Sunday, December 27, 2009

Browser Wars

I’ve got to admit I’ve been keeping my head down lately regarding the latest round of Windows web-browser releases.

While the EU has been hard at work making sure its proud members and residents have 12 Lucky Browsers to select from on their fresh Windows installs, I go the simple route and install Safari, Opera, Firefox, and Chromium to allow me some flexibility with things. Yesh, IE is still on my system as well.

So here is a roundup of browser-related bits I’ve collected for the interested recently.


  • Opera browser – now sitting at version 10.10

  • Opera Browser End-Users Request: Opera Installer Without Unite Feature – Donna’s SecurityFlash. I’m not convinced the security related issues of Unite are fully addressed, particularly when folks are able to download and install it themselves in a workplace environment without the blessing of the sysadmins.  Donna’s post contains this link to disable Unite via a rather clever though ugly manner.  Good information.

  • From all of us to all of you– Opera Desktop Team – Link to download the 10.5 pre-alpha build along with their new JavaScript engine built from the ground up, faster startup/shutdown times, and some new tricks with “private mode tabs” and/or “private mode windows”.  Fair warning, the team reports memory usage is high, unexpected quits occur, and (gasp) Opera Unite is disabled.

  • Opera Mini 5 beta 2 – I love Opera Mini on my Blackberry device.  Try out the new beta release.  I’ve been feelin the lovin!


  • Firefox 3.6b5 – Download the latest baked beta version for all you “cutting edge” browser fans.

  • Firefox 3.6 beta 5 is out: Time to give it a try – TechBlog.  Firefox 3.6 Beta 5 Released – Firefox Extension Guru’s blog. Latest Firefox 3.6 beta fixes 133 bugs, promises faster page load times – Betanews.

  • Mozilla Firefox, Portable Edition 3.6 Beta 5 Try this version out if you want to run it on your system but don’t want to install over your current-release version of Firefox.

  • Firefox 3.5.6 – Or download the current “stable” release version. Firefox 3.5.6 Released – FF Extension Guru’s blog and Releases/Firefox 3.5.6 – MozillaWiki have some info about this build.

  • CheckPlaces :: Add-ons for Firefox – I really like this Add-on and use it weekly.  It checks for duplicated or invalid bookmarks in the new Favorites structure of the Firefox 3.x family of browsers.  It is fast, has more than a few options, and ensures that your bookmarks are current (and can get the favicons as well).  Very useful when you are manually syncing bookmark files between systems.  See this post How to Find duplicate and dead bookmarks in Firefox over at TechnoSpot for great how-to-use and screenshots.  In the past I used and recommended AM-DeadLink but though it rocked, it hasn’t been updated in quite a while and isn’t compatible with the newer SQL-based Firefox bookmark databases.  AM-DeadLink 4.0 Beta-1 is available in the site’s Beta section, but still no FF 3.x support. Read the post to see why.

  • Voyage - “A Firefox Addon to Rediscover Your Web Browsing History” is a clever add-on to visualize your browsing activity and history.  I’m curious what benefit this could do for visualizing Firefox-based history usage in a forensics type response.  Maybe it could make presenting the user’s activity more “understandable” to the suits when presented in this format rather than a dry Excel timeline.  This visual timeline presentation might be worth exploring more…

  • How to fix Firefox 3 freezing or heavy disk use – Confluence – I’m not sure if this is a real “fix” or not. Some say it helps wonderfully others…not so much.  I think the thought is that the way Firefox interacts with the malicious site database it keeps and checks URL’s against can cause “lockups” when FF reads it.  Of course, if you are a more savvy web-citizen, you might try disabling the malicious website checking features entirely in Firefox. See this Firefox 3 makes my hard drive thrash • mozillaZine Forums post for more on tips related to that.

  • Memory Fox Helps Tame Memory Usage in Firefox – MakeUseOf blog.  I’ve got enough system RAM to not be so concerned about how much memory Firefox uses (still a lot).  I’m more aware of the maxed-out CPU rates I get.  Seems worse when NewsFox is checking RSS feeds.  This trick might help with RAM, but not so much with CPU control.


