Results tagged “Firefox” from kwc blog

Firefox Minefield

|

I did a user test with Firefox Minefield while I was out getting my daily coffee (it helps living in Mountain View, home of Mozilla). The user test was trying out a new streamlined/combined location and search bar for Firefox. Before I get into that, I want to mention that I was impressed by the discussions I had with the people running the study.

One of the employees made the point that Mozilla isn't about making Firefox "win". It was pushing the Web towards standards, in other words, it's about not letting IE win. From their perspective, Chrome and Safari are fantastic -- as long as there's someone out there with 30% of the market share, we will not return to the days of "This site is built for Internet Explorer". It reminds me of John Nack's recent post, Adobe isn't in the Flash business. Actions are more important that mission statements, but it's a good start.

I also mentioned that I was excited by all the developer-focused technologies appearing in Chrome, only to have pointed out to me that technologies like WebGL were actually invented by Mozilla; they're just doing a bad job at promoting/pushing these technologies.

As for the user test, there was a little search engine selector in the bar you could click on to select different search engines on the fly (e.g. Google/Bing/Wikipedia/eBay). What was different was that this would appear when it detected you were doing a search task (e.g. visiting Google.com), but otherwise not be visible. The coolest addition was a little preview window that opened below the location bar, i.e. where you normally might see autocomplete suggestions. For example, if you were doing a Google Image search, it would show you images immediately below the location bar, instead of having to wait until you loaded the actual Web page. If you were doing a Wikipedia search, it would list the matching articles. It reminds me a bit of Yahoo's cool Instant Search, which Yahoo! has of course killed.

There were some rough edges as it is a prototype, but what I thought was novel was you could "detach" this little preview into its own window. You could then click on each search result and see it appear in the main window. What's often annoying is you do your search, then you go back and forth between the results page and each search result to find what you're looking for. Or you ctrl-click the results into a bunch of tabs and create a bunch of litter. This was a new tool for temporarily "saving" the search result and maintaining context.

In our post-user-test interview, I mentioned how I had switched to Chrome, partly because I prefer it's location bar, and even more specifically, how it integrates with my keyword bookmarks. If I type "goto ", the location bar immediately inserts a box that says "Search I'm Feeling Lucky..." to the left, which gives me confidence that I'm using my keyword. The little widget I was testing today is activated in the same manner, i.e. typing "g " activates the Google icon.

And yes, I downloaded Firefox 3.6 today (I've been using Chrome the past 2 months). They convinced me that they've started focusing on some of their performance issues (threading issues in the location bar, performance testing the top 100 plugins, changing the plugin API to get rid of common performance hits). It starts faster, we'll see if it can win me back.

FirefoxThis happens to me all the time: you have the address of where you need to be, e.g.

744 W Dana St
Mountain View, CA 94041

You want to paste that into a search bar so you can get a map, but, instead of being able to copy the whole thing, you have to copy and paste it line-by-line.

Sound familiar?

Lifehacker posted about a useful tweak for Firefox if you share this annoyance:

Type "about:config" in the location bar. In the "Filter" field type "singleline." You can set the value to 2 for editor.singleLine.pasteNewlines, which will allow pasting of multiple lines to input boxes.

Switching to Tab Mix Plus

|

tabmixplus.jpgI've replaced my Firefox SessionSaver plugin with TabMixPlus. SessionSaver was a lifesaver many a time, especially when I have about 20 tabs open with articles I haven't read, blogged, or bookmarked yet. The main problem with SessionSaver that it apparently has a memory leak. That's a sin I can forgive as long as it's the only game in town, but now TabMixPlus has come along with all of SessionSaver's tab-saving functionality plus:

  • tab reordering
  • a close button on every tab
  • the option to change ctrl-tab to cycle through most recently used tabs instead
  • reopen that tab you didn't mean to close
  • fiddle around with link opening, tab closing, and other tab behaviors
  • claims to not have the same memory leak as SessionSaver
  • loading bars on individual tabs
  • unread tabs marked in read

TabMixPlus is essentially a variety of tab-related plugins (SessionSaver, UndoCloseTab, etc...) all rolled into one. I've used it for several days and have liked what it has to offer, though the huge set of functionality does make it more complicated and you'll probably have to fiddle around with some configuration menus that are almost as long as all of Firefox's.

