Archive for December, 2005

Thursday, December 22nd 2005

New Volvo S80 Looking Good

The upcoming, next-generation Volvo S80 has been caught in the nude on an off-beat road in South Africa. Looks sweet in those alloys! The front looks nice and hot, and the rear has been made alot sleeker. Sure to bring out a few sweats in Munich and Stuttgart.

The Car Connection has more details.

Apart from the good looks, it seems very likely that the S80 will get the V8 which recently was introduced in the XC90, with ~315 bhp or so. This should give it some pretty decent go, too.

Thursday, December 22nd 2005

MSNBC Has a Great Firefox Article

MSNBC has published a great review of Firefox 1.5. It raises a few good points:

  • It [Firefox 1.5] incorporates useful improvements without forcing users to learn anything new.
  • The users more likely to stumble across a malicious site are often least likely to remember to install security updates that would protect them from the bad site’s break-in attempts.
  • If security issues lead people to Firefox, tabbed browsing tends to keep them there.
  • Firefox 1.5 makes only two changes to its implementation of this concept [tabs], both unobtrusive but helpful.

It also talks about a few of Firefox 1.5’s weaknesses.

  • And you can’t easily remove search engines from the list of shortcuts in Firefox’s search bar.
  • You can’t ask it to tell you what sites you visit most or least often or at particular times of the day.

I know* at least those two issues will be fixed in Firefox 2.0.

They also claim that Firefox’s bookmarks managing system is no good. Not sure that I agree with them there. It maybe isn’t optimal yet, but it sure is lightyears better than IE’s and at least as good as any of the other bookmark managers out there.

*) Based on the Firefox 2.0 Product Plan Draft.

Wednesday, December 21st 2005

Another Windows Annoyance Zapped

I love it how you have to go hunting around the net to find solutions to all the annoyances of Windows XP. Here’s my latest find.

You know how Windows will automatically open an image with the “Image and Fax Preview” program thing. It won’t even let you switch that stupid behaviour off in the file type settings. (I tried to make it use Gimp as default, but to no avail.)

Anyway, the tip I linked to above fixes it in one swift move. Finally!

Sunday, December 18th 2005

Favourite Firefox Extensions

I’d like to show a list of my favourite extensions, beginning with my absolute favourites:

  1. Searchbar autosizer. A great extension which automatically increases the width of the searchbar if you type something too long into it. This should be a default feature of Firefox – it’s very useful, and doesn’t get in the user’s way.
  2. AdBlock Plus. Makes the web so much nicer to browse and look at. Especially combined with the Adblock Filterset.G Updater.
  3. SessionSaver. It’s wonderful to be able to just close your browser and know that everything you’ve got open (including half-finished forum/blog posts) will be there when you fire it back up again (pun intended).
  4. Answers. Lets you alt-click any word to instantly look it up on answers.com. Very nifty and slick.
  5. Search Engine Ordering. Allows you to order your search engines as you want them. Very useful – this should also (and will?) be part of basic Firefox functionality.

The great thing is that everyones favourite extension list looks different. Firefox extension system allows you to add just those cool/useful/slick features you yourself like.

There’s also a whole bunch of other extensions that I’ve got, but which I use less regularly. These are maybe also slightly less interesting to the broad masses:

You often hear (as a reason to use Opera instead of Firefox) that Firefox’s extensions will interfere with each other and won’t play nice.

Well, if you install extensions sensibly – that is, don’t install several extensions which attempt to do the same thing, then you’re extremely unlikely to run into any problems. (For instance, there is a huge number of extensions which enhance Firefox’s tabs. If you install several of these you’re bound to run into problems.)

All my current extensions work perfectly together. In fact, I can only remember having one slight problem with extensions treading on each others toes since I started using Firefox 1.0 one year ago: The Web Developer and Tab Sidebar extensions use the same keyboard shortcut, Ctrl+Shift+T, which resulted in only one of the extensions responding to it.

Friday, December 16th 2005

Firefox 2.0 is going to ROCK!

Well, we’ve only just been given Firefox 1.5, so people maybe think I should just be happy and use it. But now I caught a glimpse of the Firefox 2.0 product plan (draft)

There are some nice tweaks in there, which we should have in our hands for next autumn possibly. (Their release plan, which says 2.0 final by late june sounds, as always, completely unrealistic.)

Some things to look forward to:

The session saver could become a bit of a feature hurdle for novices, but I trust the Firefox engineers will make sure it won’t be.

