Forking TACO 2.0

Update (2010-06-30)

Abine has posted their own view of the events, which I would recommend as a follow up read to this post. I sort of agree with what they say there, but don't take this as an endorsement.

The link is at the bottom of this post.

A few days ago my Firefox updated an extension that has been a useful favorite for quite a while, TACO. What I saw when it was finished surprised me and made me upset.

What The What?!

You see, TACO has always been a quiet, understated background application. It sits there, humming softly in the dark keeping my advertising opt-out cookies up to date. It has no UI, it has no configuration, it just works.

This new TACO though, was flashy, shiny and filled with buttons and features. It even had a built in app store!

I Kid You Not

I freaked out, I moved quickly and I removed TACO 3.0. I checked the page on and found that others were not happy with the new TACO either. It had become a commercial affair by the folks at Abine. More on them later.

So what's a geek to do? Why, fork it of course. I hopped online and grabbed TACO 2.0, unpacked it and took a look. This classic version didn't have much to it, and what's more it was licensed under the Apache 2.0 License. Fork's Away!

I quickly set up my git repo, made some slight changes and let people know about my new Beef Taco in a review on the old TACO 2.0 page.

"Beef Taco", Get It?

There, crisis averted. I have a new project to keep track of, but maybe this will help out anyone else who cringes at 3.0.

Later that evening I got an email from Rob Shavell, one of the founders of Abine. I expected an uncomfortable reply from Abine, if they noticed me at all, but Rob was totally cool. He even got my joke with the name of the new extension.

Hello. I have to compliment you on the beef taco name. I'm personally apologizing for our upgrade that you, judging by your actions, didn't want / need. Even though we're trying to offer the same type of downgrade, I'm sure a lot of users will appreciate your fork.

That's pretty neat, and they are okay with my fork. I suppose maybe I can take some of the support load off of them, so that the paranoids like me will leave them alone.

But it gets better, we traded a few more emails talking about my fork, the new direction of 3.0 and the reaction in general, when he sent me this gem.

4. we'll send you all new opt-outs we add so you can easily stay in sync..

Are you kidding me? You're going to help my fork? That is awesome. At that moment Abine won my trust back, completely. These guys seem to really be trying to do something with their startup, but they also care about privacy in general.

Sure enough, I had a list of new opt-out cookies in about an hour. That is how you show you care about your users.

I went back and took another look at 3.0, and while it doesn't appeal to me as a proficient user, there are a lot of features in there that are pretty cool, and you can tell they put a lot of work into it.

Stuff like telling me how many data breach incidents an advertiser has had, or the sort of "complete threat panel" thing. That's some cool stuff.

Back Off Microsoft!

Detailed Privacy Panel - Pretty Cool

I think that TACO 3.0 is only going to get better, and is going to have real appeal to novice users.

Who knows, it may even be pressed back into service in my browser someday. Until then, I'll maintain Beef Taco, with a little less beef now then before.

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