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  • Firefox Gets Wider Scope

    Posted on geekdom Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Home Forums Tech Accessibility Firefox Gets Wider Scope

    This topic contains 12 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  Paul T 2 months ago.

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    • #1839138 Reply

      geekdom
      AskWoody Plus

      More software will be available under the Firefox “brand” with a different look:
      https://www.bleepingcomputer.com/news/software/mozilla-makes-firefox-its-own-brand-name-releases-new-logos/

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    • #1839455 Reply

      Cybertooth
      AskWoody Lounger

      Looks like Mozilla has caught the Microsoft disease of issuing forth content-free buzzwords like so much male bovine manure.

      Me, I’d be happy if they simply slowed down the every-three-minutes updating pace and let my old favorite extensions work again.

       

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      • #1840506 Reply

        geekdom
        AskWoody Plus

        When these Firefox changes are released, many will ask what and when happened and will leap to astonishing conclusions of conspiracy, virus, and blind-siding. This information is about what and when happened.

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        • #1842885 Reply

          walker
          AskWoody Lounger

          @geekdom:  Exactly where do “we” (the users) stand with the “latest version of Firefox”.  I have held off waiting to see what’s changed, and what’ “better” if anything.  There have been a lot of “surprises” with some of the latest versions.     What do ya’all think of the latest version?

          • #1843387 Reply

            geekdom
            AskWoody Plus

            I run plain-vanilla everything software including Firefox:

            — Only two add-ons: uBlock Origin and NoScript
            — Block pop-ups
            — Delete information on exit

            Fewer working parts usually mean fewer difficulties.

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            • This reply was modified 2 months, 1 week ago by  geekdom.
            • #1845112 Reply

              walker
              AskWoody Lounger

              @geekdom:  Any and all suggestions relevant to Firefox would be appreciated.   Have had it for several years and never had issues with it.   I could be having trouble with the email program as well.  Thank you for all of the good information, always!

    • #1847608 Reply

      geekdom
      AskWoody Plus

      In general, getting the latest and greatest geegaws in any software is unnecessary.

      If you need the software trinket, by all means get it. Make sure you evaluate it both before and after installation, though. Will it work and play nicely with all your other software?

      Do you really need a browser password saver? Or a screen saver? Or a weird calculator?

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      • #1848681 Reply

        Ascaris
        AskWoody_MVP

        Do you really need a browser password saver?

        As Paul T said, “Absolutely!”

        That’s one thing that’s absolutely imperative for me.  Whether Firefox’s new one will be what I need is not something I can answer yet, but yes, a password manager is not optional.

        The one that was built into Firefox for all these years was usually fine by itself, but sometimes a web site would defeat my attempts to have it save the password through various forms of trickery (not just setting autocomplete to off), and then I would have to use QuickPasswords, which will defeat any site’s effort to block my password (has not failed me yet).  Of course, that’s one of the ones that don’t work with Firefox anymore, so Firefox “Quantum” once again fails to meet the minimum standard.  As usual, Waterfox to the rescue.

        Or a screen saver? Or a weird calculator?

        As part of the browser?  No.

        I know the big trend is toward minimalism now, but I have a very specific set of requirements for a browser, and I don’t want some de-featured quasi-mobile thing.  Even on my slowish, low-memory Swift, I want a browser that will twist and bend the web to my liking, the way the web was originally supposed to be.  The browser (like the OS upon which it runs) should serve my needs (as defined by myself) alone, not those of someone who isn’t here using the PC at any given moment, and no one knows those needs better than I.

        Lots of things others consider to be bells and whistles are quite important in the way I use a browser.  One of them (the first icon I saw when I glanced down at the status bar) is the unfortunately named “Image Picka” addon, which dumps all images from a page’s DOM space and puts them in a nice new page without all kinds of restrictions on what can be done with them.  Zoom them, save them all, save one… whatever you wish.

        Form History Control is a must too, as I’d end up retyping more posts than not otherwise.  On nearly any site, this one included, I’ll be typing along merrily and then suddenly the page goes back or forward or some other such nonsense, and what I wrote is lost… but not with FHC.  What I typed will be back in the textbox in just a second after I get back to the proper page and use the context menu item to refill the textbox.  (What happens is that something moves the focus off of the textbox, and then keypresses wind up as hotkeys rather than making a character appear).

