Tag Archives: extensions

Firefox Add-Ons.

I have a Firefox t-shirt from ohh, so long ago[1], I’ve been using Firefox for so many years[2]. Today I’ve compiled a list of add-ons which I believe are useful/interesting for Firefox. I have not used all of these – those that I currently use have a ** by them and those which I have used in the past but am not currently using have a * by them.

I must admit, I’m really thinking about moving from Firefox to Google Chrome entirely. It has taken me a long time – but I’m seriously considering it. Right now the biggest thing that keeps bringing me back to Firefox is its bookmark management – it is easily and significantly superior to that included in Chrome.

It saddens me that at some point Mozilla dropped the ball with Firefox and we all watched as Chrome gained market share and Firefox seemed to be doing nothing. Mozilla seems to be rectifying this situation now – but it may be too late. The addition of a PDF reader to the browser was a slick move, but probably not enough.

Well, I’m not really here to talk about whether Firefox or Chrome is a better browser – that is another topic for another day…

Bookmarks

Speed

Tabs

Commerce

Social Media

Curation/Discovery

Security/Ad Blocking

Downloads

Development

Email

Translation

Customize

Productivity

Other

IRC

RSS

  1. [1]Yes, I also have a Thunderbird t-shirt from the same time period.
  2. [2]Yet, I’m also old enough to remember before there was a Firefox, when IE dominated the landscape, and Netscape was the main alternative browser, but even it had basically died.

Great Extensions for Firefox.

Image representing Firefox
Image via CrunchBase

Mozilla has created a robust ecosystem of extensions around their web browser Firefox. In this article I’ll take a look at a few of my personal favorites that I think you’ll find useful as well.

StumbleUpon

Choose topics you are interested in and then stumble away. StumbleUpon helps you find sites that are of interest to you and through rating the sites over time and building a network of like-minded friends you can tune StumbleUpon to a fine science. Really a great tool for finding useful sites and information.

*This tool is a must have for web developers and bloggers.

Alexa Sparky

Alexa is an old site – but still a good one. It allows you to gather information on specific sites – including other sites that are on similar topics to a site and also information about the amount and types of visitors going to a website.

Alexa Sparky integrates this functionality into the Firefox browser. You can quickly see Alexa’s ranking of a site’s traffic compared to other sites and also find related sites.

*This tool is a must have for web developers and bloggers.

Diigo

To some extent, the web has replaced/supplemented traditional literature (magazines, books, newspapers), but it hasn’t always been as easy to “mark up” the web as it is a physical copy of a literary work. Want to highlight some text for later? Yeah, using a highlighter on the screen doesn’t work – in fact, it is a fast way to destroy your computer’s display.

There are now a number of tools for “marking up” the web – my personal favorite is Diigo. Using Diigo I can quickly highlight sections of a web page and Diigo saves the information to My Library on Diigo for later viewing. Now if the website goes down or I want to search all my highlights – I can – from one central location.

Diigo can do a lot more than highlight – it also allows for annotations (notes), saving of entire pages, building of a social network around your information, collaboration, and so on. Its pretty nifty…I actually pay for the premium service (though they have a fairly robust free service as well) because I use it so much.

Zemanta

Zemanta is a must-have for bloggers. As you write a blog post it pulls up related content and links that take your posts to the next level. For example, you’ll get a whole slew of images to choose from to include in your post, related article links, key terms within your post that you can easily hyperlink, suggestions for tags, and so on.

ColorZilla:

Another great extension is ColorZilla. Ever see a color on a website and wish you knew what it was so you could use that specific color to create something else? ColorZilla makes this task a snap. You just choose ColorZilla and then put the eyedropper that appears over the color you want and instantly get the code for that specific color. This will be mainly useful to web designers and artsy types.

MeasureIt:

Similar to ColorZilla in some ways is MeasureIt. It makes it easy to measure the dimensions of objects in the web browser. For example, if you want to figure out how big a photo is or how many pixels the font is, or how wide the utilized portion of the screen is – MeasureIt is your tool.

MinimizeToTray Revived:

For computer power users the frustrations of a crowded taskbar are all too familiar. MinimizeToTray provides the ability to minimize the Firefox application to the tray, thus saving loads of taskbar real estate. This functionality should be included in Firefox natively!