Oh yes: the new code name is Bon Echo.

Friday, December 16th 2005

IE7 to get Firefox's Feed Icon

The Microsoft RSS Team has just announced that IE7 will be using Firefox’s feed icon. How many people would have thought that a year back? A week back?

It’s really cool that MS are working so cooperatively with their competitiors at the moment. Maybe they have to? Who knows.

I only wish they would do something along the same lines with their rendering engine. Either use Gecko (I can always dream, right?) or make Trident as standards compliant as the best (the rest).

Edit: Oh, and thanks jer for the nudge!

Saturday, December 10th 2005

Change Firefox’s Context Menu Seach Engine

When I’m reading things on the Internet I always come across words that I don’t understand. Wheat I’ve done up until now is to select the word, righ-click and do a web search for that word. That has taken me to google, upon which I’ve clicked [definition] to get me to answers.com.

Google definition

I’ve been thinking for a long time that it would be great if that context menu search went straight to answers.com to save me the wait and extra click. I just didn’t know how or if it was possible to change that search URL. Well, since this is Firefox we’re talking about – of course it is:

In about:config, filter for search and then simply change the value for browser.search.defaulturl to http://answers.com/.

That’s a huge improvement, at least to me! I don’t seem to be able to use Wikipedia here though, since the search term placeholder %s doesn’t seem to work. Anyone know of a workaround?

Wednesday, December 7th 2005

Testing 128kbps Audio is No Piece of Cake

Over at Hydrogenaudio.org a public listening test of audio encoders at 128 kbps (VBR) has been launched. The goal of the test is simply (?) to try to establish which of the actively developed encoders gives the best audio quality at the selected quality range.

They need as much help as they can get, so go help them out if this kind of thing interests you. The contestants are…

  • Ogg Vorbis (encoder: AoTuV 4.51 Beta)
  • AAC (encoder: Nero 3.1.0.2)
  • AAC (encoder: iTunes 6.0.1.3)
  • MP3 (encoder: LAME 3.97 Beta 2)
  • WMA Professional 9.1

The test goes like this: You download the test package which includes the program you use for the blind test (ABC/HR) and a bunch of configuration files for that program. Then you download some or all of the samples.

There are 18 samples in all, and they come in packs which include one encode for each encoder, as well as the original. The encodes are inflated into wave files using batch files included in the main test package. After that, just get to it. Using ABC/HR, load up the test configuration file corresponding to the sample you wish to start with. Now comes the difficult part: Identify the encodes (as opposed to the originals) and rate them on a scale from 1.0 to 5.0. The scale corresponds to the values very annoying, annoying, slightly annoying, perceptible but not annoying and imperceptible.

This is pretty difficult (or impossible, if you lack the patience) because the quality of modern audio encoders such as Ogg Vorbis and AAC is a lot higher than say your average 128 kbps CBR MP3. One big difference is that Ogg Vorbis & co by default vary the bitrate along the song as the complexity of the song varies. This feature is also available for MP3 encoders such as LAME.

It’ll be truly interesting to see the outcome of this test, which ends on Christmas Day, since I’m using Ogg Vorbis @ Q4 (~128 kbps) for my rips at the moment. Maybe I’ll have to* switch default encoder?

*) Have to since I’m a DAN.

Tuesday, December 6th 2005

Firefox Scholar

This sounds really cool. Can’t wait to try it out, or at least to read some real reviews of it.

Tuesday, December 6th 2005

Removing an empty exe-file from the Windows desktop

Some time back I created an empty text-file on my desktop, and renamed it .exe – all in the name of science. I simply wanted to see what would happen if I tried running it. Well obviously, nothing but an error message happened when I tried running it. But then I wasn’t able to delete it. For some reason the fake .exe was blocked, or used, by some process.

After doing a fail-safe boot and trying again, as well as booting into Ubuntu and trying to delete it from there, I gave up.

Today I noticed the file lying there and got really annoyed by it again. (More annoyed than usual, that is.) After googling for a while I found this solution:

  1. Start the command prompt, either from the programs menu or by clicking [Start] > [Run] “cmd”.
  2. Start the task manager by pressing Ctrl+Shift+Esc.
  3. Shut down explorer.exe from the “Processes” tab.
  4. In the command-line, type (something like) the following two lines:
    cd c:documents and settingsdavid naylordesktop
    del filename

A piece of cake – if you only know what to do! Actually, it’s a bit embarrasing that I couldn’t figure this one out by myself… 🙂