Current software requires current software

A few years ago I got rambling obscenity laden hate mail because Flagfox didn’t support a version of Firefox that ran on Windows 98SE anymore. There is a select group of people out there that don’t grasp that software running in software running in software would depend on other updates in its updates. No, sorry, I cannot support an operating system older than people capable of hacking it.

In order to get Flagfox updating without Firefox restarts (as well as fix some other issues) I need to support a minimum of Firefox 17. This is two Mozilla Extended Support Releases back; the current ESR is Firefox 24.

Around 2013, Mozilla stopped supporting Windows 2000 and Mac OS X 10.5. (see here for OS support table) At some point the line has to be drawn, and that’s where it ended up. Firefox 17+ just isn’t going to run on OSes that old. Honestly, supporting an operating system for 13 years is kind of astonishing if you think about it. They really do give massive leeway here, but it can’t be forever.

Mozilla also dropped support for old versions of Windows XP around the same time, however these users can simply update to Windows XP SP3 which is likely to be supported for quite some time. Windows 2003 is in a similar situation; update to at least SP1. You should be able to use the normal Windows Update system to do this.

What to do with old computers?

First, the lecture: If you are running an operating system that is no longer supported with security updates you are a danger to yourself and others. If this is your fault, you will not get sympathy from me. Yes, you might be forced to buy a new computer or upgrade your OS yourself, but that’s better than adding to the population of hacked machines used for criminal activities. If it’s not your fault because the computer in question is a company computer, it’s time to gather your coworkers to petition your employer about unsafe working conditions. (computer/network maintenance negligence is not a joke)

If you do have control over the computer in question it’s probably time to upgrade. You generally have the option of installing a newer version of Windows / Mac OS X, installing Linux (e.g. Ubuntu), or buying a new computer. This is just a generic tech support recommendation, however. Do not email me asking for help updating your computer.

If you are running Mac OS X 10.5 on PowerPC hardware, you unfortunately have fewer options. There is a fork of Firefox ESR for PPC called TenFourFox that might be an option for you. (I cannot stress how much emphasis I put on the word “might” here) If you get this working, please contact me as I would really like to know how well this works for you. Updating your OS is not an option as Apple abandoned this old CPU architecture shortly after your hardware was made and they don’t provide new OS versions for it anymore. Linux also might be an option for you. Sadly, with Apple, they really just want you to buy a new computer.

Please don’t send me angry emails about how horrible it is that your old box doesn’t work with anything new anymore. We live in an era of rapid technological advancement and you’re just going to have to deal with the simple fact that new stuff will depend on new stuff in order to work.

To answer the obvious question, no, I will not be putting out branch updates for the old 4.2.x version either. I’m not entirely against this concept, however the Mozilla Add-ons site/system doesn’t really support this in any practical way.

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Things I’ve learned from the survey thus far

I have a survey link in the Flagfox icon menu for the current version to get some stats and info about Flagfox actions usage, sync, and some of the services involved here. All submissions are anonymous and I will not be posting raw data, but here are a few interesting things I have learned from this experiment thus far. Note that this survey is not otherwise advertised, so this is a survey of more advanced users. (which is intentional)
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Flagfox 5.0.2 update released

I have posted Flagfox 5.0.2 to Mozilla Add-ons. After a Mozilla editor signs off, the update will be available to all users, however you can download it before then via the all versions page.

This update contains the IPv4 & IPv6 address location database updates for April 2014. I’ve been releasing on a mid-month schedule for a while now, however it looks like Maxmind might be back to releasing their database updates earlier again so I may go back to beginning of the month updates. I generally try to keep it vaguely consistent if I can to avoid two updates in quick succession.

This version also contains a temporary link to a user survey in the Flagfox menu. (it’s not otherwise advertised) This will help me get some basic stats about how Flagfox’s more advanced users use its actions system as well as the standard questions about what browsers you use and if you use Mozilla Sync. One submission per person please, and also please avoid sharing direct links to the survey. When you load up the survey via the link Flagfox sends some very basic stats in the URL, namely the count of how many actions you have and if you have any custom actions using any advanced features. No identifying information nor the contents or names of any actions are sent. (the parameters in the URL are human-readable; the big number at the beginning is just the survey ID and is the same for everyone) This is disclosed at the top of the survey and no data should be recorded if you do not agree to proceed. The link hides after clicking as this is a one-time survey. If anyone has any issues with this survey please contact me. All submissions are anonymous.

