Firefox 2

I installed Firefox 2.0 beta today on my iMac. I had been having some problems with Firefox getting slow and eating up loads of memory. The Mac versions of browser haven't been all they could be and I heard that better Mac support was one of the priorities of version 2. So far it does seem to be doing much better. With six tabs open it's using 109 MB of RAM and 313 MB of virtual memory. Before the upgrade that was getting up around 500 and 1500, respectively. The interface has some minor improvements, which makes the fox more at home in this OS X habitat.

There are several new features that I should get some use out of. At this very moment I'm enjoying the built in spell checker. They've also added Xs on each tab to close them and an 'undo close tab' feature (one of the first extensions I always used to install). Built-in phishing protection, saved sessions and improved rss support also made this version. If you view an rss feed now you don't see the ugly source, but a nicely formatted version of the page with options for subscribing. All of these things were possible in extensions before, but having them built in is even better. The extension system gives the Firefox developers a great insight into what features people want. They're doing a great job of moving forward.

The new search engine manager makes it much easier to add more engines to the search window in the top right. Theme and extension management are now combined in an addon manager window.

I was nervous about upgrading because there are some extensions I can't do without, but I have Adblock, WebDev and Gmail notifier all working, so I'm pretty happy. Greasemonkey and all-in-one gestures aren't working at the moment, but I can live without them until they get updated.

The advanced bookmark system was pushed back to a later release, but I think this is going to be a very strong release with some great features and improvements. The world's best browser is about to get even better.

Talent on lobbying

I couldn't find anything on Jim Talent's site about lobby reform, so I emailed to ask about it. Here's the reply:

Dear Mr. Ferguson:

Thank you for contacting me to voice your concerns
regarding lobbying and ethics reform. I appreciate the time you
have taken to share your views with me, and I welcome the
opportunity to respond.

I am pleased to report that with my support the Senate
overwhelmingly passed the bipartisan Legislative Transparency
and Accountability Act of 2006, on March 29, 2006. It is the first
lobbying reform bill considered by Congress in over a decade. The
legislation was strongly supported by Republicans and Democrats
alike, passing by a vote of 90-8.

Among its many provisions, the bill will enhance public
disclosure of lobbyist activities and campaign contributions, ban
gifts and meals from registered lobbyists to Senators and staff, and
require enhanced scrutiny and Ethics Committee pre-approval for
privately funded travel. There were some provisions that I
supported that were not included in the final bill, but I think the
Senate has taken a big step forward toward changing the system.

Again, thank you for contacting me. If you would like to
continue this discussion, please don't hesitate to call or write.

If you would like to contact me via e-mail, please visit
http://talent.senate.gov/Contact/default.cfm

Sincerely,

Senator Jim Talent

I was glad to hear Talent respond to this issue. Unfortunately, when this bill went to the House it was weakened even further. The Washington Post called the house version diluted snake oil peddled as bold reform. I haven't been able to learn what became of this legislation. Did they go into conference? Did it ever get signed into law?

Senate debate

We spent Thursday through Saturday at the Missouri Press Association convention. On Friday morning the MPA hosted a debate for the candidates running for Missouri State Auditor and for the US Senate. C-Span will be airing the senate debate next week. I took the opportunity to ask a question of the candidates. I'll try to post video of that when I can. The debate confirmed my original inclination that we really need Claire McCaskill to win this race.

Jim Talent is a former lobbyist who took money from convicted felon Jack Abramoff (and later returned it) and Tom DeLay, the K Street Project founder, former House Majority Leader and suspected money launderer. Talent has yet to return the money from DeLay. Despite his efforts to distance himself from the President, Talent votes as Bush wants him to 94% of the time.

Claire McCaskill, on the other hand, plans to use her experience as State Auditor to crack down on government waste, no-bid contracts, special interest influence and deficit spending. You can read her positions on her web site. McCaskill has plans for lobbying reform and a raise in the federal minimum wage.

McCaskill and Talent will appear on Meet the Press for a debate on Sunday morning, October 8. If you're a Missouri citizen then do your homework on the candidates' websites and watch the debate, then be sure to vote in this important election in November. I'll try to have some more information here between now and then.

TMBGLOTD

The Edison Museum, once a bustling factory
Today is but a darkened, cobweb covered hive of industry
The tallest, widest and most famous haunted mansion in New Jersey

Lyrics:The Edison Museum

TMBGLOTD

I could never sleep my way to the top
'Cause my alarm clock always wakes me right up
And since my options had been whittled away
I struck a bargain with my radio DJ
I said I'd like this song to be number one
He said 'I'd really really like to help you my son'
And then I knew that I would have him to thank
Because he asked me how much I had in the bank

Hey, Mr. DJ, I Thought You Said We Had A Deal

TMBGLOTD

Youth culture killed my dog
And I don't think it's fair

Youth Culture Killed My Dog

TMBGLOTD

Hats off to the new age hairstyle made of bones
Hats off to the use of hats as megaphones
Speak softly, drive a Sherman tank
Laugh hard, it's a long way to the bank

Rhythm Section Want Ad

TMBGLOTD

Why did you grow a beard?
Why did you grow a beard?
I can't leave you alone for five minutes
What the Christ?
What the devil?
Why did you grow a beard?
Why did you grow a beard?
Is there nowhere in the world for a no goodnik
Is there nowhere in the
Freedom-loving
Sister-hugging
Screaming, yelling

Why Did You Grow A Beard?

A month at Trinity

I've been at my new job for about a month now, so I thought it was about time for an update. I am working for a company called Trinity Transport. They're a transportation intermediary, or a trucking brokerage. You can find out more about them at their web site, but here's all you really need to know: When a company wants to move some freight, instead of calling a carrier directly they can call a broker. The broker arranges for a carrier and makes sure the load gets moved. Of course, they charge a bit more to the shipper than they pay to the carrier, but they handle all of the headaches. That's basically what the company does.

Trinity has offices and salesmen around the country, but the headquarters is in Delaware. I spent my first week on the job in Delaware. I went through the company orientation and sat down with the other programmers to learn about the projects we're working on. I was there over a weekend, so I spent a day in Washington DC. And I spent a day at the beach, which is about 40 miles from where I was working. Here are pictures from those trips.

I'm working on a product called TTI ShipDirect. You can't see anything there without a login and password, but it's a price comparison site for less than truckload shipments. It's written in PHP with a PostgreSQL database, but the company is starting to use Ruby on Rails for new projects, so I've been learning that, too. I made this little program in just a few hours. Feel free to poke around, create an account, add posts and add comments. The comment form uses AJAX, which is especially easy to do in Ruby on Rails.

While I was in Delaware, they gave me a laptop to get started. But now that I've got settled at my Kansas City office, I have a brand new Mac Mini with a 20" wide-screen monitor. I'm using Synergy to share the mouse and keyboard with both computers. And I'm using Textmate to edit code on the Mac.

I'm having lots of fun at the new job, and apparently I left the bank just in time. It was robbed at gunpoint last week, which had never happened in the bank's 70-year history. If I hadn't quit, I would have been covering the window that got robbed over lunch time.

TMBGLOTD

I already know the ending it's
The part that makes your face implode
I don't know what makes your face implode
But that's the way the movie ends

Experimental Film

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