Firefox 4, RC2 overwrites Firefox 3.6. Gee, thanks.

The Firefox betas, all 12 of them, used to nicely install alongside the production version of Firefox, version 3.6.x. When I installed Firefox 4 RC2, this is no longer the case: Firefox overwrites the old version.

So far, installing Firefox 3.6.15 to its own directory (after installing FF 4) and making a shortcut by hand seems to be working, although FF 3.6 can’t be run at the same time as FF 4: it just runs Firefox 4 again instead. Although Firefox users seem to upgrade faster than Internet Explorer users, I still have to keep an eye on Firefox 3.6 for a while. For instance, although FF 3.6 does CSS3 gradients, it does not support SVG backgrounds, which Internet Explorer 9 (IE9) does support. IE9 of course, does not support CSS3 backgrounds, but does support SVG backgrounds.

I’ve already switched my loyalties to the lightning fast Google Chrome a while ago. For a while, I was using Firefox just for Firebug, but now the Google Chrome Web Inspector is getting pretty competitive: it shows declarations it doesn’t consider valid and marks them with a little exclamation point icon, so you can see you -moz-box-shadow declarations (or even your -webkit properties where you do something silly like rgb(0,0,0,0.5) instead of rgba(0,0,0,.5). This is my new favorite mistake, by the way.

Frankly, despite some differences like the SVG versus CSS3 gradients, the whole browser area is headed in the right direction after many years of languishing in IE6 limbo, so I don’t care nearly as much whether IE9 or Firefox 4 comes out on top as I once might have. Despite the progress, there’s still going to be jobs for CSS3 and HTML wranglers: now with mobile, it makes even more sense to have someone focus entirely on the front end, even without a large team.

Speaking of which, I’m currently available to add all sorts of CSS3 and HTML5 goodness to your favorite website.

Census 2010 Data Site Has All the Latest in Fail

The 2010 data is finally starting to come out, and is available at the new website, American Factfinder, version 2.

Problems:

  1. Using Google chrome (version 9), the ability to add a geographic filter fails silently. This is incredibly annoying.
  2. Many things (including clicking on what should be normal web pages) on the website require JavaScript.  This is not fancy things like scooting data from one area of the page to another.  For some reason, this is one area where accessibility seems to be taking giant strides backwards.
  3. Once I use Firefox with JavaScript on, the filter works, and I start looking at the data. Then I receive a really irritating error message that seems to be blaming me for its random failure. This occurs several times.

So maybe I want to complain about their annoying lack of working with Google Chrome or their bogus error message.  Well, I would, except it’s a state secret who to contact about any website issues.  No webmaster email is in sight upon clicking on the tiny “Contact Us” button. After a long and fruitless search, I give up on trying to send an email.

Maybe the Census bureau folks don’t want email.  Maybe they got too much hate mail when the story broke that Census data was helpful  in rounding up Japanese Americans for placement in internment camps in World Ward II.  Whoops.  I have to say, if I were a Muslim, I wouldn’t get a real warm feeling about that whole incident and giving my information to the Census bureau.

Update: I finally found a “Feedback” button on the site. But it’s too small, and in a weird place – the top bar area where ads usually go. Feedback links should be at the bottom!

Light Rail Etiquette

I’m a big fan of the light rail (RTD) here  in Denver.  Most regulars follow these rules instinctively:

  1. Don’t put your bag on the seat next to you. Lap or floor are the only polite choices.
  2. Don’t sit with your legs crossed. (See also #3)
  3. Don’t slouch so far you leave no room for the person across from you.
  4. Don’t sit on the outside of the seat when no one else is there.  Not only will people step over you to sit on the other side of the seat, but then you’ll be stuck with the less desirable outside seat.

If you do #4 and #1 at the same time, congrats – you’ve won the douchebag award!

All of these rules can be ignored if the train is deserted. Putting your feet up on the seat across from you when someone is sitting there is NEVER OK. It doesn’t matter if they are not sitting directly across from you, this is still an invasion of person space. This only happened once, thankfully, and I was able to restrain my rail rage.

Also, I should say that I am far from blameless – I will sometimes set my bag down on the seat when the train is pretty empty and not move it soon enough, or let my big winter coat take up some of the seat to my right.

Other observations:  people sitting almost never offer their seat to women, (older-looking people do a bit better) and the seats at the end of the light rail cars are not as wide as the standard seats (to allow room for bicycles) so they are not exactly two person seats. This sometimes leads to awkward interactions.

Bonus points for helping tourists out.

Santa Fe “Salsa” is neither

Watching TV one evening, we saw a commercial for salsa we had never heard of before: Santa Fe “Salsa”. The commercial boasted that this unknown salsa was “What all the locals eat”. This sent Karen into a fit of rage; we know salsa, and we never heard of this stuff. We live in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Karen commutes daily to work in Santa Fe — if this were really “What all the locals eat,” we would know about it.

To make matters worse, the jar prominently features saguaro cacti, which do not grow in New Mexico. They grow in Arizona and the extreme eastern edge of California, but they just don’t grow here. If you live in New York, like the people who make this salsa, where saguaro grow may not matter much to you. But here in New Mexico, it matters. It’s an identity thing — just like salsa.

Salsa, or Spaghetti Sauce?Chad did a little research and found that although the address on the label is in Santa Fe, and the outfit responsible is “Santa Fe Packing Company®,” the parent company, LiDestri Foods, Inc, is actually located in New York. John Lidestri runs LiDestri Foods: he bought out his old boss, Ralph Cantisano, whose family founded the Ragu® company. Yes, that Ragu®, the spaghetti sauce people.

But does it taste like spaghetti sauce? We ran over to the grocery store and picked up a jar of Santa Fe “Salsa” and one from the Albuquerque Tortilla Company®, both of the Hot variety. Albuquerque Tortilla Company® is actually located in Albuquerque.

The Albuquerque Tortilla Company® salsa tasted fresh, tangy, and complex, and its texture was more varied than the bland Santa Fe “Salsa”. Its heat level was enough to get a good endorphin high, and make you come back for more.

Salsa ComparisonOn the other hand, the texture and color of the Santa Fe “Salsa” was horribly reminiscent of tomato sauce, and the taste was awful. Just an unpleasant bell pepper flavor and the feeling that you should be eating this on pasta instead of chips. Plus, the “Hot” variety we tasted barely registered as hot. Yuck!

What all the locals eat? Maybe the locals in New York, but not here in New Mexico. Santa Fe “Salsa” is neither.

So what is a salsa lover to do? In a pinch, the widely available Tostitos® salsa is passable, but if you really want authenticity, buying online may be your best bet. Here are some of the best salsa brands: