Archive | January, 2009

Google Toolbar Give us Chrome’s Thumbnails

Want to get Chrome’s thumbnail preview page when you open a new tab in Firefox?

Google has ported one of Chrome’s most popular features to Firefox, the personalized new tab screen.  The only catch is that you have to use the Google Toolbar to get it.  Your new tab page looks exactly like Chrome’s after the install of the Google Toolbar 5 Beta. 

Chrome's New Tab Screen in Firefox

When do you get this fantastic new edition?  This happens when you launch a new tab( hit Ctrl+T, or you double click on the empty space to the right of your tabs).  You can check out all the other features of the Google Toolbar Beta 5 on the official web site:

I stopped using Google Toolbar myself once the search box was added to most browsers.  I mean, why do I need two search boxes in one browser window?  That is a post for another day though.  However if you want to check out this new ported over feature – be sure to pick up the beta off Google’s web site.

Searching Inline with Select-n-Go

Want to be able to browser for information from a page without leaving that page to go to a new tab?  If you want to save space or have easy access to a slew of search tools – you may want to look into adding Select-n-Go by Cleeki to your own Firefox installation.

To use it, all you have to do is highlight some text on the screen.  Then you get this cool window in a window effect. The main purpose here is to:

  • Minimum annoyance: no change of web page appearance, no unwanted tab switching, no unpleasant popups, etc.
  • Maximum efficiency: minimum operations, seamless connection, easy activation/hiding, etc.

You can do Google, YouTube, eBay, and Amazon.  If that is not enough for you – you can extend it even further by adding your own channels to it.

Select-n-Go Preview

In a nutshell, the add-on launches a browser window inside of your browser window. 

Now I promise though, that is not as annoying as it might sound.  True, it might not be the most visually appealing thing, however it does reduce your tab switching (back and forth) when searching for information Online.  You can pick up Select-n-Go by Cleeki on the Firefox Add-ons web site.

Firefox’s Gray Bar and Red Text Problem

Ever have the problem of Firefox’s main browser window being a little messed up looking?  What I am speaking of exactly is a large gray bar along the bottom, wish some red text in it.  I have not run into this problem in a long time, but I know others have – so wanted to cover it and how to fix it.

gray-bar-firefox

First thing you should do is follow the common Firefox troubleshooting tips:

Check for Faulty Add-ons

Next, take a look at your extensions.  It could be that one of your add-ons you have installed has a problem with it.  First thing I want you to do when checking out your add-ons is to go to Tools > Add-ons and then click on the “Find Updates” button.  See if updating any of your add-ons might help get rid of the issue.

The next suggestion would be to go to Tools > Add-ons, disable all the add-ons you have installed, and then restart Firefox.  If the problem has gone away after that, you can then enable add-ons until the problem comes back.  This should help you figure out which add-on is at fault.  It could also be caused by a combination of add-ons, that do not play nice together, so do not rule that out as a possibility too.

Could it be Spyware/Malware?

This suggestion from mozillaZine might also be worth checking into:

If the problem is in Firefox on Windows, check for a file named m3ffxtbr.manifest in the “chrome” folder of your installation directory (usually “C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\chrome\m3ffxtbr.manifest”). If the file exists, delete it, then restart Firefox. This file is created by the “MyWebSearch Toolbar” (a form of spyware).

Be sure to check out this knowledge base post for more tips on working with this nasty problem.  Now the last and nuclear step would be to do a fresh or clean install of Firefox to see if you can get rid of the problem that way.  It is a drastic step, but has worked for me in the past.

Force Firefox Menus to Stay Open

Stay-Open Menu is an add-on for Firefox that will keep menu items open, even if you click elsewhere.  It is a pet peeve for some, to have to do all this re-clicking if you need to access more than one thing from the menu.  This extension enables multiple selections from bookmarks menu, history Menu, or address bar dropdown list, without reopening menu or using sidebar.

