Performancing for Firefox

firefoxIf you use Firefox as your internet browser and you blog, you owe it to yourself to check out Performancing for Firefox, a plugin that allows you to create a blog post within a split screen right in your Firefox window. This makes it easy to add the links, images and content from one screen, as opposed to clicking around in tabs to get the links, etc. you need.

The extension supports multiple blogs, and it works with most of the major blogging platforms. As Duncan Riley points out, all it needs to be nearly perfect is the ability to easily include Technorati tags.

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Washington Post: Firefox Moves Farther Ahead

firefoxRob Pegoraro of the Washington Post has an article today about the advantages that Firefox 1.5 has over Internet Explorer. He and other high-profile writers are starting to put into words what I and many others have been thinking.

Namely, that Firefox has moved so far ahead of Internet Explorer that the browser race, at least for those tech savvy enough to understand the feature differential, is over. Firefox has won.

Rob applauds Firefox’s new automatic update system, it’s better security and its tabbed browsing. Those are great advantages for sure, but here are the reasons I believe Firefox has won the war.

1) Tabbed Browsing– this is not the reason I stay with Firefox, it’s the reason I tried it in the first place. A core feature that gives Firefox a commanding lead. Internet Explorer will soon add this feature, but it’s too little, too late.

2) Extensions- there are so many extensions and add-ons for Firefox that you can basically create your own browser. This is the reason I stay with Firefox.

Here are the ones I have installed: BugMeNot (avoids have to register at a lot of free sites); Greasemonkey (see item 3 below); Onfolio integration (allows me to use my beloved Onfolio with Firefox); del.icio.us (allows me to tab my del.icio.us bookmarks with the click of a button); Sage (a currently less than perfect integrated RSS reader with great potential- it will be my default reader when a couple of much needed features are added); Extended Status Bar (just because it’s cool); Word Count (which helps me with my writing of posts, comments and articles); and Always Remember Password (which doesn’t work in Firefox 1.5, but hopefully will soon).

3) Greasemonkey, which allows me to add even more customizations, including the Blogger “keep current time” script.

4) Google Toolbar for Firefox- now the best thing about Internet Explorer works in Firefox.

5) The infinitely customizable toolbars. Here’s mine, but the possibilities are endless.

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Internet Explorer will keep a lot of corporate users as well as those who don’t feel comfortable moving beyond what’s pre-installed on their computers. But for the rest of use, the war it over. It’s Firefox.

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Firefox Development Map

firefoxNow that I’ve pretty much switched to Firefox for all of my internet browsing, I was interested to see the development plans and priorities for future versions.

I find Version 1.5 to be stable and, with the addition of extensions and Greasemonkey scripts, very configurable. Integrated RSS functionality is a top priority for Version 2. If implemented well, that will be very useful.

Without some radical move, like going open source, I don’t see how Microsoft can keep up with Firefox in the implemention race. I was originally pulling for Firefox to make a dent in the browser market in order to create competition. Now I’m pulling for Internet Explorer to stay in the game for the same reason.

Interesting times for internet users. As long as both products stay in the game, the users win.

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Rethinking Firefox

firefoxI’ve said a few times that I wasn’t all that impressed with Firefox. That was true at the time and it’s mostly true now. But here’s a confession: I’ve been using Firefox as my primary browser for the past few months.

It comes down to two things: tabbed browsing and, more importantly, the many extensions (a nerd word for add-ons) that are available for Firefox.

I have done the following to my initial installation of Firefox:

1) Added the Google Toolbar. Some Firefox purists argue that Google is “bad like Microsoft” and you don’t need the Google Toolbar. That’s hogwash. The Google Toolbar is a great add-on to any browser.

2) Performed the speed tweaks outlined here. Some comment that some or all of them are unnecessary, but things seem to go faster after the tweak. It may be the placebo effect, but it feels good.

3) Added the Bugmenot extension. I hate having to register to read free sites, with this add-on I don’t have to.

