Launching your browsers in Private Mode with Alfred 2

Alfred AppPreamble: I’m a huge fan of Alfred App. This post isn’t about Alfred per se, but if you’re a Mac user, do yourself a favour and grab a copy. There’s a free version, and the “powerpack”. The powerpack is what is needed to follow the rest of this post.

Years ago I wrote Launching your browsers in Private Mode with Alfred as a quick little Alfred extension. I was recently asked if I’d updated the extension for Alfred 2. Sadly, I had not, but a quick search showed that someone else had already done the grunt work on the Alfred forums, which I’ve backed up here (you may need to right-click ‘save link as’) to ensure the workflow will always be available.



Understand the Favicon

Jonathan T. Neal has written what is probably the single greatest discussion around the topic of favicons I’ve ever read with Understand the Favicon.

The favicon on

The level of research is wonderful, including breakdowns of browser weaknesses and quirks (still looking at your Internet Explorer). Of particular note is how different browsers handle pages that offer both png and ico formatted favicons, including this gem:

Opera, not wanting to take sides, will choose from any of the available icons at complete random. I love that Opera does this.

A highly informative read.

While we’re talking about favicons, I recently used the wonderful “Tinycon” library from Tom Moor, and was really happy with the results. Check it out if you need a small library for manipulating the favicon.

Safari, cookies, and lost time - the remix

During a recent ExpressionEngine site build, I found myself stuck for a few days trying to get cookies to work in Safari. Since actually logging in wasn’t particularly important to the site, I poked away at it a little bit here… a little bit there… but never actually solved it over the course of 3 days. A quick Google for the problem (EE forum search is darn near useless these days) brought me to Safari, cookies, and lost time from Fred of the fine folks at ngen works. So I fired out

echo date('c');
// I'll get you kids and your darn dog too!!! 

And lo and behold, the server clock was off! A quick support email later, things are humming along tickity-boo, so I’m writing this partially as a “note to self”, and partially to add my voice to the stream of knowledge that is the web.

Launching your browsers in Private Mode with Alfred

Alfred AppPreamble: I’m a huge fan of Alfred App. This post isn’t about Alfred per se, but if you’re a Mac user, do yourself a favour and grab a copy. There’s a free version, and the “powerpack”. The powerpack is what is needed to follow the rest of this post.

Recently I’ve been tackling a lot of projects where the state of the app when “logged in” was different then if you were “logged out”. In order to test the app in both phases, I spent a lot of time flipping between staying logged in, and also launching the site in private mode (or in Chrome, “Incognito”). To help speed up the process, I wrote a few extensions for Alfred to automatically launch my browsers in private mode.

The extensions support Firefox, Chrome, Safari and Opera.

Here’s what you’ll see now:

Grab the extensions and play around: Installing them is super easy, open Alfred’s preferences > extensions, and just drop them one at a time onto the “Drop to Install” box.

Firefox 4 alert boxes

I mentioned on Twitter that I’m impressed so far with Firefox 4. Here’s a very minor, change I’ve noticed, that I’m a fan of; the treatment of javascript terminal dialogs.

Firefox 4 alert box

The overlay makes it clear to the user that they need to interact with the alert box before they can use the page. Much nicer than the old style, where the page remained unaltered and the alert dropped from the top (at least on a Mac, I understand Windows versions appeared mid-screen).

Firefox 3 alert

There’s still some room for improvement here, and I don’t think this style of modal will (or even should) replace current solutions for modal windows, but I like how the Mozilla team is working to draw more attention to the box.

That said, I hope the Firefox team doesn’t give in to the inevitable cries from either the “we hate any and all change” camp, or the “now I want to use an image as the overlay and control the opacity” camp.

(Fire)foxes can hold their breath!

Remember years ago when you didn’t have Dropbox or Air Sharing and you relied on a trusty USB pen when you went somewhere and needed to physically pass files around? I do. Having spent almost 10 years doing training and going from office to office, computer to computer, it saved my life many times.

In 2007, I met one of the Mozilla guys at a conference (I think it was Benjamin Smedberg) and he gave me the last USB pen I ever owned.

