Daily Archives: 10/17/2005

Incredibly Useful Firefox Mac OS X Hint

Just let me drop this in here: Macworld’s OS X hints column is extremely useful. For example:

Tab to All Fields in Mozilla and Firefox Forms

Although Safari is now the dominant browser for OS X users, there are a number of excellent alternatives. Two of the best are Mozilla and Firefox (both available at www.mozilla.org), which offer greater customization and control over your Web-browsing experience than Safari does. However, the first time you use one of these browsers on a Web form, you’ll probably be surprised to find that using the tab key doesn’t take you to every field and pop-up menu on the form-so you must reach for the mouse to handle the pop-up menus. Especially on long forms, this can be a real waste of time, as you move from mouse to keyboard and back again. Luckily, there’s an easy (albeit somewhat obscure) way to change this tab behavior on forms.

Launch either browser, and type about:config into the URL bar. When you press return, you’ll see a long list of odd-looking names and values (see “Power Tabbing”). These are various user-controllable preferences, the majority of which are not accessible via the programs’ preferences. The accessibility.tabfocus variable is the one you need to modify. Double-click on that row, and a small dialog box will appear, showing the variable’s name and a text-input line. Select the input line and type 7 ; then click on OK. You should see your new value reflected on the about:config page.

So what did you just do? The default value of 1 means “tab to just text controls,” while 7 means “tab to text controls, other form elements, and links.” From now on, the tab key will select everything on a form, along with any hyperlinks on the page. If you’d rather not also select the links with the tab key, change the 7 to a 3, which means “tab to text controls and other form elements only.”

How can you learn more about these variables, their effects, and their various possible values? There aren’t any definitive references on the Web, but a good starting point is the Other Useful Preferences section of the Customizing Mozilla page: www.mozilla.org/unix/customizing.html#prefs.

From there, if you’re still interested in learning more, you might try doing a Web search for the term mozilla prefs.

That is an absolutely priceless piece of advice. It’s ridiculous how useful that makes Firefox.

Gimme That Old Time Religion

Came across a slew of religion related article this past weekend. Let’s take a look:

  • First I found this interesting story from the Times on how religion is not directly correlated with social/moral lifestyles. Comparing the United States against more secular European and Asian societies, America came out far below these godless, immoral countries in their rates of teenage pregnancy, violent crimes, abortion, and suicide. You’re damned if you do, I guess.
  • From the damned if you don’t corner, comes this New York Times article on American religion’s fascination with the apocalypse, a fixation long associated with Christianity. It’s become so popular nowadays even non-evangelical churches are adopting the rhetoric and symbolism of the end times. As the article says, announcing a sermon on the sign outside that says ‘Our Obligation to the Poor’ can’t hold a candle to ‘The Internet and the Antichrist.’

Caught Watching TV This Weekend

Caught a few quality gems on the old god box this weekend, stuff I’d never seen before and found quite enjoyable.

  • History Detectives – a PBS program that ran late Saturday night I think. I was just passing by on a channel surfing spree when I caught this interesting program about historians, conservators and archivists researching artifacts for people. This particular episode featured the historians tracking down some unknown early drawings from a Polish-American artist and a scrap of what might have been a Civil War era balloon. Definitely worth catching again, though I got the feeling it was a last minute replacement in KGTF’s lineup that night.
  • Black Narcissus – Again, I caught this one while channel surfing. I didn’t catch the first half hour or so of this movie because I was in and out of the house working on my bicycle, but I was really impressed once I came into the house and started watching it in earnest. It’s about a group of nuns that establish a convent high in the Himalayas, inside a palace festooned with salacious sculptures. Apparently all the carnality depicted in stone gets to one of the nuns, leading to a tragic denouement with the station agent and the abbess in the valley below. A real find on Turner Classic Movies.
  • La Grand Illusion – I kept it on TCM after Black Narcissus and I was rewarded with this absolute jewel of a movie. It’s a war movie, it’s a prison movie. Think of it as the template from which Stalag 17, The Bridge Over the River Kwai and The Great Escape were cut. They are all great movies, but this was the mold from which they are but copies. It concerns a group of French officers captured during World War I, their life in camp and their efforts at escape. Two prisoners in particular are followed, Lt. Marechal, a former mechanic turned pilot, and Capt. de Boeldieu, a career officer from a long line of aristocrats. The other French officers keep their distance from the aloof de Boeldieu, who has more in common with the prison commandant, Capt. von Rauffenstein, another career officer and German aristocrat. These two men realize the days of their class are numbered, that no matter who wins the Great War, they will lose everything.

Well that’s it. I just wanted to throw this out there. I wanted it understood that I do watch television, I just don’t watch crap. Hell, this was just what I watched on Saturday afternoon and evening. Yesterday I watched a baseball game in the morning and NOVA in the evening. And NOVA actually kinda sucked. It was an entire hour devoted to bowerbirds. It was a well done show, just not that interesting to me. I got the sense that this was a pet project of David Attenborough’s, and PBS just doesn’t say no to Sir David Attenborough. The guy’s the Pope of Chili Town as far as public television is concerned.