Link'ems

Jun. 27th, 2017 12:54 am
marahmarie: my initials (MM) (Default)

Politics

Amazon

  • Amazon now offers reduced fee Prime membership - $5.99 per month for low income earners. "Normal" Prime membership is $99, which in theory would be $8.25 per month, but only if you paid $99 at sign-up to lock in the price, so many people actually pay what I did before "cheaper Prime" came along - $10.99 per month/$131.88 per year - the usual $99 plus a $32.88 Poor People's Poverty Tax.
  • Also check out four more ways to get Prime on the cheap.
  • Amazon ended unlimited cloud storage pretty much the same week I had to jump cloud storage services...*grinds teeth into dust*
  • For cord-cutting Prime members now there's Amazon TV (pick your poison. Yay?).
  • From the email I got, as Amazon has no explainer and Google has nothing indexed: "Now’s the perfect time to take advantage of a game-changing Prime exclusive benefit—Amazon Channels, the first truly a la carte TV service. You can create a lineup you love from over 100 channels, and only pay for the ones you want—no cable required. You get a 7-day free trial of all of our channels, and you can watch anywhere and cancel anytime."
  • About the above - I haven't signed up and will probably be unable to. I also don't know anyone who's signed up. Comcast controls most of the fiber in my area and with them it's cheaper to pay for a TV and Internet package (called the "Double Play") than to just have Internet, so that's mostly what's been stopping me. Will take reviews, though (preferably from people I already know)!

Firefox

  • The search for Goldilocks, indeed. The author says the latest version of Firefox (54) has e10s (multi-process/multi-threaded like Chrome but a max four processes), but it does not have this. I'm using it on an x64 machine with two processors/8GB of RAM, so I can definitively say it has no e10s.
  • Before posting, I found an updated article which says (emphasis mine): "Electrolysis still isn’t on for all users. “Roughly half of Firefox’s user population is using multiple content processes, but Mozilla will be expanding the number over the next few months based on extension compatibility, accessibility support work and other factors,” a Mozilla spokesperson told VentureBeat. To check if you’re in the Electrolysis group, type “about:support” into the URL bar and check to see if it says “1/1 (Enabled by default)” under the Multiprocess Windows line item."
  • While I'm on the topic of Mozilla doing what Mozilla does, and as I made [personal profile] solarbird aware of, standard Firefox add-ons are on their way out, ostensibly to make room for the e10s that they claim exist which for many of us, still don't. People aren't exactly keen on this.
  • Without add-ons as we know them, Firefox basically turns into Opera on Webkit. And though they're killing add-ons as we know them first, a complete browser engine re-write is also on the way. "firefox why u so", indeed!

Invention

  • With this, the author proves he can turn something as ho-hum as a relatively obscure invention into an epic tale that covers everything from original sin to the rise and fall of civilizations to the sad state of mankind's eternal economic Shangri-La. He's also - did I mention this - a great writer.
marahmarie: my initials (MM) (Default)

Firefox actually has the weirdest performance in some areas:

  • clearing comment forms on entry pages (the whitespace between entry and form works as it should in _every_other_browser_; in Firefox the form doesn't clear by more than a few pixels unless I about triple the top margin).
  • arranging cell space on comment forms under 360px width on mobile is not going very well (our comment forms are actually tables nested within tables, which doesn't make it any easier)
  • displaying padding in text fields (for example, the search box in the navigation bar above the header is the wrong shape/size in _every_other_browser_ because Firefox)
  • certain CSS properties/values work in Firefox but in no other browser, which led to this thing today where my comment forms looked like someone shook all my pages really hard and let the form fields land where they would. Such fun.

I think I'd need about a thousand hacks for every possible browser/OS/device configuration to work around some of this, or to simply hack Firefox to allow better display in other browsers. And I could hack Firefox, because there are hacks for it.

The other thing is how needless it is to test page display on multiple versions of modern Webkit (only speaking of Windows browsers). If you check a web page in Chromium or Google Chrome, it seems you've checked it in every modern Webkit browser including Safari for Windows - which stopped at v.5 some years ago - except modern (non-Presto) Opera, which has its own ideas about CSS.

