Security vs. Utility

Starting a few upgrades back, Firefox started showing this…

firefox_feature

…  when you clicked on that little icon at the left end of the location bar. (What’s the name for that?) Now, with version 3.5.3 (and perhaps earlier versions — the last one I used before this was 3.0.9), it still shows that same pop-down thing, but no longer selects the location text to the right. That’s not a problem, because you can still select all the location text with one click anywhere within that text. I only discovered that feature by experimenting around. Searching the Mozilla site was useless. The feature also violates normal expectations of what happens when you click once (place cursor), twice (select word), or three times (select all) on text, but I don’t mind. A little conditionality doesn’t hurt, and it’s good to be able to select a whole URI easily.

What I don’t get is why it’s worth mentioning that a site “does not supply identity information” and that the site “is not encrypted” when these two conditions prevail for approximatly every site on the Web, including Firefox’s own, which is the case I used above to demonstrate the feature. Yes, I understand why the pop-down is there, but I’d rather return to having a click on the icon select all the text to the right. Is there a way to go back to that?

Meanwhile what “identity information” are they talking about? Mine? Mozilla’s? If I click on “More Information…” a Page Info window opens, telling me next to “Owner” that “This web site does not supply ownership information.” Of whom? Of what? To whom? Not clear.

Hey, I’ll cop to being a second-rate geek (which is true); but it’s a safe bet that if I don’t know what this is about, regular old Web surfers don’t know, either.

So, as long as we’re being unclear, it’s better (at least for me) to go back a few steps toward something that’s both plain and useful. Bury this pop-down’s functionality in the Tools menu or something.

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5 comments

  1. cori’s avatar

    The icon is a favicon, but that functionality in Firefox is called the Site Identity Button ( or Site Identification Button)
    http://support.mozilla.com/en-US/kb/Site+Identity+Button.

    No way to turn it off in about:config prefs that I could see, but there may be an undocumented one that you could create that would disable that feature. It’s probably more in the land of a plugin, though.

  2. Mark’s avatar

    A site that supports SSL (once you login) seems to make this happy (or at least it reports something). I agree that as implemented, it is less than clear what the heck they intended this to mean.

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