. But here, they also need to describe UI actions. For example, when we list the times when a movie is playing, the application should know that one can add them to a schedule or set reminders. Neither the datasources nor the layouts should need to indicate this.

I am planning on using XUL as the layout/presentation language. I don't want to use (X)HTML, as it is a content and structure language, not a layout language. The content is stored in the datasources, so many HTML tags would be useless. Seperation of content (datasources) and layout is already achieved anyway.

I would need to add some elements or attributes to XUL to bind the UI elements to the data to display, much like XForms does. (XBL can be used to create the new elements for the most part). However, since XForms uses XPath expressions to bind to XML data, an XPath-like language tailored to RDF data instead of XML would be necessary.

Perhaps I should set up a project on, although I'm having trouble coming up with a good name for this thing.

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November 1, 2002

11:03 PM

Just fixing the update time in the RSS feed to be in the correct format.

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10:36 PM On Saving Files

mpt suggests that documents should be saved automatically to the desktop, picking some filename for the user, instead of using a save dialog. Here are my thoughts.

I do think that saving files automatically is a good idea. In fact, some applications can do this already.

However, just sticking things on the desktop seems like a rather unorganized way to store them. He expects users to then move files manually to the folder that they wish them to be in. This is a multiple step process that requires one to switch to the file manager, open a pile of folder windows, move the folder windows because the saved file is on the desktop behind them, move the file to the appropriate place in the folder, move the folder windows back to where they were, close the folders again and then switch back to the application.

Most users won't bother and will end up with 2000 icons on their desktop. I remember him mentioning at some earlier time that this is fine, since people tend to just stick paper and other stuff on their real desk. True, but since computers are meant to do things that we're too lazy to do ourselves, they should try to do some of that for us.

The user will also have to do the same steps above if they want to keep an old version of a file, (which might be impossible if files are saved automatically).

He also suggests that filenames should be selected automatically. That would work in some cases, although anything that relies on guessing is going to be wrong some of the time. It might associate a filename with a document that the user wouldn't associate with a document, making it harder to locate once saved. It also wouldn't work with an audio file one had just recorded, since there isn't an obvious title for it.

And then, the interface would need to have a sophisticated search tool, because users wouldn't know the titles of documents, or where they were located. Of course, systems already do have such a thing, but it would need to be used much more frequently.

While removing file dialogs does allow users to not have to worry about saving things, I think more thought needs to be put into helping the user organize their stuff first.

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5:37 PM Here is a Halloween movie

Quicktime required.

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October 31, 2002

11:22 AM The tag came back.

Marquees are back in Mozilla! Rejoice! Complain! Whatever!

Marquee effects have also been added to the latest CSS3 working draft.

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10:36 AM It's Halloween


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