Web IDE has gone though some twists and turns as a feature in Firefox, but one thing has remained constant for me: When I launch an app, I *always* want to debug it. Having to repeatedly wait and hit the wrench button has always bothered me. During a development session I may do this hundreds of times.
So I wrote a small Firefox add-on that changes the functionality of the “play” button in Web IDE to also open the Developer Tools once the app has launched.
Warning: It’s not pretty. There’s probably a better way to do it. Take a look at the source here and let me know if you have ideas.
A couple of other things I want to add:
- First force-stop app when you hit Play. Currently the new app source doesn’t get reloaded because the old app instance is running, which is wrong and maddening.
- Always show dev tools. The way the pop in and out is very heavy feeling. Just keep them open all the time.
I love Pocket and I love Firefox.
But two things were driving me batty about the Pocket feature built into Firefox:
1. The design of the popup experience when you save a page to Pocket is… unfortunate. It stays up far too long, and it doesn’t go away when you switch tabs. Yeah, it stays open for a given URL even when you’re on a tab with a completely different URL! But regardless of whether you think that’s as crazy as I do, I never want to add tags so just don’t need it at all.
2. The Pocket toolbar button doesn’t indicate whether you’ve already saved the page or not. You have to click the button to figure it out. Now this might not be a problem for everyone. But the way I use my browser can best be described as “tabsplosion”. I don’t know when or where these tabs come from, or how they get there, or whether I saved it already or not. So this tiny piece of ambient visual signal would be useful for me.
So I took a couple of hours over the last few evenings and scratched the itch. I made a Firefox add-on which does the following:
* Adds a new Pocket button to the toolbar. (You can remove the old one by right-clicking it and choosing “Remove from Toolbar”). Mine is red. I want to make one that has nice gold double-stitching on it…
* The new button shows a check mark badge when the page is already saved.
* You can click the button to either add or remove the page from Pocket.
* No popup.
That’s it. Simple, clear and out of your way.
Source code: https://github.com/autonome/doublestitch
If you try it out, let me know if you find any bugs or have any ideas for improvements!
Around 1,100 Mozillians will be in Portland next week. WELCOME!
Here is a list of things I recommend that you see, do, eat and drink and some handy tips. I’ve focused on places that are in or near downtown, though included some spots worth going out of your way for.
That said, downtown is not Portland. Well, obviously it’s part of it, duh. But it’s not overly representative of the Portland you’ve heard so much about. Get out of downtown for an evening or afternoon – and check out one of the neighborhoods. Nothing listed here is very far from downtown – Portland is pretty small.
I’ve left a LOT out. And forgot the rest. If you have recommendations, leave them in the comments.
UPDATE: Blue Star donuts, which are far more delicious but far less penis-shaped than Voodoo donuts, will be giving away free beignets on Friday Dec 5.
- Portland has no Uber or Uber-like services. If you have Car2Go in your city you can use that here too. Curb is the app for local taxi service through a couple of providers. You can get a bus to pretty much anywhere without too much of a wait. Ride the MAX and streetcar if you’re headed to areas that they service.
- Oregon has no sales tax. Do your Christmas shopping while you’re here.
- It gets dark around 16:30 – 17:00, so factor that into any plans for hikes, etc.
- If you go into the mountains, check the road conditions to see if you need chains for the car, or if the area is accessible at all.
- Go to Powell’s books. Go a few times. Then go back again. Check out the Science Fiction pillar there – how many have you read?
- Get high… for a good view of the city: Have a drink at Departures, dinner at Portland City Grill or visit Pittock Mansion for great views of the city. Even driving over the Fremont bridge (Highway 405) provides a spectacular view of downtown, the Willamette River and our many bridges.
- There aren’t a ton of restaurants/bars/coffeehouses that can hold large numbers of people. If you break up into groups of four (max), you’ll have a much better time and the servers, chefs, baristas and bartenders will like you for it.
- Be patient. Oregon is home to the slow-food movement in America. Regardless if this explains why your coffee took 20 f***ing minutes to make, it’ll make you feel better to think about that. See also the above note about small group sizes to mitigate the waits.
- Tipping: I tip a dollar for a good coffee. I generally tip ~20% for any kind of sit-down meal. But I also worked as a barista, server and chef before getting into tech, so I’m biased towards tipping😉
CARTS – Just the 9th & Alder pod for the purposes of this post. If you’re from California – up here they are not “food trucks”, they are “food carts”… even when they are trucks.
