If someone fights unfairly and you nevertheless win, it doesn't mean they don't deserve condemnation

Techdirt believes that Mozilla has no basis to be siding with EU against Microsoft on browser anti-trust issues. I point out why this is the wrong way to see it.

Image representing Mozilla as depicted in Crun...
Image via CrunchBase

I have been a fan of Techdirt for a few years now but as Masnick becomes more and more rabidly pro-“Free” Market Capitalism, ย I start to reconsider. I keep seeing articles which seem critical of one action only because it opposes the free market, not because of any utilitarian argument.

The latest post commenting on the recent siding of Mozilla with the EU anti-trust action against Microsoft is the latest such example of this trend. Within, the author complains that such a move is obviously wrong as well as misguided as obviously there isn’t a monopoly since Firefox has managed to gain market share. In the same breath however, he also mentions that the original instigator, Opera is an “also-ran”.

Basically what Masnick is saying is that if a complaint is made by someone who cannot gain any market share, it’s because they are not good enough. But if it’s made by someone who managed to gain a foothold, it’s disingenuous. Whatever happens, there can’t be a monopoly issue brought up at all.

Anyone can easily see the fallacious reasoning here. The truth of course is that Microsoft is not simply abusing its market position to stiffle innovation on the browser space ((mainly because it was in their best interest to have apps based on the OS or an OS-locked browser instead of a multiplatform browser)) but it has been doing so aggressively and for a very long and well documented time.

Firefox managed to achieve market acceptance despite Microsoft’s monopoly on the space. When the new browser came out, it didn’t even register on the radar until the first major grass root advertising and word-of-mouth campaigns started. Even though it was vastly superior to any of MS’ offerings, its growth was slow and tortured, owning mostly to the fact that most webpages were “optimized” for IE and flat-out refused to work with Mozilla based browsers.

Not only that but the fact that MS bundled IE with their OS ((After they hastily made it an “integral part” of the OS during the Netscape anti-trust case, in order to claim that they couldn’t remove it)) made any viable alternative difficult to discover. Why would most normal users even consider looking for an alternative browser which most of the time couldn’t access their banking portals? Many times. even when you put an alternative browser on one’s desktop and advised them to use it, they wouldn’t because it was not what they were used to. This is how deep the IE conditioning had gone.

There is no more striking example than what Techdirt dismisses quickly: Opera. Almost everyone will tell you that for a long time before even Firefox got conceived, Opera was the undeniable leader in features, standards-implementation, speed and basically all there was in a browser. And yet, it didn’t even make a dent in the market share of MS. Techdirt, the stalwart defender of innovation for some reason does not even wonder why Opera didn’t make it but rather assumes that it must have been because they were not good enough or something. In other words the classicย ย selective view of reality that annoys me so much about Free Marketeers.

Of course Firefox managed to compete, in the same way that GNU/Linux managed to compete, by being adopted immidiately by the Free Software movement who then went had to fight uphill for every percentile of market share. The reason they achieved it is because of their distributed nature, philosophical backing and knowledge of technology which allowed them to be unaffected or quickly overcome many of the hurdles in their way. Does that mean that the competition was fair? Not at all. It was stacked against them on every turn. But they persevered.

Opera unfortunately had neither a huge community behind them, nor the budget required to raise awareness of its existence which is why then, and still now, it still can’t get market share, even though it is still considered by many as one of the better browsers. However, were MS Windows to come bundled with Opera and IE and ask the user which one they wanted to use, then things would have been much much different. Most people who didn’t know either, would give a try to each and stick with Opera overwhelmingly.

The author also brings as examples of competition Google’s Chrome and Safari, both of which don’t sustain his argument in the slightest. The only reason either of those managed to achieve any market share is not because of any innovation but because of the popularity of their respective distributors. Apple has a well known fanatic fanbase and a considerable market share in the OS, for which they also bundled their own product. Google did a smart marketing campaign but overall Chrome, even though an inferior product from all others, gained share because it’s suggested in the front page of the most popular search engine.

