roadrunnertwice: Weedmaster P: "SON OF A DICK. BALL COCKS. NO. FUCKING." (Shitbox (Overcompensating))
So after using it on and off for a few months, I think I'm ready to call Firefox's "Panorama" feature a failure. It does interesting things, some of which are awesome, but it amounts to turning Firefox into a completely separate OS with its own window manager, running cordoned-off in its own little virtual machine. Cut for people who don't care about web browsers nearly as much as me. )


Apr. 7th, 2010 10:45 pm
roadrunnertwice: DTWOF's Lois in drag. Dialogue: "Dude, just rub a little Castrol 30 weight into it. Works for me." (Castrol (Lois))
It's that time of year again! Here's what's going on with Firefox these days:

* Motherfucker is fast fast fast. I just did an undo-close-tab, and it was practically instant. Everything just feels speedier.
* I dig the on-tab progress pie. (Actually, I really want to turn Camifox back on, even though I suspect it will result in Teh Badness. Figured I'd savor what the default scheme had to offer before I tried, though.)
* Josh turned on out-of-process plugins! Mind you: the fact that Flash crashing doesn't kill the browser doesn't actually mean much if Flash crashing results in a fullscreen white turd that doesn't let you get to any of your windows until you kill the browser yourself. (Yiss yiss, I will file a bug, if I can figure out where the bastard lives and it isn't already filed.)
* You can't scroll the page with the mousewheel if the cursor is over a piece of Flash; they're like little dead zones where shit don't work right. So awesome. That's exactly how it worked when I was on Linux back in 2005, incidentally. (I think I may have already seen a bug for this one. Will have to check.)
* I'm also using the Flash 10.1 beta, because I am susceptible to peer pressure. Some things don't work very well! (e.g.) I think I'm noticing a general speedup, but it's hard to say. If so, it was going faster on Namoroka than it is on Minefield.
* I was about to open a page I open habitually, and it was already open, which was how I learnt that the awesomebar lets you switch tabs now. Neat! Granted, now that I found Tabs Menu, my use case for that is much much smaller.
* Again, shit's just faster.
roadrunnertwice: Silhouette of a person carrying a bike up a hill (Bike - Carrying)
Dudes. For some reason, I checked back in on the alternative themes scene after Firefox 3.6 dropped, and it turns out that Camifox is where it is AT.

Firefox using the Camifox theme

I know, I know, why not just use Camino? Well, because I'm a Firefox guy, is what it comes down to. These things are complicated. But anyway, taking up less space + pretty colors + tab close buttons on the correct side (they're under the tab favicons, and appear on hover) + favicons for the bookmark toolbar + overall understated and classy sensibility = FTW. Forget that gaudy-ass Personas nonsense* and give this one a spin. (Works on Windows and Linux, too!)

One nit to pick: the default search bar look is only suitable for people who use one search engine all the time; if you use any search plugins, it doesn't scale at all. They considerately built in a workaround, though: just edit your userchrome.css file and add this line to the top of it, up above the @namespace directive:

/* Search Bar favicons */
@import url("chrome://browser/skin/customization/search-favicons.css");

Which'll change the theme to what you see above.

* Although some of those Amar Chitra Katha ones are pretty badass.
roadrunnertwice: Yrs truly surrounded by trees. (DTWOF - Mischief Brewin')
There must be a word for the wanderlust that makes a dude switch back to the nightly builds of Firefox when the current version is working just fine.

Anyway, I'm running the pre-release builds of Firefox 3.6 (Namoroka) now, and the new new-tab behavior is absolutely Not Finished. It is causing mass confusion in this here house, and before you start thinking that I'm just resisting change, I should mention that I've been forced to use Internet Explorer 7 at work for my new job, that IE7 has new-tab behavior identical to Fx3.6's, and that **IE7 does it better,** making it intuitive and unconfusing. (Wow, that actually kind of burns to say.)

