Category: Firefox

Firefox 4: The Review


By now, you have probably already seen tons of Firefox 4 reviews, previews and whatnot. Firefox 4 will officially be released tomorrow and will be available here, but if you’re impatient, you can get it here. You can also get it off Mozilla’s FTP server, but they politely request you don’t do that since the hordes of Firefox users leeching off those servers will kill them. At the moment, the Release Candidate version is still up on the Mozilla website.

Anyway, here’s an early review of the shiny new browser’s main features!

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Using BarTab to reduce Firefox Memory Consumption


Hello all.

I am a fervent user of the great browser known as Mozilla Firefox. Been using it since it was version 2.x something. I was so tired with IE offloading tons of viruses on me at that time that I figured that there MUST be a safer browser out there in the wild. I tried a few before settling to Mozilla, namely Maxthon and Kmeleon. I should write an article about alternative browsers someday. *note to self*

Anyway, I like Firefox a lot, or affectionately FF if you want. 3.5x is awesome. 4.x promises to be even better. However, there is one problem that’s been around Firefox since like, forever: memory consumption.

FF consumes a lot of memory when you have many tabs open. And I often have a lot of tabs opened. Specially multiple links from the same source opened in different tabs. I got that bad habit; if it can be considered a bad habit.

So, I was casually browsing someday with around 30 tabs opened when I discovered a nice addon called: BarTab. Don’t ask how they came up with that name, I got no idea. Why would anyone name a memory-recovery addon “BarTab”?

Its purpose is to unload tabs that you haven’t visited in a while, and load them again when you focus (click) on them. It’s like opening the tab again, but automatically.

This simple concept allows you to save quite some memory, specially if you like to leave tabs on, do something else, and come back to your previously opened tabs after a while. It’ll not be a major saving, but around 30-40MB of savings are inorder.

To illustrate and prove if this addon works, I conducted a small test. I opened around 20 tabs from random Google searches (I hope I didn’t catch any virus in doing that!) as well as a few media pages like DeviantArt, Youtube and Toyota Europe’s website (Nice music!). I then let BarTab do its magic while leaving the tabs untouched in the background for a minute or two. (Time delay is configurable).

The results, before and after are below:



Not bad huh? The 20-ish tabs are still there, but unloaded. The only annoying thing about BarTab is that you have to wait a bit for pages to reload. If you have a fast connection, it shouldn’t be a problem, but for those with slower connections, you will probably find the delay slightly annoying.

That’s all for BarTab for now. If you have more tricks to reduce FF’s memory usage, comment box’s found below!

Firefox 3.5 officially released: Reviewed!



Firefox 3.5 was officially released today, Tuesday 30th. The released candidate (RC) was available for a while back, but the version we are talking here is what I call the Final version, that is officially released.

If you haven’t done so already, go to Mozilla and download your copy. If you are lazy, you can try Help – Check for Updates directly in your Firefox 3. If you are already in RC, get the final! Got to show Internet Explorer 8 who’s the boss around here (and to stop MS from bragging any further)! Note that some of your addons will not work, such as Tabmix Plus, one of my favorites. Their forum have an updated beta copy, but for now, I downloaded alternatives (TabKit) to compensate. Do a backup of your stuff, if ever you want to restore.

Now is not too many upgrades to comment on, so I’ll just go on and review those I’ve seen worthwhile of mention. And some that operate in the background and that you will not see.

FF 3.5 - Main Window

I have to start somewhere, right? So let’s see what changed in the immediate interface. You will see that Mozilla (now referred as ‘they’) have modified the tab bar to make it more like Chrome’s. Note that small + button near the tab? That’s your new tab button. It follows you now. Apart from that, not much to see in the main window. Looks mostly the same as Firefox 3.

FF 3.5 - Private Browsing Option

Now the menus. All the menus are similar, save for the History and Tools menu. In History, you now have the option to undo closed tabs, but now, also closed windows. That’s pretty cool for people who use multiple windows. As for me, I prefer a ton of tabs rather than more than 2 windows at once.

FF 3.5 - Restore Windows

In Tools, you will find the Private Browsing mode, or what we common folks call the “porn mode” – this is what it’ll be mainly used for. Legitimate use: accessing your bank account. Or so the “innocent” claim they use it for! 😛

FF 3.5 - Private Browsing On

Some other interesting features you might find interesting are:

  • Ripping out tabs: Drag a tab away from the tab bar and release. Voila, you now have a window, with that tab inside. Pretty cool way for creating new windows, rather than using File – New Window, copy-pasting the address and whatever. You can also drag out tabs, and put them in other existing windows. Well, you can do a lot of cool things with dragging tabs now. If you don’t want to drag, right-click and choose Open in a New Window for the same effect.
  • Firefox 3.5 is promoting porn mode or what? In the History sidebar, and some other places History-related, there is an option to “Forget about this site”. I’ll leave this one to your creative uses.

