Firefox: Clearing “Recent Locations” in Bookmarks

Another day, another Firefox tip!

I’ve been using Firefox for years, and I’ve had one minor (but annoying) problem for a long time now: when you go to save a bookmark, there’s a handy list of previously used folders. That way you can quickly choose a folder to save the bookmark, rather than click through the entire folder hierarchy.

Firefox Bookmarks
Problem is, this list stopped updating about 5 years ago.  The issue followed me through several versions of Firefox, on both desktop and laptop. I could save a hundred bookmarks in some other folder, but this list of recent folders has looked exactly as shown above since 2016 or 2017. And it was super annoying, since I mostly only use bookmarks as a session-saving type system these days. I save each Firefox window in a folder called “Sessions”… which I always had to manually click to, since the folders shown above never updated.

But yes, there is a way to fix this:

1) Open a new tab in Firefox and enter “about: config” (without quotes) into the address bar. Click “Accept the Risk and Continue” when prompted.

2) Type (or paste) “devtools.chrome.enabled” into the search box, and when it appears, double-click it to change the value from FALSE to TRUE. Close the tab when done.

3) Click the hamburger menu in the upper-right of he screen and click More Tools > Browser Console. A small window with a bunch of techo-gobbledygook will open:

Browser Console

4) Type (or paste) the following at the cursor on the bottom of this window:

await PlacesUtils.metadata.set(PlacesUIUtils.LAST_USED_FOLDERS_META_KEY,[]);

5) Restart Firefox. When you try to bookmark a page, the previous locations should now be empty, and will refill over time as you save to various folders.

The Amazing Dabbawalas

In 1995, a regional political party named Shiv Sena came into power in India and followed through on a campaign promise to rename the city of Bombay to Mumbai. Which is understandable. No one wants colonial names around. That’s how [King] Charles Town, South Carolina became Charleston.

Still, Mumbai wasn’t very noteworthy until May 11, 1661. That’s when England’s King Charles (hey, the “Charles Town” guy!) acquired Bombay as part his new wife’s dowry. She was Catherine of Braganza, daughter of King John IV of Portugal. Charles in turn leased the land to the English East India Company for £10 a year. And when the East India Company got serious about building a trading center there, they didn’t play around. The population exploded from 10,000 Bombayites in 1661 to 60,000 by 1675. Long story short: the East India Company turned Bombay into a gigantic trading city. For decades, it was a money-printing machine for the British Empire.

But here’s the thing: most people settling in Bombay were traders from all over southeast Asia. Which was a problem. With so many different cultures and tastes and religions, it was hard for anyone to run a successful restaurant that suited everyone. So, in Bombay the practice became to just go home for lunch, or have your wife or maid bring you lunch, or meet you at a park… or something. By 1890, Bombay had become enough of a modern business city that many Bombayites were going to offices every day.

This is where dabbawalas come in. Every workday morning they stop by their customer’s houses to pick up a hot meal, prepared by the wife or household staff, packed in a series of stackable metal dishes called a tiffin or dabba. Each dabba is labeled with a unique destination code that uses symbols, colors, letters, and numbers. This system is universal to dabbawalas and is easily picked up by illiterate dabbawalas.

Tiffin
A typical tiffin or dabba.

The dabbawala picks up all the dabbas from his customers and heads to the nearest train station. He will meet other dabbawalas and may exchange some dabbas with them, whichever is most efficient. He then takes the train downtown and meets other dabbawalas, again exchanging dabbas. He then delivers all his meals, then rests for bit before doing it all again in reverse, picking up all the empty dabbas from offices, exchanging them with other dabbawalas as needed, and returning them to their homes.

Even though there are no computers whatsoever in this system, and even though most dabbawalas only have a rudimentary education (at best), this system is often claimed to be the most reliable and most accurate delivery service in the world. On a typical workday, dabbawalas deliver over 200,000 meals, and average fewer than 4 delivery errors per *million* transactions. That’s astounding. Dabbawalas take their jobs very seriously. In a city where the trains may not run on time, and the phone\power\internet go down way more often than they should, dabbawalas are SERIOUS about making sure you at least your lunch on time.