        NoScript and uBlock origin are obvious ones.

        There’s also Page Shadow to darken every page as it loads to keep the blinding white that most sites insist on using from making my retinas sizzle like a steak on a barbecue, and Monochro to selectively remove all page colors and backgrounds and replace them with my specified Waterfox colors, for sites that have bad contrast.  There’s Visited Enabler for making sure all links are properly highlighted after they’ve been visited (CSS can do this too, but it fails on some sites… the addon works on all of them). Why do so many sites remove this important feature just for aesthetics?  Maddening!

        Then there’s PWGen, which I use to create all my passwords.  It creates a random string of gibberish characters with a single keypress, including specials as well as alphanumerics, and copies it right to the clipboard so I can hit ctrl-V in a new site’s password field.  I refuse to type passwords… randomly generated ones are far too hard to type, and mine are quite long.  Trying to force people to type them only leads to them using “1234” or “password” or similar, and I regard attempts to force me to type them as offensive.

        I use Cookie Autodelete to delete the cookies set by each site as the tab is closed, and all are cleaned at restart.  I also use Clear All Cookies to give me a one-press way to delete all cookies, useful when I have to sign into Google or similar (use it before and after!), even though Cookie Autodelete can do this too, with a few more mouse clicks.

        ViolentMonkey is used to inject Javascript into specific sites to do things like restore the old Youtube layout and bypass any “turn off your adblocker to get in” messages, and lots of other things.

        Useragent Spoofer is often useful in getting into bank sites that think I have an “unsupported” browser and also that “unsupported” means “prohibited.”  Bank of America (which doesn’t block me… it just issues a nag message) tells me this even though Firefox is supported… on Windows.  I’m not using Windows, so it tells me Waterfox (which identifies as Firefox) is unsupported, and tries to direct me to download Chrome (no) or Safari (which won’t work, as I am using Linux).  Apparently, if it’s not Windows, it must be Mac.  Those are the only two desktop platforms they “support.”  Fortunately, I was not looking for any support from them, so I am good.

        I used Useragent Spoofer just recently to bypass the ridiculously hard ReCaptchas walmart.com was giving me when I tried to sign in… tell them I have Chrome and whaddaya know, no ReCaptcha.  I went from maximum suspicion to no suspicion just by making it think I had Chrome!

        I can do this with about:config, but it’s much easier and faster to use the addon.

        I use another addon to remove annotations from Youtube videos.  I had a user script in ViolentMonkey to do that too, but something made it stop working (the new Youtube design?), so I grabbed the addon, which works well

        I have several more addons related to videos.  There’s “Open in VLC,” which puts the familiar cone icon in the URL bar when a video is detected, and with one click, it will open the video in VLC or another external media player.  There’s the audio sync tool so I can manually adjust the audio timing when it’s missynced.  I have three video downloader addons that are each capable of something the other two aren’t, so all of them are needed to cover everything I want them to do.

        Then, of course, there are the all-important Mozilla error-fixing addons, like Classic Theme Restorer, which fixes their decision to mess up the UI with Australis, and the unfortunately named Status-4-Evar, which fixes their decision to remove the status bar rather than just turning it off (Chrome doesn’t have one, so that must mean having one is bad, even if it’s off by default).  Tab Mix Plus doesn’t fix anything (of which I am aware) that was once in there before Mozilla took it out in their efforts to be like Chrome, but it makes the tabs behave as I want them with much greater granularity than the Firefox controls.

        KDE Plasma Browser integration allows some neat features, like being able to open pages on other PCs in my LAN as easily as I can open a new tab.  Open image in new tab does what it says on the tin; I can “View image” without it reusing the same tab for that purpose if I don’t want to navigate away from there just yet.  It’s useful for pages I want to zoom that have those annoying scripts that dynamically resize the image back to the same small size every time I try to zoom it.

        That’s just the ones I have enabled at the moment.

        For me these are all important functions, and I won’t live without any of them.  I don’t expect all of this stuff to be in the base browser, though; after all, that’s what extensions are for!  Only now, Mozilla has copied Chrome’s weak-sauce addons that can’t do half as much as what the classic addons do. As long as I could keep adding back what Mozilla chopped off, I was happy, but now addons can’t do that in Firefox anymore.