Firefox Sync:

Okay, okay – this functionality is built into Firefox 4.x, no need for an add-on…and if you are using an older version of Firefox you should upgrade immediately rather than installing this extension – but I think it is worth highlighting this functionality. Essentially, it allows you to sync your session data (e.g. cookies, favorites, passwords) between multiple computers. It isn’t quite as slick as it should be…but hopefully it will get there soon (Google’s Chrome does a much more intuitive job currently). This a great tool for those who have multiple computers (e.g. home and work, or desktop/laptop and so on).

LastPass:

A password manager. The idea here is that you create one really robust password for LastPass and then LastPass stores all your other passwords. This way you can generate passwords automatically and not have to worry about remembering them – as long as you remember your master password.

See if you use the same password on all the sites, if one site gets compromised then all your sites get compromised…but with LastPass you can use randomly generated passwords and not worry too much if one account gets compromised.

Of course, if your master password gets compromised – watch out! LastPass recently had a security scare and some folks are staying away from these sorts of services b/c of this…my personal opinion is that the weak link is much more likely to be something you do or your computer than a third party service dedicated to protecting this information.

IE Tab:

I used to use this tab all the time…now I don’t need it much at all…but back in the day a lot of sites only worked in Internet Explorer, and if you didn’t have this extension you had to open up a IE browser window any time a site wouldn’t work correctly in Firefox. These days almost all sites support Firefox, so this isn’t nearly the problem it used to be…but still, a very useful extension. It allows you to view a site with the IE rendering engine even while looking at the site in Firefox.

What are your favorite Firefox extensions? What extensions did I forget that you can’t live without?

Leaving DotNetNuke (DNN)…

DotNetNuke (DNN) is a popular open source content management system written in ASP.NET with Microsoft SQL Server as the back-end. I’ve been using it for a number of years on sites of mine like davemackey.net. I’ve been a fan of DNN for a number of years for a few reasons.:

  • Open Source – I’m always a fan of open source projects, not just b/c I like a free lunch as much as the next guy but also because it allows for the project to continue on beyond the lifespan of a given individual or company.
  • ASP.NET – Its only been within the last several years I’ve really begun messing around with LAMP, and for the longest time I loved ASP and then ASP.NET. Now I’ve been swung to the dark side recently, though I still find Microsoft‘s development tools to be leagues beyond the open source competition (for speed of development) and still prefer developing in a VB.NET-like syntax to C#, PHP, etc. But, this habit must die…b/c everyone else is going LAMP.
  • Simplicity – Compared to Joomla or Drupal, DNN is a breeze. Within minutes of installing the application you can have a full featured site up and running.

That said, I’m now leaving the DNN community (I’ll get to what I’m moving to in a few moments). Here are the simple reasons why:

  • Cost – While DNN itself is open source, the Microsoft ecosystem as a whole is much more oriented around cost-based. This especially holds true for the DNN third-party ecosystem of modules and skins. Both of these would have some commercial items in a similar LAMP based project, but there would be loads of free modules/skins. Not so of the DNN ecosystem.
  • Development – Feature development in DNN seems to go at a much slower pace than equivalent open source projects (though this may change with the venture capital infusion DNN recently received). One significant example is the forums module which has been without an update for well over a year and has several show-stopping bugs in the current production version.
  • Openness – While DNN is an OSS project, the sharing of news about what is happening internally as far as development as well as the ability to get the latest snapshot download to run on the bleeding edge is extremely limited.

So what am I moving to? Good question. Its not Drupal or Joomla. I find both of these overly convoluted (here come the haters). Instead I’m moving to WordPress. WordPress while initially designed as a blogging platform has extended itself significantly to include most functionality that a user could want from a CMS in the core install. Thousands of free extensions make up for whatever WordPress lacks at its core. The development pace is rapid and even minor versions include massive updates (e.g. 2.7 is awesome!). The skins/modules are free, free, free and if one module isn’t receiving development there are dozens others that are.

That said, I’m not abandoning DNN completely just yet. It works well enough for davemackey.net, ocddave.com, and a few other sites. At this juncture the cost to move them over to WordPress (in time and energy) is greater than the lost features (since these are essentially static content sites, they aren’t missing out on much). I plan to in the future – as the need arises.