Category Archives: Firefox

My plea to NASCAR.COM and TrackPass (RaceView) Developers

It’s probably a good thing I waited until today to write this; otherwise, it would have been full of many colorful words. :) This is a follow-up to my last post. I tried to run NASCAR.COM’s RaceView during the Michigan race this past Sunday and all I got was either a window with “loading” at the bottom or just a solid white window. This occurred in both Firefox and Internet Explorer. I opened up the Java console in both Firefox and IE and it just had a Java error of a Null pointer assignment:

java.lang.NullPointerException
 at com.sun.opengl.util.JOGLAppletLauncher.start(JOGLAppletLauncher.java:385)
 at sun.plugin2.applet.Plugin2Manager$AppletExecutionRunnable.run(Unknown Source)
 at java.lang.Thread.run(Unknown Source)
Exception: java.lang.NullPointerException

Yes, I did try to reload several times. So I gave up and just started PitCommand to listen to Dale Jr’s audio. I did have to start it in IE first before the audio would work in Firefox and I just didn’t care to investigate this further. I was frustrated and missing the race. Before you ask, I do meet their minimum system requirements.

Now, I don’t mind troubleshooting problems; however, I do not want to do it during the actual race! It totally ruins the fan’s experience. How can you expect fans to search knowledge bases and forums, reinstall Java, plug-ins, audio and video drivers, and do whatever else might be potentially involved? It boggles my mind that there isn’t a race simulator that we can test these applications with during the week. If I was a NASCAR website/TrackPass developer I’d scream for this. I am quite sure the website team has no desire to fix the software during races either (I only hope they at least have some internal system to do this). Normally I wouldn’t give a flying fruitcake about it, but I am paying more for TrackPass than I am for my webhosting here that my blog, among several other sites, is on. The IndyCar RaceControl works (yes, they do loose timing and scoring sometimes but that’s an issue at their end when it happens) and it’s free.

This will probably be my last season to subscribe to RaceView. If the preview works during next year’s Daytona 500 then I might reconsider; otherwise, I’ll just stick with the scanner.

I welcome any comments about other’s experiences and how you got it to work, if you did.

Getting NASCAR PitCommand audio working in Firefox

(If you’re having problems with RaceView, you might want to check out this post: Getting NASCAR RaceView Working with Internet Explorer 8)

During Sunday’s NASCAR race I was trying to get the audio working in NASCAR.COM’s PitCommand using Firefox (version 3.6.8 at the time). No such luck, even after disabling AdBlock Plus and enabling 3rd party cookies. So, I decided to try it in Internet Explorer 8. Naturally, it worked just fine. I tried it again in Firefox, and it worked! Hmm.. what’s going on here?

I knew that the audio stream was being handled by Windows Media Player since it was using the .ASX extension. I did have the Windows Media Player plug-in for Firefox installed. There’s an article at mozillaZine which gives information about it. In fact, my MIDI page is designed to work with it. Since it only worked after I tried it in Internet Explorer, I figured it must have triggered something or saved something into Temporary Internet Files that allowed it to then work in Firefox. Since WMP is a Microsoft program, it stores its files in IE’s Temporary Internet Files directory. So, I deleted the Temporary Internet Files using the Internet Explorer Control Panel applet. The audio quit working with PitCommand in Firefox again. I launched PitCommand in IE which worked and closed IE. The audio started working in Firefox. At this point I restarted Windows and went to Firefox first thing and the PitCommand audio worked.

It seems that some Javascript or other file that gets saved to Temporary Internet Files when using IE is letting the WMP Firefox plug-in to play the audio in this specific case. This leads me to believe that the code on NASCAR.COM’s site might be doing different things based on the browser it detects. Because I was sick of troubleshooting and missing the race I stopped here.

NASCAR.COM really needs to have a fake race stream during the week so that all of us, and them, can work on software issues then and not during the actual race! Who wants to do that? I also tried RaceView but it wouldn’t work in either Firefox or IE. I just got a blank page with a Java error on it. Early this morning I got a Java update (version 6, update 21) but I won’t be able to test that out till the next cup race.  :-?

