Category Archives: Mozilla

Mozilla and Firefox

Firefox ponderings

Is it just me who’s finding Firefox (on Windows XP) freezing way more than previous versions?’s used car search is a particularly notable crashing site; ditto NineMSN Video. Both are fine in IE6/7. But there are others too, and if I had to point to a pattern, it’s that many involve multimedia components on pages, such as during Flash video playback.

Ah, I see Firefox has just been issued. The main thing seems to be correcting a bug called “Crash in JavaScript garbage collector”… hopefully that fixes it. (Why does every update need the inline dictionary re-installed?)

By the way, anybody else notice how on Blogspot comment pages in FF (but not IE), it refreshes itself after loading, so if you’re quick at starting to type your comment, you have to start again? Annoying.

More downloads at once

Normally you can only get two downloads from any one site happening at a time. But it can be overridden. I know, I know, you’re not actually meant to do this, as it breaks some HTTP standard or other. But occasionally it’s warranted… umm, if you’re talking to your own web server. Yeah.

Firefox: In about:config, go to network.http.max-persistent-connections-per-server

IE 4+: Get in the registry and alter HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Internet Settings
— MaxConnectionsPerServer for HTTP 1.1
— MaxConnectionsPer1_0Server for HTTP 1.0

Apparently you can’t change it in Safari. (Anybody know better?)

Getting used to Thunderbird

I'm liking Thunderbird. Ditching Windows Desktop Search and installing Google Desktop Search has worked well — suits my filing system. Well, except for the occasional __GD_something_or_other process that wants to keep running when I'm shutting down the PC.

Things I've had to get used to in the switch from Outlook:

Alt-S to Send doesn't work. Alt-Enter does (Outlook supports that too.)

The column sorting icons being upside-down.

It defaults to sending from the account you're looking at when you start the new mail, rather than a fixed default. Easily changed if you remember to check it.

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It also inserts the signature automatically when you change the From account, which is neat.

It didn't take long to get used to the vastly better IMAP performance in Thunderbird.

I don't use a Calendar plugin. Tony pointed me to a Nokia phone sync, but I haven't tried it yet — I do backup my phone contacts, but for most of them I don't have email details, so syncing is not really a priority for me.

That's about all at the moment. I've imported all my old Outlook folders into Thunderbird, which took ages, but works fine. So, byebye Outlook!


Thunderbird with Gmail IMAP

Works as advertised. A little slower than my local ISP IMAP/SMTP servers, but not too bad, and because Thunderbird will happily wait for a server while you do other stuff, it's not painful at all.

Gmail's tags don't quite translate into IMAP folders, but it's probably close enough.

Conversations display as separate email messages in Thunderbird. You can use View / Threads to make it similar. Filing stuff in Thunderbird only does one message though, whereas in Gmail that'll do the whole conversation.

Deleting from Thunderbird moves it to a folder (eg gives it a Label) called [Imap]/Trash — which is how it appears over in GMail. Ideally it would move it to [Gmail]/Trash which seems to match the “real” Gmail Trash, but TB doesn't have that option.

Sent messages by default go into the TB folder Sent, but this can be changed to match Gmail's [Gmail]/Sent Mail in TB: Gmail account properties; Copies & Folders; When sending messages; Place a copy in: Other / Sent Mail on Gmail.

Moving messages to [Gmail]/All Mail appears to be the equivalent of pressing the Archive button in Gmail.

There's a bunch more help on comparing Gmail and IMAP actions.

All in all, works well.

(Reminder: Gmail IMAP is rolling out this week. If your Gmail preferences say “Forwarding and POP/IMAP” then you've got it. At present you'll need to switch to US English for it to be given to you.)


Thunderbird for IMAP

Thunderbird date columnWith GMail now offering IMAP (but it’ll take about a week, and you have to switch your Gmail account to US English) I can read all my email boxes from the comfort of the desktop when I’m at home, as long as I have a good IMAP client.

So I’ve tried Thunderbird. I’m quite impressed so far with it; it’s as smooth-as-silk on the IMAP account that Outlook 2007 seems to have so much trouble with. And overall it’s much more responsive (Outlook seems to periodically go out to lunch).

More critical will be the long-term storage of my mail. I’ve got a lot of old stuff in Outlook, and would need to ensure I could migrate it across and make it easily searchable (as easy as via Windows Desktop search) to get rid of Outlook entirely.