FF 3.5 - Forget about this site

  • Tracemonkey was included. That means faster Javascript. Well, a lot of stuff Javascript-related faster. If you want the gory innards, check out Mozilla’s Tracemonkey Wiki.
  • Video and Audio HTML5 tags are now supported in-built. This will probably mean that sometime in the future, you’ll not need to install Adobe Flash or whatever other plugins to view video and have audio on websites. I can’t begin to imagine what crazy ideas developers will come up with to over-exploit those! Just wait and see.
  • AwesomeBar filters: You know what AwesomeBar is right? It’s the address bar, for those of you who don’t. Well, now when typing in it, you can filter what results it returns. It’s easy enough to use the filters. As for remembering the symbols, I can’t say the same. Who came up with those? I also gave you a way to remember those. My own personal method. E.g. Try “Geekscribes *” in the address bar without quotes.
    • History only = ^    (Up symbol, like, from where you came previously. Assume you are navigating down something)
    • Bookmarks only = *    (The * symbol is on the 8 key, that looks like a B symbol. B for Bookmarks)
    • Tagged Pages = +    (+ for pages that I like)
    • URLs only = @    (The @ symbol is used in email addresses. URLs are called addresses)
    • Title/Tags only = #    (That one I don’t know how to remember!)
  • You can restrict the search to your history by typing ^, or bookmarks with *, or tagged pages with +. To make what you’ve typed match only in the URL type @, and for title/tags only use #.
  • Geo-location. Basically, now your browser knows where in the world you are. So when you are looking for pizzas in Google Maps, it’ll show you what’s closest to you. Haven’t tried that personally. I’m just scared of the implications. My browser knows from where I’m browsing porn! That’s so scary. It may even lead me to some unwanted locations (in the real world) to find what I’m looking for. I hope I’m joking, because seeing Google pointing me to the nearest porn would be awkward! 😛

FF 3.5 - Crash Restore

  • Session restore improved. If ever your browser crashes, on the next restart of the browser, you are prompted to restore the previous session, complete with ticks to choose what tabs and windows to restore. That’s very nice of Mozilla. It’s directly there in the browser window, like one of those Pages not Found messages. You get the idea. Fortunately, I was able to recreate it by End Task’ing Firefox via Taskmanager.
  • Did I mention that Firefox 3.5 is fast? It’s amazingly responsive, and hardly lags. Memory usage is still quite too. 127MB for 5 tabs and around 20 addons installed. It also loads fast. Less than 2 seconds it seems.

Not much to say apart from that. I’ll leave the rest of the goodies for you to discover. After you go, come back here and give us some comments and opinions about Firefox 3.5! 🙂

(Some info taken from Lifehacker)

Firefox displays weird characters as headings (solution)


I am currently using Firefox, latest version that is 3.0.11 at the time of writing, and I encountered a strange problem on some sites, one of which is the famous Smashing Magazine. The headings were displayed using weird characters, or what it would seem, special characters. You can see a screenshot below.

Smashing Magazine with weird characters

At first, I thought it was a problem with character encoding. Changing to UTF-8 did not solve the problem, nor did switching off Auto-Detect from View menu – Character Encoding solve anything. Well, basically, after a lot of trying out solutions, it was not a problem with charset or encoding.

I tried other solutions but none seemed to work. One of them gave me a clue as to what the problem is. It was going to Tools – Options – Content – (Fonts & Colors) Advanced – (uncheck) “Allow pages to choose their own fonts, instead of my selections above”. This rendered all pages without custom fonts, except my default of Times New Roman. The problem was solved.

The workaround indicated that the problem resided with my fonts. I thus went and checked out the website source and the stylesheet and found out that Smashing Magazine uses Helvetica font as primary font for h2 tags. This line was found in the source and stylesheet respectively (I shortened the code with …’s):

<ul class="topic-list">
<h2><a...> ... </a></h2>
ul.topic-list h2{font:44px Helvetica,Arial, ...}

If you don’t know, Helvetica is a proprietary font and doesn’t come with installs of Windows by default. It didn’t come with mine, on both my XP and Vista installs, so I’m assuming it doesn’t come by default.

