Winstripe – (A Belated) Part 2

Tags: — Jeff @ 04:17

I had a reasonable bit of constructive commentary on Winstripe to post. Then I had to go on vacation for a couple weeks. I got back to changes. Then I left for a month for Alaska. I got back to more changes. My original commentary was now effectively obsolete, so I removed it. In fact so much has changed that this commentary is written by one who feels thoroughly overwhelmed. That said, what you get from me here, you get. (This is by special request, by the way — you should feel privileged!)

What’s the overall Winstripe feel now, after a couple point releases and much visual tweaking? It feels like Windows XP. The icon style is slightly different, but it’s not a huge leap. The five defaults, in particular, are excellent. They all fit in well with XP; I particularly appreciate the efforts on the Home icon. The Reload icon change is simple yet effective. The Back and Forward arrows have a soft feel even though they have the sharp edges; I wish I understood how the designers managed it. Losing the shadows underneath the icons was a necessary step, and it happened. In all the ways I can find, it feels very much like Windows XP. It’s also had a little time to grow on me, and that’s probably helped some too. I also haven’t seen a single mention of an odd-looking theme in Google News, where I have a query set up for all news containing the word “firefox”, so it seems not to have been the oft-predicted fiasco I knew wouldn’t really happen.

What else needs to be done?

Let’s start with the main toolbar icons. The five default icons are polished; they stand alone and need no updating. Enough said, and well done!

The other toolbar icons are still of slightly lesser quality (tho all are passable for a 1.0 release). I don’t particularly like the Go button because it feels too small in comparison to the rest of the icons, but it’s certainly acceptable. Icon edges in the secondary icons feel a little too hard overall; however, this problem’s not really bad, and I unfortunately can’t offer any constructive criticism on this point. Many of the icons appear to have drop shadows underneath in the old style for the five defaults, which I think should go. (I might be imagining them, tho, because it’s extremely late at my end. If they’re not figments of my imagination, they’re so barely noticeable that they can probably be left alone. I’d still remove them for consistency.) The New Tab icon feels a little toaster-y, as pointed out by others, but it’s good enough for 1.0 (tho I might spend a little extra time on it before 1.0 if time permitted). I’m confused a little by the Space icons, which look the same. I didn’t like the “old” new Flexible, but back to nothing isn’t so great. As a random idea, perhaps an embedded spring would work? Also, shouldn’t Space be the size it is on the toolbar, perhaps (this might not be an icon, tho, so perhaps it’s another’s job)? The only icon that I feel needs some special effort is the Print icon, which is a natural candidate for three-dimensionalization that would make it fit the XP style much better. It’s also likely to be one of the most-used lesser icons, so it deserves attention the most.

As for non-toolbar icons, they’ve been updated (and in places newly created) as well. I like everything I’ve seen so far except for three small, insignificant icons that haven’t changed since their introduction: the micro-buttons for the extensions in the Extension Manager. The buttons are monotone and clash with the rest of Winstripe. It’s obviously difficult to produce good icons at such small size, but they should be updated when possible. They simply don’t fit the overall style.

All in all, tho, a great cleanup job by the Firefox designers, who have taken an ill-fitting (and in my opinion ill-released) theme and made it into a conformant, stylish thing of life. This theme has every right to be in Firefox version 1.0. (Firefox designers, if any of you happen to stop by, I’d love to know you read this, because this is written by a once-naysayer primarily to give you some well-earned kudos after much hard work. Particularly as I don’t know what reaction has been to the updates as I’ve been away for so much, I feel you need as many thanks from me as you can get.)


I’m Back!

Tags: — Jeff @ 08:59

I’ve been in Alaska all July. The trip was a pseudo-high-school-graduation present from my family in lieu of allowing me to go on a trip over spring break. (I wouldn’t have actually gone anywhere because I don’t care about that sort of thing whatsoever, but I’m not complaining over a free trip.)

While I was gone I managed to keep up a very, very, very slight amount with what I normally follow in life. Just as a random, spur-of-the-moment post, I’m going to list some of the stuff that’s happened and stuff I’ve missed. Some will be news from websites, and some will be real news. Some will be interesting, and some will be esoteric (probably more of the latter than the former, but I’m the one writing). This could be long, so in the immortal words of a character from Jurassic Park, “Hold onto your butts.” (That line’s so goofy I can’t resist using it.)

2100+ email messages
How so? Interestingly enough, virtually 0% is spam because my email address is new and I’m guarding it ferociously. My main contributors are messages on various bugs in some free software I enjoy using and messages from a competitive Scrabble mailing list. The number is so massive my email client’s freezing on me, and while I’ve successfully downloaded the message headers, I can’t seem to download the messages themselves, which is rather problematic. I’m still working on it…
Lance Armstrong wins a record 6th Tour de France
I did keep up on this throughout the trip via the Anchorage Daily News, tho I was disappointed the coverage was so minimal. He’d get a blip on the front page of Sports and nothing more, not even after the end of the race. That’s America, tho – the mixed-up sports priorities in the US can be extremely annoying.
Interesting discussions on controversial issues
A comment on prayer and a rant on abortion generate loads of dialogue (which I haven’t read so much as skimmed simply because of the sheer volume of it). I generally agree with Gerv and his viewpoints as I’m a Christian too, although I believe I disagree over abortions always being wrong. If in a hypothetical situation an abortion could save the life of the mother, then an abortion might be viable. In this hypothetical situation, either one or the other will die, so I’m uncertain how either choice can be absolutely wrong. In this situation I believe there is no murder, because both action and inaction will result in a death. It’s roughly analogous to the situation with cojoined twins: does one separate and risk a death or leave together and leave partially disabled? The problem is, however, that these hypothetical situations tend to be expanded way too far if abortions are legal (and indeed, I’m not sure if such a situation can even exist because it’s been expanded so much in America). If the choice of whether to have a baby or not must be made, it should have been made before conception (rape being the unfortunate exception as the child is the rapist’s choice). If the choice to save the mother or save the child must be made, I can’t rationalize one choice over the other. However, I’m open to arguments. However, if there is no choice over whether to save the mother or save the child, then abortion is always murder, even in cases of rape. (Now, if this was anywhere near as coherent as I’d like, consider yourself lucky. I’m still suffering jet lag.)
Cookies are no longer delicious delicacies
If you’ve used the web browser Firefox before, you’ll know what I mean. It’s sad, really. I really liked that text.
Favicons work right in Firefox
Per this post by Asa Dotzler. Awesome. I’ve missed way too much development in this month off.
Firefox 0.9.2
Completely unexpected.
Firefox Help changes
I don’t know what, but I’ve seen a few suspicious checkins. I’ve got a ton of work to do today and tomorrow on this, because I’ve got one last mini-vacation for the next week and I’d like to finish the biggies before PR1.0 (or whatever it’s called now that RC1 is out).

I have a couple other posts gestating right now, so maybe I’ll have something else reasonably soon. The current topics include my experiences with Linux distros (Fedora Core 2 in particular, my current poison of choice) and an informed review of Winstripe as a followup from my original less-informed post. (I will get to that one because of a comment reply I received to the original post. I’m still not sure whether I’ll keep the old commentary I’d written because it’s so out-of-date, but I’m looking forward to posting that one in particular.)