Several of the new features are truly great little additions. The smarter auto-complete list is probably my favorite. In the prior version, when you started typing a web address, Firefox would try to guess what you wanted but usually ended up offering a whole bunch of deep links within sites when you really just wanted the main site. The new auto-complete uses a combination of the total frequency of past visits along with recent visits and comes up with smarter choices. A couple of minors changes, like triple-clicking to select a paragraph of text and improvements to opening a bunch of tabs at once, round out a very nice upgrade.
I’m also glad that most of my favorite add-ins, including Google Notebooks and Delicious bookmarks, have made the jump to 3.0 compatibility. As I noted the other day, however, Google has ended development of its excellent browser sync product. I’m now using Foxmarks to keep bookmarks in sync but I’m suffering from a huge loss of capabilities since Google’s product also synced history, cookies and other stuff. Hopefully, some more capable alternatives will crop up and/or Foxmarks will add features. Meanwhile, any other add-ins that people recommend?
p.s. there are some great tips and tricks for using the new Firefox over at Lifehacker. I especially needed the one showing how to delete mistyped web addresses that then get onto your auto-complete list. Blech.
Seems like the Mozilla project has been working on the 3.0 upgrade to free, open source browser Firefox since time began but really it’s only been since the Pleistocene Era. Finally, we’ve arrived at the so-called release candidate (download here), or the almost, not quite but really almost finished beta version. I was hanging around reading other people’s tweets on Twitter when I saw Mac expert John Siracusa mention it and link to the download page. So, I guess it’s about time to cowboy up and try it.
I’m usually not big on beta software, but it’s the weekend. At first, I grew very apprehensive when, reading way down the list of improvements, I eventually happened upon this sentence: “Please note that installing Firefox 3 will overwrite your existing installation of Firefox on Mac OS X and Linux.” Hmm. That’s a little scary. But I was comforted just three lines later when told: “You can remove Firefox 3 through the Control Panel in the Start Menu on Windows, by removing the Firefox application on OS X, or by removing the firefox folder on Linux. Removing Firefox 3 won’t remove your bookmarks, web browsing history, extensions or other add-ons.”
Some of the cool new features I’m looking forward to (and which I’ll be reporting back on shortly):
– Full page zoom: from the View menu and via keyboard shortcuts, the new zooming feature lets you zoom in and out of entire pages, scaling the layout, text and images, or optionally only the text size. Your settings will be remembered whenever you return to the site.
–Optimized Open in Tabs behavior: opening a folder of bookmarks in tabs now appends the new tabs rather than overwriting.
–Triple-clicking selects a paragraph.
–Integration with the Mac: the new Firefox theme makes toolbars, icons, and other user interface elements look like a native OS X application. Firefox also uses OS X widgets and supports Growl for notifications of completed downloads and available updates. A combined back and forward control make it even easier to move between web pages.
–Location bar & auto-complete: Results are returned according to their frequency (a combination of frequency and recency of visits to that page) ensuring that you’re seeing the most relevant matches. An adaptive learning algorithm further tunes the results to your patterns!
Cleaning out the attic closet recently, I came across an ancient Casio PocketPC that I must have bought six or seven years ago, the Cassiopeia E-115. It’s a cute little device featuring a smallish, color touch-screen and compact flash card slot. My son was immediately interested in reclaiming it but we couldn’t get it to boot up or hold a charge.
A quick Google search landed a replacement battery (fully removable!) for about $20. That arrived in a few days and worked great. Next, we couldn’t help but notice that even though the Cassiopeia has a version of Internet Explorer, it had no way to get online. So another couple of Google and Amazon searches later, we located a compact flash slot-compatible wifi card by D-link, the DCF-650w, with drivers for Windows CE 3.0 still available for download. That came after a few days but how to get the wifi driver software onto Cassiopeia?
I tried loading them on a compact flash card but they wouldn’t install. A closer look at the driver software instructions suggested using Microsoft’s Active Sync program. I’m thinking at this point, too bad we threw away all the disks that came with Cassiopeia. Then again, exactly which computer in our house could still run Active Sync circa year 2000 even if I had the disks?
On a lark, I downloaded the current version of Active Sync from Microsoft onto one of our PCs, plugged in the Cassiopeia’s serial-port dock and plunked the little sucker down. Surprise, surprise, the 2007 Active Sync running on a Windows XP system recognized the Cassiopeia and installed the D-link drivers. Seconds later we were cruising the web, as the picture above demonstrates. Sweet.