Chrome vs. Firefox

Firefox is great.  I've been a fan for a long time and it was my exclusive browser for years.  However, I've recently noticed more crashes and instability and I decided to try an alternative.  I installed Chrome a while ago but it has sat mostly dormant on my drive.  A week ago I decide to make the switch.

First, this isn't really a fair comparison.  My Firefox profile has years of bloat and plugins.  Comparing this to a pristine Chrome install is certainly not Apples to Apples.  But that said...

Chrome's model of one process per tab seems to be much more solid than Firefox's single process approach.  I have not had a single crash or general 'Not Responding' issue with Chrome.  However, I have noticed that switching to tabs that I have not used recently often triggered a delay and furious disk activity.  It is a trade off, but I think the Chrome approach is preferable.

Search - I'm used to hitting the / key and typing to search within a page.  It is Ctrl-F in Chrome.  Ctrl-F is probably more consistent with other apps, but muscle memory is tough to change.

File Downloads - I'm used to using a plugin on Firefox (Download Statusbar) and I like the Firefox plugin better than the Chrome default.  Specifically I like the ability to pause, resume, and copy a download URL.  

The Chrome window itself is very googley, and by that I mean sparse. There is no status bar, only a link display when you select or hover hypertext.  There is no title bar and so far I have not added any new toolbars.  I really like the ability to move tabs into their own window or a separate window.

The one feature I miss the most is the ability to create shortcut bookmarks to search functions.  For Wikipedia and IMDB, I have shortcuts created so that I can type 'imdb start trek' in the address bar or 'wiki Star Trek' and it will take me to the search result page.  I'm not sure if you can do this in Chrome but if you can I have not found it yet.

I also find that Chrome's built in spell checker is inconsistent.  It does not seem to work at all in Blogger's edit box, but in other cases it works fine.  Obviously this is annoying.

There are a lot of similarities and it is obvious the Chrome team set out to build a 'better Firefox', as opposed to a radical new approach.  The bottom line is that both browsers work well and either could serve as my default.  For now though, I'm going to continue the Chrome experiment.

Star Trek and Caprica

In addition to catching up on yard work and playing with the kids, I spent some time this weekend catching up on my scifi movies.

I finally made it to the theater to see Star Trek. I was very impressed with the movie overall and especially with how they positioned the storyline. Without giving too much away, they setup the story to allow them to continue with this cast in future movies without endless harping about continuity and other concerns you can imagine from a rabid fan base. I thought it was brilliant. The overall movie and cast were great. It 'hit every note' it needed to, and the actors were great. Scotty was my favorite but Spock was very well cast as well. I'm excited to see the next installment. And about the lens flare... Yes, there was a bit of that. I really noticed it in the first 1/3 of the movie but after that it either toned down or I got used to it. I did like style though, even if it was a bit over done.

Caprica, the pilot for a series 'prequel' to Battlestar Galactica, was release straight to video. The series is scheduled to begin airing in 2010. The series is set 58 years before the events of BSG and depicts a pre/early-Cylon Caprica. While it takes place in the 'BSG' world there is a stark contrast between the relative 'low-tech' society of BSG and the 'shiny high tech' Caprica. The series could be interesting, but anyone expecting a show resembling BSG will be disappointed.

I'm sure it will be weeks until I make it to see the new Terminator.

Simple Build Tool

As part of my foray into Scala I came across a new build tool called Simple Build Tool (sbt). As the website states, "sbt is a simple build tool for Scala projects that aims to do the basics well."

I didn't really come across sbt, it came to me. Tim and Mark commented on my Maven vs. Ant post and I decided to check it out.

It is similar to maven in its dependency management and configuration by convention. If you do need explicit configuration you write it as actual scala code, which is interesting. Obviously it is powerful. You can do pretty much anything, but the flexibility and relative immaturity (it is version 0.4.5) of the project makes it difficult at times to determine how to do something.

sbt runs as an interactive session, so it solves the java startup overhead by just staying up. In practice this actually worked well for me, and provided the fastest compile/package times of any of the tools I used.

For the issues and questions I did have, the support in the google group was great. Mark especially helped me track down and solve questions and issues I had. Some were my own learning curve, some resulted in patches to sbt. The last issues we worked through was making an executable jar, which turned out to be a platform issue (/ versus \) that is getting patched.

If you are working with Scala I encourage you to give it a spin. I think it has a future as it continues to develop and gain users.

iTunes Export Scala 0.2 Released

I released a new version of my iTunes Export Scala utility.

This is a port of the original .Net application to Scala. Scala is a hybrid Object Oriented/Functional language that compiles to Java class files and executes on the JVM. This port enables Mac OS X users to access iTunes Export features. The original iTunes Export application was written in .Net and does not run on Mac OS X.

iTunes Export exports your iTunes playlists as M3U or WPL files, allowing you to setup playlists in iTunes and use them with other software or devices.

This release adds support for Extended M3U, WPL, and ZPL playlist formats. It also provides the ability to override the default (or arbitrary) path prefix for the music files.

The project home page is here:

The project is hosted at Google Code. You can check out the Google Code project home page if you want to browse the source tree or track issues, etc.

I have received several new feature requests and bug reports recently and I plan on getting to them soon. Don't be afraid to ask for new features (

Google Code

I've always hosted my open source applications at SourceForge. When I first started developing open source applications, it was the de facto standard. When it came time to find a host for my new iTunesExport-Scala application I decided to check out the landscape. The primary sites I see these days are Google Code and GitHub. Since I have not yet embraced Git I decided to give Google Code a try.

What do I think? I like it. All the Google applications seem to have a common theme: they are simple to use and cover the core 80% well. In fact, their approach is a lot like Apple's approach. Google is just an uglier Apple. :)

Setting up Subversion, doing releases, and editing the home page were all much easier than on SourceForge (even after their redesign). The site is fast, and integrates with Google Analytics so I can track traffic in the same tool I use for my primary website.

The bottom line: It just works.