After upgrading to Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, I started to experience problems with Safari 6 and some HTTPS connections. For example I could no longer log into Amazon or even browse forums who used SSL connections. Ironically, I found a post on Apple’s forums that described some of my symptoms, but since the support forums are HTTPS, I could not use Safari. Luckily Firefox still worked. The problem on Apple’s forum went on about SSL Certificate issues and the solution is described on this blog posting, but this problem was specific to Mac OS X 10.7.4 Lion. There is also a bug that has to do with specifying a proxy in Mountain Lion. This seemed more plausible to me, since I use pfSense with Squid Proxy in transparent mode at home, however this also would not explain why only SSL connections had issues and regular HTTP sites worked fine.
After much research, it seems the simplest solutions work best. I had to manually specify my MTU setting from 1500 to 1492 in System Preferences – Network – Advanced… – Hardware – MTU. This immediately resolved my Amazon logging in issue.
With the release of Safari 6, the default font settings preferences have been removed. If you still want to set default fonts without using a custom style sheet you can still use Terminal commands to set them. Another workaround is to use the Quickstyle Safari Extension.
Below are some example commands for Terminal:
defaults write com.apple.Safari com.apple.Safari.ContentPageGroupIdentifier.WebKit2StandardFontFamily 'Lucida Grande'
defaults write com.apple.Safari com.apple.Safari.ContentPageGroupIdentifier.WebKit2DefaultFontSize 16
Fixed Width Font:
defaults write com.apple.Safari com.apple.Safari.ContentPageGroupIdentifier.WebKit2FixedFontFamily Monaco
defaults write com.apple.Safari com.apple.Safari.ContentPageGroupIdentifier.WebKit2DefaultFixedFontSize 12
Over the last year, I have mostly been doing support for web based applications. It certainly has been a big change from having to support general Windows and Citrix users. The most obvious thing that struck me about web applications is the large number of problems that users encounter that are simply due to their browser. I quickly learned that there is no perfect browser, and at times there is not even one that works! By this time I have heard all the comments.
There is the adamant user who thinks the world belongs to IE6 and that “industry standard” is a synonym for Windows IE6. While IE6 is not the worst browser on the planet, it is prone to lots and lots of problems, in general everyone has a problem with IE6. Web designers hate it, cause of the CSS bugs that they have had to code for it. End users hate it because IE6 is usually so locked down by network administrators that it is practically worthless for running anything complicated at times. IT admins hate it because they have to lock it down or else all their users will install spamware toolbars and create more problems. Support people hate it cause they have to spend all day, trying to figure out how to disable pop-up blockers, reset security zones to their default level, and of course the old stand-by: deleting temporary internet files.
Then there is IE7, the better cousin of IE6. Except that IE7 has a new fangled interface and very little in real features or improvements. Then there is that whole thing about many sites not even supporting it officially. In other words, IE7 is a big disappointment, in that it has almost all the same problems as IE6.
Now as to the Firefox lovers out there, let me just say that Firefox is one inconsistent browser. It is harder to support, because there is no target version out there as of today, that I can point to and say it is the standard for Firefox. On average I encounter the 1.5 version of Firefox every day! I would even say, that it is more popular than even the 2.0 version! Just yesterday, I encountered 1.0 Firefox running on a Macintosh! While I like the CSS rendering, and love the expandability of Firefox, I also cannot count on any consistency with Firefox. On average I see problems with Firefox acting differently than IE when it goes through a proxy and running scripts. Common Firefox extensions like AdBlock cause tons of support problems, and did I mention that Firefox seriously lags on the Macintosh platform.
Last but not least is Safari, the up and coming star of the Internet. Safari has doubled its usage and if Apple strikes gold with their Apple iPhone, then Safari usage is sure to go higher. The more you think about it, the more you realize that Apple really needs to deliver a Windows version of Safari. It only makes sense to have Safari compete on Windows. Unlike IE6 it has a nice interface design and is simple to use. Apple has ignored add-ons and stuck with a slimmed down browser, while Firefox has somewhat embraced more bloat features with the 2.0 and future 3.0 versions. In general Safari does work well on the Macintosh platform. I can think of only two glaring problems, its CSS rendering does not work very well for sites that only test IE6 compatibility, and it does somewhat slowdown if you do not clean out favicons and pre-fill form data. Making the leap to Windows though would be hard, Apple would have to most likely use SUN’s JAVA run-time on Windows, and utilize more of the Windows operating system. These are all challenges that Mozilla has tackled and done so only much trial and error.
In conclusion, all browsers have inherent problems. Depending on your view, you can find glaring issues for any of the top browsers. According to my own Mint stats for WebKeyDesign.com, most of my site visitors use Firefox and IE, with Safari running a distant third. My personal favorites though would have to be Safari on OS X and Firefox 2.0 on Windows, and even then I find myself having to customize and hack both heavily before I am even comfortable using them. After all who would use Safari without a Tab button (in the toolbar)?
For web designers who don’t have access to a Mac OS X machine, you might be interested in the Swift browser which is a ported version of WebKit. The same engine Apple uses for Mac OS X’s Safari web browser. The port is very alpha quality, but it at least allows you to see how your site renders in Safari.
At the time of this writing, the site was down. However I was able to download the msi file and install it. If you would like to install Swift, you need to know that VisualC Runtime engine is required for the browser to even load. If the main site is still down, you can download the 0.1 msi installer in rar format from this site.
One of the major problems with the Digital Lifestyle, that Steve Jobs ushered in with such software suites as iLife and the iPod, is that you have to constantly synch between different applications and hardware. Most people end up giving up on a synched lifestyle. One of my major peeves is with Safari, and the lack of an Export option for bookmarks. This is no longer such a big problem, as Mac OS X 10.4 includes an export option for Safari finally, but in case you are using Safari on 10.3, you might consider Ellipsos Productions’s free Safari Bookmark Exporter. This handy little utility allows you to export your Safari bookmarks to any of these support browsers:
- Internet Explorer
- Simple HTML
I use Safari Bookmark Explorer to synch up Firefox to my Safari bookmarks on both my Macintosh and PC workstations. Just arrange Safari’s bookmarks the way you want them and when you are done run SBE and it will even save your bookmarks to the correct directory for the browser you specify. To synch up to a different machine, you have to copy the file it creates and manually overwrite your other bookmarks.html file on your other computer.
Over the weekend I noticed that browsing in Safari and in Firefox was significantly slower than normal and since I had upgraded my Powerbook to Mac OS X Tiger, I figured it was probably a bug and Apple would fix it in 10.4.2 or some other update. However I started to look at it and see if I could fix it myself.
Apparantly some OS X Tiger users have been recommending that you disable IP6 in your Network Preferences, which does seem to work, but I’m not sure how long this lasts or if it is the actual fix or not.
I decided to spend some time tightening up my Netgear wireless router and noticed that the router setup did not have my ISP DNS server ip addresses. I corrected that and then in OS X Network Preferences I put the ip address for my router and that seemed to fix things and now browsing is back to normal.
The bug must be with the DNS settings, it must some how not be sending them through the router correctly, like it use to on Mac OS 10.3. Hopefully Apple will fix it soon.