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back to article Poor porn protection hurt Firefox 3 uptake

How we yawned as Microsoft churned out dull report after sponsored study to "prove" Internet Explorer 8 beats Firefox on security, performance, and ease of use. Turns out, all Microsoft had to do against Firefox was talk more about IE 8's porn mode with InPrivate Browsing, which hides your online stash from the eyes of loved …

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Anonymous Coward

"the number-one reason"

I'm not entirely convinced about the given reason... Many simply just hate it how this half-baked feature was forced upon the user and is slowing down the browser because of its poor implementation:

[Bug 407836] remove support for browser.urlbar.richResults:

https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=407836

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FAIL

Missing the fucking point.

Hey, Mozilla, what's really annoying about the "Awesome bar" isn't that it tries to fetch bookmarks, too!: it's that instead of coming up with "theregister.co.uk" when I start to type "there" it will come up with _all_ instances of "there" in my history or bookmarks - "there" in the title of a webpage, "there" in the url, "there" in the description, anywhere "there" could be found.

This is stupid and horribly inefficient. I'm sure you think you're doing everyone a favor and, perhaps you are to the idiots out there that still "bookmark" favorite locations in real life based on that funny looking tree, but you're making browsing a living hell to the rest of us out there that have long since evolved past such a need.

Allow me to turn back the "awesome bar" to the way it was in 2.x. When I start to type in "www.ther" you'd better return "www.theregister.co.uk" and _NOTHING_ else!

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Paris Hilton

My Dog's better than your dog...

My Porn's better than yours.

My Porn's better 'cause I surf (internet browser)

My Porn's better than yours.

/Ken-L-rations commercial.

Paris, for the paraphrase, and for the reality of the situation.

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Paris Hilton

New Browser Refused By Users Too Stupid to Use "Private Browsing" Feature

News flash! Film at 11!

So, these pr0n purveyors who are afraid their habits will be discovered are incapable either of using Private Browsing or share their profile with someone else, choosing instead to implement security by obscurity.

Have no fear, Firefox will only lose these people until they have the ah-ha moment about Private Browsing, the uber-bar configuration options, or the first time they get infected by some IE ActiveX exploit and are soundly reprimanded by their techie/geek friend/family member and are forced to go back.

They always go back. Always.

Paris, yeah, that sounds about right.

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Thoughts...

First thing for people working on providing new features should remember:

People hate change for the sake of change. They usually don't mind genuine improvements, but change just because it's change and therefore cool tends to get hackles raised.

Second thing for people working on providing new 'improved' features should remember:

It shouldn't be hard for users to figure out how to turn them off if they don't like them. Just because the programmer thinks he's had a great idea doesn't mean everyone else is going to agree with them.

The Firefox people seem to have forgotten that. I don't particularly mind their new location bar behaviour, but the DNS cache has had me seriously considering alternatives that don't lock in an error received from my ISP's DNS lookup for a minute or more while I repeatedly try to reload the page from a domain which worked a few minutes ago. That's despite going into the Firefox hidden config stuff to manually set the DNS Cache storage time to 0.

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FAIL

suggest based on title

Forget about porn, was that the one where they decided that doing the suggestion based on the title of the page was better than suggestion based on the actual URL?

Page titles memorised: 0

URLs memorised: a lot more than 0

Suggestion based on page titles: FAIL

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Try this . . .

The solution ... an extension called Oldbar . . .

https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/6227/

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WTF?

You gotta be shittin' me!?

This doesn't support the theory that people avoided FF 3.x, for any reason: http://www.w3schools.com/browsers/browsers_firefox.asp. Nor does this: http://www.w3counter.com/globalstats.php. Nor do any other stats I can find.

If location bar privacy was *a* concern (or even *the* concern) of 25% of survey respondents, either they got over it or the survey sampling was poor. I myself would have listed it as an annoyance if I'd been asked about FF 3.0 on release. But the reason I held off upgrading was add-on incompatibilities. When those were resolved, like 'most everyone else on the planet, I upgraded.

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Happy

They're still using Firefox though

even if it's an older version.

Personally, I can't stand the awful so-called "awesome" bar and was using the oldbar extension until the changes made in 3.5.

