Tag Archives: browser

Prevent Firefox from closing browser when closing the last tab

If you hate that clicking CLOSE TAB button on last tab in Firefox closes entire browser, do the following:

In URL bar, type about:config, in Search field, copy this string browser.tabs.closeWindowWithLastTab. Switch it to FALSE by double clicking the entry.

After you do this, clicking close button on last available tab will just close the last tab and leave browser available for further use with empty page.

Out of all browsers, only Opera insists on doing the old fashion way where closing last tab only closes that tab and nothing else. Respect to Scandinavians. Good choice. The rest is just copying from Chrome like they don’t have any own identity or design skills… Yeah Mozilla, I’m looking at you. You did it like Opera still until you decided to copy the feature from Chrome. Why, I don’t know… It was a stupid decision.

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Farewell Firefox, hello to Opera

I’ve been a long time user of Firefox browser and I absolutely loved its flexibility, modularity and just that openness to cool features. A lot of time has passed since apparently, because Mozilla’s philosophy seems to have lost its ways entirely. With every month and every release, it’s becoming more like a clone of Chrome. And not in a good way. First they copied its basic skin/theme, then they copied the start page and then they copied their retarded last tab closing (which I’ve ranted about in my last blog post), now they are going with the clumsy and restricted add-ons (extensions). And recently, what really placed that cherry on top, the GPU blacklisting which rendered my old laptop entirely useless. It took me ages to even figure it out, because at first, I thought Windows was causing this and then that older Radeon drivers are causing this and then I realized at one point Mozilla just blatantly decided to blacklist my AMD E-450 APU’s GPU so everything runs in software. And runs like shit because it’s not hardware accelerated.

Transition to (through) Chrome

Then, I’ve switched to Chrome for a while. It’s basically Firefox anyway since that one copied half of it. I could also easily ignore the GPU blacklist via chrome://flags panel (they seem to just blindly share this stupid GPU blacklist), allowing my AMD E-450 to accelerate Youtube and webpage rendering again. And it’s working perfectly for 2 months now. No lockups, no crashes, no problems what so ever, I have no clue why the fuck they are blacklisting this GPU and probably many more). But what bothers me with Chrome is that you need like 15 extensions for various stupid little things just to make it half usable and when you have so many extensions, it’s really a bloated hog and a lot of functions still don’t work well because they can’t be done better with clumsy restricted extensions system they have. And their Android version of Chrome si rather clumsy as well.

Hello Opera

And that’s when I (again) resorted back to Opera. My favorite browser back from the days when it was still running the Presto engine and it’s absolutely crazy configurable interface. Opera has since also switched to Chrome’s engine, but with one big difference. It has a lot of goodies already integrated. I don’t need extra extensions for adblocking, mouse gestures, last tab behavior is the way it should be in all browsers, it has a basic RSS reader. I basically need 2-3 extensions and I’m ready. Opera still has few traditional Scandinavian idiocies, but seeing the direction it’s slowly heading, I think they’ll improve that. Where Chrome and Firefox are just an entirely lost cause. They both live in its echo chamber of what they think it’s brilliant and they basically do zero useful innovations.

Opera on the other hand is currently a champion in innovation and it kinda surprises me it is not gaining higher user share. It has integrated Adblocker which is super fast since it works on browser engine level, it has integrated mouse gestures which I can’t live without anymore, has a decent RSS reader, extra Battery saving feature which comes in handy on portable devices where battery autonomy matters, it has a video pop-out feature which works on all major webpages like Youtube, Twitter and Netflix, so you can have a tiny video frame on top of browser, allowing you to browse other webpages while watching that video in the corner. Is the only browser which comes with portable install option in the original installer and even updates itself when in portable mode. Something Chrome just has no clue how to do it (Firefox does though). Bookmarks manager is also good and having it accessible from a sidebar is also nice. Maybe not as flexible as Firefox’s fixed bookmarks “browser” as a sidebar, but close enough. Everything just works so nicely and requires minimal number of extensions, I’m now sticking with Opera and I’m loving it. And the Android browser is also brilliant. With adblocking and compression, it’s saving my tiny data plan and it’s just so fast and functional. And has an EXIT button so you can close it entirely. Unlike Chrome which tends to consume quite some battery when just in the background.