        Classic Theme Restorer and Status-4-Evar are impossible with the new addon schema, and while the Tab Mix Plus Quantum version is still under development, I think much of its functionality will be impossible also.  My video downloader addon that converts formats and stitches together chunked streams by itself would not be able to do that by itself in the new addon schema.  If Firefox won’t allow addons to do this stuff anymore, then as far as I am concerned, they need to put it in the base edition of Firefox.

        I don’t care how I get the functionality from those addons as long as it’s there.  A really good browser (as I would define it) would not need any addons, for all of the things I listed would be within its capabilities without having to install anything.  I realize, of course, that this is highly unlikely, so that’s why I use Waterfox that still works with classic, full-power addons.  I fear for its future as the Firefox code base diverges more and more, but I will have to cross that bridge as I come to it… for now, it’s the only browser I consider usable.  Vivaldi is getting there, but isn’t yet.  None of the other Chromium derivatives do as well as Vivaldi.

        Firefox proper is still ahead of any of the Chromium-based browsers I have seen, and certainly it’s ahead of Chromium/Chrome, but with Mozilla lopping off features at a frenetic pace, I wonder how much longer that will be true.  It’s already at the point where I’d be hard pressed to consider Firefox a whole, fully-functional browser.  Chrome’s not even on the radar, by comparison, and that’s true even of the ungoogled variants.

        The Firefox development console, though, I have no need for.  If I was developing web sites, I would probably use Firefox Developer Edition… which exists, so if they want something to cut off, I’d suggest removing the console from the standard user edition and leaving that to the dev edition.

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        • #1848750 Reply

          Cybertooth
          AskWoody Lounger

          Extremely informative post, @ascaris. I learned that you’re doing things with Waterfox that I didn’t even know were possible with any browser!

          IIRC, you also have some experience with Pale Moon. Assuming that you do, how would you compare WF to PM? PM is my go-to browser at the moment but I’m always open to bigger and better things.

          Now, lest this thread become purely a Firefox bashfest, let me put in one good word for them. Go to page 15 of these notes from Steve Gibson’s “Security Now!” podcast for the discussion of “ping tracking”:

          What’s “ping” tracking? It’s part of what has become the HTML5 standard which has been around for at least 11 years. It never really took hold because it’s so clearly designed for tracking. Unlike URL redirection (which is arguably being abused in the way similar to 3rd-party cookies), where URL redirection has many valid non-tracking purposes, “ping” tracking has no other purpose other than tracking. So for many years the purists doing the web engine development held out and kept “ping” tracking marginalized and not something that could be relied upon as being present.
          But today, as with so many other skirmishes, that war is being lost. In today’s Chrome 73, it is enabled by default but there is an option flag to disable it. But that option flag has been removed from 74 and 75. Apple’s Safari has is stuck on, as does Opera. The Firefox and Brave browsers, as the holdouts, still have it disabled by default …

          Presumably this FF advantage is also still held by WF and PM, but it’s reassuring to know that Mozilla hasn’t succumbed to this particular trend… yet.

           

          • This reply was modified 2 months ago by  Cybertooth.
          • This reply was modified 2 months ago by  Cybertooth.
          • #1848814 Reply

            Ascaris
            AskWoody_MVP

            I bash Firefox and Mozilla for different reasons than I do Chrome and Google.  I’d like Mozilla to stop trying to be Chrome and get back to being Firefox, and stop hacking off features just because Chrome does not have them.  Having features your competition does not is supposed to be a selling point, not a flaw to be remedied.  It’s more of a “I want them to wake up and smell the coffee” kind of thing, though many of us have been singing the same tune for years, to no effect.  They just keep on hacking features off!

            I don’t think there’s any hope for reforming Google.  It’s too big, and makes too much money, to ever think that could happen.  They’re the evil empire, and that won’t change unless something catastrophic happens, from their perspective.  Google should IMO be avoided as much as possible, including not using Android, Chrome, Chromebooks, or any Google services you have to sign in for (documents, calendar, Drive, maps, mail, etc.).  When I bash Google, the idea is to warn people away, not to get Google to see the error of its ways.