As far as I can tell, the pratfall basically comes down to animation. IE has it, Fx3.6 doesn't. (Yet; I need to go hunting in Bugzilla and see if they're already planning to add it.) Remember how shitty the scrolling tab bar was in Firefox 2? And how it suddenly felt good to use in version 3? 's all about the visual feedback, and the new tab spawning behavior needs some. Just an animated push-to-the-right and a tiny piece of blue glow like they used to have on the far edge of the tab bar, and this'll be ready for primetime. Until then, it plain sucks.
roadrunnertwice: Yrs truly surrounded by trees. (I have caught many hapless creatures.)
Oh finally, PERFECT. Someone has slapped together the correct way (Mac only) to view PDFs in Firefox. (Downloading the file and opening it in Preview: incorrect. Installing Adobe's asinine plugin: incorrect. Click on the link and it just shows the damn PDF, right-click if you need anything fancy: correct. Thanks for playing, we have our winner.)

(Yes, Safari got this right years ago.)
roadrunnertwice: Vesta Tilley, Victorian drag king (Drag)
Happy Firefox 3 day! Hook it up!
roadrunnertwice: Yrs truly surrounded by trees. (Reversal!)
It's Firefox, it's fresh, and it's basically done. ("RC1" means that if nothing comes up during the shake-out period, this is the actual file that will be released as "Firefox 3." Something will probably come up. I still consider it solid enough to upgrade the parents.)

Back in the dim and distant past, on the eve of Firefox 1's release, there was a roadmap for three future versions of the app. Version 1.1 was to be a touch-up release, which made fixes and updated the Gecko engine while keeping the features and look mostly the same. 1.5 would be a medium-grade update, using the same engine as 1.1 but adding a nice pile of new features. And then there was Firefox 2.0, the major, revolutionary release. It would be built on a version of Gecko that didn't exist yet and have features that weren't possible without it, with an entirely new graphics layer, an undreamt-of speed boost, and a whole lot of things the developers had wanted all along but couldn't get.

Ultimately, for various reasons, the version numbers were all pushed forward a notch: 1.1 became 1.5, etc. But the reason I bring up those old-ass (2004?) numbering predictions is that this release -- Firefox 3 -- is what became of that original, grail-like vision of "2.0." The last two releases were both evolutionary: visible improvements, but fairly pedestrian ones. This is the version that, right from the start, was intended to be The New Hotness.

It is.
roadrunnertwice: Yrs truly surrounded by trees. (Default)
Firefox 2's theme refresh was a total abortion, but the new themes for Firefox 3 look so good it's practically miraculous. If you'd like to see why, and whet your appetite while waiting for the RC1 release, I recommend this slightly obsessive post by one of the people involved in the project. No, seriously, it's interesting, honest!


May. 3rd, 2008 12:45 am
roadrunnertwice: Yrs truly surrounded by trees. (Mischief brewin'!)
If you ignored my advice and are using Firefox nightlies -- and happen to be doing so on Mac -- you'll want the bug 4067301-compatible GrApple theme,2 because it is pretty sweet.

Also, I just mixed my first Manhattan. I think I like these. But I need some bitters and some lemon slices, and a 3:1 ratio is way too much vermouth. Also, it turns out that a small metal tea-thermos makes a pretty good cocktail shaker.
1. I swear, this is the most drama I've seen in Bugzilla since the multiline tooltip bug.

Me, I'm in the camp that says it's a crucial feature -- FF3 needs either a working de-focus effect (even at the cost of weird behavior elsewhere) or a total backout of the Proto theme and a reversion to FF2's thin-bar window design.

2. At least until the Proto3 changes roll through. And always remember to add
.searchbar-engine-image {
margin-left: -11px !important;
margin-right: 2px !important;
display: -moz-box !important;
background-color: #fff !important;
to your userChrome.css when using a GrApple theme.

3. I guess they're calling it "Firelight" now?


Apr. 24th, 2008 05:37 pm
roadrunnertwice: Yrs truly surrounded by trees. (Hail Eris!!@1)

The quicksand hasn't dried out yet, and new crasher bugs still blow through town occasionally in the nightly builds, so I can't in good conscience tell you to upgrade to Firefox 3 until it hits Release Candidate status. But believe me, you'll want to switch over as soon as it's safe.

Let me start with the low-hanging fruit:

  • It's faster.
  • It uses way less memory, especially on Windows.
  • It's prettier, especially on Mac.
  • It makes the web prettier. (Typographic ligatures and kerning! In a web browser! Holy shit! And color management, too, although you have to turn that one on manually.)

