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Want Firefox 3.6?

October31

I have been using beta builds of future Firefox versions for ages. They have always been stable enough to use as my primary browser. The problem is, there are some downsides to using non-release versions of Firefox. One of those is add-ons not working, another is some new features that you may not like, and sometimes there are new features that you cannot access in an early beta because they have been disabled. Well here is some information, and tips and tricks for if you want to use Firefox 3.6 beta 1.

This is a minor upgrade from 3.5 so you shouldn’t expect too many changes. I’m sure there are many changes underneath the hood and hidden from the user. There are 3 major differences that may be experienced by the user. The first is Personas, which once was accessible through an extension but is now built in. This is a lightweight theming system. To try it, go to the Personas section of the Firefox add-ons site and hover over one to preview it on your browser and click “Wear It” to install it. The next change is currently disabled by default but will probably be enabled in a later beta. This is the new ctrl-tab previews. When you press ctrl-tab, it will show you full screenshot previews of some of the tabs you have open. You can also press ctrl-shift-tab to view a windows inside the browser that shows you all your currently loaded tabs. The last change is the way Firefox manages tabs opened through another page. When you click a link on a web page which launches it in another tab, this new tab will launch beside the current tab, and not at the end of the tab bar as the very last tab. As I said, there are not many new features in this version.

One of the problems with using a beta is that there will be extensions that will not function. A few of the popular extensions like Adblock Plus and Gmail Notifier will function in the latest beta but if you’re anything like me, there will be extensions that you need that just don’t work. Well luckily there’s an extension for that. Nightly Tester Tools has a great feature that allows you to overwrite compatibility to get the add-on to install on your current version of Firefox. For a lot of extensions, this is all that is needed to get it to work. For those, it’s great. Unfortunately, sometimes there are extensions that this won’t work exactly right for and may cause the browser to become unstable and/or crash. This may be a little risky but it’s worth a try. If you find you have something that doesn’t work with this fix and you must have the extension, then you’ll have to wait until the developer updates it for compatibility, which may not be until the final release. If that is your case, then beta software is definitely not for you.

So now you’ve installed Firefox 3.6 beta 1, had a quick play around with personas but you’d also like to check out the new ctrl-tab feature that’s disabled. To enabled that feature, go to about:config, accept the prompt then search for browser.ctrlTab.previews, right click and select toggle (to true) to enable. Now you can ctrl-tab to switch between you tabs with previews and also ctrl-shift-tab to access the window that shows all your tab previews. Now I wasn’t to happy with the new way Firefox handled the opening on new tabs from links in other tabs. I prefer it to open them as the last tab on my tab bar. To disable this new feature, in about:config, search for browser.tabs.insertRelatedAfterCurrent, right click and select toggle (to false). Now it handles these tabs just like it does in earlier versions of Firefox.

Now this last set of tips is for Mac owners with a MacBook (Pro) with one of the multitouch trackpads. The first one can be done in Firefox 3.5 and 3.6. To enable rotate gestures to switch between the tabs, in the about:config page, search for browser.gestures. Here you will find 2 gestures without a value, twist.left and twist.right. Right click on them and type in the field Browser:PrevTab for twist.left and Browser:NextTab for twist.right to enable these gestures for navigating through tabs on your browser window. It may seem a bit weird for the start but eventually it will become second nature. One more thing that I also found was a way to make the new ctrl-shift-tab window to come up with a gesture. To set that, right click on a gesture and in the field type Browser:ShowAllTabs. You can set it for any one of the gestures in browser.gestures. I set it for swipe.down to make it more like the 4-finger swipe down for Exposé so to access my tab previews, it’s just a simple 3-finger swipe down.

