A Proper Signature

For those who didn’t know;

RFC Standard

“signatures”: short closing texts, auto-matically added to the end of articles by posting agents, identifying the poster and giving his network addresses etc. If a poster or posting agent does append a signature to an article, the signature SHOULD be preceded with a delimiter line containing (only) two hyphens (ASCII 45) followed by one blank (ASCII 32).
Posting agents SHOULD limit the length of signatures, since verbose excess bordering on abuse is common if no restraint is imposed; 4 lines is a common limit..

Let’s recap:
– Your email/newsgroup signatures should be a maximum 4 lines. That’s the standard limit.
– separate your signature from the message body with two hyphens and a space (-- ). You’d be surprised what software can do if it can recognize a proper signature delimiter. 🙂

The history of Mozilla newsgroups

I have to explain this frequently; so here’s the long version.

A lot of people get confused, and sometimes mad, when they find out that all the netscape.public.mozilla.* usenet newsgroups are for development discussion, while the user support newsgroups are on a secure server, not propagated to usenet. Here’s why:

The first thing to understand is that Netscape created the Mozilla project, as a way to develop their next internet suite. When Netscape first set up their news (NNTP) server (secnews.netscape.com), Netscape had new SSL implementation in its Enterprise software with the addition of NNTP software using port 563. This is something big corporations (who were in big with Netscape) wanted badly. The Netscape news server showcased that technology. Netscape also created a subset of groups to be propagated to usenet, called “public.” (ie. netscape.public.* groups).

When the Mozilla project was created, discussion groups were needed, and for some reason, it was decided that the mozilla newsgroups would be in the .public.* hierarchy, distributed over usenet. (ie. netscape.public.mozilla.* groups) They also wanted people to be able to access the mozilla groups on the Netscape server, but for it to work properly, this requires access without an SSL connection; so an alias to the Netscape server was created (news.mozilla.org).
For clarification, secnews.netscape.com and news.mozilla.org are the same physical server. You can access the secure groups with news.mozilla.org set to an SSL connection (port 563). (The SSL certificate is for the domain secnews.netscape.com, so you’ll get a cert mismatch message; but everything will work.)

Since Mozilla was not intended for use by end-users, there was no need for user support newsgroups. The name “.mozilla.” in the newsgroup name was the indicator that the group was for development discussion. As time went by, people started using Mozilla as an end-user product, and looking for technical support. Naturally, they started posting in the developer groups.

This is when the Mozilla Organization addressed the growing problem of misplaced posts, with a bug report to reorganize the Mozilla news hierarchy. Unfortunately, administrative wheels were very slow to implement the new hierarchy. And so, as a temporary solution, user newsgroups were created on the secure server, with no propagation to usenet. They were basically placed along side the Netscape user support groups.

The current situation:
When the Mozilla Foundation was created in July of 2003, the domains had to be moved to their own servers. This includes news.mozilla.org. The problem is that they don’t have the resources to set up the server, create the new newsgroups, work out a transition plan, and maintain the server. Mozilla is currently looking for a volunteer news administrator to do that. Until that happens, all the netscape.public.mozilla.* usenet newsgroups are for development discussion, and the user support newsgroups are on a secure server, not propagated to usenet.

August 29, 2005 update:
**Giganews hosting the new Mozilla news server**

Forum Diet

You’ve seen how many forums there are for Mozilla and Netscape, right? Including developer forums, there’s no way a normal human being can keep up, let alone participate. And so, I’m going on a forum diet.

Most notably, I’m no longer participating in netscape.mozilla.user.win32.
I don’t have the time to participate in netscape.public.general, or alt.netscape. I did some support in the UFAQ forums, but not anymore.

I started doing Netscape support in alt.netscape, so I’m still hesitant about leaving that one.

In which newsgroups am I still giving tech support?

The only web-based forums I’m going to do support in (on occasion) is Mozillazine’s Thunderbird and Seamonkey support forums.

Homepage versus Startpage

You know that great feature in the Mozilla Application Suite and Netscape7, that lets you choose whether you want your browser to open with your homepage, a blank page, or the last page you visited? Well, this is one of those features that is still in Mozilla Firefox, but there’s no menu for it. Here’s how to set it:
Open Firefox, type about:config in the location bar, and press <Enter>. Search for the preference browser.startup.page. Double-click on it (or right-click and select Modify), and set the value.

The values:
0 = blank page
1 = home page
2 = last page visited

Personally, I like my browser to open in a blank page, but that doesn’t mean my homepage has to be blank.

Choosing my new RSS reader

As I stated in a previous post, duplicate RSS items is my #1 Thunderbird bug. I recently decided to look for alternatives.

Stand-alone RSS readers are out of the question. I prefer to view the actual webpage of the RSS item, instead of the summary. I get to read the comments, and it makes placing a comment much quicker (thanks blogger.com, for only offering atom feeds. -( ). As a result, I think I would be much better off with a Firefox or Thunderbird extension. This way, I make sure the Gecko rendering engine is used.

I should first explain why I don’t use Firefox’s live bookmarks feature. It’s a nice feature, but it does not indicate which RSS items I have read, and which ones are new. I don’t want to have to reread through the list of items on every RSS feed to see if I recognize the titles. Live bookmarks is a nice technology demo, but I have trouble finding a practical use for it.

So I looked at the RSS extensions available. I tried Forumzilla a few months ago on the Mozilla Application Suite and Netscape 7, having been told to add it to https://ilias.ca/MozillavsFirefox. It would not remember any RSS feeds I entered, let alone fetch items. It seems to work for others, so I assume the problem was local.

Next, I had look at Aggreg8. According to the Aggreg8 weblog, development on Aggreg8 has ceased, and Habarixenu is recommended. So I tried Habarixenu. I quickly uninstalled it, after finding no way to set it to display the actual webpage of an RSS item.

So I went to addons.mozilla.org, and saw Wizz RSS. It has the layout I’m looking for. It also has the stupidest caveat I’ve seen in an RSS reader: You have to store your feed list on the Wizz Computers server. Buh-bye.

Next, I tried Sage. It has a good user interface. It keeps track of which items are read and unread. It has a nice “check feeds” button, which checks for new items on all my feeds, and puts an indicator beside those feeds, which have new items. My only problem with it is that the list of items kept on the list is not controlled, like it is in Thunderbird. I like to hold on to certain blog posts, that I find helpful. I suppose simply bookmarking them would do the trick.

And so, I chose Sage as my new RSS reader.