And with all this, IE still stands at ~70% even though it’s the worse of them all and Microsoft has done practically no marketing whatsoever about it and only a half-arsed effort to improve their own offering (mainly by copying popular features). If that does not give you a very clear hint that something is amiss, then I do not know what will. Everyone must strive infinitely more to achieve even a single market share percentile while MS without doing anything can still enjoy a monopolistic percentage.

So yes, Firefox has managed to crack MS iron grip on the browser but that is not because a monopoly “obviously” doesn’t exist but rather despite this very clear, for all but the Free marketeers, monopoly. Just because they have managed to a degree to overcome the mountain of challenges posed by the anti-competitive business practices of MS does not mean that these practices should be left unpunished.

If you play a game and you opponent is obviously cheating but you nevertheless manage to defeat him by playing fair, does it mean that they do not deserve condemnation and punishment? Of course they do. You do not punish them only when you lose, you do it regardless – not out of spite or revenge – but as a lesson and a warning for the future. Leaving them unpunished simply gives the incentive to cheat the next time as well.

But the view of Techdirt is more inane than that. When you play with a cheater and you lose, you’re just a sore loser. If you win, then they couldn’t possibly have been cheating could they?

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This is why I love GNU/Linux

A short ICQ chatlog of my girlfriend having firefox problems and how easy it was to fix.

(7:16:50 PM) Viola: I have installed an update and now my firefox does not work anymore
(7:17:04 PM) Viola: chchchchilfรค!
(7:17:07 PM) db0: what happens?
(7:17:13 PM) Viola: dead
(7:17:18 PM) Viola: It doesn’t talk to me
(7:17:38 PM) Viola: I can’t start it anymore
(7:17:55 PM) db0: ok, open a terminal and try the following
(7:18:02 PM) db0: sudo killall firefox
(7:18:21 PM) Viola: ok
(7:18:27 PM) Viola: un jetz?
(7:18:30 PM) db0: done?
(7:18:32 PM) Viola: jepp
(7:18:37 PM) db0: OK, try to open it again
(7:18:58 PM) Viola: aaaaaaah
(7:19:02 PM) Viola: schibby
(7:19:03 PM) Viola: danke
(7:19:06 PM) db0: ๐Ÿ˜‰
(7:19:23 PM) db0: I love GNU/Linux ๐Ÿ™‚
(7:19:31 PM) Viola: ich auch!

In windows I’d still be explaining how to open the task manager ๐Ÿ™‚

A great tool for debates

Once again I have to express how much I love firefox and all the great plugin that exist for it. I just discovered WikiLook which allows you to search for dictionary definitions of various words in the text you are reading on the fly.All you do is press the shift button and move over the word you want to lookup and presto.

I can just imagine how useful this will be my online debates where it is quite often that I have to lookup the exact definition of a word in order not to look like a dunce and generally to avoid or see through equivocations and the like.

Not only that but it translates foreign text on the fly as well! For someone like me, who is in the middle of learning a new language this can really help when attempting to read. I generally couldn’t be bollocksed tryint to read online articles in german as it took too long to look up every word I did not know.

Good stuff.

Since we're on the subject of Firefox…

Now that Firefox 3 is out, I thought I’d check what the general trend has been on google searches for the browsers. While of course this does not give us an accurate information, it is good at what it does, which is to show us an overall trend.

Now that Firefox 3 is out, I thought I’d check what the general trend has been on google searches for the browsers. While of course this does not give us an accurate information, it is good at what it does, which is to show us an overall trend.

firefox 1.00
internet explorer 0.48
opera 0.54
safari 0.16

Firefox, IE, Opera and Safari

We can see here how Firefox grew meteorically back in 2004 via word of mouth and then peaked out once the release date was announced. Then it stayed pretty much stable while steadily increasing while the rest of the browsers have taken a downward trend.

Another peak is at the end of 2006 where firefox 2 was released and then I expect a new, much higher peak to appear for the next days ๐Ÿ˜‰

It is funny to see that even when IE7 was released, you cannot really see any difference in the search volume. On the other hand, Opera seems to be constantly hogging the media spotlight for some reason. What an attention whore ๐Ÿ˜›

I wanted to have the trend for the search term “IE” included which has a solid 0.3 is added at the end. However I still don’t know how to merge two search terms together in a single trend. Anyone know?

