New Firefox release 39 rocks!

Like many I gave up on Internet Explorer some time ago – just too slow and cumbersome.

We still support BreakthePaywall! add-on for IE and we will be looking into any development work required to support new IE versions in Windows 10 and the new Edge browser that Microsoft are developing.

But I changed to using Chrome – which I never liked (because it’s from Google), it was out of necessity.

I did try Firefox for some time but also found it cumbersome and annoying – updates almost every week.

Well that’s all changed now – the latest version of Firefox I’m running at time of writing, release 39, is superb. Fast, clean, concerned with my privacy – it just makes me feel all cosy 🙂 And automatic updating.

Check it out, I promise you will not be disappointed.

And, yes, we will be developing a version of BreakthePaywall! For Firefox – I know we said we would do so in the past but this latest version has made me realise how great Mozilla and Firefox is.

Download at: https://www.firefox.com

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Desktop version of IE broken after upgrading to Windows 8.1

Just upgraded my Surface Pro to Windows 8.1 at the weekend and had problems with desktop version of IE.
 
The 8.1. upgrade updates IE to version 11 from version 10 and by default Enhanced Protected Mode is switched on – even if you had it off in IE10 (default for IE10 was off).
 
After upgrading when I first started IE I got messages about add-ons being incompatible with Enhanced Protected Mode and I couldn’t do anything, browse the web or get options up.

Managed to get into Internet Options via Control Panel and noticed in Manage Add-ons that various add-ons including Lastpass, Evernote and even MS add-ons were listed as incompatible.
 
MS confirmed that this is switched on by default in IE11 but that not all add-ons including their own will be compatible.

I uninstalled any addons programmes I knew about, reset the settings for IE, unticked Enhanced Protected Mode (Internet Options, Advanced tab, Security section). Everything was then ok so I re-installed my add-on programmes.

I did a bit of additional testing – latest version of Lastpass was ok with enhanced protected mode switched on but latest Evernote (V5.0.2) was not.

So looks like best thing to do for now is switch Enhanced Protected Mode option off.

My test version of BreakThePaywall for Windows 8 was listed as disabled in Enhanced Protected Mode – this was almost ready for release but looks like I will have to make it compatible with Enhanced Protected Mode first. (http://www.breakthepaywall.com). Will try and get this rolled out before they release IE11 on Windows 7 as well.

Setting Do Not Track in Internet Explorer

Twitter recently announced that their software will, by default, abide by the ‘Do Not Track’ setting withint browsers.

‘Do Not Track’ is a fairly new initiative to give people control over how their online activities are tracked.

With your browser set to ‘Do Not Track’ twitter will automatically set your options so that no tracking cookies are used and you will not receive targetted suggestions.

But, how do you set your browser to ‘Do Not Track’.

Firstly see the twitter ariticle at: 

https://support.twitter.com/articles/20169453#

How to set other browsers can be found within this article as well as how to set IE to do not track:

http://ie.microsoft.com/testdrive/Browser/DoNotTrack/Default.html

Scroll down to the To express your preference not to be tracked in IE9 section and select the Click here to add an empty Tracking Protection list

Click Add list.

You can check installation under Tools, Tracking Protection…

You should see the following to indicate Do Not Track is on:

That’s it – any sites like the enlightened Twitter will abide by this setting.

 

Breakthepaywall 1.3.0 now available

BreakthePaywall! is a free add-on for Internet Explorer 7 or higher using Windows XP, Windows Vista or Windows 7 that simplifies using the various methods for circumventing website paywall restrictions.

NEW Version 1.3.0 now available! – this latest release solves the problems with Microsoft’s August 2011 update for IE which changed the way cookies are stored and also adds functionality for deleting Flash cookies and HTML5 DOM Storage. Go to the download area to install the latest version.

HTML5 Cookies – DOM Storage in IE

HTML5 cookies are the latest threat to your browser privacy.

Like ordinary cookies and Adobe Flash cookies or locally stored objects (LSO’s) they can be used to track your online browsing.

