Firefox 3.0 Final Coming June 17th

The final release date for Firefox 3.0 is June 17th! Don’t forget to visit SpreadFirefox and join in for the world record attempt. According to Mozilla, Firefox 3.0 has been in active development for 34 months. Firefox is a fantastic product, and I am very grateful to Mozilla and the open-source community for creating it. But 34 months strikes me as a bit ridiculous. I’d expect an entire operating system could be written in less time.

Firefox to Attempt World Record

The folks over at spreadfirefox.com have started accepting pledges from users to download Firefox 3.0 the day it is officially released. So far, no concrete date for the final release has been set. They are hoping to set a Guinness World Record for the number of software downloads in 24 hours. For all the details, and global pledge totals, head to the Download Day page at Spread Firefox. I’ve pledged!

Firefox 3.0 Bookmark Handling

If want to try the new Firefox 3.0, and plan to copy bookmarks between different computers, there is something you should know. Firefox no longer stores its bookmarks in the traditional bookmarks.html file. It is now using some type of database system to make up Places, a new way of managing your bookmarks and browsing history. While this new system is a big step forward from the days of old, it gave me a lot of grief when trying to move my bookmarks from one computer to another.

The problem was, I had no idea about this new system. I kept trying to copy my bookmarks.html file between computers, only to find that when I loaded Firefox, the same old ones kept appearing in the browser. It took me a long time to nail down what was causing it, but after some research online, I found out that you have to go about this in a slightly different way.

First, within Firefox, choose Organize Bookmarks from the Bookmarks menu. Then, export your bookmarks from your source computer. You’ll find importing and exporting options within the pull-down icon displaying a star within the Organize Bookmarks Library window. You may notice that the file size of the exported HTML file is half the size that it used to be in the past with Firefox 2. (I don’t know the technicalities of why this is, but it’s all the better.) When you get to your source computer, choose to import bookmarks and use the HTML file as the source. Done. I only wish there was an option not to duplicate existing bookmarks. I found it necessary to delete all of my old ones before importing the new ones to avoid having a duplicated mess.

I was not aware of any of this until I failed repeatedly at trying to copy my bookmarks after upgrading to Firefox 3. This may explain why the Foxmarks extension has not yet been updated to support Firefox 3.

Firefox 3.0 RC1 Released

The release candidate for Firefox 3 is now available from Mozilla! I have downloaded it, and I’m very impressed. I’m very happy with the new default theme. This new interface is especially good on the Mac. It finally looks and feels like a true OS X app. So far, I’ve found Firefox 3 to be incredibly fast, and page scrolling is now silky smooth. I only hope that 3.0 compatible expensions are soon available for all of my favorite add-ons. Some extensions, such as Adblock Plus are already available for Firefox 3. Others, like Del.icio.us Bookmarks and Foxmarks, are not.

Firefox Theme: NASA Night Launch

In the past, I used to experiment with different Firefox themes, but in the end, I always reverted back to the Firefox default. I eventually always found fault in some aspect of the theme I was using. There was always something better, I figured, and the default theme is very clean and simple.

Recently, I have really been into the theme named NASA Night Launch. It’s a very dark theme. I wasn’t sure how I’d like it, but even after some time, I really do! The dark toolbar and scrollbar really make the page content pop out. I recommend this theme to anyone to try. I can’t imagine myself ever growing tired of it. Surely, it won’t be the last theme I ever use, but it’s one I’ll always keep on my computer, for certain. Try it out! It even works on Firefox 3.0b5.

Camino Browser

I have been wanting to write a post about Camino, the Mac browser from Mozilla, for some time. The problem is, I still am still not sure what I think of it. I have been using it on my Mac since version 1.2, and the latest as of today is 1.5.5. I never used it much at first, but in the past couple of weeks, I decided to get serious, and set it as my default browser.

First, it is way faster than Firefox. Camino is a pure native Cocoa app for the Mac OS X. It loads pages quickly and effortlessly, and the program loads faster than Firefox as well. Camino also has a cool, built-in feature to block most web advertising. That said, the browser doesn’t have all of the features of Firefox (or Safari 3). For instance, the program’s options are pretty sparse, you can’t rearrange tabs, and there is no support for browser themes or extensions.

I have come to think of Camino as a fast trade-off. I like using it, but I can’t live without my favorite Firefox extensions. I have tried to find a way to incorporate adding new bookmarks into Del.icio.us from Camino, but it must be near-impossible, because I have not had any luck.

One thing I am used to in Firefox is opening new tabs for my bookmarks by middle-clicking them. This doesn’t for bookmarks in Camino, but does work for links within a webpage. The solution is to hold down the CMD key while clicking bookmarks. Another issue is apparent in my Netflix queue. In Firefox, I can click and drag titles around to rearrange their order. In Camino, this ability is absent. That alone makes me wonder what other cool AJAX-style goodies I could be missing while visiting other sites.

