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Chrome Extension Helps Find Noisy Tabs 108

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the where-have-you-been-all-my-life dept.
mutetab writes "I recently wrote a Chrome extension called MuteTab that helps you narrow down which tab is making a sound by detecting which tabs contain plugins, HTML5 audio/video, and Java applets. It also gives you a right click menu that will mute tabs (via Javascript APIs when available, otherwise hiding them like FlashBlock does) and can automatically mute background tabs. Be sure to read the FAQ writeup to learn about some ways we can improve detecting which tab has sound and mute it." This really seems like stuff that should be a built in browser preference: like maybe an option to only allow audio out of the visible tab.
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Chrome Extension Helps Find Noisy Tabs

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  • by Geoffrey.landis (926948) on Monday August 01, 2011 @09:37AM (#36946466) Homepage

    Mostly I find the bells and whistles of new browsers to be useless... but a tool to mute the bells and whistles now that's actually something I'd like.

    • by JavaBear (9872) on Monday August 01, 2011 @09:55AM (#36946704)

      Of all the "new" things they add to the browsers, this is the one thing that would make all but the most annoying advertisers happy.

      Another pair of must have features would be "Pause all scripts on background tabs" with sub options for types such as JavaScript, Flash, Audio and Video, and "throttle priority for background tabs" to limit the impact of for instance Javascript while you open a number of pages. These tabs have plenty of time to load while you read the others.

      • by Pieroxy (222434)

        I'd rather have an extension that asks me permission before playing a sound and/or any kind of animated crap. Animated crap is hard to detect, but sound? come on !

        Last time I was on the french yellow pages. I left the browser open and came back a few hours later. The damn thing was crunching half of a core just displaying an ad ! Unbelievable.

        Flashblock is of the essence my friends! Unfortunately with HTML5 flash is not the only way to animate crap on a page.

        • flashblock?

          no. just don't install flash as a browser plugin! ln -s /dev/null libflash_bullshit.so

          you won't get any more flash ads, cookies or BS this way.

          when I need to view youtube, I use 'youtube-dl'. nice side benefit: I get to keep a local copy and review that any time I want.

          boggles me that people willingly install flash libs to their computers. come on techies, really now!

          • by Pieroxy (222434)

            There is a few range of things that I use flash for. Annoying things, but still.

            Examples:
            - Snippets of songs on amazon
            - Google analytics reports
            - I have no more example in mind.

            All in all, I like to have flash *when I want it* and no flash the rest of the time.

          • by hairyfeet (841228)

            Riiiight, because I really want to download every. stupid. video. I may or may not want to see even once! With flash I can spend a couple of seconds previewing and if it is crap close the tab. By your method I hope you got grandfathered in on an unlimited ISP account which I hate to break the news to ya will be going the way of 8-tracks and bell bottoms.

            As for TFA? Works in Comodo Dragon, thanks dude. I have several friends I keep up with through social sites and the damned little video or audio clips they

    • by Hatta (162192)

      This extension has it backwards. Why allow everyone to blare noise at you, and then have to dig around and find who it is? The right thing to do is to deny everyone the ability to make noise, and only grant permission as needed.

      • by swilly (24960)

        I would want it to allow the current tab sounds to play, but by default to disallow other tabs. This should be customizable, of course, since I want my Pandora chrome app to work in a background tab.

        Now that I think about it, this should apply to video content as well as sounds. Nothing should autostart unless it is in the current tab. I have started several YouTube videos and had to quickly pause them after opening the link in a tab. It's pretty annoying.

        • by Hatta (162192)

          No, it really should be deny all, manually whitelist. What if you want to play audio from a website in the background? If it pauses when you switch tabs, that's no good. Or if you have more than one video embedded into one page. You don't want them to all start at once.

    • by mrmeval (662166)

      I never get sounds out of Firefox. I never get shit starting up that I don't want. I tried Chrome and ripped it out within 15 minutes.

  • Is this the place? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BrokenHalo (565198) on Monday August 01, 2011 @09:37AM (#36946476)
    The submission is fair enough in its own way, but I can't say I'm overly impressed that it appears to be a direct advertisement for the submitter's product.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      I like the change to direct advertisement instead of the shitty articles without news being presented as news.

      or, you know, the articles with a title phrased as a question that can be answered with "no".

      on topic, i gonna test this out, a tool to mute specific tabs sounds good. but a checkbox to only have the visible tab make noise would be stupid to me. since i often play music from youtube in one tab while reading slashdot for example.

    • The submission is fair enough in its own way, but I can't say I'm overly impressed that it appears to be a direct advertisement for the submitter's product.

      That, and Opera has had this feature for years.

    • by zAPPzAPP (1207370)

      It is a chance to rant about annoying advertisements. We love to do that.

