Brian Alvey, PHP, Recommendations, Software


This morning, I needed to troubleshoot an error that was occurring in my Feed Statistics plugin when running on a Windows machine as well as under PHP 5. Since I normally do all of my development in *nix environments, I didn’t have such an environment readily available. Having installed Apache, MySQL, and PHP on Windows XP before, I knew that I could do it, but it would probably take the better part of an hour.

I did a quick search for WAMP (Windows Apache MySQL PHP) and found the WAMP project – a single-file download that ostensibly installs Apache, MySQL, and PHP 5 in a Windows environment. I had tried this kind of package before with little luck, but this one literally took 3 minutes to set up, and after 5 minutes of debugging, I had found and fixed the bug in the plugin. Total time spent was less than 10 minutes when I had expected that it would take more than an hour – definitely one of the best software experiences I’ve had in recent memory.

(As for this post’s title, I think all of the comic references at Brian’s blog are rubbing off on me.)

Apple, Browser, Recommendations, Safari

Safari on Windows: First impressions from a browser developer

Safari LogoI’ve been playing around with the beta release of Safari on Windows XP, and here are my initial experiences and impressions: (I don’t use Safari on the Mac all that often, so I’m not claiming that these are bugs in Safari for Windows only.)

  • Bookmarks importing does not work. It didn’t auto-detect any of my Firefox, Flock, Internet Explorer, or Navigator profiles like the webpage said it would on its first run, and it also doesn’t do anything when I choose “Import bookmarks” from the File menu and give it a bookmarks file to import.
  • The tab and status bars are hidden by default, which is a shame. Tabbed browsing should be given the spotlight, and the status bar is where most people look to see where the link they’re about to click is going to take them.
  • Looking at the browser’s UI and rendered pages literally hurts my eyes. It may be due to some font setting on my computer, but while Firefox/Navigator/IE on my computer all look fine, any text in Safari (including the menu options) is slightly blurry. I won’t be able to stand this for any extended amount of time.
  • Doesn’t support middle-clicking on tabs to close them. This will frustrate me very quickly.
  • Using a blue icon that says “RSS” instead of the de facto standard orange feed icon? Lame. However, their actual feed viewer is very nice.
  • Clicking on the “Add Bookmark” toolbar button and then pressing either “Cancel” or “Add” in the resulting dialog crashes the browser. Every time. (Turns out that the same thing happens when closing the Toolbar Customization dialog.)
  • It doesn’t support adding more search engines, as far as I can tell. Yahoo! and Google are all I can have?
  • I can’t get it to display XML files as anything other than plain text.

So, while I’m glad that Apple has taken the step of releasing their browser for Windows (we welcome any competition), I’m not that impressed with the actual offering. (It kind of reminds me of Firefox 1.0 – much better than Internet Explorer, but not nearly as good as any recent Mozilla (or Netscape) browsers.) I’ll submit these bug reports to Apple and hope for something usable when Beta 2 comes out.

JavaScript, Programming, Recommendations, Yahoo!

Video Tutorial: The JavaScript Programming Language

Yahoo!’s video of Douglas Crockford’s The JavaScript Programming Language lecture is definitely the best overview of JavaScript that I’ve ever seen. (The first part is embedded below, and the remaining 3 parts are linked after that.) I saw it a while back, but it’s been getting a fair amount of press in the social media space this week.

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4

I’m self-taught when it comes to JavaScript, as I’ve never taken a formal class that dealt with it, and it was refreshing to find that I’ve managed to pick up most of the good habits that Crockford recommends while avoiding most of the bad habits he cautions against. I must have made good choices as to which sites’ and browser extensions’ source code I studied.

I think next I’ll get started on watching their “Advanced JavaScript” series.

Games, Recommendations, Warfish

I will crush you and your armies.

Recommendation of the day: Warfish. It’s a basic online Risk game, and it’s tons of fun. You can get an idea of what the gameplay is like by watching this timelapse of a game. Games can last hours/days/weeks, and you can have it e-mail you when it’s your turn. It’s the perfect 3-minute break from whatever else you were doing. Signup is invitation only, so if you want in, leave a comment or e-mail me for an invite.

Oh, and by the way, I’d like to thank Tom for getting me addicted to this game when I was supposed to be working. Thanks Tom!

Blog, Browser Add-ons, Greencode, Recommendations, Social Traffic, URL Fixer

Hackers and Downloaders

Update: URL Fixer was acquired and is now hosted at

Welcome, readers of Lifehacker and Download Squad. I hope you find URL Fixer as useful as I do.

Feel free to check out my other extension and software projects, and if you find any of it interesting, go ahead and subscribe to my feed. I typically write about Firefox extensions, my job at Netscape, and other technical items of interest on a semi-daily basis.

Digg, GMail, Google, Life, Mozilla Firefox, Nerd, Netscape,, Recommendations, RSS, The Office

The A to Z of me

I’ve been thinking recently that it’d be fun to see what domains are listed first in the auto-complete for my URL bar for each letter of the alphabet. Shall we? a digital library of Internet sites. Most recently, I checked it to get a cached copy of the RSS 0.91 DTD. the official blog of Netscape Communications Corporation. The blog of Jason Calacanis, Internet entrepreneur. User-driven social content. A great place to stay current on (mostly) tech news. Duh. It’s not news, it’s one of the Internet’s greatest time-wasters. The best webmail application ever. A fairly interesting blog that covers various tech news. The Internet Movie Database. I probably used it last to see what other movies the actors from The Office have been in. My little brother’s website. Documentation for Mozilla products. A blog that covers all things Office. A blog focusing on the wonderful world of meat. Social news with editorial oversight. The Opera Web browser. Documentation for the PHP programming language.

q – None. Apparently, I haven’t visited a domain starting with “q” in the last month. Another social news website. The place to discuss the latest tech news. The place to find the latest tech news. A repository of styles for Mozilla applications. They have some great Firefox customizations. The Popular Videos channel of An online store: One Day, One Deal. Documentation for the XUL markup language. Oh, you haven’t heard of it? It’s this obscure unknown website where people upload videos of themselves tubing down various rivers of the world. The funniest three minutes of my day.

I think this list sums me up pretty well. I’m not sadistic enough to try to turn this into a pyramid meme, but does anyone else want to reveal the A-Z of their browser history?

Life, Netscape,, Recommendations

A gentleman and a scholar

C.K. announced yesterday his departure from Netscape. It’s really too bad; he’s been an incredible boss and an exciting person to be around. I especially enjoyed the caffeine-fueled afternoon when we created the Netscape Digg Tracker. Good times, good times…

He’ll be sorely missed, but I don’t harbor any sore feeling towards him for leaving. If I could get multiple job offers by just announcing my availability on my blog, I’d probably weigh my options too. ;-)