            As much as I dislike what MS has done to Windows, they’re not as bad as Google, in my mind.

            PM is decent, and I guess I should have included it when I said that Waterfox is the only browser I consider decent.  PM is too… I just forgot it for a bit.  I like Waterfox more, though, as Waterfox has e10s.  It uses multiple processes rather than just one, so if a long operation runs on one of the processes rendering a web page, it doesn’t block the process updating the UI.  In PM and in other single-process browsers, you will often see some stuttering and “jank” when scrolling, especially when pages are busy loading.

            I just retried PM on my Swift not long ago, and it was better than I had remembered it.  Not as janky as I thought, but it was not smooth like Waterfox either.  As far as addons, I think I’ve got equivalent versions or the same ones as in Waterfox for pretty much everything described above.  Some, like Classic Theme Restorer and Status-4-Evar, are not really necessary in PM, as the things they restore were never removed in the first place, though CTR in particular offers a massive number of configuration options that go way beyond simply getting back what Mozilla removed.  It’s with CTR that I find Waterfox to be the best… for default UIs, Pale Moon gets my vote.

            Now that Google has enough market share, we see the noose is tightening.  Most ad and script blockers are being broken, and the ping tracking thing, and probably a whole bunch of other things we’re going to be hearing about in time.  Google makes money with web ads and tracking, which most people don’t like (though most of them tolerate them anyway), and they (Google) happen to make a web browser too, the most commonly used one around. No conflict of interest there, right?

            I think Google is betting that their open-sourcing of Chromium will protect them from the inevitable antitrust scrutiny they are bound to receive from the EU, and maybe even the US.  It’s open source, but it doesn’t mean Google will accept any submissions that go against their own corporate wishes.  Chromium is developed as open source by Google for the benefit of Google, and they’ve said this quite plainly.  They are the gatekeepers… no code gets in that Google does not want in, and code that Google wants in gets in, period.

            Time will tell if that gambit on Google’s part works.

            I think Google’s handling of open-sourcing Chromium while still maintaining control has been a part of Microsoft’s loss of fear regarding open source software.  The idea of the GPL spreading and afflicting even a little bit of Microsoft’s code seemed like a cancer to Steve Ballmer, where having to release any code at all seems like the end of the world, but maybe he’d think differently now.  Chromium is open source, and Chrome itself is mostly Chromium code, and it still serves Google’s needs just as surely as IE ever served Microsoft’s needs.

            A few dissidents like Brave may hold out and vow to roll back the Google-serving stuff in every Chromium update, but Google is presumably betting that by far most people will just use Chrome, maybe curse a bit under their breath, then forget about the tracking and consider it a sign of the times.  They’re probably right.

            The number of people that open-sourcing Chromium ends up peeling off from the Chrome data slurp is probably not going to be a lot, and if Google can keep the government off their back because it’s open, then it’s a better situation than what Microsoft had a couple of decades ago.  So much for it being a cancer!  Losing a few tracking victims to Brave or other alternative Chromium browsers that only exist because Chromium is open source is well worth it if it keeps the government from getting involved as with Microsoft.

            Group "L" (KDE Neon User Edition 5.16.4).

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    • #1848388 Reply

      Paul T
      AskWoody MVP

      Do you really need a browser password saver?

      Absolutely! The browser will not store all the other information that goes along with your account. Like renewal date, answers to questions for recovery, then there are CC numbers, passport details etc. Having a proper password manager is the only way to go.

      cheers, Paul

      • #1849400 Reply

        mn–
        AskWoody Lounger

        … isn’t the question then, do you need a browser password saver specifically?

        What I use isn’t talking to the browser directly at all. Actually, it doesn’t even talk to the network by itself… the networked sync between devices is handled externally and still doesn’t touch a normal browser.

        • #1849494 Reply

          Paul T
          AskWoody MVP

          Nope! More than one password store is asking for trouble – did I back it up, where is that password, what is my master password for this app, etc.
          Choose one app that you like and use it all the time.
          Back it up regularly and store a copy away from your computer.
          Learn how to recover when your computer dies, is stolen etc.

          Your password data is probably your most valuable possession, make sure it’s always available.

          cheers, Paul

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