Firefox 3.5 – likes and tweaks

Gotta say I’m loving Firefox 3.5 – it’s stable, fast, not IE(!) and simply works.

Here’s my top five favourite new features,

  1. Clickable links in view > page source (ctrl+u)
    This is great for anyone who frequently dives into a page’s code. Want to know how that site you’re viewing implemented it’s style sheet? No problem. View the page source, look for the style sheet link, click it and you’re viewing the CSS in source view. Nice.
  2. Tab tearing
    Previously I’ve used add-ons to enable something like this, but no more with tab tearing built-in. This feature lets you drag a tab out of your current window to have that tab spawn a new window. Great if you want to quickly refer to two open tabs/pages at once side by side.
  3. Smarter “AwesomeBar”
    Firefox’s already super useful location bar, aka the “AwesomeBar”, just got even more awesome. You can now search smarter via new operators. Use ^ to search only history, * to search your bookmarks only, and + to search your tags.
  4. Private Browsing
    Also dubbed “porn mode”, Private Browsing is just that – a mode you can enter which keeps your session private – meaning no data for the session will be cached or saved to disk (eg cookies, history, search, passwords). Great if you share a computer and want to do some secret shopping for your significant other… (or yourself!)
  5. Under-the-hood: Speed and Standards
    A new engine called Tracemonkey makes rendering Javascript faster and changes to database querying make for speedier access to your history and bookmarks. Other changes behind the scenes include more standards support including native audio and video as defined in the HTML5 spec. Anything that improves speed and standards support get a big thumbs up from me.

And the Mozilla Links blog details some more new features in their All about Firefox 3.5 post.

Of course Firefox isn’t perfect for my needs, but with my set of add-ons it almost is! Beyond those add-ons, read on for some other tweaks I make to fresh installs of Firefox…

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The Eagle has landed

Forty years ago today Neil Armstrong spoke those words soon after the Eagle landing craft touched down on the moon – surely the greatest triumph for mankind, especially so given technology of the day. In addition to Armstrong, Apollo 11 also carried Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin (who also walked on the moon) and Michael Collins (who remained in orbit).

I wasn’t yet born in 1969 so can’t relate to what the event meant at the time, but space has been a fascination for me for a long time – I still have my favourite childhood books on Space and NASA and went on to study astronomy at University. Lately, I’ve been enjoying reading all the moon landing anniversary articles, checking out the photos again, watching the cleaned NASA footage and listening to (more senior!) colleagues relive their memories. Today, 40 years ago, was an incredible day, and afterall, who since then hasn’t dreamed of being an astronaut, blasting into space or walking on the moon?!

So props to NASA for winning the race and putting a man (several in fact) on the moon. Super stuff.

Here’s some link goodness for your enjoyment today,

And finally some homage from Google via custom logos for today,

YouTube.com:

YouTube logo

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Google.co.nz:

40th Anniversary of Moon Landing

No love for Internet Explorer 6

…and rightly so!

It’s high time the world ditched the 8-year old IE6 for good IMHO – afterall it’s slow, notoriously bad for security and just plain horrible at rendering modern web standards.

Here’s a look at how a few “social” sites are encouraging IE6 users to upgrade to something (anything!) better,

Twitter posts a simple message “There’s a better way to browse the web!” and goes on to recommend you upgrade to the latest version of IE (pity they didn’t recommend upgrading to Firefox!)

Facebook suggests “you may want to upgrade” since “Facebook will work better for you if you upgrade or switch to another browser“. In addition to suggesting IE8, they also post links to switch to Firefox, Safari or Flock.

YouTube has by far the most compelling upgrade message in stating “we will be phasing out support for your browser soon” – in other words if you want to keep using the site, ditch IE6 now! Not surprisingly they list Chrome first up, followed by IE8 and Firefox 3.5.

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So there you go, three of the biggest (if not the biggest three) social network sites have spoken. If you’re still using IE6, shame on you and upgrade now!

Note: no PC’s were harmed in obtaining these screenshots. These were snapped on XP running safely sandboxed in a virtual machine – I’m a Firefox fanboy afterall!

Get Twitter @replies to your cell phone

This old workaround is no longer required! Twitter now has an option to get these sent directly to your phone in a much more timly manner than any hack or third party service. Check out your Twitter mobile settings for the following:

Thanks Twitter! 🙂

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I little “hack” I thought I’d share for Twitter users…

Recently Vodafone NZ and Twitter teamed up for a local TXT/SMS service, including free-to-receive tweets/messages. Awesome stuff, although one disappointment is that Twitter doesn’t provide a way of getting @replies (or ‘mentions’) to your phone (see item 2 under “People often wonder…” on this support page). I think this is a bit of a shortcoming as in my opinion @replies can be equally important as direct messages (DM’s) to tweeters, as these ultimately drive the social interaction and sometimes need a response (esp if you get lots of questions!).

The workaround:
Since the only option is to receive tweets to your cell phone from people you follow for whom you have turned “device updates” on, a possible workaround is to follow an automated user (aka “bot”) that retweets all your @replies/mentions.

The implementation:
My solution was to pipe the RSS feed for a search on @myusername into Yahoo Pipes, filter and modify the output there, then send the Pipes output feed to TwitterFeed for feeding into a private (and protected) Twitter account that I follow with “device updates on”. Clear as mud?! You might ask why the pass-through at Yahoo Pipes, and indeed you could skip that step, but I wanted to modify each feed item to include the author of the @reply in each title element – the bit that gets retweeted.

If you’re interested in the nuts and bolts of my method, read on!

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