05-10-12 - Fix My Browser

I cannot for the life of me figure out how to do this. I want two (or three) things :

1. Make all mime types always just download. Forever. MP3, PDF, whatever the fuck, I never want any fucking handler to do anything with it. Just download it. I can't figure out a way to make this happen; I feel like the mime type database must be a text file I could just edit and set everything to =download but I can't find any info about that on the net.

2. Never ever do anything to my windows without asking me. Don't close them, resize them, move them, and certainly don't pop anything up.

3. No mouse-over popups. This is some new shit that is causing me constant frustration. Jesus christ putting mouse-overs on web pages is such a stupid broken idea. There's a bunch of web sites that I just can't use any more because of mouse-overs.

I'm currently using Firefox 2 and will be very sad when I have to switch to Firefox 3 because of HTML5 or whatever fucking new thing that makes the internet worse but which I cannot realistically opt out of.

In other "god the web is stupid" ranting, fucking forms that change as you enter values should be illegal. No, you are not fucking helping me. Like credit card forms that detect your type of card and then add the box for the CVV number with 3 or 4 blanks. No! You are not helping! Just make a static form.

Don't you realize that the web just doesn't work? Keep everything as simple as possible, because making it complex just makes it broken. Also, your UI design skills are rudimentary at best, so don't try anything ambitious. How about you just make a static form, and if I fail to fill in a required field you don't blank the whole thing out, mmkay?

Anyhoo, the latest trend that is fucking boiling my brain almost daily is this fucking "make your password strong" bullshit. It seems like every web site I go to these days wants me to change my password to be stronger, with some cock-ass idea of how to do that.

Of course every site has different ideas about what that should be, such as "must contain a space or !" while another is "must not contain a space or !". So I can't just use the same password in lots of places, I have to generate one per site and write them down, which of course makes them extremely non-secure. The worst of course are the places that don't tell you exactly how to generate a strong password, so you try some shit and they say "too weak" and you try some other shit and they say "funny character not allowed!" so you smash your keyboard and then try backing out the weird characters and wind up binary searching a few times through annoying forms until you get it. Look you fuck-heads, why don't you just auto-generate a random password for me that conforms with your rules, and then I can write it down on my desk and we can all pretend things are more secure even though the hackers just steal your whole user database on a near-daily basis and it doesn't matter how many numbers are in my password anyway.

In other computer broken news :

Somehow in DevStudio I accidentally hit "Alt-P-O" and didn't realize it. (I think all complex programs should have a log console of all your key and button presses and what they correspond to; often in Photoshop or whatever behemoth program I'll be pootling along and all of a sudden it does something wacky and I'm like "wtf what did I hit"; sometimes it's even a good result and I have no idea how to make it happen again). Anyway, apparently Alt-P-O turns on "Show All Files" in the solution explorer which is a feature I didn't even know existed. So all of a sudden a bunch of new crap appears to be in my project, and I spent a few hours deleting my NCB's and doing P4 reverts and trying to figure out WTF happened before I discovered this feature.

I've had a problem for quite a while where "Open With" didn't work; if I browsed for a program to do the open-with, it would let me pick it, but then just not open it. I finally got annoyed enough that I went and fixed it :

OpenWithAdd : Registering programs with the Open With dialog
Problems with File Association in Windows 7 64-bit - Microsoft Answers
OpenWithView - DisableEnable items in the 'Open With' dialog-box of Windows
Index of filesdips64
FileTypesMan - Alternative to 'File Types' manager of Windows
Can't get program into OPEN WITH list

Probably just using the "OpenWithAdd" utility will work if you have this problem. But fundamentally the problem arises because the registry gets itself fucked somehow. There are two different ends where it can get fucked and both seem to occur and both can cause this problem. Say you are trying to register .FLV to open with VLC. The registry for .FLV can get fucked and cause this, and there can also be a registry for VLC that gets fucked and causes this. Best bet to clean it up is just to delete everything in the registry for the file type .FLV and for the program VLC.

(the OpenWith command doesn't actually go directly to the program path that you give it, that would be too easy and robust; instead when you say "OpenWith" "VLC" what it does is go look up a registry entry for "VLC" which tells it where to get the exe and how to pass the args; that entry is what gets fucked somehow)

I still use Win XP at work (and Win 7 at home), and literally the only thing from Win 7 that I miss on the XP machine is the text-search in the start menu. I'm sure that could be added to XP and it would fully satisfy me. God damn the fucking control panel on Win 7 got so much worse, it's so fucking hard to find any advanced settings any more, and everything is split into a bajillion different pages. The typical thing I want to do when I get a new machine is to turn off all skins, turn off all graphics and backgrounds, turn off all cleartype, animations, special effects, etc; on Win 7 it takes me an hour of fumbling around in a ton of different menus to find all that stuff. There should be one single "display settings" page which has *everything* you can change about display settings all together on one page.


won3d said...

1) For file types the browser understands, whether something is "download" or "view" depends on whether the "download" attribute is present in the anchor tag (whether something shows up in a new window is controlled by target="_blank").