- Hoang’s – Get soup #17.
- Nong’s khao man gai – Simple and good and oddly famous.
- Wolf & Bear – Israeli street food that is amazing. And vegan.
- Güero – Excellent tortas. Add an egg.
- La Jarochita 2 – Great Mexican cart. The only Mexican cart (aside from Güero) worth going to at the 9th and Alder cart pod.
- Brunch Box – A cart that graduated to a proper storefront, but is right by the 9th and Alder carts. Great egg sandwiches for breakfast (try the Black and Blue) and terribly good burgers the rest of time. Very fast.
- Kargi Gogo – Georgian food. The country, not the American state. Irakli says it’s legit too.
- Multnomah Whiskey Library
- Clyde Common
- Pepe le Moko
- Bailey’s Taproom
- Courier – They also make fresh canneles daily.
- Heart – Excellent coffee.
- Coffeehouse Northwest
- Case Study
- Coava – Not downtown but my favorite coffee roaster in town.
- Ristretto – Not downtown, but fantastic coffee in beautiful spaces. The Nicolai location is especially great – check out the custom metalwork and crazy woodwork, and visit Schoolhouse Electric in the same space.
EAT – I’ve only noted a few of my go-to places, or those that are near where Mozillians are staying, or open late, etc. I’ve got a somewhat-up-to-date list here with more recommendations, but there’s just really too much to cover. Go out and explore.
- Clyde Common – Always interesting menu, good whiskey selection, great cocktails. Fries + harissa and a cocktail is a great way to end your day and start your evening.
- Tasty and Alder (downtown) – Shared plates, everything is good.
- Luc Lac – Vietnamese + cocktails, serves food VERY late, and closest place worth going to that’s also near the Waterfront Marriot.
- Bunk – Excellent sandwiches.
- Lardo – Excellent sandwiches as well.
- Racion – Amazing cocktails and fun Spanish-tinged molecular gastronomy.
- Little Big Burger – Fast and good late night burger.
- Not downtown, but places I always want to go back to…
- Biwa – Izakaya, open late, always amazing. Burger served only after 11pm.
- Tarad – Northern Thai food, open late. Pok Pok gets all the attention but after living in northern Thailand, this is where we go for the real thing.
- Mee Sen – Another good Northern Thai food spot we go to.
- Podnah’s BBQ – Worth heading up into NE Portland for.
- La Taq – Next door to Podnah’s, fantastic Mexican bar food.
- Sweedeedee – Most likely to feel like you’re in Portlandia at this spot. Amazing house-baked breads. Tiny. Expect a long wait but good people watching and excellent food.
- Por Que No (Mississippi location) – Great tacos.
- Ha & VL – Get the special soup of the day, whatever it is.
NEIGHBORHOODS – Places to walk, eat, drink, shop and experience parts of Portland that are far more interesting than downtown.
- Alberta St – Between NE 15th Ave and NE 31st Ave
- Belmont St – A few blocks on either side of SE Belmont and SE 34th
- Division St – Between SE 30th and SE 39th
- East Burnside – From NE Grand Ave to NE 12th Ave and then up and down NE 28th and Burnside
- Hawthorne Blvd – Between SE 32nd Ave and SE 49th Ave
- N Mississippi Ave – Between N Fremont Ave and N Skidmore Ave
- NW 23rd Ave – Between W Burnside and NW Thurman Ave
- NE Williams Ave – Between NE Fremont Ave and NE Skidmore Ave
- Columbia Gorge – See Multnomah Falls, the view from Vista House, climb Beacon Rock, stop at the Bonneville Dam and see Herman the Sturgeon, drive across the Bridge of the Gods (and back), then go for lunch at one of the Hood River breweries. Some easy/moderate 1-2 hour hikes I like: Angel’s Rest, the Multnomah/Wahkeena Falls loop, Triple Falls, Horsetail Falls, Punchbowl Falls, all listed here.
- Mount Hood – Drive out Highway 26 to the historic Timberline Lodge with amazing views of Mt Hood (if it’s clear), then down to Hood River and head home through the Columbia Gorge on Hwy 84.
- Mount St Helens – A couple of hours north, but the view of the blast zone and crater from the visitor center on the NW side is well worth it if the view is clear. On the SE side you can hike one mile underground through Ape Cave, and check out the amazing rock formations and brave the cable bridge at Lava Canyon.