How I got NASCAR RaceBuddy working in Firefox.

Update July 14, 2012: Thought I should mention that the issues I had below were under Windows XP Home/SP3. Currently, I have a completely new system running Windows 7 Pro/SP1 64-bit (hardware specs) with Firefox 13.0.1 and Adobe Flash 11.3.300.265 with Protected Mode enabled. I’ve never had a problem with RaceBuddy not working other than the Flash plug-in crashing once or twice; however, during some races, like today’s Nationwide race, no issues. This and the previous two versions of Flash have caused some grief amongst some users just watching normal videos in Firefox, Chrome, and even IE but nothing specific to just RaceBuddy.


During the NASCAR Truck race on Friday, NASCAR.COM made TruckBuddy available.  It was very similar to RaceBuddy they had last year during the TNT races. You get a choice of several live video feeds along with a mosaic feed of 4 video streams at once and a live chat feature.

Problem:

When I first tried it with Firefox (version 3.6 or 3.6.2), the video portion did not work and the live chat portion on the right side would not work properly either. It would let me attempt to login via Twitter and provided the typical Twitter Allow/Deny Connection authorization window; however, upon returning to the application it did nothing and acted like I had never logged in.

Solution:

I solved the video problem by disabling Adblock Plus on the NASCAR.COM site. Apparently, if the video advertisement does not play first, then nothing else will or at least problematically.

I solved the chat problem by enabling 3rd-party cookies which I have disabled by default (Tools -> Options -> Privacy). Upon further examination, I could disable 3rd-party cookies again if I gave exceptions to the following:

  • gigya.com
  • livechat.gigya.com
  • socialize.gigya.com

After the race was over, I re-enabled Adblock Plus for NASCAR.COM :). Hopefully this helps anyone else trying to get RaceBuddy working with Firefox should they have it again.

How I got LongURL Mobile Expander 2.0.0 to Show Tooltips Again.

After updating to LongURL Mobile Expander v2.0.0 it stopped showing Tooltips with the destination when I would move the mouse over a short URL. I would also get “current domain is NULL” errors when browsing locally (I have a local copy of Apache installed for development). The problem existed in both Firefox 3.0.11 and 3.5.

I got it working after seeing a comment here: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/8636 so all the credit goes to Matthias Jansen.

Edit the file: C:\Documents and Settings\(user)\Application Data\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\(your profile)\extensions\{a7101e54-830c-4d33-a3ed-bedc17ec44da}\content\longurlmobileexpander.js

I am using Windows XP so your location might be different.

Around line 79, change

var current_domain = document.location.href.match(/^https?:\/\/(?:www\.)?([^\.]+\.[^\/]+)/i);

To:

var current_domain = document.location.href.match(/^https?:\/\/(?:www\.)?([^\.]+(\.[^\/]+)?)/i);

Update: I’ve been told here that the following change is also needed. Around line 89, change

if ((domain !== current_domain[1]) && (typeof(this.known_services[domain]) !== 'undefined')) {

To:

if ((current_domain != null) && (domain !== current_domain[1]) && (typeof(this.known_services[domain]) !== 'undefined')) {

After doing this and re-enabling the extension.. it started working. I can now see the tooltip pop-ups and it’s supposed to fix the current_domain is null problem. Hopefully this will help anyone else that ran into this issue. :)

Ways to Preview the Destination of Twitter Short URLs

May 3, 2016: I discovered that longurl.org no longer works. Can’t ping or browse to it. So, I removed the links to it and thought I’d mention it in this post.


Due to the limited length of 140 characters Twitter allows in a status update or tweet, the use of URL shortening services and short URLs has become a necessary evil. I don’t know about you but I am NOT going to just blindly click on some gobbledygook looking short URL without knowing exactly where it’s going to take me before hand. It’s just too easy to hide links to malicious websites this way. Luckily there are a number of ways to preview where these short URLs are going to send you.

