De Mozilla aux wikis [en]

Mozilla, qu’est-ce que c’est donc que cet animal?

Mozilla, c’est la version open-source de Netscape, le principal concurrent de Microsoft sur le marché des navigateurs. Vous pouvez bien entendu télécharger Mozilla en français (même si cela veut dire que vous n’aurez pas forcément la dernière version).

Et open source, alors, ça veut dire quoi? En fait, ça veut dire que le code source du programme est rendu public. N’importe qui peut le voir, mais surtout, proposer des modifications. Cela permet un effort collaboratif beaucoup plus grand (quoiqu’un peu anarchique) que lors du développement d’un programme de façon traditionnelle.

Linux est un des programmes open source les plus populaires. Il s’agit d’un système opératoire comme Windows. L’open source est souvent associé à  la gratuité des programmes et à  l’absence de copyright – remplacé pour l’occasion par le copyleft.

Si pour la programmation on a le mouvement open source, il existe un équivalent dans le domaine de la création de contenu: le wiki. C’est un site qui permet à  chacun de modifier n’importe quelle page, ou d’en créer des nouvelles. Cela marche parce qu’il est tout à  fait facile à  n’importe qui de “revenir en arrière” pour annuler des actes de vandalisme (très rares).

AllMyFAQs, auquel je contribue, est un wiki. L’idée est d’en faire un “FAQ des FAQs” pour tout ce qui touche au webdesign. Il y a également un projet d’encyclopédie sous forme de wiki. Allez y jeter un oeil, et ajouter votre contribution s’il y a lieu, il y a même une branche française (même si elle n’est pas vraiment très fournie… voici l’occasion de devenir “célèbre”!)

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Mozilla [en]

Last week, I did something I had been longing to do for a long time. I downloaded the latest version of Mozilla, and I’ve been using the navigator and the mail client ever since. It feels so good to be one step further away from Micro land.

Having gone through it, here are my recommendations.

  • Download the “talkback” build for your platform. The links are on the home page, in the right column.
  • Choose custom install and install everything. I can’t recall exactly in which way, but I recall it does things slightly differently if you choose full install.
  • If you have to reinstall (it may happen), do it in a different directory – otherwise Mozilla retains heaps of previous installation settings that you’ll probably not want (if you had to reinstall, the settings probably weren’t exactly how you wanted them…)
  • Be patient at first. You need time to get used to your new tool. If you would like some moderate assistance, feel free to get in touch (but I’m no specialist!)
  • Be it known that “shift-click” on IE becomes “ctrl-click” in Mozilla (to open a link in a new window).
  • Be patient at first. You need time to get used to your new tool. If you would like some moderate assistance, feel free to get in touch (but I’m no specialist!)

Good luck!

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Misinformation [en]

A little more general than the Urban Legends Reference, purportal.com is a great place to stop by before you forward your next email.

Their main page contains handy search boxes to search the above-mentioned Urban Legends Reference Pages, the Symantec Virus Encyclopedia and a couple of others. They also provide a handy list of links to reference sites—long enough to be complete, short enough to avoid being overwhelming. It definitely looks like a great starting-point for figuring out if information is good or bad.

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Poha [en]

Poha is the delicious breakfast Nisha made for me this morning. I’m going to write down all her recipes… As you have understood, I’m safe and sound in Pune, after a totally uneventful journey (take away the rickshawallah on departure who tried to get an extra 10Rs off me, and the same on arrival).

Even if the circumstances seem to make it a worthwhile cause, please do not initiate or propagate email petitions. And while we’re at it, snopes has collected for you a whole page of rumors following the terrorist attack.

Read, get informed, and be wiser, good people!

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Keyboard Stories [en]

To make things worse (as it always happens in this country…) they all seem to have standardized on a 101 key keyboard. Sounds like a lot of keys to hit, doesn’t it? Actually, it is short of one to keep me happy, especially when I mark up as I type. But now, before I let you know which is this magic missing key, I have to provide you with a little digression.

If you don’t know how to touchtype (or perform anything near it) and have never marked up HTML by hand, you might not understand all of what is coming. Don’t worry – it’s pretty futile stuff, though it might hopefully be funny for those who have shared similar experiences.

Have any of you touchtypers out there ever experienced the joy of finding yourself in a country which uses a keyboard layout different from yours? It’s absolutely maddening. It is back to square one, or worse. You just can’t type. Chances are that you will quickly figure out how to install your native keyboard – that is, providing you didn’t already know how to do it.

