Archive for firefox tag

Firefox cool extensions: Sync, del.icio.us & microformats

These Firefox extensions just keep getting more innovative and useful. Here’s the latest additions to my ever-growing Firefox arsenal.

Google Browser Sync

If, like me, you find yourself wondering what the URL was of that site you visited/bookmarked on your other machine/os/virtual machine then this extension is for you. You can choose to sync bookmarks, history, cookies and passwords (if you really want – they are encrypted) across your copies of Firefox. Great for us MacBook owners using BootCamp and Firefox :) .

Del.icio.us Extension

Social networking is all the rage at the moment and an easy way to get in is to start using Del.icio.us to manage your bookmarks – well at least the ones you don’t mind other people knowing about. You can tag bookmarks and also let Del.icio.us know who your friends are. By doing this you should discover great bookmarks you didn’t know about. This is all very well but unless it’s just a click or two away nobody will bother and so in comes the Del.icio.us Extension for Firefox.

Tails and microformats

Microformats are something on the horizon that should take off in a big way. Basically they are small useful nuggets of recordable information that are often embedded in web pages. Examples include contact details, calendar events, etc. It’s early days yet although even Mr Gates sees the value in microformats and proposals for other microformat such as driving instructions are under way. In the mean time grab hold of a copy of Tails and see what the fuss is about.

[)amien

Great Windows, Firefox and Web finds

Getting a new machine often spurs me to go out and find some new tools and utilities. Here’s some recent finds:

Windows

DiskMon – see disk activity
One of the great tools from SysInternals that provides low level disk i/o information but more importantly can minimize to the system tray and provide you with a disk activity in the absence of an LED.

John’s Background Switcher – brighten your desktop
Another desktop wallpaper changer but this one can head off to Flickr to grab the images. As Flickr contains photos of just about anything you might want to specify a couple of tags to get the sort of things you like. GrinGod suggests HDR as a good starting tag and I’m inclined to agree.

Firefox

Gmail Manager – don’t miss a message
This Firefox extension is essential if you want to use Gmail as your primary system. It provides the ability to switch between accounts as well as putting an unread count in the status bar and fixing all the mailto: links to head to Gmail compose. It can also pop up Outlook style new mail notifications trumping a sound of your choice if your co-workers don’t mind your laptop making odd sounds throughout the day.

Adblock Filterset.G Updater – keep ads at bay
Adblock is an essential tool to keep the distracting annoying advertisement pollution at bay. Setting up the rules however can be a boring and long affair but Filterset.G Updater will do that for you by downing a master list off the net. Nice.

Web sites

Rojo
I’ve been looking for an on-line news reader for some time and have been generally unimpressed with Google’s offering. Bloglines didn’t appeal to me but Rojo however looks pretty cool. Create an account, find the blogs you want (it knows about many of them already), tag them into categories if you like and off you go.

You can also Add Mojo to blog posts to get them noticed by others and tag individual stories if you like. The interface is pretty clear and easy to use and very Ajax.

Pandora
I’ve actually known about this for some time but never got round to mentioning it here. Pandora is like a personalised radio station – you tell it the names of a few bands you like and it uses it’s human-crafted database of artist techniques/styles/traits to build you a radio station of like music. At any point you can say you don’t want any more from this band or add additional artists in and the station will intelligently adjust again.

[)amien

Audacity of “Firefox Myths”

Since posting this article the author of Firefox Myths has addressed many of the points including an ‘origin’ of each Myth. As I do not wish to continually update this article it is now considered out of date.

I stumbled across a page that claims to debunk various “Firefox Myths”. At first read you might be fooled into what he’s spouting however a quick bit of Googling reveals just how far off the base he is.

Every myth he describes is in quotes, like he’s quoting somebody or an article somewhere and is attempting to dispel it.

I couldn’t find any of these claims made on the Firefox homepage so I thought I’d use Google to try and find out who is claiming it. In most cases nobody, in some a few random people on forums or blog comments.

It seems to me he takes something known about Firefox then either exaggerates the claim or slightly twists it with a new word or two and then disproves that.

I’ve put “official claim” to reference the closest thing I could find on the Firefox homepage.

“Firefox has lower System Requirements than Internet Explorer”

0 matches. Google knows of no such claim.