I'm not sure if this applies to Chrome on Android, as well, but as far as desktop testing goes, yeah, it does seem that way.

marahmarie: my initials (MM) (Default)

Need to clear out bookmarks in upcoming entries in anticipation of moving browsers, which I'm going to do, after learning the switch from XUL to WebExtensions for add-ons is roughly six months to a year away. The ban on new add-ons that use XUL happens much sooner - with Firefox 53, due out this March, when Mozilla takes its first step in turning Firefox into Chrome.

One could argue: "Why switch browsers when they'll all be the same?" but the thing is, Mozilla's giving a giant "fuck you" to the very technology that makes its browser what it is and its devotees who they are, which is like giving a giant "fuck you" to Firefox's entire userbase. I take it as a very bad sign when independent devs are constrained in the tools and resources they have on hand to make the most fresh, innovative, interesting, and capable add-ons possible.

But WebExtensions can't interact with browser chrome (unlike XUL), which severely limits the code's usefulness and functionality, and are not in a state of being anywhere near ready to use in Firefox, because some APIs which both Chrome and Opera depend upon won't work in Firefox (to put it more or less in Mozilla's own words) so the to-date utterly incomplete API framework will have to be forced to work with Firefox's particular limitations and peculiarities.

Mozilla's basically aiming for a proprietary version of WebExtensions, which can't be fully ported across platforms, then asking - demanding - that add-on devs learn to work both within that proprietary framework and, if they wish to port their add-ons, the more interchangeable APIs already in use in Chrome, Opera, and Edge.

Add-ons made for Webkit browsers should just work in Firefox; Firefox add-ons will probably have to be shimmed in to work with them, because apparently Mozilla decided it's easier to shim in an existing cross-platform technology solely for cross-browser compliance than it is to standardize technology running their browser in order to not have to shim in normally cross-platform APIs. Freakishly high performance demands are therefore created just to make an add-on here and there, if you ask me.

Firefox's add-on devs have been through enough. I'm tired of us holding hands across the dev/user spectrum, moaning over the latest edicts, breakages, holdups, and prohibitions. First XUL was the main technology and all was good. But that wasn't enough, so we needed Jetpack. But then that wasn't enough, either; the XULs in Jetpacks had to be delivered through SDKs.

But even that's not enough; now add-ons have to be re-checked for compatibility in every new Firefox version - even if, theoretically, you get three new Firefox versions per week over security issues or code snafus.

But nope, that's not enough, either; now add-ons have to be signed, which means an often tedious and at times very slow review process by Mozilla that still lets adware and malware sneak in despite so-called "reviews". (<--Are these what they call "scare quotes"? They should be, because that's pretty scary).

And what does the end-user get in return for the contortions add-on devs must perform to keep up?

Add-ons that are often in a state of not meeting compatibility requirements from one Firefox update to the next. It's anyone's guess which add-ons will work after an update and which ones won't for a few days to a few weeks to never again (Charamel/Silvermel being a rather perfect example) and a browser that never adequately addresses its high RAM usage, slowness, or Flash incompatibility - to the point Mozilla recently disabled Flash in Firefox by default to prevent its heavy RAM usage and frequent browser crashes.

What are we getting in return for the torment of add-on devs who make Firefox the masterpiece of creative thinking, "anyone can write some code for this" invention it once was? This is more a question for the commenters because I really can't think of a damn thing that makes Firefox worth using except its incredibly useful, capable add-ons, whose creators are being tortured out of existence to make Firefox look, act, "feel" and make money more like Chrome does.

Like Chrome does.

Maybe I'm in the minority compared to the vast amount of people Mozilla banks on to be unable to tell the difference between browsers, so just use whatever's put in front of them, but how, pray tell, will Mozilla put it in front of them? Not via its devotees - the biggest, most vocal, enthusiastic built-in fan base Mozilla will ever have - who are increasingly frustrated and abandoning the browser.