Now that you know what’s new in Firefox 3.6, go out an give this thing a run. You now have enough knowledge to get this thing working and to enable and disable new features added in this version. The extensions tip can be applied to pretty much any alpha and beta version of Firefox out there in the wild and the multitouch for the MacBooks can be applied to any version after 3.5 (excluding the tab preview one since it doesn’t exist prior to 3.6.) Here is the link for Firefox 3.6 Beta so now you have no excuse for trying it out.

posted under Software | No Comments »

Upgrading To Snow Leopard

September5

I have only been a Mac User for just over half a year. I have never been through a Mac OS upgrade before, although I knew from the moment before I purchased my MacBook, I would take the jump to Snow Leopard as soon as it comes out. Previous to that, I had only been through one OS transition and that was from Windows XP to Windows Vista. If I had a Windows machine, I would have upgraded from Vista to Windows 7. As soon as Snow Leopard was available to preorder on the Apple Store website, I immediately bought it. Launch day came, no Snow Leopard for me. After the weekend, Snow Leopard was go.

Before my disc arrived, I set up my machine for the upgrade. I arranged all the clutter into directories. I deleted or moved any files that weren’t necessary to have on the hard drive. All this was for a smaller amount of data to backup in case anything went horribly wrong. I had never been through a big upgrade like this so I didn’t know what to expect so I took all the precautions. After all that was done, I set up Time Machine on my old 500GB External HDD. After all the cleaning, I only had 100GB to be backed up which only took a couple of hours.

A quick note here. First, I picked Time Machine because the tools were already built in. I had heard around the Internet that Time Machine isn’t that great, but I hadn’t heard any bad experiences from the OS X users I know. I don’t know how reliable this software is because I most likely, well at least I hope I’d never use it. For this upgrade, it was a precaution and wasn’t expecting to have to use it, it was there just in case and also ave me piece of mind.

All that was going well until a disc got stuck in my drive. This was one of the worst things that could happen because that component, the least used one on many notebooks or computer, is required to upgrade the OS. I tried all the tricks in the book from all the help sites. Nothing worked. I pretty much gave up and decided it was going to have to go get repaired. In desperation, I shut it down and shook it around a few times. Maybe something in the drive got stuck or the disc was doing something weird and needed to be nudged. Lucky for me, this actually worked. When I booted it up and ejected the disc from in OS X, the disc came flying out. Saved by the shake.

When the disc arrived the following morning, I put it in. By this stage, the rest of the world had got their copies and there were a few complains about software not working in Snow Leopard but that was basically it. The software I use was either supported by Snow Leopard before launch, or an update came out over the weekend to fix incompatibility issues. I was willing to take the leap of faith. As you know, I have always been an early adopter of alpha and beta software. I popped the disc in, launched the installer from within Leopard and then left it for an hour to do its thing.

Upon return, there it was, Leopard… I mean Snow Leopard. I didn’t have any compatibility issues with any of my software. All software ran as it did before. Everything seemed fine. Over the past week, the only issues I’ve had are with a small glitch in the OS and one program that crashed once out of the blue. This has been a pretty smooth OS upgrade. Of course there are going to be a few small issues but none have really effected me. I’m more than happy with the upgrade process.

In contrast with my last OS upgrade with Windows, it resulted in me getting a new machine. For a lot of Windows users, that is when they upgrade their OS, they don’t buy and install it on their old hardware. Also switching from XP SP2 to Windows Vista RTM was a nightmare in comparison. System crashes and software not working for weeks, if not months after the OS release. And then, it wasn’t really until SP1 came out 12 months later that Vista was really stable.

Upgrading is going to be less problematic going from XP or Vista to 7. Windows 7 is a pretty solid OS, well at least from the limited early usage I had with it and from the experiences friends that have used the Beta and Release Candidate versions. But that will never be enough to put it on par with simple and seamless experience of an OS X upgrade. The many different versions of Windows makes it difficult to do an “upgrade” but instead requires a fresh new install and then you migrate your data over. A lot more steps and a lot more work than the simple Mac upgrade. Just another aspect of Macs that “just work.” :)

posted under Computer | 1 Comment »

My Firefox Extensions

July26

I have been a Firefox user for many years, ever since 1.0 in fact. I have had my fair share of different extensions over the years as time went on, that number increased and decreased as I installed extensions I had come across or ones that others had recommended and as I uninstalled ones that were no longer of any use to me. Well now I have a few extensions and these are some of the only reasons I wouldn’t switch to another browser. Here are my must have Firefox extensions.

