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Preview: Call Me Al

Call Me Al

My Mozilla-related blog

Updated: 2018-03-06T21:35:14.856-05:00


E10S and Me


With the recent flurry of announcements about Firefox and Electrolysis (E10S), I decided to see if my primary computer was ready. The short answer is no. The longer answer is that Mozilla still has a ways to go making this a user-friendly switch. First, you have to know to go to about:support and find the Multiprocess entry. Then, if you're like me, you may discover the flag is set to 0 because of incompatible Addons. From there you must compare your list of addons to the Are we e10s yet? page. If Firefox is smart enough to know that Addons are blocking my migration, why can't it just tell me which ones? About:addons could have a banner at the top that says "Hey, you have a choice to make." For me, the main blocker is NoScript. I don't think I could survive websurfing without NoScript, both from a security standpoint and from an annoyance standpoint. 5 of the Top 10 addons list their compatibility as Unknown. As much effort as Mozilla has poured into their browser, I would have expected them to get the Addons ready by donating time/money. Marketshare is unacceptably low, and this is key to getting power users to continue recommending Firefox to people.

Enough Privacy?


I'm trying to debug by Candy Crush is slow to load in the latest Firefox. It seems to go faster in Safe-Mode, so that's good. The next step, of course is disabling all add-ons. If I didn't know better, then I'd be asking why "Restart with add-ons disabled" isn't the same. For those of you that don't know, it is because that invokes Safe mode which also eases up on some other restrictions.

But that is something for another post. As I was re-instating my add-ons, I realized that while I care about my privacy, I don't know the best way to achieve that. I have at least 5 add-ons related to that. I know I'll keep NoScript, but which of the others do I also need? The Add-Ons website lists more than 1100 extensions to choose from. How is someone supposed to choose?

How I use Google Reader


There was a time when I subscribed to a dozen e-mailed newsletters. Now I subscribe to 42 RSS feeds. Some of them are daily and things such as Dear Abby. Some are more prolific such as the NYTimes, USA Today, and Failblog. Subscribing to the RSS feeds allows me to make my way through the postings at my own pace. I begin my day by scanning through the headlines. I put a star next to any articles that I think I will want to read, and then mark everything in that category as read. I may only be interested in 2 out of 30 headlines, and this is a quick way to scan through them. Some things such as Failblog collect in the Pictures folder and can reach 50 before I start to go through them. E-mail would never work for how I consume this media. Once a day isn't frequent enough for many of them; breaking news would no longer be breaking. Some websites update irregularly. I wouldn't want to visit 42 websites each day, either. 2000 items go in front of my eyeballs every 30 days. Over time, some feeds have gone into the Probation folder. If I find that their signal to noise ratio is too low for my tastes, I know it is time to move on. Some feeds redeem themselves. Of course with Google Reader, I have access to a synchronized set of headlines from any computer and my smart phone. There are some features that Google Reader has that I don't make much use of. I share maybe one item a week, either through Facebook or Gmail. I am signed up for Google+, but I never go there; I have no incentive to switch from Facebook where my friends (and games) are. While the discovery portion of Google Reader is interesting, I've only used it to pass the time and not found anything new to subscribe to. I already read a lot and am more likely to cull my list than to add to it. But those are my interests and I can imagine how someone else might find it very helpful. There are some areas where I would have hoped for improvement. While headlines can be sorted by oldest, newest, and magic, I don't know what "magic" means. It does not seem to have a concept of trending topics. There is no way to group headlines on a topic such as the demise of Google Reader. When I'm looking at an article, there's no shortcut to find more articles on the same topic. Google News does this, so it shouldn't be hard to implement that for them. So now I have three months to find an alternative. The Save Google Reader petition on has already surpassed 100k signatures. Based on hashtags, ReplaceReader is ranking Reader replacements. Time will tell what will happen next. I shall be patient.

Oooo Faster!


I used to be on the Firefox nightly bandwagon. Then things got unstable and I decided that ... well ... I'd stick with the stable builds. I've wanted a 64-bit version of Firefox and with all the great performance improvements I've been reading about every day, I decided to try the bleeding edge of Firefox again. This article about FX8 for x64 convinced me to give it a try. With Flash x64 (beta) installed, I'm able to play my games. Unfortunately, quite a few addons are not compatible, so I'm using the Compatibility Reporter to submit those. We'll see how long I can live without them.

Update 1:
about:startup shows that my startup times are 1/3 of those from Firefox 5. Memory footprint, with the addons I still have enabled is about 320 MB according to about:memory.

Xmarks Sync is Sunk


I, along with millions of other people, am a fan of Xmarks. But today's Xmarks blog post by Todd stated that this wonderful tool will be shutting down. They just weren't able to make a profitable model out of it. The new Firefox Sync definitely doesn't help matters. While I'm a big fan of Xmarks, I consider baking Sync into Firefox to be bloat.