So yes, better in all the predictable ways, fine—the real meat is in the weirder stuff. There are all kinds of miscellaneous UI improvements, like the ability to move tabs from one window to another, the oversized back button (which I've decided I quite like), the post-facto password saver, the ability to easily disable plugins, and the increased exposure of the session-restore feature from FF2. But the standout among them all is the combo of the new bookmarks system and something known as... "The Awesomebar."

It sounds simple enough in summary (the location bar now searches your bookmarks and history), but I am using surprisingly little hyperbole when I say that the Awesomebar will change everything you know about web browsing. My ancient and hard-wired custom of filing a bookmark and then digging for it later is almost entirely gone—now I just "star" a page if I think I'll need it later, and when the time comes, I type a word or two into the Awesomebar and the sucker is there. And even if I forgot to star it, the Bar is smart enough to figure out which pages in the history are most important by combining the frequency and recency of your visits.

In fact, the Awesomebar eliminates the need for the entire "bookmarks" paradigm—everything is history, history lives in the location bar, and stars (bookmarks) are how you mark certain pieces of history as permanent and important (with optional tags for categorizing). It's a whole new approach to remembering things; not just a linear technical improvement, but a re-imagining of something fundamental in the way we use information.

And hey, if that doesn't turn your crank, at least it's faster, prettier, and uses less memory.

Also, if you've ever preferred to use a command line for a task, the Awesomebar has some special tricks for you. It's about the closest thing I've seen to a shell for the Web. --And I should mention that you can still use the bookmarks system in the traditional fashion -- your bookmarks menu and folders remain right there for when you need them. I haven't been needing them very often.

roadrunnertwice: Yrs truly surrounded by trees. (I have caught many hapless creatures.)
First beta of Firefox 3! Early prototype of new Mac theme! Get it while it's hot! If you're into that sort of thing.

EDIT: Haha, I'm kind of in a dueling bugs situation here — on the nightlies, the keyboard navigation and drag-and-drop for tabs is fucked, but beta1 still has that gnarly undo close tab bug, where if you ever hit cmd-shift-T on the keyboard, you lose undo close tab until you restart the browser. Oh well!
roadrunnertwice: Yrs truly surrounded by trees. (I have caught many hapless creatures.)
So check out* the recent mockups for Firefox 3 themeage! Some people have been saying that it looks way too much like Safari, but I'm of the opinion that goddamn near anything will be better than the Firefox 2 theme. Ooh, and maybe they can get the close buttons on the correct side of the tab, this time! Anyway, I'm excited.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I encourage people using trunk builds to check out the link at the top of the right-hand column over at Aronnax's page. It looks a little bit silly without the still-in-development Unified Toolbar patch --

( )

-- but it's a distinct improvement over the Frankensteined-out placeholder version of the 2.0 theme, so I figure you might as well go for it.

Oh, also, I made my first purchases from's new mp3 store today. Verdict: It is the shit. Awesome selection, helper application that doesn't suck, no DRM or other toxic substances. And now that the US dollar is swirling in the bowl, their prices aren't even getting trumped by Zunior -- for some albums, in fact, they're even better. Anyway, I grabbed the new TMBG, the most recent Loud Family, and the most recent Mountain Goats (plus a bunch of their B-sides). I think we finally have the online record store that will change these things permanently; from here on out, you'll be buying more and more of your records minus the actual record. iTunes was theoretically reversible; this is not.

Also, having it around is going to be kind of hazardous for my checking account.

* They're in the Attachments area, about one screen down. The usual caveats apply -- Bugzilla is not a message board, play nice, etc. etc.
roadrunnertwice: Yrs truly surrounded by trees. (Default)
No offense intended toward the hardworking people at Netscape, but can everyone who cares about this please raise their hands?

I mean, the problem with basing your new web browser on Firefox is that we all already have Firefox. It sucks minimally, upgrading to the next version is easy as hell, and it's an enormous fucking brand. And it's extensible, which means anyone who thinks harder about their browser than "Damn, better use what my daughter's using so I can ask her how to fix it without feeling like a dick" has probably already got it working the way they want it to work. What I'm saying is that you can't market "Firefox plus an extension or five." Or at the very least, you need to be kicking Flock's ass before anyone I know will care.

