8 More Firefox Hacks

Make Firefox ridiculously fast

Firefox has been outperforming IE in every department for years, and version 3 is speedier than ever.

But tweak the right settings and you could make it faster still, more than doubling your speed in some situations, all for about five minutes work and for the cost of precisely nothing at all. Here’s what you need to do.

1. Enable pipelining

Browsers are normally very polite, sending a request to a server then waiting for a response before continuing. Pipelining is a more aggressive technique that lets them send multiple requests before any responses are received, often reducing page download times. To enable it, type about:config in the address bar, double-click network.http.pipelining and network.http.proxy.pipelining so their values are set to true, then double-click network.http.pipelining.maxrequests and set this to 8.

Keep in mind that some servers don’t support pipelining, though, and if you regularly visit a lot of these then the tweak can actually reduce performance. Set network.http.pipelining and network.http.proxy.pipelining to false again if you have any problems.

2. Render quickly

Large, complex web pages can take a while to download. Firefox doesn’t want to keep you waiting, so by default will display what it’s received so far every 0.12 seconds (the “content notify interval”). While this helps the browser feel snappy, frequent redraws increase the total page load time, so a longer content notify interval will improve performance.

Type about:config and press [Enter], then right-click (Apple users ctrl-click) somewhere in the window and select New > Integer. Type content.notify.interval as your preference name, click OK, enter 500000 (that’s five hundred thousand, not fifty thousand) and click OK again.

Right-click again in the window and select New > Boolean. This time create a value called content.notify.ontimer and set it to True to finish the job.

3. Faster loading

If you haven’t moved your mouse or touched the keyboard for 0.75 seconds (the content switch threshold) then Firefox enters a low frequency interrupt mode, which means its interface becomes less responsive but your page loads more quickly. Reducing the content switch threshold can improve performance, then, and it only takes a moment.

Type about:config and press [Enter], right-click in the window and select New > Integer. Type content.switch.threshold, click OK, enter 250000 (a quarter of a second) and click OK to finish.

4. No interruptions

You can take the last step even further by telling Firefox to ignore user interface events altogether until the current page has been downloaded. This is a little drastic as Firefox could remain unresponsive for quite some time, but try this and see how it works for you.

Type about:config, press [Enter], right-click in the window and select New > Boolean. Type content.interrupt.parsing, click OK, set the value to False and click OK.

5. Block Flash

Intrusive Flash animations are everywhere, popping up over the content you actually want to read and slowing down your browsing. Fortunately there’s a very easy solution. Install the Flashblock extension (flashblock.mozdev.org) and it’ll block all Flash applets from loading, so web pages will display much more quickly. And if you discover some Flash content that isn’t entirely useless, just click its placeholder to download and view the applet as normal.

6. Increase the cache size

As you browse the web so Firefox stores site images and scripts in a local memory cache, where they can be speedily retrieved if you revisit the same page. If you have plenty of RAM (2 GB of more), leave Firefox running all the time and regularly return to pages then you can improve performance by increasing this cache size. Type about:config and press [Enter], then right-click anywhere in the window and select New > Integer. Type browser.cache.memory.capacity, click OK, enter 65536 and click OK, then restart your browser to get the new, larger cache.

7. Enable TraceMonkey

TraceMonkey is a new Firefox feature that converts slow Javascript into super-speedy x86 code, and so lets it run some functions anything up to 20 times faster than the current version. It’s still buggy so isn’t available in the regular Firefox download yet, but if you’re willing to risk the odd crash or two then there’s an easy way to try it out.

Install the latest nightly build (ftp://ftp.mozilla.org/pub/firefox/nightly/latest-trunk/), launch it, type about:config in the address bar and press Enter. Type JIT in the filter box, then double-click javascript.options.jit.chrome and javascript.options.jit.content to change their values to true, and that’s it – you’re running the fastest Firefox Javascript engine ever.

8. Compress data

If you’ve a slow internet connection then it may feel like you’ll never get Firefox to perform properly, but that’s not necessarily true. Install toonel.net (toonel.net) and this clever Java applet will re-route your web traffic through its own server, compressing it at the same time, so there’s much less to download. And it can even compress JPEGs by allowing you to reduce their quality. This all helps to cut your data transfer, useful if you’re on a limited 1 GB-per-month account, and can at best double your browsing performance.

Thanks to PCAnswers


DIY: Maple Leaf Rose

Click for full sized instructions

Online Photo Editing

FotoFlexer – I’ve found quite a few of these online photo editing tools lately, but this is the best by far in my opinion.  It not only does what all the other sites (such as Splashup) do, but also offers many more features and goodies like using Layers and adjusting Levels.  Picnik is also a decent editor, which allows you to save to and work directly from your Picasa or Flickr account.

Pixlr – Just found this one and haven’t tried it yet, but wanted to post it right away because of how quick it loaded compared to the others I’ve tried.  Many of them still use hefty system resources, so this might be a good choice for those who have slower systems.

