Tag Archives: stumbleupon

Goodbye Firefox?

The Horror

I still have my t-shirts. I’m not sure how they’ve held up over so many years, especially with how frequently I have worn them – one for Firefox, one for Thunderbird – both from the official Mozilla store.

Image representing Firefox
Image via CrunchBase

I’m fairly certain I’ve been using Firefox since 1.x, and perhaps even before. I jumped ship from Internet Explorer as quickly as possible and having been a long-time fan of Netscape Navigator, Firefox with its relations to Netscape was appealing to me.

Today I did something that I’ve seen coming for a long time now. I’m not sure if it will stick – but I’ve done it.

  • I exported my bookmarks from Firefox into an HTML file (I probably have several thousand, carefully categorized).
  • I imported my bookmarks from the HTML file into Google Chrome (it looks like they came over without a hitch).
  • I closed the almost-always-running instance of Firefox.
  • I unpinned Firefox from my Windows taskbar.

Now I sit stand in front of my computer, the monitor flashing its warm blue glow, my fingers typing on the keyboard as if nothing has changed, and yet something has changed – something significant. For over five years now a large portion of my life and work has occurred via the Firefox browser, and now, now it is no more.

What Happened?

Firefox’s bloat over time was a big hassle for many – but I held onto Firefox through all of that. The slow release cycles compared to Google’s Chrome drove others crazy, but I held on through that.

What finally drove me (several years ago) to begin using Chrome for at least a significant portion of my web activities was the profiles – something that Firefox never really was able to handle well, as far as I know, still can’t. I have different “personas” on the web – they are all me (Dave Mackey) and I don’t pretend to be different people, but I operate for different functions. I am the personal me, I was the corporate me, I am the techie me, and I am the pastor me. Each of these personas was best served by a separate profile. With thousands of links organized into categories, it was too confusing to try and keep track of everything all mashed into one profile – so now, my ministry links are in my ministry profile, my personal links are in my personal profile, and so on.

Any Hope of Reconciliation?

Sure there is. I have never used Chrome as my 100% primary browser. Up to this point I’ve primarily used Chrome for web app (GMail, Facebook, Calendar, Asana, Keep) and have used Firefox for browsing and discovery (e.g. StumbleUpon, Digg, RSS, Zakta). There may be issues that arise when I use Chrome for everything that weren’t present when I used it for only these app’ish purposes…but I sort of doubt it.

Still, there is hope for reconciliation in my relationship with Firefox. Why? Because, quite honestly, I don’t trust Google. No, I’m not paranoid. Yes, I let them collect all sorts of info. about me and use it to target their advertising at me. I’m not worried about that – I’m worried about commitment. Google has axed far too many products or twisted them beyond recognition to be entirely trusted. I now Google Reader is the latest example, but there have been so many others – anyone remember their attempt with wikified search? Or how about that note taking application – what was it called?

So, Google, here is your word of warning: I’m watching you. Customer acquisition isn’t the whole game, to win customer loyalty you need to be loyal too, and you’ve fumbled quite a few times in this area!

Occupy Wall Street?

Wall Street Sign. Author: Ramy Majouji
Image via Wikipedia

Introduction

I’ve been following the Occupy Wall Street (#OWS) news for quite some time now – and am fascinated by it. I also followed the news on the bailout and so on. I have felt entirely incapable of commenting on it for lack of knowledge – even though I have followed it much more closely than many others. I’m trying to rectify that a bit. Here I’ve attempted to outline some of the major points of the current unrest and provide links to various resources on the topic that were helpful to me.

I found most of these articles relating to #OWS via StumbleUpon. Interestingly, the articles that have floated to the top of StumbleUpon appear to be overwhelmingly pro-#OWS. It’d be cool if StumbleUpon released some statistics on how folks are rating #OWS related sites in aggregate, and based upon perspective. I’m wondering if the StumbleUpon user base is more pro-OWS than the general population?

The Apparent Issues:

  • Income for the majority of individuals has plateaued or is declining, while income is significantly increasing for the wealthy.
  • Attempts to lessen the deficit are being proposed or made in what many consider core services – e.g. education, research, infrastructure, and social services.
  • The financial rewards from focusing in non-innovative sectors (such as finance) are significantly greater than those in “more beneficial” sectors such as technology, science, and education.
  • The financial industry’s reception of a tremendous sum in financial bailouts at almost-no-interest, with very little oversight and in which the “trickle-down” effect to the middle class was insignificant.
  • Income inequality encourages those outside of the wealthy to expend finances beyond their financial abilities.

The Apparent Contributors:

  • Technology has reduced the needs for unskilled and skilled labor in many areas.
  • Globalization has provided access to low-cost workers around the world to corporations.
  • Provision of rights to corporations to supply unlimited support to politicians in campaign funds while minimal abilities to legally hold culpable organizations and individuals culpable for unethical actions.

The Apparent Excuses:

  • Those who have wealth are those who have worked hardest – the wealth is the reward of their endeavors.
  • Those who desire change are attempting to undermine capitalism and move us to a socialistic or communistic government.

