Saturday, December 09, 2006

Mostly Mozilla Madness...

It's no secret I really like using Mozilla's Firefox web-browser.

I also use Mozilla's Thunderbird email client.

They are really great and fit the way I use the web.

On my system, I currently have Firefox version 2.0 as my daily browser.

I also have installed Mozilla's "Minefield" next-generation nightly trunk-build.

Now comes word that Mozilla has released Firefox 3.0a1 (Alpha). Unlike "Minefield" this one is named Grand Paradiso.

As the release notes page linked above clearly states: "Gran Paradiso Alpha 1 is being made available for testing purposes only, and is intended for web application developers and our testing community. Current users of Mozilla Firefox should not use Gran Paradiso Alpha 1."

Yeah. I had to get that one installed as well.

So, what do I think? I'm looking forward to the final release version of Firefox 3.0, hoping it is trimmer, lighter, faster and will include the "Places" bookmarking reorganization that got stripped out of version 2.0.

"Minefield" build is very stable and I haven't had very many problems with it at all. "Gran Paradiso Alpha1" is working nicely also. But neither seems remarkably different, or faster, or better at the user experience level to make me recommend them yet and switch from primarily using Firefox 2.0. That said, I'm sure the developers are working hard under the hood and am eagerly awaiting the final versions.

Some Of The Features Planned For Firefox 3 via CyberNet News.

Latest Firefox 3 Nightly Passes The Acid 2 Test via CyberNet News.

Download The Newly Released Firefox 3 Alpha 1 via CyberNet News.
Mozilla also has Firefox RC1 now available for download via FTP. This is a release candidate, so don't download and install it over you current Firefox 2.0 version unless you are really brave. It is a good sign that some current bugs may get squashed soon.

One of the handy things Firefox does is offer to retain web-site login user-id's and passwords. This is handy, but as this Slashdot article points out---contains a bug that cause it to use the same credentials within the same domain. The post links to some of the issues related to this. So use those password enhancements of Firefox with caution!

Thunderbird 2.0 Beta appears to still be on track for a mid-December release. It also has release candidate 2.0b1 available right now for FTP download. My current version of Thunderbird is at (build 20061025). According to this post over on CyberNet News, Thunderbird 2.0 will contain new tools for organizing and viewing e-mail such as tabbed messages, custom folder pane views, and improved junk mail filtering.

Speaking of Junk Mail...

I really love my GMail account. It does a magnum job of filtering out the span. I did some tweaks to cut-out the image spam and now only once a month or so do I find a spam message that has gotten into my inbox. That is truly awesome.

We also have a Time-Warner broadband e-mail account and that account gets no spam at all. Zero. In many ways I am a little disappointed, as I'm not able to test the Thunderbird spam filters!

Two weeks ago I remembered that I still had my MSN email account from when we were MSN dialup account users (ahh the good old days!). I dipped in there to see what was going on.

Now I know why I was so happy to leave MSN as my ISP provider.

My inbox had over 1400 messages. I hadn't checked it for at least 6 months. Maybe longer. It was filled with phishing attempts, Nigerian bank fraud offers, "medications", prescription deals, etc. Packed full! That was my inbox. MSN email does seem to claim to have a spam filter, but only 5 messages were in it. Granted, those get deleted automatically on an ongoing basis, nevertheless, it was overwhelming to see that many messages. While we were MSN users, we got so much spam in our account I had to set a filter to send everything but names in our address book directly into a "holding" folder to keep our inbox free. Because of the nice interface, it took me almost a half-hour to delete all those messages.

Did you notice...

Originally, the application elements we added to Firefox were called "extensions". Somewhere along the way to Firefox 2.0 they began being referred to as "add-ons." I still generally call them extensions, but am finding it hard to keep from going over to the dark side and change to "add-ons."

Firefox Add-ons page.

Internet Explorer 7 Add-ons page.

I've looked around the IE7 Add-ons and am generally unimpressed. Their collection doesn't seem to offer me anything really that helpful, and there are more than a few Add-ons that are actually "to purchase" kinds. Ick. Granted, besides the fact that I'm pro-Firefox, I have a strong aversion against IE add-ons due to the many hours and machines I've spent time with at work cleaning malicious Browser Helper Objects (BHO's) out of IE. Now I'm not saying any of these listed on the IE page fit that bill, but I'm not at all sold on them for IE.

But, if you must: Must Have Add-Ons for IE7 via IEBlog. and IE7 Tweaks.

Then again, I'm not mad-crazy enough to go and install 200 Firefox extensions like Ryan did: CyberNotes: 200 Firefox Extensions Installed At One Time!

A Suite Set of USB housed applications

The PortableApps folks have released their "PortableApps Suite". This is really cool.

See, the idea is you can carry a suite of must-have Windows applications around on your USB stick so they can follow you from pc to pc. Before, they offered the portable applications, but only on an individually packaged basis.

It comes in Standard, Lite, and Base versions. The main difference is the number of applications "pre-loaded" in the suite.

The Standard Edition comes with:

...the integrated PortableApps Menu and the PortableApps Backup utility along with a set of custom icons, an autoplay configuration, folders and a quick start shortcut.

In addition, the packages include:PortableApps Suite (Standard Edition): ClamWin Portable (antivirus), Firefox Portable (web browser), Gaim Portable (instant messaging), Portable (office suite), Sudoku Portable (puzzle game), Sunbird Portable (calendar/task manager) and Thunderbird Portable (email client) and runs comfortably from a 512MB drive.
Not bad! Sure, you can roll your own, but for someone just getting their feet wet in this portable app way of life, this is a great way to go!

PC Repair Seeker--Beware!

Reason #1 why as a desktop and network support technician I am grateful to work in a "corporate" environment, and not in a storefront pc-repair shop. (This is also probably the reason why I get so many calls from family and friends to help out on pc repairs.) Sure, these are just probably a few bad-examples in an otherwise hard-working and industrious selection of pc-repair technicians....probably.

Fixing Dad's XP Windows Updates Problem

While I was up in Tyler visiting my Dad's family over Thanksgiving, I had another chance to take a crack at his XP Windows Updates problem.

I finally got it resolved.

Here is what I did:

1) Manually downloaded the Windows Installer 3.1 Redistributable (v2) and installed it.

2) Manually downloaded the Update for Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS) 2.0 and WinHTTP 5.1 (KB842773) and installed it.

3) Rebooted the system.

4) Dumped the contents of the local Automatic Updates DataStore and Download folders,

5) Reregisterd the DLL files that are associated with Cryptographic Services (Method 4).

6) Rebooted the system.

7) Ran a check for Windows Updates. Found them, downloaded them, installed them.

8) Rebooted and checked again. They were all applied and none were now found needing installation.

Of course, Dad was still a little gun-shy to turn Automatic Updates back on, so we still left that off and he just manually checks monthly.

Not bad repair work! Even with turkey and dressing on the stomach and tryptophan on the brain.

See you in the skies,



Harmon said...

Claus - Welcome back - I missed your posts! Thanks for your Firefox updates; think I'll wait a little longer before downloading 3.0 beta.

Happy Holidays!


TxGoodie said...

I'm with your Dad all the way on turning off the Automatic Updates and taking a more cautious approach! I was really annoyed when "they" tried to sneak IE7 in on me. Took me awhile to figure out how to stop the nag stuff, but I did it. My tech "knowledge" comes in spurts and sputters and I gain a LOT from reading info you whizes provide. Thanks!