I first started using Foxmarks to synchronize my bookmarks across my home and work computers. As time went on, I found a few other aspects very useful and unfortunately Sync lacks them. The first item is the ability to separate my bookmarks into groups. At work I'll bookmark intranet sites, but I can't use them at home. At home I have bookmarks that I'll never visit while I'm at work.

The next feature was syncing between IE and Firefox. While I use IE Tab Plus to embed IE into my Firefox, sometimes I need to actually open IE. Xmarks has it so that the very same bookmarks are there.

My current mobile phone is just a phone. When I travel, I like to have the ability to log onto Xmarks and have access to my bookmarks from any computer.

I think the name Firefox Sync was poorly chosen. It is a very limiting name and has the connotation that it will never work with anything other than Firefox.

The Xmarks team was clearly able to overcome these items, so I hope that Mozilla will as well. My 30 seconds of searching didn't bring me to a list of enhancement requests in Bugzilla for either Firefox Sync (or Weave), but I'm sure someone will read this and quickly let me know where to go.

Reminder: You can get Flash without that download manager


Here's a thread on MozillaZine for downloading Flash directly. Just going to the Adobe website prompts you to use that download manager. Why? Why? Why? Don't answer that. So here is a friendly reminder that you don't have to go through that goofy process. Download. Close your browser. Install. Enjoy your hardware accelerated Flash pr0n.

Update: Oh yeah, they fixed a lot of security bugs, too.

How I block ads


Previously I posted about why I block ads: namely that I'm not interested in them. But I didn't mention how I do my blocking. I have two methods: NoScript and CSS. I've had that CSS for years without having to update it. It does display:none based on some patterns and has served me well. I have broadband and I'm not worried about the ads being downloaded. So if the website is getting paid per display, they should still get their money, right?

Why do I block ads?


I just came across another series of posts about blocking ads in Firefox. I block ads and I'll tell you why: They do nothing for me. The only ads that ever make me take notice are food ads on tv. Yes, I'll suddenly get a craving for a cheeseburger because I've seen one on tv. But I have never seen an ad on tv for a car, electronic gizmo, bank, or anything else that made me say "oooooooooo." The same goes with the interweb. If I want something, I'll go find it. Advertising is more about creating demand. I don't feel guilty because I wasn't going to click the ad in the first place. Instead, my browsing experience just has fewer distractions. And that's the way I likes it.

Random Thought on GPS navigation using your phone


Ok, so one of the downsides about using your mobile phone for driving directions is that it can't have a comprehensive set of maps stored like a regular GPS unit would. How about some sort of external hard drive you can hook into? It would like you have extra movies, map data, whatever. That way you can pre-load a lot at home before you get on the road.

Personally, I'd want to be able to use my phone to download over Wi-Fi, but I have no desire to pay to download over the EDGE/3G/4G network.



Not that disk space is much of a premium any more, but one thing that bothers me is when software insists on installing translations for every locale. When I used gentoo, I frequently had to run localepurge after doing an installation so it would clean up the languages that I don't speak. Many installers, regardless of platform, just go ahead and fill up your hard drive with language packs. I don't know why they don't have a install-time option to pick in the first place.

Firefox in Cats


You know you've spent too long with your web browser when you see a picture of a cat and think of Firefox.

Does this blog still work?


I've been told that Tim Berners-Lee wishes that he could go back and make URLS be instead of Is it too late for that? How about a Firefox addon to do that? It would help detect phishing faster, right?

Portable Firefox


Since Mozilla Firefox 3 is still in beta, I wanted to test it out without it potentially destroying my existing profile. Also, if there is anything that would block my everyday usage, I wanted my old profile to still work. So today I downloaded Mozilla Firefox, Portable Edition 3 Beta 2. The first thing that jumped out at me was that since I was copied over my profile and I'm using Personas, things mostly look the same. The URL bar is a little bothersome when I'm typing in a URL, but I think that will just take some getting used-to. The tab-bar has a thick gray line under it so I will probably have to play with my userChrome.css again.

I have 9 extensions which are not yet compatible, though I know that several of them were tagged as ok for previous alpha and beta versions of Firefox 3. Unfortunately one of the disabled addons on Nightly Tester Tools, so I can't mark the others as compatible.

I can live without the other extensions for a short time, but before I can switch to Firefox 3, I need IE tab to be updated. I have to use IE for several intranet sites at work and this provides them seamlessly (except for the one website that seems to detect Firefox before IE Tag kicks in).

I haven't really been bothered by Firefox's memory usage, but I'm happy to see the recent progress.