Firefox 3.0 is Awesome

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Yesterday, I took a (cheap) shot at the Firefox launch fiasco. I didn’t need to do it, but I don’t really regret it either. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t want to hype the hell out of the launch, and then be unprepared for it.

Anyway, even though the official launch was delayed by 76 minutes, the US suffered an outage that lasted at least 30 minutes longer.

It doesn’t matter. They are blowing the numbers off the screen and there are still more than four hours left to download Firefox.

As I predicted yesterday, I accounted for four legitimate downloads, two yesterday (for Lois and me) and two today for the ancient guest machines.

It took me a while to be sure that Firefox 3 was faster than Firefox 2, but I’m convinced it is now. There is one site that I visit typically once a day, that takes a very long time to paint/load. It loads substantially faster in Firefox 3.

That’s not why I titled this Firefox 3.0 is Awesome. If you know Lois, then you know that she’s effectively legally blind. We run her laptop at a bizarre resolution, and then still have to pump the DPI (dots per inch) up, so that everything is hideously large on her screen. I can’t even begin to tell you what that does to any reasonably complex web page.

Aside from the fact that very little of the page typically fits on Lois’ 17″ monitor, most complex web layouts overlap the text, including hyperlinks (for her), making it near impossible to click on some links (you simply can’t get the mouse over the link!), and many of the pages are nearly unreadable as well. This has been true (for years!) on both Firefox (all versions) and IE (all versions).

Enter Firefox 3.0! Lois’ default home page is Google News. The minute we launched Firefox 3.0, we saw the page laid out perfectly. Unfortunately, it was gigantic, so the scroll bars were there for horizontal and vertical scrolling. It was too large, so we went in to the preferences, and saw that her Font was set to 28! (I told you, we have had to tinker lots just to make her be able to see!)

We dropped the Font size to 18 and reloaded. It got a drop better, but not much. Another look at the preference panel and we realized that we needed to go into the Advanced settings. In there, we saw that Lois had a minimum set of 24. We changed that down to 18 as well, and the page now showed off perfectly for her.

Then we went to our bank site, where Lois always has trouble hitting certain links. It painted perfectly (albeit with scroll bars). We played with Ctrl-Minus (Ctrl -) and the page shrunk perfectly. Previously, that key combination might have shrunk the text, but the rest of the layout often got worse. Now, Ctrl-Minus and Ctrl-Plus (Ctrl +) work flawlessly. Yippee!

Finally, I didn’t care about most of the addons that weren’t Firefox 3.0 ready. One I really cared about, TinyURL Creator and one I like (but could live without) Linkification. Rather than disabling version checking (dangerous at best), I decided to hand-tweak these two since neither is sophisticated, and therefore unlikely to fail or cause harm.

In both cases, I found which directory they were installed in under the extensions directory in my Firefox Profile (this is on Windows). I then edited the install.rdf file, and found the max version number that they would run in, changing it from 2 to 3, and voila (after restarting Firefox), both work beautifully again.

Welcome Firefox 3.0, we’re both very glad to have you on board! 🙂