### Opening PDF files withing Firefox 3.0

Sorry, no news about Owen and Marcus in this post. They're doing great, but I just wanted to do a quick post about Firefox 3 which may save many of my fellow astronomers/Mac users some time and effort.

I just spent most of my morning trying to figure out how to get Firefox 3 to open PDF files within a browser tab like Safari. I was about to give up and go back to my two-browser approach (Firefox for viewing with ad-blocking, Safari for reading astro-ph, etc.) when I finally came across this solution:

It turns out all you have to do is install a simple PDF plugin and you're in business. Surprisingly this is not anywhere on the Firefox Support webpage, nor is it in the many Mac/Firefox forums I read through (most of these were all, "Just use Safari. Mehhhhh meh MEEHHH!")

The only glitch I ran into is that the first PDF file I tried to open looked like a blank file with a huge horizontal scroll bar. The problem turned out to be that the default viewer setting was at the maximum zoom, so I was only looking at the upper left corner. I zoommed out by right-clicking and selecting "Actual Size" and then it was just like I was reading PDF files in Safari.

karinms said…
How is firefox 3? I have a hard time living without the little RSS updates in my bookmarks bar in Safari (hence the quick reply to your blog post!). But I've considered the swtich. Good to know that the pdf thing works!
JohnJohn said…
I don't use RSS feeds, but I need to start. There are a lot of friends with new babies updating their blogs frequently, so it's time for me to get with the program. I'll let you know what I find about Firefox's RSS skillz.
blissful_e said…
I use Nitro PDF download as a Firefox extension on my Windows machine - it allows me to open PDFs in a new tab, view as HTML, or save onto the hard drive.
Anonymous said…
so in general, for a non-super user mac type person like myself, going to firefox 3 is a good thing or a bad thing?

### On the Height of J.J. Barea

Dallas Mavericks point guard J.J. Barea standing between two very tall people (from: Picassa user photoasisphoto).

Congrats to the Dallas Mavericks, who beat the Miami Heat tonight in game six to win the NBA championship.

Okay, with that out of the way, just how tall is the busy-footed Maverick point guard J.J. Barea? He's listed as 6-foot on NBA.com, but no one, not even the sports casters, believes that he can possibly be that tall. He looks like a super-fast Hobbit out there. But could that just be relative scaling, with him standing next to a bunch of extremely tall people? People on Yahoo! Answers think so---I know because I've been Google searching "J.J. Barea Height" for the past 15 minutes.

So I decided to find a photo and settle the issue once and for all.

I then used the basketball as my metric. Wikipedia states that an NBA basketball is 29.5 inches in circumfe…

### Finding Blissful Clarity by Tuning Out

It's been a minute since I've posted here. My last post was back in April, so it has actually been something like 193,000 minutes, but I like how the kids say "it's been a minute," so I'll stick with that.
As I've said before, I use this space to work out the truths in my life. Writing is a valuable way of taking the non-linear jumble of thoughts in my head and linearizing them by putting them down on the page. In short, writing helps me figure things out. However, logical thinking is not the only way of knowing the world. Another way is to recognize, listen to, and trust one's emotions. Yes, emotions are important for figuring things out.
Back in April, when I last posted here, my emotions were largely characterized by fear, sadness, anger, frustration, confusion and despair. I say largely, because this is what I was feeling on large scales; the world outside of my immediate influence. On smaller scales, where my wife, children and friends reside, I…

### The Force is strong with this one...

Last night we were reviewing multiplication tables with Owen. The family fired off doublets of numbers and Owen confidently multiplied away. In the middle of the review Owen stopped and said, "I noticed something. 2 times 2 is 4. If you subtract 1 it's 3. That's equal to taking 2 and adding 1, and then taking 2 and subtracting 1, and multiplying. So 1 times 3 is 2 times 2 minus 1."

I have to admit, that I didn't quite get it at first. I asked him to repeat with another number and he did with six: "6 times 6 is 36. 36 minus 1 is 35. That's the same as 6-1 times 6+1, which is 35."

Ummmmm....wait. Huh? Lemme see...oh. OH! WOW! Owen figured out

x^2 - 1 = (x - 1) (x +1)

So $6 \times 8 = 7 \times 7 - 1 = (7-1) (7+1) = 48$. That's actually pretty handy!

You can see it in the image above. Look at the elements perpendicular to the diagonal. There's 48 bracketing 49, 35 bracketing 36, etc... After a bit more thought we…