December 18, 2011: Well, now that Twitter is wrapping every URL with its t.co shortening service, including those already shortened with other services, it has thrown a monkey wrench into this whole thing. Some Twitter applications that used to preview short URLs may no longer work fully or as expected. The problem is that when Twitter wraps an already short URL with t.co it causes two redirections to occur before reaching the final destination (example: t.co redirects to bit.ly which then redirects to the original long URL). Longurl.org does still work as it seems to keep trying until it reaches a URL that no longer redirects. Now, according to Twitter it does try to protect users by not directly going to sites that might be questionable. Thankfully, Twitter’s own website will still show the final destination in a tool-tip when the mouse hovers over a link.

January 14, 2011: For those that are using Twitter’s newer website interface, it will now preview a short URL in a tooltip when hovering the mouse over a link. This even works with my custom URL shortening service as mentioned below.

Initally, Twitter used Tinyurl by default to shorten long URLs when it had seen fit. (Update July 9, 2010: Twitter is working on implementing their own service: t.co that is only used with Direct Messages for now.) Even so, Tinyurl has a preview option that you can set on their site. I would advise enabling it. Then, when you click on a Tinyurl link it will take you to Tinyurl’s website first where it shows you the long URL associated with the short URL which you can then click if you so choose.

Unfortunately, this only works for Tinyurl links. Many other URL shortening services are also used: tr.im, is.gd, bit.ly, ping.fm and who knows how many others. This is where longurl.org comes to the rescue! Using this site, you can expand just about any shortened URL and it will let you preview where it goes. For this to work, you do have to copy and paste the short URL first. This site will even work with personally created short URLs as long as they use a standard Redirection. For example it will show that http://mhurl.com/000 goes to http://blog.markheadrick.com/2009/03/15/a-nascar-inspired-destroytwitter-theme/

(Update April 14, 2010: It appears that the longurl.org website is no longer functional. As such, I have since written my own PHP script that does the same thing as far as showing where any URL gets redirected to, removing my need to rely on any 3rd party. April 20, 2010: The site appears to be back up.)

The above two methods are universal in nature and should work no matter how you Twitter. Luckily there are alternative ways that are more convenient and I’ll let you know about the one’s I’ve tried.

Firefox Add-ons:

For Firefox users, you’ll want to check out the following:

LongURL Mobile Expander: The LongURL Moblie Expander uses longurl.org’s web service to display a tooltip with the expanded URL when the mouse hovers over a known short URL service link on a web page. This is handy when viewing Twitter pages in the browser.

  • Update June 29, 2009: version 2.0.0 of this plug-in no longer seems to work correctly, at least in FireFox 3.0.11
  • Update July 9, 2009: Please see this post to find out how I got it working again.
  • Update January 21, 2010: Author posted Experimental Version 2.0.1 which corrects the issues. This version is not yet directly compatible with Firefox 3.6, however.

Long URL Please: This plug-in replaces the short URL with the expanded URL in the webpage itself. This one uses the longurlplease.com API to determine the destinations from known services. I have been using this one after LongURL Mobile Expander quit working on me.

Echofon (aka TwitterFox): Twitter client add-on that will show the expanded URL in a tooltip when the mouse hovers over a known short URL service link.  I say “known” because these will not show expanded links from unknown services or personally created short URLs.

Stand-alone Twitter Clients with Short URL preview abilities:

TweetDeck: If you set the option to Show preview information for short URLs in the general settings tab, it will display a preview dialog with the expanded URL after you click on a link. This only works with known short URL services. My shortened link does not preview. (Update December 18, 2011: The current stand-alone version of Tweetdeck available from the website that Twitter released, which does not use Adobe Air, no longer previews short URLs other than long URLs directly shortened with t.co. The older Adobe Air version 0.38.2 still previews short URLs even when wrapped by t.co.)

DestroyTwitter: Version 2.1.2 released on September 16, 2010 introduced a URL preview ability. When you ALT-Left Click on a link it will preview the URL for you. This will work with ANY link as best I can tell. It will even preview my shortened link and display both the title and expanded URL. In this aspect, DestroyTwitter beats all the other Twitter clients I have tried.

I am sure there are other Twitter clients that have built-in preview abilities (no, I’m not going to download and try everything that exists), just make sure you enable it if they have the option. With that, have a happy and safe twitter experience. :)