Firefox 42, Major Improvements

Firefox 42 was just released with major improvements for both Android and desktop. Firefox now has tracking blocking built in! By default it is only on during private browsing, to enable it for general use go to about:config and scroll down to privacy.trackingprotection.enabled and set the value to true. This works on both mobile and desktop. It will block many ads and most trackers and works similarly to Ghostery or Privacy Badger.

For desktop use, Firefox also now includes an icon to show which tab is playing audio and the ability to mute it without leaving the current tab. This is a catch up feature that has been available in Chrome for some time. Still a welcome addition.

Firefox usage is in decline and that is a shame. The one browser coded by a non-profit with keeping the web open as its stated goal. Safari, IE/Edge, and Chrome are all made by large corporations concerned more with molding the web to their own needs/profits that with the fate of their users. Even after Edward Snowden’s revelations, many still cling to these locked down proprietary browsers. I honestly do not understand it.


Good Day to Be An Android User

Despite T-mobile being bought up by the shit hole AT&T, necessitating anyone who wants good service to find a new provider, despite that….

Amazon’s App Store is sure to be a hit (despite being currently blocked from AT&T phones).  With AT&T blocking them, and Apple suing them over the name, they are sure to be a hit–when 2 of the biggest creepiest companies in the USA line up against you, you can be sure that you are on the right path.  The free app daily is enough to make me go check it out on a regular basis.  Yesterday they offered Angry Birds, which is not my style of game, so I passed.  Today it is the World Series of Poker, a giant file but I am checking it out anyway.

I am sure that it is only a matter of time before Amazon puts out a budget tablet for the masses.  (At this point in time, only the wealthy can afford tablets…the fact that they are really good for very little, puts them out of most of our reaches.)

We all heard that Firefox finally got around to releasing version 4 of its best-of-class web browser.  What may have slipped under the radar was the release of Firefox 4 Mobile RC.  Holy cow, this browser has come a long ways and now rivals that built into Android.  Also of note was the release of Opera Mobile 11…choice is good.

In other news, Apple is suing an Android porn store.  No longer content with their own puritanical views, Apple attempts to force them onto other platforms.  You can’t make shit like this up.  Apple thinks they own the word “app”.

Every day I thank the goddess that MS beat the totalitarian fucks into the ground in round 1.  As bad as Gates and Co is, they don’t hold a candle to the pure evil wafting out of Cupertino.

But hey!  It is a good day to use Android.

Web Browser Speed Update

Just over 6 months ago I ran a series of tests on the 5 leading internet browsers.  For those just joining us, here are the results from February 2010.

Browser results

And here is my summary from then:

These tests show IE failing miserably at every test, it came in dead last every time.  Meanwhile, Google’s Chrome browser led the pack every time.  Opera’s beta browser slightly edged out Safari although the difference as not that great.  Firefox was some distance behind these but still in the running.

Today I ran a subset of those tests on the up to date versions of the same browsers.  I used the same hardware and IE’s results should act as a control group.

These new results follow.

To me, the amazing thing is the overall improvement amongst all the browsers (IE has a new beta coming soon, it will be interesting to see if they get on the speed bandwagon.)  Chrome still leads the bunch with each version faster than the previous.  Opera furthers its edge over Safari (Safari was the only browser to suffer a regression.)  Firefox moves solidly into the pack, breaking even with Safari and leaving IE to continue lagging.

It will be interesting to see if these speed increases can continue over the next 6 months and if IE 9 is the one that can put the brakes on MS’s browser share slide.  This is far and away the healthiest I have ever seen the browser market.

Of portals and such…

When I first started using the internet, web portals were all the rage.  I remember I used Excite, even having an @ Excite email address.  There was also Alta Vista and others.  With the advent of Google the web portal went into decline although its shell is still visible at such places as Yahoo and MSN.  Back in the day, web portals were utilized as a means of keeping you confined within the walls of a single service.  Even today if you sign up with comcast internet they set Yahoo as your homepage and you can see how many folks then use Yahoo as their email and then go on to use yahoo finance and yahoo sports, etc…  The portal made the web sticky, it kept you within the walls of its corporate owner as much as possible.  Remember how folks used to think that AOL WAS the internet?  To a large degree Google helped break down these walls.