(Never mind that one of the plot points from Lulu is a modified build of Firefox.)
roadrunnertwice: Yrs truly surrounded by trees. (Mischief brewin'!)
So I want to hear from anyone I know who's using either Firefox 2 or IE 7. What's up with that? Give me some wherefore and who.

I don't have the resources to try IE 7 yet. Everything I've heard, though, indicates that it is non-lame. Maybe it can't match Firefox yet, but it's up to about parity with Safari. I confess, that's exciting to me.
roadrunnertwice: Yrs truly surrounded by trees. (Default)
Firefox 2 has a few slick improvements to the search box. You might have already noticed them, you might not have.

First off: If you click the search-engine drop-down menu, you'll see an option at the bottom called "Manage Search Engines." This will give you a window (actually a sheet on Mac--note that Firefox's sheets can be resized for convenience) where you can easily delete and re-order your search engines, as well as resurrect the default searches if you accidentally deleted one. I've found this super-useful; I can put my three or four most common searches at the top of the list, and just use Cmd-Up and Cmd-Down to switch between them.*

Secondly: This one's kind of subtle, but it's awesome. Maybe web-changing awesome. To check it out, go to Technorati or Wikipedia and take a look at the search-dropdown button. See how it's "glowing?"** Click, and you'll see an extra option at the bottom that lets you add a search engine for the current site.

Granted, it's of limited use until more sites start supporting it.*** But I was just over at Mycroft (had to grab some searches for Alibris and Abebooks), and I noticed that they have a glowing search box too. Two clicks later, and I have the ability to find new search engines right from the search box. Then I imagined that being available on every site I need to search sometimes, and I was like, "Yeah."

* You remember the search box keyboard shortcuts, right? Cmd-K puts your cursor directly in the search box. Cmd-Up and Cmd-Down move up and down the list of engines. Opt-Down reveals the list of search engines, and lets you select one to use with the arrow and return keys. (On Windows, substitute Ctrl for Cmd and Alt for Opt. I think.)

** On New Pinstripe, it just turns the arrow green. He's still putting the finishing touches on the theme.

*** You do it with a <link rel="search" type="application/opensearchdescription+xml" title="Mycroft Project" href=""> tag; sub in your own title and plugin URL. If I'm remembering correctly, this is also the way MS Internet Explorer 7 does search discovery, and it definitely uses the same type of search plugin. Which is fucking awesome, and preemptively shanks the sort of incompatible bullshit we saw so much of in the last round of browser wars.
roadrunnertwice: Yrs truly surrounded by trees. (Reversal!)
1. Mozilla Firefox 2 (release candidate 1). It's Firefox, its fresh, and it's basically done.

2. Pinstripe 4.9. HELLS. YES. Install it right away. This, this is what a 2.0 theme is supposed to look like. It looks and acts more native, more attractive, and more modern than the widely-panned Radiant Core theme. Jesus, that sidebar.

Windows and Linux users will have to wait a little longer for an updated Winstripe, but your version of the new theme isn't quite the disaster that the Mac one is, so you'll probably live.

EDIT: Guys, I am seriously just opening and closing tabs for the pure joy of it. PINSTRIPE. Man, you just don't miss your water til' your well run dry.
roadrunnertwice: Yrs truly surrounded by trees. (Default)
Now that they've done some fixing on it, I've spent a week or two with the Firefox 2 theme turned on for regular browsing. And it still is basically rubbish. It's just extremely anti-hip and un-Mac-like. The icons still look bad, the change in available icon sizes is still unjustifiably stupid, close-on-the-right is still wrong wrong wrong. It's a bad citizen on Mac OS, and a step back from Pinstripe in nearly every way that matters. It's fucking depressing to think the world's best browser will be shipping with this. Once the regressions in Pinstripe Classic get fixed, I'll probably be switching back for good.


Sep. 1st, 2006 02:30 pm
roadrunnertwice: Yrs truly surrounded by trees. (Viva! La Revolution!)
EDIT: Asa wants to know what you think of the theme, and good on him for it. If you've got anything to say, he's the one to say it to.

As others have pointed out, the new, "refreshed" theme for Firefox 2.0 is fugly and unusable. But most of the discussion has centered around the Windows version of it, which, to my eyes, is actually not that terrible. Buggy and in need of some choice de-fuglifications, sure, but it's a valid effort.

The Mac theme, on the other hand, is a fucking trainwreck. ...And wouldn't you know it, I forgot to take my pills this morning. )

In conclusion, WTF.