So, all in all, Opera has come a VERY long way since initial terrible versions of their “modern” Chrome based browser. Back then and till few versions back actually, I couldn’t stand it. But something changed with recent Opera 45 build when it received the black sidebar. I lose few 10 pixels of webpage width, but it’s just so usable that I actually want it there. I’ve now also started making recommendations and ideas in their Wishlist section and maybe things will change into absolute perfection. We’ll see.

Yeah, Mozilla’s constant urge to copy everything Google does cost them a user. I don’t play any significance as single user, but it explains why they have been losing users for quite a while. They stopped being innovative and unique. And I think the GPU blacklisting nonsense cost them users as well. When perfectly capable device all of a sudden stutters on all webpages and can’t even play 480p video smoothly on Youtube, people will try something else. And while Chrome and Opera use the exact same GPU blacklist, Microsoft Edge doesn’t. Everything runs hyper smooth on it out of the box even on GPU that is blacklisted by others. Which could explain why people are switching to Edge. I personally don’t like it because it’s clumsy and has no options to customize, but browsing smoothness can explain why people might like it.

When Opera switched to Chromium foundations, I never thought I’d be using it again. It was just such dramatic shift from super configurable Opera 12 to super clumsy and limited Chromium, but I guess they are heading the right direction and their work is slowly starting to pay off. There is also Vivaldi which is made by few original Opera developers, but it’s still in way too early phase for me. But Opera isn’t. So, if you happen to dislike Chrome and Firefox, give Opera a try. I was pleasantly surprised.

Opera is becoming cool again with version 37

Granted, it is still far away from perfect, but if you are willing to make few compromises and do some of the things we already had before around corners, it’s shaping into a really fine browser…

Latest and greatest additions to Opera version 37 are 2 rather special features not found in any other browser by default.

Block Ads

OperaBlockAds.png

Are you tired of fiddling with silly AdBlock addons and extensions and you just want something that works, even if it doesn’t work on every single webpage to every last ad? And the benefit of being integrated is that it sorts out the garbage while rendering the page, meaning it’s the most efficient ad blocker available. It’s a very lite version with minimal settings, but it just works and I love it. You can exclude individual pages, but not individual elements. It’s also not possible to block elements yourself. But I’m fine with that as it works so well out o the box.

Video Pop Out

This one is a very innovative feature not seen in any other browser. It’s something I’ve been doing for ages with Media Player Classic (MPC HC), fired up a movie, set it to be always on top and moved it into bottom right corner. So I could browse the net while watching some movie or TV series. But you couldn’t do the same with, for example Youtube. You could move it to new tab, detach it and move and resize it, but you couldn’t set it “On top”. Now you can!

OperaVideoPopOut.jpg

When playing Youtube video, just click new arrow icon on the video and it’ll pop out of the webpage. Tab with the video needs to be open during playback, but doesn’t have to be in the front. If you look at the image above, I’m playing Youtube video in a “always on top” mode while doing something else in browser. It’s a tiny but really cool and useful feature. Pretty cool, right?

It is so cool that I’ve switched to Opera for a test trial. Been using opera when it was version 12.x but moved away after they wrecked it with Chrome core. But it looks like we’ve come to a point where it matured enough to be usable this moment and I can wait for few other things…

Many reasons why I love Firefox browser

I’ve been a Firefox user since pre-release versions and I’ve been exchanging use between Firefox and Opera later on until Opera sacked the old Presto engine based Opera (version 12.x). At that point, Firefox yet again remained my No.1 because with Opera shifting to Chrome foundations, it regressed functionally by 10 years basically. It hardly has any features and it’ll take years for it to get functionality we had in opera 12.x. I just can’t use such horribly crippled browser…

I’ve heard about many rather negative future changes planned for Firefox by Mozilla team and I hope my list will make them reconsider. It’s unlikely since I don’t have millions of readers, but hey, you never know. I’ve had various developers read and comment my stuff before so Mozilla team might surprise me… 🙂

I might have missed few things, but these are really one of the strongest points that make me love Firefox so much.

