Stupid breakage of the day: Ubiquity and MobileMe

This morning I tried to log into MobileMe, which has mostly been working well recently, and got an unsupported browser screen telling me I needed to be running Firefox 2 or later, or Safari. Only problem was I was running Firefox 3.0.5.

I figured it was a bug in MobileMe’s browser check logic, so I used some JavaScript to check what my browser was reporting as its user agent:

javascript:document.writeln(navigator.userAgent)

It told me I was running

Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US; rv:1.9.0.5) Gecko/2008120122 Firefox/3.0.5 Ubiquity 0.1.4

Looking at the user string, I wondered if all the addons at the end, in particular the Ubiquity one, were breaking the browser check. So I disabled Ubiquity and restarted the browser. But the user agent string still showed Ubiquity.

I had just updated to the newest Ubiquity release this morning and was starting to think that something in the add-in was causing the problem. So I uninstalled it … and the user agent string was still the same.

Now I was curious. Did it leave a setting behind that the uninstall didn’t clean up? I looked under the hood in the browser preferences at about:config and searched for Ubiquity, where I found a very interesting preference under general.useragent.extra.ubiquity. There didn’t seem to be an option to delete the key, so I simply set its value to an empty string.

Doing the browser check now reported

Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US; rv:1.9.0.5) Gecko/2008120122 Firefox/3.0.5

And I could log into MobileMe again.

Lessons:

  1. Uninstalling an add-in doesn’t always totally uninstall it.
  2. You might be better off without Ubiquity.
  3. Apple needs to fix the MobileMe browser check (aka Trampoline).

6 thoughts on “Stupid breakage of the day: Ubiquity and MobileMe”

  1. I absolutely agree! I had/have the exact same problem. I’m working on uninstall Ubiquity right now…. which apparently can’t be done by just removing the add-on.

    Oh and you can get your browser string by putting “about:” in your address bar as well.

  2. “Hey — sorry about that. A bit silly that MobileMe is user-agent sniffing. And we’re making Ubiquity better behaving after uninstall.”

    It’s not silly many things use the user-agent for style layout, feature subsets, and browser support warnings. The problem of course is that the MobileMe code doesn’t parse it correctly.

  3. Finding the user agent string is even easier than that. Simply go through the menu items to pop up the About window: Firefox->About Mozilla Firefox.

    But that’s not really the main focus of this article….

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