Posts Tagged ‘Firefox’

Strange Firefox Errors

October 19, 2009

Most of the time Mozilla Firefox is a very reliable and fast web browser. So I was very surprised to see this error dialog box pop up on my screen.

Firefox Addons May Be Causing Problems

Firefox Addons May Be Causing Problems

I don’t know what the Windows Presentation Foundation is and I have never knowingly installed it. It sounds like a Microsoft product. I clicked on the “More Information” link and got something even more confusing:

This Connection is Untrusted

This Connection is Untrusted

This seems to be some sort of localization failure. I think I told Firefox (or maybe Windows XP) that I use British English. So it was having trouble checking access to the GB version of mozilla.com. That’s Firefox’s own maker!

The warnings were ambiguous but worrying so I decided to take the “Get me out of here!” option. I feared it could have been some fiendishly clever spoofing attack and en-gb.www.mozilla.com is a bad site. It does look like a strange address.

I tried “More Information” a second time with the same result.

I restarted Firefox as it requested to disable the Windows Presentation Foundation and everything seems to be working okay.

Another proof, as if more was needed, that computers in general and PCs in particular are far too complex. Why did Firefox need a secure http (https) connection to show me that information in the first place?

Google Chrome Annoyance

October 11, 2009

It’s only a small thing but it annoys me. If you close the only tab in the Google Chrome browser (Windows) the application quits without warning.

Chrome About Blank

Firefox is more intelligent. It removes the close button from the last tab so you cannot close it. To quit you have to click the “close” box at the top right like any other Windows application.

If you have more than one tab open then all of them have little close buttons. But when you get to one the close button disappears.

Firefox About Blank

Clearly the Firefox designers anticipated this condition.

I hope somebody will tell me that there’s an option somewhere in Chrome to change this behaviour.

Security Pros Are Focused on the Wrong Threats – Bits Blog – NYTimes.com

September 16, 2009

Security Pros Are Focused on the Wrong Threats – Bits Blog – NYTimes.com.

It’s endless! Not only do PC users have to handle constant operating system updates from Microsoft. Now the bad guys are focusing more on ancillary software that everyone has like Adobe PDF Reader and Flash. I seem to get at least one update a week from some type of software – and I try to run a very lean machine.

It is amazing to me that after many years of development these programs are not rock solid. They are backed by large companies with (we hope) the best developers and unlimited resources.

I think part of the problem comes from the features that companies are constantly adding. Originally the PDF Reader was just that – a program to read documents no matter what software produced them. But the companies had to make enhancements to make the documents “active”. They can go out to the web and update information, they can access my computer and so on.

Most people do not need or use those features. All I want to do is read documents that people have published. I don’t want it to do anything clever.

Same for Flash Movies. There’s a limit to the amount of damage a bad Flash movie can do if it is just running in a window on my computer showing me an animated demo or something. But no, Adobe had to make it “active”. Now it is a programming environment with all the attendant challenges and vulnerabilities.

I am a simple user but I have a computer that can do a lot of damage to others if it gets infected with a virus or worm. It can perform a lot of processing and communicating without me noticing. I need the computing horsepower for Photoshop and Lightroom but it is easy to subvert.

If I were Adobe I would distribute a rock solid “Lite” version of the PDF Reader and Flash Player. It would display documents and animations but that’s it. If users need the bells and whistles they can pay for a Pro version. I bet most of the bells and whistles are for corporate users anyway.

The Lite version would be stable – no more enhancements, ever. It will be a bit boring but I would know I can trust it.

The only development they will do is the minimum to support new hardware. But before it is released it should be tested to the same standards as mission critical software like flight or nuclear powerplant control.

Then Adobe will have an income stream from the Pro version and maybe more of an incentive to make them solid. As it is, its way too easy to fix a problem by doing yet another point release and asking users to download it.

In my day (a Mister Fredrickson phrase) it was very expensive to update software with bug fixes. They had to be distributed to customers on a tape. Thus we designed software conservatively and tested the heck out of it before releasing as we knew big fixes would be very expensive. I think we had the mindset that critical bugs were a firing offence.

The ease with which the Internet enables update distribution is a two-edged sword. I think it encourages developers and testers to let their end-users do the testing.

I don’t want to single Adobe out for criticism. I am tired of weekly updates to Mozilla Firefox too. Each one is touted as the safest most secure browser available. You said that last week! And the week before!

Firefox 3.5.2 Update - 4th September 2009

Firefox 3.5.2 Update - 4th September 2009

Note how I have to be concerned about my browser extensions and themes too – not just the browser. They all come from different vendors.

Firefox 3.5.3 Update - 9th September 2009

Firefox 3.5.3 Update - 9th September 2009

I’d like a rock solid web browser too. One that just displays web pages circa 2002 and does not purport to be yet another “platform”.

(Full disclosure: I think my software development career went downhill after I agreed to work on platforms rather than useful applications, so maybe I am biased.)

I guess one problem is that too many bright programmers are working for the bad guys and not for the boring corporations that make the applications they attack.

Back to Adobe. It is interesting that their major applications like Photoshop and Lightroom are on a much slower update cycle. Maybe once every six months. It seems to be a different world for those development teams.

AutoCopy :: Add-on for Firefox

August 30, 2009

AutoCopy :: Add-on for Firefox.

Firefox AutoCopy Add-on

I’m always copying snippets of text from web pages to use on this blog or something else I am writing. This little add-on makes it a bit easier. Every time I select some text it presses Ctrl-C for me and copies it to the clipboard. It only works for text – not images.

It has a useful right-click menu that includes:

  • Undo copy
  • Previous clipboards – a history!
  • Paste to location bar
  • Paste to search bar
  • Search for (whatever is selected)
  • Open in new tab (assuming you’ve selected a URL)
  • Append URL to clipboard

My only problem with Firefox add-ons is that they are very sensitive to the Firefox version. Firefox wants to update itself almost weekly and I almost always get an error message about incompatible add-ons I have installed.

It’s another of those things that make using a PC more complex and stressful than I like. I like to minimize the number of add-ons and utilities I install – but they grow inexorably over time. I lost the lot when my old laptop’s drive crashed and it was nice to start from scratch.

I found a problem with Auto Copy when composing blog posts. When I want to add a URL I usually find the page I want in another browser tab and copy the URL from the address bar. Then I return to the editing window, select the text and insert the link.

But with Auto Copy it replaces what I just put on the clipboard with the text I’d selected in the post. That caused me to wonder what was up until I remembered Auto Copy. The work around is to select the text first and open the link creation window. Then go to the other tab and copy the URL.

Aren’t side effects wonderful‽

Annoying Firefox Error Message

July 3, 2009

“Please check the name and try again.”

Firefox knows that I have accessed this URL before (it’s in my History), so there’s no point in telling me I may have made a mistake typing the address. This will only confuse inexperienced users.

Similarly if I click on a link in a page from a known site and the connection doesn’t work there’s little point in asking the user to check the name and try again.

It’s a trivial point but it happens a lot from Thailand where the Internet is very inconsistent in its performance and connectivity (Being very polite here.)

wpid386-Firefox-Address-Not-Found.jpg

Other browsers do it too – it isn’t only Firefox.