Interface customization

At the moment, Firefox is the ONLY browser that allows me to arrange ALL the buttons and major browser elements (URL bar, bookmarks bar etc), the way I like them. No the way others or developers like them. The way I like it. I can re-arrange the entire browser to my needs and usage. It used to be tiny bit better in the past where menu button could also be moved and same for backward/forward buttons, but It’s still bearable and forgivable. I really hope Firefox will keep this, because if I hate anything is current Opera and Chrome where I have to download bunch of stupid extensions just to move or change few stupid buttons. Opera used to be great but now it’s the same locked down crap as Chrome. Mozilla team, don’t ever go that way. Browser is here to serve MY needs, not the needs of how majority of users thinks I should use it. So, giving me full control over browser interface setup/arrangement, it becomes MY browser of choice.

Amazingly organized settings

Opera and Chrome are both this horrendous mess of settings cluttered in a continuous scrolling mess. Thanks to someone at Mozilla properly doing their job, settings are amazingly well organized into categories and also individual settings are really well organized and placed within individual categories. I haven’t once found myself digging through settings looking for something and failing to find it. It’s always where you expect settings to be. Where in Chrome and Opera I found myself often scrolling up and down looking for something and missing it because it’s all cluttered together. Good job Mozilla.

Synchronized integrated basic/simple RSS feed reader

People will always say: “But there are so many good feed readers!”. Sure there are. But all of them are annoying 3rd party apps that still don’t work the way I simply love Firefox’s live feeds work. Not only it’s already in the browser, I can instantly subscribe to feeds without the need to first download feed reader add-on and then also add-on that gives me a button to actually be able to subscribe to feeds while I’m browsing a specific news webpage. I can also nicely arrange them in subfolders which is a nice goodie. And lastly, Firefox live feeds are synchronized through my Firefox Sync account. Meaning I’ll always be subscribed to all my feeds in all my browsers across all my computers. Which is super useful and doesn’t require me to first login to 100 accounts for all the separate services before I can get bloody feeds in my browser. It’s amazing what kind of simple approach Mozilla used for integrated RSS feed reader and it’s working so amazingly well. Opera and Chrome have no such thing and everything I add using extensions is just one big horrible mess. Bah. I know it has few limitations like missing feeds if you don’t check them for several days and you have to manually browse through them as there are no notifications, but despite this, it’s so simply, easy to use and functional way to provide RSS feeds reading I don’t ever want to lose this function. Mozilla, don’t ever remove live RSS feeds!

Synchronized search engines

I’m shocked how Opera and Chrome still don’t have this. It’s absolutely idiotic not to provide such functionality. With Firefox I can create a search keyword to instantly access any search engine I want directly from URL bar and then have that synchronized across all my browsers and devices. Firefox simply stores keyword based search engines as bookmarks, meaning I can arrange them in folders and also synchronize them across browsers/devices along with bookmarks. This way I can always utilize my keyword searches no matter what device I’m using or on which i’ve created the keyword rule. I just type “g best browser” in the URL bar and that “g” keyword in the beginning sends a “best browser” term to a Google search engine, instantly providing me search results without having to click around into dedicated search forms and select what search engine I want to use. You already do that by using that tiny short keyword in front of a search term. I can also set “b” to be keyword for Bing and I’ll just type “b best browser” in URL bar and I’ll instantly get search results for “best browser” in Bing. Or the “d” keyword that I regularly use to quickly search for words on Dictionary.com. These keywords save me so much time it’s crazy. And I also look like a dork trying to use keywords in Internet Explorer/Edge on other systems, typing some “random” letters in front of stuff XD Yeah, it’s so useful you subconsciously want to use it everywhere.

High quality add-ons

I’ve recently seen news Mozilla is planning to ditch existing add-ons and replace them with Chrome extensions. Mozilla, for the love of god, DON’T do this. I don’t know how difficult XUL is to develop, but I do know the results because I’m add-ons junky. I love add-ons because they extend functionality beyond awesomeness already provided by the browser itself. Because Chrome extensions are all fat, bloated, buggy and low quality. They all feel like some absolute programming noob created them during programming lessons or something. Just look at countless GMail notifiers that all feel like shit in Chrome but are amazing in Firefox. Or Ghostery add-on that is found in both, Firefox and Chrome. In Firefox you have separate control for elements and cookies and you can also enable individual items as well as allow them just once within the webpage itself (enable on demand). No such thing in Chrome. If Chrome extensions are so god damn awesome, then why they can’t provide same functionality? Not to mention I can also move Firefox add-on buttons wherever I want them while Chrome and Opera add-on buttons are locked within dedicated interface space and that’s it. Absolutely pathetic. If Mozilla can deliver same level of integration and functionality while making extensions easier to develop, then by all means, go for it. But if you plan on using this garbage found in Chrome, then don’t even bother. I don’t want it.