Anyway, I don't think the new theme is unsalvagable. I actually like the new styles for the Go and Search buttons (they need a much sharper outline, IMO), and I like the spatial solutions they're finding for the tab-overflow functions. Radiant Core has some decent ideas, and once they build a working implementation of them, I expect to like the theme all right. But right now, a bunch of really obvious, glaring stuff, nearly all of which should have been fixed before Beta 2, is making it too frustrating to actually use.

In the meantime:
1. Feedback is part of the design process. So go ahead and make some noise if you're not satisfied yet.
2. The classic Pinstripe and Winstripe themes are still available as add-ons.
roadrunnertwice: Yrs truly surrounded by trees. (Default)
I am running into some serious black magic shit on these post Beta1 builds of BonEcho.

For starts, dragging and dropping recently got inexplicably and unsettlingly faster. You know how, on a G3, it used to kind of flicker and lag as you did a drag-rearrange on some tabs? Not so much, anymore. Likewise with dragging links—it actually seems even faster than dragging in the Finder.

Another thing—and I had to deduce from the mousewheel behavior* that this was going on—is that smooth-scrolling** almost works on a G3 now. Sure, it flickers a bit. But it doesn't mire and drag, slowing down the entire system. I was totally not expecting that to change until Cocoa + Cairo hit for FF3.

What else... Menus have gotten a lot more native-looking, tab-overflow is getting better (now they've got THREE coping mechanisms in effect, which is actually working surprisingly well)... Overall, it's shaping up to be a pretty impressive release, which is really nice, considering how skeptical I was when they dropped Places.

* Mousewheel behavior in the bookmarks menu/manager is kind of fucked up right now on slow-ass machines... maybe I should file a bug. It seems slightly more responsive in browser windows, oddly.

** about:config, search for "smooth," double-click.


Jul. 7th, 2006 05:51 pm
roadrunnertwice: Yrs truly surrounded by trees. (Default)
Firefox 2 is getting significantly better!

EDIT: And oh, baby, that new "Recently Closed Tabs" submenu sitting right there in History? THAT'S what we've been waiting for.

1. Bug 343659 is in the process of being aggressively slaughtered. Seriously, that thing is fucked. Huge props to Dietrich for getting in its face. If you download a nightly build on the day after tomorrow, it'll probably be completely fixed. (If you want to use current nightlies NOW, you can patch the file yourself.

2. Tabbed browsing is getting MUCH better than it was when the scrolling overflow first landed. We now get some minimal feedback about where we are in the strip (the scrollboxes grey out when you're at either end of it), and the weird glitches are disappearing, but more importantly, Spitzer enabled/re-enabled two hidden preferences that let you basically make it act however you want it to act:

browser.tabs.tabClipWidth—The width, in pixels, below which a background tab is not allowed to show its close button [X]. i.e. if this is set at 115 (the default) and there are enough tabs on-screen that each tab is only 100 pixels wide, the front tab is the only one that will display its close button. This preference exists to help keep you from accidentally closing tabs—once they're down to about 50px wide, it's really hard to select a tab without closing it. Before scrolling overflow landed, this was the only such defense being used.

browser.tabs.tabMinWidth—The tab width, in pixels, at which the creation of new tabs will cause scrolling overflow of the tab bar rather than shrinkage of existing tabs. By default, this is set at 125. (Note that this means tabClipWidth is irrelevant—unless you alter these settings yourself, you'll never see background close buttons disappear.) The lower this is set, the more tabs you can fit onscreen before you have to scroll the tab bar to see them all.

Personally, I like having a ClipWidth of about 80 and a MinWidth of about 60. I have pretty decent mouse/trackpad aim, so 80 is more than enough protection against accidental closure, and I don't like using tab scrolling unless I've got WAY too many tabs on-screen, so 60 is a decent limit for that.

And for example:
- If you want to have only one close button visible at all times, set ClipWidth to something like 260.
- If you want to just turn scrolling overflow OFF and be done with it, set MinWidth to something really infeasible, like 5. (But for what it's worth, I DO think scrolling overflow is a really good solution to a big problem. It's only irritating when it kicks in too soon.)


roadrunnertwice: Yrs truly surrounded by trees. (Default)
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