2/3) Yeah, WTF. This bad behavior is normally discouraged as being totally user hostile, but of course the amateurs who are spamming it up are probably not actually sensitive to this. You're right that it would be nice if the window behavior gave some more control to the user, but honestly I haven't seen this happen too much anymore.

3) The link-hover is obnoxious. I bet there's an AdBlock setting for that, but again, sites that have this generally have shitty content anyway (I'm looking at you Tom's Guide). I remember NYTimes used to do some BS when you selected text, but they have fortunately stopped.

Anyway...Firefox 2, eh?

cbloom said...

Yeah I guess #2 is relatively rare, but a related and very common thing is the automatic forward. I'd like to be able to make all forwards have to pop up a box to get my permission.

#3 is getting way more common. Hipmunk just started doing it and went from being a pretty cool site to being unusable crap, cuz it's constantly hover-popping shit. One of my banks also just started doing hover-menus and it's made their already-shitty site even more brain-boiling. Seattle Weekly now does hovers (but that qualifies under your "shitty content" exclusion). All the Gawker sites do horrible browser-abuse crap, but that definitely qualifies.

Blaine Allen Brown said...

For #1 you can at least make pdfs download by going to about:plugins in Chrome and disabling Chrome PDF Viewer. I don't know about the others.

Tom Seddon said...

Opera lets you configure per file type whether to download the file or have Opera handle it. Sadly there's no "always download everything" checkbox, but you can at least stop it opening PDFs.

Of course, to take advantage of this, you have to use Opera. This doesn't bother me, but I've certainly had some funny looks for recommending it in the past :)

won3d said...

Peeps, you're talking to someone who is running Firefox 2 on Win XP. The only way to get this man to upgrade will be to feed him a link that pwns his machine and upgrades it for him.

michael maniscalco said...

I'm with you regarding passwords. I had to waste five minutes just resetting my password to be able to post this. I can never remember them when they mandate dumb ass rules like must include @#$% or whatever. Who the fuck came up with this? so you've expanded the alphabet a bit ... so what? It's not significantly more secure. Basic fucking math.


cbloom said...

If there was an "upgrade" that gave me *less* slow/distracting/obfuscating GUI crap, I would take it. If there was an upgrade that used *less* memory and started up faster, I would take it. If there was an upgrade that gave me the user more control of my own experience (instead of giving more control to the content providers), I would take it.

In particular if there was a way I could experience the web without any animation or moving elements whatsoever (only static pages with buttons), I would very happily take it.

cbloom said...

I feel like the web pre-.com was a utopia (I've sort of written about this before). It was full of dreamers who believed that knowledge should be free, the web should be free of advertising and the poison that it carries, wise people actually talked to each other openly about their work (most blogs these days are actually self-serving tech-vertising), you could find the world experts on a topic and they would actually be online and talking to each other.

But aside from that, it was also a utopia in terms of simple design. Basically plain text and links. You could totally navigate the web with only a keyboard, which is always the way to tell if a UI is correctly designed for power users.

All that is gone now and I'm left wondering if I'm just an old curmudgeon who is stuck in the past foolishly, or if it really is true that things are getting worse.

nothings said...

"I feel like the web pre-.com was a utopia"

Welcome to the curmudgeon club. http://nothings.org/writing/websucks.html

Ash said...

If you managed to stick this long to Firefox 2 (!) you might as well take the two steps back and use lynx on a terminal. No auto play of mime types, no messing with windows, and certainly no mouse-overs!

castano said...

These days I always sanitize the web with instapaper.

extrememoderate said...

"If there was an "upgrade" that gave me *less* slow/distracting/obfuscating GUI crap, I would take it. If there was an upgrade that used *less* memory and started up faster, I would take it. If there was an upgrade that gave me the user more control of my own experience (instead of giving more control to the content providers), I would take it.

In particular if there was a way I could experience the web without any animation or moving elements whatsoever (only static pages with buttons), I would very happily take it."
The Vista thing made me go to FreeBSD, it was terrible and I didn't expect MS to suddenly change its ways. And up to Windows 8 I seem to be mostly right, they cut bloat with Win7, so it went from terrible to...well...still terrible. Windows 8 takes away even more control than Vista did and doesn't seem to come with any improvements.

The net? It's extremely bad already. It's very bad with adblock and noscript and like 40 greasemonkey filters for the websited that I use a lot, but without... A couple of months ago I've seen the web unfiltered and it was like whoa, they took it to the next level while I didn't watch. Really, if I had to use the net the way it is, I wouldn't spend much time on it. The value is huge, but usability - incredibly low.

Tom Seddon said...

If you use VS2005 or VS2008, you can get command history using this addin:


Used it once, years ago, seem to recall it doing exactly what it claims...

Tom Seddon said...

Dear Blogger,

Fuck you.

Love, Tom.

P.S. http://www.slickedit.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=78&Itemid=90

cbloom said...

@Tom - thanks, I didn't know SlickEdit had VC utilities.

old rants