How to Change Firefox’s Default Search Engine

Since these days there’s a lot of people that would like to use google less but figure that they’re trapped into it because it’s the default search engine set up in their browsers.  For Firefox at least, it’s actually pretty easy to fix and only takes a few minutes to do.

Start with a fresh browser window and type “about:config” in the address bar and hit enter.  This will bring up a window full of “hidden” settings that you normally don’t need to deal with.

In the box marked “Filter” type “keyword.url“.  The list of entries below will shrink as you type until the one labeled “keyword.url” is the only one left.

Right-click on the keyword.URL entry and select modify.
Delete the Google url that’s already there

paste the url in:

click ok.

that takes care of any searches you do by entering keywords in the address bar, Next is the multiple

search engine box on the right side of the browser.

Click on the little black down-arrow on the search dropdown and then click “manage search engines” Select Google, click “move down” until it’s at the bottom.  That takes Google out of the way.  If you want, you can outright delete it by selecting it and clickin “delete”… poof, no more Google.

Now click on the “get more search engines” link at the bottom of the window.  When that page loads

you’ll see a bunch of search engines that you can add to Firefox’s search box.  For now, scroll down and right click “” and select “open in new tab”.

On this page In the “Find Search Engine Plugins / Search Providers” box, type and hit enter.  Scroll down and click on “ US“.  When the popup box appears, click “add”.

At this point you can, if you want, go back to the “Firefox Add-ons: Search Engines” page and add any of the search engines there by just clicking on the name of the engine you wish to add to your search engine dropdown box.

Now open the manage search engines dialog again and click the entry.  Click “move up” until it’s at the top and click ok.  Click search dropdown again and select ask and you’re done.  You should take a few seconds to restart the browser just to make sure those new settings are saved.

Now all searches now go through ask instead of google.

The video below shows me walking through this procedure.  This isn’t the greatest video in the world and there’s no sound, but it should serve to illustrate the procedure

[EDIT This was written back in 2007 when I was using FireFox 2.  I have no idea whether or not the procedure will work the same for modern versions.  Use at your own risk.  I am not responsible if you break your browser.]

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Solar Escape

I was in one of *those* moods this morning so just for the heck of it I tried something in orbiter that I’d never heard of anyone doing before.  (I’m sure it’s been done, I’ve just never seen anything about such events.)

I decided to try a gravity assist slingshot maneuver.  The object I chose to slingshot around was the sun.

I set this up in Orbiter 2006p1 because that version actually runs on my laptop and that’s where I was when I thought of this craziness.

date of mission start

I used the scenario that starts with the default DeltaGlider docked at the International Space Station with a full load of fuel.  I decided that for this mission, the ship would have twice it’s normal fuel capacity.  Not knowing any quick way to achieve this I used the scenario editor to refuel my ship one time when it’s initial supply ran out.

orbit at mission start

The first screenshot above, taken about a minute after undocking from the ISS, shows the date that this mission started.  The second screenshot shows my orbital parameters as of mission start.  Note that “Vel” on Orbit MFD is the ship’s orbital velocity expressed in meters per second.  This will be important to know later.

After doing a bit of navigation planning that I am sure none of the navigation tools were intended to do, I turned the ship prograde and began a main engine burn to escape Earth orbit.  Once I had achieved something over escape velocity I shut down the engines and coasted for a few days (using 100,000x time acceleration to speed things up a tad.)

Once I was far enough out from Earth for it to no longer be the primary gravitational influence I switched Orbit MFD to reference the sun instead of Earth and copied that information to the HUD so that I could turn the ship retrograde in reference to the sun.

Once in position I began another main engine burn.  The object of this one was to lower the periapsis (lowest point) of my orbit around the sun.  I burned through all of my remaining fuel and then used the scenario editor to refill my tanks and continue the burn.  (Note, I only allowed myself to do this once and then only because I wanted this trip to have twice the normal fuel supply and this was the quickest way to do that.)

