Wonky Text Display...Just Me? April 23, 2008 1:39 PM   Subscribe

Is there some kind of residual April Fools joke going on? There's a weird glitch in the way MeFi displays for me over time.

When I'm looking at MetaFilter (mostly AskMe and MeTa), there seems to be something strange going on in the way it's displayed on my monitor. One second it looks like this and the next, this. (For those with strained eyes, the former has nice, thick text and the latter is much thinner). You'll even see in the first picture that the first answer has different text thickness than the rest.

Relevant info: I'm using Firefox, on a Macbook (with Leopard), and I have the MeFi Navigator Greasemonkey script installed (only recently, but not as recent as the problem I've been noticing).

Is it just me? If so, and you've experienced the problem before, what can I do to rectify it?
posted by sjuhawk31 to Bugs at 1:39 PM (32 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

After doing some "no duh" testing and turning off Greasemonkey, it seems to only happen when I have the script active. Should I just go and complain to the makers of the script and leave you folks alone? Alternately, should I just uninstall the script? I really do like being able to single out when jessamyn, mathowie and cortex post to the threads.
posted by sjuhawk31 at 1:41 PM on April 23, 2008

Yeah, it's a greasemonkey thing - same thing happens to me. It annoys me, but I put up with it. I've got the navigator, scroll tags, and usernotes scripts installed.
posted by rtha at 1:46 PM on April 23, 2008

Yeah if it's definitively identified as a script problem you probably need to talk to the script author, though we can leave this open and see if he shows up here. Did you MeFiMail matthewr? Do you have the latest copy of the script running?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:46 PM on April 23, 2008

Ctrl-F, then 'by jessamyn' works okay for highlighting her posts. The only downside is that it also highlights posts by the fiendish jessamynah bird, which was briefly in a band with Neil Young and Rick James.
posted by box at 1:47 PM on April 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

No, jess, but I will MeFiMail him. Will also keep an eye on this thread to see if he finds it and has an answer that could benefit future generations of answer-seekers.
posted by sjuhawk31 at 1:55 PM on April 23, 2008

Interesting. I have no idea what would cause this, but if the consensus is that it only happens with Mefi Navigator running, I'll certainly look into it.

Unfortunately, I'm incredibly busy for the next couple of days and can't do anything about this until the weekend. I'll post a fixed version of the script on userscripts when it's done, and post in this thread.

In the meantime, please make sure you have the latest version of the script (and having a recent version of GreaseMonkey is also a good idea).

I assume this only affects Macs, and I don't have one immediately to hand until the weekend, so any more details would be great. For instance, when exactly does the glitch occur? I can see in both screenshots that the script has run, so I'm not quite clear at what point the change happens.
posted by matthewr at 2:00 PM on April 23, 2008

Actually, the first thing that springs to mind is a recent change I made, adding line-height:0 CSS attributes to the elements the script adds (poster tags and « ≡ »). This was because previously the addition of these elements would increase the height of the "posted by" line by one or two pixels, which mucked up anchors in long threads.

Maybe these line-height directives alter Firefox's text rendering in some weird way. That's the only thing I can think of right now. It's odd how the text rendering of the whole page is altered — including the page heading and the menu bar, which the script doesn't touch at all.

As I say, I'll fix it, but not for a couple of days, and in the meantime any further details from Mac-users would be much appreciated.

Just to be clear, no one not using a Mac has seen this, right?
posted by matthewr at 2:12 PM on April 23, 2008

I don't use any scripts at all (mostly because I don't know what they are), but the same thing happens to me, also Firefox, also Leopard.

So that's another data point.
posted by Stewriffic at 2:37 PM on April 23, 2008

I really do like being able to single out when jessamyn, mathowie and cortex post to the threads.

I always forget that people are doing this until someone brings it up again or pasts something with "cortexAdmin" in the posted-by line.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:00 PM on April 23, 2008

I had exactly the same problem with the Mefi navigator script on Leopard, until I started using FF 3. The 5th beta is very stable. I think the change in rendering engines took care of it.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 3:11 PM on April 23, 2008

I get the same thing. If you highlight the text with your mouse, it makes it thick again. Not sure how to tell which version of a User Script I have, but I did install them quite recently.

Greasemonkey 0.7.20080121.0
Mefi Deleted Posts
Leopard 10.5.2
posted by popechunk at 4:36 PM on April 23, 2008

I'm almost certain that I read somewhere that this is a known problem with the Firefox rendering engine on Macs. I don't use Greasemonkey and it happens to me with some regularity (for what it's worth, it happens both on a MacBook Pro and on a Hackintosh, both running Leopard, but it happened on Tiger too).
posted by socratic at 5:46 PM on April 23, 2008

This is a well-documented (but not well-known) bug in Firefox on Mac relating to how it handles opacity. If anything in the document (or anything handling the document) changes opacity, the document's entire visible area (over respective background colors) gets slightly less opaque. In the case of antialiased fonts, they look thinner.

The standard fix is to change your script or CSS's target opaque value from 1.0 to 0.9999.
posted by ardgedee at 6:09 PM on April 23, 2008

Here is a sample bug report on the opacity problem (bug 429057) in a quick search of Bugzilla. I remember finding at least a half dozen more relevant bugs when I searched last fall, since folks keep filing new reports on the problem. It's not hard to write a minimal test case that can make text in one part of the page look thinner by altering the opacity value of text in another part of the page. But the upshot is that it's neither Metafilter's nor Greasemonkey's fault.
posted by ardgedee at 6:18 PM on April 23, 2008

Sorry, that was the wrong bug. This is the right one: Bug 420020 – Element Opacity Rendering Bug
posted by ardgedee at 6:19 PM on April 23, 2008

While we're asking questions, can anyone explain why I woke up this morning in a ditch, naked except for some yellow rubber boots, clutching a sign that read "TOYNBEE KNOWS, FIND HIM" in one hand and an elephant-shaped crystal decanter full of really awful plum brandy in the other? There appears to be a thumb or a rather fat finger floating in the brandy. None of my fingers or toes appear to be missing.

