September 7, 2008

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For a while now the Firefox URL address bar has also served as a shortcut to Google search. I’ve never liked that default, even though I found it handy, and have wanted to change the setting from time to time. But I never got around to it, mostly because I didn’t know how — and still don’t. (I also wanted to get rid of — or at least find the option to get rid of — the gray shade that comes down when I click on the little icon to the left of a URL, and says “This website does not supply encrypted information. Your connection to this site is not encrypted.” For all sites, pretty much. So, if I want to copy a URL by first clicking on the icon, I have to do that twice. I think this “feature” showed up around Firefox 2.5, but I forget. It predates 3.0, I’m pretty sure.)

Anyway, now suddenly my Firefox address bar’s default search engine is no longer Google but , with results identical to Yahoo’s. Why is that? I’m thinking it might be due to activating , which is a Yahoo property. Could it be that I’m using OpenDNS name servers? (Been doing that for a while, actually.) There’s also this in Wikipedia’s OpenDNS entry, under Privacy Issues and Covert Redirection,

While the OpenDNS name resolution service is free, people have complained about how the service handles failed requests. If a domain cannot be found, the service redirects you to a search page with search results and advertising provided by Yahoo.[citation needed] A DNS user can switch this off via the OpenDNS Control Panel...
Also, a user’s search request from the address bar of a browser that is configured to use the Google search engine (with a certain parameter configured) may be covertly redirected to a server owned by OpenDNS without the user’s consent (but within the OpenDNS Terms of Service).[12] Browsers configured to omit this parameter do not get redirected and address-bar searches are sent to Google as normal.[12] . Firefox and Flock users can fix this problem by installing an extension.[13]

That extension is the Feeling Lucky Fixer, from Cotcaro. While the two reviews of the thing both give it five stars, it’s still an “experimental” add-on, which requires a log-in (and has had only 170 downloads as of this moment).

So now I’m slowing to pass through that detour (not an instant process, since I run mail to my main address through Gmail for spam filtration, which can delay mail for up to several minutes)… but now I’ve done it and restarted Firefox… and encountered Glitch #1: Firefox didn’t remember my tabs, even though I told it to. Grr.

Also, the extension doesn’t work. When I type cotcaro, for example, in the address bar, it takes me to the OpenDNS search page.

So, does anybody know what’s going on here? I feel like my address bar has been hijacked, but I’m not sure that’s what’s going on. Yet.