How to download pics and video from Instagram using a browser with no add-ons or extra apps

Yet another Firefox feature you won’t find in Chrome.

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Every guide I’ve seen on how to do this talks about inspecting elements or installing add-ons or apps. None of that is necessary. Here’s how you do it:

  1. Open the image or video’s specific Instagram page (e.g. https://www.instagram.com/p/BOpZDePDQ2b/) in Firefox.
  2. Right-click on the background.
  3. Click Page Info.
  4. In the window that pops up, click the Media tab.
  5. Sort the results by Type.
  6. The pic you want will be one of the Image entries in type, while the video you want will be the Video entry. An example is shown below:
    clipboard01
  7. Select which one you want.
  8. Click Save As…

And that’ll do it. You’ll get the original .jpg upload or an .mp4 video. This method of downloading videos also works for Clippit.tv, with the exception that you might have to play the video first to allow Firefox to sniff it before clicking Page Info.

Windows, OS X, or Linux: on which OS do apps use the least RAM?

Windows trounces macOS & Ubuntu in client application RAM consumption.

UPDATE: In the latest version of this study, Windows 10 trounces Ubuntu and macOS.

Some caveats on what follows:

  1. Testing was done on Firefox only. Howeve since Firefox is open source, very actively developed, and has prioritized low RAM usage, it’s a good representative of well-engineered multiplatform apps.
  2. The developer’s conclusion is based on the factor by which RAM consumption changes. My conclusion is based on the total RAM consumption, period.
  3. The Windows results are for Windows 7. Since subsequent versions of Windows are known to use progressively less RAM, it’s safe to assume RAM consumption is better on Windows 10.

That said, below are the results for Firefox on all 3 OSes:

Memory Usage of Firefox with e10s Enabled – Eric Rahm
Linux wins, Windows 7 comes in second, and OS X finishes 3rd.

Clearly, if client application RAM consumption is your major concern, Linux is the OS for you. Windows comes second, while OS X brings up the rear. Feel free to use this as ammo in the nearest OS flamewar.

How to fix Firefox’s “An accessibility tool is or was active” e10s error

The problem is an obscure about:config setting.

So you want to try Mozilla Firefox’s new (Nightly build) multiprocess – e10s – functionality, but the option is greyed out with the following ominous message:

“An accessibility tool is or was active”

Here’s what to do:

  1. Navigate to about:config.
  2. In the search bar, enter browser.tabs.remote.autostart.disabled-because-using-a11y.
  3. In the results, toggle the corresponding entry value to false.

e10s should run just fine now.

The best way to block ads: AdBlock Plus vs. a custom hosts file (HostsMan)

The champ is here.

After using AdBlock Plus (ABP) for years, I decided to try a custom hosts file for ad blocking instead for a bit. Searching for “Adblock Plus vs. hosts file” produces nothing but forum posts and very few actual comparisons; this should help fix that. The central issue addressed is here is whether in-browser ad block is better that hosts file ad blocking. For this, I’ve selected the most commonly used/best of breed solution for each and compared them based on my experiences with both.

AdBlock Plus

Pros:

  • High granularity: wild cards allow blocking of specific section(s) of a domain instead of the entire domain.
  • Can be enabled or disabled per site.
  • Easily accessible browser based UI.
  • Intuitive UI.
  • Can interactively block elements onscreen.
  • Very actively developed.
  • Filters updated on a daily basis.
  • Is open source.
  • Changing lists or lists subscriptions or otherwise editing rules does not disrupt internet connection.
  • Subscription change effects are seen in real time.

Cons:

  • Very high RAM penalty (~35% in Win64 Firefox 36.0a1 on Windows 8.1).
  • Works only in the browser; don’t block ads elsewhere.
  • Can seriously break browser functionality.
  • Slows browser and PC down because every element URL request has to be checked against blocking rules first, which holds up everything else while that happens.

HostsMan

Pros:

  • No RAM penalty.
  • No CPU penalty.
  • Blocks ads across the entire OS, not just the browser.
  • Don’t break browser functionality.

Cons:

  • Very low granularity: can block entire domains only.
  • Can’t be enabled or disabled per site.
  • Less accessible UI than ABP.
  • Less intuitive UI than ABP.
  • Cannot interactively block elements onscreen.
  • Less actively developed than ABP.
  • Hosts files updated significantly less frequently than ABP lists.
  • Lots of false positives that break website functionality, e.g. sharing buttons and social logins can disappear.
  • Still lets quite a few ads through.
  • Is closed source.
  • Changing the hosts file can (temporarily) disrupt your internet connection.
  • Delete Entry in the hosts file editor often fails after the first use per session.

Conclusion

HostsMan’s main advantage is its lower resource overhead. Sadly, said lower resource usage doesn’t translate into particularly faster page loads or browser performance from a superficial user perspective, and so isn’t nearly enough to overcome its numerous other shortcomings. Ironically, some pages do seem to load slower with HostsMan than they do with ABP. The latter’s better UI and UX make it the winner.

Mozilla: implementing H.264 support on Android took 6 times as long as it did on Windows

We have spent around 3 man years and counting getting H.264 playback working on all of the different Android variants. Contrast that with Windows Vista and above which took around 6 months

via H.264 in Firefox Android | Technical Debt Collector.

*Drops mic.*

How to prevent Firefox from playing directly linked MP4 files in the browser

Oh hey classic MP4 functionality, nice seeing you again
Oh hey classic MP4 functionality, nice seeing you again

Every now and then a beloved piece of software acquires a new feature that sounds good on paper, but really breaks your workflow. This is the case with Firefox’s relatively new found ability to play directly linked MP4 files in the browser without a plugin. Nothing wrong with that, I just prefer to download such files – usually HD movie trailers – using DownThemAll and watch them later using VLC.

So here’s how you revert to the old handling of MP4 files:

  1. Enter about:config in the address bar
  2. Hit Enter
  3. Click I’ll be careful, promise!
  4. In the Search field, enter media.windows-media-foundation.enabled
  5. Double-click the True in the media.windows-media-foundation.enabled result to change it to False
  6. Close the browser tab

That should do it.