Category Archives: Firefox

Google Voice Greeting Playback Problem with Firefox and Flashblock

Just debugged a problem which for which there seemed to be no solutions posted on the web already. So in case you (or I, should I forget 🙂 ) run into this, here it is:

Was trying to play back Google Voice greetings on my Linux Mint LMDE system today. I selected the proper greeting and pressed the play button, but nothing happened.

Thinking this was some sound complication with my recent LMDE update pack 8, I spent some time poking around my alsamixer and pulseaudio settings and nothing seemed amiss. Tried googling the web for others with the problem but nothing direct came up… but something triggered me to think about what they used to accomplish this playback within a browser window and I thought… “flash!”.

I had recently installed the Firefox extension Flashblock, which disables and replaces flash entities with a little symbol you can click on to enable them selectively (no more annoying ads playing on web pages and slowing down page loads!). The problem was that the GV greetings page was using flash, but the indication of it being blocked was not showing – there was no symbol to click on.

So I went into the Firefox extensions settings dialog for Flashblock and whitelisted https://www.google.com/voice and then went back to try playing the greeting – presto! we have sound!

Train Firefox mailto: to use Google Apps – Take 2

In a prior post I’d detailed the method of using a javascript entry to add an external mail resource to allow clicking on mailto: links to use the Google Apps version of gmail. Unfortunately, when I tried to repeat that method on my newly reloaded Netbook running Linux Mint LMDE with the default Firefox 20, it didn’t work. I’d enter the javascript string in the browser URL bar but nothing happened this time. I wonder if it had something to do with copying the text from my prior blog post and it not containing a proper html entity for the ampersand (‘&’) character, but I found another way to fix it anyway that’s a little more geeky but actually easier to do, as there’s no about:config action required.

My solution was to track down where these options are set and then manually edit the mimetypes.rdf file in the user’s firefox profile folder with all instances of Firefox closed. Enabling the Google Apps selection required adding both a
NC:possibleApplication RDF:resource= and a
RDF:Description RDF:about="urn:handler:web:
entry. Once completed, the agent was selectable in the preference Applications setting and worked properly for me.

Here’s the entries I made (NOTE: replace veino.com in the below with your own Google Apps domain):

Find
<RDF:Description RDF:about="urn:scheme:handler:mailto"
and add above the other similar entries below there the following:
<NC:possibleApplication RDF:resource="urn:handler:web:https://mail.google.com/a/veino.com/mail/?extsrc=mailto&url=%s"/>

Find <RDF:Description RDF:about="urn:handler:web:https://mail.google.com/mail/?extsrc=mailto&url=%s"
and add below that entry the following:
<RDF:Description RDF:about="urn:handler:web:https://mail.google.com/a/veino.com/mail/?extsrc=mailto&url=%s"
NC:prettyName="veino.com email thru Gmail"
NC:uriTemplate="https://mail.google.com/a/veino.com/mail/?extsrc=mailto&url=%s" />

Restart Firefox and change your application preferences for mailto: links to use the new agent and you’re all set.

Fix for Schwab Site Tossing Users Out When Accessing Certain “Offsite” Areas

After my most recent upgrade to Linux Mint 11 (and the resultant upgrade to latest Firefox), I started running into an issue on the Charles Schwab site. I could log in fine and see my account info, but as soon as I clicked on something “outside” (news story links, or Morningstar research, etc.) then I would encounter a weird situation. The linked page would display for a second or two and then the screen would refresh and I’d find myself tossed out and back at the login page with a message
Your session has either timed out or has not been correctly established. Please sign on again.
This was extremely frustrating. Googling resulted in a couple of other folks having similar issues on another platform, but no solution. The few things that had similar reports back from earlier days talked a lot about cookies. I wondered, “is this a cookie problem”?

