Born Geek
Archive for November 2011

Skyrim Review

November 21, 2011

For those who live under a rock, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim was released ten days ago. I’m already nearly 70 hours into this game, and there’s still a ton of stuff I haven’t done. That said, I figured I’d post a few quick thoughts about this game. In short, this is easily one of the best games I’ve ever played.

There is simply too much to do in this game. You could spend all day making potions, crafting items, enchanting items, or simply exploring the world, all without ever starting a single quest. I found myself completing many of the “miscellaneous” quests long before I joined any particular faction, or started along the main quest line. There are still giant chunks of the map that I have yet to visit, which is incredible given that I’m so far in.

The game’s graphics are outstanding; head and shoulders above Oblivion’s engine. I’m really impressed with the draw distance, and every dungeon, cave, and mine has a unique feel (fixing one of Oblivion’s few failings). It’s also silky smooth on my system, running on the “High” detail level. Story lines have been interesting so far (though the Thieves’ Guild seemed a little weak), and I’m loving the Dragon Shout abilities. Blasting an enemy off the top of a mountain is so incredibly fun.

I do have a few complaints. The user interface on the PC is pretty terrible, though I’m hopeful that a mod will come along soon to fix that. Voice acting is good, but some of the voices are reused way too much for my liking. Perk points (a new way of leveling your character) are too rare. Give me 2 or 3 points per level, not just 1! Finally, as is usual with this type of game, there are still quite a few bugs. Another patch is coming after Thanksgiving, which should hopefully smooth out some of the rough spots.

If you like role playing games, and you enjoyed the previous Elder Scrolls titles, you’ll like this title. It’s an instant classic in my opinion, and has taken its rightful place in my “best games of all time” list. 5 stars

Googlebar Lite 4.8.2

November 13, 2011

The past two releases had a pretty severe bug impacting people who search in languages that use extended characters. I have resolved the problem, and version 4.8.2 is now available. My apologies for all these bugs. With as much code as I updated, stuff was bound to fall through the cracks, as we’ve now seen. If you spot any more problems, please let me know.

This will be the last version that supports Firefox 3.6.

Googlebar Lite 4.8.1

November 13, 2011

Hot on the heels of the previous Googlebar Lite release, is version 4.8.1 which includes several bug fixes. Here is the change log for this release:

  • Bug Fix: Search terms should no longer mysteriously disappear
  • Bug Fix: The “Site to Use” menu in the Googlebar Lite options dialog is now initialized properly in Linux
  • Bug Fix: Removed several obsolete function calls that were throwing errors after customizing the toolbar

Googlebar Lite 4.8.0

November 11, 2011

Googlebar Lite 4.8.0 is now available to download. This release has a ton of changes. As such, if you spot any problems with the release, please let me know. I updated so much that I might have missed something (but hopefully not). Here’s the change log:

  • Completely redesigned the options interface and the underlying code
  • Added a new option allowing users to disable Google search auto-correct
  • Extension options have been moved to the appropriate “extensions.” branch
  • Menu items within the up button are no longer updated on every page load, improving performance
  • Choices in the search term auto-completion popup menu can now be navigated through with the Tab key
  • Several minor performance improvements
  • The minimum supported Firefox version has been changed from 2.0 to 3.6
  • The maximum supported Firefox version has been changed to 15.*
  • Added a Norwegian (nb-NO) localization
  • Various locale updates
  • Bug Fix: Search terms no longer disappear from the search box when searching over a secure connection
  • Bug Fix: Several registered event listeners were not being removed on shutdown
  • Bug Fix: Secure searches no longer point to the old “beta” secure search website
  • Bug Fix: Corrected a minor bug in the Catalan (ca-AD) locale that affected the Google search site URL

Disappearing Search Terms

November 3, 2011

Update (Nov. 13, 2011): The workaround listed below has apparently been removed by Google.

I’ve been receiving a great deal of mail recently asking about why search terms in Googlebar Lite disappear after navigating away from a Google search results page. The short answer is that Google is to blame, and that Googlebar Lite will work around this issue in the next release now fixes this problem. For a longer explanation of what’s really going on, feel free to continue reading.

Google recently mentioned that they would encrypt searches performed by those who are logged into their Google account. One of the changes of this new behavior is that Google no longer passes your search terms on to the website you visit. They claim to be doing this for security reasons, but from my point of view, this only hurts website authors. No longer can a website author see what search terms are bringing logged-in users to their site.

Here’s a technical look at what happens: when you are logged in to your Google account, and you perform a web search, your search results are presented over an encrypted channel (an https URL). When you click on a search result, Google first forwards your click to an unencrypted channel (http URL), stripping your search terms in the process. They then send you to the search result website. Googlebar Lite picks up on that first step (the forward to the unencrypted channel), and gets confused as a result. It sees the search terms have been stripped, so it removes them from the search box.

There is one way you can currently work around this issue, until I can put a fix into Googlebar Lite. Be forewarned, however, that this workaround will send your searches over an unencrypted channel (i.e. the old Google behavior). Here’s what to do:

  1. In the Googlebar Lite main menu, click the “Search Preferences” menu item (which takes you to the search preferences page at Google).
  2. Scroll to the bottom of the page and uncheck the option labeled “Use a secure HTTPS connection when available.”
  3. Save your changes.

After performing the above, your search terms should no longer disappear from the Googlebar Lite search box. The latest version of Googlebar Lite fixes this issue. Please note that a fix will be placed into the next release of Googlebar Lite to solve this issue in a cleaner manner. I am hard at work on the next release, and am in the midst of a complete overhaul of the options code. As such, it may be a few more weeks before a new release is available. Stay tuned for further updates.