Firefox: Copying “Uncopyable” Text

Have you ever been to a website that won’t let you copy text? Like this page, for example? There are a few workarounds for this, especially with Firefox.

The easiest is to just click the “Reading Mode” icon in Firefox’s address bar:

This presents a simplified page with most of the ads and graphics stripped out. You can easily copy text now:

Another option uses uBlock Origin. uBlock is one of the most popular ad blocking extensions, and it’s available for Firefox, Chrome and Edge.  If you don’t use uBlock already, you probably should. In Firefox you can install it by clicking the hamburger icon in the upper right corner of a Firefox window and then “Add-ons and themes” and type “uBlock Origin” in the search bar. Make sure you install uBlock Origin and not plain old uBlock or any other variant. For other browsers, just go to its extensions site\store and install it from there.

In any case, if you click on the uBlock icon in the Firefox toolbar, you can click the “</>” icon to disable JavaScript, then click the “Reload page” icon just above it (the arrows in a circle):

Ublock Disable Javascript

Ublock Reload Page

Don’t forget to re-enable JavaScript when done! uBlock disables JavaScript on a per-domain basis, so while it shouldn’t affect other websites, it might affect some other aspect of the current site.

The inability to copy text is almost always done in JavaScript. So disabling JavaScript will almost always allow you to copy text. But digging through the settings in whichever browser you use can be a chore, and may require a restart of the browser.

There are plenty of Firefox and Chrome\Edge extensions that let you toggle JavaScript off and on, and they usually work. But it’s so rare that I come across this that I usually try Reading Mode first, and it that doesn’t work, disabling JavaScript via uBlock works about 99% of the time. If this happens to you all the time – maybe copying text from “protected” pages is what you do at work all day – then maybe one of those simple JavaScript togglers would work best for you. Most of these disable JavaScript within the browser, so don’t forget to turn it back on when done!

Firefox: Turning Off the Download Pop-Up

Firefox 97+ has introduced an annoying new “feature”: when you download a file – any file – the download progress meter pops-up when the download completes, whether you want it to or not. Perhaps the pop-up is helpful if you’re downloading a large file over a slow connection… but if you’re downloading a bunch of smaller image files it’s more annoying than helpful.

It’s pretty easy to stop the pop-up window. Note that the following procedure will ONLY disable the pop-up at completion: the other behavior of the download button on the toolbar is not affected:

– In the address bar, type about:config and press ENTER. Accept the warning message (the exact text varies by Firefox version) and click “Continue”.

– Type (or paste) browser.download.alwaysOpenPanel in the search box at the top of the window.

– The value for the entry should be set to TRUE. Double-click the text and it should change to FALSE.

I honestly don’t remember if this requires a restart of Firefox, so you’ll need to figure it out for yourself (I think it doesn’t, but could be wrong). It probably won’t hurt to restart anyway.

The Bolton Strid

This is the Bolton Strid. Many call it “the most dangerous river in the world”. And they’re not wrong: if you were fall in the specific bit of the river shown in the picture, your chances of dying are around 95%.

The Strid is part of the River Wharfe in Yorkshire. As you can see from the picture below, the river is fairly broad a few miles north of the Strid.

River Wharfe

So here’s the thing: as it narrows to a space an adult could easily jump over, all that water has to go somewhere. In this case, it goes down, and over the centuries the current has dug trenches as deep as 40 feet (12m) in some places. This means the river effectively turns sideways through the Strid.

But here’s the killer: the first 4 feet (1.2m) of water in the Strid move at a leisurely pace: around 5mph (8KM/h) on a normal day. So ducks can take-off, land and float down the river without a problem. But underneath that there’s another layer running between 25-30mph (40-48KM/h). It’ll sweep you off your feet in an instant, and if you get pushed into one of those 40 foot deep trenches… you’re not coming out. Ever. Not alive, anyway. No amount of human muscle-power can outswim that current, and even if a fully-equipped rescue team watched you fall in, there’s just NOTHING they could do to rescue you.

A Ukrainian Benefit Album

If you’re looking for a new album to relax or work to, check out this new ambient\modern classical compilation album at Bandcamp. 100% of all proceeds (even Bandcamp fees) will be given to the International Rescue Committee (rescue.org) to support displaced Ukrainian children and families.

