Simon Willison’s Weblog


Monday, 28th April 2003

Tim Bray on Unicode

Tim Bray’s ongoing really is one of the best technical blogs out there (if it even is a blog). One of his current topics is Unicode, which is one of those topics that pretty much every software developer should try to get under their belt. On the Goodness of Unicode gives a thorough, entertaining overview of the subject (including its importance and why it isn’t as scary as it sounds) while Characters vs. Bytes is the first in a promised three part essay covering the technical details of modern character processing.

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Fixed Point Arithmetic in Python

The Python Tutorial now includes a new appendix on the limitations of floating point arithmetic. Via Simon Brunning, who also linked to the lengthier What Every Computer Scientist Should Know About Floating-Point Arithmetic almost exactly a year ago.

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CSS Headings

Via Craig Saila, Christopher Schmitt’s 50 CSS Headings. Free CSS code snippets is definitely an idea who’s time has come—there are hundreds of copy-and-paste javascript sites out there but hardly any for CSS (discounting the many excellent full layout sites). Mark Newhouse’s extremely popular CSS Design: Taming Lists article does the same thing for lists but other than that this kind of resource is extremely rare. Web developers not interested in moving to CSS completely can still benefit hugely from using it in their current sites in place of nested formatting tables and presentational tags used to give the visual appearance of headings, so the more of this kind of thing out there the better.

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More fun with Search

While browsing around my phoenix/ directory I spotted a sub-directory called searchplugins, which appears to control the list of search engines available in the very useful search box at the top right corner of the browser. A bit of digging later and it turns out that adding new search engines to Mozilla based browsers is remarkably easy: The Mozilla Search Project.

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Phoenix / Firebird nightlies hotting up

Word on the street is that Phoenix 0.6 (or Firebird or Mozilla Firebird or Mozilla Browser or whatever else you want to call it) could be out within the next week or so. I’m using the 28th April nightly build and it really is a big improvement on Phoenix 0.5, which is a very respectable browser in its own right. The new preferences panel (shown below) has been in the nightlies for quite a while now and really does add to the overall feel of the browser, and new features from Mozilla such as an editable about:config screen are handy as well.

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2003 » April