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Less Chrome

Note: I wrote most of this post last September, but never finished it until today.

Like many others, I recently downloaded and tried out Google’s new web browser, Chrome. It has some interesting and innovative ideas, but due to a few key missing features and one hard-to-overlook philosophical difference, I have not become an avid user. Firefox remains my browser of choice, and with its wonderful array of plug-ins and hacks, I have managed to “port” Chrome’s best feature to Firefox.

The first thing that annoyed me about Chrome was that forward slash did not initiate a quick search, as it does in Firefox. I use forward slash all the time to perform searches, and this annoyed me. I also noticed that Chrome skinned the window’s title bar. To me, the title bar is “sacred” territory. In my world view, the title bar belongs to the Operating System, not the application. Applications that skin it away don’t get much traction with me.

So, I happily went back to Firefox, but then one thing that Chrome didn’t have started to bug me in Firefox because Firefox did have it. And that was various bars cluttering up the vertical viewing space in Firefox. From the top, I had the tile bar (which I like), the menu bar (which I rarely use), the navigation bar (useful and necessary), my bookmark bar (which I use, but not all the time), the page content, and finally, the status bar (which is only useful when hovering links, loading pages, or using a feature such as Adblock).

Google Chrome, on the other hand, got rid of most of these except when you needed them, which I thought was a wonderful idea. So I went about getting Firefox to behave the same way. It is, I am happy to report, possible and, in my opinion so far at least, wonderful.

Note: I originally experimented with removing the status bar, I have since brought the status bar back; the extensions I tried never got it quite right, and made some web sites work less well. This was months ago, so I don’t remember all the extensions I tried, but I am open to new ideas.

The extension I still use is called “Hide Menubar” — it allows me to get rid of the menubar unless I press “Alt.” I then put all of my bookmarks on the menubar, so they only show up when I want them. Altogether, my verical space takers went from 5 bars — Title, Menu, Navigation, Bookmarks, and Status, to 3 bars — Title, Navigation, and Status. The difference is quite nice, and I suggest it to anyone looking to regain some screen real estate while surfing the web.

Whistler-Blackcomb

Thursday through Saturday I volunteered at the Microsoft Seattle Regional of the FIRST Robotics Competition. More on that later, perhaps. First, I must report on my wondrous trip to British Columbia.

As I already posted, I got lost on my way there, but I found my way to my hotel so it was all good. The next morning, I woke early to drive to Whistler, where I purchased a ski ticket and hit the slopes just after 10 am.

The lift infrastructure at the Whistler-Blackcomb ski area is immense, modern, and spectacular. Most of the lifts are enclosed gondolas or express chairs, and they cover a vast skiable area. It was lightly snowing most of the day while I skied, and visibility varied between good and fair. Winds picked up towards the end of the day, but my new ski pants and venerable yellow jacket withstood the weather very well.

I had forgotten a how much fun skiing is, and this was a spectacular reminder. I wasn’t in very good skiing shape, so I tired quickly from terrain like moguls, but I still enjoyed everything I went down and avoided falling — although I had a few close calls as I got more tired in the afternoon.

My knee held up very well, and although it was a little more stiff than usual the next morning, it was not bad at all, and while skiing it felt find the whole day.

One of the highlights for me was the newly completed Peak-to-Peak Gondola, an engineering feat that whisks passengers between the peaks of Whistler and Blackcomb mountains. The unsupported span is nearly two miles, and it hangs about 1500 feet over the bottom on the ravine it crosses. A spectacular and awe-inspiring ride, and almost worth the price of admission alone.

Both mountains offer a wide variety of excellent skiing. I didn’t attempt anything too difficult, but I did hit a few black diamonds and had a great time throughout the day. I stopped at a Mongolian grill in the village for lunch, and then when the lifts started closing, I headed back to Vancouver, albeit slowly. On my way back, I stopped at a couple of places to take pictures along the scenic Sea-to-Sky highway that is under heavy construction leading up the the 2010 Olympics.

Spring 2009 Schedule

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
10:30
11:00
11:30 CSE 451 (TA) CSE 451 (TA) CSE 451 (TA)
12:00
12:30 CSE 590 G
CSE 203
CSE 451 (TA)
Section AA
1:00
1:30 CSE 551 CSE 590 S
EEB 025
CSE 451 (TA)
Section AB
CSE 551
2:00
2:30
3:00
3:30 CSE 590 P
EEB 042
4:00
4:30
5:00
5:30
6:00
6:30 CSE 548
7:00
7:30
8:00
8:30
9:00
9:30

Winter 2009 Grades

Course Course Title Credits Grade Grade
Points
CSE 590 RESEARCH SEMINAR 1.0 CR 0.00
CSE M 584 COMPUTER SECURITY 4.0 3.7 14.80
CSE P 505 PROG LANGUAGES 4.0 3.8 15.20
ECON 485 ECONOMIC GAME THRY 5.0 3.7 18.50
Graded Credits
Attempted
Grade Points
Earned
Grade Point
Average
Total Credits
Earned
13.0 48.50 3.73 14.0

Lost In (The Greater) Vancouver (Area)!

This is why going places is so fun. Right after I crossed into Canada, I realized that I hadn’t been following my directions at all — they said I should take the other border crossing, and then get onto highway 1 and continue that way. I stayed on I-5, which over the border turns into Highway 99. I figured 99 and 1 must cross at some point, so I continued on 99 trying to keep my eyes open for highway 1.

Interestingly, highway 99 goes right into Vancouver and doesn’t stay very highway-like. I was basically on a surface street headed straight for downtown. I got the drive right by the Harbor Center (that tower thing you see in photos of Vancouver), and then I turned right, because in my memory that was more or less the way I had to go from downtown to get to my hotel in North Vancouver.

I was right, but I was still on surface streets. I eventually made my way through several blinking-green-light-intersections to a somewhat major road and then sped my way right on out of town. Eventually I started to think I must have missed the highway, or been totally lost, so I turned around and hit up a gas station where I refilled and picked up a map. It turns out that I was literally a block away from highway 1, and had just missed it while admiring the pretty lights of a bridge the first time past.

Back on track, I arrived at my hotel a little before midnight, and now here I am.

Tomorrow is Whistler for my first skiing in over two years.

Should be awesome.

Vancouver or Bust

I’m headed to Vancouver, B.C., to check out a city I haven’t visited in more than a decade and ski at one of the world’s premier ski resorts, Whistler-Blackcomb.

On Wednesday, I’ll be seeing Erik, who is currently attending UBC. Good times.

Grade Predictions, Winter 2009

My first grade was just posted, but I haven’t looked at it yet because first I must do my Winter Quarter 2009 grade predictions! This quarter I took my first PMP class and my first Econ class at the UW, so those are new variables, but hopefully my guage isn’t too far off.

Economics 485 — Game Theory — 3.8
I did well on the first test, average on the second, and I feel I did well on the final

CSE P 505 — Programming Languages — 3.8
I averages in the low 90s on the homeworks, and I did well on the final, but so did a lot of people.

CSE M 584 — Security — 3.6
I feel I did well on the final, but I missed a homework and botched a second, and got a bad grade on one of the larger labs because I wasn’t careful enough (although my partner and I very successfully and quickly implemented the exploit). Oh well.