Omnifusion Network Extensions

Omnifusion Network

Omnifusion Network

AlienTrance – Ambient Psychdelic Soundscapes
– Alternative Newspod
DarkLight Studio – PhotoGraphic Designs
– Private Home Network

Online Video Editing Tools

Video Editing Tools (Source: ReadWriteWeb)

Jumpcut lets you upload video, photos, and audio, or import from Flickr or Facebook, and edit using a Flash interface. Add titles, effects, transitions, music, and split and crop video tracks. Then publish your video and let others remix it. Jumpcut also has some social networking features (like groups). Jumpcut is probably the best of the online video editors, though I really wish there was a way to export videos off the site.
Of the bunch, Jumpcut’s editor most resembles the feel of offline editors, like iMovie.

Eyespot is a full featured editor like Jumpcut. It lets you upload video, photos, and audio and then add transitions, effects, titles, and music. The editor isn’t as attractive and easy to use, in my opinion, as Jumpcut’s, but Eyespot offers a good deal of free media sets from partners like The Colbert Report, Public Enemy, and Dreamworks Pictures.

Movie Masher lets web site owners offer editing and remixing capabilities to their visitors via a sophisticated flash widget, which can be customized to match the look of your web site. The editing tools allow you to sequence and trim clips, add effects, transitions, titles, and music, using a familiar timeline editor.

Cuts lets you import video from MySpace, YouTube, and Google video (or anywhere you can get the direct .FLV URL) and then make your own “cut” by removing scenes, looping scenes, and adding captions and sound effects.

(Almost) Video Editing Tools

Mojiti isn’t a video editing tool in the way that the YouTube Remixer, Jumpcut, Eyespot, Movie Masher, or even Cuts are, but it still probably warrants a mention in this round up. Instead, Mojiti lets you annotate videos you import from just about any video site out there. You can use it to add properly timed titles, captions, or translations to videos.

You could use Mojiti to put lyrics on a music video, for example.

Vidavee Graffiti lets you add effects to YouTube videos (like cartoon speech bubbles, titles, and frames). I found the interface kind of clumsy and hard to use, but maybe you’ll have better luck.

muveeMix is a way to arrange your videos and photos to music, add titles and credits and export them to your blog or social network profile. It doesn’t offer nearly as much control as, say, Jumpcut, but isn’t as complicated either.

DarkLight Studio (Outdated)

This site is now defunct, but feel free to check out some of the artwork posted there.

DarkLight Studio


Chemical coat to mean drier socks

water droplet on fabric

The process makes water bead on any surface

Almost any surface or fabric can be made waterproof but remain breathable thanks to a former military technology.

The process was originally developed to ensure soldiers’ clothing remained impermeable to chemical weapons.

Shoe maker Hi-Tec has signed a deal with the developers of the process to use the technology to waterproof many of its shoes.

The first commercially available shoes treated with the process were shown off in London this week.

Chemical coat

The technology was funded by the Ministry of Defence and developed at its Defence Science and Technology Laboratory for making military clothing resistant to nerve agents.

The process – dubbed ion-mask by its inventors – works using a chemical based on the element fluorine. In a closed chamber, the chemical is vaporised and attaches, molecule by molecule, to all the fibres in a fabric.

The chemical makes the surface “hydrophobic” or water-repelling, so that instead of water spreading out it forms droplets on the surface.

The chemical coating covers just the fibres, rather than forming a “skin” across the whole surface, as with currently available waterproofing treatments. That means the spaces between fibres remain open and the fabric is still breathable.

“The normal way in which you’d make a shoe waterproof is put a membrane inside the shoe; Gore-Tex is a well-known example,” says Ian Robins, business development director of P2i, the company marketing the process.

“That’s effectively putting a plastic bag inside the shoe. No water gets inside your shoe, but at the same time that reduces the breathability both in terms of sweat and of heat escaping.”

 a clean shoe, a dirty shoe

Treated materials stay cleaner too

Shoe fabric made with the ion-mask process was tested for breathability in an air-flow test, outperforming commercial waterproof fabrics such as Gore-Tex by more than a factor of 100, P2i claims.

The shoes were also subjected to flexing and wear tests, maintaining their breathable waterproof properties even after 100,000 flexes.

The fabrics are also inherently stain-resistant and easier to clean, says P2i

Dr Robins says coating a pair of shoes using the ion-mask process requires just a tenth of a gram of the fluorine compound, and costs in the region of a few dollars – significantly less than the cost of integrating membranes like Gore-Tex into a pair of shoes.

The process can easily be applied to any garments or any material, and Dr Robins suggests that it might also become the basis for a separate after-purchase service business, like dry cleaning.

It can also be used to waterproof outdoor gear. High Street outdoor equipment retailer Millets, owned by Black’s Leisure Group, will be stocking the men’s Hi-Tec ion-mask shoes in 75 stores.

“This could change waterproof footwear as we know it,” says Michelle Swan, a senior footwear buyer at Black’s.

She said the company would keep an eye on the “revolutionary” technology and perhaps use it in other areas of its business.

Source: BBC