Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Showing Your Support

The Html Validator extension in action!
I upgraded Firefox this evening to version 6.0. Why, oh, why is there another version of Firefox? But I digress... this isn't a post about Firefox, but rather a Firefox extension that I use: Html Validator. I like my web pages to validate--I can't count the number of bugs that extension has found for me. Most of them probably aren't a big deal since browsers are designed specifically to "fix" bad HTML and CSS as best they can. Forget a closing tag? No problem--the browser will put it in for you. And most of the time, it does a pretty good job of it, which is why you might not even notice the problem.

But still, it's a problem, because the browser might not get things right. Or maybe most browsers get it right, but that one browser, in one particular version, with a certain setting could crash and burn. So I like my code to validate--both the HTML and CSS files, and the Html Validator is wonderful because it automatically validates all of the HTML and CSS for every single webpage I view. Most websites fail miserably, but AQ pages usually pass with flying colors. =) You'll find some pages that don't validate properly--often times because I'm importing code from other places like the Google AdSense ads found on the tutorial pages. My code validates, but Google's code doesn't. *shrug* Presumably, Google spends a great deal of effort making sure their pages look exactly like they want on every browser known to man, so I generally don't worry about it. I just worry about my own code. =)

With the Firefox upgrade, I also got a message that I needed to upgrade the Html Validator extension, which I did, and when Firefox started up, it loaded Html Validator for Firefox and Mozilla.

I've seen this page before--often times, when I upgrade Firefox, I'll wind up with half a dozen "this extension has been installed!" type of pages opening up, and I usually close them all without reading them.

For whatever reason, though, I read some of it this time wondering if there was anything interesting in it and saw this line: Do you like this extension?

Well, yes, I do. It's helped me find hundreds of bugs on AQ over the years. I can't imagine developing a website without it in the background, constantly validating the code I write.

Then he wrote: I wrote this extension during my very limited freetime, which conflicts with my family life. If you would like to donate to encourage my continuing maintenance and improvement of the extension, you can do it using the Paypal. If you can't, I really appreciate bug fixes, bug reports, translations and improvement suggestions and requests :-)

And I felt sympathetic. Why does he continue to develop and maintain this extension? For the joy of it? The satisfaction of making the world just a little bit better for people like me?

I have no idea who this Marc fellow is. I don't know where he lives, or how big his family is. I don't know how much time or effort he really requires to develop this extension. But I suddenly felt like I could relate to this person. Atlas Quest is largely a free product and my livelihood is dependent on people who enjoy my little creation and support my efforts to maintain and improve it. While it's true that there are some perks for being a premium member, there's absolutely nothing tangible that goes with it, and it's quite easy to have a long and fruitful letterboxing career without ever becoming one.

In a sense, though, this guy has it even harder than I do. He doesn't even pretend to offer any perks for donations. If this fellow started charging people to use his product, though, I'd buy it. I wouldn't spend a lot for it, but I'd probably be willing to spend up to $10 or $15 before I'd start looking around for other options. Which isn't much, but according to the add-on page, he has 145,672 people who've installed his extension. Several of them are me--I have it installed on my home computer, my laptop, and three separate times on my little portable drive for each version of Firefox I have installed on it. Not to mention that I've also installed it on my mom's computer for when I'm working there. =)

BUT STILL..... 145,672 is a lot of people. More than use AQ, that's for sure. If every one of them was willing to pay him $10, he'd probably be quite comfortable financially speaking. Since the product is absolutely free, I'd be surprised if more than 1% of those people actually gave him anything, though.

Anyhow, I love this extension and decided that it was time for me to donate a few bucks to perhaps make it worthwhile for him to continue developing and maintaining the extension. I followed the PayPal link with the intention of donating $10. Not much in the grand scheme of things--I won't miss $10--but I hope it helps him. =)

Wassa Jr. is Canadian. A real international community
here on Atlas Quest! =)
Before I even typed in that amount, however, I had a hunch that Marc was not from the United States. In fact, I immediately wondered if English was even his first language, because the default amount listed was "0,00". I don't know about you, but I've always used periods to separate the dollars from the cents, not a comma. I'm not sure which countries use commas, but I do know that's how they write numbers in Spanish--where we use commas, they use periods, and where we use periods, they use commas. It's kind of annoying for me. I never got used to seeing numbers like that when I lived in Central America.

So then I started wondering what denomination this currency was expected. Hmm.... If I had to make a wild guess--which I was, because I saw nothing about what currency was expected--I'd figure it was somewhere in Europe and that the euro would be a good choice. How much would $10 be in euros? Not sure... five, maybe? Well, let's try 5 and see what happens....

The confirmation page said that would send five euros (woo-who! I guessed right!), and would deduct $7.45 from my account. Yeah, sure, go for it. Maybe I can't take him out for lunch, but at least I can buy him one. =) And maybe I'll send him another 5 euros next year--after the value of the euro crashes because Greece defaults on their debt, so the cost to buy another 5 euros will be less. =)

On the "pay with a credit card" page, the default country listed is Belgium, which makes me think Marc lives in Belgium.

And how cool is that? Here I am, sitting at home in Seattle, a huge fan of a product created by a guy in Belgium in his spare time, building a website that's used by folks from around the world (hello, New Zealanders!) supporting his efforts through PayPal which can automatically convert my dollars into his euros in our interconnected global marketplace practically instantly (presumably after it was converted from New Zealand dollars or Canadian dollars or any other number of currencies before it was sent to me). It's really quite amazing, isn't it?

Anyhow, it got me thinking about a lot of the products I use without giving much thought to the people who created them. I don't know if Marc makes much money doing this, but I hope it's enough to make it worth his while. It's important to support those products you like and use--it doesn't take much to make a difference.

1 comment:

Mama Cache said...

. . . which is why I will always want to be a premium member. Thanks for all you do!