Friday, November 11, 2005

Extensions make Firefox the right browser for everyone!

Firefox is more than a web browser. The term "web browser" was developed to define an application that deciphered HTML code and displayed pretty text and images from the Internet. Oh so '90ish.

Today the alphabet soup is thick with xml, dhtml yada yada yada. Browsers can show video, play music, perform background searches, check your mail, check your Google AdSense account, work with mouse gestures and even protect you from evil doers. Seems unfair to compare it to "web browsers" from the 90's like IE 2.0. But folks are used to the term so I guess we'll keep it.

I especially like the evil doer protection like the pop-up blocker that has been in all versions of Firefox. But you do not get all this fancy stuff right out of the box. That is actually a "good thing" as you will soon learn. You get to pick and choose from over 700 features that you can add and remove at will.

If you haven't downloaded and installed Firefox yet, now is the time to do it.

Click the link on the right side bar and do the install. This will help me - help you get set up and be protected from the evil doers, and get setup with the "must have" list of options.

Extensions are what makes Firefox the most compelling web browser because they provide the muscle to do all those cool things like protecting us from evil doers! In a minute I'll show you how magnificently simple it is to add Extension and keep them up to date. But first here is the "must have" list:
  • Image Zoom by Jason Adams - Allows you to right-click an image and zoom in and out so you can see all the tiny details. Great for the little pictures in news stories that are hard to see.
  • Adblock by "The Adblock crew - This is a wonderful extension to remove ads from web pages before you ever see them. This could be life saving to someone who has a problem with seizures which can be triggered by flashing ads. May also prevent many headaches from normal people too.
  • Dictionary Tooltip by Rahul Jonna - Double-click a word on a page and a small window with the definition pops up.
  • WikiPedia Lookup Extension by Espen Dallokken - Lookups up the selected word in the WikiPedia encyclopedia. The contents can be opened in the sidebar as well as in a new tab. (Currently not available for latest version of Firefox but I expect it to be updated soon).


Ok, we start off with a dictionary, encyclopedia, magnifying glass and of course the "evil doer" protection. Good then, let's rock this house.

In Firefox on the top line menu (File Edit View ...) select
Tools->Extensions. A pop-up window will open showing what Extensions are installed. On the bottom right select "get more extensions". A new browser window will open to Mozilla.org with an index to all the extensions that are available. (Note: not all extensions work for all versions. You will not be allowed to install an Extension if it is not supported.)

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Side note: You will see items for Extensions, Themes, Plugins.
Themes change the "skin" of Firefox. I will go into these in another post.
Plugins are third party software that will run inside Firefox. The PDF viewer is a familiar plugin.
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Use the search in the upper right corner of page (NOT the search on the Firefox tool bar!) and type in
Adblock. It should be among the top of the Results page. Select Adblock to be taken to the Extension page for Adblock. There click "Install now" A small window pops up and allows you to confirm installation. Click "Install" and presto you have just added your first Extension. Careful it can get addicting.

You'll have to restart Firefox (not reboot Windows) for it to start up. When it is running simply right click any image and select "Adblock image" and it's gone for good. It goes farther than that and I'll discuss it in another post.

Rinse & Repeat for the other Extensions and you are on your way to a highly personal and secure web browser. And lets not forget your wallet hasn't been touched! With a user name like mine, you know I think it is important :)

1 comment:

Carol said...

Shortening Control IDs in Hyperlinks
I am a big fan of direct navigation on web pages, and to that end, I find myself using a fair amount of asp:hyperlink controls.
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