BUT WAIT… THERE’S MORE! The album was coordinated by Mint Julep’s Hollie Kenniff, and contains a track from her and her husband (under his “Goldmund” alter-ego). If you buy the album in the next week or so and send a screencap of your receipt to Mint Julep’s Facebook Messenger account, they’ll send you a link to their new, as yet unreleased, covers album. It’s got their take on Bananarama’s “Cruel Summer”, Tears for Fears’ “Shout”, Headphones’ “I Never Wanted You” and more!

That’s TWO ALBUMS for as little as $10! GO! GO! GO! HELP SOME UKRAINIANS AND GET SOME NEW TUNES! DO IT NOW!

https://headphonecommute.bandcamp.com/album/for-ukraine-volume-1

Get Firefox MP3 Save Prompts Back

I love Firefox, I really do. But every so often the browser’s built-in media player will turn itself on, and any video or mp3 I click on will open a new tab with the file being played by the browser’s player instead of loading the download prompt, which is what I want.

Thankfully, it’s pretty easy to fix:

– In the address bar, type about:config and press ENTER. Accept the warning message (the exact text varies by Firefox version) and click “Continue”.

– Type (or paste) media.play-stand-alone in the search box at the top of the window.

– The value for the entry will almost certainly be set to TRUE. Double-click the text and it should change to FALSE.

This change should take effect immediately, without having to restart Firefox, although it certainly won’t hurt to restart anyway.

Red Pistachios?

Red pistachios don’t exist anymore – in the US anyway – because of politics.

Pistachios are native to the Middle East, and Iran used to grow about 98% of America’s supply. The traditional method of harvesting them is to cut down the grape-like bunches and store them until needed. But storing “wet” pistachios for more than 24 hours creates an unattractive (but harmless) mottling on the shell, which Middle Easterners “fixed” by staining them that unnatural shade of red.

Not surprisingly, importing Iranian pistachios was banned in 1979 due to the hostage crisis, so California farmers got into pistachios in a big way. Those farmers learned that, if you put the nuts in an industrial dryer within 24 hours of harvesting, the shells didn’t stain, so there was no need to dye them. Some did, at first, because that’s what consumers were used to. But the whole practice soon died out, so Gen Z kids don’t get the Naked Gun joke at all.

"Naked Gun" Pistachios

My Top Albums Of 2021

There was an avalanche of great music in 2021! I could sit here and try to come up with a compelling intro this year… but instead of some long monologue… let’s just get right to it!

Below are my ten favorite albums of 2021. The list comes from my Last.fm stats generally; I reserve the right to tinker with the order. After that are the honorable mentions, followed by some notable albums and EPs. Then there’s the “Song of the Year” and the raw data from Last.fm.

My Top Albums of 2021

10) Theodora – Too Much For One Heart – France’s Theordora is a producer, bassist and singer who has worked with such noted French acts Pi Ja Ma, Fishbach, SAGE and others. And her debut album is really solid! Spotify put “Vagiues Dans La Mer” on one of my playlists, so I checked out the rest of the album and liked it. “Step Into Disorder” is a track I really dug. Not everything is golden here, though: “Go” is a song I could absolutely live without. Still, I look forward to hearing more from her in the near future.

9) Munya – Voyage to Mars– Talk about showing up out of nowhere! Montreal’s Josie Boivin (performing as “Munya”) just kind of blew me out of the water with her debut album! “Voyage” sucked me in immediately, as it reminds me of a Saint Etienne non-album single from 1994. It kicks, and has the odd distinction of starting off in English and finishing in French. But as I listened to the album I was surprised by how many good songs there are here. “Cocoa Beach” is a chill (but thumpin’) pop tune that is just crying out for some hip TV show to put in an episode. “Pour Toi” sounds like something you’d hear in whatever the French version of The Gap is (Petit Bateau? Camaieu?). “Boca Chica” is a lovely throwback to 60s bubblegum pop. Not every song works, and after a while it does tend to get a bit “samey”. But as a fun lil’ album, this is hard not to like!

