Archive for February, 2005
If you’ve been using Firefox for a while you might like to look at some of these tips and tricks to get more from your web browser. If you’re not using Firefox to find out what all the hoopla is about.
Get newer, optimised builds
Firefox, like most applications, is compiled without optimisations for specific processors. Some third parties such as Moox make processor-specific optimised builds available for download.
As well as the Firefox 1.0 release you can also download a trunk build. These are built directly against the source tree the developers use and can sometimes be rather unstable although the 20050206 one I’m using has been pretty good except for a view source bug. Make a backup of your %USERPROFILE%\Application Data\Mozilla\Firefox directory first and unpack the trunk version somewhere new to give it a whirl.
If you don’t understand those just instructions you might want to wait for the any-day-now Firefox 1.0.1 release although it contains only essential bug-fixes.
We all know sometimes pages take a few seconds to load and knowing how many files to load and the current transfer rate is something geeks love to know. Firefox’s extensions architecture allows third-parties to add such functionality, so grab Extended Statusbar.
The network settings in Firefox are a little on the conservative side for broadband users. As with Internet Explorer tweaking you can allow more simultaneous connections (it’s the HTTP connection and pipelining section although the other tuning tips are certainly worth considering).
Once done, visiting a page will start loading all images used on a page together rather than just two at a time. It will also mean you can download more than two files simultaneously from the same web site.
Advertisements have gone too far, they’re now incredible obtrusive, annoying and can often cause pages to load slowly. Get rid of them with the AdBlock extension.
Learn short cuts
Switching from the keyboard to the mouse to perform a single operation is incredibly slow. Get used to the following short cut keys (Ctrl on Windows, Command on Apple)
- F, Find text in the page (IE too)
- N, New window (IE too)
- L, Position to the address bar (F4 in IE)
- K, Position to the search bar
- B, Open bookmarks sidebar
- H, Open history sidebar
Tabbed-window specific short cuts:
- T, Open a new tab
- W, Close current tab
- 1 to 0, Jump to specific tab
- Tab, Cycle between tabs
If you develop web sites for a living then the Web Developer extension is essential. Features include:
- Editing and identifying cascading style sheets (CSS) on the fly
- Validating page and CSS structure
- Examining HTTP response headers
- Modifying cookies
- Highlighting page structure and layout
Windows corporate use
Check out the Microsoft installer (MSI) package and Group Policy integration project.
For a while now I’ve been looking for some art to liven up the walls of my new flat and now that all the furniture has been acquired I’ve run out of excuses.
I trotted round a few local galleries and shops to little avail. As you might well imagine living on a small island you don’t really get much of a choice in anything let alone art. Once more, I found myself on the Internet looking for things to buy and was about to give up when GrinGod pointed me to DeviantArt.
I’d come across DeviantArt before when looking for XP themes and such but didn’t realise they had a printing service. Here’s a few that I like although I’m having doubts about how they’d look on a wall.
There’s plenty more to look at although I found one artist annoying with her anything-covered-in-blood obsession. There again she likes Type O Negative so she can’t be all bad.
Don’t ask me what the various types of prints available actually are. DeviantArt is noticeably absent of actual ordering information such as delivery times, quality of the prints, description of print styles…
Currently “hot news” is the fact that Firefox, Mozilla and Safari browsers have been demonstrated as susceptible to a new form of phishing attack.
Basically all these browsers support International Domain Names (IDN) that let you use the full Unicode set of foreign characters and symbols, and some of these foreign characters while technically different from the Latin ones look identical. In the case demonstrated they have used the Arabic a to replace a Latin a in “Paypal” to get another site. This isn’t really anything new, even the original RFC commented on how this would be a problem and the IETF issued guidelines that would have limited their scope if only Verisign actually implemented them. (Specifically the guideline for preventing mixing of languages within a domain name would reduce the scope for attack considerably).
One thing that is amusing is the Internet Explorer fan boy reaction that their browser isn’t susceptible. This is true but only because Microsoft hasn’t added IDN support to IE, instead recommending you install a third-party plug-in to do it.
Head over to Verisign, install the plug-in, and you too can have exactly the same “exploit”.
Some 12 hours later it appears the rest of the world twigs and Secunia issues this advisory.
I’m sure you’ve read all about Apple‘s latest Mac Mini, a stripped-down machine for those wanting to try Mac OS X (according to Steve Jobs in his recent keynote). It also appears to be a good way to get mum-and-dad off your back with it’s practically non-existent rate of viruses and spyware. It even makes a reasonable server being that it comes with Apache, a firewall and can share your Internet connection – even wirelessly.
It’s already been pointed out that the Mac Mini is based on PowerBook technology however there appears to be one significant change (apart from the obvious transition from laptop to desktop) and that’s the graphics processor.
The current PowerBooks sport the Nvidia FX Go5200 on the 12″ and the ATI Mobility Radeon 9700 on the others. The Mini is supplied with the ATI Mobility Radeon 9200 last seen on the slower-in-every-other-department iBook.
It’s a strange omission given that they are trying to wow Windows users to the Mac and part of that attraction is the smooth hardware-accelerated interface. Windows users have to wait for Longhorn, not due any time soon, for such features (unless Microsoft break Avalon off and give it to XP users).
Here’s some benchmark results for the desktop chipsets – these figures don’t tie up exactly but getting benchmark comparisons of notebook chipsets is rather tricky. A quick summary would seem to indicate that the Go5200 is less than half the speed of the Mobility 9700 while the 9200 is even slower than that.
I can only imagine the rationale behind this, perhaps ATI have given them clearance pricing on the 9200, perhaps the thermal or power issues are too much for anything more. After all, it’s not like the Mini could take much of a dent out of other sales being that it’s a different market for Apple (perhaps with the exception of the eMac).
Here’s hoping we see a Mac Mini with a 9700 (dual-link DVI please) and a 1.67 G4 processor option soon.