How to Solve the Firefox 4 Sync Error

Sometime after upgrading to Firefox 4, the built in sync function stopped working, throwing up the “Firefox encountered an error while syncing…”
To solve this, login to the Mozilla Account services with your Sync username and password, then choose “Clear Your Sync Data” from the left hand menu. This will clear all your stored sync data on the Mozilla servers.
Now try syncing Firefox again by going to the main menu and choosing Synch Now. All should work well now.

4 Must Have Firefox 4 Addons

Confession is good for the soul, and here’s mine: Firefox 4 rocks. I’ve not been the most friendly of Firefox users in the past given how much resources it gobbled and how heavy it felt relative to Chrome/Chromium. However, with over 95 million downloads since its release, I humbly concede that Mozilla finally got it with Firefox 4. I’ve since then switched back to it as my primary browser. As an icing to the cake, the following 4 addons are a must have for any Firefox 4 user.

I’m left wondering why it took so long to be implemented in any browser, but at least Mozilla did it. F1 is simply a Firefox 4 addon that makes link sharing to the various social networking sites a piece of cake. It resides in the address bar and all you have to do to share a link is click on it to be given the option of which social networking site you want to send the link to. Simple as that. 

Copy Short URL
This addon makes shortening urls a piece of cake. Simply install it and right-click on any page whose url you want shortened and hoose the “copy short url” from the context menu. Simply as that. The shortened url is copied to your clipboard.

If you are writer or blogger, and particularly a Blogger user, then Scribefire is a must have addon. It’s simply a full featured blog editor that integrates well into Firefox to give you a great writing experience. You can post to blogs from WordPress, Blogger, TypePad, Windows Live Spaces, Tumblr, Posterous, Xanga, LiveJournal, or any other blog that supports the MetaWeblog or MovableType APIs.

You can edit and update existing posts. You can schedule posts for the future (if your blog allows that). You can delete posts. You can save drafts. You can tag and categorize.

ScribeFire Next has an interface so simple that even a caveman could use it. Anything you’re working on is saved if you close the editor and restored when you come back. It really is the easiest way to update your blog.

Integrated Gmail
A Firefox Addon that allows you to make the Inbox Collapsible and load your choice of Google Calendar, Reader, Notebook, Groups, Maps, Picasa, Sites, News and Portfolio seamlessly into the gmail interface with the inbox (rather than a separate tab or in the sidebar) using a collapsible box.

It even supports custom URLs (with navigation buttons) and Google Gadgets (including Remember the Milk.) If your are inbox minimalist, you can enable minimalist mode to clean up the inbox even more. Works with Google App Accounts and Gmail Themes.

So far these are the four main addons that have made my Firefox 4 even more enjoyable. As and when I discover some more awesome addons, I’m going to share with you. But once again, Firefox is almost t

How to copy Flash Video in Firefox 4

Earlier this week Mozilla finally released the long-awaited Firefox 4. With Firefox 3 on Ubuntu I used to be able to copy a flash video that was still open in a Firefox tab from cache using

cp /tmp/Flash ~/Videos/

To my surprise the same did not work with Firefox 4. It seems the problem is related to FlashPlayer 10.2. Apparently the cached file gets flagged as deleted:

lsof | grep deleted

plugin-co 4292 user 17u REG 8,6 18987840 3801105 /tmp/FlashXXJ3YUk0 (deleted)

The solution I ended up with is to use /proc, pid and fd like this:

cp /proc/4292/fd/17 ~/Videos/

It should work as long as the flashed tab is still open in Firefox.

You can install Firefox 4 by adding the ‘mozillateam’ ppa using:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:mozillateam/firefox-stable


sudo apt-get update

After this you can install Firefox 4 or simply upgrade if you already have Firefox 3 installed.

Streamie- An Open Source Twitter Web App Worth Trying

Streamie is a simple web based application for accessing and managing your Twitter account. It is real time just like Identi.Ca with updates flowing in as they are posted by your contacts.
Built on current web standards like HTML5, it runs on all modern browsers-though it repeatedly crashed Firefox on my box- with the developers recommending Google Chrome. It is open source and can be ‘mashed’ up to your tastes.
Streamie features a simple and clean interface in an easy to use layout. There are icons for ‘@’ replies, a show all of your stream, a button to show only retweets, favourites, direct message, settings and a compose tweet button.
It also features geotagging of tweets using your current location and the ability to use Chrome’s built in notification system. All in all, I like Streamie for it’s simplicity and functionalities. 
I am not switching to it full time, but will be using it more in the coming days to send useful feedback to the developers. If you are shopping for a new Twitter client, Streamie might be a good choice to try out.

Your Internet- Should Internet Explorer Get its Way!

I have always had a certain mistrust of Microsoft, not just because it is too “evil” but also because if it had it’s way, it’d cripple the entire internet as we know it. Should you wake up tomorrow and realize Internet Explorer 9 has now annihilated both Firefox and Google Chrome, this is how your internet would look like.
First off all sites will only display a message telling you how you need to view it via IE9. Then when you hop over to download IE9 and are unfortunate to be using XP, you’d be told to switch to 7. That will require you to shell out some cash. With XP still being the dominant OS version out there, that would mean heaps of upgrade cash for Redmond.
If you need one more reason to use a better browser like Firefox or Google Chrome, it is that IE must be denied the majority share at all cost. In any case, of what good is that browser other than to fire it up to download a better one?

Security in Firefox

Continuing our posts about security, we’ll speak of a door, a window to the outside world that can be a potential security breach.
Let’s talk about how to protect our beloved Firefox browser.
I will present some extensions and one tip to improve security in Firefox.

