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Oct. 3rd, 2005 @ 10:20 am the fox and the hound
When I hear that fewer than 10% of web users are running firefox it makes me sad. Even if (no, especially if) you are completely befuddled by computers, you should be using firefox. I'm sure my blog-reading audience is higher than 10% but not enough higher, so consider this entry today's public service announcement. I'm not looking to get into an advocacy war so if you use opera or safari or any other browser that isn't internet explorer, then more power to you. I'm primarily going after IE, for which there are no advocates.

If you trust me that I know more about computers than you do, then trust this: block some time out and follow these instructions. Firefox runs on Windows, OS X, and Linux, so if you're anywhere near the mainstream this all applies to you. First you must download the base firefox install: use the latest stable version (1.0.7 at this writing) unless danger is your middle name. Install it. Run it. Play with it. Discover tabbed browsing and wonder how you lived without it. It ships with a default set of bookmarks that will answer any questions.

The base firefox install is a fine web browser all by itself but its true power lies in extensions. There are hundreds or thousands of extensions, most of which are crap. Installing an extension from a new site is a little odd: when you click on the "install" link firefox refuses for security reasons. A new bar will appear at the top of the page that will let you approve that site for extension installation. Now click "install" again and you're on the way. These are most of the extensions I use. I advise against installing lots of other extensions willy-nilly as poorly written ones can interfere with the smooth and speedy operation of your browser. You can install all of these in one step; instructions at the end.

THE MUST-HAVES:

Adblock Plus and Adblock Filterset.G Updater: Adblock rewrites pages without the ads. It's so good you won't even know it's there except that all the freaking ads have vanished. Sometimes when I am at someone else's house and I see what the web looks like with the ads I am stunned that anyone uses the web at all. This extension is for the web what tivo is for network television (but better since you don't have to do anything at all.) Adblock itself doesn't ship with any filters. It would be an enormous amount of work to devise your own, so you want the second extension to stand on the shoulders of the filter-creating giants that have passed before you.
BugMeNot: Too many web sites demand that you jump through registration hoops before you can see what you came to see. With this installed you have an account at every one of them; right-click in the login field and it'll fill in the username and password of someone who already handled it.

THE VERY-USEFULS:

CustomizeGoogle: I just found this one and it's super sweet. Tons of features, but rewriting the image links to go straight to the original image is pure gold.
Linkification: It's annoying to encounter URLs in text documents that can't be clicked, so you have to copy and paste to see them. This extension makes them clickable. I suggest turning off the auto-linkification feature because it slow things down; there is a magic key to linkificate a page whenever you need it.
Linky: Makes it easy to open tons of links at once. Looking at a page with fifty image links? Right-click and select "open all images in one window" and see them all together. I'll leave the possible uses for this one up to your imagination.

THE JUST-FOR-FUN:

StumbleUpon: I don't need any more time-wasters in my life but as a means for random surfing this is the best I've seen. Create a profile and list some of your interests. Now the "stumble" button will take you to a web site that it thinks you might like. You can give a thumbs up or down to each one to refine it. I've found some highly entertaining pages this way.

SO YOU WANT TO INSTALL ALL THESE AT ONCE?

You only need install one extension: The Mass Installer. After that, restart firefox and it will ask for a list of extensions to install. The URL http://www.improving.org/paulp/write/firefox-ext-xpi.txt contains the extensions named here. Restart firefox once more and all of them will come to life. For those who care, the Infolister extension will automatically output a list of XPIs suitable for use with the mass installer.

DISCLAIMER! Software is a weird wild scary world and it might turn out that nothing works at all as I've described. Firefox or one of these extensions might eat your computer and kill your dog. When you install firefox extensions it's no different from installing other software, so you are trusting each extension author with full access to your machine. The extension list linked here is tied to the current versions of those extensions and is likely to stop working partially or entirely. I may not keep it up to date and I may change the contents of that list. I offer zero support on any of this! If you have problems feel free to post in this thread but don't email me and don't post in other threads unless they're about firefox.