One thing about Thunderbird bugs me though: the sort by date column uses icons that seem to be backwards. What’s with that?

And why does the icon look like an envelope wearing a toupee?

Thunderbird icon

Firefox Spellcheck dictionary

A couple of times now I’ve had to hunt down the location of the dictionary for Firefox because in the popup for a misspelled word has ‘Add to dictionary’ too close to the word I want to change to (and now I’ve inserted a misspelling into my personal dictionary).

The location of the dictionary for Firefox (under Windows) is: somewhere under Documents and Settings is the file persdict.dat.

Maybe this time I’ll remember it. I suggest this behaviour shows a usability problem.

Tiring of Firefox?

FF IEWhile the Windows animated cursor vulnerability is getting patched, George Ou at ZDNet has highlighted a Firefox vulnerability (known to exist, but will not be made fully public until a patch is available) and noted that while IE7 under Vista runs in Protected Mode, with reduced (read-only) access to user data, Firefox doesn’t. And there’s no shortage of Firefox vulnerabilities recently.

Of course Protected Mode is Vista-only, so those of us hanging back with Windows XP won’t see the benefits. But it does leave me wondering: is the Firefox mantra of “Safer, faster, better” still true?

Safer: Well IE7 is more secure than previous versions, and even IE6 can fairly easily be secured against most ActiveX, particularly under XP SP2. Here’s a nice wrap-up of their security features. Who is quicker to patch their vulnerabilities? Mozilla or Microsoft?

Faster: Opera has previously shown to be fastest. But IE should have a natural speed advantage, by being part of the Operating System, and loaded into memory with other applications, such as applications that use HTML Help. And doesn’t it share code with Windows Explorer as well?

Firefox on old machines is particularly concerning to me (and others). As I write this, FF has one window with two tabs open, and is claiming 81Mb of memory.

What’s more noticeable is that, with no scientific basis for claiming it, IE7 seems faster to me than FF 1.5 or 2.0. Interesting.

Better: Obviously this is a general comment. When I think back, what got me over to Firefox from IE6? Tabs — now in IE7, though I still like the “feel” of the tabs in FF better (in fact I prefer FF 1.5 to 2.0, just because I’m used to it). Popup blocker — now in IE7. Security — see above. What else? Other than a wish to help IE lose market share and sock it to the Evil Empire, I can’t think of much right now.

The FF Web Developer toolbar is great, but IE has a comparable product — admittedly though there are loads of community-written FF extensions. Indeed, Jeff Atwood highlights the very powerful web developer tools available for FF, for which IE has no equivalent.

There are still web sites (particularly on Intranets) that work in IE but are partially broken in FF. And that Firefox tooltip bug is still not fixed.

So will I switch back? Maybe not, out of inertia. And not unless Google (or someone else) does a browser sync for IE — though there’s no shortage of manual ways of getting bookmarks between IE and FF.

And of course, anybody involved in web development (as I am) should check their web sites in both (and Safari and Opera, preferably).

For everyday browsing though, IE is probably back to being as good as FF, and possibly faster. And while I really like FF, I do think it’s become less compelling to install FF on new/rebuilt machines — particularly older ones.

Firefox 3 ideas

With Firefox 2.0 almost out, Mozilla are asking for suggestions for version 3 via a Wiki page. But it looks like they still don’t “get” the corporate world — at one stage one subheading read: “More Bullshit vs. Less Bullshit”. Is that likely to convince any CIO that they should migrate their X thousand users over to Firefox?

Anyway, I wonder if this means they’ll look at my favourite 5 year old Title bug… Ah. Nope. Not before Firefox 3.0 (May 2007), would you believe. Hey, I’m not holding my breath.

(via Ars Technica)

Google browser sync

Google browser syncI love the idea of Google’s Firefox sync for keeping my bookmarks and so on synced between my work and home computers. It works really well.

But I’m rather less keen on sitting waiting for it to do the update when starting Firefox. Sometimes it seems to take ages. Thankfully you can cancel it if you’re too impatient.

No more security through obscurity

Feel safe using Firefox and/or Mac OS X? Don’t. This article discusses recent research showing both are subject to a number of vulnerabilities. Not as many as poor ol’ Windows users using IE, but still enough that it’s wise to be wary.

Not to mention the issues in the various media players.