Like flash cookies (see: http://www.islandearth.com/articles/2011/7/22/how-to-block-lsos-flash-cookies.html) you can block them completely within Internet Explorer by unticking this option under Tools, Internet Options, Advanced, Security Section:

DOM_Storage.JPG

The DOM Storage folder is located at:

XP:

c:documents and settings[Username]Local SettingsApplication DataMicrosoftInternet ExplorerDOMStore

Win7:

C:Users[username]AppDataLocalLowMicrosoftInternet ExplorerDOMStore

A good site for checking DOM Storage is: http://www.quirksmode.org/html5/tests/storage.html

How to block LSO’s (Flash cookies)

Traditionally it has been difficult to lock down flash so that locally stored objects (flash cookies) are blocked – LSO’s are not required for flash to work and are purely used for tracking. But, the latest version of Flash has completely changed its privacy system.

It now obeys the browsers settings.

So if you have IE set to delete all content on exit (like I do) the flash cookies will also be deleted.

Good stuff, but this does not prevent flash cookies in the first place – however, you can set flash to block all LSO’s by right clicking, choosing Global Settings and setting block options. This seems to work for all sites I have come across i.e. flash still works and nothing is created.

I assume this change has come about due to the new European privacy laws on cookies coming into force 🙂

Note: if you do not want to block all cookies you still have to use the old method on the Adobe site settings page: http://www.macromedia.com/support/documentation/en/flashplayer/help/settings_manager.html. This is also the only place where you can turn off allowing third party flash cookies – browser settings are not used for this.

Blocking LSOs (Flash Cookies) and the BBC

I wanted to block LSOs (Locally Stored Objects) commonly known as Flash cookies in Internet Explorer – for those of you who don’t know what LSOs are: they are an alternative to cookies as a means of tracking your online usage
(see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Local_Shared_Object).

I used the Adobe settings that they provide by right clicking on a flash image and choosing global settings. Adobe has an unusual way of allowing you to change your settings – rather than the settings menu being within the local flash plugin they send you to an Adobe website location. This seems dodgy in itself but that’s another story and there are other ways of blocking LSOs (see: https://nodpi.org/forum for IE; Use BetterPrivacy plugin for Firefox). Under the Global Storage Settings Panel you can set storage to zero, tick never ask again, untick Allow 3rd party content – this seems to block LSOs from being created (remember to delete your currently stored LSOs under the Peer-Assisted Networking Panel).

However, I did not have any problems viewing flash content until I tried viewing a news article on the BBC website – http://news.bbc.co.uk. The flash video would not run, despite trying to fiddle with the LSO settings the video either failed to start or I got a message that the content could not be displayed. It seemed that the BBC was using a 3rd party provider and that they require 3rd party content access and some storage space otherwise the video will not load.

The BBC website helpdesk was no help at all – did not have a clue what I was on about. Eventually I came across the following article on the BBC forums: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs

This explains why the BBC was the only site I had a problem with. I am still awaiting a resolution to this.

Update October 2010: still no word on when the BBC is going to resolve the problem. I am pressing them for a response.

Update November 2010: The BBC have responded (see: BBC Response. Looks like they’re dragging this on until Spring 2011, if not beyond.

Update July 2011: I had extensive technical discussions with the BBC regarding this issue and was told they would investigate further and get back to me – they were under the impression that no local storage was taking place if you specifically blocked it. They never did get back to me and the posts on the BBC site have now been closed to comments! What I have found is that the new version of Flash has completely changed its privacy system – it now obeys the browsers settings. So if you have IE set to delete all content on exit the flash cookies will also be deleted. Good stuff, but this does not prevent flash cookies in the first place – however, you can set flash to block all LSO’s by right clicking, choosing Global Settings and setting block options. This seems to work for all sites i.e. flash still works. In the case of the BBC site a folder is created under %APPDATA%RoamingMacromediaFlash Player#SharedObjects but nothing is put into it. This folder disappears on exiting browser if you have the browser delete option on. So it has been indirectly resolved by Adobe rather than the BBC.

 

Update October 2011: The flash problem on the BBC news site is back! If you set all flash cookies to be blocked and your flash cache has been cleared the video’s on BBC news site will not work (other videos on BBC site as a whole do work). If you set flash to not block the videos they work and you can then set flash to block again and they still work, but if you have your browser set to delete cookies then the cache will clear on exit and you will have the same problem next time (in other words the BBC news videos require something to be downloaded). Have contacted BBC again and will post any response.