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Oct 21, 2005 6:26am

arrrrgh, firefox

I'm taking a week to test Attention Trust's extension with a vanilla (for now) installation of their toolkit. I'm excited - the idea of recording a live stream of all my browsing activities to a location I control is super interesting.

So far, so good - all of my "clicks" are being recorded along with HTTP response code and cookie status (not cookie content). I'm using the default ACME-style display to show my browsing behavior, but it's going to be time to modify it to show some difference between recent activity and overall activity. The extension logs all "normal" website visits. It skips subrequests such as XHR, images or stylesheets, and I had to dig around a little to figure out why I wasn't seeing logs of my secure browsing activity - these are disabled by default.

The extension only works in Firefox, and an Internet Explorer version is planned, with no announced release date. I can't possibly recommend a Safari version strongly enough. I've had to switch to Firefox for the duration of my experiment, and I'm really homesick.

A few things that Safari does well, which Firefox does not:

  • Comfortable between-tab navigation keyboard shortcuts. Firefox has chosen a finger-bending combo of ctrl-shift-tab.
  • Keychain integration - I'm not interested in Mozilla's password storage ghetto, I want to use the system-wide one that already has all of my passwords stored.
  • Stable browsing history - when I use Reblog to read my feeds (all day, every day) I like being able to return to the feeds view in Safari without a required page reload. Firefox hits the server every time, which takes time and loses my keyboard-controlled focal spot on the list. This may just be a matter of hacking out some more informative cache-control headers in Reblog.
  • General "Macness" - Firefox looks out-of-place, with its own non-Aqua button designs and interface elements, presumably intended to minimize differences between Mac, Linux and PC implementations. Fuck that.

I'll return to these four gripes as the week progresses - some of them may be simple acclimation issues. For now, I'm continuing to give Firefox a try because the attention recorder is the first strong reason I've had to do so.


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