Installing the “Copy as Plain Text” add-in in Firefox 3

I’ve installed Firefox 3 over Firefox 2 and it’s been a big improvement in performance and UI experience.  But it doesn’t work with all of the add-on extensions that are available for Firefox 2.  There are some nice extensions that were written for Firefox 2 that have not been updated for Firefox 3.  One that I use a lot is the “Copy Plain Text” add-in, written by Jeremy Gillick.  This extension provides a “Copy as Plain Text” option so that you can copy text from a page and have the formatting stripped out.

The problem is that Jeremy hasn’t released a version that will run under Firefox 3.  When Firefox installs an add-on extension, it checks the version of the extension and prevents older extensions from being installed.  While this is a good thing in preventing extensions that broke with Firefox 3, it’s an annoyance for the ones that work just fine.  I’m not sure what happened Jeremy Gillick, but appears that he has abandoned his simple, but cool extension.

While reading the comments left on the add-on page, I saw that a user named “ervee” (eRVee Moskovic , and that is how he capitalizes it.) had patched “Copy Plain Text” so that it will install with Firefox 3.  It appears that he changed a single line in the install.js file that was bundled in the extension from the line that contained

const gVersion = “0.3.3”;
const gVersion = “0.3.3b”;

And that single letter “b” is all that was needed to allow Firefox 3 to install this extension.

Ervee posted his modified extension as

If you download his modified version of the extension, you have to tell Firefox 3 how to install it.  Save the extension to a local folder, then open the fire from within Firefox 3 by selecting “Open File” from the “File” menu.  You will then be prompted with the Software Installation dialog. Click install and then restart Firefox when prompted.

An alternative method (documented here) would be to open the “Add-ons” dialog by selecting “Add-ons” from the “Tools” menu.  Once that dialog has opened, minimize the main form and drag the extension file to the dialog. You will then be prompted with the Software Installation dialog. Click install and then restart Firefox when prompted.

Either way should work, I did the former and the extension is working just fine with Firefox 3.  Thanks “ervee”!

Google is making Ratproxy freely available

Google has just released the source code to one of their internal testing tools.  Ratproxy is a web proxy that is designed to scan for and log potential problems and “security-relevant design patterns” as you (the user) test your site or web service.

It’s not an automated test tool, it follows the actions of a user and examines the pages that the user would hit during a test run.  By following the user, ratproxy sees the same payload the user receives.  All of the login authentication is handled by the user, ratproxy only observes the data as it goes back and forth.  That allows the user to use any browser and browser specific behavior can be tracked by ratproxy.

Since the actions are directed by the browser, AJAX related traffic is picked up and ratproxy will check for cross-domain script inclusion.  It also has the ability to decompile Flash applets, as there are a few Flash security holes that could allow cross-site script injections.  If you are testing your own code, that shouldn’t be a problem, but if you have some 3rd party Flash applets it’s always a good idea to check them.

To install ratproxy, you have to download it as a compressed tarball from it’s Google Code download page.  You have to compile it yourself with the included source code.  For Windows, you’ll need to have Cygwin installed.  If you are not familiar with Cygwin, it’s a collection of tools that provide a Linux-like environment under Windows.  From what I read on the ratproxy documentation page, you may need to tweak the makefile to get it compile with the Cygwin GCC compiler.  Someone mentioned that ratproxy was written for GCC 3.4 and the version that is bundled with Cygwin is version 3.4.4.  If that is the case, version 4.3.1 can be downloaded directly from or from one its mirror sites.  If you want to use 4.3 under Windows,you ‘ll have to install Cygwin first and build it with the version of GCC that comes with Cygwin.

I don’t have Cygwin installed (yet).  I plan on doing so in the near future and I want to compile ratproxy and see how it works.  The idea sounds cool and if it’s not too painful to build under Windows, I would like to add it to the test arsenal.  The cool part of ratproxy is that you can use it with your existing test methods, all you need to do is to direct your browser or test tool to use the ratproxy as a proxy server.

Ratproxy was written by and is maintained by Michal Zalewski, a computer security expert on the “white hat” side.  His personal site has some interesting side projects.

Where are the Kibos of yesteryear?

