December 18, 2004


The Fox Is in Microsoft's Henhouse (and Salivating) (RANDALL STROSS, 12/19/04, NY Times)

FIREFOX is a classic overnight success, many years in the making. [...]

Until now, the Linux operating system was the best-known success among the hundreds of open-source projects that challenge Microsoft with technically strong, free software that improves as the population of bug-reporting and bug-fixing users grows. But unless you oversee purchases for a corporate data center, it's unlikely that you've felt the need to try Linux yourself.

With Firefox, open-source software moves from back-office obscurity to your home, and to your parents', too. (Your children in college are already using it.) It is polished, as easy to use as Internet Explorer and, most compelling, much better defended against viruses, worms and snoops.

Microsoft has always viewed Internet Explorer's tight integration with Windows to be an attractive feature. That, however, was before security became the unmet need of the day. Firefox sits lightly on top of Windows, in a separation from the underlying operating system that the Mozilla Foundation's president, Mitchell Baker, calls a "natural defense."

For the first time, Internet Explorer has been losing market share.

It'll be fun to watch what criminal lengths MicroSoft will go to in order to stop these guys--it's never been able to compete in a free market.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 18, 2004 9:33 AM

I'm using Firefox more, but boy it sucks ... particularly in the ways it deals with this blog.

Posted by: David Cohen at December 18, 2004 9:38 AM

Microsoft doesn't compete in a free market? What government laws have been passed to isolate the market for Microsoft?

Posted by: Semolina Pilchard at December 18, 2004 9:58 AM

Mr. Judd;

You're living in a dream world. Microsoft doesn't care and has no interest in competing in that market. The fact that the Dark Empire has de facto stopped development on IE tells you that it's not an area that concerns them anymore. IE served certain strategic goals for the Dark Empire, goals which were achieved. When that happened, support for it was dropped. If some other group wants to help out the Dark Empire by building a better browser for free, why not let them?

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at December 18, 2004 9:59 AM


What do you mean about the way it deals with this site?

I use Firefox exclusively, and haven't seen any issue with the blog. I also use the Sage RSS extension to get feeds from here and many other blogs.

Posted by: The Other Brother at December 18, 2004 10:17 AM

By the way, this is as good a place as any to note that I continue to have problems viewing this site using IE6 on WinXP.

It got particularly bad when the comments situation was changed a couple of weeks ago. When I go to one of these full-screen comments pages now, 75 percent of the time the comments are "invisible." I have to define them with my cursor to see them.

Posted by: Semolina Pilchard at December 18, 2004 10:23 AM

Stephen: In part, it's the default settings. I just don't like the size of the text or the font, but I don't want to have to dig around and change them.

More seriously, though, when the page refreshes after a comment is posted, it doesn't include the just posted comment, which is annoying. The history includes the comment page with the comment and without it, so I have to hit back twice to get to the main page. (Yes, I could open a tab with the comments in the background, but that causes its own problems. Not being able to Alt-Tab between tabs is also a pain.)

Also, it uses the cached page for quite a while, so that I have to refresh to see the comments posted since the last time I looked. No big deal, I suppose, except that half the time I forget. (I assume I could also dig into the settings and change that, too, but life's too short.)

I also have the problem with the comments sometimes being invisible, usually if there is only one short comment. Scrolling up and down usually takes care of it.

Posted by: David Cohen at December 18, 2004 10:31 AM

Back on topic, the whole point of IE was to provide a free viewer so that Microsoft could sell web-server software. Netscape, being a competitor in web-server software, was a threat. Freeware viewers that don't compete on the server side are just a gift to Microsoft.

Posted by: David Cohen at December 18, 2004 10:34 AM

When I first installed Firefox, some pages did not load correctly. It turned out that I had to enable JavaScript in the Tools menu. All is well now.

Old Guy is right that MicroSoft has other fish to fry. At a mall the other day, it was demonstrating its entertainment system. The marketing rep did not understand it very well, but I gathered that it is a sort of Tivo that also accesses internet media feeds. Seems like something that people with more money than sense might go for.

Posted by: Ed Bush at December 18, 2004 10:37 AM

How far Mozilla gets in claiming a shate of the marketplace with Firefox will probably depend on how stuborn Microsoft remains in only grudgingly updating Internet Explorer. SP2 fixed some of the problems on Windows XP, but others pop up every week -- as of now Firefox is still a proactive download, since people have to hunt it out to load it onto their systems. That means the majority of folks will be content to stay with what's already bundled, as long as IE doesn't become too much of a pain in the keister.

Even if it does happen, I would expect Microsoft to step up its efforts to entice other major web content providers to create applications on their pages that require use of Internet Explorer exclusively to stem the current move towards Firefox (which still may not work if Mozilla picks up the optional IE emulator seting that Netscape 8 is working on).

