Tibs Manor

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Google Firefox Extensions

Check out two new extensions for Firefox, from Google here. I made this post using one of the extensions in fact, very nice!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Ramen, Ah!

As of this posting, the margin of victory is still undetermined, but mathematically I can say that I've managed to win my PBEM game of Amun-Re over on SpielByWeb. I must say this is a surprising win - I was expecting 2nd or 3rd place. mHabes came into the second half of the game WAY ahead on money and well within striking distance, and he was my pick to win at that point. He made some interesting moves however, focusing less on pyramids than on other things, and I think that gave me the room to steal the win. The order of auctions helped too, I was able to snag some decent stuff that I might not have been able to had the provinces been auctioned in different order.

It took a little over a month to complete this game. I'd definitely play another PBEM game again, but I think I'd want a commitment to much faster moves next time, there were stretches of days at a time without action. It was also interesting to play with open money...the real game has secret money amounts, but stretched over weeks it is too hard to keep a vague mental count so the developer of the PBEM version wisely chose to keep a count of everyone's cash. I think I prefer the secrecy of the real version, but it was an interesting variant.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

What I've Been Up To

Sorry for the lack of updates - I'll try to get back on track. Here's what I've been up to lately in quick recap form:

  • Several amusement parks - California Adventure twice, and the Disney Christmas party at Disneyland. The second trip to California Adventure was with Kimmel - we convinced him to ride his first ever looping roller coaster. He bravely made it through the loop and barely batted an eye when we got stuck 3/4 of the way through and had to walk down the emergency stairs!
  • Poker - played $3/$6 Hold 'Em at the Commerce with the KMan. Or with the KMan's money rather, he staked me halfway, while he played $20/$40 across the room. I lost, he won. Why does the Commerce give free steak dinners to players at the $20/$40 game, but charged Brad for the smoothies he bought us?
  • Prince of Persia: Warrior Within - I picked this up for $17 a few weeks back. I'm currently stuck on an annoying boss fight. Much like the first game, the fighting is just something I'm willing to endure in order to get to the next amazing platforming sequence. The prince's grabs and time-reversal are great ways to keep this from being frustrating, much like the wiggle room that Mario's jetpack afforded you in Super Mario Sunshine.
  • The Professor, The Banker, and the Suicide King - on loan from Kimmel, this is a good read so far.
  • Java Certification - I am looking into taking the Sun Certified Java Programmer (CX-310-055) exam. There's this big push for personal development metrics at work, and this is a quantifiable way to show that I am taking it seriously. It's also not a bad excuse to learn a bit more about up to date features of the language.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Cookie Crumbler Update

My initial version has been posted to the Mozilla Update Site. Sadly it is getting some pretty savage reviews except for good ol' Paul Sanwald. People don't seem to realize I wasn't trying to write a general cookie manager or anything - all this is supposed to do, and does, is delete certain cookies at a command. It's not great and I did some crummy hacky things to finish it, but it works and it does what it says it does.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Cookie Crumbler

The other day, Kimmel requested that I write a Firefox extension that actually already existed. However, I thought of another task I would love to automate via an extension. Firefox is nice in that it comes with a decent cookie manager - you can see all cookies on your machine, delete only the ones from a certain domain, or even just one particular cookie. However it's buried several menus deep, and most people have hundreds of cookies on their machine so scrolling takes time, even in the improved Cookie Manager interface found in Firefox 1.5. When your job entails repeated testing of things that set and modify cookies, you find yourself clearing certain cookies again and again, even though it only takes about 10 seconds to do, when you are doing it 50 times a day it wears a little thin. The slightly faster alternative is to clear ALL cookies, and who wants that? I hate logging into all my favorite sites again. Nuts to that.

Enter Firefox extensions. I'm writing one now that I call "Cookie Crumbler." It sits in the status bar of your browser and gives you a button you can hit to crumble your cookies. Right now it is hardcoded to delete all cookies from ".go.com" and that portion of it is working. I'm going to add a way to specify other domains as you like, specify only certain cookie names rather than all cookies within a domain, etc. It's already in usable form and a nice little timesaver for me, and once I have it polished up a bit I'll submit it to the general Firefox extension repository.

This is a learning project for me, my only previous Firefox tweaking has been adding a new engine to the search interface. Extensions seem to mainly be written in a combination of XML and JavaScript. You use XUL (XML User Interface Language) to define stuff like buttons, menu items, dialog boxes, windows, etc. that integrate with the existing Firefox user interface (which is itself fully written in XUL). The elements here can be tied to fire JavaScript functions, which can then do the actual work (in this case, looking at and deleting the cookies). Pretty painless and interesting stuff actually. I've found a few tutorials here and here. This thing has a sense of humor too, the namespace you define as a default is "http://www.mozilla.org/keymaster/gatekeeper/there.is.only.xul" - pronounced Zuul of course.