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Five Tips to Improve the Palm Blazer Browser

Blazer Palm WebBlazer may not be the fanciest or fastest mobile browser out there, but for Palm users it's what we've got (and have had for the past four years). Whether you're a Centro / Treo user or a Palm PDA diehard, Blazer remains the default browser of choice across Palm's current Palm OS Garnet product line.

Blazer is now going on a few years without a significant update to its NetFront powered core and is starting to show some wrinkles. Yet, with a couple of simple tweaks, Blazer can be fine tuned into a more efficient mobile browsing machine. Read on for our collection of five simple tips to improve your Palm OS browsing experience.

Smooth Those Fonts

FontSmoother is an app that can do wonders to improve the legibility and quality of text throughout the whole Palm OS. In addition to letting your use your own custom typefaces, you can select custom fonts for use in individual applications. In this example we are going to use it to dramatically increase the area of viewable text in Blazer, albeit with a smaller sized font face.

You can generally use any font you'd like, however I'd recommend Tahoma at either a 7 or 8pt size. With this setting pages will look much more pleasant and you'll be able to see much more text on the screen than with the standard font. The screenshots below demonstrate the different font selections on the same page.

Blazer Large font
Blazer Default (Large Font)
Blazer small
Blazer (Small Font)
Blazer with FontSmoother
Blazer with FontSmoother (Tahoma 8pt)

You can convert Tahoma on your own or download the set here, which we have pre-converted. Make sure you have FontSmoother installed and you have hotsync'd over your converted fonts. In Blazer make sure the Font size option is set to Large, otherwise FontSmoother won't work.

Next launch FontSmoother and select advanced mode, then drill down to web (Blazer) in the app list. From here you can set a custom font for use solely in Blazer. Select the size of Tahoma that you want. 8pt will give you the most improvement, however this comes at the tradeoff of being quite small so your millage may vary. It's best to experiment with different fonts and sizes to find one you're most comfortable with. The custom font may also make the drop down menu and bookmarks display a little wonky, but that is a normal side-effect of the custom font setting.

Blazer Settings

The mysterious Blazer settings menu can make or break your web browsing setup on Palm OS. With these settings suggestions you can speed up and optimize how the browser works.

In the first screen after you press the menu key and tap over to Options, you'll generally always want to have Optimized Mode selected. This generally provides the fastest experience.

Blazer Browser Settings Blazer General Settings Blazer Browser Settings Blazer Advanced Settings

Now head into Preferences. The first screen is the Page tab. Having the "Start With" set to Last Page Viewed is ideal as it lets you resume your surfing from where you left of if you jump to another app or have an incoming phone call. Of course your Home Page should be set to your favorite site or our personal favorite, PhoneFavs.com.

On the General Tab I leave Auto-complete checked, which will let Blazer remember the web addresses and form input values you enter. Some people may want to disable this for privacy reasons. The disable cookies and JavaScript options are best left unchecked and neither will impact your surfing too much.

The "Tap and Drag" setting may be more of a personal choice. I like to set it to "Scrolls Page" as that let you navigate the page easier with your fingers and stylus. Leaving it to "Selects Text" is of course better when you wish to copy and paste from a site, however you can still select words and paragraphs with it in scroll mode by double tapping on the words quickly. Fast mode gives your further options to radically speed up page loads. You can turn off images and page styles completely by enabling this mode, which you can toggle from the main view by clicking on the purple lightning bolt icon.

In the advanced tab, you'll want to set the memory limit for storing pages to something around 8-10MB, or more if you have the free ram to spare. This lets the browser keep a cache of common images and files stores locally so the sites you visit frequently will load faster.

The only other option you need to worry about here is the clear cache on exit checkbox, which should not be checked. If you do check it the browser will have to reload every site and element on each site when you leave the browser. Having this set would also negate the start with last page viewed setting, as you'll have to wait even longer for the site to reload all over again.

SharkLinks

SharkLinks is a handy little free app that enables you to create your application icons for any website or URL. The links you create will show up as shortcuts in the standard Palm OS launcher. When you click on them they will simply launch the site in the default browser. Once you create the shortcuts you can use them however you see fit. I like to setup my own custom category, as seen above, so I have a special dedicated tab for my most frequently accessed sites.