Stay-Open Menu Add-on for Firefox

When you middle-click a bookmarked item in the bookmarks (or in the history) you will open that web page up in a new tab, and the menu stays open, so you can do more clicking inside of it.  You can then click all the links you need to click and open up.  Once you are finished, hit the Esc button to close the menus (or you can click somewhere outside the menu, as well).  Here is one more handy tip from the developers:

Toggle the about:config value of extensions.stayopenmenu.useCtrlMeta from false to true to enable usage with Ctrl-click. See the homepage for more detailed instructions on how to turn on the Ctrl-click option, and further information about using with the Smart Location Bar.

For more help and support for the Stay-Open Menu extension, be sure to check out this thread:

You can pick up the add-on via Firefox’s Add-on site or learn more about it via the official web site.  It might not be an add-on for all, but if this is a pet peeve of yours, you now have a solution.

Keeping it Simple with the Elementary Theme

Featured in the lightest popular theme collection I did a few months back, the Elementary Theme for Firefox has grown on me.  Perhaps I like it because it is nice and simple?

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The Elementary Theme is the official Firefox theme for the Elementary project.  Here is a little more about that project from the official web site:

The elementary project was started in January of 2008. It takes it roots from the Macesque icon set developed by Daniel Fore. In response to the ever popular oxygen and appeal projects for KDE, Fore sought to create something to unify the GTK desktop. Shortly after the 1.0 release of elementary icons, the project began to grow exponentially to incorporate themes for several window managers, a GTK 2 theme, a Firefox 2 theme, and a uSplash theme.

I am all for making things simpler, cleaner and clearer.  You can pick up the Elementary Theme for yourself on the Firefox Add-ons site. 

Why is NASA Night Launch a Popular Theme?

NASA Night Launch Tweaks I have not spent much time with the NASA Night Launch theme for Firefox, but I did always wonder, why is it the most popular and downloaded theme for Firefox?  Sure, it is a dark (and very nice looking theme), but what else is there to it?  Well, if you do a little digging – you can find several guides on how to modify the NASA Night Launch theme to fit your own needs.

Here are a few example tips and tricks:

To use these tweaks and tips for yourself, all you need to do is download the NASA Night Launch theme from the Firefox Add-ons site – and get started.

Firefox Coming Apart at the Seams Wallpaper

I’ve gone over how difficult it is to find Firefox-themed wallpaper that is really worth my time.  With that said, I have hit another lucky jackpot with this great widescreen selection. Here you have it:

Firefox Wallpaper by Envirotechture

+ Pickup this Firefox Wallpaper via Deviant Art

The full size of the wallpaper is 1920×1200, so should be more than big enough to be resized to fit your own desktop needs.  Want more? Check out:  http://www.firefoxfacts.com/tag/wallpaper/

Add More Tools to the Awesome Bar

Wish to extend your already awesome bar (otherwise known as the address or location bar) with some really neat tools?  By default you can check out an RSS feed from there, and bookmark a web page.  For those looking for a few more perks, you need to try UrlbarExt.

This add-on for Firefox extends your awesome bar with more commands, such as:UrlbarExt in Action

  • Make Tiny URL
  • Copy URL
  • Search Site
  • Go Up a Level
  • Easier Page Tagging
  • Navigate Sequential URL’s
  • View Cached Version of  the Web Page
  • Surf Anonymously Proxy Servers

That is definitely a lot to do in such a little space.  You also have the option to show or hide any icon you don’t need using the settings dialog.  The only negative I could find, is that the options for the add-on do look a little cluttered – so much in there to configure in such a small amount of space.

You can pick UrlbarExt up on the Firefox Add-ons site.

Become a Test Pilot for Mozilla

Mozilla Test Pilot Project Ever want to become a test pilot?  Mozilla Labs has announced a new project with that name that sounds very interesting.  Test Pilot, still in the planning stages right now, will help give the Mozilla developers more information about how you use Firefox, so that they can learn from your feedback to make things better. 