To paraphrase an old Yossarian quote, where are the Kibos of yesteryear?  The other day I read a question that Jeff Atwood had tweeted about Kibo, a name I had not seen in a very long time.  Kibo was the handle of James Parry, and he was famous for responding to any message posted on Usenet that contained the word “Kibo” in it.  Wired did get a great article about Kibo in their September, 1993 issue.  To get in touch with Kibo, they posted a couple of messages with the word “Kibo” in them in some random groups.  He replied to each message.

Basically Parry had written some code that grepped every new message posted to Usenet for his handle.  And Parry would reply to those messages, with strange and often surreal posts.  Eventually, he got his own Usenet group, alt.religion.kibology.  This took place in the early 90’s when public awareness and access to Usenet was limited to mainly colleges and computer hackers.  He was also known for having a hideously long .signature (a block of text tacked to the end of every message) with one example here.  Some of his collected work can be found on his site.

Oddly enough, Sonicwall’s content filtering categorizes the site as a forbidden category. “Cult/Occult”.  Easy enough to get around, but still pretty odd.

It’s not a TiVo, it’s just a DVR

There’s a post on the TV Board blog that really illustrates the differences between a TiVo and a cable company DVR.  A friend of the blog’s author (Mitch Oscar) was contacted by his cable operator, Comcast, and was offered a DVR.  We now join that conversation already in progress:

“I don’t need your DVR, I already have a TiVo,” she said.

“Our DVR is the same as TiVo but it comes free with our service,” the sales rep adamantly replied.

“Oh, really, well I have a lifetime membership with TiVo. Can you log on from any computer and schedule something to record?” she retorted.


“Can the DVR you offer be networked to my computer?”


“Can I transfer shows between TVs?”


“Can you store whatever you record on the DVR to your computer?”


“Can you convert anything that you have recorded to play on your iPod video?”


“Can you burn anything you have recorded on your DVR onto a DVD?”


“Then I would have to say your DVR is nothing like a TiVo. All yours does is record.”

”I guess you’re right, it’s not the same.”


That really sums up the advantage that TiVo has over CableCo DVRs.  On the flip side, you do have to pay for TiVo and that’s a $200 or more that you don’t pay with the CableCo DVR.

I came across that post via the TiVo Lovers blog.

I see the Cylons found Twitter

Maybe they can fix it?  You can get the list of Cylons and associated BSG characters from the Hybrid’s Friends list.

If you know BSG and are on Twitter, it’s pretty funny.  Some random excerpts…

galentyrol I am Cylon, but I will never be able to download into a fresh body. Apparently I can grow old & get fat, too. Being Cylon pretty much sucks about 17 hours ago from web
leoben Bored today…. If the Hub was still around I’d airlock myself. You know…for fun. 11:59 AM June 26, 2008 from twhirl
leoben Some wonder why I am so obsessed with coffee. Haven’t any of you had Starbuck’s coffee before? 09:45 AM June 25, 2008 from twhirl
saultigh @capricasix I know what love is! I loved @billadama and @ellentigh and look where it got me! I mean them! I mean me! Can I call you “ellen”? 08:10 PM June 14, 2008 from web in reply to capricasix 
billadama Breakfasting on a Basestar, and discovering that these new Centurians do a really, really good job at preparing toast. Ironic. 09:47 AM June 13, 2008 from web


Why I like owning a TiVo

This tip just popped in my email as part of the TiVo Newsletter:

TiVo Tip: Only the Best, Thank You

So you want to see the 100 greatest American movies of all time, do you? Easy! Get the AFI, 100 Years… Guru Guide and TiVo will automatically record every movie from the list that comes into your living room, from Tootsie to Toy Story, Swing Time to Star Wars, and 96 more. Here’s all you need to do:

  • From TiVo Central, select Find Programs & Downloads.
  • Select KidZone Recommendations & Guru Guides.
  • Scroll down to find AFI, 100 Years…
  • Movies will magically appear on your Now Playing List, just like regular TiVo recordings.

Note: You must be broadband-connected to get a Guru Guide using your TiVo remote. Alternatively, try browsing the guide and scheduling recordings online.

Being able to do stuff like that is one of the reasons I love having TiVo in the house.