Tag: Mozilla

Thunderbird Add-on: S/MIME Security for Multiple Identities

I’ve just found and installed the following add-on for Mozilla Thunderbird:

S/MIME Security for Multiple Identities

It allows you to use a different S/MIME certificate for each of the different identities (i.e. “e-mail address aliases” or “profile aliases”) you defined in your Thunderbird profile.

It’s currently still marked as an experimental add-on and I’ve noticed a minor glitch in v0.3.0 when using it (see my add-on review), but this might also be related to the fact that I also use the Virtual Identity add-on (another nice add-on which allows you to use an arbitrary sender address for sending messages).

The “S/MIME Security for Multiple Identities” add-on is very convenient if you have multiple e-mail accounts and want to use S/MIME message signing and/or encryption with all of them.

Bonus hint: You can get your own, personal S/MIME certificates for free at Thawte (for e-Mail only) or StartCom/StartSSL (also offers free class 1 SSL/TLS certificates for FTP servers, web servers etc. -> the latter don’t “work” with Internet Explorer, however).

Firefox 3 – suggestions for GUI design improvements

Some suggestions for improving the GUI of FF 3:

  • Why does the forward button have a very different shape than the back button (round vs. rectangular)? On IE 7, both have the same shape (round) which is more consistent and more user-friendly (as they’re both navigation icons, just for opposite directions). BTW: Yes, I know the official answer, but the different size is still no excuse for different shapes.
  • Why does FF 3 try to squeeze as much information as possible into the URL text field? Instead of combining the security certificate information with the favicon display (a fact that likely confuses users, particularly Joe Average), one should rather reserve a dedicated place just for displaying the security information (like IE 7 does).
    The star (bookmark??) icon within the text field is also disturbing as it doesn’t behave the way a sane user would expect it to. Instead, clicking on it creates a bookmark (without asking for confirmation), clicking on it again doesn’t just silently remove it again (without asking for confirmation), but rather displays a dialog box with bookmark properties (and another button to remove the bookmark, eventually). Further, the bookmark icon behaves quite different than the analogous magnifier/search icon in the search box.
  • Why isn’t it visually more obvious to the user whether (or not) a connection is properly encrypted and the server properly authenticated through a certificate? Why not use a light-green (or light-yellow) background color (again) for the URL text field of properly secured connections? Instead, all the user is left with now is an almost unnoticeable background color change of the favicon display area and a “secured lock” icon in the status bar. (Note: IE 7 does it better, but only a bit.)
  • Why did they choose blue as the color to indicate a secured connection (the same goes for IE 7)? I’d rather choose green (or maybe yellow, but definitely not blue).
  • Why does the drop-down icon in the URL text field look different than the drop-down icon in the search field (mouse-over tinted vs. permanently tinted)? Only God and the GUI designer know. But it surely confuses users as it isn’t consistent. (BTW, IE 7 is also inconsistent in this regard.)
  • In my view, placing the reload and abort icons after the URL text field (as in IE 7) instead of in front of the URL text field would be more natural.