So I looked at my cookie settings and one thing stuck out for me: “Accept Third Party Cookies” was not checked. Where this was about going “off” the main Schwab site, I tried enabling this option. Bing! The issue is resolved and now I can load these other pages and stay logged in. I don’t like the solution, as it requires me to accept cookies for sites I am not specifically planning to visit. But at least I can stay on Schwab now when I want to. I’ll most likely simply turn this option on and off as I visit Schwab until there is a longer term solution. If I can find some sort of advanced cookie management plug-in for Firefox, then that might be a longer term fix.

Monster Desktop Renewal with Linux Mint 11

I’ve been having a spot of trouble with my Mint 9 desktop machine recently, where something would lock up Gnome/X periodically. Somehow it seemed related to running OpenOffice and Firefox at the same time with something “video” happening. (Now, to be honest, I’d done my Mint 9 installation in a “messy” way — I was too lazy to reconfigure stuff, so I just reused my home directory leaving all the “dot” (configuration) files in place — so I probably caused the problem myself.)

After having it happen to me several times in one day, I decided this was the perfect excuse to upgrade my 5+ year old hardware to more recent stuff. My pals at NewEgg were great in setting me up with some new gear I could swap into my existing box:

  • AMD Phenom II x4 925: 4-core processor
  • Asus M4A78LT-M Motherboard
  • 8 GB G. SKILL Ripjaws DDR3-1600 Memory

I was able to re-use all my other existing stuff, so I was able to jump up to a monster but energy efficient system for less than Netbook dollars.

I ended up choosing Linux Mint 11 (the release candidate version) as my OS to install. The great thing about Mint is their Mint Backup tool. Not only will it allow you to do simple home directory backups, but it provides an easy mechanism to move to a new installation and preserve your installed software packages selection. Even across architectures (which is what I was doing, moving from a 32-bit install to 64-bit).

The installation proceeded in a pretty much painless way, and in a short while I ended up with a system that can do pretty much anything I need with all my old files and applications in place. All my old HW worked without issue. Mint 11 includes Firefox 4 and the internet screams on this thing. Hulu/Flash worked out of the box. Only problem was needing to install the Gnome Alsamixer to mute the sound card capture until the TV tuner was started.

I’ll be continuing to make a few tweaks and bring back some of the old dot files for my prior customizations, but it looks like the sailing is going to be smooth. Especially notable given that this is not a final release. Thanks Mint Team!

Update 6/15/11: Mint 11 is now released, and all the packages updated automatically for me from the RC versions. Everything is still working smoothly but for one issue: my new Cyber Power CP1500 AVR UPS is apparently not playing well with the system.

Periodically I get a notification that the UPS battery is low and the system automatically hibernates. The battery is not low, and the UPS knows it based upon what shows on its built-in display. I did not install Cyber Power’s linux software previously because it appeared that everything was already working out of the box (there was an added tab under the GNOME Power Settings for what actions to take while on UPS power). I’ve now installed their SW to see if it makes any difference. My quick work-around was to unplug the USB connection so the system can’t get a power low signal and therefore doesn’t hibernate, but I’d rather use the automatic shutdown capability properly. So far the shutdowns seem to have stopped so the SW seems to be working, will see if it does so from here forward. Their documentation is clearly by a non-native English speaker so it is a bit tricky to understand, FYI.

Adobe Acrobat Connect Pro with Firefox on Linux

I’m a PMI-certified Project Management Professional. As part of my PMI membership, I have access to Communities of Practice (CoP). Among these, I participate in the Innovation and New Product Development CoP.

We had a webinar today on Design for Innovation in Manufacturing that planned to use an uncommon package, Adobe Acrobat Connect Pro (vs. Go to Meeting or WebEx, etc.) for the meeting. So I tried the typical “test your system’s connection” page with my primary Linux desktop and I get the result that everything else is OK, but fail the “Acrobat Connect add-in test”. The suggested solution is to install the add-in. But of course, none is available for Linux.

So off to my Windows XP virtual machine which I keep for these sorts of situations, and I go through the gymnastics of installing the add-on in Windows and participate in the webinar.

