Tag Archives: troubleshooting

Adblock Ajax debugging email feedbuner firefox forwards Gmail Greasemonkey how-to HTML Javascript Mozilla Thunderbird user interface design usability web-development

An interesting use of Greasemonkey – Troubleshooting other people’s sites

Detriot-Superior and Center Street Bridge I’ve played around with Firefox’s Greasemonkey add-on here and there but never really delved into it until recently.  I found most of the common uses for it to be either too specific to someone else’s use habits or already covered by other extensions.  For example, there are probably a million ad blocking scripts out there, but I already have Adblock.

I’ve grown to appreciate Greasemonkey a lot more since I learned that you can make AJAX calls in scripts – now we can do some real damage.  But this post is not about that, it’s about a totally different use case that I hadn’t thought of before.

If you’re a web developer with any friends or family you’ve probably heard this one before:

“Something’s wrong with my web site, can you take a look?”

Often, though, you won’t have access to a dev server, database, or even a copy of the server-side code.  All you can see is the HTML and Javascript source and the HTTP transactions going back and forth.

Greasemonkey can’t rewrite PHP code on someone else’s server but it does make it really, really easy for you to alter forms, delete and change cookie values, and patch and debug Javascript on the site you’re looking at, without changing any other variables.

This can be really, really useful in some situations.  So now it’s officially added to my volunteer/web-developer/brother-in-law toolbelt.

Tricky little issue in Gmail – how do you find the original sender of a forward?

DSCN9755 I ran across a confusing issue in Gmail and I’d like to share what I did to resolve it.  It seems that Gmail won’t show you the original sender of a forwarded email by default in many cases.  Here’s how I found the issue and what I did to correct it.

My wife and I have a shared blog that automatically sends out updates to subscribers via Feedburner.  Feedburner is a great service if you have a blog, and you can use it to subscribe to my feed and get updates when I write on this blog as well.

When friends and family reply to an email from Feedburner, it goes to my email address and I need to forward it to my wife so she can read it too.  I use Mozilla Thunderbird as my email client so it’s easy to set up a filter to do it automatically (look under Tools –> Message Filters).  But when the forwarded email showed up in my wife’s Gmail inbox, it showed only me as the sender – with no mention of the original sender, so she couldn’t tell who was replying to our blog.

Gmail does let you see the original full text of the message – there’s a little down arrow next to Reply with a menu that includes “show original.”  Email headers are hardly user-friendly, though, so that’s not a very good solution.

It turns out that Gmail shows the name of the forwarder, not the name of the original sender, on forwards that are sent as an attachment.  If the forward was sent inline it’s easy to see the original sender in the body of the mail.  By default, Thunderbird sends forwards as attachments and I think Outlook has a similar default… in any event this is pretty common behavior.

To fix it from my end I went in Thunderbird, to Tools-> Options and selected the Composition icon.  Under the General tab, I changed Forward Messages to “Inline.”  This does the trick.

It would be nice, however, if Gmail made this a little more apparent in the user interface.  Maybe saying something like “[forwarder name] forwarding from [original sender name].”  Or it could be worked into the way conversations are viewed as threads.

This may not be a very common issue, so it might not warrant a change to Gmail, but it’s a small enough usability tweak that it might be worth it.  Hopefully you found this post helpful.