8) Kraków Loves Adana – Follow the Voice – Let me start by saying I have no idea what happened when KLA left Italians Do It Better. But then Chromatics broke up, which makes me think Johnny Jewel is a control freak. I mention this because I’m one of the few people who prefers the Jewel version of the title track over the one below. And I think Jewel’s presence in the production room was a good thing for the band. But I get it: KLA needed to be free, and they’re now free to make another great album. KLA is such a… dramatic band. I don’t mean that every song is DRAMA or INTENSE. There’s just something so… Streets of Fire about them. Like, every one of their albums is a rock and roll fable. Even though they’re from Freiburg you can almost feel the spirit of Meatloaf with them in the studio. Problem is, for me, this trick eventually wears out its welcome. So KLA albums are rarely something I listen to start to finish. It’s all about individual tracks with these guys. “Follow the Voice” is, of course, fantastic. But so are “I Have to Go”, “See You Shout” and “Taint My Mind”.  In fact, the first 8 tracks hit it pretty hard, it just kind of runs out of gas by the end. Still, a good KLA album is a wonderful thing!

7) Alice et Moi – Drama – French songwriter Alice Vannoorenberghe – mercifully often shortened to just “Alice Vanor” – performs with several session musicians as Alice et Moi. And they’re good. “Je suis fan” (below) sounds like the soundtrack for a cool montage from Killing Eve.  “Mamman m’a dit” is just cool, chill Europop. There’s much to love here, and the thing is, Alice have released an EP and a few singles, so it’s easy to forget that this is a debut LP. She’s proven she can write singles, and this proves she can write a full album. So what’s next? I expect big things from this woman!

6) Videoclub – Euphories – So,  one thing about French synthpop is that… it’s mostly popular in France. So, anything you can find out about these bands is in French. But then, there are just some bands that lack any kind of media following. So I’m told that Videoclub is French duo, formed in 2018 in Nantes by Adèle Castillon and Matthieu Reynaud. They appear to be very young. But the band’s official Insta account seems to feature Castillon almost exclusively, so maybe it’s mostly just her? I dunno. What I do know is that this is good synthpop. It’s not an album I played endlessly… but it’s an album I kept coming back to over and over again throughout the year, finding new songs to love: “Amour plastique”, “Roi”, “Enfance 80”, “SMS”… there are lots of good songs here!

5) Hollie Kenniff – The Quiet Drift – Hollie Kenniff is the “wife” portion of the husband & wife duo that make up my favorite band, Mint Julep (husband Keith also releases music under the names Helios and Goldmund). Hollie, an industrial music fan as a teen, has turned to the ambient side of things, making several gentle, lovely albums such as this. It’s good for what ails ya – if you need to sleep or relax, or just need 5 damn minutes to yourself as you drive to the store, Hollie (and this album) have you covered. Or you can do what I do and bring your Bluetooth headphones with you and make Walmart bearable! Seriously – this is a good album, it’s just something you might not listen to every day.

4) Flunk – History of Everything Ever – Let’s not kid ourselves here. Flunk is chill-out music, nothing more, nothing less. They’re not here to rock you like a hurricane or rave on like circa 1998 Paul Oakenfold. They’re something you put on at a gathering for a hip coffee shop-type atmosphere. This might sound dismissive, but it’s not. I’m just telling you exactly what Flunk is. The opening track – “Down Here/Moon Above” is really insanely great. So is the next track, “Fingertips”, which evokes the carefree Emilíana Torrini of “Unemployed in  Summertime” (which, from me, is a compliment of the highest order). From then on, it gets mellower and mellower. “Midsummer”, “Pullover” and “Fate (Or Coincidence)” are all great songs, but nothing to get the dance floor shaking. But wait – there’s more! The cover of “Ashes to Ashes” on this album is both stripped-down Flunk at their best, but is also over the top in its own lovely way. Also, a hat tip to lead singer Anja Øyen Vister, who officially became “Anja Øyen Vister, MD” this year.