Firefox 3 download hiccups

It seems that the firefox download page is having some (more) troubles. Ever since I got the first link I kept seeing the Firefox 2 download version. Eventually I managed to download the file but looking back a few minutes ago, the page had again reverted to Firefox 2.

I don’t know if anyone else has the same problem, but just in case you can’t find the download link, here a direct link to the file for the English Gnu/Linux and Windows versions. Here’s the link to all the versions as well.

Meltdown! Meltdown!

I just gThe download day servers are dyingot the email that it’s my time to go ahead and download firefox 3 as part of the download day and, who would have thunk it? The servers are dead of dying

Haven’t they learned anything from others?

People, when you’re going to try and break a world record of download in 24h, don’t you think it would pay to have your bandwidth boosted? And for pete’s sake, don’t send us an email sending us to download firefox 3 and find a page advertising firefox 2!


Btw, it seems my own server is having a solidarity slowness…again.

UPDATE @ 9pm: It’s here GO!

Damnit, gimme my extensions back!

I am wondering when are my Firefox extensions finally going to be ported to Firefox 3. Currently the recent version of my favorite browser is just so much better to use that it truly annoys me to have to make a choice between either my extensions or a faster, sleeker, sexier experience.

Yes, I can force the extensions to work but too many of them just can’t handle the awsomeness of it ๐Ÿ™

So please, dear developers of firefox 2 plugins, get around to making them work with fx3. Don’t leave us hanging until after the beta versions and beyond…

FF 3

I’ve been using the latest Firefox 3 Beta 3 release and I must say that I am seriously impressed. Not only because I didn’t have to compile it in order to run it in Linux but because the speed difference is incredible. I’m serious, where before my ff would be laggy in switching some tabs or when clicking, this version is lightning fast.

Also the bookmarks and Location bar functions got a major overhaul and became very very useful now.

Seriously, give it a look. It’s quick and painless

10 Firefox extensions for the workplace

I’ve been recently using my ff at work because I just can’t work with IE anymore. Seriously, I feel that I’m going 5 years backwards when I’m forced to use IE6 because of a design feature or some other silly reason. As a result, I’ve discovered and used a few extensions that although not necessary for the home user, make my job, much more comfortable.

I know that there are a lot of top <insert number here> firefox extension lists out there but I haven’t seen one that focuses on the workplace and to helping staff use their ff with the least set up. This is mainly why many of the ones I list here, have to do with synchronization of some kind. Coordinating your home ff to the one in your [tag]workplace[/tag] makes it very easy to later on move offices, upgrade your machine and generally have a uniform access without too much hassle.

The other part I’m focusing in, is allowing [tag]Firefox[/tag] to integrate better in a classic, strict windows environment, where almost no-one uses it, and thus everything is optimized for Internet Explorer. Switching browsers, enterring passwords etc are all things that get annoying if you need to do them all the time.

Generally, I have other extensions higher up on my necessary list. Extensions such as adblock and TabMixPlus are always installed first, just because they improve ff functionality so much more. Then some personal favorites like del.icio.us and forecastfox that I use regularly. These however, are in so many top 10 lists that they are just not worth mentioning once more and they’re pretty subjective for each person anyway.
The ones I’ve chosen to mention are generally not widely used and hopefully other workers will discover how useful they can be.

Note: Obviously, this list does not work very well in a Linux/Unix or Mac environment, but I believe you will still find many of these useful nevertheless.

So without further ado, here’s my home-made (or should I say work-brewed?) list of…

10 useful Firefox extensions for the workplace

IE TabIE Tab

This is an extremely practical [tag]extension[/tag] for use with an enterprise intranet, designed with Internet Explorer in mind. My company, like many out there, did not really take in mind the browser compatibility when designing the Intranet; afterall, there is a standard and approved browser for the enterprise and most people don’t know better, right? Well…not if you take into account IT professionals.
For me it’s doubly annoying to go to click on a link and figure out it doesn’t work or go to a page that informs me it’s compatible with “Netscape” (!? which millenia is this again?). Previously in those cases, the only solution was to copy the url, open an Explorer (which means a few extra clicks since to clear the desktop and find the shortcut), paste the url in the address bar and GO.