1. Adblock Plus 1.1.3
Have you ever been annoyed with all those ads and banners on the internet that often take longer to download than everything else on the page? Install Adblock Plus now and get rid of them. That’s what the plugin does: cut the advertisements. If at home you also zap the TV when it enters the advertising commercials…

2. BetterPrivacy 1.45
This will protect your system of cookies that can not be excluded, known as “super-cookies”.

3. NoScript
The best add on / plug for safety you can find in a web browser!
Allows you to block any script running in an HTML page, allowing active content to run only from sites you trust, and protect yourself against XSS and Clickjacking attacks.

4. WOT – Safe Browsing Tool 20091028
Web of Trust(WOT) warns you about risky websites that cheat customers, they install malware or send spam. Million members of the WOT community sites  write about the sites, evaluating them for potential hazards / security flaws that could compromise a healthy browsing of the Internet.

5. Stealther 1.0.7
If there are times when you want to surf the web without leaving traces on the local computer, then this is the ideal extension for you. What it does is temporarily disable the following: Cookies, History, Downloads, Passwords, Forms and authenticated sessions.

6. Disable and prevent the installation of plugins in Firefox

      A. Open the Firefox browser on your computer.
      B. Type about: config in the address bar (where you type the URL of the websites).
      C. In the security warning screen click “I’ll be careful, I promise.”
      D. Scroll down and look for xpinstall.enabled. When you find it, right click and click on Toggle. Your status will change from True to False.
      E. Restart the Firefox browser (close and open again).

That’s it, now the browser will refuse to install add-ons and Plugins.
Another tip: If several people use the same computer, this procedure should be done to each one of the users.

Read more:


The Rising tide of Internet Explorer in Africa

Not quite long after Microsoft signed a MOU with BusyInternet Ghana to provide “security software [that is] the latest internet protective technology developed by Microsoft,” the website of the above mentioned company now boldly displays a banner link to the homepage of IE for download.
In case the BI link above serves you a different page.
 And it’s not just a banner linking to IE, but there is also a giveaway where BI gives you 30 minutes of free browsing for downloading Microsoft’s latest “security software.” Considering the fact that BI is Africa’s largest cybercafe and also a not so insignificant player in the ISP market here in Ghana, I see a very clever move on the part of Redmond to position their browser for a win here.
I know most people use Firefox here for their browsing, but with such aggressive moves on the part of Microsoft, I can foresee a significant drop in its usage unless more is done to create awareness about better alternatives to IE. Microsoft has the money and the clout to pull this off.
They have the lions share here in the desktop OS market through a deliberate silence on the piracy of Windows, now MS is gunning to add IE to its basket. What can we do about it?

Native PDF rendering coming to Google Chrome

In line with getting the Chrome OS ready for shipment in the last quarter of this year, Google has been adding more features to Chrome, its base browser for the Chrome OS. Tonight on the Chromium blog, a new feature addition is the ability to render PDF files directly in the browser like any other webpage.

“PDF files will render as seamlessly as HTML web pages, and basic interactions will be no different than the same interactions with web pages (for example, zooming and searching will work as users expect).”

This and other developments on the Chrome browser makes me rethink my earlier views of what the Chrome OS is. More importantly, functions and features like this seem small, but added up, they become great factors in wooing people away from other browsers and winning Chrome more market share. Not to mention being a big threat to the now obese Firefox.
They warn however, that advanced PDF features will still require a separate launch of Adobe Reader.

“Currently, we do not support 100% of the advanced PDF features found in Adobe Reader, such as certain types of embedded media. However, for those users who rely on advanced features, we plan to give them the ability to launch Adobe Reader separately.”

They are however working with the Adobe Reader team to get all those features to work natively in the browser via the “next generation browser plugin.

Firefox- A browser in danger?

The third version of Flock, the popular social media centric browser is in beta. Well, not just an ordinary beta. This time around, it is based on Chromium, the Open Source implementation of Google’s Chrome browser. This is a very interesting and important development with regards to Firefox which had always been the base for Flock since it first debuted back in 2007. 
The latest beta release spots some very impressive features such as real time search of what your friends are talking about concerning your search query and the easy way in which URLs can be shared and discussed with friends on the various social networks. 
This move away from Firefox comes right after recent news that the netbook edition of Ubuntu 10.10 will have Chromium as the default web browser, also replacing Firefox. Other Linux distros like Lubuntu also ship with Chromium as the default browser. Hitherto, Firefox had had absolute exclusivity on Linux desktops. Now all that seems to be changing, albeit gradually.
Looking at these developments, one cannot help but ask the question, is Firefox an endangered browser? Better still, has the phenomenal growth of Firefox become its own Achilles’ heel? Has the browser grown too ‘fat’ such that it is becoming obese? Only time will give answers to these questions and more. 
But one thing remains certain, unless the Mozilla Foundation restructures the entire Firefox development process, together with its massive ecosystem (especially the plugins), the Fox will have a bleak future. The long time strength of Firefox, being its addons, is also being eaten up by Chrome at an alarming rate. 
There have been suggestions as to how Firefox could maintain its position as the second most used browser, including the Mozilla Foundation having to fork the browser itself to compete head on with Chrome. Also a point made by ZDNet’s Dana Blankenhorn resonates loudly with the current way addons are handled by the Foundation. He states 
While Firefox acts like a typical open source project, listing whatever comes in, working with everyone, Chrome acts more like a proprietary outfit, strategically. This is a key difference between Google and most open source companies. Most are looking to build an ecosystem however they can get one. Google can be more careful.”
I’d not love to read someday how Firefox was once a formidable browser. It has played an important role in shaping the browser market, this is not the time to see the beginning of its decline.