Flagfox 6.0.1 update released

Flagfox 6.0.1 has been uploaded to AMO for download and update. It is identical to 6.0.1rc which was pushed to the Flagfox beta channel a couple days ago (save for the requisite version number change).

Flagfox 6.0.1 changelog:

  • IPv4 & IPv6 address location database updates for January 2018
  • Fixed some caching issues causing IPs to be forgotten in a few cases
  • Fixed RTL issues in tooltip and implemented proper support in options
  • Fixed bugs related to hotclick configuration in the options page
  • Worked-around WebExtension API bug that causes some addon options pages to break in private browsing windows
  • Various JS and CSS cleanups

Many thanks to the people who reported some of the bugs fixed in this release.

If anyone gets the globe icon when a flag is possible, and a refresh fixes it, then please report that here. I’m still working on making my cache not suck. Caching things is easy; caching things without caching everything forever and also not uncaching things too early, is another matter. I really wish there was just an API to fetch IPs from Firefox’s cache, but there isn’t, so I’ve got to listen to the initial requests for stuff to get it, and subsequent requests that hit the cache leave their IP property blank.

I’m considering adding some kind of cache for non-private-browsing windows’ locations to be saved between Firefox sessions and Flagfox updates, as it’s impossible to get locations in those scenarios unless a refresh is triggered (which is at least the case for many session restores).

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Flagfox 6.0 released with Firefox 57+ support

Flagfox 6.0.0 has been uploaded to Mozilla Add-ons for release!

Everyone with Flagfox installed in Firefox 57+ will automatically get the new version on the next automatic addon update check by Firefox. Firefox 56 is technically supported, but with a few issues that cannot be fixed without updating Firefox, so automatic updates should be set to not go out to anyone who refused to upgrade Firefox. (Flagfox 6.0.0 can be manually installed in Firefox 56 by downloading it and using “Install add-on from file” in the little gear icon menu in the Firefox Addon Manager.) Unfortunately, this means Firefox 52 ESR is no longer supported. I would very much rather not drop support for the most recent Extended Support Release, but Mozilla has banned all addons that use so-called “legacy” APIs and mandated addon rewrites using the new WebExtension API based on Google Chrome’s addon system. It’s… not great, but we have no say in the matter. :/

There are a few noticeable feature changes to this new version that are the direct result of WebExtension API limitations, most notably a smaller icon. Read the full list below.

I’ve started updating the Flagfox FAQ with information about this latest release, including detailed explanations for WebExtension permissions. Updates to the listing on Mozilla Add-ons will take a bit, as doing so is a PITA.

Flagfox 6.0.0 changelog:

  • IPv4 & IPv6 address location database updates for December 2017
  • First pure WebExtension API version of Flagfox; Firefox 57+ support added (min is v56; v57+ highly recommended)
  • Ported Flagfox options from XUL window to HTML tab (along with all other dialogs), per WebExt requirement
  • Improved IPDB to now run in its own dedicated JS Worker thread
  • Started using ES6 promises everywhere (some new uses because it’s better; many compelled by WebExt API)
  • Faster flag icon updates using new WebExt API (pages loaded/cached prior to install/update must be refreshed)
  • Added simple indicator icons+tags for HSTS, HTTP/2, and insecure HTTP to flag icon tooltips
  • Changed TLD nationality to always show in tooltips for nation-restricted non-ccTLDs (IDN TLDs require Firefox 57+)
  • Added Flagfox actions context menus for elements within a page and background tabs (IP-related stuff NYI)
  • Improved keyboard support in the options page
  • Added domain names of actions (that have a URL) to their tooltips in the options page
  • Added options page support for paste to import and cut/copy to clone, via main menu or hotkey (e.g. ctrl+v/c/x)
  • Changed options page to autosave actions JSON to storage rather than wait for tab close
  • Fixed some bugs with actions import/drag/drop in options under recent versions of Firefox
  • Added Linux support for opening actions in a background window (mostly useless, but nonetheless true)
  • Implemented custom locale properties file parsing/loading, because screw WebExtension’s bloated I18N
  • Implemented universal automatic English fallback for locales (Flagfox 5 had some; Flagfox 6 has it for everything)
  • Now stripping redundant manual English fallback strings on build, to save a bit of space for install/load
  • Added automatic locale file unload after disuse to reduce memory use when no longer needed
  • Significantly improved location/host/ip caching (which is now required, due to WebExt APIs)
  • Implemented (partial) replacements for various features Mozilla abandoned with the WebExt transition (e.g. eTLD)
  • Removed old grey question mark icon; replaced its last remaining use with the already-used globe icon
  • Disabled actions that need a content script on protocols and Mozilla domains blocked by the WebExt API
  • Added ability to handle default action favicons on non-standard paths; all should show, now (improvement over 5.x)
  • Geotool action hotkey changed from Ctrl+Alt+G to Alt+Shift+G due to the very limited WebExtension hotkey API
  • New default action hotclicks: “Check Server Status” on double-click and “Google Cache” on triple-click
  • Various default action changes:
    • Improved Page Metadata JS action to list everything it can find (with improved formatting)
    • Netcraft & IntoDNS switched to HTTPS (only URL Parser & Traceroute remain without HTTPS support)
    • Dropped Wave A11Y due to various issues, including over-active use throttling
    • Dropped obsolete Validate.nu action, as it became a redirect to the main W3C Validator
    • Demoted WOT from default menu to options-available, due to excessive popup ads (amongst other issues)
    • Added: Is It Up? (alternative status checker), Built With, Mozilla Security Observatory, & Video Converter
  • Dropped support for all Firefox/Gecko versions 24-55, which includes all versions of SeaMonkey up to current
    (SeaMonkey support may be readded when they have a version that supports WebExtensions sufficiently)
    (Unfortunately, Firefox 52 ESR support is also not possible, due to unavailable WebExtension API updates)
    -> This Flagfox version supports Firefox 56+ (desktop), however some features require Firefox 57+ to work fully
    -> Due to bugs in Mozilla’s WebExtension API, this support floor will increase further in future 6.x releases

Known issues that cannot be fixed due to buggy/badly designed and now mandatory-to-use WebExtension APIs:

  • Icon is smaller and squarified, per WebExt API’s apparent requirements (API not documented properly)
  • Icon menu has default toolbar menu items in it, even if N/A; no way to disable; nightly has some fixes
  • Icon menu limited to 6 top-level items, per arbitrary WebExt API limitation; others in auto-submenu
  • Icon menu item favicons (if enabled) have no default; WebExt API has no way to set a default/onerror
  • All menu generation is done more often than prior versions due to primitive WebExt API (no on-showing event)
  • Icon tooltip doesn’t have columns or text styling, as the WebExt API here is primitive (plain text only)
  • Icon middle-click settings no longer work, due to limited WebExt API (existing settings left alone, but hidden)
  • Hotkey customization is no longer available, due to very limited WebExt API (no user-set hotkey support, at all)
  • The WebExt notifications API outputs to the OS notifications system, which may get truncated text
  • There is no way to select “Don’t show this again” for notifications (custom buttons not supported in Firefox)
  • Firefox wipes WebExtension data on uninstall, without user notification or prompting (affects *ALL* addons!)

Known issues that will be addressed in future Flagfox updates:

  • The new page element action menus do not yet support actions that use IP addresses (implementation TBD)
  • All page notifications for TLD/IP country mismatches have been disabled until I can make notifications better
  • Options edit action autocomplete and detailed help popup are disabled (cut for time; reimplementation TBD)
  • Options page is kinda ugly, due to having to port XUL to HTML and CSS being a horrible monstrosity
  • Some RTL locale display issues (nothing drastic, and probably nothing you haven’t seen in other software)

My initial estimate, months ago, would be that updating Flagfox for the now-mandatory WebExtension API required by Firefox 57+ was that it would take an annoying few dozen hours. Once I started working on it heavily, I realized that there were way more problems with the API than advertised, and it is fundamentally different and slower to work with than all prior “legacy” APIs Mozilla has now banned. That dozens of hours estimate quickly became hundreds of hours… and I eventually realized that was still underestimating things, and that’s not even counting the fact that I unfortunately got rather sick and unable to work on this significantly for a good two weeks.

Flagfox is a one-person hobby-project, and dear lord, this transition damn-near killed me, and it’s still
only ready a month and a half after Firefox 57 was released. In any case, it’s ready now… now, I can get some sleep.