Blazer sharklinks SharkLinks

Button Prefs and Shortcuts

Palm Web ButtonsIf you don't already have a web button on your device, like on the Palm TX, by default you can easy get to Blazer by tapping the option button and then the phone app key. You can make things even easier but dedicating a single hard button key to Blazer.

Head over to the Palm OS "Prefs" app, scroll down to the Personal tab and select "Buttons". Here you can set your own button preferences and grant yourself one click access to blazer if you'd like.

An alternative option would be to set a "Quick Key" shortcut in the phone app. Depending on your device, select the web tab and hit the menu key, select "Edit Favorites Button" and from here you can assign an unused keyboard key to press and hold in order to launch Blazer.

PhoneFavs

Of course what good would a well oiled browser be without some decent sites to visit? An excellent mobile web starting point is PhoneFavs.com. From here you can find a ton of mobile friendly sites and services. With a PhoneFavs account, you can import your desktop bookmarks and access them on any device in a mobile friendly format.

PhoneFavs Mobile Web PortalOne way to use the site is to setup the PhoneFavs browser buttons on your desktop browser so you can easily add new links to your favs list right from the current page you are on. I like to use this feature to keep a running queue of articles to read later that I stumble across throughout the day at work.

Later in the day when I have some free time, I can access the articles by visiting my "read" tag secion in 'my favs' and catch up on my online reading during downtime on my Treo. You can view a tutorial about this here.

Opera Mini Alternative
Even with all the above tips some users may opt to explore other browsing options. While there are a few alternative choices available, the best in our opinion is the Opera Mini browser. To get Opera Mini setup on Palm OS you must first have the Palm IBM Websphere Java JVM installed. It's no longer available from Palm.com, but you can find a copy here.

Once you get the JVM installed, make sure you set the following options in the main Prefs app > IBM Java VM: check 'Use Double Buffering', check 'Use high resolution coordinates', don't set anything for the HTTP Proxy, set the Memory maximum to at least 4Mb and set the Maximum Java thread stack size to 4kb. Now head over to operamini.com via Blazer and you can download it over the air.

Article Comments

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FontSmoother + Blazer tip

Calroth @ 4/10/2008 9:31:29 PM # Q
The article tip was to replace the standard Palm fonts with FontSmoother fonts.

You can keep the standard fonts in Blazer and only replace the "small" fonts. This means that the user interface (which uses the standard fonts) stays usable.

You need FontHackV. Add the following settings:
"Custom ID 128 -> regular font of your choice"
"Custom ID 131 -> bold font of your choice"
"Custom ID 134 -> italic font of your choice"

Then in Blazer, go to the Options menu, choose Font, choose Small, and you're done.

P.S. This tip also works the same for VersaMail.

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The Palm Economy

T_W @ 4/10/2008 10:54:07 PM # Q
You see its the excitement of trying to scrape anything out of a 5 year old, abandonware browser which Window Mobile can never match.

That and having J2ME yanked out from under you right when Opera Mobile and GMail Mobile were starting to get good.

Thanks Palm

RE: The Palm Economy
bhartman34 @ 4/11/2008 8:19:44 AM # Q
It's true that Blazer sucks, but at least Opera Mini is an option. And the article links to the JVM, so the only inconvenience is having to get the JVM from another site. I don't see that as a deal-breaker, as long as the JVM is available. (If it wasn't available anymore, then you might have a point.)

RE: The Palm Economy
kezza @ 4/11/2008 11:32:06 AM # Q
I actually got around to installing Opera Mini for the first time this week, does anybody know a way to set it as the default browser? It doesn't show up in the list in preferences, I presume it's because it's a java app. It seems to do surfing a bit better than Blazer and I'd like to try it out exclusively for a week or so . . .

-------------------
"Well, if it isn't the leader of the wiener patrol, boning up on his nerd lessons"
http://stirwise.com
RE: The Palm Economy
sungod @ 4/12/2008 6:52:37 AM # Q
It doesn't show up in the list in preferences, I presume it's because it's a java app.

I don't think it can be set as the dealt browser because it still relies on Blazer to download files and a couple of other things.
It's dam easy to change your Web hard button to Opera if you have a T|X or another hard button if you have another device thou.
Just go to Pref, Buttons and change from the default app.

It seems to do surfing a bit better than Blazer and I'd like to try it out exclusively for a week or so . . .

