Updates Suck (Part 1): Firefox 43, HTML5 breakage, and more

Sometimes, updates are awful. They break things, they undo configuration options you were sure you had set at some point in the past (either resetting them to defaults or removing them entirely).

I updated my Arch install for the second time in two days in the hopes that some minor bugs would be resolved (more on that in another post), but I hadn’t noticed that Firefox was included in the update list (version 42 to 43). Sadly, not only did this break Firefox’s appearance using oxygen-gtk, but it also broke HTML5 video. Every video on Youtube refused to load following the updates unless Flash was enabled (I have it disabled), and I couldn’t figure out why. A new profile proved somewhat useful: Youtube would work–unless I copied my old profile over in bits and pieces.

After about a half hour of exploring, I found that the culprit was actually in the profile’s prefs.js. In particular, because I had found some instructions on enabling HTML5 under Linux, apparently there were some configuration options that are no longer used and conflict with Firefox 43, which enables many of these by default.

If you encounter a similar problem, the fix should be relatively easy. Simply remove:

user_pref("media.fragmented-mp4.exposed", true);
user_pref("media.fragmented-mp4.gmp.enabled", true);

From your prefs.js, restart Firefox, and verify that it still works. If not, try removing all of the media.* preferences. If that still doesn’t work and you’re a user of FlashBlock, try uninstalling it and removing any residual preferences (also from prefs.js).

I used to recommend using FlashBlock in combination with NoScript to reduce the browser’s attack surface, but as fewer and fewer sites I encounter actively use Flash, I find that disabling the plugin (settings, addons, plugins) works best for me. Unfortunately, the author included a new feature to block HTML5 video by default, and I’ve found that it tends to cause breakage with some sites, most notably Youtube. Since then, I’ve had the plugin disabled, but as I no longer have a need for it, why keep it around?

Hopefully, if you’ve encountered a similar problem with HTML5 video, the suggested fixes here will work for you. If not, feel free to leave a comment or pester me on Twitter (@zancarius).

(I still haven’t gotten Firefox 43 to play nicely with oxygen-gtk3, so I may eventually consider abandoning the theme–though I find breeze-gtk still contains a variety of display bugs that make it unpleasant to use.)

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I Sidetrack Easily

So, I was looking around a bit today when I realized that I haven’t made a post since the last day of August of this year! I’d suggest that it’s because I’ve been busy, but the reality of it is that I’ve been very distracted. There’s a lot of good stuff coming down the turnpike, which I’ll post about soon, but for now I’ll just offer a fairly simple update.

First, I’ve been spending a great deal of time playing around with NodeJS, which I’ve come to greatly appreciate. I suspect it’s the PHP of this decade, minus many of the blemishes and with some idiosyncrasies that are cause for some confusion. Although I have mixed feelings about JavaScript, NodeJS has done quite a few things right. As an asynchronous framework, it feels fairly solid for its youth, and as much as I love Twisted, continuation-passing is a much easier beast to wrap one’s mind around than deferreds. Of course, deferreds do eventually click–they just feel far more awkward at first blush.

Second, I’ve got a few work-related and personal projects that will eventually be seeing the light of day within the next month or two. We’ve got a lot of stuff planned, including a few things that could be life changing for many of you. I’m not about to let you in on any of the secrets, though, so you’ll just have to wait. I promise that they’re going to be pretty awesome.

Finally, I’ve been playing quite a lot of Minecraft since 1.0 was released on the 18th of November. I’ve had the game for almost a year–maybe even a year, I can’t really remember without looking at some receipts–and it’s become a very enjoyable hobby to relax with. Speaking of NodeJS, I also have a NodeJS project that’s Node-related, but it’s still in the planning phase for now. It won’t be usable to anyone who doesn’t run a Minecraft server (or have Node). You’re going to appreciate it, I think!

Anyway, apologies for the few months of silence here, but I’ve been pretty busy. Oh, and I had a really horrible cold/flu a few weeks back, so that really set me back.


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Apologies for the downtime, everyone.

I was in the process of updating my server and inadvertently copied over an older instance of MySQL thinking that the one I had actually installed was the older instance. I spotted the problem after about a half hour, but because I had already begun the process of restoring other files, I didn’t have a chance to make the correct update until about an hour ago.

I definitely won’t be doing that again!

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