Firefox 3 will be unleashed on June 17th.

If you’re a Firefox web browser fan then you’ll be happy to hear that the release of Firefox 3 will happen next Tuesday:

After more than 34 months of active development, and with the contributions of thousands, we’re proud to announce that we’re ready. It is our expectation to ship Firefox 3 this upcoming Tuesday, June 17th. Put on your party hats and get ready to download Firefox 3 — the best web browser, period.

I’ve been using the Release Candidates both at home and at work and it’s definitely an improvement in both speed and usability. Good to see the final version is just about ready.

Firefox 3.0 beta 1 is now available.

The Mozilla folks have just released the first beta of Firefox 3.0 and it’s looking pretty good so far. The new browser will bring with it a host of new features and improvements and the goal of performing as well or better than Firefox 2.0. I’ve not had a chance to download and try it out myself yet, but the folks over at ArsTechnica.com have and they’ve got an initial hands-on report about it:

Firefox 3 delivers an impressive assortment of new features and interface improvements. There are lots of changes under the hood as well, which improve performance and reduce resource consumption. Firefox 3 is built on top of Gecko 1.9, the new version of Firefox’s HTML rendering engine. In Gecko 1.9, much of the underlying rendering code is now performed with Cairo, an open source vector graphics software library that can leverage hardware accelerated rendering. As we have previously reported, the Gecko 1.9 rendering engine can pass the Acid 2 test, a CSS test case developed by the Web Standards Project. Several impressive additions to Firefox 3 were made possible by the Gecko overhaul, including support for full-page zoom.

The inclusion of the Places feature is another major architectural improvement in Firefox 3. The Places system, which was originally planned for Firefox 2, is a cohesive storage framework that leverages a SQLite database rather than flat files and unifies bookmark and history storage. In Firefox 3 beta 1, the Places system is almost completely finished. New user interfaces for bookmark management have also been created to give users access to the new capabilities—like support for bookmark tagging—that are made possible by the Places system. A new star icon adjacent to the URL text box uses the Places system to simplify the process of bookmarking a page. In the URL autocompletion box, stars are shown next to bookmarked pages.

The Places system supports elaborate bookmark search queries, which can be associated with a new kind of smart bookmark. A useful selection of smart bookmarks that use Places queries are included by default in the Places folder in the bookmarks toolbar. 

Go read the whole thing for more insight on what’s coming down the pike. It’ll be a while yet before 3.0 is in final form and the beta is sure to have a fair number of bugs and not-quite finished features so if you plan on trying it out you’ll want to keep that in mind. I’ll probably nab it when I get home from work to give it a spin and I’ll post my thoughts on it later.

Religious Fundy has his own crusade against Mozilla Firefox.

I’m browsing through the Techdirt blog this evening and I come across an entry titled On The Stupidity Of Blocking Firefox Users:

Ferin alerts us to a story at Slashdot about some new campaign among some websites to block Firefox users. To be honest, it’s tough to know how real this is. The actual site is down from the Slashdot Effect, and it certainly hadn’t received much attention before. Even if it is real, it seems unlikely that many sites would sign up and take part. Most people just aren’t that stupid. However, assuming (big risk here) that the campaign is real and some sites actually are doing this, it’s worth explaining why it makes no sense. The complaints are basically that Firefox users “spend less” and sometimes use extensions like ad block to block out ads. Even if true (and it’s only a small percentage of people who use ad block), that makes no sense if you understand the bigger picture. First of all, they tell people to go use other browsers—but if those people aren’t going to click on ads anyway, then they’re still not going to click on ads from other browsers.

If you try to go to one of the sites participating in the ban you get redirected to Why FireFox is Blocked.com which lays out the reasoning for the ban:

The Mozilla Foundation and its Commercial arm, the Mozilla Corporation, has allowed and endorsed Ad Block Plus, a plug-in that blocks advertisement on web sites and also prevents site owners from blocking people using it. Software that blocks all advertisement is an infringement of the rights of web site owners and developers. Numerous web sites exist in order to provide quality content in exchange for displaying ads. Accessing the content while blocking the ads, therefore would be no less than stealing. Millions of hard working people are being robbed of their time and effort by this type of software.  Many site owners therefore install scripts that prevent people using ad blocking software from accessing their site. That is their right as the site owner to insist that the use of their resources accompanies the presence of the ads.

While blanket ad blocking in general is still theft, the real problem is Ad Block Plus’s unwillingness to allow individual site owners the freedom to block people using their plug-in. Blocking FireFox is the only alternative. Demographics have shown that not only are FireFox users a somewhat small percentage of the internet, they actually are even smaller in terms of online spending, therefore blocking FireFox seems to have only minimal financial drawbacks, whereas ending resource theft has tremendous financial rewards for honest, hard-working website owners and developers..

Since the makers of Ad Block Plus as well as the filter subscriptions that accompany it refuse to allow website owners control over their own intellectual property, and since FireFox actively endorses Ad Block Plus, the sites linking to this page are now blocking FireFox until the resource theft is stopped.

The site includes links to pages on how to block Firefox, supposed Firefox Myths, and—the one that caught my eye—The Firefox Cult. Now normally I wouldn’t give a shit if a sight blocked me because I was using Firefox as chances are they’re not supplying anything I’d be interested in anyway, but this piqued my curiosity so I read the comments left in the original Techdirt entry and at comment #36 we find out who it is that’s behind this campaign. Turns out it’s some guy by the name of Danny Carlton and he left the following comment:

I’m the “some websites” slashdot refers to. Here are the facts that seem to be omitted.

