Archive | Hacks and Tweaks

Skin Facebook to Look More Stylish

Since the recent Facebook re-design, there are not many themes or skins out there that work with it.  However, I have found one that is fully compatible and (for some) a much more pleasant viewing experience, the Vista Ultimate Skin for Facebook.

facebook-vista-skin

Vista Ultimate Skin for Facebook – Want to make Facebook look a ‘bit more Vista-like?  This user style will give Facebook the look and feel of Windows Vista.

Also, if you want just the Vista-like taskbar inside of Facebook, you can pick up this user style.

Facebook Vista Taskbar

For these two user styles to work, you have to have the Stylish extension for Firefox installed.  Once you do,  be sure to check out our entire archive of Stylish tweaks and tips.  Also, if there are any Firefox Facts fans on Facebook, be sure to look me up and add me as a friend.  Have any favorite user styles you like to use with Facebook to tweak the interface? 

Mashup Twitter Search with Google Search

Want to get real time Twitter search results on Google?  Depending on the topic you are searching for (especially if it is a newsworthy event) you might be surprised by the range of coverage that you get from Twitter.  Why not harness that and have it handy when searching Google?  Now with this userscript for Greasemonkey you can do it.

After installing Twitter Search Results on Google, here is an example of what your searches will look like:

Twitter results in Google Search

It displays the most recent 5 tweets for the query that you are search for, giving both real-time Twitter search results and Google results on the same page.

I have got to say, over the past few weeks I have been pretty happy with the Twitter searches I have done, so mixing these two into one could lead to some really good results.  You have the power of Google mixed with the social aspects of Twitter. 

Once you get Greasemonkey installed (of it it is already installed) then all you need to do is pick up the script for it here at UserScripts.org.  Big thanks to MT-Hacks for providing this to the public too, it is one of the best scripts I have seen for Greasemonkey in a long while.

Easily Expand Shortened URLs

Expand Short URLs

Everybody loves to share links with the various URL shorteners out there, however – when you do click one of these links the problem is you have no clue where you are really going.  LongURL.org is looking to fix that problem and has two neat tools to help you get it done.

The LongURL Mobile Expander lets you expand those links no matter where you are at.  By default, you would paste the link into the LongURL.org web site to find out where you are going.  You can build this into your browser though if you pick up either the Firefox extension for it or the Greasemonkey script.  Both will give you the true URL when you hover over the shortened link.

Here is a list of the supported services: tinyurl.com, is.gd, ping.fm, ur1.ca, bit.ly, snipurl.com, tweetburner.com, metamark.net, url.ie, x.se, 6url.com, yep.it, piurl.com, and more! 

Now you will always know where those tiny URLs are taking you.

Remove the Resizer “Thingy” in Firefox

remove-grabber Why does Firefox have that little resizer corner thingy?  The one that rests in your status bar, on the far right side.  I am not even sure what to call it.  It has no point, because I can grab Firefox from all four corners to resize it to the size I want.  So the question remains – how do I remove it?

I now turn towards my favorite Firefox modification tool, Stylish to do the job for me.  Go check out ffox 3 no resize”thing” in the lower right corner and load that into Stylish (or Greasemonkey).  Now, you should have a little more status bar room.

As an extra bonus, if you want to make your status bar appear more flat, and remove the borders between things – copy and paste this into Stylish.

/* ::::: flat statusbar ::::: */
.db_downbar, statusbarpanel, .statusbarpanel-iconic,
  .statusbarpanel-iconic-text, .statusbarpanel-menu-iconic,
.progressmeter-statusbar, progressmeter {
  -moz-appearance: none !important;
  border: none !important;}

Credit for that tip goes to the mozillaZine forums.  Doing so should remove the junk and leave things with a cleaner look.

Faster Refreshing for Live Bookmarks

Live Bookmarks in ActionHow do you get Firefox’s live bookmarks to refresh faster?  By default, the Live Bookmarks are set to refresh every 60 minutes to check for new headlines.  However, if you want to get your news a little quicker, there is a tweak you can do to make the process go a little faster.

In the address bar, type in about:config, and then hit enter.

At the warning, click the button that says, “I’ll be careful, I promise!”.  Now you are ready to do some configuration changes.  We want to setup a new option though, so right-click anywhere inside of the about:config screen and then go to New > Integer.

For the preference name type in:

browser.bookmarks.livemark_refresh_seconds

Now, for the value, you will need to add your time up by seconds.  For example, if you wanted it to be reloaded every two minutes you would type in 120 (because there are 120 seconds in two minutes).  The smallest number you can put in here is 60 seconds.  If you put in anything lower, Firefox will slap you in the face – and then say, “Oh yeah, you wanted to put in ’60’ right?”.

You can also reload a Live Bookmark manually to by right-clicking it and choosing “Reload Live Bookmark”.  However that isn’t nearly as fun as diving into about:config.

7 Easy Ways to Make Firefox Better

It is the little changes that make things better.  The devil is in the details, and when it comes to customizing some of the Web’s most popular tools, you can often make them better by combining some of the little changes out there.  Here are seven easy ways you can easily make Firefox a better browser – or at least the popular web site tools covered that you visit the most.

