Shallow Thoughts : : web

Akkana's Musings on Open Source Computing and Technology, Science, and Nature.

Thu, 13 Apr 2023

I'm Glad I Don't Run Wordpress

Last week I spent some time monitoring my apache error logs to try to get rid of warnings from my website and see if there are any errors I need to fix. (Answer: yes, there were a few things I needed to fix, mostly due to changes in libraries since I wrote the pages in question.)

The vast majority of lines in my error log, however, are requests for /wp-login.php or /xmlrpc.php. There are so many of them that they drown out any actual errors on the website.

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[ 10:28 Apr 13, 2023    More tech/web | permalink to this entry | ]

Tue, 10 Jan 2023

Exploring your Search History in Firefox

I wanted to find something I'd googled for recently. That should be easy, right? Just go to the browser's history window.

Well, actually not so much. You can see them in Firefox's history window, but they're interspersed with all the other places you've surfed so it's hard to skim the list quickly.

I decided to take a little time and figure out how to extract the search terms. I was pretty sure that they were in places.sqlite3 inside the firefox profile. And they were.

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[ 16:54 Jan 10, 2023    More tech/web | permalink to this entry | ]

Sat, 29 Jan 2022

View or Reset All Your Firefox Zoom Settings

Firefox's zoom settings are useful. You can zoom in on a page with Ctrl-+ (actually Ctrl-+ on a US-English keyboard), or out with Ctrl--.

Useful, that is, until you start noticing that lots of pages you visit have weirdly large or small font sizes, and it turns out that Firefox is remembering a Zoom setting you used on that site half a year ago on a different monitor.

Whenever you zoom, Firefox remembers that site, and uses that zoom setting any time you go to that site forevermore (unless you zoom back out).

Now that I'm using the same laptop in different modes — sometimes plugged into a monitor, sometimes using its own screen — that has become a problem.

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[ 18:04 Jan 29, 2022    More tech/web | permalink to this entry | ]

Sun, 12 Dec 2021

Battling Signup Spam on the Bill Tracker

I've spent a lot of the past week battling Russian spammers on the New Mexico Bill Tracker.

The New Mexico legislature just began a special session to define the new voting districts, which happens every 10 years after the census. When new legislative sessions start, the BillTracker usually needs some hand-holding to make sure it's tracking the new session. (I've been working on code to make it notice new sessions automatically, but it's not fully working yet). So when the session started, I checked the log files...

and found them full of Russian spam.

Specifically, what was happening was that a bot was going to my new user registration page and creating new accounts where the username was a paragraph of Cyrillic spam.

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[ 18:50 Dec 12, 2021    More tech/web | permalink to this entry | ]

Mon, 15 Nov 2021

Removing Bad Autocompletes from Firefox's Location Bar

A priest, a minister, and a rabbit walk into a bar.
The bartender asks the rabbit what he'll have to drink.
"How should I know?" says the rabbit. "I'm only here because of autocomplete."

Firefox folks like to call the location bar/URL bar the "awesomebar" because of the suggestions it makes. Sometimes, those suggestions are pretty great; there are a lot of sites I don't bother to bookmark because I know they will show up as the first suggestion.

Other times, the "awesomebar" not so awesome. It gets stuck on some site I never use, and there's seemingly no way to make Firefox forget that site.

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[ 16:54 Nov 15, 2021    More tech/web | permalink to this entry | ]

Fri, 06 Aug 2021

Firefox Broken on Local Domains

I maintain quite a few domains, both domains I own and domains belonging to various nonprofits I belong to. For testing these websites, I make virtual domains in apache, choosing an alias for each site. For instance, for the LWVNM website, the apache site file has

<VirtualHost *:80>
    ServerName lwvlocal
and my host table, /etc/hosts, has    localhost lwvlocal
(The localhost line in my host table has entries for all the various virtual hosts I use, not just this one).

That all used to work fine. If I wanted to test a new page on the LWVNM website, I'd go to Firefox's urlbar and type something like lwvlocal/newpage.html and it would show me the new page, which I could work on until it was time to push it to the web server.

A month or so ago, a new update to Firefox broke that.

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[ 13:34 Aug 06, 2021    More tech/web | permalink to this entry | ]

Mon, 19 Jul 2021

Hack to fix Firefox 90.0's new invisible menu

Yesterday I started up my browser and discovered that I had no menu.

[Invisible Firefox menubar]

I understand that Mozilla wants us not to use the menu ... because why would anyone want to use any of Firefox's zillions of useful features that aren't available through the hamburger menu? ... but they've always made it possible to show a menubar if you really want one. Right-click in the area where the tabs are, and there's an option for Menu Bar that you can turn on.

And that option was still there, and the space above the tabs where it should show up was still taking up space ... there just weren't any menu buttons to click on.

Except they were. I tried clicking near the left edge and a familiar File menu popped up. Aha! The menubar is still there; it's just invisible. (In the screenshot above, if you look hard you can actually see the menu items, barely; in the theme I was actually using, which got uninstalled while I flailed around trying to fix the problem, they were much less visible.)

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[ 18:46 Jul 19, 2021    More tech/web | permalink to this entry | ]

Sat, 08 Aug 2020

U is for Unreliable UI (or: Why Firefox's "Do this automatically this from now on" checkbox is so flaky, and how to work around it)

It's been a frustration with Firefox for years. You click on a link and get the "What should Firefox do with this file?" dialog, even though it's a file type you view all the time -- PDF, say, or JPEG. You click "View in browser" or "Save file" or whatever ... then you check the "Do this automatically for files like this from now on" checkbox, thinking, I'm sure I checked this last time.

Then a few minutes later, you go to a file of the exact same time, and you get the dialog again. That damn checkbox is like the button on street crossings or elevators: a no-op to make you think you're doing something.

I never tried to get to the bottom of why this happens with some PDFs and not others, some JPGs but not others. But Los Alamos puts their government meetings on a site called Legistar. Legistar does everything as PDF -- and those PDFs all trigger this Firefox bug, prompting for a download rather than displaying in Firefox's PDF viewer.

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[ 16:38 Aug 08, 2020    More tech/web | permalink to this entry | ]