Now, enter the IE Tab. All I have to do is right click on the link and choose “Open Link in IE Tab” and voila.
Not only that, but if I’m already looking at a page and figure out that it’s not displaying correctly because it is IE “optimized” (AKA PoS) then I can just click on the little firefox icon on my statusbar and the tab will instantly be reloaded with the IE engine (and vice versa). Finally, the whole idea of IE in a tab makes the whole browsing experience so much more seamless as I don’t have to juggle multiple windows anymore, even for IE6.

Also, there is that very handy feature that checks where you log on and automatically chooses the engine based on some rules you’ve set up. So if you have a page that only works with IE, you don’t even need to right-click and choose. Just add the site to the rules and when you connect to it, firefox will automatically load the IE engine for this tab.

There are some other features as well, but I think that I need to talk about the rest now ๐Ÿ™‚


I am especially annoyed by having to enter the same proxy password again and again when I open firefox (or IE for that matter). Something that becomes more annoying when firefox loads my previous session of 6 tabs along with some externally synchronizing extensions, I’m left with 8 password dialogue windows that I have to press OK at (assuming I’m using a master password, otherwise I’ll also have to fill them in as well). Not only that but when ff tries to update add-ons, it can’t because the proxy password is not enterred.

I initially installed AutoAuth to avoid enterring my details on the multitude of sites I check in every day. I soon discovered that I now don’t have to manually approve authentication to the proxy anymore, or to any other internal authentication system for that matter. Just open the page and I’m in. In conjuction with a Master Password and the following extension for added security, this takes away just one more type & click need.

Master Password Timeout

This is an extension that serves for that extra security. Just in case you have not set your screensaver to lock your computer and/or you forgot to set it to activate after a short amount of time. Now you can be rest assured that people won’t be able to login to your profiles and change your passwords and steal your dataz from the intarwebs. At least not on the sites that you don’t have a cookie ๐Ÿ˜‰

Password Hasher

I pretty much explained why this is great in a previous post, but as an added bonus, you now have your password synchronized everywhere (since you only need to remember the master key that is) . Also, if you want you can use the extenstions export-to-html feature to generate a page that you use to generate strong passwords for other places that firefox can’t reach, such as an internal oracle db (generally not a good idea for windows passwords since you don’t have a way to generate the password while logged out).

Google Browser Sync

Google Browser syncThis is a great tool to keep Firefox on your work and personal computer, well, synchronized ๐Ÿ™‚ I don’t know how many people use it yet, but being able to have the same bookmarks on both, in a non-disruptive way, has become one of my favorite gimmicks. Not only that but as an added bonus I can have the same cookies, passwords and even open tabs on both as if it was the same computer. No more emailing links to yourself to read later or put them through del.icio.us.

When using this extension, keep in mind not to put intranet links on your bookmarks (if you don’t want them synced that is) as there isn’t a way to exclude specific bookmark folders (yet) . I personally use the next extension for this exact reason ๐Ÿ™‚ Also I suggest you first clear out your bookmarks on the new machine so as not to mix things up. I originaly did the mistake of activating the sync after a few months where my home and work computer had a completely different set. I ended up horribly messing them up on both.

Plain Old Favorites

Plain old Favorites

As I mentioned before, it always irked me that after using the previous extension, my home bookmarks where getting messed up. This became even worse when at some point I sat on a third computer with an old bookmark set that ended up mixing things one more time.

I found this solution to be much more organized. Now I can keep all my intranet or job specific bookmark on the side where they do not affect anything. Not only that but if I need to use Explorer later on, I do not have to import anything back. All changes I make to the favorites are visible for both browsers. It’s even got the same editing menu as IE (not that that is a great thing but anyway)

The only problem I’ve seen until now is that the context menu does not allow me to open a favorite in an IE Tab. Hopefully the feature of IE Tabs to open the correct engine by a site filter comes to the rescue.