Also, can someone bring me some pants? I think I might be behind Dolores Park. There's some old bearded guy here who smells like feta, and he keeps talking about wanting to lick my feet.

Please advise.
posted by loquacious at 6:21 PM on April 23, 2008 [4 favorites]

It stops happening when I degrease the monkey. As soon as I turn it back on, it starts happening again.
posted by popechunk at 6:24 PM on April 23, 2008

Yeah, it seems text rendering — in particular, anti-aliasing — is problematic in Firefox 2 on OS X. Since this is an internal Firefox issue, rather than a GreaseMonkey or Mefi Navigator problem, probably the best solution for most people is to just live with it until FF3 comes out (Dipsomaniac suggests FF3 doesn't suffer from this problem).

Mefi Navigator adds various elements to the page, many of which have the -moz-opacity property. This triggers the FF text-rendering bug. You could just remove the opacity stuff, at the cost of making the script a lot more visually obtrusive. The local copy is in ~/Library/Mozilla/Firefox/Profiles/<profile folder>/gm_scripts/ if you want to do this. Search for 'opacity' and take out any relevant CSS properties.

One possible better solution would be to edit the line beginning css.innerHTML = "#navigator-list a …, changing it to css.innerHTML = "body { -moz-opacity:0.999; } #navigator-list a ….

If people report that this works, I'll alter the copy on userscripts.org.
posted by matthewr at 6:31 PM on April 23, 2008

I'm on a Mac running Leopard and I used Firefox 2.x and Firefox 3 beta 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 (with no add-ons or plug-ins - I am primitive), and I have never, ever seen this.

I believe that it is obviously happening to some people out there, I'm just adding my data point.

Plus, Firefox 3 beta 5 on OS X? So much faster!
posted by kbanas at 6:33 PM on April 23, 2008

I'm okay with patiently (and excitedly) waiting for the production version of FF3 to come out, if the consensus is that this will fix the problem. Less work for matthewr, who's doing us a favor with the script in the first place.
posted by sjuhawk31 at 6:36 PM on April 23, 2008

Ok, I've "degreased the monkey". Now the old creepy smelly guy is talking about wanting to lick other bits... and making an omellete. In my boots. Please hurry. Bring soap.
posted by loquacious at 6:39 PM on April 23, 2008

Listen, no matter what, don't not drink that brandy, the fate of the world depends on you. Very tight vinyl pants to follow. God be with or by you.
posted by Divine_Wino at 7:29 PM on April 23, 2008 [3 favorites]

I use Firefox on Leopard, and I've noticed weird text rendering stuff on a few different sites- mostly the text looks thicker on a few lines, then fixes itself when I highlight it. Kinda weird, but I guess it's the same opacity bug we're all having.
posted by MadamM at 7:35 PM on April 23, 2008

I've been considering running FF3 beta (though not as a replacement for FF2 just yet). Is there a way to install it without having it override or mess with my FF2 profile? (My understanding has been that I could install and run FF3 from my desktop, but that they share the user profile). Oh yeah - 10.4.11, g4 powerbook.

Or I can just wait for the official release.
posted by rtha at 7:43 PM on April 23, 2008

*throws soap in direction of Dolores Park*
posted by rtha at 7:44 PM on April 23, 2008

I've been considering running FF3 beta (though not as a replacement for FF2 just yet). Is there a way to install it without having it override or mess with my FF2 profile?

You can use Profile Manager to create a separate profile for FF3. You'll have to rename one app or the other to allow you to keep them both around, and make sure the "Don't ask at startup" button is un-checked so you can select the correct profile for the version you want to run. I don't know if FF2 and FF2 will remember the last profile each one used, or simply use the last profile accessed by a Firefox product.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 8:19 PM on April 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

Thank you, Dipsomaniac! I will go edumacate myself now, and hope for happy FF3 beta-running soon.
posted by rtha at 8:24 PM on April 23, 2008

Is anyone else occasionally seeing a poorly resized picture of some garlic cloves instead of the Metafilter logo in the top left?
posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot at 1:22 AM on April 24, 2008

Has anyone else modded the MeFi Navigator script so that it adds "Admin" to their own username? And then, drunk on power and cooking sherry, painstakingly compiled a list of all their percieved on-site enemies and "banned" them using an "admin panel" that is, in actuality, a piece of paper with "Banninate!" scrawled in their own blood, sellotaped to their monitor?

For reference I'm using FF2.0.0.14 on XP.
posted by Jofus at 3:24 AM on April 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

Screencaps supplied for reference.
I am so, so busy at the moment.
posted by Jofus at 4:06 AM on April 24, 2008 [4 favorites]

Jofus: the piece of paper on my monitor is a Post-It.
posted by box at 5:08 AM on April 24, 2008

rtha, I just created a second non-admin account on my mac, logged in as that user, downloaded ff3b5, and ran it from inside the .dmg file, and did not drag it into Applications. This leaves FF2 untouched, as well as my own profile.

For the record, I think it's ugly. It does start up a lot more quickly.
posted by popechunk at 6:02 AM on April 24, 2008

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