Firefox Tabs 1.x Style

While on the topic of writing techie stuff, I might as well mention this little thing about Firefox that I discovered recently. As I’ve said in a previous post, I’ve been given a new PC at work because my old one got stuffed. One of the first things I installed on the new PC was Firefox.

I downloaded Firefox straight from the Mozilla website and installed that. It was then I realised that this Firefox was a bit different from the one I’m used to. Apparently, I’ve been using an older version of Firefox (version 1.5.0.9) for a while now and didn’t even know it.

I’ve been using the “Check for Updates…” menu item under Firefox’s Help menu to check if I have the latest version. Well, it now seemed to have just checked if there are any newer version 1.x updates but didn’t inform me that there was actually a version 2 of Firefox.

Anyway, the thing is, I like Firefox 1.x style tabs. Version 2’s tabs were more like Internet Explorer 7’s and I hate it. I want the close button for the tab in one place so that I can close tabs in quick succession if they are placed adjacent to each other. I also dislike the tab scrolling thing that comes on when there more than a handful tabs are open all at once. I prefer to see all the tabs even if I couldn’t read the tab names. I could still rely on the icon and the tab placement to help me distinguish among tabs I’m looking at.

Fortunately, there is a way to fix this but not through the Options dialog box on Firefox 2. Thanks to some quick web researching, I found that the Firefox settings (even those that aren’t documented) could easily be changed by typing about:config in the address bar then hitting enter.

To disable tab scrolling, all I have to do is set browser.tabs.tabMinWidth to 0 from the default of 100. Basically, this key allows you to set the minimum width of a tab. If enough tabs are open and adding a new tab would force the minimum tab width to drop below the default, the tab scrolling feature turns on. So, to have more tabs in there before tab scrolling turns on, you’ll have to set the value lower than 100. As for me, I set it to 0 to disable it completely.

To keep the close tab button in the right-most corner like it was in Firefox 1.x, I should set browser.tabs.closeButtons to 3. Setting it to 0 tells Firefox to only put the close button on the active tab. Setting it to 1 (the default) would show close buttons on every tab. Setting it to 2 would hide the close button altogether. Frankly, I don’t know why anybody would want to set this key to 2.

Well, that should be enough techie stuff for a while.

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Published in: on February 13, 2007 at 1:40 am  Leave a Comment  

My iPaq, ActiveSync and the Firewall

I’ve been using iPAQs for some time now (though I’ve been switching between models) and I’ve always used ActiveSync to synchronise my device to both my home PC and office PC. I haven’t had any problems with synching until a couple of weeks ago when my office PC refused to connect with my iPAQ PDA.

At first I thought it was the PC that was at fault. I’ve been getting other memory leak type errors from it at about the same time so I suspected the synch problem to be related to it.

I’ve been given with a spiffy new office PC recently but I was surprised to discover the synch problem still present. I then realised that the cause of the problem was something else entirely. After a bit of research on the web, I found out the culprit: our office firewall!

According to Microsoft’s Windows Mobile ActiveSync 4.0/4.1/4.2 USB Connection Troubleshooting Guide:

Most cases of ActiveSync 4.x USB connection problems as listed above are caused by Windows desktop firewall applications or applications that manipulate network traffic. These applications conflict with the TCP traffic between your device and the PC, causing data transfer and connection issues. The list below provides some known applications that may cause problems connecting your device to your PC.

If this was a problem with my home PC, I could fix it very easily. However, this is the office PC I have to deal with here and I don’t have sufficient permission/access rights to modify the settings of the firewall application. I talked to our network administrator about it and he told me what I already suspected. The firewall was set to block almost all network traffic and he was a bit unwilling to modify the settings. So, the only way to synch my PDA to the office PC was to disable the firewall everytime I had to synch. It’s such a pain to do, not to mention risky.

I continued my search for a workaround the problem that didn’t involve modifying firewall settings, basically bypassing it entirely. After following forum threads about the topic, I eventually found a discussion about other Windows Mobile 5.0 PDA devices and issues with ActiveSync.

One of their suggestions was to install a handy little utility called USBSwitch_PPC.cab on your Windows Mobile 5.0 PDA. The application called USB Killer will be installed on your PDA. Run it and change the ActiveSync Mode from RNDIS to Serial. Serial mode is the old way PocketPC PDAs synch with PCs. It may be slower than the current method that uses TCP/IP protocols, but at least the firewall ignores serial connections.

And now, I’m able to synch my PDA to my office PC without having to shutdown the firewall software first.

Published in: on February 13, 2007 at 1:38 am  Leave a Comment