Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Day 59 - Why I made the switch to Firefox

About a month ago I got fed up and finally fired Internet Explorer as my web browser - for good. Why? Because it crashed on me constantly and it started taking forever to transition from one web site to another. Two years ago, I didn't have this type of problem with IE, but over the past year and the two most recent upgrades, I and everyone I know seemed to be having the same trouble. I used to blame it on my Windows Vista Operating system, but no more!

A friend suggested I switch to Firefox because it was more user friendly. I'll tell you, I hemmed and hawed over this decision. Change can be hard for anyone, and I am not all that confident in my technical savvy when it comes to the computer. Also, I was an IE believer from the start. I am relieved to report that switching to Firefox has solved all my computer issues. To my delight, I've also learned about some really neat add-ons.

The ability to customize Firefox with easy plug-in extensions makes the open-source browser even better. However, there are so many to choose from that it can be tough to know what's worth installing and what will be a complete waste of your time. I've compiled suggestions based on a list of Firefox plug-ins that were cited as the very best extensions for web developers. From that list, I narrowed down my picks to those that have been helpful to an ordinary online browser - me!

1 - AdBlock. Have you been annoyed by all the ads and banners on some sites - the ones that often take longer to download than everything else on the page? You can install Adblock Plus and get rid of them. Right-click on a banner and choose "Adblock" from your context menu, and the banner won't be downloaded again.

Colorful Tabs. This simple add-on makes a strong colorful appeal. It sets each tab to a different color and makes them all easy to distinguish. After a long day of opening web sites (keep in mind I do a lot of research), when you have lots of browser windows open, this makes online page viewing easier on the eyes.

GMail Manager. Having a Gmail "notifier" is especially helpful if you have more than one Gmail account. This plug-in allows you to receive new mail notifications along with account details including unread messages, saved drafts, spam messages, labels with new mail, space used, and new mail snippets.

MeasureIt. After installing this extension, you'll have a small ruler icon on the left side of your status bar. When you click on it, the browser window will fade just a little, and you'll have a "crosshair cursor." Drag the new cursor over any section of the screen you want to measure. Next to the box will be its height and width, measured in pixels. When you're finished, just hit the Escape key to turn it off and return to normal viewing of the page.

Search Status. Search Status allows you to see how any web site you visit is performing. When you land on a page, SearchStatus lets you view its Google PageRank, Google Category, Alexa popularity ranking, Compete.com ranking, SEOmoz Linkscape mozRank, Alexa incoming links, Alexa related links and backward links from Google, Yahoo! and MSN. This combined search-related information means you can view not only the link importance of a site (according to Google and Linkscape), but also its traffic importance (according to Alexa and Compete), providing a balanced view of each site's efficacy. This may be helpful in determining whether a site has enough traffic to warrant your trust.

6. Scrapbook. ScrapBook helps you to save Web pages and easily manage your saved collections. Major features are: saving web pages or snippets of a page, saving a web site, organizing the collection in the same way you do bookmarks, full text search and quick filtering search of the collection, and editing of your collected pages.

7. Tabs Open Relative. Tabs Open Relative makes all new tabs open to the right of the current tab, rather than at the far right of the tab bar. Some people find this layout works better for them

To locate all of these free plug-ins, search for extensions at:

If you don't currently use Firefox as your browser, perhaps this will convince you to give it a try. I am enjoying my experience so much that I don't plan to ever use another browser.

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