Bibliography:

Best Quotes:

  • The top 1 percent have the best houses, the best educations, the best doctors, and the best lifestyles, but there is one thing that money doesn’t seem to have bought: an understanding that their fate is bound up with how the other 99 percent live. Throughout history, this is something that the top 1 percent eventually do learn. Too late.” – Joseph E. Stiglitz, Vanity Fair.
  • “According to the latest estimate from the Congressional Budget office, the bailout created nearly 1.5 million jobs. Even if we accept the administration’s claim of four million, the bailout was extremely wasteful and enormously enriched the rich. Dividing 800 billion by four million yields 200,000. In other words, the government spent $200,000 to create one job. When the average wage is less than $50,000 per year, where did the other $150,000 go? This suggests that companies that hired those four million people received $150,000 for each job they created…It is clear that the bailouts, Bush’s and Obama’s, were extremely wasteful and hugely enriched the opulent.” – Ravi Batra, Truthout.
  • “When the government bails out mega banks and Wall Street firms, it amounts to shooting the economy in the foot. Our president seeks to bring about change, which was his campaign slogan. But once elected, he got sidetracked by thinking that change is possible through compromise. This has never happened before. Never in history have the exploited prospered by cooperating with the exploiter.” – Ravi Batra, Truthout.
  • “During my trip to Zuccotti Park last week, I learned that OWS is first and foremost about restoring democracy in America.  That’s a bipartisan ideal I can get behind…OWS as I understand it today, is building a civil disobedience movement of everyday people who are fed up with Wall Street’s corrupting influence on our Democracy.” – John Fullerton, Capital Institute.
  • “I support the non-violent movement “OWS” to restore true democracy in America.  While we must speak truth to power on Wall Street (more on this to come, and change is coming), this is not, in my judgment, first about the bankers—there are many good and hard-working people on Wall Street.  Nor, I hope, is this about the divisive message “We are the 99 percent.”  It’s about the idea of what Wall Street has become, and the corrosive effect it has had on the Republic.” – John Fullerton, Capital Institute.
  • ” One obvious and clear message of the protests, of course, is that the bankers and finance industries in no way represent us: What is good for Wall Street is certainly not good for the country (or the world). A more significant failure of representation, though, must be attributed to the politicians and political parties charged with representing the people’s interests but in fact more clearly represent the banks and the creditors.” – Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Foreign Affairs.
  • “If together these different protest encampments — from Cairo and Tel Aviv to Athens, Madison, Madrid, and now New York — express a dissatisfaction with the existing structures of political representation, then what do they offer as an alternative? What is the “real democracy” they propose?…The clearest clues lie in the internal organization of the movements themselves — specifically, the way the encampments experiment with new democratic practices. These movements have all developed according to what we call a “multitude form” and are characterized by frequent assemblies and participatory decision-making structures. (And it is worth recognizing in this regard that Occupy Wall Street and many of these other demonstrations also have deep roots in the globalization protest movements that stretched at least from Seattle in 1999 to Genoa in 2001.)” – Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Foreign Affairs.
  • “Do not wait for the encampments, then, to develop leaders or political representatives. No Martin Luther King, Jr. will emerge from the occupations of Wall Street and beyond. For better or worse — and we are certainly among those who find this a promising development — this emerging cycle of movements will express itself through horizontal participatory structures, without representatives.” – Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Foreign Affairs.
  • “Occupy does not speak the language of party or ideology, and this has not boded well for a system that relies on polls, predictability and reductive thought. Social movements are, by their very nature, complex, organic and indeterminate. They operate at the deepest levels of how we view each other and the world we live in.” – Heather Gautney, Washington Post.
  • “But at the end of the day, Romney, Obama and Cain are only symptoms of a much deeper problem. Corporate-sector experience has become a golden gateway to political power, and this inner circle is essentially closed to average citizens, regardless of their knowledge and experience.” – Heather Gautney, Washington Post.
  • “Occupy Wall Street is an otherwise unaffiliated group of concerned citizens who have come together with the general purpose of holding Wall Street (as the drivers of an increasingly undemocratic power structure) accountable for their fiscal recklessness and criminal perversion of the democratic process. We are a bunch of people like you and me who came together and said ‘enough’! We will not remain passive as formerly democratic institutions become the means of enforcing the will of only 1-2% of the population who control the magnitude of American wealth.” – Flyer quoted by John Horgan, Scientific American.
  • “Compensation for CEOs, which in 1970 was 40 times the average pay of workers, was 1,000 times greater by 2000. The gap between rich and poor is greater than at any time since the late 1920s, just before the Depression. Meanwhile, the IRS allows powerful corporations to “hide their profits in offshore tax havens.” Even Google, which is supposedly so hip and progressive, engages in a “tax dodge.” According to Sachs, Google funnels billions in profits into off-shore subsidiaries, which pay lower tax rates than the U.S. corporation does. Sachs points out that Sergey Brin​’s “ingenious work in creating Google’s search engine” was supported by the National Science Foundation​, which means that our tax dollars helped Brin get his start.” – John Horgan, Scientific American, quoting Jeffrey D. Sachs.

Possible Solutions?

Unfortunately this article was getting far too lengthy…so I’m keeping this for a separate (soon-to-come) article.

Interesting News…

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?