I shut down the engines with about 17 kilograms of fuel remaining.  My periapsis was right where I wanted it, 600 kilometers above the surface of the sun.

At this point I went into cruise mode.  I used time acceleration to speed things along as I closed in on the sun on the craziest orbit I’ve ever heard of.  Along the way I used the remaining fuel to make more and more frequent course corrections to keep my periapsis as close to 600 kilometers as I could.

As I approached periapsis, my orbital velocity climbed.  This is to be expected.  As your ship approaches periapsis around any object is the time when it’s going to have the highest velocity.

At one point, I think it was roughly a week before periapsis, my velocity was well over 170 kilometers per second and climbing fast.

As you can imagine, when I reached periapsis things were happening really fast even without time acceleration.  Almost before I knew it I had reached periapsis and was flung outward, having gained an insane amount of momentum from the sun.  I have to admit that I sat there for a few minutes watching the “Alt” (altitude) readout on Orbit MFD climb.

It only took a few seconds for it to be high enough to be expressed in Astronomical Units (an A.U. is the mean radius of the Earth’s orbit around the sun.  approximately 93 million miles.). 

At that point I thought to set time acceleration to 0.1x and take another screenshot.  This one shows the date, Saturday May 29th, 2001 08:30:38 GMT

Below is the Orbit MFD display at that time.  My distance from the sun at that time was so far that the altitude was displayed as 0.392 parsecs!  To say the very least, I wasn’t in Kansas anymore.

final orbit data

Remember I said that this MFD shows velocity in meters per second?  Take a look at that picture again.  I’m going so fast that it’s shown as 0.168 AU per second.

How’s that for breaking speed records?

I Want To Beam Her Far Away

The would-be Mrs. Helpful had only left a few minutes earlier when my cell phone rang.  I answered it to find that it was her.  The first thing I wondered was just how did she get that number?  I don’t hand that number to ANYBODY except for immediate family and none of them would have given it to her.

Anyway the reason for her call was to say that since I didn’t feel qualified for a dietician type position then I should really check out ERP Jobs because she was dead certain that I’d be more than well suited to that kind of position.  She then was nice enough to hang up and actually not keep me burning minutes on my phone.

I had to do some Google time to figure out what ERP was and found that it meant Enterprise Resource Planning.  I stopped there.  First I know that a job like this is going to require a business degree that I don’t have.  Second anytime I see a job title with “Enterprise” in it I can’t help making the mental Star Trek connection and envisioning a job aboard a starship.

Too bad nobody’s hiring for that now isn’t it!  One great advantage of working on a starship is that I could use the transporter to beam her very far away.

Technorati Tags: star trek connection, nutjob hills, jobs, money, enterprise

Having recently announced the release of build 5110, the first new build of Freenet Classic Opennet (FCon) in well over two years it has occurred to me that it would be a good idea to put together a brief walkthrough of the installation process.

Because I’m a windows user and have never installed it on a Linux machine these directions are specifically for windows.  When I am able to I’ll do another walkthrough for Linux.

Freenet’s hardware requirements are, in modern terms, pretty mild.


400MHz Pentium 2, with at least 192MB of RAM.

1GHz or more processor with 256MB RAM or more.

As you can see most modern computers will far exeed these requirements.


Back around 2004 I actually managed to run freenet on a 200mhz Pentium with only 64mb of ram running Windows 98.  It was very slow and sluggish but it worked enough to view freesites or use FIW to insert new editions of freesites

On my laptop with a 2.1ghz cpu and 2gb of ram I am able to run Freenet while running cpu intensive tasks like rendering high definition video and neither process will suffer any noticeable performance drop at all.

These steps should work the same on Windows 98, xp, and seven.  Windows Vista will probably be more of a pain but I don’t have a vista machine to test on.

1 get or already have Java JRE 7 from

2 download the distribution archive at this url:

and extract the archive to c:\freenet (or whatever directory you want.  I’m using c:\freenet for this example.)

