Tony's ramblings on Open Source Software, Life and Photography


Firefox 3.5 Crash Loop

Here's an interesting problem for you...

Using Firefox 3.5 browse to a site that displays a ton of Javascript pop-up dialogs (or a buggy site that accidentally does that.)

Kill Firefox.

Reopen Firefox. Guess what - it's going to display the same crap again because it will automatically restore the session without asking confirmation.

If this happens to you, you can always delete the contents of the Cache directory in your profile, but another preventative method I found online is to set an option in Firefox.

In the address bar, enter "about:config". You'll get a warning about it voiding your non-existent warranty. After clicking "I'll be careful", right click anywhere in the list, pick "New - Integer" and name it:


Set the value to 0 (zero). This prevents Firefox from trying to resume the session after a crash. Perhaps you want that value higher, but for me, if my browser crashes it's almost always caused by the page I'm viewing.


How To Fix LAN SSL Connections Without Internet

In our offices, we don't provide Internet access to workstations that don't need it for day to day business. It's not because I'm a mean C.I.O., but has more to do with the fact we deal with healthcare information and have tightened security down beyond what a typical company would do.

One of the servers that some of our internal machines access only provides SSL HTTPS services and runs an EV certificate issued by Entrust (think green bar in IE7.)

With a default setup, our internal machines without Internet would get sporadic at best access to the internal secure web server. This was caused by OCSP, the Online Certificate Status Protocol. Even though the workstation is inside the LAN and the server is inside the LAN, when using SSL the workstation would try to check online to see if the certificate had been revoked.

With Internet access blocked at that workstation, it was impossible for the check to pass, so the connection would either timeout or be extremely slow opening the first page.

There's a simple fix, but you only want to do this in a situation like ours where you know you can explicitly trust the SSL certificate and the workstation doesn't have Internet access. In Firefox, open your preferences, go to the Advanced tab, then choose the Encryption tab. Click Validation and uncheck "Use Online Certificate Status Protocol".

There you have it... internal LAN requests now work without having to go out to the Internet to verify the certificate.


Web Page Print Formatting Layout

I worked on a new application over the weekend that will be web based and provide very nicely formatted printed pages of content. I wanted to do some really cool things with the layout on the screen, and I really hate the pop-up "print formatted" pages that a lot of sites do. In fact, in today's browser world, a separate print page isn't necessary anymore.

With a little bit of CSS styling and AJAX I was able to generate an invoice data entry web page that would never look right when printed. However, when you click print in your browser, you get a very nicely formatted invoice that spits out of the printer. There's no apparent relationship to the printed layout and the screen layout - in fact everything that is displayed on the screen is completely hidden when printed, and replaced with a completely separate layout embedded within the same page.

It's really quite easy. First, provide two separate CSS files for your layout - one for screen and one for print:


Microsoft Forces IE Into Your Hands

Computerworld reports that Microsoft's Internet Explorer is the only browser gaining market share, while Firefox and Safari lose.

Personally, I don't buy it. First of all the percentages are so small to be possibly just noise in the sampling method.

But, as someone who controls a large corporate network, I can say that keeping Internet Explorer from popping back up on computers has been a task. Microsoft uses every underhanded method possible to force users to Internet Explorer 8, even though I've already standardized on Firefox. I've had it reappear on Microsoft Update, already downloaded and ready to install, on several workstations I know had previously been told never to offer the update.

How can you not gain market share when you control the OS and can trick average-joe users into installing it?