Opera 9.50

I finally got around to trying the Linux version of Opera 9.50, the newest version of the Opera web browser. Here’s what I think of it after a couple weeks of using Opera 9.50 as my main web browser, particularly how it compares to Firefox 3.0.


Things I like in the latest Opera:

  • Tab management, particularly the “Create Follower Tab” feature: You can make a new tab in which any links from the current tab will be automatically opened. This can be great for reading the news.
  • Site preferences: Manage cookie, JavaScript, and other preferences on a site-by-site basis from a single location.
  • The new rendering engine has better CSS compliance than Firefox, and it seems to handle poorly-designed sites with much greater grace than in previous versions of Opera.
  • Plugins such as Adobe Flash appear to be handled using a child process and IPC, making the browser resilient against Flash crashes. This can be done with Firefox too, but it requires the separate nspluginwrapper program, which isn’t installed by default on 32-bit versions of Ubuntu.

Things that I still prefer about Firefox 3.0:

  • I initially loathed it, but the Awesome Bar has really grown on me. I miss it when I’m in Opera.
  • Firefox automatically scales large images to fit within your browser window; if there’s an option to do this in Opera, I haven’t been able to find it.
  • Firefox offers spell-as-you-type spell checking in text entry fields, whereas Opera (on Linux, anyway) only provides a “click here to check spelling” type of functionality.
  • Firefox lets you preview RSS and Atom feeds before subscribing to them.
  • Extensions: In some shape or form, Opera can perform the basic functionality provided by Firefox’s NoScript, Cookie Monster, Firebug, and Foxmarks extensions, but cannot match these addons’ full feature sets. Other Firefox addons, such as Live HTTP Headers, Adblock Plus, Unplug, and CustomizeGoogle, appear to have no analogues in Opera.
  • Opera does not obey your local QT theme for the positioning of its scrollbar buttons, so you can’t easily use NeXT-style scrollbar buttons in Opera on Linux. (Firefox 3.0 obeys your GTK+ settings in this regard.)
  • Opera’s stability has gotten much, much better since 9.26 and the 9.50 betas, but it still crashes every so often. Meanwhile, Firefox 3.0 has yet to fail me.

So that’s my little mini-review. If you haven’t given Opera a try yet, now would be a great time to do so. But if features and flexibility are of the utmost importance to you, you’ll probably end up sticking with Firefox.

UF Weather Report Widget Thingy

I’ve tired of manually pointing my browser at http://www.phys.ufl.edu/weather/ each time I want to check the conditions on campus, so I made a small widget to bring the campus weather report to my NetVibes home page:

UF Weather widget screenshot

Fellow Gators can use this widget too – just click here to add it to your NetVibes home page, or here to add it to iGoogle. Or copy the widget’s URL to manually add it to any other UWA-aware application:


MacGyver movie!

I’ve been waiting for this since I was a kid: MacGyver is headed for the theater! And better yet, the show’s original creator, Lee David Zlotoff, has obtained the movie rights and will be in control of the film. This is going to be amazing.

I have to assume right off the bat that Richard Dean Anderson will be reprising the role of Angus MacGyver… just don’t skimp on the mullet, ok guys?

Movable Type

I finally tired of WordPress eating up memory on my humble VPS that I’d really rather have for my email server and other things, so I tossed it (along with its requisite overkill DBMS back-end, MySQL) out the window in favor of Movable Type static publishing, with the Lighttpd web server and SQLite at the back-end. It was easy enough to scrape together my own template set, and so far I haven’t looked back… for this sort of thing, Movable Type > WordPress by a long shot.

I’m having a bit of trouble importing the old WordPress entries, however. If you got here because you found an old post of mine on a search engine, sorry; if it is any consolation whatsoever, most of that stuff was crap.

ISC DHCPD status report generator

After setting up my apartment’s OpenBSD based network, I decided it would be handy to have a simple report generator to describe active DHCPD leases. I also wanted to brush up on Perl a bit. This Perl script is the natural result of such circumstances.

Run dhcpd-report.pl to generate a plaintext or HTML report of current leases in the DHCPD lease database and reservations in dhcpd.conf. In my usage, I have the script set to run once every five minutes in a cron job, sending output to an HTML file in a web server document root. (On OpenBSD, httpd runs in a chroot jail; if I were to run this script as CGI it wouldn’t have direct access to the DHCPD configuration files.) Thus the script can be used to give you a reasonably up to date web page displaying your network’s DHCP clients.

By default, the program looks for dhcpd.leases and dhcpd.conf in /var/db/ and /etc/, respectively, which are these files’ locations in OpenBSD 4.1. If needed, you can change where the script looks for these files by modifying a pair of constants near the top of the main program.

dhcpd-report.pl requires the Date::Format and Date::Parse modules from CPAN. See the POD documentation* for more info.

Download: dhcpd-report.pl

*Sort of like an ATM machine or a PIN number…