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Senior Web Engineer. Open web / music. Remote DJ. Tall Dutch guy.

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Sometimes I do research for a browser tab and want to go back to the last used tab when I close the research topic. Other times I want to review all open tabs and cycle through them without switching back to the last used one every time. I'm ctrl-tabbing to make all tabs active but a separate keyboard shortcut would be great

More Private Browsing

2 min read

If you visit this site you will know what browser cookies are and that they are used to store information about you across visits to that website. A typical website will store a few to a few hundred cookies on your computer.

Each cookie has an expiry date for when they are no longer valid and then automatically deleted by the browser. Did you know the lifetime of some of these cookies are several decades in the future and that they are routinely used by data brokers and analytics companies to gather data on you?

That's why I've recommended installing a plugin like PrivacyBadger, to prevent these tracking cookies from being passed back to websites that track you across websites.

But you can also override the maximum lifespan of these cookies. I've experimented and 10-14 days seems to be a good medium between having to login to all your websites all the time and maintaining privacy.

On Firefox, open about:config and search for network.cookie.lifetime, you will find network.cookie.lifetime.days (set this to 14) and network.cookie.lifetimePolicy (set this to 3 to override the default behaviour or letting the website decide).

On Chrome or Vivaldi browsers it's possible to set these values by installing my FreshCookies addon, which does not contain any tracking itself.

You too can improve Firefox

2 min read

Google Chrome is too dominating, this is not good for the web. So I'm switching back to Firefox, but it can be pretty ugly by default in places.

I like to apply the following tweaks to make it pretty again:

Screenshot-06_01_2017-10_48_22.png

Increase the Address Bar font size

Edit userChrome.css to make style changes to the Firefox UI. My Profile is located at %appdata%\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\<Gibberish>, use the previous link to find the location on your system. Inside your profile create a chrome folder and inside that create a userChrome.css. Add the following line:

 { font-size: 13px; }

The possibilities are endless but this does the trick for me. Restart Firefox after saving the file.

Remove unwanted buttons and the searchbox

Right click on any of the toolbar buttons > Customize... to bring up the Customize Firefox screen. Remove unused buttons and the search box (search via the address bar instead) by dragging them to the Additional Tools and Features panel --  or the hamburger menu panel to access them with a click.

Make the tabs square again

Firefox tabs have this rounded look to them, which I find displeasing: install the Squared Australis Tabs addon to add square corners instead.

Hide the menu bar

Did you know you can access the menu bar by pressing the Alt key on your keyboard? The menu bar is visible by default but it is not frequently accessed, so press Alt+V or bring up the View menu bar menu and untick the Menu Bar and optionally the Bookmark Toolbar items.

Hide bookmark toolbar item names

You can blank out the Name of a bookmark to have it display just the icon in the toolbar, which tidies up those frequently accessed sites.

Tweak Firefox UI using ChromEdit Plus

1 min read

Update: ChromEdit Plus can no longer be installed because it's not signed, please see You too Can Improve Firefox.

For a long time I have been wanting to switch to Firefox as my main browser. I haven’t done so before today because I didn’t like two things: The font-size of the address bar, and having a seperate search box.

Today I’ll show you how to fix these issues.

Fix Address bar font-size: Install the ChromEdit Plus addon. Then, under Tools > ChromEdit Plus > ChromEdit add the following code to the userChome.css:


{ font-size: 16px; }

Press the Save and Restart buttons. Afterwards you can disable this addon.

Remove the search box: right click on a toolbar > Customise. Drag the searchbox into the Customise Toolbar dialog to remove it from the UI.

Firefox fixes the version number problem

1 min read

This is great for the following reason:

It will help supporting Firefox because there will just be two versions that matter: the up to date version, and the old version (which is any older version).

This simplifies any solution and troubleshooting, it either works in the current version, or Firefox will update - if it's connected to the internet. Which means eventually, Firefox is always up to date and there will no old versions and therefore no issues.

via Features/Desktop/About Version - MozillaWiki.

Improving someone's code

1 min read

Don't call your submit button 'submit' if you want to change the submit event with Javascript:

If you do, the browser (please read “Firefox 1.5 or IE 6? - that’s what I tested at the moment) will consider submit is an object. And an object is not a function (although you might enjoy later on the paradox that a function is an object).

Source [webprodevelopment.com]

Avoid spyware by running applications with SetSAFER

4 min read

Everybody who's ever tried it knows the problem. Life as a regular user on Windows is a pain: who wants to switch users just to install software, sometimes even to run it? However running software as a non-admin increases security. It's impossible for spyware to install itself into the system when it is not allowed to.

Using SetSAFER, a program created by Microsoft employee Michael Howard we can run just any applications as a regular or limited user, while still using an administrator account. After testing for side effects, which I explain below, I recommend you give this a try. I no longer have to run a realtime spyware scanner, and now just schedule routine scans.

As one of the articles Michael has written on the subject is not available anymore I'll quote the nonadmin site for an complete explanation of the program:

SetSAFER is a policy-setting tool written by Michael Howard that can force applications to always run with lower privileges. You can download it and read about it in his MSDN article "Browsing the Web and Reading E-mail Safely as an Administrator, Part 2".

For example, you could mark you favourite  browser to always run as a user, regardless of whether it starts by invoking an URL on the desktop, a link in email, a newly spawned browser and so on.

SetSAFER uses the SetSAFER.xml file to configure the applications that should be run with lower privileges. You can edit this with any text editor such as notepad to add applications and even folders. My configuration can be found below. This way I run my browsers, e-mail software and messengers without worrying about spyware:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<safer>
<app comment="Internet Explorer" path="c:\program files\internet explorer" user="true" />
<app comment="Mozilla Firefox" path="c:\program files\mozilla firefox" user="true" />
<app comment="Opera 9.5 Alpha" path="c:\program files\opera 9.5 alpha\opera.exe" user="true" />
<app comment="Outlook" path="c:\program files\microsoft office\office12\outlook.exe " user="false" />
<app comment="Outlook Express" path="c:\program files\outlook express" user="true" />
<app comment="Windows Messenger" path="c:\program files\messenger" user="true" />
<app comment="Windows Live Messenger" path="c:\program files\windows live\messenger" user="true" />
</safer>

Side Effects

Some applications are not built to run in a mixed privileges environment and seem to cause issues when run like this. However, this is not SetSAFERs fault as it just uses the built-in windows policy settings!

Google Desktop and Google Toolbar for Internet Explorer monitor the browser history for pages that are visited and add them to their database. I assume this is not allowed as a regular user. Whatever the reason, it causes the browser to freeze whenever you go to a webpage. I've uninstalled Google Toolbar and Google Desktop until I have found a solution. Any help would be appreciated.

The website for Windows Update and Microsoft Update and certain Java applets will not  function if the user is not an administrator. This can be a pain if you want to manually check for updates. The solution: navigate to the installation folder for Internet Explorer (c:\program files\internet explorer ) and copy the iexplore.exe program to another location. The copy will run with full rights.

Finally, any program started from another application inherits the security settings from the parent program. This means that installations run directly from the browser will run with lower privileges. They'll let you know you do not have enough rights to install it. This is intended and exactly what we want: a secure browsing environment. However, it might prove a slight annoyance at first. Just browse to the file yourself and run it yourself.

Downloads and Resources