Good luck to the intrepid among you. I solicit input on additional "must-have" extensions, but know that I define "must" quite narrowly.
About this Entry
From:augito
Date:October 4th, 2005 01:16 am (UTC)
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I have converted to firefox and it is pretty nice, thanks.
From:illunious
Date:October 4th, 2005 05:13 am (UTC)

Spelling

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To summarize.. after downloading Firefox, get the popular extensions.

No one mentioned Spellbound, unlisted and buggy, but free easy spell-checking in s text box.
From:mathew5000
Date:October 4th, 2005 05:31 am (UTC)

More must-haves

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CookieCuller: lets you protect the cookies you want to keep, then delete all the others automatically on launching the browser. Simple to configure, and essential for controlling your own privacy.

Focus Last Selected Tab: when you close a tab, you will see the tab you were looking at just before the one you closed.
From:gmjbb
Date:October 4th, 2005 01:35 pm (UTC)

ooops

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long time firefox user but only had a couple of the extenisions, ad block etc......got the others like stumbleon, which is way too much fun, but i did find, one of the extensions, virused up my AIM somehow, i switched over to trillian to avoid actually having to confront the problem so no worries
From:tpiranha
Date:October 4th, 2005 05:19 pm (UTC)

Thanks

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Apparently all of my "computer-savvy" friends were already using FireFox - I asked a few to get a second opinion. I downloaded it earlier and already like it more than IE. Thanks Paul.

-Tony

From:sleepycell
Date:October 4th, 2005 05:53 pm (UTC)
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"the fox and the hound"

dude, super clever subject header.
nice job!
From:dextrane
Date:October 4th, 2005 09:26 pm (UTC)

XML Feeds

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Since no one has mentioned it yet, Sage (https://addons.mozilla.org/extensions/moreinfo.php?application=firefox&id=77) is an excellent extension for picking up XML feeds. If you're not familiar with reading Google News or many other sites and blogs that provide an XML feed though an aggregator, I highly reccommend it.
From:pocketa
Date:October 5th, 2005 12:07 am (UTC)

BugMeNot

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It keeps telling me the account is suspended. I just downloaded FireFox at your advice and am getting some of the extensions. I tried BugMeNot, and it says the account is suspended. Any other way of getting it?
From:matchesmalone
Date:October 5th, 2005 06:13 am (UTC)

For those of us not in the mainstream....

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I'm running OS 9 on a PowerMac 8500/180, that I've had for ten years now.... What do you suggest as a browser? Oh, and just to throw a wrench into things, I'm also still on dialup.... Choices that I've made, and stuck with for now, until the option on my screenplay becomes a purchase.... Or my company gets financed, one of the two....
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From:extempore
Date:October 5th, 2005 06:40 am (UTC)

Re: For those of us not in the mainstream....

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I'm running OS 9 on a PowerMac 8500/180, that I've had for ten years now.... What do you suggest as a browser?

A Holstein?

Seriously, I wouldn't even know what to suggest to someone running OS X 10.3, let alone an OS from ten years ago. It's pretty impressive that you can use the internet at all. Do you know you could get a used computer that would bring you forward several generations for $50 or less? It seems like a better way to spend your time than struggling with OS9.
[User Picture Icon]
From:tinymammoth
Date:October 7th, 2005 04:41 am (UTC)
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I am using NoScript to handle which sites have access to Javascript. I gather allowing just any site to use javascript is a big security risk. It's quite easy to use.

By the way, the newest version of the anonymizer software is completely seamless, except for the annoying way its icon flashes, but I found a way around that.

Now if I only I could find an RSS reader that wasn't awful.
From:stcynic
Date:October 7th, 2005 05:55 am (UTC)
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I just checked the stats for my blog and a full 40% of my readers use Firefox. I've pretty much evangelized everyone I know to use it, nagging them to the point where they finally just do it to shut me up.
From:luckydraw
Date:October 7th, 2005 10:36 pm (UTC)

Life without FireFox?