Faviconize Tab – I have so many tabs open at one time. When I open my browser, the same 16 tabs open up for me. That would take up a lot of room on the tab bar. Fortunately Faviconize Tab shrinks the size of selected tabs to the size of their favicon. I go to the site so frequently I am able to recognize the website by that small icon they have. I don’t need a big title wasting space so that extra room is able to be used on other links I open.

Net Usage Item (with New Zealand ISP Definitions) – It’s been forever since I actually have Internet allowance but even with unlimited, I still find it interesting to see how much data I’ve used (and slow down if I need to.) This extension is probably one of the most useful ones I’ve ever used. It displays your current usage from your ISP and displays it in the Firefox window with a nice graphical bar showing your progress. This is a must have for all Firefox users, assuming your ISP is supported.

Nighty Tester Tools – I have always been an early adopter of the alpha and beta builds of future versions of Firefox. I enjoy using and playing around with new features before most “normal” users get their hands on them. Unfortunately one of the problems with doing so is you lose add-on support. For a lot of people, this is enough to hold out people from jumping on the latest beta. Well thankfully for me, this extension can overwrite compatibility constraints and force extensions to install on these pre-Firefox builds. The extension can do a lot more than that, but the force capability feature is the best and most useful one for me. It gives me the best of both worlds, pre-Firefox builds and my 2 great extensions.

Wow, wasn’t that a short list. I remember when I use to have over a dozen extensions and now I only have 3 (4 if you count the extra definitions pack.) These few extensions give me the functionality I want and need from my browser and that is one of the reasons that Firefox is so awesome. You can add on bit and pieces to enhance your browsing experience. If you haven’t got these extensions already, go get them if the sound like something you could do with. I live by these extensions and recommend them greatly!

VodiPhone 3GS

July8

Today VodafoneNZ finally announced the iPhone 3GS plans, or should I say re-announced the iPhone 3G plans? They are exactly the same as the current plans. Disappointing still. I would have loved to go on the iPhone 40 plan if it was any good, but $40/m would get me 20 minutes, 100 SMS and 250MB of data. I require more SMS than that, 100 is a joke. That also would have taken the 32GB iPhone 3GS down to $899 dollars, from the regular $1379.

I would like to know why the price of the phones went up. Is the recession to blame? Were Vodafone selling the 3G at lower prices but since it can now be taken over to other carriers they’ve increased it to cost price? I was hoping that it would be at the $1199 price point like the highest model 3G was but no, they’ve jacked the price of the highest iPhone model up further.

What am I going to do then? Initially I wanted to switch to XT, I still do, but I am going to stay on Vodafone so those poor people that can only SMS other Vodafone people can still SMS me, unlike those lucky Telecom people that can SMS everyone. I need a national SMS plan (TXT600) which is not available on Vodafone Prepaid so for that I need to go on a plan. I am thinking the Starter 600 would be a decent one for me. It includes 30 minutes, 600 SMS and 1 Bestmate. That costs $29.95 a month, and with the Broadband Lite add-on (100MB,) that brings it up to $40 a month. We’ll see what I do on Friday. Hopefully I’ll be the proud owner of a 32GB Black iPhone 3GS. :)

mobile phone deals

posted under iPhone | 1 Comment »

5 Reasons To Jailbreak

June28

Recently, the iPhone 3.0 software came out. I did not get it straight away because I would only update when a jailbreak was out for it.. As soon as that happened, I updated to a jailbroken 3.0 and then went through the painful process of restoring my Cydia apps and such. Anyway, here are my 5 reasons why I need to jailbreak.

