Mozilla Build System: Now Requiring Python, and new Windows build package

Friday, March 2nd, 2007

Starting next week the Mozilla build system is going to require python on all platforms. This will allow us to gradually convert various build scripts which are currently written in perl, and start hacking on an autoconf replacement written in python. Any python 2.3 or higher will be acceptable.

In addition, I have made a production release of MozillaBuild, version 1.0. The MozillaBuild package is now the recommended build environment for all Mozilla developers on Windows. There were a few bugs with the 1.0 releases that have now been corrected in a MozillaBuild 1.1 release candidate.

After the Tinderboxes have been upgraded to use the MozillaBuild package on trunk, I am going to be discontinuing support for the cygwin build environment.

Please post questions and followups to the newsgroup.

New release repackager and about:config fixer

Tuesday, October 10th, 2006

I’ve prepared a couple new software releases this week:

Firefox Release Repackager (1.2)

Adds support for repacking the NSIS installers used by Firefox 2.

about:config fixer

Fix about:config to display the chrome URI of localized prefs, instead of the localized value.


Monday, August 29th, 2005

Friday, I received in the mail a check for $5,000 from a bank I had never heard of before. My wife went through the mail, and when she read the fine print on this check, she discovered that it was actually a five-year loan, at 27.199% interest. In case you don’t have a financial calculator, the total cost of the loan would be $9,176.

Leaving aside the deceptive practice of disguising a contract in the form of an unsolicited check, this loan offer is a truly despicable form of usury. For some reason I don’t understand, it is no longer fashionable to call anything usury. But usury is not only immoral, it is still a crime in most states. Unfortunately, the U.S. congress gutted state laws against usury in 1980 by exempting federal banks from state usury laws. The did this under the guise of protecting banks against inflation, but it was actually a neoconservative triumph of laissez-faire economics over decency and justice.

It is amazing that Beneficial has posted a document on responsible lending practices which seems to be so much at odds with their actual practices. Just because this bank is probably not doing anything illegal does not mean that we should tolerate deceptive and usurious practices that prey on the poor, mentally retarded, and elderly. I encourage you to write to the bank and tell them what you think:

HSBC – North America
Corporate Headquarters
2700 Sanders Road
Prospect Heights, IL 60070

I also encourage you to write to your congressman and ask them to add them to toughen U.S. usury law so that state laws apply, or at least a reasonable interest limit is applied.

Nothing, in the Pursuit of Perfection

Saturday, July 9th, 2005

I have fallen into the most dangerous trap of a computer programmer: doing nothing in the pursuit of perfection. When I left my job at Saint Patrick’s I promised that I would have my new weblog running very soon, and promised an exciting new development to boot… which was silly of me, because I had great plans but no working code to go with those plans. So I have not had a weblog for almost six months, because I kept telling myself that I would get up one day and my new weblog software would magically write itself.

I have given up those silly perfectionist dreams and returned to WordPress on my new website, and found a nice surprise: WordPress is a lot better than it was, and it has solved a lot of the complaints I originally had with it. I will be looking into WordPress extensions to make this blog even easier for you (my readers) to use: please let me know if you have suggestions.

It is good to be blogging again, because I have lots of ideas and decisions that I need to talk about. I have a backlog of ideas that I’ve wanted to blog about for the past six months, so expect some serious blog output in the next few days while I get caught up with myself.

Most importantly, the Mozilla Foundation has hired me (working remotely from Pennsylvania) to take XULRunner and libxul by the horns and wrestle them into a workable software solution. I am also spending a significant amount of time on the build system and such for localizations.

I’m aware that my website has broken links here and there, and that the import of the old blog database has left some dangling links. I’ll fixup what I can when I can, but it’s a low-priority task ;-) .

Moving On

Friday, January 28th, 2005

Dear readers,

As some of you may already know, I am leaving Washington D.C. and my job at St. Patrick’s, effective this Sunday 30-January. I will be joining the expanding biosphere of hackers who are paid to work on the Mozilla products and platform. I will be working full-time for the mozdev group, inc., a consulting company that specializes in software solutions based on mozilla technologies.

I am saddened to be leaving St. Patrick’s; I have made many good friends here, and learned a tremendous amount about music, worship, and life in general. I could not have asked for a better job coming right out of college, or a more beautiful church or organ.

I am excited to be moving on to the new challenges of software development. As most of you are aware, I have been significantly involved with the development of Mozilla Firefox, serving as the volunteer coordinator of localizations for the 1.0 release, and writing a decent amount of the backend code that makes loading extensions possible. My work with mozdev group is full of exciting challenges. And I intend to continue development of the XULrunner, the next-generation runtime for XUL applications, or applications which wish to embed the gecko rendering engine.

