Entries from October 2006


Neil in Arabic

Renée and I started taking Arabic tonight. All I have to say is holy crap is it hard. Still, it’s very cool to learn a language that doesn’t use the roman alphabet. The arabic alphabet is gorgeous - above is a photo of my name in Arabic.

Optimized Firefox 2.0 for G4, G5, and Intel Macs

Firefox theme

For those of you who somehow missed the news, the long-awaited release of Firefox 2.0 is finally here, and so are optimized builds!

There’s a bunch of new features and fixes in this release, so instead of repeating what’s already been said I’ll just point interested parties to the Firefox 2.0 release notes.

Why is the name / icon different?

firefoxI really shouldn’t have to keep repeating this, but every time I post a new Firefox release I still seem to get people annoyed / pissed off / confused as to why these builds are missing the Firefox name and icon. So here comes the strong emphasis:

The Firefox name and icon are copyrighted and cannot be used with non-official builds. These are non-official builds, so they cannot have the official branding. Pretty straight-forward. Please don’t ask me to build versions with the official branding.

So, without further ado…


Make sure to choose the build that matches your processor. If you’re not sure what processor you have in your machine you can find out this information in the “About this Mac” window (Apple menu > About this Mac).

Previous download links removed. A newer version of Firefox is now available.

Recommended downloads

Here’s a small list of extensions and whatnot that I highly recommend:

  • Nightly Tester Tools: Every Firefox update means that some (if not all) of your extensions and themes break due to version incompatibility. This extension helps you to cajole extensions to work and helps baby firefoxes sleep well at night.
  • Pinstripe theme | Aronnax’s Firefox themes: One of the big “new features” of Firefox 2.0 is a “visual refresh”. (How many “times” can I do “air rabbit ears” in one paragraph?) Anyway, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and all that, but I personally don’t get it. For those of you that cringe when they see Firefox’s new duds these themes may prove to be the panacea you were looking for.
  • Tab Mix Plus: The new close tab buttons in Firefox 2.0 are a nice addition, but overall Firefox’s tab feature is still lacking that je ne sais quoi. (Does anyone else think the default Firefox tabs are too damn wide?) Tab Mix Plus makes Firefox’s tabs much more customizable and adds in a bunch of other nice features, too. This is a link to the development builds that are compatible with Firefox 2.0.
  • Stop and Reload extension: Toolbar space is at a premium. This extension combines the stop and reload button into one, ala Safari. You’ll need to use the Nightly Tester Tools above to install this one as it hasn’t been updated for Firefox 2.0 yet.
  • Fission: Puts the loading status indicator into the address bar ala Safari. I hated this when Safari was first released, but I’ve gotten used to it and now whenever I use a browser that doesn’t have this feature I miss it a lot.
  • Do you like this theme I’ve been working on? If there’s enough interest I’ll get it fixed up for Firefox 2.0 and post it for download.

Posts on “essential extensions to use with Firefox” are seemingly a dime a dozen these days, so I’ll end here. Feel free to post in the comments any feedback, thoughts, rants, praises, or anything else that comes to mind that is Firefox-related.

Enjoy, folks!

(Who wants to lay money on when Firefox 2.0.1 will be released?)

Post-Digg update: Jumping jehosaphat, people, you just burned through over 150 gigabytes of bandwidth in just over 5 hours. Yikes. More here.

Traffic Jam

24 hours of traffic courtesy (mostly) of Digg.com, TUAW (twice), XLR8yourmac.com, MacTechNews.de, and Lifehacker.com looks like this:


And this includes around two hours of off-loading the brunt of Digg’s assault from this server onto my new Media Temple grid server account, so the actual numbers are much higher.

Total bandwidth so far? Nearly 400 gigabytes of data transferred, and still going.

A number of very nice people have emailed me asking if I accept donations. I really appreciate the sentiment, but I have a terabyte (!) of bandwidth with Media Temple so I’m not worried about bandwidth overages. Others have asked if I could seed these as torrents. At this point the frenzy is over so there shouldn’t be any problems downloading, but next time there’s a major release I’ll probably offer torrents to help spread out the traffic.

That said, I’d be a bad marketer if I didn’t point interested parties to download a free demo of Path Finder and give it a whirl. If it strikes your fancy, buy a copy - I will receive a portion of your purchase as Cocoatech is a client of mine.

Or don’t - either is just fine with me. I build my Firefox builds because it’s kind of interesting to me and it’s the best way I know how to give back to the mac community. The fact that people are downloading them and enjoying them is, cliché aside, reward enough.

How to change the user agent in Firefox

It seems like BonEcho and unofficial Firefox builds do not ship with the same user agent as the official Firefox release, which seems completely ludicrous. Normally this shouldn’t cause much of an issue, but with some (rather anal) sites that sniff for the exact Firefox 2.0 user agent you might run into issues if you’re running one of my optimized builds.

So let’s look at fixing this.

  1. Launch BonEcho / Firefox and enter about:config into the address bar.
  2. You’ll get a “page” that consists of row upon row of preferences. Right-click / control + click anywhere on the page. Select New and then from the sub-menu select String.
  3. A sheet appears asking for a New string value. Enter general.useragent.override and click OK or hit return.
  4. Another sheet appears asking for you to Enter string value. This is where you enter the user agent BonEcho / Firefox should use to identify itself to servers.

    To set this to the official Firefox user agent for Intel-based macs enter Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; U; Intel Mac OS X; en-US; rv:1.8.1) Gecko/20061010 Firefox/2.0 For PPC-based macs enter Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; U; PPC Mac OS X; en-US; rv:1.8.1) Gecko/20061010 Firefox/2.0. Hit OK or press enter.

That’s it! Now BonEcho / Firefox should identify itself as Firefox 2.0 and sites that are overly picky about the user agent should work as expected. If you want to test this you can point your newly masked browser to the aptly named whatsmyuseragent.com.

More bumf on user agents

For on-the-fly user agent switching check out Chris Pederick’s User Agent Switcher extension. Everyone’s favourite neighbourhood encyclopedia has scads of information on user agents including a number of examples you can use if you want to masquerade as a different browser.

Okay, that’s enough Firefox on this weblog to last at least a couple of weeks. Back to your regularly scheduled meandering and pointless babbling.

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