[Edit: Sure there are modern portals called Personal Pages, like Netvibes, iGoogle, My Yahoo, etc…  Unfortunately, the amount of data that they need to pull make them fairly useless as a home page, and even more unwieldy to use as a new tab page. Even after pulling the data you need to wait while your PC renders all the ajaxy stuff.   I dutifully test each release but continue to find them all to be to slow for my taste.]

Still, I am partial to the concept.  It continues to make sense to me.  So for a number of years I have maintained my own portal.  Recently I have come up with a way to make it more useful…that is what this post is about.

First I installed about:tab a Firefox extension from Mozilla labs.  About:tab monitors what you type into the Firefox address bar and presents you with links to the sites you type in the most on your new tab page.  After a few weeks it was clear which sites I was typing in the most.

Then beginning with my original portal page, I incorporated the sites that I had been typing in the most.  I dropped extra text, dropped javascript widgets, and took a cue from the Google monster and dropped the unnecessary colors.  The result (posted to an unused domain) is that I rarely have to type anything into the address bar.  And my homepage and new tab page are fast and useful.

I simply type “foggytown” and hit shift+enter (to add the http and .net) and viola, links that meet 98% of my needs are ready to get clicked on, no matter where I am accessing the internet from.

Of course setting the new portal as my home page goes without saying (or it did till I “said” it).  To further make things easier, I replaced the about:tab extension with New Tab Homepage which puts your homepage into any empty new tab that is opened.

This whole process took about an hour of work.  I estimate that it saves me a full minute or two each day, meaning I get my time back in one or two months…after that it is all extra free time.

This method gives me quick, typing free, access to the websites that I use most.  My new and improved home page is here…but don’t copy mine, make one that fits your needs.  After all, we all have different habits and requirements.

My personal web portal, plus Mozilla Lab’s Weave (a browser sync extension, Firefox 3.5 required), gives  me a smooth and continuous browsing experience–regardless if I am using my desktop, my laptop, or my work computer.  (When my phone needs upgraded, a major consideration will be the ability to run Fennec.  Fennec is still in early development and only supports a limited set of platforms.  With my phone having about two more year of  life left to it, I can wait for its progress.)

Thankfully, the web continues to evolve and we are not stuck with dodgy sites like Yahoo and AOL…to steal a phrase from Mozilla: take back the web.

Edit: I forgot to mention that adding some search fields to the portal makes it much more useful.  I use search fields for Google, Bing, and Wikipedia…you can get the code by “viewing source” on the portal page.

Fracturing the net


More and more lately I’ve seen these sorts of “errors”. Usually kids, they think they are cute, or somehow getting over on MS. Personally. I use IE, Firefox, and Konquerer almost equally. I’ve been using Firefox since .7 and I generally like it.

There is a whole movement out there to get Firefox more support. I appreciate that, it is important that your browser not matter when surfing the net. That is the whole point behind net neutrality.

Then you have folks like the one linked above. Blocks content if you use IE. Then has the temerity  to state that “your browser is out of date” so I am blocking content. Puts the person in the same boat as people like my bank. I get steamed when someone pops up a window in Firefox stating that it won’t work, but if I tell Firefox to pretend to be IE, it works fine.  Now we have just the same but from the Firefox camp.  Sure, that’s how you beat them…

But to state that IE 7 is out of date, arguably the most state of the art browser out there, is pure and utter nonsense.

Isn’t the whole point of the internet to work in any browser?  If I use Lynx, the page should degrade nicely and be workable.  I don’t get it….

Edit Note: I removed the ornery attitude (swear words and personal attacks) from this post. redux

OK, I’m back in Firefox…. (and I got my timezone corrected…)

Last FM is a music info and sharing site. You can get a plugin for your favorite media player which automagically posts your listening pleasures. In Amorak it also provides real time music suggestions based on what you are listening to, an excellent feature.

I’ve been using Amarok as my media player and I am very pleased with it. Linux finally has a media player/organizer on par with what is available on Macs and Windows. Now if someone will only write a decent photo manager… ;-)