    • by Ant P. (974313)

      At least it's something useful for a change, instead of "anonymous" cunts submitting their computerworld/itworld/whateverthefuckitis blogspam daily.

  • Choice is good (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ElectricTurtle (1171201) on Monday August 01, 2011 @09:39AM (#36946498)
    Blanket rules like only allowing sound from the visible tab are rather bad for things like internet radio, so being able to select tab by tab which should output sound and which shouldn't sounds great. It would be best if it were off by default so that you don't get spammed by audio ads.
    • Internet radio is a great example of an exception. Another is when a video has a commercial. I'll click to another tab for a bit to do other things but use the audio from that tab as a cue for when the commercial's over and I can get back to my show.

      I can see how a lot of people might be confused/upset if audio went out by default without any clear and obvious way to change the default.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        UI suggestion. Have the background of the tab show a "noise meter" behind the text. It's quick to look up and see the movement in a row of tabs, find it, and optionally kill it. And hopefully you don't have a lot of tabs making noise at once so the "visual noise" is at a minimum.

    • by plover (150551) *

      It's all about dependencies. What I'm browsing on one tab sometimes has a relationship to what's in another tab, but generally that's not true. I'll often have a dozen tabs or more open to different things going on. One may be shoutcast, one may be to a blog, etc. None of those needs to "mute" or "unmute" the others. There is no actual dependency between what I'm looking at and what I want to hear.

      Since I run Adblock, Flashblock, and Noscript everywhere, I didn't actually realize that ads commonly play

    • by Rich0 (548339)

      I for one would like to be prompted before audio can be played even from my active tab. An exception list for youtube/pandora/etc would of course be welcome.

      Sometimes I need to have audio, but 99% of the time it adds little value.

      I use flash blockers which gets rid of most of the bother, but as html5 takes off that will stop working.

      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        I use flash blockers which gets rid of most of the bother, but as html5 takes off that will stop working.

        Why would HTML5 remove that? It removes the ability of your flash blocker to block flash, but your browser can still block audio. In fact, it's easier for it to do so than trying to block audio ads.

        Hell, your browser can even do the old "Site X wants to play audio" notification thing, far better than a flash video can. Hell, it's how people are getting around flash blockers - by having the ads play befor

        • by Rich0 (548339)

          So, my point was that in a browser that doesn't do all those things that any browser can do, I can at least use a flash blocker to accomplish the same thing.

          Of course html5 should make it easier for the browser to block audio. The problem is that none of them really do.

  • I have always wished there was a right-click menu on tabs to mute them. Seems like your extension has to use a bit of a kludge to silence them (has to "scan" tabs to detect plugins/etc. You'd have to update it everytime something new comes along, correct? And can it really tell if it is making a sound, or only if it could make a sound?) Handling that in browser should be much easier. Off hand, does anyone know how difficult it would be to get something like this integrated into core Firefox/Chrome?

    Opera do

    • by ledow (319597)

      As an Opera user: It doesn't. But then, I have all flash off by default and I have to click a flash-less "play" button before the flash plugin even loads for that one plugin (and hence I don't get noisy ads at all because I never click the play button to even load them, just the one that plays the video/flash I actually WANT to see).

  • Apparently I'm the only person in the entire world who doesn't have their speakers turned on 24/7 because I never hear sounds.

    Granted, I don't run Chrome, but regardless, every time I hear someone complaining about the sound from an ad on a web page I can't resist posing the rhetorical question, "You do realize you don't have to have your speakers turned on, don't you?"

    This is another example of a solution looking for a problem.

    • Yeah and all those people who are listening to music while browsing are out of their minds and are only imagining that they have a problem, right?

    • by MBCook (132727)

      That's what my desktop at work is like, but I listen to music on my laptop while surfing all the time.

      But this isn't a problem there because I use ClickToFlash (a flash blocker for Safari) so nothing gets to try to play audio that I don't authorize first. I can't remember the last time I ran into a midi file or some other way that sound was played without using flash.

    • by tempest69 (572798)
      Tough to notice Skype inbound calls otherwise.
      Killing sound system-wide was fine twenty years ago as a reasonable solution.
      But ads have been getting sneakier, where they delay before making their sales pitch. I have way too many browsers open to find it quickly.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    An Opera-Like Feature: A "By Site Preferences" addon/option!

    That way, you can GLOBALLY set all:

    ---

    1.) Addons
    2.) Plugins
    3.) IFrames-Frames
    4.) Cookies
    5.) Javascript/JAVA usage

    ---

    OFF... & then only turn it on for the sites you absolutely NEED it running on!

    * This would not only COMPLIMENT Chrome/Chromium's "sandbox" features for SAFETY, but also enhance the speed of rendering of pages to boot (Double-Bonus)...

