Bring back the Firefox (wait / busy) mouse (cursor / pointer) (hourglass / clock)

Old versions of Firefox used to indicate when you were waiting for the next page to load, by changing the cursor to one with an hourglass or clock. This provided immediate visual feedback at the screen position where you were already looking that the link click had succeeded and something was happening. This is simply good UI practice.

Some time ago, in version 3.5, this feature got removed, without fanfare. This meant that now, to see if the browser is doing something, the user must look away from where they were looking, either at the tab bar or the status bar. Neither of these have the immediacy of the pointer change, and not everyone has the luxury of having them.

Many people felt this was a bad idea, as did I, but at the time no option was provided to restore it.

However I recently revisited the page, and found that, soon after I reluctantly gave up on finding a solution, they did indeed add an option to restore it. Go to about:config, and set the value ui.use_activity_cursor to true

This is far from the only bad decision that Mozilla developers have made in recent years. Removing the status bar is probably the most ludicrous one (and the one that would have sent me running to another browser immediately had there not been an add-on to bring it back), amd I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling that their current release schedule and version number policy is barmy. Overall, it’s still great, and for modern web development nothing else comes close to Firefox armed with a stack of extensions like Firebug, Web Developer, Tilt etc. But it seems to me that Mozilla have repeatedly forgotten or ignored the diverse needs of their users in a bid to follow idealistic policies like having a “zen” interface, or upping their version number every 2 seconds (slight exaggeration) whether anything significant has changed or not.

Edit: 12 Nov 2014:
Another about:config option I recently discovered is the ability to stop the backspace key from going back a page. I never, ever, ever want it to do that, and whoever decided that was a good keybinding better not meet me in a dark alley lest they have to pay for all the times it’s bitten me. Anyway, fortunately in Firefox you can switch it off easily. The setting is browser.backspace_action and the magic number to change it to is 2. (1 makes it behave like Page Up – less annoying than Back, but still, just why?)

Terminal features wishlist: #1: Paste Intercept

A terminal program should have sufficient intelligence to recognise that, when (a) it is at a shell prompt, and (b) the user has just middle-clicked and sent hundreds of lines from the copy-paste buffer hurtling towards the shell prompt, the user may have made a mistake, the user’s mouse inadvertantly striking some object perhaps… and it should ask him whether he really wants to do that.

This was part of a much larger post which got killed by a bug in WordPress… “Are you sure you want to edit this post?” it asked. Yes, quoth I. And it was gone. 2 hours of scribbles, vanished, and even going back in the browser doesn’t recover it.

Related wishlist item: Anyone know of a little program that can sit on the desktop, probably always on top (so SMALL) and on all desks, which will show the current contents of the (Unix) copy-paste buffer, and provide a button to clear it? Even better if it can save a few of them too, even just 2 or 3. I like the Unix system. Left click and drag to select. Left click and right click to select by marking start and end points. Middle click to paste. It’s simple, it’s fast, it avoids faffing with menus. But there’s always a slight frisson of doubt which sets in as time passes between cut and paste. Currently the only way to find out is to paste somewhere. I’d like to just be able to look at the corner of the screen, see a tiny rendering of the contents, and know.

M-Audio Xponent + Linux + mixxx

Updated: 2007/07/27 – New section on LEDs. Update on mixxx SVN.

In case any of you who have read my review of the M-Audio Xponent are thinking of getting one and wondering “but will it work under Linux?”, the short answer is a resounding Yes!… except for the LEDs, so far. More on that later.

I use Debian unstable with a hand-rolled kernel. YMMV, of course, but the chances are that if you’re using any modern distro you’ll be fine. In fact you may not even have to manually insert the kernel modules if you have a working udev setup, you might just be able to plug’n’play.

Full details below the cut, as they say…

Continue reading M-Audio Xponent + Linux + mixxx

X Terminal Program Comparison

As a result of eye problems, I started to investigate the visual features offered by different X terminal programs, such as support for TrueType fonts or vertical spacing adjustment. This article features a comparison table and some notes about what I have found so far. It may be of particular interest to the partially sighted or anyone who works long hours in terminal windows. Continue reading X Terminal Program Comparison