Gmail Manager

Gmail ManagerChecking external mail has become sort of a short and frequent litany for many people, especially ones that do not like to merge their personal mailbox with their work one. However, it doesn’t look very good to be seen checking your mail all the time so this is an appropriate workaround. Gmail is also the superior free mail account at this moment of time and the most extendable no less, so this extension has a lot of features that you might find useful.

As an aside, I also prefer to use this instead of having gmail open in a tab, mostly because I do not like being logged in to gtalk from there.

And since we’re on the subject of gmail…

Better Gmail

I will not go into a lot of praise or details on this extension since you can already find many such reviews if you look around the internets. However the point where I especially like to use this extension on the workplace because it gives me a quick way to send emails from “mailto” links on the intranet without having to copy the address -> open Gmail – go to “Compose” > and paste the address. Otherwise my default mail client pops-up which uses my business mail address that I do not want.

This is of course just the icing on the cake since this extension is absolutely great for anyone that prefers to use Gmail’s own control pannel (as opposed to downloading everything through pop).

Foxy Proxy

If you access the internet through a proxy, like most enterprise environments do , then you either have to put the proxy information by hand or use an proxy configuration script provided by your IT department. Most of the time the first is not enough and the second is either non-existent or difficult to find.

Foxy Proxy gives you much more flexibility than the simple firefox configuration. Now you can have as many proxies set up as you like and by using the filtering patterns you don’t even have to select a proxy to use every time. You just set the default proxy for the internet and create another entry for the direct access with a whitelist of all the internal urls. If your organization uses even more proxies (say for anonymous access etc) then it’s even better for you.

If you are tech-savvy enough you can even set your private tor and run it behind the firewall for personal anonymity.

Tidy Meebo

Lets face it, everyone uses instant messaging these days and having your MSN, ICQ or whathaveyou blocked by those pesky firewalls is annoying. So what better way to access your network than to log in through Meebo? Once you login, all you have to do is pop all your windows out, protect the meebo tab (so that you don’t close it by mistake) and the the window sit on the background as a normal IM client…Well, there are those annoying ff status bars and location bars that make the whole thing look fake aren’t there? This extension solves exactly that. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Yes, I know that this extension is probably completely unnecessary but I like it and at the least some more people might discover meebo from it ๐Ÿ˜‰

Runner ups


For those that are afraid of people looking over their back etc. This little extensions attempts to hide firefox when your mouse moves away from it’s window and then recover it in an “embedded mode” after a secret mouse maneuver. Only really necessary in extreme situations.

Google Reader Watcher

Similary to the Gmail Manager, if you like to keep up to date on various news but don’t want to have a tab open all the time and/or check the page frequently, you can use this discreet extension to keep an eye on the new items and head there when there is something to look.

And generally the Google Reader functionality is, as always, googlicious.


A lite alternative to the Google Browser Sync. If you’re only interested in syncing bookmarks I believe this is a better option and to tell you the truth, I still use both (got burnt one too many times by the Google sync). The feature I like most about it is that you can force your browser to discard it’s current bookmarks and just download the ones you have online. An excellent option for a new Firefox installation.


Now that you have some nice extensions to make your job a bit easier, you might be interested in these simple tips that I’ve found useful as well.


I find it generally a good idea to have Firefox not stand out too much from the general desktop. If you use a colourful theme like BlueIce, you just scream to anyone throwing a glance at your side that you’re browsing the net. Even if the only thing you’re doing is checking some information on the Technet. I’ve personally found out that a discreet and integrated theme goes a long way to avoid attention. To this end, I’ve used Outlook 2003 Silver to camouflage ff as IE and then turned on WinXP’s silver theme. Obviously if you don’t care about this, use the Nasa Night Launch theme with impunity ๐Ÿ˜‰


If a lot of people are moving behind you, as in an open area, then reducing the size of firefox to a small window might help reduce attention. I’ve found that the best place to place ff to is Outlook’s preview window while modifying the size to the same as the window, remove the navigation and bookmark toolbars, and ff is now almost completely invisible, unless you open a fancy website ๐Ÿ˜‰


So, that’s basically it for my personal top ten ๐Ÿ˜‰ I hope that some of these might be actually useful to anyone other than me.

Of course, if you have any more ideas for extensions that might come in handy, feel free to send me a link.