Latest software updates

|

With three separate computers, it takes a lot for a piece of software to make it onto all three. Software that makes it easier to install on all three or keep all three in sync definitely get bonus points. Here are the ones that have recently passed the grade:

  • Google Pack: I burned a DVD every year to install a bunch of software on my dad's computer while I'm there for Christmas. It turns out that nearly everything I usually include is on the Google Pack: Google Earth, Picasa, Google Desktop, Acrobat Reader, Ad-Aware, and Firefox. It can even install Trillian. Best feature: one program to install them all, one program to find them, one program to bring them all and in oldness to update them. Worst feature: Norton Antivirus only comes with a six-month subscription.
  • Folder Size: Adds a column to show you how large a folder is in Windows Explorer. It's a simple program to win that game of, "Why Am I Out of Diskspace?"
  • Foxmarks: it's a buggy beta, but it's something I need. del.icio.us holds on to most of my bookmarks, but I still have quite a few bookmarks I need to keep inside my browser. The 'synchronization' feature ends up putting a lot of empty separators in my bookmark folders, but these can easily be deleted.
  • Foldershare: It lets me keep a folders synchronized between multiple computers. I find placing files in a folder the simplest metaphor for sharing between two computers and it requires the least effort to maintain.

I'm testing out my installation of the Performancing for Firefox
extension. It's a Firefox 1.5 plugin that lets you write blog entries directly in your browser. I'm not entirely sure on the advantage of this as my personal #1 reason for wanting to use a blog editor is so I don't lose my edits when Firefox crashes. I'm not sure Performancing handles this, but at the very least it is better than using the QuickPost button.

It was a bit of a hassle to install, so for all of you out there that are trying out Performancing with MovableType 3.2 and getting 'login error', here's what you might need to do:

1) Login to MovableType and go to your author profile page (the one that lets you set your password. you can get to it by clicking on Authors->yourloginname).
2) Set the API password
3) When Performancing asks you for the AppKey, leave it blank. When it asks for your username and password, use the API password you just set instead of your normal password.

If you don't know what your API URL is, go to http://yourblog/rsd.xml. The URL will be listed there as 'apiLink' next to "MetaWeblog."

Rzoto beta

|

Josh Tyler, creator of Helio-Courier and ChameleonReader (nice RSS reader layered on top of Bloglines that I use) has taken another stab at RSS reading with his latest project, Rzoto. Rzoto is a Firefox plugin that examines the sites you read to see whether or not there are feeds associated with them. It builds a page that lists the discovered feeds and does some smart sorting. Rzoto is now in its beta phase and Josh needs some users to get feedback.

For those of you that don't understand RSS/ feeds/Atom/aggregators, or just don't like the process of tracking down a feed and manually subscribing to it, you might want to give it a shot to see if it can save you time checking Web sites for updates.

You should give it a shot even if already have a reader setup -- Rzoto does all the work for you so it doesn't require any extra effort. You'll probably find some feeds that you didn't realize existed before.

Firefox gets even better

|

Get Firefox!I just downloaded the preview release of Firefox 1.0, and they've just added a new feature that makes you think, "Now this is how things are supposed to be."

The feature that has me loving the new Firefox is Live Bookmarks. Described simply, Live Bookmarks allow you to add RSS feeds to your bookmarks that appear as folders, i.e. if I create a live bookmark for my site, then there will be a folder called "kwc blog" filled with bookmarks for the latest entries from my site. There's even auto-discovery, so when you visit a site that has a feed you'll see a rss icon on the bottom status bar that you can click on and choose the feed you want to create a Live Bookmark for. But it's so much cooler than that.

The reason why its so much cooler is that I can create Live Bookmarks for my del.icio.us bookmarks. Now my online bookmarks appear as real bookmarks inside of my browser, and it only took a couple clicks to setup. For those of you who use del.icio.us, you might understand why I think this is so cool. Those of you who don't, you're missing out :).

Ooo, pretty new toys...

|

Today was a good day in software and hardware:

Firebird is now Firefox, and version 0.8 is now available for download. Haven't noticed that much that's different, other than the new download manager. 0.7 was already really solid for me.
- Mozilla Firefox - The Browser, Reloaded

At last - something I've been waiting for ever since I saw the first demonstration images. There is finally an affordable consumer camera using the Foveon chip, which makes digital photos look a lot more like real film photos. This page explains the differences between Foveon's X3 technology and other digital cameras.
- A Gamble on a $399 Digital Camera

Keyword search is back on Technorati, which is better than Google when it comes to finding fresh blog entries.
- Sifry's Alerts: New and Improved! Technorati Keyword Search...

Finally, Thunderbird 0.5 (Mozilla Mail Client) is out. They haven't renamed it to Thunderfox yet I guess:
- Mozilla Thunderbird