Monthly Archives: November 2006

Best Firefox 2.0 Feature

Having run Firefox 2.0 since its launch, I’ve been digging all the new features:

  • Visual refresh: nice
  • Phishing support: sounds good, haven’t had any alarms yet
  • Search box improvements: pretty nice
  • Session restore: very handy, especially if Firefox itself crashes
  • Web feeds: haven’t tried it yet
  • Inline spell checking: very nice, no need for Spellbound anymore
  • Improved add-ons manager: kind of liked the old one better, but it’s functional

But, my most favorite new feature is…Improved tabbed browsing. The close box on each tab took some getting used to. See the difference in these screenshots:

Firefox 1.5 Tab UI:
Firefox 1.5 tab UI screenshot

Firefox 2.0 Tab UI:
Firefox 2.0 tab UI screenshot

By habit I’d click the right-most close button, but would close the last tab instead of the one on top. I was tempted to change the browser.tabs.closeButtons to restore the old 1.5 behavior, but stuck with the new behavior and now I like it much better.

Firefox Undo Close Tab screenshotMy new best friend is the “Undo Close Tab” command (Ctrl-Shift-T on Windows) shown on the left. This command brings back the most recent closed tab, including any form data you had filled in! It acts like a true undo and will restore all of the tabs you had closed. (Not sure how deep it goes, though.)

For those who make the most out of Firefox’s tabbed browsing, the improvements in Firefox 2.0 don’t disappoint.

Flickr Old-school Login Greasemonkey Script

I’m sticking with my original Flickr login as long as I can, not quite ready to meld it into my Yahoo identity. I’m not sure why I’m holding out, maybe just for fun, but reading the latest Flickr blog entry, it looks like the ride might be over soon:

Note for old skool members: the new mobile site, sadly, will not work for you: we’ve made the transition to supporting Yahoo! ID login exclusively for mobile. The vast majority of our users are now using Yahoo! IDs, and many of the cool features we’re working on depend on fancy-schmancy, high-tech Yahoo! infrastructure that necessitates this style of login. And, as a gentle reminder, we will be requiring Y! accounts for all Flickr.com members at some point in the future.

A while ago they changed from the “dual” login screen to a Yahoo login screen with second link for Flickr old-schoolers. Being somewhat tired of these shenanigans, I took a few minutes tonight to write a short Greasemonkey script that automatically changes any login links to go directly to the old Flickr login page. (After writing it, I searched and found a few similar scripts, but most were overkill or too complicated.)

Installation:

  1. Install Greasemonkey if you don’t already have it, then restart Firefox
  2. Install flickroldschoollogin.user.js (click Install button that appears in yellow bar to install the script)
  3. Now, any time you need to login, the link will automatically point to the old-school login instead

Zune Installer Review

Installers are something that don’t get a lot of attention and that’s generally a good thing. No one ever talks about installers that “just work”. In this case, we have the Microsoft Zune software installation being reviewed by Engadget:

We hoped installing the Zune software and getting our player running would be as seamless and painless as getting iTunes and an iPod running on your machine, since that is, after all, what it’s up against. … Unfortunately, the reality of our experience with the first version of the Zune software this afternoon is much like that of many version 1 software experiences. It sucks.

The old saying for client installers is true: it may be the last thing you build, but it will be the first thing your customer runs. Now, the flip side is that ideally your installer will only be run once, so you don’t want to waste too much effort making it look fancy. (Better to spend those resources on the installed app itself.)

Installers need to be bullet-proof and able to deal with all sorts of “real world” computers out there. It’s difficult to catch all bugs before the software ships, but initial reports from the Zune installer are pretty discouraging. Did they have a public beta or preview? (I’m not sure.)

The Zune installer seems to have created yet another type of installer UI. I always try to push for installers to look as standard as possible. If an installer fits what users (for that platform) typically expect, the experience will be much smoother. Here the Zune developers (marketers?) have taken the billboard backgrounds to the extreme. You’ve got the catchy narratives like “Welcome to the social”, but there is painfully little space given for status updates or controlling the actual flow of the installer.

Enough ranting. Read the Engadget article for the full story, or search for “zune installer“….or, buy a Zune on Amazon and try it yourself!

Zune Installer Review