Ruby, Rails, Firefox, Anime, Mac
I was at the 2nd WebSG (Web Standards Group Singapore) meetup (read about the recap of the meetup) on Wednesday (28 Feb 2007) where I hosted a short session on some Firefox tips. It’s all thanks the urgings and encouragement of Lucian (the organizer) that I finally got down to publicly sharing my Firefox knowledge ever since I wrote Firefox Secrets.
I was asked to blog about this (since I didn’t have any presentation slides), so here it is, for those of you who missed anything in my mumbling or frantic keystrokes.
Note: Mac users should replace Ctrl with the Cmd key for any of the keystrokes listed below.
I’ve been told how annoying Firefox 2.0 is when it insists on putting a close button on each tab.
Accidental closing of tabs when you try to select them is one big complaint. Well, you can turn it off and go back to the good olde Firefox 1.5 days of a single close button on the extreme right of the tab bar. Enter about:config in your address bar, filter for browser.tabs.closeButtons, double click on the preference entry that shows up, and change the value from the default of 1, to 3. If you don’t want the close button on the right of the tab bar, enter a value of 2 (this assumes you’re going to close tabs with either Ctrl-W or middle-clicking on the tab – this is my prefered setup).
MozBackup is all you ever need if you use Windows exclusively. This neat little (Windows-only) application backs up your profile into a single file – all you need is to use a very simple wizard. And of course, you can restore your profile just as easily. I loved this when I was still using Windows.
Like I said, people using other operating systems can easily DIY – just read Mozilla’s official documentation on Firefox profiles. You’re probably using either Mac OS X or some Linux distro – you can do this without any hand-holding ;)
Some people asked me during and after my session about backing up extensions. FEBE is one extension you can look at unless you use a Mac (I tried the beta version that supports Mac OS X, but gave up when I couldn’t get it to use the correct binaries for zipping and unzipping.)
My personal take on backing up extensions: don’t back them up. I prefer to dump a list of extensions (I use the Extension List Dumper extension) that I have installed and just re-install them again. This is no big chore for me now since I have significantly fewer extensions installed than back in the day. I just like starting clean, after having had bad experiences with restoring extensions from backup before.
Still, if you really want to back up your extensions, I say just go ahead and see if it works (MozBackup and FEBE should work).
This is one thing I had planned to mention but I got kinda threw off kilter when the slowness of the wireless internet connection made me worried about quitting Firefox (didn’t want to quit Firefox, load up another profile, only to find that it’d take another 5 mins to get my demo tabs loaded again).
Anyway, some questions I often get is, “why is my Firefox so slow?” and “why does Firefox use up so much RAM/CPU?” The first thing I suspect is a busted profile. Whenever I experience intolerable slowness in my Firefox setup, I dump and restore my profile into a newly created profile, minus all the tab history information (and of course, never restoring backed up extensions). Sometimes I even start clean new profiles, importing only bookmarks. You’ll very likely notice immediately that Firefox is back to its old speediness. And if anything happens, you still have your old profile with you.
I’m not that certain of what exactly causes Firefox to get too slow over time, but my suspicions lie with:
Firefox hides its Profile Manager from you. You can access it by passing the -profilemanager switch to your Firefox executable. For Windows users, it’s actually –profilemanager.
The Profile Manager is really handy for people who need to remove distractions. For me, I setup different profiles for work and for play so I don’t become distracted the “play” tabs I have open while I’m working (I’m beginning to like the Tab Groups extension for segregating tabs more though). Also really handy for setting up clean profiles for running user demos (I setup a WebSG profile for my presentation and installed specific extensions I wanted to talk about) – don’t really want to have your naughty browser history showing up in some autocomplete heh.
I also demoed some extensions that I find essential.
Oh, and Mousepose was the application I used to get my keystrokes to show up on the screen. It’s simple yet extremely helpful for presentations, though I probably should have used the mouse spotlight feature more. Oh well, I did just buy the license for it a few hours before the meetup – goes to show how unprepared I was heh.
It’s late and I’ll blog more on the event and the people I met another day.