The opt-in project will give anonymous information about your Firefox usage. 

After either a specified amount of time or upon completion of a specific action, Test Pilot will prompt the user for feedback. The feedback form will only ask a few questions selected from a much larger set. A link will be provided to provided more comprehensive unstructured feedback or bug reports.

The feedback question will be randomly distributed to make sure they reach a wide enough demographic as well.   The information will then be posted automatically to the Test Pilot web site.  What do participants get?  They will receive a flight badge on their Test Pilot profile and will be able to embed this badge on their web site, social networking profile and more. 

For more information on the project, check out the Mozilla Labs post on the topic and if you are interested in discussing it with others, be sure to check out the Mozilla Labs forum on the Test Pilot program.

One on One with CEO of Web of Trust

web-of-trust-interview

If I named ten extensions I am the biggest fan of, WOT Web of Trust would be on that exclusive list.

Why?  They provide a great service to the public, helping organize the public to alert itself about risky web site.  The real power in WOT isn’t the tools, it is the users.  It is the perfect mash up of the right tools, at the right time.  Anything that is simple to use, and makes users more aware of the risks around them is a good thing.  With that said, I wanted to talk a little more about the service with one of the people behind the magic, Esa Suurio, the CEO of Web of Trust.

What was the main inspiration behind the WOT Web of Trust add-on for Firefox?

Esa: The company was founded in 2006 by two postgraduate students, Timo Ala-Kleemola and Sami Tolvanen, both M.Sc. in Electrical Engineering. Timo and Sami graduated from Tampere University of Technology (Finland) where they had met and studied together.  Sami got the idea while researching reputation systems for his doctoral thesis. He originally planned on using it as a part of an Internet messaging system, but decided to try if it would work for websites too, and it did.

The guys put WOT on the Internet and it started to grow without any marketing, which clearly tells that there is a need for this kind of service.

Where did the name, Web of Trust, come from?

Esa: The name highlights that we are a people-driven service. The nature of Internet is open. No single authority can decide what is good and what is bad – neither has the resources to do so. We wanted to create a common platform for people to share their experience on websites and the services they offer. If unreliable sites were known to people, their lives would be short-lived.

There is no doubt that community is the most important part of your service.  What advice would you have to other add-ons or business looking to build a community around their own product?

Esa: We truly are a community-driven service. For example, when we develop our software, we ask our users what new functions they would like to have added. We read very carefully all the feedback we get from our users and use it as our guideline when we develop Web of Trust further. In our case it’s “product around the community” and not vice versa. The community members need to see that the systems gives them real value – I think that’s what make some communities grow.

We value our members and their contribution – for example, we just gave out Web of Trust Publicity Awards 2008 for users who have helped us to spread the word about WOT.

I’ll say in my personal opinion, I was happy to see you guys come along after an add-on that might be in the same category, SiteAdvisor, kind of got a lot worse after being picked up by McAfee. What is Web of Trust doing to make sure they don’t get too watered down?

Esa: SiteAdvisor is a great service and they are fighting on the same side with us. What makes Web of Trust different is the fact that our website ratings are based mainly on ratings coming from our users. This enables us to be faster and more accurate than computerized testing services. Internet fraud can often be only detected by a human person. Lets take an example: One of the latest trend of security threats against Internet users employs software products which pretend to be security tools that help you remove spyware or viruses. These fake anti-malware products scare users by giving false alarms and then try to deceive users into paying for removal of non-existing malware.

When these threats started to emerge last year, WOT was the first system to warn users about them, thanks to our active users who rated these sites. The quality of WOT website ratings has improved as our community has grown, so we definitely are on the right track.

Are you guys working on any spin-off or side projects right now or is your main focus still on Web of Trust.

Web of Trust is our main focus. There is so much to do. We are certainly not going to stop here – the journey has just begun.