Suzanne and I will be moving to Johnstown, PA on 3-Februrary, and so I will probably be out of touch for most of next week. Our new mailing adress will be

221 Hemlock St.
Windber, PA 15963

I also have a new email address, effective immediately: Please update your address book accordingly.

Also, the location of my weblog will be moving soon to I will try to set up a decent number of redirects so that this current location continues to get you somewhere useful. However, old blog post links will not continue to work, because I do not intend to use WordPress for the new blog. Stay tuned for some exciting developments there.

Holidy Party Eating Tips

Tuesday, December 7th, 2004
  • Avoid carrot sticks. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the Christmas spirit. In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they’re serving rum balls.
  • Drink as much eggnog as you can. And quickly. Like fine single-malt scotch, it’s rare. In face, it’s even rarer than single-malt scotch. You can’t find it any other time of year but now. So drink up! Who cares that it has 10,000 calories in every sip? It’s not as if you’re going to turn into an eggnog-aholic or something. It’s a treat. Enjoy it. Have one for me. Have two. It’s later than you think. It’s Christmas.
  • If something comes with gravy, use it. That’s the whole point of gravy. Gravy does not stand alone. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy. Eat the volcano. Repeat.
  • As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they’re made with skim milk or whole milk. If it’s skim, pass. Why bother? It’s like buying a sports car with an automatic transmission.
  • Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control your eating. The whole point of going to a Christmas party is to eat other people’s food for free. Lots of it. Hello?
  • Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year’s. You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This is the time for long naps, which you’ll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog.
  • If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near them and don’t budge. Have as smany as you can before becoming the center of attention. They’re like a beautiful pair of shoes. If you leave them behind, you’re never going to see them again.
  • Same for pies. Apple, Pumpkin, Mincemeat. Have a slice of each. Or, if you don’t like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin. Always have three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert? Labor Day?
  • Did someone mention fruitcake? Granted, it’s loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all cost. I mean, have some standards.
  • One final tip: If you don’t feel terrible when you leave the party or get up from the table, you haven’t been paying attention. Reread tips, start over, but hurry, January is just around the corner.

Remember this motto to live by:

“Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming “WOO HOO what a ride!”

Another Inbox Bites the Dust

Monday, November 29th, 2004

I read Ben Goodger’s note about losing an inbox with vague interest a few days ago. Then it happened to me, almost exactly the same way it happened to him:

I routinely get upwards of twenty thousand virus mails, junk mails, undeliverable-return-to-sender return envelopes for messages I did not send, and other crap mail per week. A large portion of these should be caught by my ISP virus filter, but oops! Covad doesn’t have an email virus filter. I have six manual filters that catch about 80% of the mail and delete it automatically, and about another 15% is caught by the Mozilla mailnews junk mail filter. That leaves about one thousand junk mails per week that I have to delete manually. What I didn’t notice is that the junk mail and auto-deletion filters don’t cause compaction of the inbox mbox file. Over Thanksgiving weekend, I left my mailnews client running in a VNC server, but I didn’t shut it down or tend it at all. During this time period the mbox file for my Inbox, Junk Mail, and Trash folders all went above 2G. Apparently this causes mailnews to go crazy and die. It tried automatically rebuilding the MSF file for my Inbox several times, and then keeled over and deleted the entire Inbox.

So, I have a couple questions for mailnews cognoscenti:

  1. Can manual filters really delete mail so that they’re not even in my Trash?
  2. Can the junk mail filter delete mail, instead of moving it to Junk Mail?
  3. Can mailnews automatically detect that a folder is really large and compact it before it hits 2G?
  4. Or at least stop retrieving new mail when it gets close to 2G?
  5. Are there other “workaround” automated ways to avoid dying when I’m away from my email for a few days?

Mouse Balls

Tuesday, August 17th, 2004
To: Service Technicians
Re: Replacement of Mouse Balls

If a mouse fails to operate or performs erratically, it may need a ball replacement. Mouse balls are now available as FRU (Field Replacement Units). Because of the delicate nature of this procedure, replacement of mouse balls should only be attempted by properly trained personnel. Before proceeding, determine the type of mouse balls by examining the underside of the mouse. Domestic balls will be larger and harder than foreign balls. Ball removal procedures differ depending upon the manufacturer of the mouse. Foreign balls can be replaced using the pop off method. Domestic balls are replaced by using the twist off method. Mouse balls are not usually static sensitive. However, excessive handling can
result in sudden discharge.

Upon completion of ball replacement, the mouse may be used immediately. It is recommended that each technician have a pair of spare balls for maintaining optimum customer satisfaction. Any customer missing his balls should contact the local personnel in charge of removing and replacing these necessary items. Please keep in mind that a customer without properly working balls is an unhappy customer.

Hello world!

Wednesday, May 19th, 2004

Hello, guys and gals, and welcome to BS. This is my place to post information which you may or may not find interesting. Keep coming back, if you find it interesting.