The iPhone 3GS added video recording the the iPhone. Unfortunately for us iPhone and iPhone 3G users, we are left out. Well lucky for us, there is Cycorder. This allows for our devices to record video. It may not be as nice looking and smooth as the 3GS video, but at least it’s something. It’s good enough to just whip out your phone when you want to take a quick, dirty video using your phone.

The YouTube app in the iPhone is great. It does what you would expect it to do and does it really well for a phone. Unfortunately it is only really useful when you have Wifi or 3G data. Well for when you don’t have that, there is MxTube. No, it doesn’t save every video on YouTube to your phone, but you can get it to save you favourite videos or any YouTube video you want to view offline, or even online to save mobile data. This app is great for that and a lot of people like having their favourite videos on their iPhone to watch and to show others whenever.

There are many reasons why you’d want to get into your phone. For me, that is looking at files in my phone, modifying files in my phone, even backup files in my phone. This would only be possible with OpenSSH. This app has helped me back up some files before updating to 3.0, mostly stuff on my phone from jailbroken apps, but I would have lost over 500mb of files without this app. It is extremely useful.

I wish Apple had a simple way in the OS to toggle different things such as Wifi and Bluetooth from anywhere in the phone. Well for us jailbroken users, there is SBSettings. With a simple swipe of the top menubar, a box comes down with various toggles including Wifi, Bluetooth, Phone, Location Services and a few more. SBSettings makes it easy and elegant to get to those options without having to navigate out of our apps and deep into the settings on the iPhone.

This last one isn’t as useful as the other app but is more a interesting app. SMS Counter shows the number of SMS sent and/or received by your contacts between any date you specify and also shows this on a pie chart for you to see. It is really interesting to see how many SMS I’ve sent and received and to and from who since I first started using the iPhone. This app is pretty cool and can show you quite a bit about your SMS habits in a cool way.

And that is pretty much why I jailbreak. Hopefully one day Apple can include some of these things with the OS and loosen up on the apps to allow more interesting and useful apps into the App Store. I’ve been using jailbroken apps since the get go and have become heavily reliant on them. If I had to choose between 2.1 with jailbreak or 3.0 without, I would definitely pick the first. I couldn’t live without those apps. And that is why I waited a while to get to 3.0.

WWDC 2009

June17

It wasn’t until Sunday night that I finally got around to watching the WWDC 2009 keynote. Apple keynotes are always interesting, no matter what they announce, whether it affects me in anyway or now, regardless of if they announce something huge or just show off a few things that they’ve got. Apple keynotes are the best. This keynote covered 4 main bits, MacBook Pros, Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, iPhone Software 3.0 and the iPhone 3Gs.

When I first found out about the MacBook updates, I was a little annoyed. My MacBook is only 6 months old and they update it already. The only changes to it from my one are the FireWire 800 port, SD Card Slot, theoretical 2 more hours of battery life, slight CPU bump, double the RAM and the Pro on then end of the name. After an hour or so i was over it though, I love my MacBook and the features it adds wouldn’t affect the way I use my computer, although the RAM and Battery upgrades would be nice.

Snow Leopard really amazes me. It is a better Leopard. I love Leopard how it is and couldn’t have imagined it any other way. This is a perfect operating system (I come from a Windows background so what do you expect.) Well Apple blew my mind and showed some really cool stuff that they’re including in Snow Leopard. I find the current OS to be blazing fast and the new OS will see increases in speed. I can’t imagine how fast it will be but if it really is as fast as they say, I’m going to be blown away. Maybe Leopard isn’t really that fast, it’s just that I came from Windows. But that wasn’t all, Apple once again blew my mind with Snow Leopard by releasing it for a small $29 USD. Wow, I’m buying this day 1! Amazing price.

iPhone 3.0 stuff had been out in the while for some time so the stuff showed off was really no surprise, it was nice to see them on screen though. The thing that was interesting were the demos of apps utilizing some of the new features available to developers. I’m not a huge fan of in-app purchasing, I could go into more detail but I’d need another post for that. The GPS app that Tomtom showed looked pretty awesome. I would buy it, and the stand if I had my own car and needed a GPS unit. I am really looking forward to seeing apps developed especially for 3.0.

