Felix Crux

Technology & Miscellanea 

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One of my favourite features of the Firefox web browser is surprisingly unknown and sadly underused. Keyword search bookmarks let you kick off a custom search of any site straight from the address bar (a.k.a. the “awesome bar”). For example, if you typed “w hedgehog”, you could go to the Wikipedia page for the little critters, or “img hedgehog” could show you a cute image search.

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…or at least the best one I’ve managed to come up with.

The venerable cron utility has some well-known shortcomings, chief among which is how difficult it is to monitor the health and output of scheduled tasks. The default setup tries to email output, but on a typical laptop, desktop workstation, or even on many servers, it’s common to not have a working system-wide mailer configuration. Many users therefore set up “wrapper” scripts that handle logging, time­stamping, and so forth. This is the best one I’ve managed to come up with.

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Firefox already has an excellent cloud-based Sync system for sharing settings and browser history between computers — but perhaps you don’t want any of your data stored on remote servers; or you keep separate work and personal profiles; or you don’t want to have to set it up in several places (like short-lived virtual machines); or maybe you just like to keep all your settings in plain text files you can copy around.

I fall into several of those categories, but until recently, I didn’t know Firefox had a built-in solution.

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This is a little snippet that's been sitting in my .zshrc for years, and which people always seem to like. With a little bit of aliasing and with the help of the pygmentize utility from pygments, we can get stodgy old cat to produce colourful listings with syntax highlighting.

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Firefox's cross-platform nature means that it doesn't always fully integrate natively into your desktop. This was particularly apparent to me when using dark-coloured GTK themes under Ubuntu Linux. By default, Firefox looks something like this:

Light Firefox

But, with a bit of tweaking to your userChrome.css file, which lives under ~/.mozilla/firefox/<random-looking-name>.default/chrome/, we can make it a bit nicer:

Dark Firefox