Archive for the Firefox Category

My Favorite Firefox Extensions

Posted in Firefox, internet, reviews, technology with tags , , on April 3, 2006 by Paxton

I haven’t had a tech article up for a little bit so I thought I’d write a companion piece to my Mozilla Firefox review. This time, I’ll look at the many extensions you can download to complement your browsing experience with Firefox. I’ll go through a list of some of my favorite extensions and tell you why I use them. Hope this helps someone.

When you download Firefox for the first time, it’s pretty bare. It gives you some basic browsing functions, but to fully appreciate Firefox, you have to download extensions to completely customize your browsing experience. The image above is a pic of my Firefox browser. It will look very different from the default Firefox browser you download. I have over a dozen extensions and a customized browser theme. There are a lot of useful and cool extensions out there, so lets take a look at a few of my favorites. You can pretty much get any one of the extensions I’m talking about here at the link I provided earlier. Extentions are listed by categories, but you can also search by name.

Adblock – This is one of the first extensions you should download. This will block any popups or webpage ads on any website. This does, sometimes, cause issues with free webmail accounts like Gmail. I usually include Gmail to the Adblock whitelist, which allows ads. This will keep you from having issues seeing some images in your emails. A companion to this extension is Adblock Filterset.G Updater. This extension helps to automatically update the Adblock extension’s ability to recognize web ads.

Fasterfox – This is another one at the top of my list of extensions. This extensions tweaks the network settings for Firefox to allow it to run faster. It pushes a lot of the browser’s workload to the webservers and decidedly increases your browsing speed.

Google Toolbar for Firefox – I love Google. I search it at least once a day. More often than not the images in my blog are from Google Images. Needless to say, I have to have this extension. It’s the Google Toolbar, complete with AutoFill utility, ability to search webpages or images right from the toolbar and a cool feature called Autolink to help search map sites and the dictionary. Too much awesome for me to get across in one blog article. There are two extensions that are unofficial companion extensions to the Google Toolbar. The first, CustomizeGoogle and Aggregate Yahoo! & Google. CustomizeGoogle completely customizes how Google works for you. You can eliminate ads and force Gmail to use a secure connection. You can also tell Google how to behave based on your searching criteria. Very nice. Aggregate Yahoo! & Google will put Yahoo! Search results in the result lists of your Google Searches. This essentially gives you two search engine results with one query. Every other entry will be a Yahoo! entry and it’s highlighted blue. Very cool.

Tab Mix Plus – One of the coolest default features of Firefox is tabbed browsing (coming soon to Microsoft Internet Explorer). This extension gives you total control of how tabbed browsing works. There are several extensions pertaining to tabbed browsing (nay, even an entire extension category) but this extension pretty much includes all those other extensions into this one. It’s super customizable and I love it.

Download Manager Tweak – Based on how much stuff you download from the internet, you may want this extension. It gives greater functionality to Firefox’s anemic download feature set. Believe me, you want this.

MediaPlayer Connectivity – Allows you to tell Firefox what applications are associated with what files. Play windows media files in Windows Media Player, play real audio files in Real Audio Player, etc., etc.

The extensions you see above, are pretty much the must haves for me. When a new install of Firefox goes down, these are first on my list. Now I’ll look at some of the nice-to-haves, ones that I really enjoy, but don’t really HAVE to have.

AI Roboform for Firefox – This extension exists for another application. I currently use Roboform’s Pass2Go utility on my USB drive. It stores and encrypts all my online passwords and allows me to quickly logon to my favorite password sites. To check it out, go to Roboform.com. Pass2Go does not natively work with Firefox, so this extension/adapter is needed to make it work.

Colorful Tabs – This extension is nice for when you have several browser tabs open at once. It will make each tab a different color so you can easily distinguish between them.

Flat Bookmark Editing – This is a nice extension to help edit/organize your bookmarks. One of Firefox’s exceptionally cool features is the ability to read RSS. Websites now use RSS as a means of dynamically updating users of their content changes. Firefox can take an RSS feed and store it as a “Live Bookmark”. You navigate to it like a normal bookmark, but it shows up as a list of subject titles. Very cool feature, and this extension helps to manage this.

Restart Firefox – When new extensions are installed or when an extension is updated, you usually have to restart the browser. This gets tedious after a while. This extension gives you the ability to shutdown and restart the browser with one click. Very simple, very nice.

Forcastfox Enhanced – Very cool extension to give you updated weather reports for your local area. It shows up as a small alert on your status bar. You can mouse over it to get more information. Very cool.

I have more extensions, but these are the best. This list is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg, there’s a world of wonderful little extensions out there for your Firefox browser and I hope you explore it well.

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Mozilla Firefox Review

Posted in Firefox, internet, reviews, technology with tags , , on March 10, 2006 by Paxton


Being a fan of technology, I am also a fan of cool little pc desktop apps. Every once in a while I’ll highlight a particular favorite of mine. Today I’ll be discussing the Mozilla Firefox web browser.
Some of you may have heard of this, some of you not. It is an alternative to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE). Microsoft, until recently, had stopped development on IE. It just sits there, stagnating on your desktop like a boil. Bugs that have been around forever are still there, not to mention that fact that spyware, malware and viruses are written mostly against IE because the most people use it. Back in 2001, I got sick of using IE and switched to a browser called Opera. This browser had a much faster rendering engine and incorporated tabbed browsing, the first I’d ever seen this feature. I never used IE again. Opera has since been replaced by Firefox.

Firefox is a nice alternative because it is highly customizable for every user. If you don’t want certain features, you don’t have to have them. When you download Firefox, the browser is a bare bones application that does the basic browser features. One of the basic features of Firefox that IE doesn’t do, just yet, is tabbed browsing. If you have multiple websites open, they are all kept within one browser window and tabs at the top let you quickly switch between your open pages. It’s a very nice feature that you immediately wonder how you lived without. If you want more advanced features you download what are called “extensions”. I’ll delve into extensions more deeply another time, but they include things like email checkers, weather forcasts, ad blocking, search bars, etc. You name it, someone has made an extension for it. You can also download themes which change the “look and feel” of Firefox to something more appealing to you. I currently use the Metal Lion theme which addes a brushed metal look to the entire browser. I love it.

If you would like to tryout Firefox, go to the Mozilla web site here. They just released Firefox 1.5.0.1 and should be releasing version 2 at the end of spring. Hope some of you discover the joys of alternate browsers with me.

Update 1/31/2007 – Version 2 has been released. Click on the Take Back the Web – Firefox button in the bottom right Links section of my sidebar to get the newest version.

If you want to check it out, Opera still has a browser, which is now free. Check it out here. They are up to version 8.5.

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