Frustrated at Camino’s limitations, I ran back to Firefox. It was only then that I realized how much faster Camino was. When I switched back, Firefox felt noticeably slow and clunky. And there’s the rub.

Both Camino 2 and Firefox 3 are in the making. While Camino will never support Firefox extensions by nature, perhaps new versions of both browsers will be able to settle the battle for my favorite. Until then, I’ll just have to use both. Camino is so fast, it is worth using regularly.

Browse By Keyword

I have found myself relying more and more on keywords to visit my favorite sites, instead of clicking through my bookmarks. In Firefox, right-click one of your bookmarks, choose Properties, then add something in the Keyword field. Whatever you have as your keyword will work when you type it in the address bar as a substitute for the actual address. I’d imagine that this works in a similar fashion in Internet Explorer.

For instance, for yahoo.com, I have y as my keyword. All I have to do is type a single y and hit Enter. This method is overall faster than switching to your mouse to click, and could eliminate the need to have the bookmark bar open. I suppose it is faster than the mouse if you already have a habit of using keyboard commands to access the address line. If you don’t already know, hit CTRL-L to highlight the address area, or CTRL-T to open a blank tab. (Use the Cmd key on a Mac).

Once you have added keywords to all of your favorite sites, you’ll see the benefit for sure. It is indeed a real time saver. Plus, the longer the actual address, the more you’ll appreciate having a short keyword for the site. Below is a short list of examples of a few that I have set on my computer:

  • y = yahoo
  • g = google
  • gm = gmail
  • dict = dictionary
  • fb = facebook
  • wu = weatherunderground

Apple Safari 3.0 Beta

This past week, Apple released a beta of the new version 3.0 of its Safari web browser. For the first time, the browser is available on Windows! The claim it is twice as fast as Internet Explorer 7. I like that Apple is encroaching in the Windows arena. After all, users are already comfortable with Quicktime and iTunes. Why not?

That said, I still mostly use Firefox on my Mac. Safari is indeed very fast and capable (I have version 2.0.4). It has everything I need, but I still prefer Firefox. I have several Firefox extensions that I rely on. Not to mention the fact that for some reason my visual post editor in WordPress doesn’t work in Safari. I do use Safari on a few sties, like Pogo, where I have to run Java. Java applets seem more stable going through Safari. When the final version 3.0 of the browser is out, I’ll definitely download it.

What Is Your Start Page?

I don’t like to have my browser’s default start page linked to a complex website. I like to keep my start page very lean. In fact, I used to use nothing at all, opting for a simple “about:blank” in Firefox, which brought up an empty browser window every time I loaded the program. I also have gone through phases where I use google.com or yahoo.com. Google is a terrific choice, but since I have the Google search box on my toolbar, I don’t necessarily need to see the Google page itself. The problem with Yahoo is that the home page is very complex and while it probably only takes an extra second to load, I don’t want to deal with all that right out of the gate.

If you like a simple page, like Google’s page, but also want a couple of important news headlines on the screen, try making your start page search.yahoo.com. I much prefer Google as a search engine, but this is just for something to look at when I load the browser. Yahoo Search has an extremely basic, clean page with a few links to the top news headlines so that you don’t miss anything important, as well as indicators from Yahoo Mail. I have my browser set to Yahoo Search for now, though I am bound to change it without notice.

Internet Explorer 7

Before I begin, I must say that I don’t prefer to use Internet Explorer. I use Firefox as my primary browser and I much prefer it over Internet Explorer, but I’ll admit that Microsoft has done pretty good with version 7. If you use Windows XP and are still using IE6, I’d recommend upgrading it to IE7. I have had it on my laptop for a while, but have hardly ever used it. The program came through as automatic update a few months ago, an action which I thought was a tad irresponsible of Microsoft. They called it a security update and pushed it out to everyone. If you chose not to allow the update, perhaps because you didn’t want to be forced to run the Genuine Windows (GWA) validation check, then there is a workaround for that issue on this page, effectively allowing you to install IE7 anyway. I have tried the instructions for that workaround on my desktop PC and it was a complete success.

After I recently upgraded my desktop machine to IE7, I actually tried using it for a night. In fact, I am using it right now as I write post to my blog, something I never normally do. I have to say I am fairly impressed with it. IE6 had become a dinosaur years ago. The new version can render pages much more quickly than its ancient predecessor. Tabbed browsing has finally arrived to IE, although a few years late in the game. Security is supposed to be tighter than the swiss cheese that plagued IE6. Time will tell on the security situation. One thing I do like about version 7 is how it behaves in full-screen mode. When you enter this mode, the browser window literally consumes the whole screen. The live web page reaches all the way up to the highest pixel. Impressive.

A long time ago, before Firefox, I used an overlay program for IE (now called Maxthon) to add tabs and a better interface. What Microsoft has now finally built into IE7 looks to me to be better than what the overlay program once was. The clean, uncluttered interface and overall polish of IE7 certainly deserves a nod. If you like using IE and haven’t yet upgraded, you should do so, and not look back.