Surfing the Web in Advanced Mode

Nov 17 2010

Firefox and ChromeMany people are surprised to learn that you can customize your Web browser.  Whether you are performing advanced research, or casually browsing the Internet, there are a number of Firefox add-ons and Google Chrome extensions that will take your surfing to a whole new level. It's always a good idea to develop a personal knowledge management (PKM) system, and set of learning tools. Below I have outlined a few that I am currently using to get things done in both Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome.

Mozilla Firefox (Tools > Add-ons)

  • Morning Coffee – One click on the Morning Coffee icon loads multiple Websites that I feel require my attention on a daily basis.  From e-mail accounts, to Twitter, to Facebook, to Google Reader, my morning commute just got a whole lot easier.
  • Update Scanner – Update Scanner notifies me when a change occurs to a page that I need to track. From a conference registration page, to a Wiki, if the page matters to me, I will find out both when it changes and what changes.
  • Google Shortcuts – By adding Google App shortcut icons, Docs, Gmail, Calendar, Reader, and a number of other utilities are now a single click away.
  • Delicious Bookmarks – Social bookmarking makes saving, tagging and re-locating Websites a quick, no-nonsense business. That Website about drones that I added 3 years ago while on a trip to Canada, here it is.
  • Tab Mix Plus or Tree Style Tab – For opening and managing multiple links, and re-opening mistakenly closed windows a tab manager qualifies as a must-have.
Here are a few more Firefox Add-ons that deserve mention: Zotero, Book Burro, Linky, TinEye and Optimize Google. A lot to digest, I know, so consider incorporating these slowly and review your additions periodically, as whatever qualifies as **noise** should be pruned from your environment immediately.

Google Chrome (Customize > Tools > Extensions)

The new kid on the block, Google Chrome is earning an increasing usage share, and already includes a number of valuable extensions.  Here are a few:
  • Sync – Built into the Web browser itself the sync function, located in Google Chrome options, mirrors your browser configuration at multiple locations. This means that whether you are @home, @your laptop, or @work, you are provided with an identical environment.
  • Send from Gmail – Arguments withstanding, e-mail remains the Internet's killer app. This extension makes Gmail your default e-mail application, and provides a button to compose a Gmail message to quickly share a link via e-mail.
  • Readability – More signal and less noise, Readability cleans a Webpage of its advertising and extraneous information for concentrated, easy viewing.
  • Linky – Linky opens all selected links that are currently highlighted in new tabs, making it easier to scan through many pages very quickly.
  • Turn off the lights – Finally, more fun than function, Turn off the lights fades your page to dark, allowing you to watch videos as though you are in the cinema.
Google Chrome notable mentions, include: AdBlock, TinEye and Window Resizer. One final tip, select what you care about wisely, as the last time I checked your time and attention are limited.

Author: sebastien_marion