How To Use Multi-touch in Firefox

Did you know you can switch tabs in Firefox by making a twisting motion with your fingers on a multi-touch surface? I did. Turns out I’ve been doing this for months – I thought I was late to the party and was too ashamed to mention it to anybody for fear of an epic internet ribbing. But no, apparently it was top secret and highly experimental. That was in the beta; it loks like the official version has reduced it to a hack. Fortunately, mastering this multi-touch-enabling technique will allow you to tweak your gestures, resulting in everlasting glory.

  • Open a new tab in Firefox… (I’ll wait)
  • Put “about:config” in the address bar, no quotes. It’ll ask you if you’re sure. Yes, you are.
  • Ready? Okay, now type “twist” into the search box.
  • Double-click on the twist right, and put “Browser:NextTab” into the box, without quotes.
  • Theeeen, in twist left, put “Browser:PrevTab” without the quotes.
  • You’re done! Now, I found the gesture (it applies immediately, try putting one finger down and rotating another around it) to be a bit slow to respond, so I changed that other setting, the threshold one, from its default (25) to 10. You can mess around and figure out what’s best for you.

See, tweaking is easy! If you’re afraid you’ve ruined something, just right-click on any box you’ve modified and hit reset.

Curiosity piqued? Type “gesture” into the search box and try modifying a few of those settings. I don’t particularly like the twist, so I’m about to set tab switching to three-fingered swipes. Aren’t we just having so much fun?


Internet Cables Get Cut


So, there’s good news and bad news, and per tradition, we’ll be starting with the latter. Three of four undersea cables that route internet traffic from Asia to North America have inexplicably been cut, meaning that your international Quake 3 server may be a bit slow this evening. THe good news is that this fiasco clearly hasn’t affected you yet. The Associated Press has confirmed via Egypt’s communications ministry that the cables have indeed been severed, causing massive outages in select portions of the world. Oddly, no suspicions of subterfuge have been mentioned, but we have all ideas rumors will start to swirl if another gets snipped. So, tell us readers – are you still online? Wait, don’t answer that.

No More Internet Room for You!

Due to the extraordinary explosion in video, blogs, news feeds and social network postings, the internet is dangerously close to running out of room.

Nothing can grow forever, and exponential growth is always short lived. We’re running out of disk space, so if you have something left to say, you better hurry. Once it’s full, it’s full.

Of course, the decentralized nature of the net means that it will never be physically full. As long as we can keep making hard drives, we won’t run out of space to store those stupid videos of your Aunt Sally. What is full is our attention.

Ten years ago, you had a shot of at least being aware of everything that mattered. Five years ago, you had to be really selective about what you took in, but at least it was possible to know what you didn’t know. Today, it’s impossible. Today, you can’t even read every article on a thin slice of a thin topic.

You can’t keep up with the status of your friends on the social networks. No way. You can’t read every important blog… you can’t even read all the blogs that tell you what the important blogs are saying.

Used to be, you could finish reading your email, hit “check email” and nothing new would show up. Now, of course, the new mail is probably a longer list than the mail you just finished processing.

Obama: Internet Everywhere

In today’s Youtube video, President-Elect Obama sounded off a few tech ideas that have, frankly, been a long time coming. He notes that the States ranks 15th in the world in broadband adoption and lays out his plan to bringing networking to all public domains.

Usually, Obama tosses in a mention or two about how important technology is, but today, we really see what he plans to do. He pledges to have broadband internet access available to all Americans, and promises to bring networked access to every doctor’s office, public school, and hospital. Part of Obama’s economic recovery plan will go directly to modernizing public hospitals, first and foremost to digitize all medical records.

He does leave out certain important concepts, most importantly how he’s going to pay for all this, and I’m unclear on how exactly he plans to force ISPs into reaching into parts of the country where they can’t turn a profit.

Obama on Youtube

For the first time ever, the president’s weekly address to the nation will be delivered via video as well as radio.

President-elect Barack Obama, the Washington Post reported, will begin by taping this week’s Democratic address at his transition office in Chicago on Friday, and the video will be post on Saturday to Obama’s transition site,, via YouTube. Other members of the Obama administration will post online videos as well.

On Thursday evening, Obama’s transition team co-chair Valerie Jarrett posted a Youtube video to the site explaining the lobbying restrictions for Obama’s transition team.

The tradition of the president addressing the public directly via radio dates back to President Franklin Roosevelt’s “fireside chats” in the 1930s. Archived audio recordings of all of President George Bush’s weekly radio addresses can be found at the White House Web site.

Delivering the radio addresses via online video is a logical step for the first president elected in the era of Youtube. The Obama campaign uploaded more than 1,800 videos to its YouTube page.

Internet Rage

Interpersonal relationships can be as trying online as they are in real life. For a Japanese woman, her internet rage may result in a criminal record:

“…The 43-year-old became so angry about a sudden “divorce” from her online husband in the interactive Maple Story game that she logged on with his password and deleted his digital persona. She has been arrested on suspicion of illegally accessing a computer and manipulating electronic data.”

The old saying is that “hell has no fury like a woman scorned”. It seems that some things do not change – even in the age of the internet.

McCain’s Internet Muscle

Despite John McCain’s self-described computer “illiteracy” and dearth of popularity among young voters, web tracking company, Attributor, recently revealed that McCain’s internet exposure is nothing to sneeze at, and is in some places better than Obama’s. In a recent study of over 25 billion web pages, including blogs and social networks, Attributor tracked the proliferation of each candidate’s name and message.

  • McCain is holding his own online. The overall audience viewing each candidate’s message was virtually the same with each totaling over 65 million page views.
  • McCain’s campaign messages are more likely to be picked up from his position statements (64%) than his speeches (36%) Obama’s messages are picked up more often through his speeches (71%) than his issue statements (29%).
  • Despite allegations of media favoritism, McCain’s words are featured 112% more often on news sites than Obama’s. In July there were over 20 Million views of McCain’s messages on news sites.
  • Obama is dominating the blogosphere with over 12 million views of his messages occurring on blogs in July. Twice as many bloggers repeat his messages than those of McCain. Obama owns a similar advantage on social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace. 
Click here for the full PDF.