Using Firefox to Discipline Naughty Websites

By | October 9, 2009

No, not quite what you think it is. To me, the Web is still like a wild, wild west, where every cowboy and his horse have their own philosophy of web design! In a few hours web surfing, you’ll visit dozens of sites, some of which come up with ways of not “behaving” in a sensible manner.

Thankfully, things have changed somewhat compared to say, 5 years ago, due to Web 2.0 influence. But should you still bump into these common annoyances, Firefox gives you some tools to put these pages in their place – if you know how to do it. So, here are a few easy (but often overlooked solutions):

1. The site that blocks your viewing it, but lets Google in. So it pops up in search results, but when you click the link it slams a “member-only” message in your face. Hint: Think experts-exchange.com, among others.

Solution: Switch user agents. By installing the User-Agent Switcher for Firefox, you can have your web browser identify itself as anything. Including switching it to say “Googlebot/2.1 (+http://www.googlebot.com/bot.html).” If Google can get in, you can too.

2. Sites that make their font too small to read

Solution: Just hit ‘Control-plus’ (Ctrl +) a few times and the text will get bigger. Also, (Ctrl -) makes the font smaller, and (Ctrl-0) returns the font to its original size. You can also use the fonts and colors section in Firefox preferences to set the smallest allowable size for fonts.

3. Pages that pop open additional browser windows.

pop-up-windows

Solution: Fix this annoying problem in the ‘tabs’ section of Firefox Options, selecting the button for “new pages should open in a new tab.”

4. Sites with huge amounts of images, YouTube videos, dancing gifs, playing music streaming, and basically throwing anything and everything at you over your tiny bandwidth connection.

firefox-options

Solution: There’s two fixes here. In preferences in the ‘Content’ section of Firefox Options you can un-check “load images automatically.” You could also get Flash-block from the Mozilla Firefox extension site, and even turn off Javascript in the content section of Firefox preferences, for those sites that hog your computer with gigabytes of Javascript.

5. I’ve done all of that, but this page style just doesn’t cut it. Maybe…. the colors are horrible, it’s showing fixed-width in one side of the screen, or the content is in a tiny box I have to scroll…

bad-design-website

Solution: Not the best solution, but in the menus at the top of Firefox, go to ‘View… Page Style… and click ‘No Style.’ Bam! All CSS styling is gone, along with weird fonts, bad colors, and other odd styling. You’ll have to scroll more though, because the content will fall into a single column, but the web browser will be forced to only interpret basic HTML tags. Don’t do this unless you really want/need to, cos it basically butchers nice looking pages into ugly ones.

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