Still, it beats using IE any day.

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Anonymous Coward

Multiple user accounts, people!

personal, work, guest, fancy guest, admin and porn should cover all bases, and nobody gets to see whatever it is you've been up to. Provided you remember to log in to the right account, of course

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Chrome does worse

By displaying the sites last visited on its new tab, Chrome shows your boss you are looking at job sites, your children you look at porn sites or your wife you are looking at new boat sites!!!

Opera defaulted to allowing me to choose what appeared - Chrome is to bloody clever by half! I will be deleting it.. Another example of a company moving from listening to its users to telling its users ...

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Gates Horns

Second chance?

Of course you get a second chance. MS has goofed more times than it has managed to get things right. Just look at IE, one of the biggest pieces of shit out there, and how people still drool for the latest versions. At least Mozilla listen and fix issues.

A Firefox (v3.5) and lynx user.

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Anonymous Coward

They are suprised ?

I refuse to use chrome because it tells everyone where I have been and logs everything I do. This is not about porn its about non work sites etc.

The first thing I do with FF installs is disable the awesome bar turn off history and all the other crap.

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FAIL

Memory Leak

The biggest problem with Firefox 3.5 is the silly memory leak. Mine tends to consume close to 600MB of RAM after a couple of hours of browsing. Some of my friends have witness 3.5 eat up 1GB of RAM!

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Linux

it's even worse for gays (or granny porn fans?)

...if you just go to type g in the address bar hoping google's all that shows up. Oopsy!

Tux - because what happens in linux, stays in linux (except when it shows up in your recent files/accidentally got saved to your desktop/is still in your trash/flashes up in firefox/starts playing with the volume up full)

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The real news here is Firefox is mainstream enough

to have the same sort of stupid users that plague IE.

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FAIL

Spot on

I had been using Firefox since it was called Phoenix 0.6 or thereabouts and I switched away from FF3 due to the 'awesome bar'.

I wasn't so concerned by the address bar showing potentially embarassing stuff, it was mainly the lack of usability as I use the address bar a lot to navigate, and this was too different to the way I'm used to work.

I tried the oldbar extension, nightbuilds that started to allow a few changes in the bar behaviour - but nothing was satisfactory, so I switched back to Opera when support for Firefox 2 was dropped.

Good to hear FF3.5 now lets you choose the address bar behaviour, and good of them to come out and say they f*cked up on this, but they're also right in that it'll be too late for a lot of people.

I will probably install it now for those few pages that still won't work right in Opera 10, but other than that very happy with the browser I'm currently using, and see no reason to switch back.

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IT Angle

ooooooook

regarding the presentation, common business sense here.....don't use a laptop you use for work for personal usage!?! There are a few more security issues here rather than a porn url popping up.

I personally think its a good feature but then again I don't have things to hide and if I did then I wouldn't bookmark them lol

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FAIL

Recipe for disaster

If there are a large number of people sticking with Firefox 2 then surely that's a major security problem. Not as bad as sticking with IE6, but pretty bad nontheless. After all, malware writers don't care what you use as long as they have a back door into your system. And as Firefox 2 is no longer supported by Mozilla it's not like any holes are going to get patched anytime soon.

The weakest link in the chain is once again shown to be the end user.

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Silver badge
FAIL

Still learning to walk?

""Having something from your previous browsing displayed to someone else who is using your computer (or even worse) to a large audience of people as you are giving a presentation, is really one of the most embarrassing things that Firefox can do to you.""

FFS - if you are going to feel ashamed or guilty about your browsing then use more than one profile. 'Oooh, I can't bear it m when people glance through my front room window' -get some bloody net curtains then!

That or set up the browser to clear everything when you exit.

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WTF?

Huh!!

Yeah and the privacy settings couldn't do anything about that could they? The reason I held off on FF3 was that it broke almost all of my plug-ins, so I hung fire until they got updated. Now they have I've got no problem with it. Swing and a miss!!!

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Joke

"a lot of people contacted us"

Dear Mozilla,

Please stop my hidden pr0n stash from showing up in the new location bar. I recommend excluding anything with "lego" in the description.