And just as an aside, I'm not bubbling over with joy at the way Firefox is allowed to be intergrated into the Apple 10.3 software either -- I downloaded an automatic update on 10.3 and several other files from Apple on Thursday, but when the computer restarted the executable portion of the browser (though not the internal data files) was gone and had to be re-downloaded. For now I'm assunming that was an unintentioal conflict between the Mac OS and Firefox that will be corrected (surely they can't be that worried that Firefox is going to take market share from Safari, can they?).

Posted by: John at December 18, 2004 10:40 AM

" Not being able to Alt-Tab between tabs is also a pain."

I hope you are aware that you can Control-Tab between open tabs in Firefox.

Posted by: MG2 at December 18, 2004 11:04 AM

I'm not nearly as savvy as you guys and don't feel confident enough to change browsers from IE which so far has been working okay.

What bothers me is the insistent Windows updates which completely screw up my internet surfing, not allowing me access to perfectly innocent sites like my cable provider (BrightHouse). Thank God (by that I mean the metaphor for an entity greater than myself and not a literal creator of the universe) for the restore function.

I was able to restore to a time before the updates from hell and I was back in business.

Can anyone tell why this happens and if I will pay a price for resisting all Windows future admonitions to upgrade.

Posted by: erp at December 18, 2004 11:05 AM

David - you can't alt-tab between Tabs, but you can Ctrl-Tab - this works in lots of other programs for switching between internal windows, like Photoshop, etc.

Posted by: JB at December 18, 2004 11:06 AM

erp - Unless you're behind a well configured firewall (preferably hardware based), not downloading the Windows Updates is just asking for trouble. And even with a firewall, I wouldn't get too comfortable. You can hook up Windows XP machines without SP1 or 2 to the internet and have worms/viruses on the machine in a matter of minutes in many cases. Firewalls do help, of course.

Posted by: JB at December 18, 2004 11:10 AM

The invisible comments are due to a bug in IE. That bug isn't going to be fixed because Microsoft doesn't care anymore if you use IE. OJ and some of the rest of you are acting like IE was a valuable revenue stream for the Dark Empire. It was a free product! Spending money and effort on it only made sense as a strategic weapon against the Netscape / Sun / Java alliance (and a few other obscure targets). They lost, the Dark Empire won. Why should the Dark Empire beat a dead horse? Say what you like about the Dark Empire's business ethics, claiming bad things about their business intelligence reflects badly on you, not them.

P.S. I used to just not care much for Java, but after having spent 6 months with it I now despise it. I'm not sure Microsoft needed to have bothered, as Sun is defeating itself in this area, just like Apple did so long ago, and as Sun did with NeWS vs. X-Windows. Our documentation team is bollixed right now because it seems that every point release of Java is incompatible with the one before and come out every few months. So whatever version of Java the team uses, some tools won't work.

This makes it particularly amusing to see OJ go off on Microsoft, because they are the conservative, preserve the past company while their competitors are the progressive, who cares how many eggs get broken types.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at December 18, 2004 11:15 AM


I did not know that. Thank you.

But "It works just fine, if you change the way you do things", misses the point. Also, alt-tabbing is a reflex on my part (a mental macro, if you will: highlight, cntl-c, alt-tab). Retraining's a b****.

Posted by: David Cohen at December 18, 2004 11:29 AM

Now that the brothers have gone to SiteMeter, I was surprised to learn that somewhere between 20-30% of visitors are using FireFox, and surprisingly someone is still using IE 4.X! In a related note, about 50% are from the eastern time zone, justifying Orrin's time-zone rule.

Posted by: jd watson at December 18, 2004 11:39 AM

Hey, and now, when I come back to the mainpage from a comment page, it loads the whole page before going back to where I was before hitting the comment link, which takes about fifteen seconds.

Posted by: David Cohen at December 18, 2004 11:40 AM

I use both Safari and Firefox with Mac OS 10.2x. On balance, I'd have to say Firefox is slightly better. It would be way ahead if I could figure out how to resize the FF window(it insists on gobbling every square inch) and be able to make multiple selections in the history window.

Any hints?

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at December 18, 2004 11:47 AM

Opera doesn't like this site much either. The only reason why I have an IE shortcut in my Startup Menu is to look at brothersjudd.

Posted by: Governor Breck at December 18, 2004 11:57 AM

Oh, and I forgot the biggest problem of all. When I hit "Save" for a new post on Movable Type, it logs me out and takes me back to the login screen.

Posted by: David Cohen at December 18, 2004 12:04 PM


I'm using Firefox and dpon't have any of those problems. Of course, I use a Mac, while you're a slave of the Empire....

