Erstwhile Muse

Jun 11, 2005

Where the hell was THAT in the manual...

Oh wait, there was no manual.

Well, butter me in olive oil and call me petunia...

I'm all for learning software by using the software in question. That's the way I go about most things, and for the most part it works pretty well for me. Every once in a while, I'll check out a tutorial or two, or browse through the help file, or even (heaven fobid) an actual manual—or it's electronic equivalent. But for the most part, once I have the abstract concept down from another source I need to put it into practice to firmly cement the concept into my head.

Most of the time this works out pretty well, but it doesn't really help out with what one might call undocumented features. Kinda like the one I found tonight by pure blind accident, one which makes Firefox even cooler than it had been previously.

A little background into my search for alternatives to the shitastciness that is IE is neccessary for this to be of even marginal interest to most of you, as I am sure most of my dear readers (all 3 of you) do not have cause to use most of the features that I now take for granted in a decent browser. One of these features is Text Zooming.

Text Zooming, for those who have not tried it is a marvelous feature that was originally designed as an accessibility feature to make pages render better for those with vision problems—kind of like large print books for the internet. In theory, it also works the other way around, and allows you to shrink text that you might find overly large, but I very rarely think anyone would have cause to use that aspect of it, given usual trends in text sizing in overall web design—which, in general, suck balls.

I use this fabulous feature of all Gecko based browsers because I am at times a lazy git, and like to lean way back in my fatty-bo-baddy arm chair and read articles at length on my big ass CRT. Arms length that is, as the only part of me even remotely close to the screen and/or keyboard is one hand to scroll and use the back button. Sometimes my feet are also in close proximity if I'm being a truly slothful bastard, but as I have not yet bothered training myself to type with my feet, these are of little help. What is helpful is being able to crank up the text size from microscopic sizes lacking in discernable contrast to something more rational for my environment, even if it would resemble billboard type on most systems.

Now of all the browsers I have tried, K-Meleon was the Moz spinoff that I thought had the best text scaling;it's granularity made it terribly easy to get any page to look decent at sizes that I wanted. It was actually one of the features that cause me to originally be reluctant to switch from over to Firefox—I wanted the tabbed browsing, but didn't want to lose my perfect text scaling and convenient Google Search keyboard shortcut. True, Firefox does have the built in search bar, but it's shortcut isn't as automatically recognizable as K-Meleon's (Ctrl+E as opposed to Ctrl+G).

During my last rebuild, I went ahead and grabbed Firefox instead of K-meleon for my main system in order to give it a true test, and of course became a tabbed browsing junkie in short order. This of course meant that, for the most part, Firefox was there to stay as my main browser. One thing I sorely missed however was the granular text zoom that K-meleon had, as Firefox seemed to use some variation of sizing things up by CSS keyword sizing, or perhaps by the scale method used for relative font sizing keywords such as larger and smaller. This does not always produce pleasing results, depedning on the page involved and the underlying style.

When am I going to get to the fucking point you ask? Excellent question, the answer to which would be—right now. The reason I had been previously disappointed with Firefox's text zoom was because I was used to using keyboard shortcuts, which in this case is Ctrl++ to increase size and Ctrl+- to reduce. These are the same shortcuts as used by K-meleon, so I had become familiar with them. But, there is another way dear readers...oh yes, there is most definately a better way! By holding down Ctrl and using the mouse scroll wheel, you can change the text zoom much more granularly—quite like the old, superior method I had been used to in K-meleon.

Oh frabjous joy says I! Oh wonderful glee! Now of course I may have to ponder remapping my 5th mouse button to Ctrl as oppsed to Forward in order to be able to control text zoom with one hand for those day of epic sloth in which two hands is just really too much effort...

Now all I have to do is figure out how to get Firefox to have the same sort of Image Zoom options available via right-click context menu that K-Meleon had for the other variety of one-handed surfing and I'll be all set.



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