Official claim: Nothing on the Firefox homepage other than the list of higher requirements than IE…

“Firefox is the Fastest Web Browser”

5 matches, all individuals talking on forums. 2 of these phrases include the prefix “I believe” or “I think”.
Official claim: “Faster Browsing – Enjoy quick page loading as you navigate back and forward in a browsing session.” has no comparisons to other browsers.

“Firefox is Faster than Internet Explorer”

Okay, lots of matches here but the author cites an article as proof IE is faster. In this table you will see that with the exception of start-up times Firefox is significantly faster in many areas and the areas where it is slower are within a second.

I’m not even going to get in to the start-up times. Developers are quite aware that most of IE’s technology is so embedded into Windows that the rendering engine is pre-loaded with the rest of the shell so it’s hardly a fair comparison.

It’s also interesting that IE7 beta’s CSS benchmark is now slower than Firefox having been faster in IE6. Given that IE6′s CSS handling is quite buggy and incomplete that’s only to be expected.
Official claim: Firefox homepage does not mention Internet Explorer at all.

“Firefox is Faster than Mozilla”

In the same benchmark article as last time the author claims that Mozilla is faster over all despite only winning two of the seven benchmarks by less than a second each time. Ironically the start-up times he considered so important for IE being considered faster are ignored in this myth busting with Mozilla having the slowest start-up times of all the browsers tested.

Official claims: Firefox homepage does not mention Mozilla browser at all.

“Firefox is Secure”

The author claims that because 26 vulnerabilities have been reported since the browser was released it is not secure. While Mr Myth fails to tell us IE’s going rate the same source he uses tells us that Internet Explorer 6 has had 75 vulnerabilities since it’s release as well as 6 prior versions to try and get it right.

Official claim: None.

“Firefox is the Most Secure Web Browser”

1 Google match. From a computer shop in Orkney. Enough said.

Official claim: None.

“Firefox is More Secure by not using ActiveX”

Our friend points out that Firefox also has technology to download and install third party code and that both browsers warn you. This much is true.

What the author fails to realise is that Internet Explorer will happily and silently let any web site you visit use any ActiveX objects already on your computer marked as safe for scripting.

Some of these objects include Microsoft’s ADO and MSXML objects which have been used in conjunction together before to load a virus executable straight off a sever and trash your machine. It took about 7 lines of code anyone familiar with VBScript could knock up and wiped out your machine… just for viewing a web page on the default settings without a single warning.

Official claim: None.

“Firefox Extensions are Safe”

I only found 1 Google match for this phrase and it starts “Firefox Extensions are safe and as unsafe as any other software you can download…”

Official claim: None.

“Firefox is a Solution to Spyware”

Your search – “Firefox is a Solution to Spyware” -myth -myths – did not match any documents.

I guess nobody is using this phrase… Using Firefox certainly prevents IE focused exploit or “Accept” spyware of your machine by the nature that it doesn’t support them. This is a short term benefit for now.

Official claim: “Browse the Web with confidence – Firefox protects you from viruses, spyware and pop-ups” is a little misleading and could do with the word “helps” in front of protect.

“Firefox is Bug Free”

Plenty of Google matches here but generally it consists of people saying that it’s NOT bug free or occasionally a random forum poster thinking it is bug free.

I don’t see anyone credible saying this about any software.

Official claim: None.

“Firefox Blocks all Popups”

The author refers to a page called the PopupTest that indicates two examples of pop-up’s that still work on Firefox.

Both of these are not pop-up windows at all but rectangular elements of the page that sit on top of other content on the page. Well, that’s HTML and CSS and the web would be a bit screwed without it.

I couldn’t get his other source to pop up anything at all here on Firefox 1.5.

Official claim: “Browse the Web with confidence – Firefox protects you from viruses, spyware and pop-ups” is a little misleading and could do with the word “helps” in front of protect.

“Firefox was the first Web Browser to offer Tabbed Browsing”

I couldn’t find anyone claiming it was.

Like many of the myths here I suspect the author takes a concept people push “Firefox supports tabbed browsing, Internet Explorer doesn’t” and adds a little something to it “it was the first” and then disproves his new statement.

Official claim: “Use tabbed browsing to open multiple Web pages in a single browser window, and quickly flip back and forth. Drag and drop open tabs to keep related pages together.”

