Archive | April, 2009

Better Way to Make Tiny Shareable URLs

In need of shortening a long URL into a short one?  Now, I don’t have to tell you that there are a plethora of services out there to do this for you, however I think I may have found my new favorite way of doing so in Firefox.

Shorten URL extension for Firefox

Shorten URL, an extension for Firefox will do this for you.  From the context menu, you can quickly shorten any link or web page’s URL into one that is easier to share.  Once installed, you can launch the link shortener in a number of different ways.  Right-clicking any link will give you the “Shorten this link URL” in the context menu.  Also right-clicking on any page will do the same.  You can even even launch the link shortener for a specific frame too.

Here are some of the other Shorten URL features:

  • Automatically copy to clipboard (disabled by default)
  • Automatically post to Twitter (disabled by default)
  • Supports 35 URL shortening services

To learn more or to install, be sure to check out their Google code profile or their page on the Firefox Add-ons site.  It has become my new favorite way to shrink a link.

Add Gmail’s Unread Count to Your Tab

unreadWant to quickly see how many unread messages you have in Gmail?  Well, with a little help from Firefox, Gmail and one creative userscript author, that can easily be done.  Gmail FavIcon Alerts 3 adds an unread message counter to the Gmail favicon in your browser.

Along with the unread message count, you also get a red Gmail icon when there is no unread messages:

read

…and a chat bubble when somebody is trying to chat with you via Gmail:

chat

Here are a few more things new in this version 3 of Gmail FavIcon Alerts:

Now, you can keep tabs on the exact number of unread messages you have! With the power of the <canvas> tag, the unread message count is now dynamically created for your number of unread messages. The font scales well up to 999 unread messages, but higher numbers are still rendered for those with massive unread counts.

If you have Greasemonkey installed, to get this userscript – just head on over to Userscripts.org and hit “Install”.  Gmail FavIcon Alerts 3 is well worth using, if you spend a lot of time in your Gmail inbox.

Get Rid of the Diggbar (with a userscript!)

Stop the Diggbar

Not a big fan of Digg’s new Diggbar?  Thanks to a little help from Firefox and a few fine Greasemonkey scripts, you can kill it off and never have to see it again.  Try these two scripts out:

Neither will kill off the Diggbar totally, but they should help you automatically redirect to the page and address you want to see.  Why would you want to kill the Diggbar?  Well, some have said there is concern about Digg stealing SEO (search engine optimization) linkage from sites. Also, some people just don’t like new things.  (source: Download Squad)

Using a TACO to Protect Your Privacy

TACO in Action! The Targeted Advertising Cookie Opt-Out (get it? TACO) extension sets up permanent opt-out cookies for many different advertising networks. 

Here is a little more about the extension from the developer:

Unlike other earlier opt-out solutions, this tool will make the cookies completely persistent. That is, clearing the browser’s cookies will delete all other installed cookies, except these.  Users wishing to delete these 40+ cookies (some advertising networks require multiple cookies, for different domain names) must first remove the add-on, before then deleting all installed cookies from the preferences window.

For a list of the 33 advertising networks that this tool help you hide from, check out the developer’s official web site.  So if you are more than a little concerned about who is watching you, this is a great security related add-on to add to your Firefox install.  Who said tacos aren’t good for you?  This one will help protect your privacy!

Twitter from the Location Bar in Firefox

Tweeting from the Address Bar TwitterBar, which funny enough isn’t some geeky place to buy alcoholic beverages, is a simple Firefox add-on I know a lot of you who use Twitter will enjoy.  What does it do?  It turns your location bar in Firefox into a Twitter client.

The way it works is a small Twitter icon sits to the right of your location (or address) bar; clicking on it will post your tweet, and you can hover your mouse over it to see how many characters you have left.

Its short, simple and reeking of awesomeness. 

If you give it a shot, remember to come tweet me up @mitchkeeler

Lolifox Theme Just Makes Me Angry at the World

lolifox-theme Now I am not one to usually fight the Firefox community, but this just kind of take the cake for being totally absurd.  How in the heck does the Lolifox by ChaosRing Theme have these kind of download numbers?

  • 5,982 weekly downloads
  • 6,327 total downloads

Just look at it!  All they did was take the CrystalFox Modern theme and put a creepy picture of a fox-child-thing on it and make the background bright green. 

This ugly theme does bring up one good point, which is – what is Mozilla’s policy when somebody openly steals another person’s theme or design?