Favorite “Starred” bookmarks and Unsorted Bookmarks

Another thing I love about Firefox bookmarks is how easy it is to bookmark stuff using that “star” button. One click on the star bookmarks the webpage under Unsorted Bookmarks. Which is ideal for quickly saving webpages that you need to “remember” but aren’t worthy enough to be permanently stored in a specific organized way. I often use this to quickly bookmark webpages that host solutions how to solve lets say program crashes. I bookmark them instantly, they are there and when I solve the problem, I just erase them. So it’s a very quick process which doesn’t waste any of my time. But if I want to permanently store some bookmark in a nicely organized way within my bookmarks structure (which has subfolders), I just have to click the “star” button again and Firefox will open up a bookmark organizer that allows me to store a bookmark in a more lengthy, but also more sophisticated way. Because you can also search through all bookmarks, finding stuff you “lost” within Unsorted Bookmarks is a very easy task.

Browser synchronization

I’ve touched this function in few points above and while it has been quite problematic in the past, it seems very reliable now and out of all browsers, it’s the only one that not only synchronizes bookmarks, tabs, passwords, add-ons, preferences and history, it also synchronizes things no other browser does. And this includes RSS feeds your subscribed to as well as search engines through keywords. Mozilla designed this through a clever system of storing those search engines/feed subscriptions as bookmarks, allowing them to easily be stored, organized and synced across devices. It’s brilliant and I absolutely love it because all my devices have same bookmarks and feeds and I can at any time back them up to prevent data loss. When your browser becomes a central point of your life and a database of countless useful bookmarks, links and news sources, losing them because you did something wrong (like formatting disk before backing all up correctly) is very devastating. But with such backup options and synchronization of browser data, I really don’t have to worry about it. I still remember how angry I was in the past when I lost browser data before browser syncing existed. It’s really hard for such thing to happen today.

Spellchecking and dictionary

If you’re not a native English speaker (yeah, English is not my native language), having good spellchecker is a must have. And one provided in Firefox is really good. It’s easily accessible in right click menu so you can enable or disable it quickly without going into any settings or settings popups. And with add-ons, browser can even detect what language you’re typing into a field and automatically switches the dictionary. I regularly use this between forums with my language and forums that use English. Or when I simply don’t care and don’t want browser to underline misspelled words. It’s all just a click away and it’s brilliant. Chrome and Opera has all of this so clumsy it drives me insane every time I have to use it.

Good general speed/performance

We all know how Google bragged about performance when they introduced Chrome. It was the fastest thing under sun in all benchmarks. But to me,  it was just that. Really fast in benchmarks, but sluggish in most actual webpages. Things went especially bad once you started stacking extensions that involve webpage filtering like AdBlock or Ghostery. Chrome just sank into miserable slowness. Firefox on the other hand, it never absolutely dominated competition, but it was always well responsive browser with fast webpage rendering that didn’t really feel sluggish. Especially once you stack some add-ons. Thy don’ seem to affect Firefox much, unlike in Chrome.

Firefox 42 is coming, this time also in 64bit!

Along with many privacy and performance improvements, there is for the first time also a 64bit binary for the Windows systems. It’s still not 100% sure whether it’ll be widely offered on Mozilla webpage or just for those who specifically pick a 64bit version as an alternate option, but either way, I won’t have to wait for days and weeks for Waterfox to release a 64bit version of a 32bit browser anymore. It’ll be 64bit from version 42 on officially. I’ve been using 64bit version for the entire beta cycle and it has performed amazingly well. Twitter for example, it started stalling on high end system even after few scrolls down the page. With 64bit version, it takes quite a lot longer for this to happen. So, certainly very noticeable benefits.