Through a partnership with Google? How else? With Microsoft's support for the more standard spec of WebExtensions that Chrome and Opera have adopted, it's possible Mozilla might turn to Microsoft, but either way they must turn to one or the other (or take up arms with Opera) to have any hope at all.

Mozilla's market share has declined so rapidly - the userbase is down so significantly (we're less than 10% of all browser users in the world) that I don't see how un-differentiating makes Firefox somehow stand out. It's insulting that Mozilla assumes we'll just go along. I won't. I'll switch away from Firefox before I really even have to just to prove it.

marahmarie: my initials (MM) (Default)

Another browser. Maybe Opera latest. It runs Webkit. I can use my current add-ons or duplicate their functionality via other add-ons that aren't exactly the Firefox add-ons I've been using. The only thing missing in trying to recreate my add-on environment is a ruler, but as I haven't searched Opera's store specifically for a "ruler", there might be one.

OK, so why is Firefox making me want to run screaming from my computer rather than keep using it?

Well. Try this, written on Dec. 14th by the author of DownThemAll! (the dev is apparently so pissed the website is MIA; enjoy a copy via WayBack Machine). [CW for strong language; CW2 for non-PC language if you visit the archived link directly. Also, I'm not a DownThemAll user; I ran across this when the website was still live, via someone else's DW]:

The whole story is basically that mozilla folks are fucking up the add-on space.

The whole story is that DownThemAll! would need a ton of niche APIs that mozilla has neither the resources nor the will to spec, implement and maintain[0].

The whole story is that WebExtensions APIs explicitly are supposed to be high level APIs, while tons of add-ons actually want, nay need low level APIs to implement their functionality.

The rational here seems to be "Fuck yall, we consider you too stupid and/or evil to give you low level access, also we're lazy and not good with money so we couldn't possibly support low level anyway" [..] The high level API shit is what's killing the platform, not XUL or (partial) XPCOM deprecation.

If you aren't getting that slightly oxygen-deprived, hubba-hubba feeling, then read on:

It is my opinion that it's not me who's leaving a 1.25M Active Daily Users DownThemAll! audience, but mozilla is abandoning them (and me) and not just them but also the developers and users of tons of other add-ons with small and large audiences[1].

I'll keep maintaining (most of) my add-ons for the time being, albeit with far less enthusiasm, in case mozilla wakes up or some viable fork comes along, tho.

> As far as i can tell, DownThemAll will be able to run on WebExtensions
> once the missing APIs (mainly file writing) will be integrated, and i
> got the confirmation this will happen in due time.

I have no hopes that they will implement proper APIs, not even for file writing[0 again]. Other than file writing, there are no proper APIs to do requests, there are no proper APIs for other stuff such as executing files, other kinds of OS integration, UI integration and so on and etc and pp.

And that's just DownThemAll!, looking at my other add-ons (public or for personal use) and also those I use of other devs, most of them will be dead in the water, or could only be ported with serious, serious limitations. Some add-ons I use already were abandoned, rightfully so because WebExtensions offer no way forward for those addons, and for now I fix them locally for me if something breaks (I cannot take over maintainership and publish them as I lack the time and motivation to do so) I have no use for crappy webrequest/toolbar button APIs alone. At least the Adblockers will survive I guess... hurray!

It goes on, and on, and on. I read it in its the entirety but won't reproduce it in full as I think these quotes give enough of an idea of what's apparently about to go down (which is the thing, so I welcome any corrections or updates on what the DownThemAll! author had to say).

I don't want to go without add-ons - again. I don't use many - just a handful - but I use them frequently enough that I need and want to keep them around, or my writing and CSS workflows - and how I view the entire web - will get pretty screwed up. I've gone too many years with things as I want them to say, "Oh, OK, I'm in Firefox but now it's so dysfunctional I might as well use Edge". Which: no; I will die first

The last time I dealt with scads of broken add-ons (and had the ones that did work break because of Firefox's design changes, which happily enough, also broke the browser chrome) I sort of made a big stir, and that's the last post I ever want to write that more or less opens with the word "motherfuckers" about anyone, much less Mozilla's entire dev team. Once is enough.

