Technocrank

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It Done Broke.

Rails Installation

The current state of setting up a Ruby on Rails application reminds me of the early days of Linux.  There was a time when there were no admin GUIs and you had to compile your distribution from source and it was a race between Slackware and Debian.  Red Hat made serious inroads by giving you an option.

This is me, today, updating gems to try to resolve an error while executing the “rails new” command…ugh…and it still doesn’t work.

rails gem update Rails Installation

 

Firefox Developer Tools – Colours in RGB

The recent addition of the “inspect element” feature in Firefox and the developer tools is generally welcome (by myself, anyway), but it seems to think that I want to know what colours an element are styled in using RGB values. I can’t find a way out.

Firefox DevTools 300x164 Firefox Developer Tools   Colours in RGB

I thought I must be missing something, like a config option hidden somewhere. But the closest thing I’ve found to a confirmation or denial is this Mozilla spec page that explicitly states this feature as an option (“(optional) Computed styles automatically converts all of the colors to rgb(). The user may have specified the colors using some other system. In order to help them make sense of the color, display a color swatch next to the color label, in both the initial and expanded views. (F12)”).

Yeah… I could try posting to a forum somewhere or writing my own patch. But then I’d have to face the fact that I’d wasted my time and it will never get merged or even noticed.

This might be a personal failing, but I’ve never styled using rgb()…ever. I’m curious: does anyone?

Porsche Blackberry PPK

I’ve never been a huge fan of RIM’s industrial design, but I love the disdainful hipster comments on this Engadget article about the new Porsche-designed Blackberry P9981.

porsche design p9981 blackberrysmall Porsche Blackberry PPK

Thing is, hipsters, this Blackberry wasn’t designed for you. The $2000 device was made for someone who carries one of these:

 Porsche Blackberry PPK

Laugh if you will – just don’t do it with the owner in range.

Smokescreen Javascript Flash Player

I’m intrigued by this.  On my system, the Flash player plugin is 31MB of top-quality Adobe-compiled code.  How can it be that Smokescreen, a Javascript implementation of a Flash player that weighs in at 175.1kB (minified) can fully replicate the functionality of the Adobe player?  Either (a) it doesn’t (perhaps a work-in-progress, but still…), or (b) Adobe’s plugin is a steaming pile?

Mozilla And The Cost Of H.264

John Gruber over at Daring Fireball makes a good philosophical and practical case for why Mozilla’s position on Ogg Theora and H.264 is poorly placed. I’d like to see an equally solid business breakdown on how the proposition of using H.264 affects those companies (Microsoft, Apple, Google and Mozilla) respectively financially.

I honestly don’t know how Mozilla’s organization actually makes money.  But I do know how the others make money and the fact that they have a reliable revenue streams from other sources that could support the licensing costs of H.264 (at the point when it starts costing) is not a trivial consideration, I would think.

Update: Gruber now seems to have started painting himself into a corner.  Like,

“I don’t know what the MPEG LA will do come 2016.”

Not much to make business decisions on then, is it?  And,

“Perhaps they will attempt to charge web publishers for licenses to distribute H.264 video. But if they do, web publishers will react the way they did to Unisys’s GIF threats: by switching to another format.”

Well then, why not do it now?  But the clunker is:

“But if Mozilla’s position were really about idealism — tough love for the good of the web in the name of free, open file formats — then in addition to not supporting H.264, they’d drop support for plugins like Flash Player. I believe such a move would just drive Firefox users to Chrome and Safari (or even back to IE), and I suspect Mozilla knows this, too, which is why dropping plugin support isn’t being discussed. But they can’t say Firefox only supports free and open video formats while still supporting Flash.”

This makes no sense.  The entire debate has nothing to do with plugin support.  Plugins aren’t the issue.  The issue is native support for formats.  Mozilla isn’t saying Adobe shouldn’t offer the Flash plugin.  They’re saying they don’t want to support H.264 natively for the <video> tag.  That’s a big difference.

You can take whatever interpretation of Mozilla’s statements you like – tough love, idealisim, open format philanthropy – but it still doesn’t make sense for Mozilla to support a format that they’re at risk of being charged for licensing if it doesn’t fit into their business model.