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I couldn't imagine life without Firefox. The 1.0.7 version is nearly bullet-proof and even works with lame IE sites. About the only thing I use IE for is windows update because I don't like auto update dumping software on my machine that I don't know about.

For those who have been using Firefox for a while but haven't been keeping up with all the latest, both Yahoo! and Google offer Firefox toolbars so you don't have to use 3rd. party versions of the same.

Also, you can have multiple tabs set as your "homepage."
From:brianspoker
Date:October 10th, 2005 01:41 pm (UTC)

Re: Life without FireFox?

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As far as windows updates, wave bye bye bye to windows update, go get bigfix here: http://help.bigfix.com/ Just click on: Downloading the client and it will start downloading. Also, it can be run manually or automatically in the background checking for new updates, with just an icon in the task tray. I've been using it for at least 4 years, and Gateway even uses it for updates on their systems, and a ton of companies jumped on it too, wisely so! Best of all, STILL FREE! You can subscribe to your specific OS (Windows based) and it will GATHER what you need for you in a matter of seconds, with a listing of patches, nothing forced down your throat at all, and even a tips site to subscribe to, also, this subscribe is like usenet group subscribing and no fee or anything, just the LINGO they use... Like I said I have been a bigfix user since it first started, and if you are savvy you can go into their directories after patches are downloaded and back them up for any secondary systems you might have or when you next wipe it! Firefox wise, I have been using it for over a year, it's just ignorance and the typical fear of change that neophyte users commonly have... Firefox is free though, Another good alt.browser is Opera, but it's not free, which I think helps keep Opera off most people's radar, it's been around many years now too. Let's see here is a bonus freebee I discovered recently for renaming files, even if all you want to do is change all _'s to -'s this baby is all you need! http://www.1-4a.com/rename/ Check out his other freeware too, all he wants in return is an email from you saying you used it and like, love, or hate it. LOL! I used my extra email account for this, and no additional spam as of yet. Oh! Last but not least, yahoo has anti spyware addon (FREE!) for Firefox, included with it's new toolbar, I highly recommend it! http://toolbar.yahoo.com/ -Bri ps. Thanks Paul! Good additions for Firefox, always welcomed! 8)
From:brianspoker
Date:October 10th, 2005 01:43 pm (UTC)

Re: Life without FireFox?

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Yikes I clicked don't auto-format and it mushed it all together, my apologies. 8)

Here it is fixed (I hope)
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
As far as windows updates, wave bye bye bye to windows update, go get bigfix here:

http://help.bigfix.com/

Just click on: Downloading the client
and it will start downloading.

Also, it can be run manually or automatically in the background checking for new updates, with just an icon in the task tray.

I've been using it for at least 4 years, and Gateway even uses it for updates on their systems, and a ton of companies jumped on it too, wisely so!

Best of all, STILL FREE! You can subscribe to your specific OS (Windows based) and it will GATHER what you need for you in a matter of seconds, with a listing of patches, nothing forced down your throat at all, and even a tips site to subscribe to, also, this subscribe is like usenet group subscribing and no fee or anything, just the LINGO they use...

Like I said I have been a bigfix user since it first started, and if you are savvy you can go into their directories after patches are downloaded and back them up for any secondary systems you might have or when you next wipe it!

Firefox wise, I have been using it for over a year, it's just ignorance and the typical fear of change that neophyte users commonly have...

Firefox is free though, Another good alt.browser is Opera, but it's not free, which I think helps keep Opera off most people's radar, it's been around many years now too.

Let's see here is a bonus freebee I discovered recently for renaming files, even if all you want to do is change all _'s to -'s this baby is all you need!

http://www.1-4a.com/rename/

Check out his other freeware too, all he wants in return is an email from you saying you used it and like, love, or hate it. LOL! I used my extra email account for this, and no additional spam as of yet.