Trust me you'll never take it off.
I still use Blazer occasionally, it's faster for surfing mobile sites like mob wikipedia but that's about it.
I use the built in RSS feeder more than anything else on my T|X.

Att Palm:
I am one of many T|X owners who would happily be Beta testers for Nova.
We could give you valuable feedback without ever having to go threw the networks for approval.

RE: The Palm Economy
potter @ 4/12/2008 8:37:49 PM # Q
I don't think it can be set as the dealt browser because it still relies on Blazer to download files and a couple of other things.

Note: Opera Mini 4.1 (currently in beta) appearently no longer requires Blazer for downloads.

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Version number?

twrock @ 4/11/2008 9:17:25 PM # Q
Ryan, what version number started to have the "memory limit for storing pages" option? Ver. 4.3 on my TX doesn't have that, and I'm wondering if that is why I almost always get an "out of memory" error if I try to download anything. I rarely browse from my Palm, but I wonder if that is at least partly because it is such a frustrating experience that I don't bother trying any more.


"twrock is infamous around these parts"
(from my profile over at Brighthand due to my negative 62 rep points rating)
RE: Version number?
Ryan @ 4/11/2008 9:23:12 PM # Q
Hey Ron, check again. I don't have a TX on-hand, but the option is there on my T5. It's really the cache size, and isn't related to storing pages but the general browser cache.

The screenshots are from the Sprint Centro - Blazer v4.5.8

I do know that Blazer has trouble with pages or files over 2MB, which is some kind of built in limitation (bug).

RE: Version number?
twrock @ 4/11/2008 9:51:55 PM # Q
Nope, not there. It's version 4.3 on my TX. What's even more interesting is that when clicking on "i" (Tips) in the Advanced tab, there is an explanation of that very feature, but it isn't there. I'm curious what other TX users have got. Is it just the Asian TX's maybe? (The Asian TX ROM is missing an important Chinese font file for CJKOS, so I woudn't be too surprised if it was missing something else too; I don't have a lot of faith in Palm at this point any way.)

But in any case, sounds like that isn't the real problem with not being able to download anything. The stuff I've tried to download in no way exceeds 2 mb., more like tens or hundreds of kb (saving a picture, downloading a small PRC file, etc.).


"twrock is infamous around these parts"
(from my profile over at Brighthand due to my negative 62 rep points rating)

RE: Version number?
twrock @ 4/12/2008 1:06:38 AM # Q
Follow-up.
So I re-installed Opera (used it way back for a little while) to see if it was worth using again. Here's the funny part. When attempting to download a .PRC file, it dumped me out of Opera and opened Blazer! Yep, that's really going to work well!

Seems Dave in the thread below has the same problem with the TX version of Blazer I do.


"twrock is infamous around these parts"
(from my profile over at Brighthand due to my negative 62 rep points rating)

RE: Version number?
sungod @ 4/12/2008 7:15:32 AM # Q
Nope, not there. It's version 4.3 on my TX. What's even more interesting is that when clicking on "i" (Tips) in the Advanced tab, there is an explanation of that very feature, but it isn't there. I'm curious what other TX users have got. Is it just the Asian TX's maybe?

It's not in my T|X ether and I'm from Australia.
The earlier version of Blazer in the T|X was released before Access rebuilt it on top of the Netfront code base so that possibly has something to do with it.

Att Palm:
I am one of many T|X owners who would happily be Beta testers for Nova.
We could give you valuable feedback without ever having to go threw the networks for approval.

RE: Version number?
twrock @ 4/12/2008 12:21:31 PM # Q
>>>The earlier version of Blazer in the T|X ....

But it's very curious that Ryan's T5 has it but the TX doesn't. The T5 is the older unit, and should have an earlier version of Blazer than the TX. Why did they remove it and then put it back in? (Then again, never mind that question; it's Palm we're talking about here.)


"twrock is infamous around these parts"
(from my profile over at Brighthand due to my negative 62 rep points rating)

RE: Version number?
cstamper @ 6/24/2008 1:54:00 PM # Q
Blazer 4.0 on my T5.

There's a ROM upgrade available, and I've used it. Maybe that's the difference?

http://tinyurl.com/2ooncg

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Blazer on a TX

mypos @ 4/11/2008 11:32:09 PM # Q
Guys,

Besides suffering from a TX who digitizer is going haywire, I cannot, for the life of me, see where I can increase the cache memory for Blazer. The screen you posted does not match the screen on my TX. On my copy of Blazer, the memory input area is nonexistent, and so is the display of the cache size right next to the CLEAR CACHE button. I would appreciate if you can show me how to turn this feature ON!