Polite comments/feedback welcome. If you think you’ve found a bug, please report it in the comments here, or on the Flagfox support forum, or via email, or Twitter, or whatever. This blog is set to hold comments for approval for all new posters, after which point you can post without delay, forever (so long as you don’t hit the spam filter, of course). Also, if you see something that needs updating/fixing on this blog or in the FAQ, please report that too.

If you’ve previously posted a review to the Flagfox addon page inquiring about Firefox 57+ support, you can simply post a new review to replace the old one. (the system shows one per person, though you can click a review to browse all old ones, too) Note that as per Mozilla’s policies, bug reports / support requests are deleted by moderators and users generally are pointed to provided support channels, instead, e.g. here. Also note that Mozilla broken the AMO email notifications system in their most recent update, so if you post a bug report / support request, and it gets deleted before I check that email and go to the site, your post will be lost forever, like tears in rain.

This Flagfox major update was beta tested by a few hundred kind users. If you’d like to get early updates and test new versions prior to main release, you can install the most recent version here (6.0.0rc is functionally identical to 6.0.0; Mozilla’s beta channel requires different version numbers for development versions). With Flagfox beta tests, I generally delete the beta branch eventually, when it’s not needed anymore, at which point all users on it will auto-update to the normal release and begin receiving normal updates. Mozilla does not provide a less kludgy way of keeping beta-users up-to-date without manually packaging/releasing more beta channel files. I’ve grown used to Mozilla implementation dubiousness, but it still annoys me every time, especially when it stays that way for many years…

Flagfox 6.0 release candidate

Prior posts: 6.0b1, 6.0b2, & 6.0b3.

Flagfox 6.0rc1 has been posted to AMO’s beta channel for people to test. Everyone who is already signed up for the Flagfox beta channel should automatically get the update. If nothing explodes too drastically, this will be the version released to the main update channel, shortly. The only differences between 6.0rc & 6.0 release should be the lack of an “rc” in the version field and a different first-run URL. If you’re in the beta and leave this new update installed, you’ll get future beta updates; if you install the final release version, you’ll only get main release updates.

Note: Due to short litany of problems with the WebExtension API under Firefox 56, the soft minimum required Firefox version will be set to Firefox 57 on AMO. The addon itself will technically be installable in 56, but the site won’t suggest it. I may or may not change that in the future.

There’s a bunch of fixes since the 3rd beta, but nothing particularly drastic. I made an attempt at getting the more complex host-IP cache needed to have IPs be accessible to the new in-page Flagfox menu actions, but I don’t want to delay releasing a stable working version to the main channel if I now have it, seeing as it’s a month and a half overdue to run in current Firefox (non-ESR).

Flagfox 6.0rc1 changelog:

  • Disabled actions that need a content script on protocols and Mozilla domains blocked by the WebExt API
  • Added domain names of actions (that have a URL) to their tooltips in the options page
  • Fixed keyboard affecting main options page while a subdialog is open (e.g. actions list selection)
  • Fixed custom action deletes not removing the item from the menu immediately
  • Changed options page to autosave actions JSON to storage rather than wait for tab close
  • Fixed icon/tooltip updating for error pages
  • Fixed TLD nationality not showing in tooltip for mismatch notification blacklisted ccTLDs
  • Changed TLD nationality to always show for nation-restricted non-ccTLDs (IDN TLDs require Firefox 57+)
  • Fixed Geotool keyboard shortcut
  • Added Online Video Converter to default actions list (not in menu by default)

Changelogs for the beta releases preceding this are 6.0b1, 6.0b2, & 6.0b3.

Remaining known issues:

  • The new page element action menus do not yet support actions that use IP addresses (WIP; implementation TBD)
  • A few RTL issues (always expected; Arabic and Hebrew users are probably used to seeing this in all software)
  • Options edit action dialog autocomplete and help popup are disabled (cut for time; will reimplement later)
  • Options page is kinda ugly, due to having to port to HTML and CSS being horrible (and me sucking at it)
  • All page notifications for TLD/IP country mismatches have been disabled until I can make it work better

The only real outright bugs (aside from the results of me sucking at CSS) are in RTL locale handling, which I will get to over time. Getting the full help popup working shouldn’t take too long, so I’ll see if I can prioritize that for 6.0.1. Getting the notifications to not be crap will require me to ditch the WebExtension notifications API and try to write my own custom system, if that’s even possible, so no clue on the timeline for that.