“Firefox fully supports W3C Standards”

I only found 1 person claiming this, in a comment, on a blog.

Actual claim: “Support for open Web standards in Firefox ensures you can get the most out of this emerging class of Web-based tools.”

“Firefox fully supports the most important W3C Standards”

The author here shows the results of the Acid2 test and how Firefox currently fails it. This is true of Firefox and most browsers currently shipping. As far as I know at time of writing (January 2006) only Safari correctly renders it.

The author completely failed to post what a mess IE makes of it and the fact that the IE team have already said that the forthcoming IE7 won’t pass it either.

Actual claim: “Support for open Web standards in Firefox ensures you can get the most out of this emerging class of Web-based tools.”

“Firefox works with every Web Page”

Google for this term and you’ll find nothing but people wondering where the hell he got it from. If there’s one thing Firefox users accept is that it won’t work with every web page because people writing those pages have created invalid html or abandoned the published W3 standards.

Actual claim: None.

Round-up

The author goes on to note that there are pages debunking his that are merely opinion and beliefs. As you can see from the list above, this contains nothing but facts which is more than can be said for his list of made-up “Myths”.

Also the pages debunking his list are mostly by Macintosh (I do indeed own a Mac laptop in addition to my PC laptop, server and desktop), Linux (no thanks) and anti-Microsoft (nope, I develop for Microsoft platforms and a daily basis). I’m also looking forward to IE7.

Apparently these same people’s opinions are worth nothing when they are “unable to stop something as elementary as malware infection when using Internet Explorer”. I haven’t had any problems with spyware on IE other than those that utilised unpatched security holes to wreck havoc. I would imagine these other people have the same issue. Perhaps Mr Myth has turned off the ActiveX scripting he adores or is capable of disassembling and patching the IE engine inside his…

Avant browser

His browser of choice which is described there as: “A custom Internet Explorer based browser that utilizes the Internet Explorer Engine for 99.99% web page compatibility and features all the new features of Firefox and Opera. It has a Built-in Pop-up Blocker, Flash Animation Filter, Tabbed Browsing, Built-in Search Engine, Built-in RSS/ATOM Reader, Safe Recovery Feature, User Friendly Interface and Full 100% IE Compatibility.”

I’m not sure where he gets that IE engine supports 99.99% page compatibility – there are plenty of pages that won’t work fine – anything that doesn’t take steps to work around the many bugs or issues.

Avant also has issues with blocking all pop-up’s nor does it have a built-in search engine – it just forwards the box onto Google etc just like Firefox, Safari, IE7, Opera…

[)amien

Firefox for power users, part 2

Here are a few more useful bits and pieces to improve you browsing experience if you’re a Firefox user.

GreaseMonkey

This great extension provides a framework that allows scripts to run against web pages from your own machine. The upshot of this is…

There are many many more at GreaseMonkeyUserScripts.

CuteMenus

Put icons next to some menu items to bring the UI a bit more in line with Microsoft’s tools.

FlashGot

Download multiple files, images etc. from a single click.

Other browsers

Mac users may want to check out Camino which uses the Gecko rendering engine inside a native Cocoa application. It’s pretty fast and cool although it can’t use any of the Firefox plug-ins. Another alternative browser is OmniWeb which uses the Safari rendering engine but provides many more useful commands, options and facilities than Safari itself.

Microsoft fans will have to wait a little longer until the public Internet Explorer 7 betas turn up. We’ve been promised fixed PNG transparencies and improved CSS handling. In related news Bill Gates has been trying Firefox

Postfix

Just a quck note to praise the free Windows blogging application Zoundry that allows WYSIWYG style editing. I’ve managed to use it to clean up some of the previous postings too. Now if only it had a spell checker and auto-pasted in the clipboard URL when you create a hyper link…

My Visual Studio 2005 Beta 2 DVD’s arrived Saturday free of charge courtesy of Microsoft. I’ve just installed them alongside SQL Developer 2005 and will hopefully be posting some titbits soon. One heads up is to install IIS before VS2005. The VS2005 installer won’t warn you or error however the SQL 2005 installer will tell you it’s a prerequisite if you want Reporting Services. If you install IIS after VS2005 and before SQL 2005 you’ll receive an unidentified error for the Reporting Services installation.

[)amien