Archive for internet

I’m Gettin’ Paid for Web Surfing at this Very Moment

Posted in internet, technology with tags , , on April 25, 2006 by Paxton


According to this article, a judge has told the New York City Council that they can’t fire someone simply for browsing the internet during the workday. The worker, Toquir Choudhri, had served the Department of Education for 14 years. The City Council tried to fire him when they discovered him looking at travel and news sites online. Nice loyalty, huh?

I absolutely agree with the judge’s ruling. The internet has become such a part of our lives now, that it is synonymous with reading the paper or watching CNN. Now, I’m not advocating going out and looking at porn sites or even trolling message forums and chat rooms. I’m just talking about general news searches and information gathering. Most of the time, for myself, when I browse the net, I am looking at news/info sites or I’m on Google looking at tech sites for an answer to a problem. I’ll also check and answer email, but, if you ask me, this has become such a common communication tool for so many people, it’s become analogous to talking on the phone. Instead of calling someone up and seeing how things are going, I’ll email them. The same is true for most people.

If you don’t want people using the internet, then block it with firewalls. I’ve been to several client sites that blocked certain domains from being accessed. Many of my clients blocked popular job searching sites Monster and CareerBuiler.com. Many others blocked sites suspected of inappropriate subject matter. It all depends. I think, though, that internet use has become so benign and widespread, that in downtime at work, when nothing is going on, you should be able to check a few websites as if you were thumbing through the morning’s paper.

Technorati Tags –

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.

Technorati Tags –

RateBeer.com Incident

Posted in humor, internet, personal, ratebeer.com with tags , , , on March 29, 2006 by Paxton


Last year, my friend, Steve, and I joined a website called RateBeer.com. The idea is simple, rate and review beers you drink for everyone to check out. Now, I freely admit that I am no beer enthusiast. My tastes run to the light American lager that true beer connoisseurs hate, a legacy left to me by my father (he still stocks his fridge with Keystone Light and Southpaw). The site is very cool and I enjoy reading the reviews that people put out there. It’s amazing how different other people’s tastes are from my own.

Steve and I thought it would be fun to rate beers we enjoy and completely tear apart the ones we hate, which, coincidentally, would be completely opposite of everyone else on the website. Check out my beer ratings here. The list should be sorted by my rating, with my favorites at the top. There are just under 40 beers there, click on a few and see how I reviewed them. If you want to see my friend Steve’s ratings click here. Our reviews for each beer will be the first one listed underneath the “Commercial Description” after you click on the beer title in the list.

While putting in my ratings, I was messaged through the site by some guy with the handle TAR mocking my ratings. His subject was ‘hahaha’ and the message said:

Saying Budweiser is beer is like calling Sutter Home or Thunderbird, wine.

I thought this was funny. Knowing I was going to hear from beer snobs like this was why I started rating beers on this site. I thought it would be fun to rip TAR a funny answer:

Just because it’s a macro-brew doesn’t automatically make it bad. I prefer beer that doesn’t taste like warm asphalt poured through an old shoe. I also prefer to be able to pronounce my beer in my native tongue. I’d put Pabst Blue Ribbon against your top beer anyday. If it was good enough for my grandfather and my father, it’s good enough for me.

In this reply, I was mocking the guy and his beer choices (which he started), but in a good-natured way. I didn’t expect his over-the-top and hostile reply:

First of all, when did I say all macros are bad? You need to learn how to read. Secondly, the example you cite (pouring beer through asphalt, for example) sounds as if you’ve let that beer alone to affect your overall view of decent-to-good beer, if it was indeed a decent beer that tasted like asphalt. Also, what exactly is your native tongue? Chances are, your ancestors were immigrants. Please don’t tell me you’re one of those people who claim that this land solely belongs to them. If so, you’re all wrong. You wouldn’t be here if that was the case. But of course you could never understand the points I’m making since you’re a stubborn, non-critical thinker like most dumb males. You probably also watch porn and football and voted for Bush (I’m a Republican, by the way, but if you cannot see that Bush is an idiot, something’s worng with you). Don’t be a bigot. And as for PBR — Please give me some specifics on how it compares to Rochefort 10. I’ve had all those beeers you claim are good, but have you tasted any of my faves? I thought not. Open your mind, dude.

To his credit, he did not say all macro-brews are bad. That was an assumption I made and it was my mistake. He did imply it, though. And even if my ancestors are immigrants, as he proclaims, wouldn’t I STILL have a native tongue? And I don’t remember claiming that this land, or any land for that matter, “belongs” to me. Wow, TAR is pissed and making wild and unfounded accusations about my person. He goes so far as to call me a bigot, too. Well, TAR, last I checked, you were the one to message me mocking my choice of Budweiser as a good beer. Then when I explained my opinion, you lash out at not only me, but all American males who prefer American macro-brewed beers in general. Now you’re doing exactly what you claimed I had been doing, being a bigot. My job here is done.

FYI…I sent a “bridge the gap” email that I usually send to people to shut them up, but I stopped talking to the ass. I haven’t really even been to the site again. I prefer wine to beer. It’s not that I don’t like beer, it’s that it bothers my ulcer whereas wine does not. Besides, wine is the thinking man’s beer (take that, TAR!).

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.

Technorati Tags –