Fixing NewsBlur’s “Story” Pane When Browsing Securely on Firefox 23

Ever since the shut­ter­ing of Google Read­er, I’ve been an avid, sev­er­al-times-a-day user of News­Blur, which while it isn’t free if you have over six­ty-four feeds, has served my pur­pos­es nicely.

One of my favorite fea­tures of News­Blur is its abil­i­ty to load the actu­al page a feed entry refers to with­in a frame of its news reader.

Cer­tain feeds, such as the Dil­bert Dai­ly Strip feed, don’t dis­play the con­tent itself, encour­ag­ing sub­scribers to click through to the actu­al site. With Google Read­er, that’s just what I had to do: click through. News­Blur’s “Sto­ry” fea­ture, though, allowed the view­ing of these “click through” feed entries from with­in News­Blur’s inter­face, which was fantastic!

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, recent­ly I noticed this fea­ture stop work­ing. Click­ing “Sto­ry” and then choos­ing a feed entry to read result­ed in a blank pane where the sto­ry was sup­posed to show up.

a blank 'Story' pane on NewsBlur
See that big blank space, below the gray line? Yeah, that should just not happen.

After a lot of tri­al and error, I dis­cov­ered this issue was relat­ed to my recent upgrad­ing to Fire­fox 23. In ver­sion 23, a new fea­ture was intro­duced which blocks mixed con­tent on encrypt­ed sites to help ensure secure web browsing.

the Firefox mixed content warning
The “Shield” icon in the address bar calls out that Fire­fox has blocked mixed content.

This result­ed in an unin­tend­ed incom­pat­i­bil­i­ty with a set­ting I had set on News­Blur: “Only use a secure https connection.”

screenshot of NewsBlur's preferences showing the SSL option
News­Blur’s SSL option

That set­ting forced my brows­ing to take place on, caus­ing any time I attempt­ed to load con­tent from else­where — such as feed sto­ries in the “Sto­ry” pain — to reg­is­ter as “mixed” con­tent with Fire­fox. Fire­fox flags it as inse­cure and blocks the con­tent. This. Is. Annoying.

For­tu­nate­ly, this is a known prob­lem with Mozil­la, the mak­ers of Fire­fox, and may not always be an issue.

Til it is fixed, how­ev­er, I’m able to browse News­Blur as usu­al, “Sto­ry” pane and all, by dis­abling the “Only use a secure https con­nec­tion” set­ting. For the time being, I also dis­abled my instal­la­tion of the HTTPS Every­where brows­er add-on, until Fire­fox’s “mixed con­tent” block­ing is updat­ed to be a bit less intrusive.

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Rick Beckman