- Oregon Coast – About two hours drive. Walk the promenade at Seaside, get ice cream at Tillamook, watch storms from the tip of Oregon at the mouth of the Columbia river.
We use Mailman for mailing list management at Mozilla. However, we haven’t been able to control spam on those lists. Not only does spam not get caught before hitting Mailman, the built-in spam rules don’t work – I configured the rules to discard anything above spam level 1, and tons of spam is still held for moderation. But identification *does* work… so we can just ignore the moderation queue forever and move on with life, right? No. Because we have another problem: The newsgroups support means that valid posts might be held for processing because Mailman doesn’t know the sender is valid because they subscribed through Google Groups. So we have to view the lists and mark those messages as valid and add the sender to the valid-senders list. To cap it all off, in the long tradition of open source user interface design, Mailman has a full featured but RSI-inducing UI for managing all of this.
So if you’re an admin for a bunch of Mailman lists, here’s a mitigation that might make your day suck just a little bit less:
I wrote a bookmarklet that will do the following for all messages held for moderation:
- Select the radio button to discard the message
- Check the box to auto-discard from that sender
- Check the box to ban the sender from ever subscribing again
To install, drag this link to your bookmarks Toolbar: Mailman – discard and ban all
Remember to make VERY sure that none of the messages are valid before executing this bookmarklet… not only because valid messages will be discarded and their senders will be banned, but also because the UI for removing addresses from the block-list in Mailman is even worse than the one for moderation.
Tweets. Likes. Check-ins. Steps. Photos. Links. We emit a constant stream of content into the sites we use everyday. Is it ours? Well, it feels like it. And according to the terms of service, it kind of belongs to us. Sometimes. Maybe. I don’t know, honestly. I don’t read those, and likely you don’t either. If you fully parse every TOS you encounter, you can stop reading right now, go straight to the nearest IHOP and have some pancakes.
Groups like IndieWeb are tackling data ownership issues – experimenting with ways of creating and managing content in a way that bakes in data ownership and removes the need for massive corporate services to achieve Web scale interactions. It’s fun and interesting and useful… we meet every two weeks, come check it out! But an IndieWeb world is a long way off. Especially for non-geeks.
All the companies providing you services today have little interest or incentive to make ownership clear or to make your data portable – the fact that you can’t easily move your data around is partially what keeps Google, Facebook, Whatsapp and Pinterest running.
Sure, lots of these services have APIs, through which you could access your data (or at least some of it). But regular users can’t really move data around between competing services through APIs. Some of these companies have data export options, where you can download your data in a zip file, but it’s not like you’re doing that every day. What if today you get banned from Gmail because some process hit a false-positive while enforcing some usage policy? And when was the last time you downloaded all your stuff? Did you ever?
I’ve always wanted to move to a model where I only participate in services through my own website first, and then send a copy of my activity to Twitter, Foursquare, Bit.ly through their APIs (including in each request an extra HTTP header containing the URL to the UELA that my content is covered by!). But that will take a while to build, and won’t work for devices like my Jawbone UP24 which syncs over a proprietary protocol to native apps only, finally letting me access a subset of my data through their API once it’s already on their servers first.
So, back to the point of this post: What can you do now?
I’ve started by attempting to own a copy of as much of my internet output as possible.
Here’s how I do it:
- Create a Google account, and install the Google Drive app. This will keep a local copy of all of your Google Docs on your computer.
- Create an IFTTT account. IFTTT is a fantastic service that allows a large number of apps, websites, services, devices and all kinds of stuff to interact with each other.
- Set up recipes for everything you do online that’s supported by IFTTT which all add to a Google Docs spreadsheet. I have recipes for Tumblr, Twitter, Bit.ly, Soundcloud and a ton more. I was very surprised by how many services have some bits of my daily personal activity.
That’s it. The IFTTT triggers will start firing, the spreadsheets will start filling, and the files will be copied to your local hard drive. You’ll now have both an online copy and a local backup of all the stuff you do online.
Here’s what some of my IFTTT recipes look like:
IFTTT will save it all in Google docs folder hierarchy for each service:
I’ll be honest – it takes a little while. It’s annoying to set up, even with IFTTT’s excellently simple user interface. But in the end I own a copy of any new content I post to the services I use. What do I do with it? Nothing at all, right now. But someday maybe those services will shut down, or I’ll get banned, or poorly implemented IT backup strategies will wipe it all out. I’ll have lost nothing except the time I spent setting this up.