So I could switch to Opera on Webkit: it has built-in VPN, a built-in ad blocker, runs fast as hell even with a similar handful of add-ons installed, seems designed to protect privacy (which ahem, is important enough of an issue for iOS users to give them their own browser running Safari just to give them privacy, but is not important enough of an issue to give Windows or Android users a similar browser now or ever. Seriously? Why not?).

Or I could switch to Chromium - but only with Google services turned off. No built-in VPN, no ad blocker, and it looks like the same add-ons are missing in the Chrome store that are missing from Opera, more or less. So I think Opera will win hands down unless someone can make a really good argument as to why I should use Chromium instead.

To pre-empt the question: "Why don't you just use Chrome?", good question! Answer: "Because it has no privacy".

To stay with Firefox I'd need reassurances given on a massive, transparent, public scale that the version being discussed, when it does comes out, will not break the vast majority of add-ons. I mean, add-ons break nearly every time Firefox updates (I don't run a compatibility disabler for nothing) but that's mostly over things like someone forgetting to add a signature or to add or delete a line of code; it's usually minor and fixed fast.

This looks like a whole 'nother ball of wax.

marahmarie: my initials (MM) (Default)

Sometime in the last few years Firefox took away the ability to wrap long lines when you view source or any plaintext file. So there you are, scrolling left to right, line by ridiculously long line, going nuts because it's really hard to read code or absorb anything anybody says with all this distracting scrolling to do.

In the Olden Days (my God, maybe waaaaay back in 2014?) you'd hit the Menu Bar for something like View-->Page Style-->Wrap long lines but no, having that menu option made it way too easy for us, so now the option no longer exists, and Firefox, by default, still does not wrap long lines.

To wrap long lines without the option: type about: config into the address bar. And yes, of course you want to void your warranty! Just kidding. Check No on that. Then type "wrap" without quotes into the search box until you see plain_text.wrap_long_lines and view_source.wrap_long_lines in the results view. Double-click each entry (these are Boolean values but you don't need to know what that means, because it really doesn't matter) and set them to true. Presto, long lines will wrap now, whew.

marahmarie: my initials (MM) (Default)

1) That I finished installing Win 10 for somebody on their laptop (which I happen to still be using right now) and upon snycing Firefox for them and getting their add-ons back in order, discovered that WOT now has URL-checking and URL-blocking features. I can only wish we could send this feature back in time to at least 10 years ago to help so many people (well, myself included, back in the day) who had their computers destroyed by trojans and other malware - dialers, botnets, whatever - which were downloaded and installed from web pages that could have easily been avoided by using these features.

I enabled both features! I don't care if they like it or not. They can always change it; I'll show them how if needed. URL-checking does slow browsing down a bit (a plain white page loads with nothing but the four WOT lights on it, and it seems to take forever to finish URL-checking and to send you to the page you want, and it seems sort of clumsy to do a whitelist instead of a blacklist when obviously even the most rash and ignorant web user is going to probably visit at least a few safely bookmarked sites each day, but then again, whitelisting prevents browser hijackers from redirecting sites you trust over to sites you don't, that are either convincingly spoofing the websites you want and think you're at or else simply about to destroy you).

2) That suddenly AdBlockPlus has malware-blocking, social media button hiding and tracker-disabling features baked right in (but no, according to a google search I just did, it's had these features since 2013. Talk about having my head up my ass for way too long because, regardless, the first time I noticed any of those features was...today*). I can't even...

*Upon a re-read of this post, I see there's a line that says: "I have tested this in both Firefox and Google Chrome, and both display the options on a first run page after installation. I'm not sure if existing Adblock Plus users see that page as well after they update their version." But I can't say if it shows on first run either. I mean, I reinstall OSs and therefore reinstall ABP at least 3-4 times a year, let's say, on average (because really, I don't use Firefox Sync as much as I should). I never saw the option on any first run except today's, and that was on someone else's computer, no less. Which means for three years I never knew ABP had all this goodness baked right in. *total, just total sad face at missing three years of this*