3) Magdalena Bay – Mercurial World – I was immediately sucked into the world of Mag Bay, but I just really couldn’t figure out why. Then I read a review of this album that made it all click: “[Magdalena Bay’s] fuzzy, rococo synthpop confections have a magic power: They sound like whatever you grew up with, whenever that was”. That is SO SPOT ON! Anyone who grew up in the 70s, 80s, 90s, or 00s can find something to love here, and it all lives together in the slightly off-kilter world Mica Tenenbaum and Matthew Lewin have created. Sometimes it’s a bit on the nose (The opening song? “The End”. The closing song? “The Beginning”!). But let’s not pretend that “Secrets (Your Fire)”, “Chaeri” and “Hysterical Us” aren’t straight-up bangers. I think what’s even more impressive here is that Mag Bay actually delivered a great album, despite of the near-constant hype of the Indie Blogosphere. It would have been easy for the band to just throw out whatever knowing Gorilla vs Bear was going to praise it to the heavens regardless. But they didn’t let us down! Awesome!

2) Saint Etienne – I’ve Been Trying to Tell You – So… remember a decade ago, when the cool thing was pop songs that had been slowed down, like, 800 percent and sounded like some weird ambient track? Well, Saint Etienne’s Bob Stanley – author of Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!: The Story of Pop Music from Bill Haley to Beyoncé – was working on another book during the COVID lockdown, and would play these “3 hour version of Harry Styles’ ‘Golden’ slowed down 800%” videos on YouTube, and he came up with the idea of making an album that relied heavily on that sort of sound. But it would be about memory, human memory. It would be a trip back to the 90s with slowed-down songs and samples. It was about looking back on your youth as your own unreliable narrator. And, according to many reviewers, they hit the nail on the head. Like, on a genius level. Problem for me is, I didn’t grow up in England in the 90s, so I can’t relate. All the clever sampling is lost on me. So while I can see this is a hazy trip down memory lane and can appreciate it at some level, the samples and songs that are supposed to evoke this viscerally just don’t trigger anything in me. Although I really like the album (it’s #2 on my list, after all), I also lament that “Pond House” might be the peppiest, most “radio-friendly” track on the album. This generally isn’t something you can throw on at a party. Unless it’s a very specific type of party.

1) Mint Julep – In a Deep & Dreamless Sleep – Congratulations to Mint Julep for becoming my new favorite band and by being the first band on these annual lists with back-to-back albums of the year! And honestly, I know I have a flair for the dramatic at times, but I genuinely don’t know what to say. Earlier this winter I posted this on Facebook, about the first time I heard Cocteau Twins “Lorelei”:

It was gray and misty and drizzly that fall afternoon, and chilly enough to need a jacket… in this case, my sexy 80s maroon and silver Nike windbreaker. There were a couple big empty lots near my house with tall grass and gentle hills that, in my teenage mind, I could combine with the mist and drizzle to imagine that I was in Scotland somewhere.
And then track 8 came on. And it was like getting hit upside the head with a 2×4′ of goosebumps and bells and Australian birds and drum machines and angels singing. It was music like nothing I’d ever even IMAGINED could exist before. It was like being shot head-first out of a cannon, and it fundamentally rewired my brain as to what “music” could be.
Mint Julep manages to do the same thing to me, 35 years later. There’s just this feel to their music. They don’t “sound like” Cocteau Twins or Clan of Xymox or This Mortal Coil… yet they’re so adjacent to those acts. I mean, just listen to this and tell me it doesn’t have “1980s 4AD record” in its DNA:

Out of the gate, Mint Julep is entirely capable of making some of the most beautiful music ever. It’s all so light and delicate and fragile. “Gossamer”, if you want the 50 cent word. But even when they’re not intending to fly at 80,000 feet, there’s this:

One of their great talents is taking some old 80s-style keyboard riff and artfully drowning it in layer after layer of sound, creating a tiny – but perfect –  gem, a hundred-layer cake of sound. An emotional whirlwind. Like another of my favorite bands – the apparently moribund Postiljonen – Mint Julep also have a knack for making music that’s somehow deeply nostalgic, even if you’ve never heard it before.