    Yes - I do the above in Opera, & it makes a HUGE difference in speed, & yes, SECURITY TOO

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Random Camel Case and UPPER CASE, unnecessary bold type, an asterisk that doesn't have a reference, homemade ordered lists, fake section breaks, section breaks around a singular coherent sentence, parenthetical expressions that are standing alone, nested parenthetical expressions, a post script in a text editable field, and two sets of initials, all in an anonymous post? I think you've just scored some kind of award for the least visually appealing, non-troll post on Slashdot.

      • by tepples (727027)

        homemade ordered lists

        This could be because Slashdot's CSS for <ol> and <ul> elements was broken at the time of posting.

        a post script in a text editable field

        This is because the <aside> element of HTML5 [html5doctor.com] is not on Slashdot's element whitelist.

  • by vlm (69642) on Monday August 01, 2011 @09:59AM (#36946748)

    You're missing the real story.

    The real story is that a cool new addon is available for chrome, not FF.

    Firefox was made by its addons. FF is just a bootloader for adblock+, noscript, firebug, flashblock, xmarks, and others.

    If new addon development is going to Chrome, then I inevitably also have to move to Chrome. FF was fun and worked great, but...

    Is there an equivalent for FF? Has Chrome's addons finally caught up with FF? That is the real story.

    • by BZ (40346)

      Addons that do this have been available for Firefox for a long time.

      • by vlm (69642)

        Addons that do this have been available for Firefox for a long time.

        Well, don't keep me/us in suspense... "tools" "addons" start searching...

        "silence tab" Could not find any matching addons
        "silence" ditto
        "tab mute" Obviously none of those four search results are related...
        "detect sound" Could not find ... etc
        "automute" ditto
        "auto mute" two things, one plays internet radio, the other appears to be a RSS reader
        "making a sound" Could not fine any ...
        "tab sound" a whole pageful of results, mostly revolving around beeping when your web mail gets a mail and controlling web music

        • by BZ (40346)

          Dunno. I used an addon like this at some point, then stopped because I found better ways to deal with the problem. I don't recall what it was called at this point.

        • by DrYak (748999)

          Addons that do this have been available for Firefox for a long time.

          Is this one of those things where "everybody knows" the project release name is "purple pineapple" so that's the only way to find it by searching?

          Or probably there must an absolutely awesome plugin doing exactly what you want, called "Mute Those Tab" and which supports all versions of Firefox between 2.x and 5.x
          Sadly, the day before yesterday, Mozilla decided to bump up Firefox's version number from 6.x to 7.x, and by the time the plug-in author fixes this, Mozilla will have already bumped FF's version further (to 12.x !!!)

          But you're still free to google around the web, until some obscure blog post explains how to hack the manifest.xml to have the pl

      • Too bad then that you post turns out to be knee-jerk bullshit, I keep dozens of tabs in several windows so when restring from save and quit I'm often faced with a horrifying sound from one of the tabs. I wish there were a plug-in :(
    • by jeti (105266)

      The last time I looked, the Chrome extension API was simple and well documented but quite limited.
      You can manipulate the current HTML page and add something (probably only buttons) to the toolbar.
      Apart from that, it lacks the ability to extend the browser GUI in any way.

  • TFS:

    maybe an option to only allow audio out of the visible tab.

    I use pandora/grooveshark/whatever in a background tab to listen to music all the time; having only the current tab emit sound would defeat that. But the ability to mute tabs (or have them muted by default, and be able to unmute them?) sounds perfect to me. Or how about having a whitelist of sites allowed to emit sound (somebody quick, grab the name NoSound to be a sister extension to NoScript).

  • Blocking all sound in background tabs would work for some people (if technically illiterate) those of us that use internet streaming for music, listening to videos while doing other things not so much. I like the idea someone presented about showing in the tab which ones are providing sound in them, I would welcome something like this along with a utility to mute the sound in individual tabs. I'm starting to get tired of having to sort through scripts and code that I can change to fix issues created by so
  • by PPH (736903) on Monday August 01, 2011 @10:30AM (#36947152)

    ... its the p0rn sounds that continue to emanate from my PC when the boss approaches and I switch to a work related tab.

  • But between flashblock and adblock, I can't remember the last time this was an issue.
  • This really seems like stuff that should be a built in browser preference: like maybe an option to only allow audio out of the visible tab.

    ^ This.

    There's only a few sites I know I want sound from so that's video sites and a few music sites. So I'd like all sites muted unless I've white-listed them. I'm also fairly confident that 99.9% of other users feel the same. All those in agreement, shout, aye!

  • No default play of audio or video without explicit opt-in. That should be a law.

  • ... called NoScript. I would really like to see a NoScript for Chrome. Why hasn't one been created?

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