The New PithHelmet

Survey of the day: Outboard Brains for Mac OS X, an old survey article from

I was happy to discover that my Amazon problem is not all in my mind—they really do have extremely annoying Javascript focus code on their site that shifts focus to an Amazon page when I don’t want to look at it. For I while I just blocked Amazon completely using PithHelmet 0.7.2a for Safari, but that’s a brute force solution.

What I really needed was a Safari plug-in that would turn off only the offending javascript (since nobody these days can live without Javascript), or barring that, one that would turn Javascript off just for the offending websites. PithHelmet 2 is supposed to be able to do both.

Unfortunately, as has been reported by many users at VersionTracker, PithHelmet 2.0.1 is a buggy swamp. It has an obscure and counter-intuitive interface (both the annoying menu and the new preference panel), it slows down page loading, it doesn’t import rules from previous versions, and it forgets its own settings. It refused to load the included Python script designed to demoronize Amazon, though the promise of that sample script was my main reason for installing 2.0.1 despite the bad experiences reported in the VersionTracker comments. Maybe I needed some sort of Python compiler. That wasn’t mentioned in the documentation—but usability was clearly not the hallmark of this release. At least the option to turn off Javascript for did seem to work.

I saw all these problems in the few minutes I ran it before downgrading to 0.7.3. On the bright side, it did turn on the Safari Debug menu for me, and left it on after the downgrade. Since PithHelmet has gone from freeware to shareware, I hope Mike Solomon will start treating it like real mac software—that means providing real documentation and an intuitive interface. (Hide the regular expressions, at least!)

Since I canned the above entry, PithHelmet has gone up a subversion to 2.1. The changelog claims it’s faster and that some of the preference bugs have been fixed, so I’m giving it another try.

Someday, somehow, Amazon will be demoronized.

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