I won’t say the album’s perfect. I don’t know why, but I feel like a couple songs should be switched in order (“Lure” and “Longboat Drift” for one). But for all intents and purposes, Mint Julep are my favorite new band, so I’m not going to see any flaws in them. I’m a smitten kitten, what else do you want me to say… other than to hang on, because they have another new album coming out soon!

Honorable Mentions

Brijean – Feelings

Charles – Let’s Start a Family Tonight

Clio – L’amour hélas

Drug Store Romeos – The World Within Our Bedrooms

Hoshi – Étoile flippante

Japanese Breakfast – Jubilee

Kero Kero Bonito – Civilisation

Ladyhawke – Time Flies

Men I Trust – Untourable Album

Part-Time Friends – Weddings and Funerals

Requin Chagrin – Bye Bye Baby

EPs, and Other Albums of Note

Bon Entendeur – Minuit
Clara Luciani – Coeur
Coeur de Pirate – Perséides
Hante. – Morning Tsunami
Joon – Dream Again
Somegirl – Both Sharp And Sweet
You, Nothing – Lonely // Lovely
Angèle – Nonante-Cinq (too new to include!)

Leathers – “Reckless” (EP)
Genoux Verner – “Impair” (EP)

Song of the Year

Minimal Schlager’s “FMB” just grabbed a hold of me this year and refused to let go. It is, in many ways, the perfect pop song, and even has a shout-out to Cocteau Twins in it. What’s not to love about this song?

Last.fm Stuff

All data scraped on 12/29/2021.

Overall albums of the year from 01/01/2021 to 12/29/2021, with release year and annual play count:

1) Empathy Test– Monsters (2020, 1168)
2) Mint Julep – Broken Devotion (2016, 1085)
3) Mint Julep – In a Deep and Dreamless Sleep (2021, 732)
4) Hoshi – Étoile flippante (2021, 654)
5) Kraków Loves Adana – Darkest Dreams (2020, 461)
6) Hollie Kenniff – The Quiet Drift (2021, 421)
7) You Drive – You Drive (2018, 371)
8) Hollie Kenniff – The Gathering Dawn (2019, 350)
9) Saint Etienne – I’ve Been Trying to Tell You (2021, 311)
10) Mint Julep – Stray Fantasies (2020, 300)

Adjusted albums of the year, 2021 releases only:

1) Mint Julep – In a Deep and Dreamless Sleep (732)
2) Hoshi – Étoile flippante (654)
3) Hollie Kenniff – The Quiet Drift (421)
4) Saint Etienne – I’ve Been Trying to Tell You (311)
5) Munya – Voyage to Mars (228)
6) Magdalena Bay – Mercurial World (211)
7) Videoclub – Euphories (210)
8) Clara Luciani – Cœur (208)
9) Brijean – Feelings (184)
10) Theodora – Too Much For One Heart (141)

Total plays per artist, 2021

1) Mint Julep (2,690)
2) Empathy Test (1,177)
3) Holllie Kenniff (797)
4) Minimal Schlager (757)
5) Hoshi (755)
6) Cannons (672)
7) Kraków Loves Adana (590)
8) Saint Etienne (573)
9) R. Missing (530)
10) Kid Francescoli (525)

Total plays per artist since joining Last.fm in 2010

1) Marsheaux (5,866)
2) Saint Etienne (3,691)
3) Mint Julep (3,684)
4) You Drive (3,265)
5) Chromatics (2,096)
6) CHVRCHES (1,965)
7) Desire (1,888)
8) Purity Ring (1,830)
9) Burning Peacocks (1,734)
10) Postiljonen (1,723)

Previous “Albums of the Year”

2020: Mint Julep – Stray Fantasies
2019:
Chromatics – Closer to Grey
2018:
You Drive – You Drive
2017: Saint Etienne – Home Counties
2016: Marsheaux – Ath.Lon
2015: Purity Ring – Another Eternity
2014: La Roux – Trouble in Paradise
2013: Marsheaux – Inhale
2012: Beach House – Bloom
2011: The Raveonettes – Raven in the Grave
2010: Katy Perry – Teenage Dream*

* – There was no single choice for “best album” in 2010; the article simply listed my favorite albums that year in no particular order. The choice of Teenage Dream was made ex post facto from that list of albums.