Changing the address bar search default in Firefox

I just reinstalled my OS and the first thing I did was install Firefox. After my recent post extolling the virtues of DuckDuckGo (DDG) I wanted the search box in Firefox to use the site. No problem! A quick search on the Firefox Addons site and the DuckDuckGo search plugin was ready to use.

I assumed that using the URL bar to carry out quick searches would also use the same settings as the dedicated search box. Nope! It defaults to Google despite me not having Google set as a default anything.

A quick Google search* and I found out how to change Firefox’s default behaviour. Continue reading

GooGone? DuckDuckGo!

Or “How I’m trying to reduce my exposure to Google”

I’ve decided to reduce the amount of exposure I have to Google. I simply don’t feel comfortable with how much of my life is tracked and analysed.

I already run a few Firefox addons that should cut back the online breadcrumb trail but it’s still not enough. I found some Firefox addons (NoScript, RequestPolicy) were excellent at what they do but broke many websites due to the site’s reliance on third-party scripts. It’s not the addon’s fault but I don’t have the time to tailor different profiles on a per website basis. I now use Ghostery, Adblock and TACO to reduce the ability for ad networks to track me. But it still wasn’t enough. Continue reading

All roads lead to Whipsnade Zoo via Google

Whipsnade Zoo, in Bedfordshire, have hit on a new way of getting Google to literally drive traffic to their doorstep.

I noticed this when plotting a route between Stevenage and Tring (both Hertfordshire) for an upcoming job. Looking at an overview of the route using Google Maps I could see a large kink in my journey. Like any former FIA president knows, large kinks are best avoided so I looked closer at the map to see why I was being sent on a detour….

The Great Whispnade Detour

The Great Whispnade Detour

Despite many attempts at trying to drag the blue line to snap onto the rather conveniently named Tring Road (B489) I could not get a route that avoided the aroma of animal dung.

I’d been to Whipsnade Zoo only the year before and as part of a few days away in Milton Keynes*. Although I’d love to go back I’d got work to do and didn’t fancy walking around the place again (my poor legs!).

In the end I decided not to trust the Google Navigation on my Samsung Galaxy S2 and reverted back to my Nokia / Ovi Maps combo which didn’t suggest locations for me to go other than the ones I’d asked for.


*Yes, I chose to go to Milton Keynes for a short break. It was great because I went to Bletchley Park (mmmm codebreaking), the National Museum of Computing (mmmm computers!) and then did some indoor skydiving at Airkix (mmmm vertical hair drying experience). The next day was my leg achingly interesting day out at Whipsnade Zoo.