1215447602

Better Amazon – The Better Amazon add-on for Firefox highlights listings with free shipping, enlarges product images, cleans up book pages, shortens URLS and more on Amazon.com.  One of the best Amazon.com enhancers for your browser.

1215505433Better Flickr – A great complication of Greasemonkey scripts to make Flickr better for your average user.  You have the Flickr buddy icon reply, more user links, photo magnifier, page enhancer and a more feature rich editor.

1215377688 Better GCal – The Better GCal add-on for Firefox is a favorite of mine.  It allows you to collapse the header and sidebar, wraps event titles, color weekend days, give week numbers and even a few skins too.  Google Calendar never looked so good!

1226620693 Better Gmail 2 – A handful more of useful features you can add to your Google-powered e-mail client.  Here you have all kinds of useful additions, from macros to attachment icons.  You even have a few more skin choices and hierarchical labels.  Also don’t forget the first one, if your not yet rolled over to “Gmail 2″.

1219862724 Better GReader – Add a few more popular Greasemonkey scripts into your Google Reader.  You can preview web pages inline in Google Reader, collapse the header and sidebar, get a Mac OS X like skin, add favicons and tons more.

1215233168 Better YouTube – Enhances YouTube with Greasemonkey user scripts, that offer options like the FlowPlayer “doesn’t start till you hit play” viewer, clean “theater” view, and links to download the video automatically.

1222129898 Better Lifehacker – I am a BIG fan of Lifehacker, so why not make them “better” too?  This extension enhances Lifehacker.com and other Gawker blogs–like Gizmodo, io9 Jezebel, Valleywag, Gawker, Kotaku, Jalopnik, Defamer–with useful Greasemonkey scripts.

Which is your favorite “Better” add-on for Firefox or which area of the Web would you like to see Gina cover next?

Find Greasemonkey Scripts for Your URL

greasefire-for-firefox We all love using Greasemonkey to help customize the Web or Firefox itself to our liking.  There is a problem though when it comes to finding scripts based around a certain URL.  It is not an easy thing to do.  That is where Greasefire, an add-on for Firefox, comes into play.

As a companion extension to Greasemonkey, Greasefire automatically find Greasemonkey scripts on Userscripts.org for the URL you are looking for.  When you are browsing a web site that does have user scripts available, Greasefire will light up the Greasemonkey icon in the status bar.  Then, right-click the Greasemonkey icon and choose the “X scripts available” item to see and install the scripts available for the current page.

So, if this is always looking for user scripts, isn’t that going to slow down your browsing?  Not exactly.  Greasefire works with a local level index to search for scripts that apply to the page you are on.  The local index updates periodically, so you shouldn’t be too out of the loop when doing lookups either.

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

Greasemonkey Help User Script Trouble? Be sure to check out the Beginner’s Guide to Greasemonkey!

A New (Simple) Face for an Old Google Reader

screen

Can you believe that is Google Reader?  Nah, me neither.  There has to be some sort of oddball voodoo magic going on here, right?  What?  You say it is a Greasemonkey script?  Helvetireader breaks Google Reader down to just the things you need.  I true, “Woah, that is awesome” fashion – the userscript creator also encourages people to customize the CSS and make it their own.  (found via Lifehacker)

Bring iGoogle to the Firefox Sidebar (iPhone Version)

I start every one of my Firefox browsing adventures with iGoogle loaded up as my home page.  However, I would like to check up on my iGoogle page without going to the homepage over and over again through the day.  Can I just load it up into the sidebar?  Yes, we can!

 iGoogle in Firefox Sidebar

How do you make it happen?  Drag this link to your bookmarks bar:

Now, right-click the bookmark, and select Properties.  Click the check mark box for loading this bookmark in the sidebar, and then click on the Save Changes button.  Now when you click the bookmark, it should open up the iPhone version of the iGoogle Homepage.

If you have RSS items on your iGoogle page, they show up very nicely (you can see them in the screenshot above) and some items, like weather will be click-able to show you more information on whatever they are about.  The search box is about useless (due to it being so small) but other than that, another fine iPhone/Google/Firefox hack-around bookmark.

Bonus Tip – drag this link (iGoogle mini) to your bookmarks bar to make it a popup version instead.  If you like that, you can read more about the Top 5 Google Popup Bookmarklets on Mitchelaneous.

iPhone’s Google Reader on Your Desktop

Like the iPhone version of Google Reader, but want to bring it to your desktop?  With this quick tip, you can load it up as a sidebar in Firefox – like this:

google-reader-sidebar

How do you make it happen?  Drag this link to your bookmarks bar:

Now, right-click the bookmark, and select Properties.  Click the check mark box for loading this bookmark in the sidebar, and then click on the Save Changes button.  Now when you click the bookmark, it should open up the iPhone version of the Google Reader.  The buttons are a little funny, but everything should pretty much work like it does on the iPhone. 

If you want to read more about any story, click on the title, and then to go to the web page for the story or post, click on See original.  This will load up a lightweight version of the site where the story came from.  Not perfect, but still fun to play with and semi-functional to use.

Bonus Tip – drag this link (mini reader) to your bookmarks bar to make it a popup instead.  If you like that, you can read more about the Top 5 Google Popup Bookmarklets on Mitchelaneous.