Lots going on for the Mozilla Firefox fans.
Firefox Beta Builds Progressing
Mozilla has just released Gran Paradiso Alpha 2. Gran Paradiso Alpha 2 Start Page
If you are interested, get this pre-beta release here.
Looking through the notes, the rendering engine (Cairo) has been improved and now it clearly passes the Acid 2 Web Standards Test. On the downside, Windows 95/98/ME and OS X 10.2 are not supported. The much anticipated "Places" bookmarking upgrade is nowhere to be seen. Finally, there is also a really bad memory leak that is known. A fix is coming in Gran Paradiso Alpha 3.
I've played with these Gran Paradiso builds for a while now and while I can't recommend switch from Firefox 2.0 they are fun to use. For casual surfing they seem to work fine on my XP systems and image rendering is fast and even appears sharper--though that may be just my subjective opinion.
In fact, I'm actually using the nightly Minefield builds for my "casual" surfing. I wouldn't do any "secure website" browsing actions with either of these builds, but they seem to work fine.
Major Mozilla Update Release this Month?
Firefox Extension Guru notes there may be An Update on Major Update
His review of recent Mozilla meeting notes indicates that a likely release date for the 18.104.22.168 build might come as early as around Feb. 15.
This release is needed to fix some major bugs.
Since Thunderbird 2.0 is now out at Beta2, can we hope for a Thunderbird 2.0 Final release in March? I sure am! The Tb2.0 beta 2 version is running Jim-dandy on Lavie's laptop and hasn't had any issues yet.
Mozilla Add-On Site Re-launch Changes
Some time back Mozilla updated the look of their Add-ons Site. It got a fresh, clean look.
Now comes phase two. The webmasters will be ripping out and discarding the list of Add-ons to just a few hundred. Mozilla’s Trimming the Fat from the Add-ons Site - CyberNet News
Most likely to miss the cut, Add-ons that are no longer being maintained and supported by their developers, possibly Add-ons that are not Firefox 2.0 compatible, and hopefully lots of the "junk/ad" based toolbar'ish Add-ons.
I hope I don't loose any of my favorites in the cleanup process. As I understand it, pulled (and new?) extensions will have to earn their place back on the pages--voting style. Not sure how it will all work, but I'm open. It can be a task sorting through them all. And a Google search usually helps me turn up the developer's site for my favorite ones anyway.
Firefox Themes and Extensions of Note
Since we are on the subject--here are some nice themes and extensions I have tripped over this week...
myFireFox Theme - This theme gives a very close approximation to Internet Explorer 7. The buttons are very nice and the overall theme is pleasant. It even does that two-tab thing like IE7. Two things I don't enjoy with it; first, the back/forward buttons don't have the drooped arrows to quick-forward/back through previous page view history. Also the icon spacing, especially with the bookmark/link bar, seem to be a bit wide for my tastes. However, it is a fresh, fun theme. Worth checking out.
Opaque + ClearTabs Theme - This theme tweaks the original Firefox theme. It brightens up the default icon colors and removes the opacity changes when the cursor hovers on them. Tabs are also made clearer for better visibility. Small package but big change!
Smart Bookmarks Bar - This Add-on takes the text off your bookmarks, leaving just the icon behind. However, if you hover over the icon, it will expand it to show the name information. For the handful of my top-fav bookmarks, I just tend to edit the properties and remove the name, leaving just the icon behind. That's easy enough for me. But this might be a less-severe fix. It does have some reported issues with a few themes.
Favicon Picker 2 - This Firefox 2.0 compatible Add-on allows you to select a custom icon for your bookmarks from your own private store! So if you don't like the favicon that the site is giving you (if it is) and you have an icon locally you like better, you can select it instead! Nice and fun way to customize that bookmark tool bar!
Not Firefox related, but fun stuff anyway...
Googleshare Translations - this is a very interesting examination on how Google could optimize their language translation results. I'm not entirely sure how these on-line web-translation services really work, but Google Blogoscoped takes the basic theory and expands it with a fascinating twist...what if Google used it's vast web page crawl data to maximize the translation algorithm results? By running it's translation results against Google page-ranks (higher is better) it could provide a translation closer to "real-life" usage of phases and meanings. Go read both linked posts to get the details....
@icon sushi - (freeware) Image to icon editor supporting xp/vista icon, png and more. Newly released to version 1.21. This tool along with LionTech's IconShop (freeware) and X2 Studio's LiquidIcon XP (freeware) are my favorite icon editing utilities.