Bug reports / feedback can be posted in a comment to this post or to the thread on the support forum. You can also email me or send me a tweet or whatever. Comments for old beta posts here will be locked; please post to the new one, so we can keep track of what’s applicable for what version.

Lastly, THANK YOU to everyone who installed the beta. I have gotten useful bug reports which have resulted in fixes for things I would’ve missed without the beta, so it’s definitely been worth it. Please don’t stop reporting new issues if you find them.

Flagfox 6.0 Beta 3 with Firefox 57+ support

The Flagfox 6.0b1 post is here, and the 6.0b2 post is here. Prior posts on the general topic of this endeavor are here and here. Per standard beta software recommendations, general backup info is here.

Flagfox 6.0 Beta 3 has been posted to AMO’s beta channel for people to test. Everyone who is already signed up for the Flagfox beta channel should automatically get the update.

This time, more fixes, including more fixed known issues and more fixed previously-unknown issues. Also, I got JS actions working properly, so they’re enabled now. There’s some changes to startup, so I definitely want to get people using this new version so I can make sure it works better for everyone.

Note: The number of things that only work properly in Firefox 57+ (and unfixable in Firefox 56) keeps growing. I’m considering making the minimum supported version Firefox 57 instead of 56, for the final release. I’ll at least keep it at 56 for the remainder of the beta test, however.

Flagfox 6.0b3 changelog:

  • Rewrote IPDB startup sequence a bit to fix various startup issues
  • Fixed useless context menus loading for options page
  • Relaxed pasteable text requirement for options paste menu item (Firefox 57+ only)
  • Fix “show” checkbox being reset on custom action edit
  • Finished implementation of JS actions
  • Improved default Page Metadata JS action to list everything it can find (with improved formatting)

The changelog for 6.0 beta 2 is here.

The changelog for 6.0 beta 1 is here.

For the list of stuff that’s broken because Mozilla/Google’s addon API kinda sucks, read here.

Flagfox 6.0b3 known issues:

  • The new page element action menus do not yet support actions that use IP addresses (WIP; implementation TBD)
  • A few RTL issues (always expected; Arabic and Hebrew users are probably used to seeing this in all software)
  • Options edit action dialog autocomplete and help popup are disabled (cut for time; will reimplement later)
  • Options page is kinda ugly, due to having to port to HTML and CSS being horrible (and me sucking at it)
  • Keyboard focus handling in options subdialogs is not working correctly
  • Icon/tooltip sometimes doesn’t update correctly on non-existent domain error pages
  • All page notifications for TLD/IP country mismatches have been disabled until I can make it work better

Bug reports / feedback can be posted in a comment to this post or to the thread on the support forum. You can also email me or send me a tweet or whatever. Comments for old beta posts here will be locked; please post to the new one, so we can keep track of what’s applicable for what version.

Lastly, THANK YOU. There is no deluge of beta testers, but just a handful of people are needed to be a real help. Even if you don’t personally hit anything really bad, posting a comment with any info you think might be helpful would be quite welcome.

Flagfox 6.0 Beta 2 with Firefox 57+ support

The Flagfox 6.0b1 post is here. Prior posts on the general topic of this endeavor are here and here. Per standard beta software recommendations, general backup info is here.

Flagfox 6.0 Beta 2 has been posted to AMO’s beta channel for people to test. Everyone who is already signed up for the Flagfox beta channel should automatically get the update.

This update has a bunch of fixes, including 5 things listed in the prior posts’s “known issues” as well as a fix for the proxy problem reported by a beta tester in the comments there. I’ve also got some other fixes, including one that could cause some notable issues if you try to import certain types of actions lists (more than one at once). There’s also 3 new default actions (not in-menu by default, but available via options) and one dropped one, though it was only dropped because it’s now equivalent to another listed one (W3C’s newer validator got promoted to their default, so I don’t need two entries anymore). Also, better favicon handling and icons for those new HTTP security/protocol feature detection tags in the flag icon tooltip. The detailed changelogs for betas to this point are listed below, along with the current known issue lists.