Understanding the Mozilla CEO mess

Disclaimers:

This is a revision of a post I put up a few days ago. Events changed, so I felt the need to take the previous version down. My apologies to those who wanted to read it that hit a 404. (I didn’t know it had been linked to by someone other than myself yet) I wanted to avoid looking like I was more a part of the debate than I am, so even with the updates I added, I felt the need to redo things a bit here.

This is going to be a bit of an off-topic post to many of the few readers I have on this blog. If you aren’t already aware of the firestorm at the selection of Brenden Eich as the new Mozilla CEO, then you might not be my target audience for this post. I suggest going off to Youtube and watching some funny videos, as it might be more productive for you than reading this. This issue is a god forsaken mess, so be prepared for a little rant.
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Contributions update

The Amazon wish list is now effectively done. A couple generous donors bought me some new hardware and I purchased a new mid-range Android phone using donated funds. I’ve taken off the smaller things I can buy myself easier as well as the larger tablet (I don’t need two tablets). Their system is less then ideal, as it doesn’t even provide a way to be notified of use. I literally had to remember what I put on the list and check it to see if something was missing. No log; no email. One person bought me a two-pack of little flash drives and it just showed up in my mailbox without so much as a name. Yeah, not great, but thank you nonetheless. 🙂

Only one person sent me an Amazon gift card, possibly because people may have been confused with Amazon’s system. I’ve decided that I need to turn off their system because the UX is crap. The one person that sent me Amazon-money did so by emailing the general feedback email address, so I highly suspect that someone might’ve bought a gift card through Amazon’s system for themself instead of as a gift accidentally. It’s also possible that because Amazon is a bit grandiose in its labeling and has $100 in its thumbnail, some people might have thought you could only send large amounts. There’s a lot of issues with their site, I think.

As a replacement secondary donation route, I’ve started using Gyft. (Update: Gyft no longer used) You can send various different gift cards, including Amazon, with no fees and even a points system to get minor discounts on future card purchases. I found them when I was looking for a good way to buy some things off of Amazon with PayPal money, which Amazon refuses to accept in an anti-competitive maneuver to try and push their Amazon payments system. Gyft even accepts Bitcoin. I purchased a small cart of little things I needed with a combination of a directly gifted Amazon gift card code, an Amazon gift card purchased from Gyft with Bitcoin, and another Amazon gift card purchased from Gyft with Paypal (and some Gyft points from the Bitcoin purchase). All digital and quick. We’re living in the future. Though, it’s a convoluted overly-complicated future.

Multiple people have also requested a mailing address to send me a physical paper check. I think I may need to do this, however I’ll need to get a PO box first. Not that I explicitly distrust anyone asking, but I’m not giving my home address to strangers on the Internet. It’s effectively impossible to develop software used by a million people and not have at least one legitimately crazy user who I need to worry about.

I will also note that I’ve had 3 or so people request I accept Bitcoin but only one person actually follow through with a Bitcoin donation. I get the feeling that some people just like the idea of Bitcoin, but don’t really want to use it. An address to donate to me is sitting in the sidebar on the right. I can now convert it to gift cards with Gyft to use it instead of having to deal with an exchange, which is a surprisingly efficient and user-friendly route.

Update:
I’ve taken down the Gyft page as apparently nobody wants to use it and the survey indicates that it’s not as popular as I had thought. Instead, using Amazon’s basic gift card via email system works fine. You can send it to my public email address for Flagfox or my private one if you have it.

Flagfox 5.0.1 update is live

The Flagfox 5.0.1 update is now live. Users should automatically update at some point soon. Flagfox 5.0 is now restartless, so it should happen automatically with no need to restart Firefox.

Version 5.0.1 changelog:

  • IPv4 & IPv6 address location database updates for March 2014
  • Improved styling of flag icon border to work better with dark themes
  • Optimized XPI compression slightly for better extractionless loading
  • Removed hack needed to support Australis prior to recent update
  • Added ability to unload IPDB files on memory-pressure:heap-minimize
  • Minor localization fixes

This update was available for download for the past week via the all versions page, however it took a while for a Mozilla Add-ons editor to sign off on it to get it out as an update.