The Coolest Feature of Firefox 3

Firefox 3 is amazing, and comes with so many improvements. It has shown great innovation. But the greatest advantage, to me, is:

I don’t need as many extensions as I used to.

That is it. Less extensions means faster startup, and way more stability. At one point my FF2 install had upwards of 50 extensions, and half a dozen themes.

FF3 gets rid of this need. The visual styles are moot. The icons and look are all straight from my theme, so Firefox looks exactly how it should out of the box. Lots of new functionality is integrated as well.

My current list of extensions:

  • Adblock Plus
  • DOM Inspector
  • DownThemAll!
  • Fission
  • Flashblock
  • Neo Diggler
  • PDF Download
  • Scrapbook
  • Stylish
  • Taboo
  • Web Developer

The best part is that most of these are not what most people want or need. Several (Web Developer, DOM Inspector) are for web development. Flashblock and Adblock Plus are to fix my aversion to ads and Flash. Only a few are fixes for what I see as deficient in Firefox. DownThemAll! is far superior to the Firefox download manager. Fission is a neat feature from Safari that I happen to like. PDF download should be integrated, as it provides a great, lightweight service. Neo Diggler is a personal favorite of mine. Scrapbook should remain an extension,l not everybody needs its functonality.

Taboo should definitely be part of Firefox. It has a  great idea, saving tabs for later, like visual, temporary bookmarks. One of the best and most useful extensions I have ever used. Stylish is similar. It is incredibly useful once you install it. You wish that it had come built in so you wouldn’t have had to discover it.

I hope that Firefox continues to focus itself on usability. They need to remove what isn’t needed and add what is. I’m very happy regarding speed. The RAM usage is way down, only ~60mb vs the ~200 on FF2. The only thing still slow is the Awesome bar. Incredibly useful, extremely slow.

Overall, I love Firefox 3.

By the way, sorry about the lack of posts. End of school year + final prep, etc. On the plus side, almost 6,000 hits on the blog! 5,900+ in the last 3.25 months.


Open Source = Easy Customization

I recently fell in love with GMPC, a terrific GTK based MPD frontend. It is very powerful, while looking very good. One thing I was unhappy with, however, was the tray icons. Also it didn’t fit in terribly well with the rest of my theme. So i decided to change it.

Another MPD frontend I like, Sonata, has a great icon set, but not such a great feature set. So I combined the best of the two. I took the Sonata icons, scaled and renamed as necessary, then replaced the GMPC icons with them. For others I used icons from the theme I use and love, Ultimate Gnome. Those are all SVG, so I had to export them as PNG in the appropriate sizes.

This was all, however, not too complicated. I made a conversion of the fresh tarball of 0.15.5, and changed the icons over. Recreated for your usage.

I am wary of licensing on this particular venture. GMPC and Sonata are both under the GPL v2, but the Ultimate Gnome theme is CC-BY-NC-SA. As an incompatible license, it causes problems (not the first time…). I wish to express to the author that I am sorry about the mixing, but this is inofficial and as such I hope okay.

The COPYING file for both of the players are in there.

Download here.

I love it when I can change things to fit my tastes or just if I want to. Hooray for OSS!

Amazing Bandwidth

Today someone sent me a link to this great animation. It’s called Animator vs. Animation, and it is on DeviantArt. The stats for this thing amazed me.

I noticed that:

  • The animation has 5,162,441 views.
  • I used Firebug to find the exact bandwidth of 1.7 mb for the page load and to watch.

This amazes me. Lets do some math:

5,162,441 x 1.7 = 8,776,149.7 mb of data transferred. That’s ~8,570 GB. 8.57 TB!

That’s just for one animation, one video out of the entire internet. Those are also *very* conservative numbers.

The internet amazes me sometimes. Be sure to check out that video.

This is bad.

I saw an article earlier, and it linked to a page that has an online WPM checker. It works (very well), and I liked it. It is here, btw.

The problem came when I went to view the source. I found this:


Page protected by ionCube - HTML/JavaScript Encoder
Copyright (c) 2003 RWJD.Com and ionCube Ltd.  All Rights Reserved.

Any analysis of this  source code,  embedded data  or file by any means and by
any entity whether human or otherwise  to including but without  limitation to
discover details  of internal operation, to  reverse  engineer, to  de-compile
object code, or to modify  for the purposes  of modifying behavior or scope of
their usage is forbidden.


As a fan of open-source, I always viewed web pages as fairly open. You could always view the source. I didn’t realze things like this existed. I was just curious about how the page worked, and I was not allowed to view it.

Luckily, I was able to do so! I used the Web Developer toolbar’s ‘View Generated Source’ function. It isn’t perfect, but it does give mostly how the page works. It’s a pity that the developer doesn’t want their work seen.

Paranoia is bad. Maybe the person looking at your code wants to further develop it rather than steal your undoubtedly amazing code… [/sarcasm]

Easy way to make any window transparent w/ Compiz

I was using Cellwriter yesterday, and decided that it would be cool to make it transparent, so it doesn’t cover what is behind it. To do this I used Compiz.

To do this, make sure you have the advanced settings manager. It is located at System > Preferences > Advanced Desktop Effect Settings. If it isn’t there, install it in Add/Remove.

Now open it up. The top item should be ‘General Options’. Open it. Go to the ‘Opacity Settings’ tab. Now, you can add a new rule. The Cellwriter window has the title ‘Cellwriter’ always, and none of my other windows do (usually), so I based my rule off of that. Click ‘Add’. In the field, type ‘title=CellWriter’. Then type in 85 for the value. The change should be immediate.

Note that other rules can be created in this way as well.


This post written with CellWriter =)

P.S. 5,000 blog hits!


As a tablet PC user under Ubuntu, I searched hard for a decent handwriting recognition program. A while ago, I found one. It is called Cellwriter. This entire post is written with it, not much slower than typing. Although the author claims it is a very young program, its performance rivals that of the Windows keyboard. Rather than having built-in handwriting, you train it. Training takes all of a minute, and can be enhanced later with further training. Even on just the initial training, however, it works very well. One of its better features is a keyboard, for getting to keys and if it won’t recognize symbols. The program is a must-have for any tablet owner using Linux. The site offers Debian packages (use this for Ubuntu), and of course the sources.

One bad point is that docking does not work well with Compiz. Not a big deal; I prefer the floating mode anyways.

The site is here.

This is by far the best handwriting recognition software I have seen for Linux, and deserves a look. It makes using a tablet possible…

Here’s a screenshot: