GPS satellite SVN-15 retired

[From SpaceflightNow…]

Frank Czopek, the GPS Block II and IIA project manager, recalled SVN-15’s rocky start before it got off the ground as well as its history once it became operational in 1990.

The satellite earned the nickname “Firebird,” as well as other nicknames such as “Old Smokey” and “Sparky II,” after the vehicle caught fire one Friday afternoon, Mr. Czopek said.


Animated PNG

In late March, support for Animated PNGs (APNGs) landed on the Mozilla trunk. The web can finally ditch GIF-format animations, as the APNG format offers a superior feature set… Most notably, full 24-bit color and alpha transparency. I was eager to try this out, but there were no editors to build such animations. What to do? Well, I built one. Here’s the first result:

[You’ll only see an animated logo if you’re running a recent trunk build.]

The editor is mostly complete, and I’ll release it as a browser extension once the patch for APNG image encoding support lands (bug 372741). Mozilla is a nifty platform for developing this kind of tool, as I get cross-platform support essentially for free.

Thanks to Grey Hodge for the layered source images.

Chromatabs 2

I released an update to Chromatabs today… [Edit: It’s no longer in the AMO Sandbox.]

This version adds the ability to color tabs based on the site’s favicon. (This is off by default; you can enable it in the extension’s preferences.]

Here’s what it looks like with a few select sites:

It’s just averaging the pixels in the favicon, which is why Flickr’s color is purple (a blend of the pinkish-red and blue in the icon). It would probably be better to build up a histogram, and then select the most prominent color… But averaging works fairly well and is easy. 🙂 The code is smart enough to ignore pixels that are almost white or black, which would otherwise pollute the average color. I’ve noticed that a surprising number of sites have black-and-white site icons (eg BBC), so Chromatabs will fall-back to the old method of picking a color for the site in such cases. [Grayscale confuses it sometimes, though.]

I’ve found that using the favicon to determine colors for tabs seems more useful, because the color actually has some relevance to the site. Of course, for sites without an favicon it doesn’t help at all.


Oh, and one more thing (as Steve Jobs is wont to say)…

I’ve been thinking about some ideas to improve the visibility of the foreground tab, which is sometimes hard to pick out (especially with colored tabs, although I think even the default theme is too non-distinct). Here’s a mockup of what I’m currently thinking about — subtle gradients on either side, vaguely as if the neighboring tabs are curving into darkness.

(*cough* I just noticed I styled the wrong tab in the mockup, as the URL bar clearly says “” and not “” Oh well, no one is prefect! [sic :)])

Outside the Asylum

I grabbed a box of tissues for my desk today, and saw this on the back:

For Professional use?! So, what happens if they’re used in an amateurish or unintended way? Who’s qualified for use? Are instructions or technical support available?

I wouldn’t be surprised if I open it up and discover a small booklet explaining the Terms and Conditions I have agreed to by opening the box…