Firefox: how to disable the backspace keyboard shortcut

Ack, don’t you hate that? You’re working on the best blog post you’ve ever done in your life, then you hit the backspace key to correct a typo, and because you accidentally clicked outside of the text editor before hitting backspace, Firefox thinks you are a retarded Internet Explorer user trying to go back, and sends you to the previous page.

Fortunately, in modern browsers you can usually click ‘forward’ again and your text will still be in the editing box, but it’s not guaranteed. If you want to disable this horrendous overhang from the days when Microsoft decided to reinvent what the backspace key was for, the fix is fortunately very simple.

1. In the Firefox address bar, type about:config
2. In the search box that appears, type browser.backspace_action
3. On the right, double click “0” in the value column and change it to “2” in the dialogue box that comes up.

Voila — you can close that page and the setting is in effect. No more estupido accidental go-backs for you any more.


Dear leader beneficient Kevin Rudd

I love the ABC’s new Q&A program. The public Q&A with Kevin Rudd was one hour of thoroughly interesting watching (and it also made obvious how good an orator Kevin Rudd is, but how that is also married with intellect and logic… and the fact that he has the guts to get in front of an audience, take unscreened questions, unlike John “no worm” Howard.)

But the funniest part was the closing credits ‘mashup’…

Make Safari use CMD+K for Google Search


One of the things that really annoys me about Apple Safari is that it doesn’t use the CTRL+K / CMD+K keyboard shortcut for activating the Google Search dialogue box, which is standard across most browsers — particularly Safari.

Instead, Safari makes you use CMD+Shift+L which is a “twister” of a keyboard shortcut — not very ergonomic.Â

Amusingly, in their efforts to make Firefox 3 more Mac-like, the Firefox team has implemented the CMD+Shift+L keyboard shortcut as an alternative to CMD+K in Firefox 3. However, I still much prefer CMD+K.Â

I found this great post over at 5thirtyone about how to make Safari recognise CMD+K as a keyboard shortcut for activating the Google Search box. It works a treat! Hurrah!

Fantastic collection of contextual menu items for Mac

Ever wanted to change the desktop picture in Mac OS X by selecting the file in the Finder, right clicking and selecting “set as Desktop Picture” from a context menu?Or perhaps select some files, then “move files to a new folder”, “create folder enclosing these files” or “make new folder for files”? (It’s about time Apple built a “move files” option into OS X rather than just having copy available via the GUI.)

The answers to these needs are at a great page listing various context menu plugins for Mac OS X. Check it out. The two mentioned above are DeskPicChangeCM and MoveItemsX.

I also discovered a wonderful program that sits in your menu bar and lets you change your desktop picture. It can change desktop pictures on a schedule, too (with very nice transitions). It’s called PictureSwitcher (pictured below). It’s $US30 shareware, which I will happily pay once I’ve got some damn money in the bank again 😉


And then there’s this handy Utility… Desktop 2 Login, which replaces the utterly hideous, gaudy, un-Apple-like purple starscape that sits behind the OS X login screen. It simply copies your current desktop picture to be displayed instead. Why couldn’t Apple have provided that as an option!! Grumble grizzle!

Paper bills, online bills… bane of my life

Tech journo Danny Gorog has written a good piece about new sheet-fed scanners that can scan in your bills (even double-sided ones) and save them as PDFs on your computer, eliminating the stacks of unsorted paper we all build up on our desks.

I’m going to have to look into getting one of these scanners. Paper is the absolute bane of my life. I grew up in the digital era and I simply don’t “do” paper very well. It just ends up piling up and getting extremely messy exactly where it -shouldn’t- be … like our dining table at home.

I’ve been wondering about a better way of dealing with it, because I simply never get round to filing it.

In a way, putting them on my computer as PDFs only half solves the problem because you still have to open all the PDFs to get the info out for your tax return expenses, but at least they’d be in the right order already presuming you used a consistent naming scheme. (And with the full version of Acrobat you could even combine an entire year’s worth of Optus bills, for example, into one PDF, which would be nice.)

I’d like to make more use of online bills, but whenever I’ve looked into it, the companies all say they’ll only keep your bills online for two or three years — not the seven years required by the ATO. What’s the point of having them online if you’re going to have to print them all out at some point!

Also, companies haven’t yet moved beyond the ‘represent each individual paper bill in an online format’ way of thinking. Sure, that’s good from an accounting simplicity perspective, but it still means you have to add the bloody things up at the end of the year come tax time.

It’d be great if, say, a telco could tell you your total mobile phone bills for FY07, what proportion of those bills were roaming charges (which you’d presumably already have claimed back from your company) etc.

The campaign to convince Apple to fix its annoying Apple Mail URL breakage bug

Apple Mail has an excruciatingly annoying bug related to URLs pasted in emails: in every other mail client, they’re broken and unclickable.


Apparently this is because Apple Mail uses a relatively new email standard, the “delsp” parameter, which supposedly instructs other mail clients to remove spaces inserted in URLs so they can recombine the parts of a URL into one clickable URL again.

Except that’s not really what the RFC says — turns out Apple has incorrectly implemented it.

Josh Simons has written a great blog post explaining why Apple’s implementation is wrong.

I also chanced upon another blog post today that explains how Apple prioritises the fixing of bugs: by the number of duplicate bug submissions reported.

So, I appropriated Josh Simons’ blog post (with plagiaristic apologies) and submitted it to Apple with some additional notes as an “Apple Radar” bug report.

You can submit a Radar report too to encourage Apple to fix this bug. Here’s my submission (after the jump) in case you want copy-and-paste simplicity. You will need to sign up for Apple Developer Connection (free) first to get access to the Radar reporting tool.

Continue reading “The campaign to convince Apple to fix its annoying Apple Mail URL breakage bug”

Very useful Apple tips has published some very handy command line tips for customising OS X.

My favourites:

5. defaults write -g NSNavPanelExpandedStateForSaveMode -bool TRUE
Sets expanded save dialogs as default (showing column/list view of folders rather than a drop down menu). Replace TRUE with FALSE to reverse.

9. defaults write skip-verify TRUE
Skip disk image verification. Potentially risky, use with disk images from trusted sources. Replace TRUE with FALSE to reverse.

11. defaults write DialogType none
Disables the unexpectedly quit dialog that normally appears when an application crashes. Replace “none” with “prompt” to enable again.

Is Apple Mail running slow? Speed it up

Tim Gaden of Hawk Wings fame (and formerly of APC X-Factor fame, sniffle) has documented an excellent tip to speed up Apple Mail.

It involves optimising the SQLite database Apple Mail uses to store indexes and subject lines of emails.

You can check your current ‘envelope archive’ size by entering this in the terminal:

ls -lah ~/Library/Mail/Envelope Index

Then to optimise it (cleans out stuff that has been marked for deletion but not actually deleted, defragments the structure, etc):

sqlite3 ~/Library/Mail/Envelope Index vacuum;

Then check your envelope archive size again to see the results…

ls -lah ~/Library/Mail/Envelope Index

It compacted my envelope archive down from 55MB to 50MB — not a huge increase, but the speed difference was dramatic.

In particular, my ‘sent mail’ folder which had been taking 10 – 15 seconds to open (8,000 items) now only takes two or three seconds.

Read the full post and many informative comments here.

Internet sync: better than sex, sliced bread

OK, I admit the headline is inflammatory: internet sync may not be better than sliced bread. But it is such a useful feature in software that supports it, the mystery is why more developers aren’t doing it.

I don’t believe that the next killer feature on the internet will be browser-based apps, but rather ‘fat client’ software that mirrors all settings (and potentially documents) online. I’ve blogged about it for APC here.