Saturday, December 27, 2008

Firefox 2 End-of-Life

Firefox 3 is in widespread use, Firefox 3.1 is now a very bright glow appearing over the horizon, and Mozilla has announced the end of planned updates for Firefox 2. What does all this mean for NASA Night Launch? It means that, given the above, there's a chance I'll be dropping Firefox 2 (and only Firefox 2) support from future versions of NNL. It's still an open question, up in the air but on the radar.

If I do drop support, it'll be because something about Firefox 3.1 makes it impossible to support both it and Firefox 2 at the same time. Firefox developers do take pains to make sure that themes are supported. However, theme technologies (CSS, XBL) are progressing and a lot has changed since Firefox 2 first came out (in October of 2006). You gotta keep up.

Whichever way it works out, people using Firefox 2 will still be able to download and use older versions of NNL by going to the NNL page on AMO, clicking "Older Versions", and installing one of the older versions from there.

There are many very compelling reasons to upgrade to Firefox 3. To name only a few:
  • Mozilla has announced that they will no longer be supporting Firefox 2. If any problems are found in Firefox 2, they will remain unfixed. There will be no more releases. That's because users should upgrade to the superior Firefox 3.
  • Many add-ons and add-on updates available for Firefox 3 are not offered for Firefox 2.
  • Firefox 3, and now 3.1 beta 2, offer vastly-improved performance. Javascript-heavy sites (Digg much?) run a lot faster.
  • The user interface is much improved, with a host of new features.
From Mozilla:
Firefox 2.0.0.x will be maintained with security and stability updates until mid-December, 2008. All users are strongly encouraged to upgrade to Firefox 3.
If you're still using Firefox 2 ... why are you? Feel free to post a comment.

Like I said, this change for NNL would apply to Firefox 2 only. Support for Firefox 3 and 3.1 would continue into the far future -- so far in the future that it's pointless even to consider it now.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

It's Update Season Again

Happy holidays, everyone, and season's greetings -- update season, that is. With a new major release of Firefox around the corner (Firefox version 3.1, due Q1 of 2009), NASA Night Launch will need to be updated as well.

Usually, I try to stick with about one update a month (so NNL keeps up with changes in other extensions, and so users know it's in active development). However, with a major Firefox release, everything speeds up. Firefox changes, extensions change, and NNL changes too. Frequent updates are the result.

Not everyone wants updates. In particular, people with low-speed connections need to guard their limited bandwidth. If you want to disable update checks so you only get them when you specifically ask for them, then 1) install the MR Tech Toolkit add-on, 2) restart Firefox, then 3) right-click on the theme in the Add-ons Manager list and 4) pick "Disable Update Check". Hopefully that'll make life easier. Just keep in mind: if you do that, you'll have to go check for NNL updates yourself, and you risk falling behind in NNL compatibility with your other add-ons. If you're not on dial-up, you don't need this and shouldn't do this.

When used with the Firefox 3.1 betas, this theme is a beta too. There Will Be Bugs. Want to help? Feel free to report bugs on the Mozillazine Forums NNL support thread.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Ran across this today:

It's an online slideshow editor, publisher and hosting service with a lot of extras.

Slideshow. Hmmm, yawn. Well, OK, but the UI is very nice, featuring a dark color scheme that avoids competition with the slides while bringing out the colors. It also uses a simplified icon style and a black and gray palette that I've been known to use myself. Very impressive. Denizens of the Dark Web will appreciate the effort that's gone into it. Filing this one under "Works Well with NNL".

Sunday, December 14, 2008

First Post!

Welcome to the Night Launch News blog, with news and announcements for people using the Firefox theme NASA Night Launch.

If you're new to Firefox or to themes for Firefox, be sure to check out the themes page on the official Firefox add-ons web site. You can score your very own hot-off-the-server NASA Night Launch there as well.

If you want to customize NASA Night Launch, then you can find out how and learn about other tweaks and mods on the theme's web site, which would be here. And is.

Firefox 3.1 is on its way (beta 2 was just released), so stay tuned for news about updates to your favorite dark theme.