It should be available on Mozilla webpage tomorrow, but if you can’t wait, here are the direct links for Firefox 42, 32bit and 64bit…

Downloads

Firefox 42 (32bit, English)
Firefox 42 (64bit, English)

Firefox 42 (32bit, All languages)
Firefox 42 (64bit, All languages)

New e-mail notifications for GMail in Firefox without using any add-ons

I love GMail notifiers for browsers. They let you know about new GMail e-mails as soon as you get them, so you don’t have to check for them manually. There are tons of them for Firefox, but quite frankly, 99% of them are garbage. Either they actually notify you about new mails, but they are clumsy and they force you to use retarded preview panels that I absolutely hate or they simply don’t work at all or break down regularly, which is equally annoying.

Is it so god damn hard to create a notifier that plays a Windows notification sound when new mail arrives, displays the number of e-mails until you read them/mark them as read and opens a full blown GMail webpage when you click the toolbar button? That’s ALL I’ve ever wanted from GMail notifier. The only one that actually did that when I set it to was GMail Watcher. But the author unfortunately took it off the Firefox Add-ons page and is hosting it on a 3rd party webpage which by itself brings a lot of inconveniences. So, what else you can do?

There is one neat trick for Firefox. While it doesn’t play any sounds (I hope Google will add this to GMail Labs though), it does everything else I need and with a guarantee it won’t ever break like add-ons often do. Unless Mozilla changes how tab pinning works or something…

New e-mail notifications for GMail in Firefox without using any add-ons guide

First, login to GMail and set it to remember the login and you’ll see the favicon looks like this…

GMailNotification1

Not really useful right? Well, click through GMail settings like this…

GMailNotification2

…and enable Unread message icon Labs add-on.

Scroll the Labs page all the way down and click Save Changes button…

Tabs now actually display the number of unread e-mails, but tabs can be closed and moved around and that’s a bit annoying to keep GMail tab open at all times. We have to “Pin it” to the Firefox toolbar in order to always have it in exact same spot in the interface as well as prevent it from closing accidentally.

Right click on the GMail tab and select Pin Tab option…

GMailNotification4

This will permanently pin GMail tab along with number of unread e-mails to the left side of the tabs toolbar.

Like so…

GMailNotification3

Pretty neat eh? 🙂 First time browser starts might be tiny bit slower since it has to open browser and load up scripts heavy GMail webpage in the background, but I have a hexa core with 32GB so who cares about that 😛 I might disagree with my statement on AMD E-450 laptop or the Atom tablet though. But hey, it’s a notifier for unread GMail e-mails and it works. What else do you need 🙂

Force Flash Youtube video for Firefox 37+

There always has to be some crap that breaks my “comfy” zone when it comes to web browsing. Firefox 37 that was released not long ago extended the support for HTML5 video and Youtube kindly prefers HTML5 video over everything else.

Yes_HTML5

If only Youtube in HTML5 mode wouldn’t suck so badly. Firstly, switching windowed and fullscreen mode messes up window placement, that “Press Esc key to exit video” popup is annoying as hell, video quality keeps jumping all over the place because Youtube High Definition extension doesn’t work anymore and video quality is absolutely pathetic. I don’t know why, but apparently my GPU does no video processing for any of the HTML5 video and it looks all blocky, smeared and rubbish. And for some moronic reason, it even taxes my laptop more than Adobe Flash video. Why, I don’t know. It just does and it’s pissing me off.

How to force Youtube to use Adobe Flash video in Firefox 37 and later?

Type about:config into the URL bar and press ENTER. Search for these two settings (use search field above) :

media.fragmented-mp4.enabled
media.webm.enabled

And set both to FALSE. This will disable H.264 and WebM support for HTML5. You can check if that’s the case here. It should look like this after tweaking:

No_HTML5

ALTERNATE OPTION:

Go to: Firefox Add-ons page -> Plugins sidemenu

Select “OpenH264 Video Codec provided by Cisco Systems Inc” and set it to “Always Inactive”.

This apparently forces Youtube to fallback to Adobe Flash and this is somewhat easier than the above method.

And if you want to control how Youtube videos are played and in what quality, I highly recommend Youtube High Definition add-on.

It’s stupid that I have to hack my browser again like this, but Youtube in HTML5 mode is absolutely rubbish. If they think this is how they’ll break us from the Adobe Flash chains, they are dead wrong. I’m staying with Adobe Flash mode until they make HTML5 mode equal in every aspect. And for F sake Google, fix/improve the quality mode settings already. It’s the same rubbish useless nonsense the day I found Youtube. Which is a very long time ago…