The Solution:

So what can you do? Apparently, nothing. You cannot acquire the Helvetica font for free and install it. Unless you are willing to pay for it, you are stuck.

Now, if you are crafty enough, you can use some Google powers and try to find the font by… let’s just say, alternative means. I am not posting links here, because I do not encourage piracy. I managed to find a copy of Helvetica somewhere, installed it and problem was solved. You can see the results below.

Smashing Magazine Problem Solved

If you do want to do what I did, you just need to find a copy of Helvetica from somewhere, install it, restart Firefox and the problem should be solved.

Another plausible solution would be for sites with such problems to substitute their fonts for those people do have on their machines. But we cannot require this from site designers. Another way would be to be able to find an addon or similar for Firefox that would allow for font substitution. If you know of such a solution, you are free to share it with us.

A bit of strangeness here is that, since Firefox did not find Helvetica on my machine, it should have used Arial. I cannot understand why it did not.

If you do install the Helvetica font and still get the problem, maybe it’s another font being used and that you don’t have.In this case: check the website source, find which element it is, search the stylesheet for that element, find which font it is and install the font. Restart Firefox, and the problem should be solved.

Hope my solution helps. That’s it! Kinda easy, wasn’t it?

Note: I uninstalled Helvetica after I tested the solution, for those of you who were interested! 😛

In search of the ultimate desktop RSS reader


Yes, you read correctly. I said, desktop RSS reader. I’m old style. I’m classic. Whatever, I still want my feeds on my desktop. For one single reason: it’s so much simpler. Click the icon in the notification area, and voila! I got my news at a click. No need to load Firefox, point to some random URL to a web-based feed reader or whatever. There’s also another reason. I like my data on my computer, not on some server on the Internet. What if tomorrow, the company that manages the web-feed-reader goes out of scene? What happens to my feeds? And if ever they decide to keep usage info on my feeds so as to create spam “targetted advertising”? No thanks. I want full control over what I keep, what I share and what I want others to access. Ok, enough side-tracking. Back to the article, which by the way, is the 100th post on GeekScribes! Click below:

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Firefox Tip: Keep bookmarks menu open after click


If you have been using Firefox, and like me, make full use of your bookmarks and the Bookmarks Toolbar, then you must have noticed that as soon as you click a link, the menu closes, making multiple-selection of bookmarks to open impossible. That’s a huge annoyance for me.

Luckily, there is a solution that works for the Bookmarks menu, the Bookmarks Toolbar folders (if you have created folders in there. If not, create them! It maintains order) and the History Menu, in case you want to restore multiple closed sites.

The solution is really simple: Just get the Stay-Open Addon from here:

Install it just as you would for any other addon and restart Firefox. No configurations are needed. It worked out-of-the-box for me. However, it works only for Firefox 3 and up I think.

Now, how to use it?

Simple. Open the Bookmarks menu, or other menus I mentioned above, and middle-click an item. You will notice that the menu remains open. You can now continue to middle-click other items if you want to open more.

There is not much to configure, except a single option available in “about:config”. I didn’t require it till now. It’s CTRL-Click functionality which I didn’t need.

Voila! This should help you keep those menus open while you open multiple sites without the menus closing after each click. Specially useful if you use Live Bookmarks from within Firefox to read RSS feeds. You can now open multiple feed items without that menu closing. This is so useful! Makes me wonder why this option is not already a default in Firefox…

China Channel Firefox Addon: Experience Internet Censorship


I’ve seen my fair share of Firefox addons. There are addons that can make your browser do virtually anything, including controlling your music player from your browser if you wish, or get live weather info, or draw diagrams, or… or anything else I can’t think of.

Today, however, I encountered an addon in my feeds that I found particularly interesting. It’s called the China Channel Addon.

What does it do? It gives you a taste of what it means to surf the Internet in China.

As you probably know, the Great Chinese Firewall (or Golden Firewall) is used to censor the Chinese Internet and prevent people from looking up subjects like “Free Tibet”. I guess they just get a “Page cannot be found” or “Error 404” or possibly very long wait times with no page displayed at the end.

Well, this addon recreates this effect. It places you behind the Great Firewall, and allows you to see what Internet Censorship means.

Personally, I don’t find any day-to-day use to this addon. It’s just a curiosity I wanted to share with you.

Now, if ever you are preparing a project or paper on Internet censorship or something like that, you may want to experience this effect first hand, and the China Channel Addon is what you will need.

Any other interesting Firefox Addons you would like to share?