Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Collaborative Space and Javascript

There are more and more applications that online communities build together.

First, there is Wikipedia which is a collaborative space. Even when finding a certain piece of news, you search in Google which gives you a collection of new from various media, and you should also find it in Wikipedia because anybody can modify that site and incorporate updates into it.

I do not pay particular attention to online collaboration until I found there are thousands of amazing Firefox extensions and search plugins, where people volunteer to write codes to enhance the functionality of Firefox. Then, the Greasemonkey extension brought me to 2 million userscripts which can be imported into the extension to modify websites automatically. Alternatively, those javascripts can be implemented manually by bookmarklets. The Mouse Gestures extension further presented to me how to use javascripts to control Firefox and its extensions, and it has a Gesture Exchange site where people share the scripts they write. Recently, my sister introduced to me Messenger Plus! Live where scripts also extend its features.

The above javascript databases, together with the proliferation of AJAX sites like Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs and Spreadsheets, Google Reader, etc. (Google Maps, Virtual Earth...), it seems like javascript is taking over the world!

Also, online collaborative space is so powerful that free goodies are expanding and updating continually like Yahoo! Answers and Google Desktop Gadgets, just to name a few. I do have some contributions in Wikipedia, userscripts and Gesture Exchange. Get to learn more when there is time.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Split Firefox

Wants to write a Firefox extension to make reading Gmails even easier (now there are Gmail Conversation Preview, Gmail Macros and many more) by seeing emails and reply at the same time. This needs to split the view the tab so that one views the email received and another views the reply to that email currently being composed. Scrolling any view must not affect the position of another. This way, the questions in the email can be answered one by one easily.

The first splitting ability I came across was found in popTart, but it only works for Digg. Then, I noticed Tricky Frames and Split Pannel (deliberate typo?!). The most promising extension available is Content Holder from lots of extensions unlisted on the official Mozilla Add-ons.

They are not very suitable for the Gmail reading purpose and are not quite well developed. All but Split Pannel supports only up to FF1.5. They all load separate pages in each view, but maybe splitting only the view of the same page, like Word of Acrobat, is a better idea.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Music Search by Solfege Name

I sometimes hear wonderful music somewhere (TV, mobile phone ring, radio...) and wonder what is the title of the music. This is especially useful when it is hard to hear the lyrics or only the melody suddenly pops out of my mind, and most classical music does not have lyrics. Without words, the only input into such search would be the sound. However, it is hard to ask a computer to match the sound recorded from my singing to a music database, nor is it feasible to search through the database by listening.

After some thinking, I come up with a method to do this: searching the sol-fa names of part of the music in a database containing sol-fa names of many songs. Say inputting 'd r m d m d m' will give a search result containing the song "The Sound of Music". And then, the sheet music can be found for playing on the piano. A Google search does not suggest anybody is doing that yet, so this may be a business opportunity.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Truly Disposable Gmail Address

Disposable Yahoo! email address can be made on top of their original Yahoo! email. Gmail has similar thing by letting you receive emails sent to basename+keyword@gmail.com in the basename@gmail.com account, but sooner or later spammers will spam your original address because the prefixes are the same. To make a truly disposable Gmail address with alternative base name:

  1. Create a new Gmail (preferably with shorter name).
  2. Set auto forwarding from the new Gmail to primary Gmail.
  3. In the primary Gmail, create a filter having "basename OR basename+ -keyword" in the "To:" field, where basename+keyword@gmail.com are given out.
  4. In the next step, select whatever you want to do with the spams, say "delete".
To clarify, you get a new Gmail a@gmail.com, and give out a+b@gmail.com to a website, the "To:" field of the filter in your primary Gmail c@gmail.com should read "a OR a+ -b". In future, when more disposable address are made say a+d@gmail.com, just append " -d" to the filter.

Filters are not set up in the new Gmail (and hence step 2) so that no logout is needed to modify the filter. The "To:" field allows about 1400 characters, so many disposable addresses can be filtered (even if it is full, create up to 20 filters, or even get create in the new Gmail or at worst, get another new Gmail for more filters...).

Microsummary in Firefox 2.0

Live Titles: When a website offers a microsummary (a regularly updated summary of the most important information on a Web page), users can create a bookmark with a "Live Title". Compact enough to fit in the space available to a bookmark label, they provide more useful information about pages than static page titles, and are regularly updated with the latest information. There are several websites that can be bookmarked with Live Titles, and even more add-ons to generate Live Titles for other popular websites.
One significant innovation in FF2 is microsummary proposed by Myk Melez. Unlike email or RSS aggregator, it can track a specific thing and be displayed as a headline. The default update interval in 30 min, but just add "browser.microsummary.updateInterval" to be 1 in about:config and all live titles will refresh as soon as possible (still 1 min). can be specified for each generator's xml in the profile folder. Currently, there is no built in method to remove the generators, but to delete the xml in the profile.

Now, only some sites have microsummary embedded, so microsummary generators are needed for other sites. A good way is to use this Microsummary Generator Builder to "generate a microsummary generator", install it, and bookmark the live title to Bookmarks Toolbar.

With live title, the specific info like CNN headline will really be the "head line" in FF2. It is suitable when the past info is not as important (otherwise, use an aggregator). The missing piece may be sound notification once any of the live titles is updated.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

CZ-5 Model 1st Exposure in Zhuhai Space Exhibition


  • 1.5 stages
  • 4 boosters (3.35 m diameter)
  • 1 central rocket (5 m diameter)
  • 25 ton LEO
  • 14 ton GEO

Monday, October 30, 2006

Album on Honor System

Halloween Party

Success or failure? Let's see...
Reason: no sharing control yet

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Send your name to the asteroid belt on the Dawn spacecraft

Your name will be recorded onto a microchip that will be placed aboard the spacecraft accompanying it on its mission to the asteroid belt.
asteroid belt with spacecraft

Calgoo: Offline Google Calendar

It synchronizes with Google Calendar but not secure to give it my Google account password. Maybe one day Google will buy the company and there will be no such safety concern. Still trying it out... with my spare Google account :p.