Archive | May, 2007

Could Extensions Hurt You?

Browser SyncExtensions that auto-update? Yeah, there could be a threat there and we aren’t sure when a fix is coming.

This is actually a threat that I had considered once or twice before – but it seems like it is getting a little more “conversation” around the Web this time around. For the best description on what this security hole is all about – lets turn to CyberNet News.

So what’s the problem? When using an extension in Firefox it frequently checks to see if there is a more updated version available, and Firefox will notify the user whether they are running the latest version. Normally the user will agree to the update and proceed with their normal browsing activities, but there could be more going on behind the scenes than the user is actually aware of.

Looks like Firefox isn’t looking to fix this yet till version 3 of the browser rolls out. Folks like Google though have promised to fix any issues with their extensions as soon as they can. All we can hope is that others will follow suit.

Best Flickr Greasemonkey Scripts

FlickrMany people love Flickr, but that doesn’t mean it is perfect. There are a lot of little things that Flickr could do better – and thankfully with a tool like the Greasemonkey extension for Firefox, you can put in what the Flickr developers might have left out.

Here are five of the best Flickr Greasemonkey scripts on the Web today.

1. Flickr Image Unblocker – This script gets rid of that annoying image that hovers over an image to keep you from saving it. It remove the “spaceball.gif” blocking and does so very well.

2. Multi Group Sender – This script enables you to easily send your Flickr images to multiple groups at the same time. It works by overriding the normal “Send To Group” button on your Flickr photo page.

3. Flickr EXIF Decorator – Hover over a photo on Flickr to get an unobtrusive translucent overlay in the top left corner showing meta data including camera model, aperture and shutter speed.

4. Flickr Shades – Changes colors of all Flickr pages pages to white text on a black background. You can also easily edit the colors in the script to whatever your preference is.

5. Flickr Photo Magnifier – Have a look at the notes on the images. Basically, when you toggle the magnifier on, you have a small rectangular magnifier on the medium sized image to look at the details. Great for seeing details in photos.

Need more? You can always find more Greasemonkey user scripts for Flickr right on Userscripts.org. Have any favorites I didn’t mention? Feel free to drop in a comments and share with the group.

Greasemonkey Help Need Help? Be sure to check out the Beginner’s Guide to Greasemonkey!

What is the Firefox Search Box?

The search box in Firefox is that box for searching (boy, definitions don’t get any better than that) usually located in the upper right of your browser window. By default you see it set to Google, but did you know you can use others that are listed there or install more of your own?

To use the search box, all you need to do is type in a phrase you’d like to search for into the box, and then hit the “Enter” key on your keyboard. From there you’ll be taken to a Web page with search results as you would see by going to the search engine’s Web site and doing it directly.

If you want to choose one of the other search engines you have installed, just click on the little square logo next to the search engine icon and you should get a drop down box with all the search engines you have installed. Pick the one you want to use, and then its icons should be shown beside the search box. To switch back, follow the same steps.

If there is a search engine that you need that doesn’t come with Firefox by default you can install it yourself to use. You can find a list of popular search plugins here. For even more choices, check out the Mycroft Project. If you want to make your own – this Web page is a good place to start learning how to do just that.

Firefox Keyboard Shortcuts to Remember

Keyboard ShortcutsThere are a handful of keyboard shortcuts I always use with Firefox. Maybe I’m just becoming lazier as I get older, before Firefox it doesn’t seem like I ever used keyboard combinations to make my way around a program that often.

I could toss in something there about how Firefox has made me a better person, but that might be going a little overboard. Here are a few keyboard shortcuts that I use on a daily basis.

Ctrl + Shift + T – Use this to pull up a tab that you might have closed by mistake. I always hate closing the wrong tab when I am cleaning up Firefox after doing some heavy duty browsing. This shortcut is a life saver for me in that regard.

Ctrl + T – Use this keyboard combo to open up a new tab. I used to have an icon on the toolbar to do this. That just takes way too much time though. It is much easier for me to hit Ctrl and T to get the new tab I need.

Space Bar – Get to scrolling down the Web page a little faster by hitting the space bar key. No big secret to this one – but it is helpful.

Ctrl + B – Pull your bookmarks up in the sidebar with this wonderful keyboard combo. Helpful for finding that one bookmark that is buried three or four folders deep.

Have any other keyboard combos you think everybody should use?

How Does Firefox Handle RSS Feeds?

With the release of Firefox 2, the browser has done a much better job with handling RSS feeds.

Instead of throwing you up a bunch of random XML code they actually give you a pretty nice interface to learn from and use when clicking on that little orange subscription button you see on all the Web sites these days.

For an example, let’s use the RSS feed for Firefox Facts:

http://feeds.feedburner.com/firefoxfacts

Now when you launch that in Firefox, you will be given a clean easy to read interface. You can see all the latest links and summeries from Firefox Facts and at the top you will have a few subscription options. You can use one of the exteneral RSS feed readers on the list or you can choose to add it as a Live Bookmark.

What is a Live Bookmark? Here is how the Mozilla team describes it:

Whether it’s news from CNN and the BBC, or posts on your friend’s blog, the Web is updated continually. Firefox’s Live Bookmarks feature automatically keeps track of these updates for you, so you always know when new content has been added to your favorite sites. With Live Bookmarks, the content comes to you. Instead of constantly checking Web pages for changes and additions, a Live Bookmark delivers updates to you as soon as they are available.

