Born Geek
Archive for January 2013

Improving CoLT’s Custom Formats

January 30, 2013

To me, the single most helpful feature in CoLT is the custom format. Being able to copy link text and URLs as either HTML, Markdown, or whatever else is a real time saver. That said, I think there’s still some room for improvement in what CoLT can do. Let’s take a look at an example.

Among others, I have the following two custom formats in my current Firefox profile:

  • Markdown – [%T](%U)
  • Markdown (Selected) – [%S](%U)

The first format copies the link text along with the link URL, while the second uses any selected text in place of the link text. Both of these options are handy to have, but I’m forced to have two custom formats for something that one ought to be able to do. I also have to remember when to use each one.

Problem 1: Conditional Formatting

I would love to be able to combine the two formats above into one rule, resulting in something like the following: [%?S|T](%U). In this theoretical example, selected text would be my first option, but if no text was selected, the link text would be used as a fallback.

Problem 2: Optional Text

One CoLT user suggested a similar scenario for including optional text in the copied value. Consider this example using a differing conditional syntax: [%T](%U)%[I (%I) ]%

Here, everything between the %[I and ]% would be optional, assuming the nested %I had no value. This would allow users to insert conditional text in formats for values that may not always appear (such as the %I option, which maps to a link’s title text). However, the suggested syntax somehow seems more ugly and error prone.

Food for Thought

As a result of these usage scenarios, here are some questions for you:

  1. Is there an elegant, concise syntax that could be used for these two scenarios? I prefer the question mark-style syntax in problem 1 to indicate conditional formatting (it’s concise), but it doesn’t seem to solve problem 2.
  2. Given this kind of capability, would you actually use it? I can think of a number of scenarios where it would help me, but do others see the same kind of thing?

Any and all comments on this topic would be appreciated. And if you see ways to improve what’s already present in the extension, let me know!

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Googlebar Lite 4.9.6

January 23, 2013

A new release of Googlebar Lite is now available. Here’s what’s new:

  • Bug Fix: The news search type should no longer result in a “page not found” error
  • Bug Fix: Dragging a link to the search box no longer pastes the URL, but the link text instead

Logging to Firebug From XUL

January 23, 2013

The Firebug extension is a very helpful tool for web development. But did you know that you can use its console as an output target for your Firefox extensions? It’s pretty simple to do:

Firebug.Console.log("Text to log"); // Output text
Firebug.Console.log(myObj); // Output an object

Is that easy or what? Having this capability is a great way to print out JavaScript objects from your Firefox extensions, making your debugging life much easier.

Jones Lake State Park

January 22, 2013

I have just posted an album showcasing some of the sites of Jones Lake State Park. Like Singletary Lake state park, Jones Lake is located near Elizabethtown, NC. The park offers some nice hiking opportunities, and is quite scenic.

Photo Album Software Update

January 21, 2013

I’ve rolled out some improvements to the software powering my photos website. Visitors can now navigate through all of my favorite photos without having to use the back button in the browser (favorites are essentially their own album now). I’ve been wanting to fix this problem for some time, and it feels good to finally get it resolved!

I also stamped out a few bugs that crept in when I last updated the site. If you spot any problems with the photos site, or have suggestions for improvement, I’m all ears!

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Singletary Lake State Park

January 18, 2013

I’ve just posted some photos from Singletary Lake State Park, located near Elizabethtown, NC. This was a great park, but it’s typically only open to groups for camping trips. The ranger there was kind enough to let us hike the nature trail, so I was able to get a view of yet another of our state’s wonderful parks!

New DreamHost Discount

January 9, 2013

Seeing as it’s been a very long time since I’ve done anything with it, I’ve decided to create a new DreamHost discount here at Born Geek. You can now save $75.00 by using the promo code borngeek3 when you sign up as a new DreamHost customer! Is that easy to do, or what?

By signing up through Born Geek, you’re helping to support the hosting cost of this website. That’s right: 100% of the remaining portion of the rewards money I get for new customer referrals goes straight to keeping Born Geek on the air. A big thank you to everyone who has supported this website in the past!