Posted by: oj at December 18, 2004 12:37 PM


You on broadband?

Posted by: Ali Choudhury at December 18, 2004 1:41 PM

Ali: Yes.

OJ: But you don't read the blog.

Posted by: at December 18, 2004 1:47 PM


Try double click on the bar across the top of the window. If this does not work, try the procedure below.

Right click on the bar across the top of the window. On the drop down menu left click Restore. Move the cursor up until an updown arrow appears, then left cleck hold and drag down. Move the crusor to the right of the window until a leftright arrow appears, then left click hold and drag to the left. Close the window. Next time you open a Firefox window, it should appear as the same size and in the same place. Note that what is remembered is the last Firefox window closed.

This technique works for almost all windows opened by almost all products although, if s/he chooses, the programmer can prevent you from doing this.


Font: No help from me.There is some stuff in Tools/Options/General but I have not figured it out.

Font/text size: increase - Ctrl+= or Ctrl++ (on keypad) decrease - Ctrl+- (either on keyboard or keypad) repeat as necessary.

Note: I find the keypad +/- the easier one-handed way.

comments: I don't like this either on this blog - helps deal with spam I am told. What I do (actually am still getting used to is Shift+LeftClick. This opens a new window. After posting a new comment and waiting for it to take (I multi-task here by switching windows and starting to read the next post), I refresh the 'comments' window to see the comment. Occasionally, when the net is quiet (I presume) the comment is already visible.

Alt-Tab switches windows, not tabs as I am sure you know.

Switch tabs: Ctrl+PgUp or Ctrl+Tab (next tab) or Ctrl+PgDn or Ctrl+Shift+Tab (previous tab) In eather case repeat as necessary if you fall off either end, it just keeps going in a circle.

Also the ff extension 'QuickTabPrefToggle' will allow tab-less browsing which you just might find easier. After the 'toggle' is installed you will have to set the options for the extension (if this is a problem, use the email address at the end of the comment.)

Also there is a third party extension which uses F1 for previous tab and F2 for next tab. This is a known problem (which, for all I know has already been fixed) in that F1 is natively, Help.

Reprogramming personal mental macros: No help from me. Ask oj, maybe The Wife can help.


Posted by: Uncle Bill at December 18, 2004 4:17 PM

I've used Firefox for months now, including two different beta releases. It has been almost flawless for me, and I check BroJudd a good 5-6 times a day.

As others have explained, the Alt-Tab and Ctrl-Tab sequences are Windows standards: Alt-Tab always cyles through the open window list, and Ctrl-Tab always cycles through the tabs in an app that has them. Any app that does NOT work this way is not supporting Windows standards.

Posted by: Jeff Brokaw at December 18, 2004 5:24 PM

Uncle Bill:

Thanks, but no go. In case you don't have one, the Mac standard is to use the lower right corner as drag-to-resize. Unfortunately, that isn't available, and none of the right-click stuff works, either.

Just as I was about to push the Post button, my 10-yr old son walked up, took a look, and said "Click on the + button." I told him there was no way that would work, since the screen was already as plussed as it could get.

And to prove it to him, I did what he suggested.

No bonus points for guessing how it turned out.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at December 18, 2004 8:00 PM

Sorry Jeff, I have never seen a purple Mac, I never hope to see one but I will tell you this right now I'd rather see than be one.

Or words to that effect.

Posted by: Uncle Bill at December 18, 2004 8:19 PM

Freeware viewers that don't compete on the server side are just a gift to Microsoft.

On the contrary; if IE were completely dominant, MS could easily add features/protocols to ISS that couldn't be duplicated in other web servers; if they have to support Firefox users as well, this is considerably more difficult.

Posted by: Mike Earl at December 18, 2004 9:53 PM


Thanks for reminding me about the IE disappearing text bug. I think I may have found a fix ( Peek-a-boo Bug.)

Let me know if you're still getting the same thing, since I can't replicate it. (You may need to delete your temporary internet files first.)

Posted by: The Other Brother at December 19, 2004 7:21 AM


MT forcing you to log in again is probably related to it having a problem setting a cookie with your browser...check the cookies setting in Firefox and your firewall/anti-spyware if running it.

Posted by: The Other Brother at December 19, 2004 7:38 AM

Stephen -- I'll try, but I've got so many firewall/anti-spyware programs running that a slightly older PC wouldn't actually be able to do anything else.

I don't think it's a cookie problem because (a) MT remembers who I am and (b) I have cookies on a bunch of other sites with no problem.

Posted by: David Cohen at December 19, 2004 3:30 PM

Mr. Cohen;

I use FireFox with my MT websites and don't have that problem, so it's likely a local setting issue.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at December 19, 2004 11:46 PM