Now sure, there might be some other not-so-great looking themes out there however they have their audiences, so you have to respect that.  On the other hand though, the Lolifox theme is the worst theme I have seen in a very long time.

3 Best Translation Tools for Firefox

Translation Tools for Firefox What is the best Firefox add-on to help you translate languages?  Well I am going to do more than just share one extension with you.  I am going to give you the choice of three.  From the most basic, to the advanced – here are the three best translation tools for Firefox.

gTranslate

With gTranslate you can translate any text in a webpage just by selecting and right-clicking over it. The extension uses (one of my personal favorite translation tools) the Google translation services to translate the text.

Translator

There is a lot to be said for being easy to use.  The translator add-on is web translation extension that allows you to translate any web page into nearly any language at the click of a button.  It supports Google’s translation tools, Yahoo!’s Babelfish, PROMT, freetranslation.com, Altavista’s translation tools, and Im translator.

FoxLingo

If you want a powerful translation tool, look no further than FoxLingo.  This add-on for Firefox will do web page translation, search translation, auto translation, has resources for learning languages and much more.  Powerful is the key word here as it can translate full web pages (over 1,500 different language pairs).

So which is the best translation toolset for Firefox? I will leave that up to you.  If you want something powerful, I would say go with FoxLingo.  If you want something quick, gTranslate is the way to go.  Translator sits in the middle, as a good balance between the two.

Turn Xmarks Back into Foxmarks

Xmarks Options While some do not enjoy the most recent enhancements to the classic Foxmarks Firefox add-on, there is a way you can get the new Xmarks to act a ‘bit more like it’s predecessor.

Turn off Smarter Search in Xmarks

The first thing you want to do is go to Tools > Add-ons and then click the options button for Xmarks.  Now, under the “Discovery” Tab you can disable Smarter Search.  In your Google search results, Xmarks will highlight the top three sites based on bookmarking history.  Put your mouse over the special icon to the side of the search results to learn more information such as reviews, and rankings.  If you don’t like it, turn it off.

Turn off Site Info in Xmarks

Next, in that same options window, you can also disable the Site Info, which will turn off the feature in Xmarks that gives you more information about a web site in the location bar.  Once your done disabling things, hit the “OK” button at the bottom of the window.

There you have it, now the new features in Xmarks that some people may not like are turned off, and Xmarks starts to act a lot more like Foxmarks did. 

Taking Net Notes with Firefox

Want to store notes you have taken across the Web in your bookmarks? 

Net Notes for Firefox

Net Notes will allow you to easily store notes on specific sites in your bookmarks.  Once you install Net Notes, you can start taking notes about the active tab you have open.  The Net Notes sidebar can be toggled (shown and hidden) via Firefox view menu, with a toolbar button, or with a customizable keyboard shortcut.  The notes themselves are edited in a simple textbox in your Firefox sidebar.  In the options, you can also set it to open your notes in a bottom bar instead.

When you close the sidebar or open a new window, the content of the notes textbox will automatically be saved for you.  To help you organize, web sites with notes are automatically tagged with a customizable, comma separated list of tags.  Since the notes are stored with your bookmarks, to backup, restore, import and export your notes just backup, restore, import or export your bookmarks.

So if you are searching for a decent note taking add-on for Firefox, Net Notes is well worth checking out over on the Firefox add-ons web site.

Skip to the Download on Rapidshare, Megaupload and More!

Skip the download clock!Want to skip the totally unnecessary “wait to download” pages on Rapidshare, Megaupload and more?  SkipScreen, and add-on for Firefox is here to help.

I always hate reaching a download page that tells me I have to wait five seconds, ten minutes, three hours before I can start downloading a file.  Why is it there?  Well, it is a trick to be used to make you look at their advertisements. 

What free file hosting services does SkipScreen allow to to skip?

  • Rapidshare
  • Megaupload
  • DepositFiles
  • Divshare
  • Linkbucks
  • Link-protector
  • and more are on the way…

If the developers need a list to work from, I have found more than a few free file hosting alternatives myself. Here is a screen shot of SkipScreen in action, helping you to start the download before the “your download will begin shortly” even gets going.

SkipScreen in Action

So, what if these free file hosting services update themselves to break the SkipScreen add-on?  While that is a possibility, SkipScreen adjusts to the changes at these sharing sites, and updates to match their updates.

As the developer puts it, “Why click through ad-laden pages and wait for countdowns when your computer can do it for you?”.  That is a good question, and now thanks to the SkipScreen add-on for Firefox, you will not be wasting anymore of your time waiting for the download to begin.