Flagfox 6.0b2 changelog:

  • Fixed proxy detection to work properly with sloppy undocumented behavior of Mozilla’s WebExt webRequest API (Firefox 57+ only)
  • Fixed actions importer to always import action lists with names, using host name or placeholder, if needed
  • Fixed a bunch of little bugs in the new options page (with selection handling, drag/drop, & clone selected action)
  • Implemented manual paste menu item using new API and unified paste handling
  • Added an insecure HTTP tooltip tag, mutually exclusive with HSTS & HTTP/2 tags
  • Improved HTTP protocol/security tooltip tags with simple, easy-to-notice icons (Unicode; all in color, in Nightly)
  • Added ability to handle default action favicons on non-standard paths; all should show, now (improvement over 5.x)
  • Dropped obsolete Validate.nu default action, as it’s now the same as the main W3C Validator
  • Added some new default actions: Is It Up? (alternative status checker), Built With, & Mozilla Security Observatory
  • Added hooks to options for clone selected action (if any) on normal copy/cut, via main menu or hotkey (e.g. ctrl+c)

The changelog for 6.0 beta 1 is here.

For the list of stuff that’s broken because Mozilla/Google’s addon API kinda sucks, read here.

Flagfox 6.0b2 known issues:

  • JS actions are currently not available due WebExt API restrictions; I can probably hack around this
  • The new page element action menus do not yet support actions that use IP addresses (WIP; implementation TBD)
  • There’s sometimes a IPDB recursion error on first startup, though it (usually) recovers with nothing breaking
  • A few RTL issues (always expected; Arabic and Hebrew users are probably used to seeing this in all software)
  • Options edit action dialog autocomplete and help popup are disabled (cut for time; will reimplement later)
  • Options page is kinda ugly, due to having to port to HTML and CSS being horrible (and me sucking at it)
  • Keyboard focus handling in options subdialogs is not working correctly
  • Icon/tooltip sometimes doesn’t update correctly on non-existent domain error pages
  • All page notifications for TLD/IP country mismatches have been disabled until I can make it work better

Bug reports / feedback can be posted in a comment to this post or to the thread on the support forum. You can also email me or send me a tweet or whatever. Comments for old beta posts here will be locked; please post to the new one, so we can keep track of what’s applicable for what version.

Lastly, THANK YOU. There is no deluge of beta testers, but just a handful of people are needed to be a real help. Even if you don’t personally hit anything really bad, posting a comment with any info you think might be helpful would be quite welcome.

Flagfox 6.0 Beta 1 with Firefox 57+ support

Dear lord that took forever… my initial estimate morphed from dozens of hours to a couple hundred hours to… more… but I’ve got something worth posting now. I spent half of the last week rewriting some important stuff because I found yet another Firefox bug in the WebExtension API, this time a regression from 56 (yep, they managed to break some WebExt stuff on exactly the Firefox 57 update). My running todo list of Mozilla bugs to file is currently longer than my changelog. My previous posts on this topic are here and here.

Flagfox 6.0 Beta 1 has been posted to AMO’s beta channel for people to test

As with all software development builds, a backup of your relevant data is generally recommended. Though, seeing as I was already using the WebExt API for storage in Flagfox 5.2 (for transitioning data, seeing as the WebExt API has NO method to access old prefs), you’re probably fine (though, I did change the action tab/window open setting format, but that’s a really minor thing). Flagfox 5.2+ data is in the “browser-extension-data” subfolder of your Firefox profile. Addon data is in there by addon ID, for which Flagfox has the lovely very-old-style ID of “{1018e4d6-728f-4b20-ad56-37578a4de76b}”. (full Firefox profile backup instructions are here)

Flagfox 6.0b1 changelog:

  • First pure WebExtension API version of Flagfox; Firefox 57+ support added (min version Firefox 56)
  • Ported Flagfox options from XUL window to HTML tab (along with all other dialogs), per WebExt requirement
  • Improved IPDB to now run in its own dedicated JS Worker thread
  • Started using ES6 promises everywhere (some new uses because it’s better; many compelled by WebExt API)
  • Faster flag icon updates using new WebExt API (pages loaded/cached prior to install/update must be refreshed)
  • Added simple indicator tags for HSTS and HTTP/2 to flag icon tooltips
  • Added Flagfox actions context menus for elements within a page and background tabs (IP-related stuff not yet implemented)
  • Improved keyboard support in the options page
  • Added options page support for paste to import actions from text, via main menu or hotkey (e.g. ctrl+v)
  • Fixed some bugs with actions import/drag/drop in options under recent versions of Firefox
  • Added Linux support for opening actions in a background window (not that anyone likely cares)
  • Implemented custom locale properties file parsing/loading, because screw WebExtension’s bloated I18N
  • Implemented universal automatic English fallback for locales (Flagfox 5 had some; Flagfox 6 has it for everything)
  • Now stripping redundant manual English fallback strings on build, to save a bit of space
  • Added automatic locale file unload after disuse to reduce memory use when no longer needed
  • Significantly improved location/host/ip caching (which is now required, due to WebExt APIs)
  • Implemented (partial) replacements for various features Mozilla abandoned with the WebExt transition (e.g. eTLD)
  • Removed old grey question mark icon; replaced its last remaining use with globe icon
  • Various default action changes (Netcraft & IntoDNS HTTPS; Wave A11Y dropped; WOT demoted from default menu)
  • Geotool action hotkey changed from Ctrl+Alt+G to Alt+Shift+G due to the very limited WebExtension hotkey API
  • New default action hotclicks: “Check Server Status” on double-click and “Google Cache” on triple-click
  • IPv4 & IPv6 address location database updates for December 2017

Note that some new stuff should be considered to be “experimental”, for now (aka it might not work perfectly yet). The new features were actually fairly quick to implement, given the APIs available. The new menus are the main thing you can point to as an actual improvement that’s a direct result of the WebExtension API (out of, like, two things). The HTTP info tags took like 10 minutes. 🙂

Broken stuff I can’t fix, due to WebExtension API limitations:

  • Icon is smaller and squarified, per WebExt API’s apparent requirements (not documented properly)
  • Icon menu has default toolbar menu items in it, even if N/A; no way to disable; nightly is better with this
  • Icon menu limited to 6 top-level items, per arbitrary WebExt API limitation; others in auto-submenu
  • Icon menu item favicons (if enabled) have no default; WebExt API has no way to set a default/onerror
  • All menu generation is done more often than prior versions due to primitive WebExt API (no show event)
  • Icon tooltip doesn’t have columns or decent styling, as the WebExt API here is primitive (plain text only)
  • Icon middle-click settings no longer work, due to limited WebExt API (existing settings left alone, but hidden)
  • Hotkey customization is no longer available, due to very limited WebExt API (no user-set hotkey support, at all)
  • The WebExt notifications API outputs to the OS notifications system, which may get truncated text (likely to replace)
  • There is no way to select “Don’t show this again” for notifications (custom buttons not supported in Firefox)
  • Firefox wipes all WebExtension data on uninstall, without user notification or prompting (affects everyone)

Known issues (aka broken stuff I should be able to fix):

  • JS actions are currently not available due WebExt API restrictions; I can probably hack around this
  • The new page element action menus do not yet support actions that use IP addresses (WIP; implementation TBD)
  • There’s sometimes a IPDB recursion error on first startup, though it recovers with nothing breaking
  • A few RTL issues (always expected; Arabic and Hebrew users are probably used to seeing this in all software)
  • Options page action drag/drop to reorder always snaps to the bottom if you drag out of the box
  • Options edit action dialog autocomplete and help popup are disabled (cut for time; will reimplement later)
  • Options page is kinda ugly, due to having to port to HTML and CSS being horrible (and me sucking at it)
  • Options page add item hover menu option for pasting doesn’t work (may or may not be possible with the API)
  • Keyboard focus handling in options subdialogs is not working correctly
  • Icon/tooltip sometimes doesn’t update correctly on non-existent domain error pages
  • All page notifications for TLD/IP country mismatches have been disabled until I can make it work better
  • The browser console will end up with lots of log messages from l10n.js due to leaving a setting fairly low for testing. The setting has been turned up a bit and the log messages will be shut up for future versions.
  • New default action hotclicks aren’t activated on startup; reload Flagfox or set/unset a action option to work-around (sigh… found literally minutes after posting this)

Another known issue: I need to look into making the content area on this blog wider to fit this stuff better. (Edit: fixed via theme change)

Also note that this is the first time I’m using Mozilla’s beta channel since they switched to mandatory addon signing. It’ll probably work fine, but I don’t actually know yet.

Bug reports / feedback can be posted in a comment to this post or to the thread on the support forum. You can also email me or send me a tweet or whatever.