The last thing announce was a new iPhone, the 3Gs. This seems more like a spec bump, similar to that seen by the MacBook rather than a new model. Basically it adds a better camera with video support, a compass and voice control. Someone with a current iPhone 3G would get little out of the 3Gs. Someone new to the platform or someone upgrading from the original iPhone on the other hand, this would be a great next phone. For me, having fast data over the cellular network, the 3.0 megapixel camera and the 32GB of storage is enough reason for me to upgrade to it from the original iPhone model. The only thing I’m worried about is that I’m going to wish I had waited a year longer when the new big revision gets announce next year.

Overall this was a get keynote for me. I didn’t particularly care for new MacBook but it is nice to see progress for when i do eventually upgrade my 13″ MacBook to a 15″ MacBook Pro probably when I finish University. I am really excited for Snow Leopard and will definitely be purchasing it in-store on the day of release. 3.0 seems like a huge improvement over 2.0 adding features people have been wanting since version 1.0 so that will be nice to have. Finally, I think I am going to be getting an iPhone 3Gs. It is about time to upgrade to a model made for current generation mobile technology. WWDC 2009 was better than expected. I can’t wait to see what they have to top this one next year.

E3′s Been

June7

This week was a big week for the video game industry as the biggest show, E3 was this week. This is where the big dogs showcase what’s to come over the next 12 months. Being someone with a big interest in video games, and someone who has invested into this generation if console games, this event is exciting for me. To be honest, the only Press Conferences that interested me were the Microsoft and Sony ones. I am so over Nintendo, not that I was really into them in the first place.

The first day of E3 was Microsoft. I watched their Press Conference and was really pleased with what they showcased. The whole 2 hours was pretty much about showing the games that are coming out. That kept me entertained the whole time. A few of the games looked interesting, but since I don’t have a Xbox 360, I didn’t care that much for them. That and the fact that the games aren’t in the genres I tend to stick to. Probably the most interesting thing from the conference was Project Natal, but more on that later.

The next day was Sony’s Press Conference. Unfortunately I found there show less entertaining.They talked about other things when really all I wanted to see was the games. They showed a few games off, most of which I wasn’t really interested in. They didn’t go deep into as many games as Microsoft did, but they did have a few cool montages with hundreds of titles coming out over the next months. The only problem is that they went too fast and didn’t tell me what games I was looking out, so it felt very uninformative. They also announced “E3′s worst kept secret,” the PSP Go. The most interesting parts of the conference were Assassins Creed in-game footage, the God of War 3 E3 Demo and the PlayStation Motion Controller.

Sony and Microsoft both announced quite different motion controller peripherals for their systems. Sony’s was a controller with a glowing ball on the top with a few buttons that was tracked by the EyeToy camera. Microsoft have something really amazing. Being able to use you as the controller by tracking your movements, and other stuff like voice and facial recognition. This is definitely the future of computer technology, not only in video games. You have to search for the videos of these to really see how amazing both of these technologies are. It’s not something you can get an idea about from words. You have to see it with your own eyes. To be honest, I feel that Microsoft’s take on it seems a bit gimmicky, much like the Wii motion controls. I can see how it can be used in a casual gaming sense, but I don’t think it is something that can be utilized by a traditional gamer. Sony on the other hand, I can see how this could be used by a traditional gamer and they showed it too, and it looked like a lot of fun. We won’t be seeing anything really till next year but I am excited to see how both technologies pan out.

Other than watching the two Press Conferences, I also kept up with E3 by watching the Co-op podcast. I think they did a great job covering E3. Heck, they do a great job covering video games in general. Definitely check them out, especially their E3 coverage. But this week has been a good week and there are definitely a few titles I am looking forward to, including Ratchet and Clank: A Crack in Time, Assassins Creed 2 and God of War 3. I can’t wait to get them in my hands. I wonder what will be the next big thing and what E3 2010 will bring for us next year.

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