4) Added the extension that makes Blogger (the front-end I use to create, but not host, this site) always use the current date. Otherwise it uses the date and time a post was initially created and I often save posts as drafts for days or even weeks before I post them. This add-on saves me a lot of headaches.

5) Added the Onfolio Firefox extension. This allows me to use my beloved Onfolio in Firefox.

There are hundreds of other extensions, but these are the ones that I use everyday. Once Internet Explorer adds tabbed browsing (scheduled to be included in the upcoming new version), I always figured I’d switch back to it. But with all of these extra features to choose from I may not.

Who’d of thunk it?

Two cautionary notes:

a) It takes a little work to get the hang of finding and installing these extensions, but once you do it once you can do it again and it’s very worth it.

b) I just installed the newest version of Firefox (RC 1.5) and that broke all of my extensions. Some of them are available for this new version. Others, like the Onfolio one, don’t yet work in this version. Google Toolbar says is does, but it doesn’t. I suspect this will all get fixed before too long.

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More on Firefox

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes (the PC Doctor) has completed his week-long experiment with Firefox. His conclusions: he liked some things about it, did not find it to be more secure than Internet Explorer and will not make it his default browser.

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I had much the same experience with Firefox when I tried it. Having said that, I have continued to use it about half the time. I did get that Flash plugin installed, though someone not a computer geek would have given up in frustration.

I really like the tabbed browsing. I haven’t seen that many pages that won’t display properly in Firefox. My conclusions remain mostly the same: take away tabbed browsing (or add it to Internet Explorer) and I see no compelling reason to use Firefox over Internet Explorer.

But as I said before, a two horse race is a win for consumers, so I am pulling for Firefox to gain and keep market share.

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The Big Deal About Firefox

firefoxA lot of smart guys I know tell me that I should be browsing the net with Firefox, instead of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. I attribute some of this to a counterculture, anti-Microsoft philosophy, but enough people whose opinions I respect have sung the praises of Firefox that I decided to give it a try.

Warning: I’m fixing to aggravate a lot of other geeks.

So I went to the Firefox download page and installed it. The program installed easily. The first time I opened it, Firefox offered to import a lot of my settings from Internet Explorer. The settings were quickly imported (other than, curiously, my Home Page setting). So far, so good.

I decided to surf around with Firefox a little to see how it works, and to make sure the Newsome.Org pages display correctly in Firefox (they do). All was well, and I admit that I really like the tabbed browsing feature.

Then a problem. I went to The Home Place, which has a flash-based Flickr badge. A helpful message at the top of the Firefox window informed me that “Additional plugins are needed to display all of the media on this page.” To the right was a promising button inviting me to “Install Missing Plugins.” So I clicked it. A box popped up telling me that a Flash Player 7.0 plugin was available- just what I needed. I selected it and clicked the Next button. A license screen popped up and I agreed to the user license and clicked the Next button again. Nothing. Nada. Only this, for a long, long time:

error-705398

I tried many times. I rebooted and tried many more times. I tried a manual install. I googled the problem and found quite a few links. This one looked promising, but didn’t work for me.

Could I get this plugin installed? Almost certainly. I am a geek, myself. But a whole lot of potential users don’t have the time, inclination and ability to do so (all 3 are required). So I run straight back to my soapbox and once again shout my mantra: if you want people to adopt something that is (supposedly) only incrimentally better that something they already have, make it easy. Make it painless. Otherwise, you have something created by geeks only for geeks. As I said, I’m a geek, so I’ll use it (along with Internet Explorer, but not as my default browser). But I’ll never get my wife, family or friends to do it.

We’re all better off with 2 significant options (think what satellite TV has done for cable users). I want Firefox to put some competitive pressure on Microsoft. In order to do that, it has to become the browser of choice for geeks and non-geeks alike.

Bottom Line: The basic software (as opposed to the plugins) was easy to install. It didn’t seem any faster than Internet Explorer. I like the tabbed browsing, and I’m sure (because I’ve read it so many times) that it’s more secure. Otherwise, it seems a lot like Internet Explorer, only without the Flickr badges.

Bonus thought: If I liked it better, would they use my song by a similar name in a commercial?

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