Oh Firefox, How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count the Ways…

So, are you down with

Of course there’s all those features I can’t live without, that I don’t know how I even bothered with the internet before these tools were at my fingertips. Tabbed Browsing. Smart Popup Blocking. RSS. Form submission and password remembering thingy. The real power, however, lies in a really great scrabble word, “extensibility.” If you’re still running Firefox stock… well, baby, you’re missing out!

The extension I just installed this week displays my Tmobile wireless plan usage in the status bar – and you thought the status bar was just for the status of computer-type things! The same developer also wrote one for Verizon. Slick! If you use Cingular, no extension for you, but you’ve got rollover minutes so you don’t care anyway. If you’re still using Sprint, you probably don’t even know what the internet is.

Google hackers like myself and internet nerds of all kinds will appreciate SearchStatus, another status-bar hanger-on that is basically the Hot-or-Not for search engine page rankings. Handy enough already, but it doesn’t just stop with telling you how much Google loves the site you’re currently viewing – it also lets you figure out why, giving you quick access to meta tags, indexed pages, and even reverse links. Don’t optimize your keyword targeting without it!

Discover what paranoid web surfers have known for years, with NoScript. This small wonder lets you selectively enable javascripts on each site, per domain, and remembers your selections for next time. You won’t believe how many different servers it takes to build your favorite site (and how much client-side scripting is involved) until you see all the entries in NoScript. I became enamoured with this extension one day when browsing a web forum whose webmaster had installed a no-right-clicking script. I’m not really sure what this is meant to help, especially when you’re trying to build a community of users and encourage return visits (end of soapbox) but it kept me from right-clicking and opening a window in a new tab – a Firefox principium – and i would have none of it. Enter NoScript. I disable scripting from their domain, and voila! I’m free to right-click just like the founding fathers envisioned.

No Firefox extension list is complete without my final entry, Adblock Plus. I’m not trying to advocate anything illicit here – i work in online advertising and in know how much of the internet is supported by those banners. But i also firmly believe that ads which are annoying, tasteless, or disruptive to a site’s content are completely unnecessary, and the data i work with every day tells me that advertising which doesn’t make viewers hate you performs better for your company in the long run. So go ahead and block that hideous animated pig in the clown makeup trying to sell you a mortgage refinance offer. More significantly though, use Adblock Plus to fix things that annoy you other than ads! Does someone on the web forum you haunt have a repulsive image in their sig line? Adblock it. Or that dolt who uploads images without scaling them, filling your display and breaking the page structure for you – Adblock them. You can wildcard your filters, but be careful when wielding this mighty power; if you block * because their ads are gross, it’s going to be difficult to log into their site and pay your credit card bill. I think i adore this extension so much because it puts the power back in my hands, instead of feeling so powerless to deal with whatever garbage a web pages throws up at you and expects you to look at.

Okay, that’s my list. Download, configure, and enjoy. The internet is yours to manipulate as you please! Bwah ha ha ha!

RSS is your friend.

Today, class, we’re going to talk about RSS. It’s gonna be a long, tedious lecture, and i hope you’re taking notes cause it will definitely be on the test, and none of those easy multiple choice questions either where you can just guess C for everything and get 35% of them right. (Yes, i know it should be 25%, since there are four letters, but anyone who slacked their way thru college can tell you that C is the right answer a disproportionately large amount of the time). If you don’t know what RSS is, well, ugh… i mean, seriously? You don’t? OK, you can go sit in the corner… no, the back corner, by the globe and the class hamster.

I know it’s totally hypocritical of me to prattle on about how cool and important RSS is when mine is totally busted and screwy. Maybe i’ll fix that today… but in the meantime, let the prattling continue.

So short story: it allows surfers to track your updates via an aggregator app, so they can tell which sites have new stuff and are worth a visit today. There are online aggregators like bloglines and desktop ones like NetNewsWire for OSX – those two actually integrate really well, btw. On windoze at work i use Sage, a very nice Mozilla extension. If you’re not on OSX or an avid Firefox user, well… i can’t help you. Go back into your cave.

Until you’ve gotten hooked on it you’ll think i’m weird. Afterward, you’ll thank me and want to send me money and jewels for improving your life so much. Let’s just assume you’re nearing that second stage… and give you your fix for today. Here are some of my daily reads to add to your collection. These go right to the feed; don’t expect the links to be readable. And don’t expect them not to be really nerdy super hip and cool, probably too cool for you.

Slashdot.orgThe true techie should require no explanation.
Fark.comNo one knows news like Drew.
GizmodoI like things with buttons and lights. So do these guys
EngadgetAnother stronghold of fellow electronic widget-whores
JoystiqGame news, game toys, game rants
hack a dayThose without a soldering gun need not apply
You Can’t Make It UpWeird people have web pages, too. Michelle makes fun of them for your amusement. (This is actually an Atom feed – same idea, different name.)
BoingBoing.netSometimes a little bit too “real news” for me… but worth monitoring for the occasional reality-free bit
Cult of MacYeah, i read it. What you gonna do about it?
AutoblogCar news for the tech-head. It’s like they know me personally, or something!
Morgan Webb’s moblogIt’s important to know whenever lovely Morgan posts a new camera phone pic. Even if it’s just a candid shot of stupid old Adam. Morgan has such nice… pictures.

Alright, click-click and stick those in your feed-eating aggregator (heh heh… that has ‘gator’ in it… crikey!). Just don’t blame me if you get a lot less work done today.

I think i’m overdosing on TV.

I think i’m overdosing on TV. I can feel my brain starting to turn into oatmeal. Or really, more like cream of wheat, some sugary artificial flavor, the kind that comes with a packet of frosting you’re supposed to tear the corner off and swirl over your instant gruel in some artistic manner. That’s right, my brain is turning into fake, rapid-cook sugary mush… and the giant free-will-and-creative-expression-sucking eyeball is to blame.

