Browser hacks

Castor oil for your webshits

Which browser?

Firefox

A good default option. Functional. The host organisation Mozilla makes a reasonable attempt at arguing for user interests. AFAICS this only sometimes comes into conflict with the intersets of their funding model.

Google Chrome

The closed-source version of the Chromium project. Chrome is making changes that seem likely to sap autonomy and give advertisers your data, and it does suspicious user tracking. On the other hand, it has some cool extensions that I like to use.

Chromium.

Chromium is the open source part of the Google Chrome browser. It’s missing some google widgets and sync technology, but also probably tracks you less.

Brave

Left field entrant, hyped upstart Brave attempts to block the conventional ad economy and prviacy nonsense and replace it with cryptocurrency-backed privacy-compatible advertising. It seems to be largely Google Chrome compatible. It claims to be faster by not relying on the tracking economy.

Safari

Safari is also a thing, although AFAICT it is a force on Apple mobile devices only.

Attention management

Chris Straub:

Comments are conversation

shutup:

Comments are awful. Shut Up hides them by default, sparing your sanity and preventing you from getting sucked into a world of hurt.

For the sites where discussions can be more constructive – like GitHub, Reddit, or Stack Overflow – you can show comments by default. Shut Up is an app you can install on an iPhone or iPad, and a browser extension you can install in Chrome or Safari.

Handy website blockers include Stayfocusd (Chrome only), Leechblock NG (Chrome/Firefox).

Privacy

Various privacy-related tweaks are advisable. See browsing confidentially.

Style customisation

You want your internet your way, right? I seem to remeber that being part of the original promise of CSS, although in practice it has been tedious and difficult to enact that for various reasons. There is a community of people doing this, on userstyles.org. There is a browser extension called Stylus which actually uses these styles automatically. (see also xstyle)

There is also a DIY cypherpunk web-styling community, via a standard called usercss which is alive on, e.g. github userstyles.

If the interface seems clunky it is because it was forked from an older version called called Stylish that seemed to be a de-facto standard for this. Stylish was found to be spyware of a sordid nature and this AFAICT continues.

Searches

It is difficult to get Google scholar in the search bar; fortunately the linked page tells you how; one can alternatively load the following XML document.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<OpenSearchDescription xmlns="http://a9.com/-/spec/opensearch/1.1/">
    <ShortName>Google Scholar</ShortName>
    <Description>
        Google Scholar provides a simple way to broadly
        search for scholarly literature.
    </Description>
    <Tags>Google scholar academic</Tags>
    <AdultContent>false</AdultContent>
    <Image height="16" width="16"
        type="image/vnd.microsoft.icon">
        http://etienne.gaudrain.eu/opensearch/scholar_16x16.ico
    </Image>
    <Image height="32" width="32"
        type="image/vnd.microsoft.icon">
        http://etienne.gaudrain.eu/opensearch/scholar_32x32.ico
    </Image>
    <Url
        type="text/html"
        template="http://scholar.google.com/scholar?q={searchTerms}"/>
</OpenSearchDescription>

State management

Organising windows/tabs/bookmarks and possibly even syncing tabs/booksmarks/history/etc across devices.

Worldbrain Memex

Memex organizes your web-research so you can utilize the power of your brain: thinking in associations.

  • Full-Text Search your Web History & Bookmarks. Instantly recover anything you’ve seen before without doing any upfront work. Even if you just remember a single word, the time frame or the domain.
  • Add Highlights and Notes on any Web Page. No more copy-pasting of important pieces and thoughts. Highlight, click, done. Keep your thoughts organized with their original context.
  • Organize your Discoveries Fast and Flexibly. Tag and sort what you find online into full-text searchable collections.
  • All data stored locally - offline first, Nobody has access to your data unless you share it with someone. Your data is not our business model. Learn More >
  • Open Source & here to stay. Copy. Modify. Innovate. Adapt Memex' code and easily move your data to a version that suits your needs the best.

So that looks fun. But it does not yet sync this vaunted database which makes it an awkeard fit for my workflow..

For now I'm just synchronising groups of tabs. Ideally I would like an extension that that synchronises across all the browsers I use, i.e. mobile Safari, Firefox, Chrome.

I started with One Tab:

Whenever you find yourself with too many tabs, click the OneTab icon to convert all of your tabs into a list. When you need to access the tabs again, you can either restore them individually or all at once.

Sadly it’s closed-source abandonware. There are competitors, such as better-onetab, (Chrome/Firefox) and tabs-aside, which are also open source. I like better-onetab, which I have turned into a cross-browser sync via exporting to files and using file sync, so I gave the extension’s creator money.

A commercial option (free for beta) is : Toby. Looks neat but I wonder how much one should trust them with such intimate data as what you are browsing?

Password managers

You need a password manager. Get one. It’s free and quick.

Automation

See browser automation.

Misc

Tamperchrome – edit the requests that a browser makes. Super nerdy.

Viewimage fixes google search.

Miscellaneous Chrome command line switches.