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"Software-Patents" in Europe: The threat prevails

Soon the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers will again decide about the legalisation and adoption of so-called "software patents" in Europe, which are already used by large companies in other countries to put competitors out of business. This can lead to the termination of many software projects such as Mozilla, at least within Europe, because the holders of the over 30,000 already granted "software patents" (currently without a legal foundation) can claim exclusive rights and collect license fees for trivial things like "progress bars", "mouseclicks on online order forms", "scrolling within a window" and similar. That way, software developers will have to pay the "software-patentholders" for using these features, even in their own, completely self-developed applications, which can completely stall the development of innovative software for small and medium companies. Apart from this, the expense for patent inquiries and legal assistence is high, for even trying to find out if the self-developed software is possibly violating "software-patents", if you want to continue to market your software. Contrary to real patents, "software-patents" are, in the draft proposed by the commission, monopolization of business ideas and methods, even without any tangible technical implementation.

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Mozilla is a great browser. Not only is it free (as in beer) and Free (as in Free Speech), but it also offers a very capable e-mail client, a lot of configuration and customisation possibilities, and is 100% compatible with current web standards.
However, the out-of-the-box installation available for several different platforms and versions does not necessarily show all possibilites that Mozilla offers. The same is true for Mozilla's half-brother Netscape. Netscape in its newest incarnations, i.e. Netscape 6 and Netscape 7 (currently in beta status) is based on the Mozilla source code, but contains some additional software, such as an Instant Messenger Client, RealPlayer or Winamp. These pages give you a small glimpse on the options that Mozilla (or Netscape) offer. Not everything shown here may work with every version of these browsers, but the majority of the following customisations should be pretty general.

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Other resources for Mozilla/Netscape users

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Add a Preferences Toolbar to Mozilla

Popup blocking is one of the most interesting features of the Mozilla suite. It allows the user to deny any webpage the ability to open additional browser windows, thus effectively limiting the rather annoying pop-up commercials that some sites "feature". The setting for this useful functionality is deeply hidden in the Preferences dialog of the Edit menu. In addition to this feature, Mozilla Prefbar offers one-stop access to the following configuration items, and many more:

For the other features that are available (Delete Cache or History, Proxy configuration, Cookie Management etc), please check out Preferences Toolbar 2:

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Add the Googlebar to Mozilla for faster web searches

Google is my favourite search engine on the web, not only because of its speed and its extensive coverage of uncommon webpages, but also because it offers speciality searches like the image finder or the very useful usenet/newsgroup archive

Mozilla's Googlebar

It has been quite some time that Google developed the Google Toolbar for Internet Explorer. This pretty useful add-on displays a toolbar within IE (hence the name) that you can use to query Google without having to go to the Google webpage beforehand, thereby saving you a considerable amount of time if you consult Google as often as I do.
However, at this moment there is no such plug-in officially available for Mozilla/Netscape. Luckily, someone started a project that offers this functionality for those browsers. The Mozdev Googlebar looks, feels and acts exactly like the original, and is also available in several different languages. To install this tool, point your browser to the installation page. Make sure that "Software Installation" is enabled in your Mozilla preferences (for more details, check the instructions on softwae installation on the Mozilla user interface page). Once eneabled, simply click on the installation link located on the page, re-start Mozilla and enjoy this great new feature.
Hint #1: Occasionally (rarely), the Googlebar might disappear, or simply not show when you start Mozilla. To re-display the Googlebar, select the "View" menu, and click on "Google Toolbar" within the "Show/Hide" submenu.
Hint #2: The default Google logo that comes with Mozdev Googlebar is not too beautiful. If you want to have the real logo in your Googlebar, you can download a new logo and install it instead. Simply go to the page, and save the diplayed image (right-click on the logo, select "Save Image as...") into the chrome/googlebar/content/skin subdirectory of your Mozilla installation. You might want to make a copy of the original file (GOOGLE.png) located in the same directory.

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What to do if the Java-Plugin doesn't work?

Sometimes, web pages that make use of Java claim that you don't have the correct plug-in installed, or that the JARs have not been signed. This happens also after re-installing the Sun Microsystems Java Plug-in.
However, on the "About Plug-ins" page available from the "Help" menu within Mozilla, it seems that Java is installed and working flawlessly. One or more of the following steps should resolve that problem. Try to implement one step at a time, re-trying the web pages that caused the error after every modification:

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Achim J. Latz, , 01.12.2008

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