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Firebug is slowing down my Firefox

Posted by james on April 22, 2008

I use the Firebug extension for Firefox. It's an incredible help when debugging javascript, as it can tell you exactly where an error occurred, what the current DOM is (not the static code), etc. It can be selectively enabled or disabled per site, so I enable it only for localhost and my dev server. However, I've noticed that firefox has been really slow lately when I have a lot of tabs open. Specifically, when I go to create a new tab (Control+T), there is a 1-2 second delay before it opens. It gets really annoying, since I open tabs all the time during browsing.

I also knew that when I would run Firefox with a clean profile, it would be much faster. So I disabled all extensions, and then repeatedly loaded 10 heavy sites and then opened a new tab. Everything was fine until I enabled firebug; immediately, the delay is back. So even though firebug is only "enabled" for certain servers, it looks like it's slowing down firefox for all sites, at least on my computer. So I'm going to have to enable firebug whenever I'm developing, and then disable it when I'm not. It's slightly inconvenient, but I'm just too glad to get a snappy browser back.

There could also be some interaction between different extensions that is causing the problem. I didn't test for that, however.

Gmail wont send my files

Posted by james on March 19, 2008

Gmail is awesome, and I've been using it for quite a while. There simply is no going back once you've gotten used to quick web email with instant searching, labeling, etc. However, I recently ran into a problem sending attachments. I zipped up a folder and tried to send it to someone, and got:
"contains an executable file. For security reasons, Gmail does not allow you to send this type of file."

Which is incredibly annoying. The problem is, there are no executables in the file I was sending. There wasn't anything the could even be mistaken as an executable. Narrowing down the test cases, I was able to replicate the problem with a zip file containing a single JPG or HTML file in a subfolder. The same JPG/HTML file worked fine if zipped without a subfolder. This means gmail's unzipping mechanism has problems and blocks certain zip files depending on the zip structure, regardless of the actual content.

Not to mention that blocking executables in the first place is incredibly awful. I understand the reasoning behind it, and yes if we stopped stupid/ignorant computer users from making these kinds of mistakes then we'd have a much safer computing environment for everyone. But what do we do if we need to send executables? The old standbys of using an external file sending service or renaming the file is just awful and a horrible hurdle to have to use. Google has managed to do so many things right, with just the right amount of compromise. But this one just stinks of other, more restrictive service providers. It truly is the only thing about GMail that I absolutely hate.

Microsoft does it again; Speech Recognition in Office 2007

Posted by james on March 6, 2008

My mother is taking a computer class, which is incredibly awesome. They're teaching things in there that literally some computer science students I knew in college still didn't understand. It involves a lot of typing, and she was inquiring about speech recognition programs to do her homework.

"Hey, there's one included with Microsoft Office" she says.

I visit the <a href="http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/products/HA101668651033.aspx">requirements page for Office 2007</a> and sure enough, "Speech recognition functionality requires a close-talk microphone and audio output device." Awesome, that saves a bit of money. All the instructions I find on Microsoft.com say to go to the "Tools" menu and click on "Speech". Simple enough. I open Word 2007, and am flabergasted.

What the heck happened to Word??

There is no Tools menu. There is no menu. There is <a href="http://blogs.msdn.com/jensenh/archive/2005/09/14/467126.aspx">The Ribbon</a>. I can't really get into it completely, except to say, yet again, "What the heck were they thinking?". First the "peekaboo" menus in Internet Explorer 7 (which I hate... did anyone there take UI/HCI classes at all??), now the incredibly complex, wasteful, annoying ribbon. Microsoft has always had a philosophy of "dumbing down all interfaces to crayon level" and then making them so complex that even the crayon holders have no clue what's going on. Instead of a simple device (microwave, push 2 numbers and start button) or a powerful one (video editing board, rotate dials and push all the buttons) you get the "help you in every way possible to do what we think you want to do" (like a control-freak secretary that decides your daily meetings would look better alphabetized rather than by time, or how you should really eat at company-recommended restaurants for lunch or we'll lock the door to your office until you 're-activate' it).

So how about Speech Recognition in Office 2007? After a lot of searching (mostly not on Microsoft.com. Why would their Office 2007 page actually list how to do anything?) I finally find my answer. According to this appropriately titled article, <a href="http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/help/HA102243561033.aspx">What happened to speech recognition?</a>, they state:

<div class="quote">
If your operating system is Microsoft Windows XP, you must run a previous version of a Microsoft Office system program to use speech recognition features.

What a slap in the face. Particularly cold is how they mention casually that you "must run a previous version of" Office. Restated, "You bought Office 2007 that advertises Speech Recognition, but since you didn't pony up the money for the complete failure that is our new OS Vista, you should also go out and buy Office. Again."

I run out of PG-13 words to describe Microsoft. The analogy I can make is a towing company's fees. My friend once got towed for parking outside his own residence for 30 minutes while unloading some things from his car. True story. He was towed not to a towing company in our town, but one 30 miles away in another city. In addition to the high per-mile fee, the total bill included a substantial "hookup fee", a "nightime charge" (he was towed in the daytime), and a 1 day storage fee (the car was there about 3-4 hours).

It could have been worse. They could have told us we also need to buy the 2003 version of his brand new 2007 car in order to drive home. But then, even they aren't that evil.

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