Another way to gain access to a Web site’s RSS feed is to look for the little orange RSS icon in the address bar. Depending on what theme you use it might look a little different but when you click on it it should give you a few subscription options. If you select to add it as a live bookmark – it opens up the previously mentioned styled RSS feed.

There is one more RSS in Firefox option I’d like to share with you. To configure a few things about how Firefox handles RSS feeds navigate yourself to Menu > Tools > Options… and then click on the tab for “Feeds”. From here you can choose if you want to get a preview of the feed everytime you see an RSS feed in the browser or you can set it to automatically subscribe using the Live Bookmark system or any other RSS reader out there (both Online and Offline).

There is more than one way to skin a cat and there is more than one way to subscribe to your favorite RSS feeds in Firefox. For a few more subsciption options for Firefox Facts please check out the Subscription Links Web page at FirefoxFacts.com.

Weekend Firefox Link Roundup

DartWell I was gone most of the weekend to a wedding, so I missed out on some pretty cool links and Firefox stories that have been going on. Figured while I play catch up I could inform some of you of the links that caught my eye while browsing. Enjoy!

Have a link to suggest? Drop it my way or leave a comment so we can all check it out.

Firefox RSS Resources and Guide

Feeds in FirefoxOver at Mashable.com Pete has put together a pretty good list of resources and links on how best to handle RSS feeds in Firefox.

Although many seasoned RSS users have a standalone RSS reader of choice, many people use Firefox to read their RSS feeds. Besides the standard Live Bookmark feature, there are several more advanced RSS addons for Firefox out there, some of them being developed for years now. Time to round them up and see what they have to offer.

There is a little something there for everybody. Check it out!

Minimize Your Firefox Menus

Minimize Your MenusIs your menu bar taking up too much wasted space? Well you could hide it, shrink it, or just not use it. How can you get that done? Thankfully others have run into this same issue before and there are a slew of Firefox extensions to help you minimize your Firefox menus.

Tiny Menu – Replace the standard menu bar with a tiny menu popup.

Hide Menubar – Supports to hide your Mainmenu Toolbar automatically, you can press the ALT key to show it temporarily.

Personal Menu – With the Personal Menu, you can hide the menus in Menus Toolbar (even the Menus Toolbar), and design your own menu with just few settings.

Menu Editor – Rearrange or remove menuitems from the main context menu (right-click menu) and main menubar (File Edit View etc.)

MenuX – MenuX was designed for laptop/tablet use where maximum screen realestate is desired. Adds the ability to collapse any toolbar.

Have another one that deserves to be on the list? Drop in a comment and let us all know about it.

How Can I Manage My Firefox Bookmarks?

After you have been on the Web for a while, you collect a ton of bookmarks from Web sites you have visited and want to visit again. Now organizing these and putting them in places where it is easier for you to find them is another task that some might hate to do. So how do you manage your Firefox bookmarks?

To get to the Bookmarks manager click on “Bookmarks” in the menu bar and then click on “Manage Bookmarks…”. A new window should come up with your Bookmarks Manager loaded inside.

Now this is where all the magic happens as far as bookmarks go. You can add new bookmarks from here. You can organize them into new folders. You can drag and drop them around to where you need them to be.

In the Bookmarks Manager, if you click File and then “Import” you can import your bookmarks from another browser or from a file. If you want to export your bookmarks to back them up or take them to another browser, all you need to do is go to File and then hit “Export”. You can then save them anywhere you wish as a “.html” file.

One more neat feature that people don’t pay much attention to is the “View” option in the Bookmark Manager’s menu bar. Clicking on that will allow you to sort your bookmarks in any number of ways. If you are looking for a specific one – this would be the way to find it.

How do you add things to the Bookmarks Toolbar? All you need to do is drag and drop bookmarks or folders into the folder called “Bookmarks Toolbar Folder”. If this name is a little too long for you – you can also rename it and you shouldn’t be hurting anything. I renamed mine to “Links”.

Can I Customize Firefox’s Toolbars?

Sick with that default way your icons look and you want to change things around a ‘bit? It is easy enough to do if you know where to look. Heck you could pretty much remove everything above your tab bar if you wanted to. The easiest way to customize your toolbar space would be to right-click on it and then click on the “Customize…” menu option.

From there everything is pretty easy to figure out. You can drag things into the box that pops up to remove them, and then click an drag things out of the box and into the menu to add them to the toolbar. On the bottom of that popup box you see a few other options as well.

The drop down box gives you the option to show just the icons, icons and text descriptions or just the text. If you don’t like the pretty icons, go hardcore and use the text only options. Personally I am an “icons only” kind of guy.

I don’t use the space and flexable space very much. They will help you push some of your icons around to the far left or far right if you need them to be there. The seperator will help you put little bars between your icons and toolbar spaces so things look nice and neat.

All the other icons you see there should be fairly familiar. If you have installed a few extensions, you might also see buttons for them there that you can drag over to your toolbar space.

Next thing you see if a check box option for using small icons. I have this one checked as well, because by doing so it shrinks my buttons down and gives me more toolbar space to work with. That’s more room for adding other neat buttons and options up there. It also helps to give you a little more viewing space where your Web sites are displayed too.

There is a button to add a new toolbar too. Use this if you need a new spot to expand all your buttons and options to. The last option you see here is for the folks that try to customize but end up messing things up and they don’t know how to go back.

Just hit the “Restore Default” button and everything will go back to the way it looked when you first installed Firefox (well, toolbar and icon positions anyways).