Oh! Last but not least, yahoo has anti spyware addon (FREE!) for Firefox, included with it's new toolbar, I highly recommend it! http://toolbar.yahoo.com/

-Bri

ps. Thanks Paul! Good additions for Firefox, always welcomed! 8)
From:brianspoker
Date:October 12th, 2005 06:25 am (UTC)

Re: Life without FireFox?

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I had to make a correction, Opera (browser) went free and bannerwareLESS on 9/20/05!

I am downloading the latest version right now to get reacquainted with it.
Currently: 8.50, try at www.opera.com

I am 'Stumbling' like a mad man now, great random stuff on the net, I lean toward comedic fare mostly and poor Opera isn't supported by SU. 8)

-Bri


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From:tiertender
Date:October 11th, 2005 05:35 am (UTC)

adblock

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Thank you for the tip on adblock.IT is very effective
[User Picture Icon]
From:whisky_river
Date:October 11th, 2005 05:52 pm (UTC)
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AdBlock is sweet save for the fact that it seems to bug up yahoo.com, and I use that as my homepage. So unless someone knows a good website that has 1) A search engine and 2) Good list of news headlines, Adblock has to be gone. Google's news heading dont do it for me...
From:moxpoker
Date:October 20th, 2005 01:29 am (UTC)

Love ff now - Thanks PP, Linky question

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I will likely suffer the same fate as brother Matusow but I didn't know where else to ask this question re: Linky so... Is there a way to use it to dl all image links on a page that is coded like this from www.gutsploder.net ?


script
vcn="is794567";
vdb="DB085";
vsu="index.htm";

vn=navigator;vnn=vn.appName.toLowerCase();
vnp=vn.platform.toLowerCase();vnv=parseInt(vn.appVersion);
vlh=location.href;if((vlh)&&(vlh.indexOf("?")!=-1)){vlh=vlh.split("?");vsu=vlh[1];};
if(vnn.indexOf("netscape")!=-1){if(vnv>4){vnn="ge";}else{vnn="ns";}}else if(vnn.indexOf("explorer")!=-1){vnn="ie";}else{vnn="ns";}
if(vnp.indexOf("mac")!=-1){vnp="mc";}else{vnp="pc";}
function vra(){if((typeof(VARITS9002.ALARM)=="number")){return VARITS9002.ALARM;}else{return 0;}};
function voc(){window.open("http://connect-"+vdb+".in2site.asc-server.com/LC/?S="+VARITS9001.VARITS13+"&U="+vcn+"&B="+vdb,"OC","status=no,scrollbars=no,width=250,height=100,left=0,top=0,dependent=no");};

document.write("");
document.write("");
document.write("");
document.write("<\/FRAMESET>");

DISCLAIMER - I know virtually 0 with regard to html programming.
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From:787style
Date:October 21st, 2005 04:05 pm (UTC)
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FasterFox. Made a huge difference for me in loading and rendering times, and seem to clear up DNS resolution issues behind a proxy. If your having load time issues, heartily recommend.
From:mosch2000
Date:October 21st, 2005 11:13 pm (UTC)

A must-have firefox extension

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Bookmark Synchronizer. It does exactly what you'd expect (syncing bookmarks between multiple machines).

It would be better if it wasn't reliant on ftp, but I'm too lazy to fix that.
(Deleted comment)
From:roryhand
Date:November 13th, 2005 03:55 am (UTC)

kill bills browser!

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From:ooda_loop
Date:December 13th, 2005 04:41 pm (UTC)
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Paul, thank you so much for this post. I finally got around to firing Bill Gates last night. My only regret is not doing this a long time ago.
From:ooda_loop
Date:November 16th, 2006 01:18 am (UTC)

Just found a great extension...

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Cooliris is getting mixed reviews, but I love it.