Tag Archives: Firefox

The seive-like qualities of Firefox 1.5

I’m sitting here on a train. No network connection.

I pop open the Windows Task Manager and sort by memory usage.

firefox.exe sits at the top of the list, using 433,312K of memory with a VM size of 445,100K. In the time it took me to type that, Mem Usage grew to 433,372K. CPU is at anywhere up to 10%.

To be fair, I have 33 tabs open (including James Governor’s interesting thoughts on Open Source messaging, which I’ve not got around to responding to).

I’ve been round this loop before, and people have told me, no, Firefox is fine, must be your extensions. Fair point, I have 34 of them. So a few weeks ago, I disabled about half of them. Hasn’t helped. Guess I’ll just have to disable the other half, and try again.

Mem Usage now 439,088K and rising. Leaky, leaky, leaky.

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Google Pack

So Google have announced the Google Pack, a bundle of software that Google provides free-of-charge for Windows PCs.

As a fan of Google, one the one hand I think this is a good thing – getting Firefox onto more PCs, for instance. However, I'm not keen on the idea of the cut-down version of Norton Antivirus, so I've excluded that from my download options – I'm going to switch my home laptop to AVG Antivirus Free Edition in the next week or so (although I'm a bit nervous about trying to remove Norton, I have heard horror stories). I was also interested that it includes Ad-Aware SE. I'd previously been an Ad-Aware user, but have recently switched to Microsoft AntiSpyware Beta… although I've not installed it on my home laptop just yet. Of course, Google couldn't possibly have included that, so Ad-Aware is a good alternative.

On the whole, running the Google Updater was a very pleasant experience. I didn't get prompted for a reboot, and it detected Adobe Reader, Google Earth and RealPlayer as already installed and updated them to newer versions for me. I also like the Screensaver, which in my opinion is nicer than the pictures screensaver that MS provides. The only irritation is that it does not allow you to include photos from network drives, so I can't use it at home with my entire photo collection – it lets you add the UNC location or mapped drive to the list of folders, but after you click OK it silently removes it again, which is a shame.

One comment on the Ars Technica article I linked above:

The apps included in Google Pack will supposedly be updated automatically, and Page trumpeted the fact that there's no nagware included – you won't be bugged for upgrades, and you won't have to worry about the programs in Google Pack changing your system settings without your approval.

… well, that depends on your view of what your system settings consist of. It did add RealPlayer and others to my Desktop, Adobe Reader Speed Launch to my Startup folder, and Picasa into the Run key in the registry (which in some ways is more evil, since you have to know to go looking in there). It also added itself to the Startup folder as well, of course – but I'll leave it there for now.

On the whole though – quite a nice new freebie. Worth a look.

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Google’s new Firefox extensions

Google launched two new extensions for Firefox today. The first lets you see who has been blogging about the page you are currently looking at, and (if you are a Blogger user) to comment on the page yourself. I like this one a lot. The second attempts to warn you if the site you are looking at is a phishing site. Unfortunately, this latter extension will only install if you are in the US. You can still get the extension if you are outside of the US, but it involves some ingenuity. Here's another post, with a screenshot.

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PC building

Part of this weekend was spent assembling PCs. We decided to upgrade both sets of parents to newer systems for Christmas, since they are running years-old machines with Windows 98, which I consider to be unsafe to be on the Internet, and definitely unsafe for online banking and shopping.

One of my wife's colleagues recently decided to upgrade his Dell for a newer system (the prices of new machines having tumbled in the past 12 months), so he gave me his old one. I was amazed – it was a Pentium 4, and literally only a couple of years old. He'd asked me to strip out the hard disk so that he could destroy it and any confidential data it contained. That was very straightforward – I ordered a new "PATA" 160Gb disk, cleaned the innards of the machine a bit, and that machine is ready to go over to Poland. Once it gets there I will have the entertaining job of trying to install the Polish language version of Windows XP, which my parents-in-law need for their banking applications (they run their own business).

The other machine was far more fun. Over the past few years I have collected various old PC boxes and spares, and decided to make use of them. I ordered a cheap motherboard/processor/memory bundle from Novatech, running a Sempron 2800 which is probably even more than my mother needs, but should last well. I took the opportunity to upgrade the graphics card and DVD drive in my own home-built machine, so the new machine inherited those. I already had a case, floppy drive, PCI modem, and several PSUs. The PSUs I had either didn't work, or were underpowered for modern CPUs, so I took a trip to Maplin where I picked up a cheap new 350W PSU, and remembered to get an SATA power cable while I was there. I forgot to get the SATA data cable, though, so had to make a second trip.

<rant>WHY don't motherboard and drive manufacturers ship SATA cables? The motherboard bundle came with a bunch of IDE cables, which have now gone into my bits box. Why not include SATA cables? Of course, I know – it's a ploy to get us to spend more on kit.</rant>

As another aside, the other bizarre thing that happened was that the second time I was at Maplin, I ended up translating a transaction between a couple of Polish guys who wanted to buy some SD cards for their digital cameras, and the shop assistant who seemed to not be very interested in trying to understand or assist them. Gave me a bit of a boost to be able to use my language skills, although I know my vocabulary is still pretty limited.

Back to building: the problem that nearly scuppered the whole thing was the case. To be fair, it is an old case. Although it was an ATX motherboard going into an ATX case, it turned out that the main power connector on the board was positioned directly underneath the 5.25" drive cage, which was bolted (not screwed) into the case. I decided that about a two inch by half-inch cut was needed to the back of the drive cage. Fortunately my neighbour owns a grinder, so he was able to cut that portion out for me so the board fitted and the power cable could be plugged in without further issues.

Once the machine was built, I first booted a Fedora Core 4 DVD in rescue mode and had a look at the system via the /proc filesystem. It looked like all of the devices were in good shape. Unfortunately, against my own principles, I then went on to install Windows XP SP2 OEM. Let the Windows-vs-Linux debate (and abuse towards me) commence.

I'd read that Windows XP has trouble installing onto SATA drives, so I was fully expecting to have to load a driver disk with SATA drivers during the install. As it happened, everything just worked first time. I had some fun working out the model of the modem, as the Device Manager simply showed it as a "PCI Simple Communications Device" with no driver. In the end, the OS build went pretty smoothly.

My first acts post-build were to install Firefox, Thunderbird, OpenOffice, and AVG antivirus.