Firefox USB pen

I tucked it in my backpack, and that little guy has been everywhere with me, even causing momentary confusion in Germany when a customs agent pulled it out of my bag and excitedly showed it to me. At the time I thought I was about to get interrogated by a German Jack Bauer; turns out he just was a Firefox lover. It saved my butt once again late last week, when I was in a foreign computer lab with no internet access (wireless or otherwise). I’m sitting there with my laptop, needing to get files to another computer that’s hooked up to a projector, and drawing a blank. I momentarily contemplated burning a single file to a blank DVD, but then I remembered ol’faithful. So out it came, files got moved, and I tucked it away quickly into my pocket in case I needed it later.

...And then I did something stupid…

Opening Firefox tabs at the end of the tab row

Firefox 3.6 was released today. I love it. Love it. One thing I wasn’t crazy about was a behaviour change when opening links in new tabs. Before 3.6, they opened at the end of the tab row, but now they open beside the tab you are currently on. Want to change it back?



Fluid, Campfire, DataMapper and useful links

In no particular order, here are some things that I’ve found interesting, useful, or funny.  Mostly useful.


A Site Specific Browser (SSB) that you can use to run web applications in.  I use it for BambooInvoice, ExpressionEngine and Campfire.  It rocks my socks.  Find it at

Growl Notifications with messages for campfire and fluid

I tried using Pyro as a client for Campfire, but it didn’t go so well.  It looks like promising software, but for now… wasn’t working.  Enter my favourite app from above, Fluid handles it like a champ, but one thing that was bugging me was the lack of Growl notifications (if you aren’t using Growl yet and are on a Mac, go install it right now).  First result in Google was Growl Notifications with messages for campfire and fluid.  :: sniff ::... its like they read my mind.

Also useful is the Fluid Icons Flickr group.  I’ve got to get one for BambooInvoice into there…


DataMapper is an Object Relational Mapper written in PHP for CodeIgniter. It is designed to map your Database tables into easy to work with objects, fully aware of the relationships between each other.  Well documented and with a loyal following, it looks like Simon Stenhouse has a real winner on his hands.  I’m hoping to find time to really sift through the code but so far haven’t had the chance.

[edit: And D’oh! I was a fool for not also mentioning IgnitedRecord at the same time!  Thanks for the comment m4rw3r.]

Sequel Pro

Sequel Pro  is a desktop program for managing your MySQL databases.  It runs beautifully, and I think I’ve mentioned it before, but was asked again recently about it.  The only catch I found is that with Mamp I needed to set the “socket” to “/Applications/MAMP/tmp/mysql/mysql.sock” when connecting.

ExpressionEngine Plugin: SS Friendly 404

The SS Friendly 404 plugin suggests relevant pages to users on your 404 page. It is used in your 404 template and returns suggested weblog entries based on the final segment of the 404 URL.  Well documented and cleanly implemented.  Well done!

jQuery Pumpkin

Found in the jQuery blog, the jQuery pumpkin had me smiling for 30 minutes.
jQuery pumpkin

My robots have taken over Firefox 3

Or maybe… just maybe… the Firefox team has been plotting all along, and have actually taken over my site.  Oh well, I can think of many worse things!

If you’re on Firefox 3, then type about:robots into your location bar.


Brilliant, funny, witty.  Robots.  What’s not to love?  This is the second time Firefox 3 has impressed me with their wit.  I also wrote about Beta software? Firefox “gets it” last year.

Opera DragonFly released

Since I gave some dap to IE for getting a developer toolkit embedded into Internet Explorer 8, I feel like I should also give kudos to Opera for releasing the top-secret and closely guarded Dragonfly.  Opera annoyed the hell out of me at SxSW when they devoted an entire booth to promoting “Dragonfly”, but refused to tell me anything about it.

I’ve only had a quick look of it, but it does look like a pretty slick tool.  The main problem I see for them here, is that they are fourth in the market (IE, Firefox, Safari, Opera) and fourth to get a developer toolkit.  Its hard to work from a position of weakness like that.  I hope they prove me wrong, since competition is always good for what we do, and I have to say, I’ve always had a soft spot for Opera.

Opera Dragonfly

If you have the chance to play, please leave comments with what you think of it!  How does it compare to Firebug?  How does it compare to IE?