Yours sincerely

If-you-can't-remember-the-address-of-your-favourite-pr0n-site-you-don't-deserve-Firefox-3-Firefox 2 user

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Anonymous Coward

Makes me think of the latest Safari update

When I type something into the address bar, it wastes the first line of the drop down 'helper' box displaying the 'top hit' that's also in the address bar, it then shows 7 history items and 7 bookmarked items. Inevitably, 7 items is not enough. It's particularly annoying when browsing big sites with periodic content (ie any news site) that are split into areas so have a description and date in the URL. The first entry is the base entry for the site, which is useless; the next seven entries are a mixture of different areas with out of date stuff; finally, at the bottom of the list, you get your bookmark to the section you want. In the time it takes to navigate that, I can just type the URL out in full.

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Simple

Just release version 4 with a 'SlyFox' porn mode!

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FAIL

Nice piece of spin

Methinks they are being selective with their story. Porn makes for an amusing blog release, nice piece of spin there, but it is the least of the issue.

After trying 3.0, the very first thing I noticed was that typing "th" in the location bar no longer autofilled our beloved El Reg; the Firefox Mavens Who Know Best had decided that I must be looking for some random site with a "th" in its URL, or title text, that I had visited at some point. Sometimes I couldn't even see a "th" anywhere within those. I especially liked the touch that the sites it suggested were in no order of frequency or recency that I could recognise. I have no idea what they are thinking, or smoking, but it made typing shortcuts useless. Searching for "Awful Bar" in the Firefox forums gives a sense of the general feeling. Add-ons like OldBar and OldLocationBar try to improve the situation, but can't do enough.

Doesn't bother me too much though; I use Opera as my main browser, and I've kept FF2.

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Paris Hilton

Clear Recent History...

How hard is it to clear your browsing history before you make a presentation?

Paris; because she doesn't know how to clear her history either.

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Thumb Up

Porn remains the greatest online innovator

Porn has always driven innovation :)

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WTF?

It may take all kinds...

... but if you are gonna' be a porn surfer, either cover/delete your tracks or be proud of your personal perversions. I can't think of a time something has shown up in my history that would embarrass me.

Whiners.

FF eating CPU, having such a forest of maybe-incompatible-addons-you-try-to-see, and sucking down memory are all fine reasons to consider other browsers. But keeping track of your history? Geesh.

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FAIL

FatFox developers are dumb though

Hey, we all know that the once fast decent browser has turned into the Fat Fox monster from hell. Its slow to load - even IE7 and IE8 can be started and ready to go before FF has even got any furniture on the screen. I cant stand the browser now, its got so many stupid dumbass features and bolt ons built it that it makes it a memory, CPU and disk hog.

So after all of the above, its hardly surprising that they wanted to add yet another stupid feature that would give away peoples secret bookmarks and indecent night time browsing habits.

Total FAIL is FATFOX these days.

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Flame

It's not really an "awful" bar

(@ Bryce Prewitt but @ everyone else too)

First time switching to 3.0 I too was surprised at how the address bar works. Yes typing in "the" or "there" wouldn't match "theregister.com". It was wrong of Mozilla to force such a change on users, they could have made the awesome bar a bundled, optional extension so we would at least have a choice.

But then I used it a SECOND time and found it was a learning system. Now I only need to type a single "t" to get this, my favourite of all timewasting sites. To all those rash users with the attention span of less than a hopping flea, no one is forcing you to think for yourselves but it'll be easier if you did. Or just click on bookmarks instead ffs.

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Bronze badge
Boffin

@ Bryce Prewitt

Bryce, yer doin' it wrong. You want to go for the shortest (probably) unique string in the item you're looking for, so inevitably "there" is a bit crap. I put in "egist" and had only El Reg pages in a second or two (and this is with hundreds of bookmarks and months of history).

This only occurred to me recently when I put in a "rich" search function for our sales app. Narrowing down the product I wanted was a lot easier using this approach.

Yeah, I know it's not really your point but I'm just sayin'.

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Megaphone

@Memory Leak

Bet you've got more than one version of Java installed. I got that mem leak too, then checked add/remove progs and found 3 dif versions of java, took them all off, reinstalled the latest and bam, no more mem leaks.