Afterwards, I’m struggling with finding a way to download the presentation slides (which it turns out is impossible – they have to be viewed through another “Adobe Presents” thing and can’t be saved from there). As part of this process, I tried to see whether the slides link would perform differently under Linux.

It doesn’t — it opened the presentation slides right there in FF on Linux as if I was on Windows. OK, that’s interesting. So I try the original webinar URL in Linux, and darn if that doesn’t work the same as well.

So, bottom line:

  • No Adobe Acrobat Connect Pro add-in appears to be required — so why do they make you download it on Windows/Mac?
  • Adobe Acrobat Connect Pro and Adobe Presents works fine on my relatively recent Linux box with Firefox – one less reason to head over to the virtual Windows world.

Update May 2011: Sadly, the above is no longer the case. It appears that Adobe changed something in their Connect Pro application which now makes it unworkable with Linux out of the box. It now requires a higher level of Flash than before, so neither my existing machine nor my new Ubuntu 11.04/Mint 11 release which has that Flash revision will work. The application loads but cannot connect to the meeting room server. They apparently also now have added a download for installing their add-in on Linux (reported to be for hosting meetings), which I have not tried, but others report having no success with that either on the Adobe forums. Note however, that the Adobe Presents application still works (for now, at least).

Update December 2011: I was again able to connect to a PMI webinar via Adobe Connect today on my Linux Mint 11 x64 box, using Firefox 8 and Flash 10.3.162.29 (current Mint default installed versions). The connection process seemed to hang several times in the browser (a prolonged “Waiting for…” in the status bar). In parallel I had connected to the meeting using my Windows XP virtual machine, so I knew it was in process. So I stopped the page load in Mint and then reloaded it, which moved things along. I had to do this a couple of times but was then able to join successfully to get both the audio and meeting materials.

Train Firefox mailto: to use Google Apps

Update 5/10/13: With Firefox 20 the method below of using a javascript entry to add the external mail resource apparently did not work on Linux Mint LMDE. Instead, I found it necessary to manually edit the mimetypes.rdf file in the user’s profile folder to add the resource. See my later post Train Firefox mailto: to use Google Apps – Take 2 for details on this method.

This post’s text is lifted very closely from a similar one (which appears to have been similarly lifted from others going back to a Lifehacker article). Why repost? To make note of what actually worked for me (to remind myself later, when upgrading requires it again) and to hopefully inform you. I used the correct wordpress tagging to make sure the commands and javascript come through correctly here (without WP mangling the quotes), so all copy & pastes will actually work.

In your browser address (URL) bar, type: About:config

Answer “yes” to “you will be careful”

In the filter bar on the screen type (or copy and paste): gecko.handlerService.allowRegisterFromDifferentHost

This will bring up the specific entry. Double click on the line to change the value from “false” to “true

Do the same as the above, in the filter bar, for: network.protocol-handler.external.mailto, toggling it from “true” to “false“.

Go back to the browser address (URL) bar and copy and paste the string below. Be sure to change “veino.com” to your actual domain name and the label at the end similarly:

javascript:window.navigator.registerProtocolHandler("mailto","https://mail.google.com/a/veino.com/mail/?extsrc=mailto&url=%s","V.C at Google Apps")

Hit return and a message line above the page should appear (like for pop-up blocking messages) in the browser asking if you want to add this application to your mail. Click on “yes”.

Go to Firefox Edit > Preferences > Applications (using Linux FF – for Windows it is under Tools > Options > Applications), and select your new Google Apps entry as your default mailto: handler.

Return to about:config in the address (URL) bar and reset the values for the two variables to their original default values by repeating what you did before, reversing the toggling of values.

Close and restart Firefox, log in to your Google apps account and then try clicking on a mailto: link on any other web page. You should get a compose mail window loading, using your Google apps account. Yay!

Previously, I’d figured out how to have it open a new window to compose your message – but I can’t figure it out right now. Will update this post, if I remember how I did that.