Saturday, May 10, 2014


[Do NOT click on ANY LINK found in the comment section of this blog. No matter how innocuous the link MIGHT appear to be, it is MOST LIKELY SPAM or a link to MALWARE. I am disheartened by the need to do this, which accounts for the sparsity of posts recently.]

It's done. Murdered by their own hands. Firefox is no longer a recommended product, it is a useless shell of make-work programming that used to be the go-to web browser for any computer user who wasn't stupid enough to trust Internet Explorer, the leading security sinkhole of all time.

But it doesn't matter how locked up Firefox became, the fact is, it has to be usable to be an option in the competitive world of web browsers. And with the release of Firefox 29 and it's supposedly spiffy new Australis interface, Firefox has become that most useless of all things, a boondoggle that takes so much time to get UP to being functional, that you realize later, the cost in time was simply too much.

And that's what Firefox's become for me. I HAD to spend the time because EVERYBODY who I deal with uses it. It's a REQUIREMENT. I would add in mandatory add-ins like NoScript, NoSquint and even, reluctantly, ran the AdBlock series of add-ins. Advertising drives the internet, but, as an end user, I had to do SOMETHING to stem the in-your-face blinking, burping, bollixing world of warcraft that had become Advertising. There were other add-ins that ended up being mandatory, including ones that made my HUUUUUGE store of Bookmarks available and accessible quickly. Add-ins to manage the tabbed interface where I would have literally HUNDREDS of pages loaded at once. The high was 348 pages.

I used Firefox like somebody uses an old jalopy that they restore and keep running because it's comfortable, works fine without all the dross and eye-candy that dominates THAT industry and becomes DEPENDABLE. I WORKED at (my) Firefox. And passed on that knowledge to my users like any good mechanic would.

And then I didn't. I actually stopped using Firefox. Not all at once. I DID switch over to a variant of Firefox called Pale Moon. It retained the 'old' Firefox interface even as Mozilla was making changes for change's sake. It seemed to run meaner and leaner and had a 64-bit version to fully use my 12G of memory waaaay better than Firefox would.

But even though I was coming to depend on Pale Moon, I still ran Firefox as my default browser. Why? Because I could lock it up tighter than a drum. Nothing 'accidental' was going to get by me when a program, maybe without my knowledge or okay, decided to fire up the web-browser and load up a page. Not in a day and time where JUST VISITING a web-site could lead to an infection. A BAD infection. So Firefox served a purpose. And I was actually running THREE web-browsers at the time, having a session of Google Chrome running all the time to access Google's apps, GMail in particular. I ran THAT one wide-open, but generally wouldn't use it for anyplace BUT a Google place. And TheFanSports590's on-line player. And Geekbeat.TV. And ... well, it's grown a bit. BUT I'M A PALE MOON GUY. So three active web-browsers it was.

There's no computer version of BFF. Doesn't happen. I'm on my seventh anti-virus program. Fifth firewall program, unless you don't count going back to the second one as the fifth. My file manager allegiance has switched four times. And heck, I was originally an APPLE guy. With published articles to prove it. I had a four-digit serial number. But one day, a Bridge partner and I had to drop by his office after a game to pick up some work he'd left there. I noticed a computer serving as a doorstop and inquired as to why a 15,000 dollar piece of equipment was just sitting there. Turns out that the accountant had a habit of destroying the computer after each use by deleting the whole operating system on the floppy drive. Every time. So, to help my friend out, I got a book and started reading. And I have kept about three pages ahead since then. No more. Sometimes a bit less. But you only actually have to be one page ahead to call yourself a computer consultant. True story.

I UNDERSTAND why things changed, although not why they changed so drastically not for the better, with Firefox. If you are a programmer who has developed the perfectly fine working part of the program you are responsible for, say the tabs at the top of the screen (or the bottom, if you are so inclined). What happens when the boss asks innocently, "Why am I paying you to sit around and admire your past work?" Erk! So, you invent some work. You want to PRETTIFY things, SIMPLIFY things. Which takes work. And many, many weeks of pay cheques. Out of that simple survival instinct, has a tombstone marker been erected.

This morning, I gave Firefox 29.01 one last try. Spent some time with Classic Theme Restorer. Nope. Didn't mix well. And it didn't succeed anyways. It couldn't do away with Firefox's "dumber than a Republican Tea Party get-together" devotion to a Chrome one-button-does-it-all hamburger menu. Chrome's weakness HAS been it's "everything through a single button" approach. DOES. NOT. WORK. Maybe for the great unwashed who never do anything but load one tab at a time, look at it and use Google to go on to the next page to look at. Firefox even uses the same three-line icon now. Google would sue, but why waste your time when it's become a universal symbol of Firefox's self-immolation? Firefox was pronounced dead to me today at 8:22 am.

So, where does that leave me and my users? I'm switching my professional responsibilities to Pale Moon. I feel genuinely hopeful that the developer of Pale Moon, who only goes by a nickname, will continue to integrate new Mozilla security improvements, while maintaining the look and feel of a successful product. I'm less hopeful, but not pessimistic, that add-ins will continue to work in Pale Moon to further create a secure web-browser. THAT will eventually pass because there isn't going to be anything new to trust to work in Pale Moon. Might. Might not. But the creative end of add-ins vis a vis Pale Moon is now at a creative dead end. But Pale Moon it is, although I know I will be able to continue to use a standalone Google Chrome browser to do my email and some stuff at sites I trust.

And I will now start looking at customizing a full-blown Chrome version to see what I can do to meet the old obligations I left Firefox to shoulder. All this trusting of Google doesn't come easy. The company's customer support is the worst in the industry and has been for years. The debacle over the killing of Google Reader still rankles a year later. And Reader wasn't the only project Google killed, orphaning trusting users right and left. But you have to put your money somewhere, and Google seems to have enough programmers trying to do the right thing, that I now recommend Google Chrome as the web-browser you should choose if you don't have immediate access to a computer guy. (I MIGHT be asleep, after all). There'll be needed add-ins of course, including the Chrome versions of NoScript, NoSquint, Adblock, ReminderFox, Flash Block, FlagFox, ffChrome (yeah, ffCHROME!), ForecastFox, and, and, and, etc. But I hope to get there over time.

But now is the time for us to mourn Firefox. It was a good run, more than a decade, which is 20 GENERATIONS in computer years. But it's gone. Killed by programmers with nothing to do but to kill what I loved. R.I.P.

Okay, mourning done. Firefox is dead to me and I've got to get ahead by a page when it comes to Chrome.