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Go

Enough bashing of the awesomebar

Seriously guys, all it takes to make it work is the slightest of patience. The thing adapts.

The first time you type there, theregister will not be first. Scroll down, find it and click.

The next time you type there, it will be among the top 2-3 choices. Click it again.

The next and all subsequent times it will be the first link presented to you. Simples!

Say I'm frequently visiting forums:

forums.nvidia.com

forums.thinkbroadband.com

forum.kaspersky.com

forums.mozillazine.org

forums.worldofwarcraft.com

etc etc

How much typing would the old bar behaviour require? Because with FF3.x typing nv, thi, ka, mo, wo is enough to get the corresponding link. With a little more training a couple of keystrokes are enough to even get you directly to specific subforums. Easy.

If you still don't like it, here's a very helpful hint >> It can be disabled.

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Paris Hilton

Go reg..

Loving the outbreak of Angry Old Gits in this comments section, who have been waiting for a chance to vent spleen about something that *changed*! Gasp!

I got some funny looks due to the snickering that this caused.

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Happy

geeks

IMHO, the reason is Firefox developers are all lonely geeks who don't have to worry about anyone seeing their extensive collection of porn bookmarks, therefore they never thought of this as a problem!

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WTF?

Chrome's incognito mode

Um, folks, if you don't want Chrome to list your visits and tabs that's what Incognito mode is for...

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Flame

what rubbish

I love the location bar. I do now anyway. I don't think anyone had a good first impression of it, because we've been used to typing in a URL for so long. But I got used to it and now I can't live without it. When I use another browser at work I greatly miss it, and having to think "hmm how does this URL start".

In Firefox I type in the prominent word about a site, and Firefox remembers me doing that, and shows me exactly what I want to see. I do not use bookmarks at all now. The bar is my URL bar, search bar, bookmarks and history all in one. Navigating through either a long bookmark menu, or a nested bookmark menu, is a thing of the past (or trying to remember where you put the bookmark). I know what website I want, and now Firefox does too.

People complaining about not getting to theregister by typing 'the' or 'there' obviously never gave it a chance. I got to this site just now by typing 't'. At first it would have been 'thereg'. The next time Firefox would have realised what I wanted after typing 'ther', then 'the', 'th'.. etc.

If it is a less frequently visited website, I find it by typing in keywords. Firefox looks for those in the URL, in the title and in the page. So much more convenient for me. No longer do I scroll through the History for ages.

Pron is a terrible excuse. They added the Private Browsing thing that makes it EASIER to hide the stuff you don't want seen. Were people really looking at pron in Firefox 2.0 and not erasing their history? That could sometimes show up in the old address bar anyway. I guess it's that Firefox is more likely to throw up an unrelated URL matched on a common word, and a lot of people are not proud of their even non-porn related browsing.

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Firefox 3 is still doing well

http://www.paullee.com/computers/index.php

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@Paul Ryan - DNS cache is not FF's fault

"The Firefox people seem to have forgotten that. I don't particularly mind their new location bar behaviour, but the DNS cache has had me seriously considering alternatives that don't lock in an error received from my ISP's DNS lookup for a minute or more while I repeatedly try to reload the page from a domain which worked a few minutes ago. That's despite going into the Firefox hidden config stuff to manually set the DNS Cache storage time to 0."

This is not FF's fault - it's down to the owner of each domain - or the company running their DNS records. There's a field called "negative cache TTL" in the DNS system that tells clients how long to cache a "failed" result for. All my negative TTLs are set for 5 minutes.

Of course clients can choose to ignore this negative cache but it depends on your upstream DNS resolver, and of course that's against the whole point of this record being there.

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Gates Halo

seriously people

this feature doesn't bother me in the slightest , I am using IE7 but it does the same thing and it saves me loads of time and works much better for me than creating loads of favourites links as all I need to do is type the first few letters of the address into the bar

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Why not use multiple Firefox profiles?

Have Firefox set to prompt you which profile to use when it opens and use the ProfileSwitcher add-on to open the other from an existing browser session.

They will have distinct histories, bookmarks, caches, everything.

