Archive for February 2008

Firefox 3 Gets Faster

Published on February 27, 2008

A special nightly build of Firefox 3.0 has been released that greatly improves JavaScript performance. The build was run against the SunSpider JavaScript Benchmark, and the results are really surprising. From the article:

  1. Firefox 3 Nightly (PGO Optimized): 7263.8ms
  2. Firefox 3 Nightly (02/25/2008 build): 8219.4ms
  3. Opera 9.5.9807 Beta: 10824.0ms
  4. Firefox 3 Beta 3: 16080.6ms
  5. Safari 3.0.4 Beta: 18012.6ms
  6. Firefox 2.0.0.12: 29376.4ms
  7. Internet Explorer 7: 72375.0ms

This optimized build is nearly 4 times faster than the current release of Firefox, and 10 times faster than IE 7; pretty cool!

I have yet to switch to Firefox 3, mostly because lots of my favorite extensions don’t yet work (including the ones I’ve written). There are a handful of changes that have to be made in order for extensions to work in the new environment, some of which aren’t exactly trivial. As we get closer to an actual release, I’ll do my best to update my extensions.

More Proof That CAPTCHAs Don’t Work

Published on February 27, 2008

As if we needed any more proof that CAPTCHAs don’t always work, it seems that spammers have now successfully cracked the GMail CAPTCHA. A one-in-five success rate is being reported, and it appears that there are multiple bot-nets taking a tag-team approach in hacking the sign up process. This is particularly dangerous, since Google’s domains are highly unlikely to be blocked by any website or ISP.

I don’t know what the solution to this problem is (if I did I’d be rich), but hopefully Google will figure out a way to prevent this kind of nefarious activity from continuing to happen.

RoadRunner Redirects Domain Typos

Published on February 26, 2008

Slashdot is running a story on RoadRunner intercepting domain typos. My dad noticed this ‘feature’ a few weeks ago, and opted out via their preferences page. In addition to the Slashdot story, Ryan Govostes has an interesting article (written back in December) on the security holes lurking in this opt-out program. According to his post, one could wreak all kinds of havoc with TWC’s poorly written page, enabling or disabling the service for essentially all RoadRunner customers. SQL injections also appear to be a possible line of exploits.

Creating Cookies in Perl

Published on February 18, 2008

A little over a year ago, I inherited a productivity tool at work that allows users to enter weekly status reports for various products in our division. The tool is web-based and is written entirely in Perl. One of the mangers who uses this tool recently suggested a new feature, and I decided to implement it using cookies. Having never implemented cookies from a programming perspective, I was new to the subject and had to do some research on how to do it in Perl. It turns out to be quite easy, so I figured I would share my newfound knowledge:

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A Snowy Photo Album

Published on February 14, 2008

I’ve posted a new photo album: a Valentine’s Snowfall. We had nearly three inches of snow last night, which was completely unexpected (to my knowledge, no snow was forecast). The scene was too beautiful to pass up photographing, so I took some time this morning to snap some pictures. Enjoy!

Team Fortress 2 Update Today!

Published on February 14, 2008

The long awaited Team Fortress 2 update arrives today! A new gameplay type, gold rush, is headlining this new release. A new control-point map, named “Badlands,” has been released for Team Fortress 2, along with a slew of other new updates. A complete change log details what’s new. In addition to the new map and game type, several other maps have been fixed, most importantly cp_dustbowl (which is still ridiculously hard to win as the BLU team).

Update: I was wrong about the game type. It looks like the new badlands map is simply a new control point map (which I’m still excited about trying).

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Perl 5.10

Published on February 11, 2008

I just found out about Perl 5.10, which has been out for some time now (released on December 18 … how did I miss this?). The perldelta documentation goes into detail on what’s new, but here’s a brief overview of some of the features I find most appealing:

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Time-Warner Gets Grabby

Published on February 5, 2008

Slashdot is running a story on how Time-Warner is considering moving to a per-gigabyte service fee. According to them, 5 percent of their customers use over 50 percent of the network. So, because of these few “bad apples,” they’ll make everyone pay more. Steven Levy of the Washington Post has an interesting theory that Time-Warner is trying to hobble movie rentals via iTunes (trying to keep their pay-per-view stuff alive in the process).

I hope above anything else that this ‘idea’ of theirs never sees the light of day. Capping folks at 5-gigabytes (which is their current idea … can you believe that?) is incredibly poor judgment. This kind of thing will single-handedly destroy the online viewing capabilities of Netflix, it will ruin online gaming, and it will make MSDN subscriptions irrelevant.

And that might just be Time-Warner’s ultimate goal. Let’s hope they fail in every way possible.

Quick Review of Metroid Prime 3

Published on February 3, 2008

Last weekend I finally finished Metroid Prime 3. Here are some quick thoughts I had on the game:

What I Liked

  • The “Morph Ball” mode is incredibly fun. In essence, you become a pinball and get to roll through a number of tracks. There were plenty of puzzles that used this gameplay, and it ended up being my favorite part of the game.
  • The Wii-mote and Nunchuck controls work surprisingly well. This is the first FPS experience I’ve had with the Wii, and I was quite pleased.
  • Backtracking is well used in the game. There are plenty of areas that are inaccessible until you get certain powerups, forcing you to really explore every nook and cranny of every map.

What I Didn’t Like

  • Loading times aren’t what they should be. Levels are loaded in an on-demand fashion, and there are some times when the delay gets in the way.
  • The game feels a little too easy. Firefights end up being “how fast can you pull the trigger.” Weapon powerups are obtained in a few places, but they never feel more powerful.

All in all, I highly recommend this game; it’s a strong A in my book.

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