3 use a plain text editor like notepad to edit flaunch.ini change the JavaExec= and Javaw= lines to point to where java.exe and javaw.exe are located. If you used the default install they will probably be in C:\Program Files\Java\jre1.7\bin\

4 edit freenet.ini

*note* remove the % from the beginning of any line you edit or freenet will ignore the change

You only need to edit these entries:


If freenet cannot determine your IP address by itself, you will need to set it here.


the port number that freenet will use to listen for incoming connections from other freenet nodes. You can change this to any number you like as long as it’s higher than 1024 and lower than 65535.  Do not use the same port number as another application


The size of the local data store.  The more space you allocate here the better.  It defaults to one gigabyte (1G) however you can increase this to however much space you can spare.

At this point you can save freenet.ini and close the editor.  It’s very likely that you could never need to edit this file again.

4-a make sure that incoming TCP traffic on listenport is forwarded to the computer freenet is running on (see your router or firewall docs for how to do this)

4-b optional (but very convenient), get a domain name & use dynupdate to keep it pointed at your IP address, then put that name in ipaddress in freenet.ini

5 create a shortcut to “freenet.exe” and put it on your desktop, program menu or if you want freenet to start when the computer boots, put the shortcut in the “StartUp” entry of the program menu.

Double click on the freenet.exe shortcut to start freenet.  When Freenet starts, you’ll see the blue rabbit icon in your system tray by the clock.  Right-Click on it to start and stop Freenet.

To open the Freenet web interface you can either double click on the rabbit icon in the system tray, right click and select “open gateway” or just type into your web browser.

*NOTE* The “Configure” option on that right click menu will try to run a utility called “Nodeconfig.exe” You are infinitely better off to simply stop freenet temporarily and edit freenet.ini yourself instead.  In most cases editing that file will be a VERY rare need.  Once Freenet is working you may well never need to edit it.

Because in my experience the “Nodeconfig.exe” utility has caused more problems than it’s worth by overwriting perfectly good freenet.ini files when all I wanted to do was tweak a setting I have elected not to include it in this distribution.

As a result, clicking “configure” will result in an error message because the program isn’t there.  Just dismiss the error message and use a plain text editor like notepad to edit freenet.ini directly.

Technorati Tags: install guide, internet, anti-censorship, freedom of speech online, anonymity, freenet 0.5, censorship proof, anonymous publishing, encryption, freedom of speech, censorship, freenet classic opennet, install freenet, freenet, privacy, install, install fcon, install walkthrough, fcon

FCon Build 5110 Is Now Available

[Edit June 8, 2012: The Freenet 0.5 network is effectively dead (see this post for details).  While you are welcome to try to make this software work and revitalize it, I know of no currently operating nodes.  If you DO get a useable network up and running, DO let me know.]

A long overdue new build of FCon (Freenet Classic Opennet a.k.a. Freenet 0.5) is now finally available. 

This is largely a maintenance build that should have been done a couple of years ago.  The default bookmarks have been updated and certain links & email addresses have been replaced with new ones.  The old ones pointed to the 0.7.5 fork of freenet which has almost nothing to do with this 0.5 version.

**Note** In order to use this build You will need Java JRE 7, which you can get at this URL:

If you are new to Freenet (Welcome!) This is the main distribution archive:

If you are simply upgrading an existing node you will need these two files:

freenet-stable-latest.jar and freenet-ext.jar

The source code for this build is here:

Other downloads:

Frost: Bulletin board and filesharing software that serves as the main public text messaging system within freenet.

It is also included in  Source code for Frost is located in the “source” sub directory of the frost Directory

If you’re starting up a new node you will need one of these



They all contain the same data, the .Zip and .bz2 files are compressed to make the download quicker.  Use whichever flavor best suits your setup.

Technorati Tags: censorship, freedom of speech online, freenet, anti-censorship, internet, anonymous publishing, anonymity, freenet 0.5, encryption, censorship proof, privacy, update, fcon, freedom of speech, freenet classic opennet

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