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J 3
Go

Wankers....

hehehe

Let's hope for HD porn to get widespread, if we want higher speed home connections to become more common and therefore cheaper.

Anyway, although I do think the bar could be improved (e.g. displaying the "root" URL before other, addresses further down into the site's document hierarchy would be nice), and that it should have been something the user could turn off from day one, I also got used to it and it has saved me a ton of time over the time I've been using it. Really. Not every URL is as easy to remember as www.google.com or www.theregister.co.uk, in case you haven't noticed. Unless this is my living in the academic world showing through. But many times I saved a lot of search time because the bar would quickly search the history or page title to show me some page I had stumbled upon weeks ago but hadn't bookmarked. A minute here, a minute there, it adds up...

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Pint

Finding El Reg

@ All those complaining about finding our beloved El Reg in the FF location bar: just make it your home page, as I have. Then it automagically loads when FF starts and is only ever a single click on the 'Home' icon to get back to it :-) Simple really.

And I must agree with other commenters - If you're surfing pr0n - then FFS!! clear your history/urls/cookies etc when you finish your session. Shhesh how hard is it.?

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Troll

erm... who actually *types* in the address bar?

all the sites i regulally visit are saved as bookmarks, (porn, or otherwise), any other site i view is either an emailed link (clickety), google search result (clickety), or a non-linkified url in a web page (ctrl-C ctrl-T ctrl-V)

How often do i need to type in a url?

I can see that people who deal with business cards may do it on a regular basis, and web addresses need to be recalled from memory while using seldom used (or unfamilair) machines, but that is not something that i deal with very often.

As for pr0n mode, unless you are looking at stuff in the *same session* as the work/wife/kids are about, then setting FF to delete all history and cookies on exit, gets rid of a lot of the risk (and ability for other websites to track you - i remind reg readers that flash apps can leave cookie like footprints on your system as well - i suggest BetterPrivacy FF addon)

I can see why porn mode might be useful, but it still doesnt offer any functionality that didnt already exist (other than not arousing suspision by having an empty history - thats quite a good one, damn).

Bookmarks will still be an issue though, in which case either seperate browser (FF portable?), or for your regular haunts, actually use the address bar. (which will be forgotten about at the end of the session) No porn mode required.

In summary:

The awesome bar is useless, but only actually annoying if *other people* are using the awsome bar to track what you are doing (accident or not), in which case just make sure there are no tracks to find. (this should be on an entrance exam to read El Reg)

my personal way of dealing with this (in the event of laptop theft) is to have an sd card living in my lappy with a truecrypt volume on it, loaded with portable apps. (good password, force dismount blah blah) It also makes fixing other peoples computers a lot easier, not having to access the internet with a toolbar/virus laden IE (yes, i know viri can spread via such cards/drives)

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oooh also...

I was a hold out for FF1 (or was it 2?) because the "close current tab" button was removed from later versions. Remember it?

I still occaisonally close the wrong tab by accident, Id close the current tab (farthest right), see that i was done with the next displayed page, and click again, except the tab on the far right (that i had the cursor over), wasnt always the tab that was being displayed. (i was looking at the web page, not which tab was highlighted at the top)

Thankfully, fellow reg readers suggested the keyboard shortcut Ctrl-W for closing the current tab.

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Thumb Up

Controlling awesome bar results 'on the fly'

I frequently type into the address bar in Firefox, and for a long time have been aware of the special characters like #, ^, + etc., details of which are given here under "On the fly":

http://support.mozilla.com/en-US/kb/Smart+Location+Bar?style_mode=inproduct

Not a lot of people know that. Apparently.

Combined with the useful ctrl-L keyboard shortcut, which moves the focus to the address bar and highlights the text without disrupting your clipboard (otherwise a problem in X windows), and sensible tagging of useful pages, I find typing into the address bar in Firefox quite powerful. Don't reach for that mouse if you don't have to!

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Anonymous Coward

Awesome Bar

Ah.. the awesome bar. That'll be the one that popped up once with a bunch of suggestions selected from my bookmarks for my girlfriend to see.

Every little bit of that bar is now disabled and history is now deleted on exit.

What I want to know is how to autoclear the Google search box..

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