Well, I haven’t posted in a while, but it’s not because I didn’t have anything to write about. In fact, I had plenty of different ideas of what to post about, I’ve just been distracted by my spring break. However, since I wasn’t currently doing anything at the moment, and also since I spent a big chunk of the day experimenting with some new add-ons for Firefox, I thought I’d take a little time to type up a little post about some of my most cherished add-ons.
First off, I thought I’d start by mentioning that for the past week-and-a-half or so, I’ve been using the Firefox 4 Beta (FF4), and I’m loving it. Of course, I wasn’t a big fan of the Chrome interface (if I wanted a Chrome interface, I’d use Chrome – and currently Chrome just sits unused in my start menu and quick-launch), so I did a Google search and figured out that I could indeed bring back the “classic” look rather easily. Anyway, the good news is that almost all of my frequently-used apps were already designed to be compatible with the FF4, and almost all of the ones that weren’t ended up working without having been specifically designed to work with it anyway. So, without further ado, here’s the meat of the post (in no particular order):
1. ScribeFire (Next)- I thought I’d start off with ScribeFire, because that’s what I’m using to write my blog. Now, I just discovered this add-on today, but I’m quickly coming to appreciate it. Before ScribeFire, I was either using the WordPress dashboard built-in to my website/blog, or editing offline with Windows Live Writer, one of the most (perhaps surprisingly so) highly-recommended, free, offline blogging software tools out there. I included the “Next” in parentheses because there are two versions available, “Next” being a redesigned beta version. Anyway, the nice thing about this app is that it’s integrated with the Firefox browser, so you can easily surf the web and find, save, and even drag-drop content to include in your blog. This saves the hassle of going back and forth between tabs, windows, or programs in the quest to write and publish an interesting blog post (both visually and in terms of content). It has all of the normal functions of a service like WordPress, including HTML/Visual formatting modes and tags, and it so easily integrated with my blog that I was impressed (just had to give them the URL and then verify my login info). As evidenced by this post, I’m now blogging in style. One more plus: you can use ScribeFire in three main modes: split-window, new tab, or new window – whichever may be your preference.
2. Dictionary Tooltip – A priceless add-on, and one of the first I ever used for Firefox. This add allows you to either press a combination of keys or double-click a word or (highlighted) phrase in order to bring up a tooltip (pop-up box) containing the definition of the word. What’s particularly nice about this is that it’s rather unobtrusive and adjustible in terms of size and position. Also a huge bonus: though it already comes with a variety of built-in web dictionaries, you can actually add your own preferred sites to use (UrbanDictionary or WordReference, anyone?). Another plus: You can customize the key combination, or enable ctrl+double-click if the tooltip is getting too annoying on double-click. It’s a simply invaluable tool that has saved me many a trip to a bookshelf or web search in order to discover the meaning of a cabalistic word. (P.S.: If you don’t know what cabalistic means and aren’t good with context clues, this add-on would be a real life-saver here!)
3. Download Statusbar – Does the traditional “Downloads” window ever get on your nerves? It sure does for me! That’s why another one of my earliest add-on additions for my Firefox browser was this nifty little tool. Instead of a pop-up download window, this add-on converts it into a nice little bubble on the status bar (now known as the “Add-on” bar in Firefox 4). It removes the cluttler of having another open window, and allows you to easily manage and keep track of your download(s) while you surf the web. ‘Nuff said.
4. Shareaholic – Definitely one of my all-time favorites. Anyone who knows me well, knows that I’m a big fan of social networking and the idea of sharing content and various media over the internet (hence the blog). Shareaholic is one of the best “sharing tools” on the web. One thing that differentiates it from others – besides its almost-unrivaled list of supported services – is that for most of the supported services it provides a small pop-up box for you to customize whatever it is you’re trying to share on the website in question, instead of opening it in a new tab or whatever; the logic is that you can continue to websurf or simply browse the same page you’re sharing while you do it – me likey!
5. TidyRead – This add-on is another one I only discovered recently. I got the idea to look for an add-on like this while I was reading news articles on my RSS reader on my iPhone. I discovered that the RSS reader I was using came with a couple different “text mobilizers” for the articles which basically streamlined the formatting and made it a large, text-only display that fit perfectly on my screen. Wouldn’t it be nice, I thought, if they had something that could do that on a regular computer for those annoyingly-formatted websites? Well, turns out they did (they had a few options, actually). Unfortunately, many of those options were incompatible with the FF4, but this one (thought it said it was incompatible with FF4) worked like a charm. It’s really nice because it creates a customizable text-overlay with different options for page size, font, font size, background and text colors, etc., and formats an (almost) text-only version of most websites. Very nice if you enjoy reading news articles or (dare I say?) blogs on the web on a regular basis.
6. Feedly – The last gem I’ve chosen to share with you today (perhaps I’ll make a follow-up post in the future with a few more?) is really pretty cool. As you may know, I’m a big fan of trying to stay (reasonably) informed about what’s going on in the world. Therefore, I use Google Reader to follow the updates and news (in the form of RSS feeds) from all of my favorite sites for free! Feedly, in turn, converts a Google Reader and/or Twitter account into a magazine-like page with a nice visual display for all of your (RSS/Twitter) feeds. It has a nice organization and allows you to easily browse your feeds by whatever categories you made for them on your account. It makes reading through your feeds that much more easy and enjoyable – so if you’re like me (who finds it hard to sit down and read the news on a regular basis), this should definitely encourage you to do just that!
Well, that’s all I have for you for now. Check back later for more updates!
Anyone remember the good ole days when Facebook had the ability to search through profiles based on pretty much anything, including interests, activities, etc.?
Well, I do. And I think it would be really cool to bring it back. I fully understand that Facebook has had a lot of problems with privacy violations before, but with the way they have security set up now (you can customize security settings for many different facets of the site), I think it would work. It just seems like a nice idea to me to be able to search to see who out of your friends, or who in your area (that gives permission for the information to be searchable, of course) likes a particular band, or has read a certain book.
The idea has many different applications and possibilities. Since Facebook is pretty much the most-viewed website in the world, it’s a great tool to use to connect to people. For those would be interested in using it as such, it could be a great way to find people who are similar to you in your area, à la dating service (again, for the privacy-minded, it could be made into a separate branch of the site, with its own privacy settings).
Before tonight, I was also going to suggest that Facebook create a way for you to see which of your friends you have the most in common with (measured by number of similar “likes” on Facebook – granted, not a perfect system, but hey, you gotta work with what you got). Well, I just discovered tonight, right before writing this post, that Facebook actually does have a page for that – the Page browser – which shows you interests you might be interested in (based on your own and your friends’, I guess) and shows you which of your friends has the most “likes” in common with you. What would still be an interesting addition, however, would be for people to have the option to allow others to see how much in common they have with them.
Of course, no matter what the benefits may be, there will always been cynics and detractors that think it’s a bad idea due to security risks. Well, it’s quite possible they’re right. It’s unfortunate though that such a revolutionary and potentially useful social networking site like Facebook has to be ruined by those who seek to violate the privacy and security of others. If only Facebook could remake its reputation as being a safe and secure social networking site, maybe it could happen. I’ll be waiting till then.