With a year spent in India, regular trips to the UK, and enough excursions into “raw DOS” (understand: with the factory default keyboard settings) on broken or misbehaving computers, I have gained a fair knowledge of the English (US and British) keyboard. The mapping isn’t that different from the French (swiss) one (which is, while I’m at it, radically different from the standard French AZERTY keyboard, which requires a “shift” key to access the numerals), although most of the punctuation keys are scattered about in wierd places.

The main problem with these English keyboards is that they don’t give access to all the pretty accented characters one uses in French. And having to type ´ and à all the time simply makes me want to scream (especially on a keyboard where I fumble a bit when it comes to “non-letters”). All this to say that if I need to type in French (other than chat and email, which can survive without the accents), the first thing I do when I sit at my “workplace” is install my beloved French (swiss) keyboard.

And now, as you have had the patience to follow me through this geek-talk, I will tell you which key disappears in the void when you install a 102 key French (swiss) keyboard on a machine which depends on 101 little plastic caps for your input. I warn you, however, that non-geeks may not fully appreciate the revelation. So be it.

The missing key is the one which enables to type “<” and “>”. (Note for non-geeks: these two characters are indispensable for writing any HTML tag – locate the “view source” command in your browser to see it with your own eyes.)

With this information in hand, you can imagine how much I miss my Cyberia, and how much I hope that I will find an adequate workplace in Rishikesh. All the more as my typing has trouble keeping up with my writing, which in turn has trouble keeping up with my life and thoughts. None of which really matters as my site is still unavailable.

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Internet Cafés [en]

IUCAA, 15 August 01

Before going shopping today (a torture for a shopaholic like me who has a credit card but enough saris and indian stuff to last her a long time), I went down to FC Road to find an Internet Café where I could type down these notes in peace and communicate with the rest of the world.

Cyberia, the Internet Café in which I spent a great many hours during the initial phase of my first stay here, is no more. I recall that they were about to move when I left town. After a lot of hunting around, I tracked down the present office. The closed door which greeted me gave no indication that an Internet Café was still part of their business plan (if anything was left of it at all).

Having tested two Internet Cafés during the afternoon, I daresay that Cyberia is no small loss to me. The people were friendly, technically competent, and above all, each computer booth came with plenty of keyboard and elbow room. All the places I saw this afternoon – and I saw many which I did not enter – seem to have adopted the cramped-cubicle-with-keyboard-in-drawer system. For somebody like me who enjoys resting elbows on table for a comfortable typing position, it is a complete disaster. Add to that my persistent tendinitis, which pokes a sore head out whenever I am sloppy in handling the mouse or attacking the keyboard, and you’ll get an idea how uncomfortable I was.

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Worm-virus: Sircam [en]

Sircam is rated high-risk right now. It will spread by email using addresses from Windows’ address books, attaching a random file from the “My Documents” folder. Yes, I’m sure you all want your private files circulating around the Internet! It also does more nasty stuff, and I adamantly suggest that you read some first-hand information to protect yourself (and your friends).

[link from Zeldman]

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Moved [en]

Every now and again, I bump into something on the web that moves me.

Noah Grey: Circumstances [link: staticred]

A couple of months back, there was Lance Arthur’s very last life serial.

Today is the Gay Pride in Sion. You make the links.

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Web [en]

I’ve just discovered All My FAQs. All My FAQs is a wiki, which means that the website is big Perl script driven by the contributions of an open community. For example, anybody can modify any page or even create new ones.

I usually believe that anarchy cannot be productive, but maybe the wiki is a counter-example. It shouldn’t work, but it does!

I’m also very much aware that some areas of the web turn out to be collections of collections of links, or FAQs to FAQs. Is there any way out of this? Most of the time, the information is there – it is just useless because people cannot get at it. When a list of “pointers” gets exhaustive enough, it also starts getting too big and confusing. I guess there are some information architecture issues at hand.

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Net-awareness [en]

Do you know that at this very moment, hackers could be using your computer to launch an attack upon a server? Well, before reading this very interesting article (thanks for the link, Ben), I didn’t. And I can promise you that upon reading it, I ran a few simple checks which luckily (*phew!*) were negative.

I heartily recommend that you spend the time necessary to read the article – and if you’re lost in the technicalities, go straight down to the bottom to find out how to check that your windoze machine isn’t carrying a zombie…

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