  • YouTube "Feather" Beta – New “opt-in” beta to possibly improve YouTube video playback.  I’m pretty sure it is cookie based.  “The "Feather" project is intended to serve YouTube video watch pages with the lowest latency possible. It achieves this by severely limiting the features available to the viewer and making use of advanced web techniques for reducing the total amount of bytes downloaded by the browser. It is a work in progress and may not work for all videos.” Your mileage may vary…  Me?  YouTube works great on my laptops but for some reason I’m still not finding the sweet-spot with my AGP video card settings and Win7 RC build on the desktop.  Most of the videos are still showing up pixilated-pink.  However if I save the FLV file and do playback once downloaded, they are just fine.

  • How to Fix Annoying YouTube Jumpiness in Firefox - Lifehacker.  Now this trick DID work for my laptops in Firefox where the YouTube freeze was painfully annoying.

    Many users, myself included, visit YouTube on an almost daily basis. Ever since Firefox version 2.0 implemented the session restore function, when you are watching a video on YouTube (perhaps on other video sites as well, I haven't really tested that), you may notice a tiny freeze-up of the video every 10 seconds or so. This happens because the session restore is by default set to save all open tabs every 10 seconds. This is especially noticeable if you happen to have a lot of tabs open at once.

    The quick fix for this problem, at least for my own sake, is to increase the time between each of the saves performed by session restore. By opening about:config in your Firefox address bar, then typing browser.sessionstore.interval in the filter box, you'll see a value of 10000, which is in milliseconds. (Meaning your session is saved every 10 seconds.) I changed this to 300000, or every 5 minutes, as I don't have the urgent need for tab restoration. If you feel like being more on the safe side, try increasing it to something a bit lower, say 120000, or every 2 minutes.

  • Workaround to Manually Uninstall, Remove or Delete Firefox Addon With Add-Ons Uninstall Button Disabled - My Digital Life.  Because we all have it happen to us sometime or another by some “rogue” software installer “feature” add-in.  Me? I go the hard-case route and take workaround method #4 on the page.

  • hp smart web printing in firefox - Google Search. So our HP Photosmart C6280 printer is really cool and everything, but like most HP products, to really use all the features, you can’t just use the default Windows driver for it (though Win7 has a nice one).  No, you have to install the full HP Photosmart C6280 All-in-One Printer driver/software package which adds in some “Smart Web Printing” features to Firefox and other browsers.  Trying to remove it manually is possible, though painful.  Instead just do a custom install of the HP software and while watching closely, find and de-select inclusion of this software in your install.  I always do a custom install of HP printer software and only pick the features I really need.

  • Using Flash 10.1 beta? You may want to turn off crash logging - Within Windows.  If you recently downloaded and installed the latest 10.1 beta (or new Flash Player 10.1 beta 2 released 12-17-09) then you might notice some hard-drive thrashing.  Rafael Rivera worked out a way to disable crash logging pretty simply.  I’ve done the trick and while I didn’t really notice a problem to begin with, I’m a bit more comfortable now with it in place. It’s a painless and easily reversed trick.

  • New in Labs: Default text styling – New Gmail feature.

  • Pencil Project – Not for the general public but this project kinda brings a MS Visio-like diagramming experience to the Firefox browser as an add-on.  It is really sharp and cool.  For folks who can’t afford the full Visio experience, and don’t need the Dia Open Source alternative, this might be worth investigating for quick and at-hand diagramming.

  • Google Analytics has been hard at work tweaking and improving their page-monitoring code.  Newest tricks added to the stable are.


--Claus V.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"How to Fix Annoying YouTube Jumpiness in Firefox'

Haven't noticed this, but may be something I just thought was normal. Anyway I've made the change have to see what happens. Whilst on the subject of YouTube & Firefox you may want to check out YouTube: Auto Buffer and Stop AutoPlay.