Is it real data portability? Nope. Is it true ownership? No. Hell, “my” content might even be under some crazy license restrictions that I agreed to before putting it up on Pocket or Evernote! But it’s always running, and someday my personal weak-AI agent will be able to do something with it.
PS: Do you use Gmail? Do you only use the web interface or Android/iOS apps? Then you probably don’t have a backup of your email. I run an IMAP mail client (Thunderbird) periodically to get an updated offline copy of my Gmail in an open format.
Props to Mirko85 for this post which spelled it out for Windows.
STANDARD DEVICE WARNINGS: You’ll violate your warranty probably, and you might brick your phone. You have been warned.
- Install adb and fastboot for Mac
- Download these files from Ubuntu’s server
- Plug the device in via USB
- Open Terminal and navigate to the directory you downloaded the files to
- If you haven’t unlocked the device, execute “fastboot oem unlock” and follow onscreen instructions
- Power down the device
- Enter fastboot mode by pressing volume up, volume down and power buttons at the same time until you feel it vibrate
- Once in fastboot mode, execute the following commands from Terminal
- fastboot flash recovery recovery-quantal-preinstalled-armel+maguro.img
- fastboot flash system quantal-preinstalled-system-armel+maguro.img
- fastboot flash boot quantal-preinstalled-boot-armel+maguro.img
- Using the volume keys, select recovery mode and press power
- In Terminal, execute “adb sideload quantal-preinstalled-armel+maguro.zip”
- Wait for the command to complete (if you see “fixing fs_size in crypto footer”, ignore it, it’s done)
- Use volume keys to navigate to “advanced”, press power, select “reboot recovery” and press power again
- Once back in recovery mode, execute from Terminal: “adb sideload quantal-preinstalled-phablet-armhf.zip”
- Once the command has completed, use the volume keys to select “restart device” and press power button
Several people have asked me about living in Thailand. After spending a year in Chiang Mai, here are a few suggestions, recommendations and things I wished I knew ahead of time.
- Learn to speak Thai, at least a little bit. We took classes over Skype video for 2 months from Brett Whiteside and it really helped. I can speak and understand enough basics for cordial and respectful interactions with people, and to eat wherever I want. If you’re going to be there for a while learn to read Thai. It’s seriously worth it, if only for reading menus and signs.
- Always print a detailed map of wherever you’re going. Anywhere. All the time. Really.
- Make a custom Google map with the locations of: post office, utility offices (power, water), telco, police station, etc. Just in case.
- Banking: ATMs cost US$5 per transaction, and result in currency conversion fees. Instead, open a Bangkok Bank account and get a debit card. Getting a bank account took some paperwork, about an hour of waiting in the bank, and I think you have to pay a small fee. Bangkok Bank is the only Thai bank with a US branch (in NY). This means that you can make direct transfers from US banks to your Bangkok Bank account, allowing for money access with a minimum of delay and fees.
- 3G: I used AIS, which has unlimited (5GB IIRC) 3G monthly pre-paid option. Absolutely recommended for access to Google Maps while lost😉.
- Thai street food is often safer than food from “western” places. The food at the carts is usually bought fresh that day, and is cooked in front of you. The food at “western” hotels and restaurants is cooked out of sight, and they try to store food, which is risky since there’s not really health department inspections like in the states, to ensure the storage is properly done. You’ll find infinite opinions about this – this is my personal experience. There’s no magic solution. You will have some intestinal discomfort at some point.
- Western toilets are everywhere. At some point however, you’ll need to use a squat toilet. Chiang Mai Rock Climbing Adventures has humorous yet informative instructions for properly using a squat toilet.
- Use Foursquare or some other check-in service. I often couldn’t find a place that I wanted to return to, or had forgotten the street, etc.
- 7-11. Is awesome. In Thailand you will pay your utility bills, refill your phone minutes, purchase concert tickets, and many other things there.
- Temples: Wear long pants and shirts with sleeves. Be quiet and respectful. Donate money to them.
Most importantly: Go anywhere and everywhere. Always take a different route. Pull over often. Walk down unfamiliar streets. See every temple. Explore every market. And always carry your camera.