Sincerely,
Dave

RE: Blazer on a TX
twrock @ 4/12/2008 1:02:10 AM # Q
Dave, see the thread above also. Sounds like the same thing.
Regarding the haywire digitizer, there's a thread in the forums that might be of interest: http://www.palminfocenter.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=34099
Good luck.



"twrock is infamous around these parts"
(from my profile over at Brighthand due to my negative 62 rep points rating)

RE: Blazer on a TX
sungod @ 4/12/2008 7:34:32 AM # Q
the option isn't in Opera it's in the JVM.
Select Prefs from the Apps screen, scroll down to "IBM Java VM", even on a T|X at full screen the option is still off the bottom of the screen(this fooled me because before you install the JVM the list fits the screen perfectly).
Select "opera Mini" from the dropdown menu at the very top of the page then scroll down to find the memory and thread stack options.

If your willing to pay US$17 to fix your digitizer problem check out power digi at www.palmpowerups.com.

Att Palm:
I am one of many T|X owners who would happily be Beta testers for Nova.
We could give you valuable feedback without ever having to go threw the networks for approval.

RE: Blazer on a TX
twrock @ 4/12/2008 9:10:40 PM # Q
sungod, what we are talking about is in Blazer, not Opera or JVM. If you look at the article above, in the second row of screen shots, the far right picture shows the difference. Under the "Advanced" tab, we don't have the first choice: "Set memory limit for storing pages:". It just isn't there at all, although the information tips talk about it. Seems Palm removed it for some reason.

Unfortunately Opera doesn't solve my problem of being unable to download anything since it switches to Blazer when I try to do so. But being able to increase the "memory limit for storing pages" in Blazer likely wouldn't solve that either. So I still don't know why I get that error message when my TX has 76 mb of free RAM and a large amount free on my SD card as well.


"twrock is infamous around these parts"
(from my profile over at Brighthand due to my negative 62 rep points rating)

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Opera mini

danceman @ 4/12/2008 11:57:30 AM # Q
Watch out if you are getting lots of crashes after while with opera mini don't use the tip about Memory maximum to at least 4Mb.

Put it at 1Mb, you will not see so many images in zoom in but its way more stable.

Oh by the way after setting Java settings delete the most recent java files, its just junk.

RE: Opera mini
danceman @ 4/12/2008 11:59:52 AM # Q
Another thing if your using the Blzer 4.3, which I have a cooked rom on my Treo 650 with this browser, I prefer to clean on exit the cache. Palm is more stable and clean and turning it on you don't get that faster.

If you want fast, google "opendns palm"

you will find new instructions to change your fns settings in network on it will be faster.

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Alt Browser

NicM @ 4/12/2008 12:35:48 PM # Q
I had Blazer on my E2 thought it was good then gradually it has become more clunky. I have opera mini on my K850 sony E and it beats blazer hands down Thanks to 3G and HSDPA. I took Blazer off the palm and replaced it with avantgo which seems more user friendly it works better with the touch screen. Although you tend to rely on the links via the pc.

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Opera on centro

JPT|X @ 4/15/2008 9:04:14 AM # Q
I've had mostly crashes using opera on Cnetreo - is there a JVM for Centro? I think I used one for a treo.

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File attachment?

futot1 @ 5/20/2008 9:44:23 AM # Q
Does Blazer (or Opera mini) support file attachments?
I sometimes want to create email with image file attached for blog entry onGmail web service using Blazer, but I am not sure if Blazer support file attachments.
When I use PC web browser such as Firefox or IE, they shows a button "select..." or something like that to choose file for attachments, but it doesn't show such a button on Blazer or Opera mini.


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Blazer 4.3 on TX does not really allow cookies

snoopy5 @ 7/1/2008 12:51:42 PM # Q
Hi

I am using a Palm TX and the Blazer browser version 4.3

Although I have enabled in the preferences of Blazer Cookies, they seem not to be allowed.

This is at least the error message I get when trying to login into ebay or different discussion forums.

How can this be? Has somebody else the same problem? How to fix this?

Thanks in advance

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