More on my Firefox 7 extensions

November 4, 2011

Rather than try to answer a number of comments on my original entry in more comments, I'm going to promote my replies to an entry (or more than one), and along with it I have some updates on my extensions due to things I discovered because of the comments.

If you don't like sending referer information to everyone and your ad filtering proxy does not cover it, the RefControl addon is quite handy.

I actually like sending Referer information. To my mind it's the right thing to do from a social perspective; it's basically a form of giving credit where credit is due. There are occasions when I want to suppress it, but they're rare (and I have a manual workaround when this comes up).

This probably makes me a peculiar person, and certainly Referer is increasingly degrading in the face of the modern social web (but that's another entry).

Bottom status bar (now called the Add-On bar) can be displayed with CTRL+/ or via the Options submenu.

For me, the most important feature of the old status bar was that it displayed a great deal of a link's target in a way that did not overlap with the content text. In the process it promoted content readability by creating visual separation between the content and the end of the window without using up too much space (less than a line of text in my usual font). This is not available in the new Add-On bar, and thus as far as I'm concerned makes the Add-On bar mostly a waste of space unless I really need to get at an addon's controls.

(This is why I called it an effective disappearance.)

Which leads me to a new essential extension, courtesy of another commentator: Status-4-Evar restores the old display of link targets, among other features. I believe that the status bar is now slightly taller than it used to be, but I can live with this since I can actually see where links are going once again. A useful page load status is nice to have back too.

(I care about this more than you might think.)

You should really look at ghostery if you like no script. No script is an all or nothing deal. [It's] a security measure when you whitelist a domain that you most likely didn't inspect yourself.

There's two parts of this.

One way to put it is that I consider the all or nothing nature of NoScript to be a feature. Before NoScript even existed I worked with JavaScript entirely off, turning it on only when absolutely necessary. Thus for me NoScript is a way of conveniently temporarily turning on a limited amount of JavaScript, instead of (temporarily) turning on all of it. I don't use the default NoScript list of permanently whitelisted websites, as I consider it to be far too permissive.

(I just checked my prefs and right now my permanent whitelist is YouTube and some internal sites at work. I think that I can trust the latter. The former is just laziness.)

At the same time Ghostery does look interesting, because it stops a lot more than just JavaScript. Unfortunately I think it's too noisy for me to use, because it really wants me to pay attention to it so that it can horrify me with how much I'm being tracked. Well, I already know that I'm being tracked a lot; I just want not to be tracked.

(Even in 'status bar only' form Ghostery keeps changing what it looks like by displaying a count of issues. That's too noisy; it should just alter the icon a bit to show 'no bugs' versus 'some bugs, you can pull up the menu if this surprises you'.)

Another commentator suggested doing cookie management by forcing almost all cookies to be session cookies (except whitelisted ones). This is an attractive notion for people who close their browsers all the time, but the problem for me is that I strive to keep a single Firefox session running for months. 'Session' cookies thus would persist for potentially far longer than I want.

(In practice most of my cookie management (ie, cooking discarding) is done in a filtering proxy. I mostly have a cookie management extension to deal with https sites and any cookies planted on me by JavaScript that I have to run.)

Now, an update on cookie extensions. It turns out that there is a Firefox 4 version of CookieSafe, with a page here and the actual source here (it requires manual installing). Since this appears to work and I found a number of limitations of CookieMonster once I started really looking at it, I've now reverted back to this version of CookieSafe.

Written on 04 November 2011.
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Last modified: Fri Nov 4 01:29:48 2011
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