Some of it’s been good TV – wait, is there really such a thing? Ok, i don’t know if i can make that claim. But it at least felt more mind-expanding to watch anime for 3 solid evenings this past week than to, say, invite over a few friends for a Survivor marathon. A lot of InuYasha, Wolf’s Rain and – today – Naruto, enough that i’m starting to think in pictorial alphabets and hold a pen like it was chopsticks. To achieve some cultural balance, i’m also taking in several hours of Comedy Central’s sunday afternoon ‘big bust weekend’ fodder – Beverly Hills Cop and the intellectual highground that is Reno 911. All this wide-eyed chair-jockeying has given me a renewed energy and a new motivation to make each minute count… except for those minutes i spend draped limply into a chair with my eyes fixed straight ahead and my brain unplugged.

In between sessions of my aforementioned fitness routine, i spent several days trying to get a lot done while spending a little. This started with a visit to Travis at work, where he and his nifty mechanics stethescope told me that the Z does indeed have a couple of connecting rod bearings out of spec, and a few noisy hydraulic lifters. None of them, he said, are serious or urgent but… i’m sure dollar signs rolled past my eyes. He also pointed out that my tire had a nail in it, and was basically flat. Super! Since the last time i checked them was in Van, that means i potentially drove 125 miles home plus a couple loops around the city with 10psi and a roofing spike on the left rear corner. And he told me i need new brake pads – which i knew – and that the rotors are warped – again with the $ signs. The tire situation necessitated a stop at Discount Tire where, thanks to my previous purchase of rubber for the Maxima, they were willing to hook me up with a free repair. Problem: tire was not repairable. They did hook me up with a loaner in the closest size they had available, but thanks to it’s much-larger profile my car now looks like a monster truck from certain angles and rides with a distinctive lean towards the right. Oh, and the tire rubs inside the wheel well whenever i hit a bump. Thankfully, there are very few rough spots on Seattle’s meticulously-maintained roads and freeways (insert laugh here).

I had planned on parking it for the winter soon anyway, although i didn’t think it would be permanently parked, just locked inside a garage and started up every couple weeks if sunshine permitted or just on principle, to keep things lubricated. Now it looks like the sunshine is irrelevant, as it’s really not safe to drive, so it’ll just be a weekly session of idling inside a garage and killing my brain cells (if tv doesn’t get them first). Now you might be asking – which garage am i going to be parking it in? Well, i don’t know either. Thought i had another month to figure it out. 😉

In a sign people are actually getting smarter (or maybe that the ratio of better-educated european and asia-pacific web surfers is increasing, thus raising the overall average IQ of the internet… or maybe just that with florida all ravaged and whatnot less of them are on the internet lately, making the whole country seem more intelligent) the ratio of Mozilla users is increasing. So apparently more people have figured out that less viruses, pop-up ads and annoying floating fake error boxes will plague you as a web surfer if you shy away from internet explorer. It is, after all, the same internet no matter what the interface, and maybe a company like Mozilla that is agile, driven and determined to build the best web browser possible – spending all of their waking hours devoted to the task – is going to offer a better interface than a company like micro$oft whose browser is a secondary product that holds a comfortable market share. Mozilla has to earn your trust – micro$oft already has you in their clutches. Who do you think is going to try harder to give you what you want?

If all of this thinking about the subliminal motivations of personified corporate entities is too much for you, i suggest you go play hold the button. My workday is 12 hours… see if you can hold the button as long as i hold down this chair. 😉

Save the world; use Firefox.

Such a busy week i haven’t had a chance to write… actually, it’s been more than a week! Anyway, with Mom here visiting a lot of my free time has been spent hanging out with her, Danielle and Miguel (when he’s in town). She’s here for one more week, until i head home to MT this coming weekend for Tim’s wedding – she’ll be along for the ride east.

It’s been great having Mom in town, altho i wish i didn’t have so much else going on while she’s here. Between meetings, contract jobs, car fixing and whatnot, i haven’t been able to spend as much time with her as i’d like. I was slated even to go to Travis’s grandma’s cabin at Summit Lake this weekend, but that ended up not working out, so at least i’m around a bit more than i expected.

After working on both Eric and Patrick’s cars thursday nite, i was totally in the mood to drive the Z friday morning. It was a bit misty but pretty ok, managed to stay dry and even be a little sunny by the afternoon. I always forget after a week or so how much fun i have behind the wheel of that thing – it’s such a rocket! A lot flashier than the truck. 😉

So somewhere in the process of driving it around that morning, it developed the most hideously embarassing exhaust leak. Ironically, i had spent the nite previous – until a bit past midnite – working on exhaust leaks on Patrick’s Maxima and installed test pipes (read: exhaust work) on Eric’s 350z. I guess my car just wanted to be part of all the fun. Anyway, by the time i picked Mom up for lunch it was so annoyingly loud that i was muttering constantly and having a hard time even driving around! Very ghetto, it sounded like a moped riding around just beside my rear fender. Mom just laughed at me as we made our way to the Ballard fish terminal for the best clam chowder in town at Chinook’s, as i’m grumbling about my stupid exhaust leak and trying to keep the car moving without revving past 1000 rpm.

So that’s my task for this morning – headed to Eric’s garage again to fix another exhaust leak.. haha. This time i’m remembering the racheting wrenches – don’t know how i ever fixed anything before i had those!

Oh, and if you hadn’t heard, the Homeland Security Dept is advising everyone not to use m$ internet exploder. For once they are right about something – their deranged paranoia has landed on a reasonable target. So apparently if we all don’t start using Mozilla products to surf the web, the sanctity of our nation is at stake. What more reason do you need? 😉