1. This isn’t a group, it’s one person, me.
2. Ad Block Plus, like many ad blocking software is most commonly used to block all ads. (which is stealing)
3. Unlike other ad blocking software, Ad Block Plus intentionally prevents site owners from blocking those that use it.
4. FireFox actively promotes Ad Block plus
5. Since I am unable to prevent people from stealing resources by blocking only ad block software users, I therefore block all Mozilla users.
6. There are more ways to detect Mozilla than the useragent.
7. Using IETab will allow FireFox users to access my sites. Something I recommend and even link to in the page explaining why I am blocking FireFox (which it seems very few FireFox user have the ability to read past the first few words)
8. By the hate email and phone calls I’ve been getting, some really sick and disturbed people use FireFox and seem to treat it as a religion.

Hmmm. There’s that Firefox-as-religion theme again. Time to do a Google Search for Danny Carlton. He’s the very first result that comes up, though oddly enough it’s for a site called JackLewis.net. Clicking the link in Firefox does bring up the Why Firefox is Blocked page so it’s safe to assume this is one and the same guy and Google verifies it is with a link to a page titled Danny Carlton—alias “Jack Lewis”.

So this is where it gets interesting because the very first thing you’ll notice about his site are the banners proclaiming …as for me and my blog, we will serve the LORD! and I STAND WITH ISRAEL! along with copious ads from various services, including Google AdSense, down the left side of the page. Then the very first entry in his weblog at the time I clicked on it is titled When religion poses as science in which he takes the recent news report about a couple of German physicists who claimed to have broken the speed of light that came out a couple of days ago and uses it as a foundation for a rant against Evolution:

See, that’s the problem when religion (Evolution) poses as science: scientific findings that are contrary to the religion are suppressed, crippling real science. So why weren’t these scientists aware of the 2005 experiments that produced similar results, published here and mentioned here? Why weren’t these scientists aware of the experiments that produced the opposite effect (slowing the velocity of light) published here and mentioned here? Dr. Nimtz seems peculiarly ignorant of other experiments producing results that also pose a serious problem to the religion of Evolution.

One of the “foundational” “proofs” for the overall religion of Evolution is the distances of stars. By claiming stars are so far away, adherents to the religion of Evolution use that as evidence for an old universe. However that falls apart if the speed of light is not an absolute (actually it falls apart for several other reasons, but much more apparently without the assumption of Einstein’s claim about the velocity of light). So research that shows any aberration in the dogma of an absolute speed of light is conveniently ignored, suppressed and tossed aside. Thus we have Dr. Nimtz being oblivious to other, recent findings.

One has to wonder how much science has been crippled by the religion of Evolution.

Suddenly, it all becomes so clear. With logic skills like that it’s no wonder he thinks he has to block all Firefox users. Suddenly I’m very glad that I can’t get to his website using Firefox as the utter stupidity of it all might melt my brain. It’s probably just a coincidence, but poking around his other entries just caused Internet Explorer 7 to crash and I can’t help but wonder if it’s just IE’s usual flakiness or the sheer amount of stupidity present on the site choking the poor browser to death. A few more examples of his line of thinking include Foreign aid to Israel is defense spending and Liberal Jihad. The last of which is a rant about Elizabeth Edwards campaigning for her husband:

There something very cowardly about a candidate sending his cancer-ridden wife out to attack his opponents, knowing they dare not respond too harshly for fear that they’ll be accused of attacking someone suffering. This seems eerily similar to the radical Moslems’ tactic of using children and women as suicide bombers. Exploiting their opponents virtues to render them defenseless.

Is it any wonder John Edwards is now being called “The Other Female Candidate”.

It’s amazing one man can contain so much stupidity without imploding in on himself. One of the buttons along the left-hand side of his blog announces that he’s a 2006 Nominee for the Homeschool Blog Awards in the categories of “Best Homeschool Dad Blog” and “Best Current Events, Opinions or Politics Blog.” Now there’s a ringing endorsement.

This fellow might be a fun one to check in on from time to time, that is if I can keep IE7 from crashing too often while I’m there. The funny thing about that is I’ve never had IE7 crash on a site before. Of course I don’t use it that often either so that may be why, but I suspect it has more to do with the amount of stupid at that site. It’s just too much for the poor thing to take in at once.

Google Maps and Firefox Enhancements

It is so nice to have applications that just keep getting better.

A recent article in the Chicago Tribune reviewed an enhancement for Google Maps and a new extension for Firefox called Scrapbook.

Google Maps has incorporated address-specific satellite imagery. There now two links in the upper right hand corner—Map and Satellite. This feature allows you to toggle back and forth. In the satellite mode, you can zoom in to a simulated altitude of 1,000 feet.

The URL for the Scrapbook homepage is

http://amb.vis.ne.jp/mozilla/scrapbook/index.php?lang=en

This extension provides a sidebar where you can store and manage web pages, fragments of web pages, and more. Here is a quick overview.

ScrapBook is a Firefox extension, which helps you to save Web pages and easily manage collections. Key features are lightness, speed, accuracy and multi-language support. Major features are:

  * Save Web page
  * Save snippet of Web page
  * Save linked Web page
  * Organize the collection in the same way as Bookmarks tree
  * Full text search and quick filtering search of the collection
  * Simple Editing of the collected Web page
  * Text/HTML edit feature resembling Opera’s Notes

Much more detail is available on the home page.