My Installed Add-ons – Clippings

I love finding new extensions that do things I never even thought to search for. Like I once went through the US name directory. One of the best ways to find things is through word of mouth, tho. In this case, I guess you can call it “word of blog”. I’m doing a series of blog posts about the extensions I use, and maybe you’ll see one that you want to use.

The first one is Context Search, which I’ve already blogged about.

The second is Clippings. Clippings allows you to keep pieces of text to paste on demand. If you frequently answer email messages with one of a set of replies, you can paste which reply you want to use using the context menu. In my case, I take part in support forums, which means I have to respond to frequently asked questions, typing the same answers frequently. Clippings allows me to have canned responses, so I can answer more support questions in less time.

To save a piece of text as a clipping, select it, then right-click and go to “Clippings”, then “New from Selection“. You’ll then be asked to name the clipping and where to save it among your list of clippings. It supports folders too.

When you want to use that clipping just right-click on the text area, then go to “Clippings” and select the clipping you want to paste.

Clippings is also very useful in Mozilla Thunderbird.

You can install it via the Mozilla Add-ons site.

My Installed Add-ons – Context Search

I love finding new extensions that do things I never even thought to search for. One of the best ways to find them is through word of mouth. In this case, I guess you can call it “word of blog”. I’d like to start a series of blog posts about the extensions I use, and maybe you’ll see one that you want to use.

The first one is Context Search. Context Search is one of those extensions I think should be part of Firefox. Context Search allows you to choose which search engine you use for each search. If it’s a word you aren’t familiar with, you can choose the Websters search engine. If it’s an acronym you aren’t familiar with, you can choose the Acronym Finder search engine.

Without the extension, when you highlight text then right-click, the menu will contain an item to search your preferred search engine for the text that is highlighted. With Context Search, you are instead given a list of your installed search engines, so you can pick which one to use. The search results will open in a new tab. I find myself using it more than the search bar.

Here’s a screenshot:

You can install it via the Mozilla Add-ons site.

My Playlist #2

Back in 2005, I blogged about my playlist (ala iTunes celebrity playlists). It’s been a while and there’s a lot of different music I’ve heard since then, so I’ve decided to create a second playlist.
Note: These are tunes I’ve discovered or rediscovered since 2005, not just music that has been released since then.

  1. Saul Williams – “List of Demands (Reparations)” (I heard this on a Nike ad, and loved it. Everyone I’ve played this for has also loved it.)
  2. Mylo – “In My Arms” (This song has the highest play count in my entire iTunes library.)
  3. Company B – “Fascinated” (I’m embarrassed to say I like this song 🙂 )
  4. Duran Duran – “Come Undone” (This song never seems to get old. Almost every time someone around here’s it, they ask me what the name if the song is.)
  5. Hot Hot Heat – “Talk to Me, Dance with Me”
  6. Howard Jones – “New Song” (At first I downloaded this song for the nostalgia. Then I realized how cool and unique this song still is)
  7. Kate Bush – “Cloudbusting” (If you already know this song, you already know I’m a fan because of the tagline on my blog. Check out the video for it and “Something good” by Utah Saints, which samples it.)
  8. K’s Choice – “Everything For Free” (It’s too bad they weren’t bigger, because they were really good songwriters.)
  9. Midnight Oil – “Blue Sky Mine”
  10. Pink Floyd – “The Great Gig in the Sky”
  11. Jane’s Addiction – “Three Days”
  12. Republica – “Ready To Go”
  13. Stardust – “Music Sounds Better with You”
  14. Wu-Tang Clan – “Da Mystery of Chessboxin'” (I didn’t have enough room on my first playlist to include Wu-Tang)
  15. Keane – “Is It Any Wonder?”
  16. Sneaker Pimps – “6 Underground (Nellee Hooper Edit)”
  17. Florence + the Machine – “Spectrum (Say My Name)”
  18. Red Hot Chili Peppers – “Breaking the Girl”
  19. Livvi Franc – “Now I’m That Bitch (Kaskade Mix)”
  20. The Verve – “Bitter Sweet Symphony”
  21. Ladyhawke – “Magic” (I first heard this on an episode of Entourage, which is a great place to discover new music.)
  22. Van Halen – “I’ll Wait” (I couldn’t decide between this and “Panama”, which has always been my favourite Van Halen song. Most people have already heard “Panama”, and this one deserves to be discovered.)
  23. U2 – “Pride (In the Name of Love)”
  24. The Cult – “She Sells Sanctuary”


Keeping select cookies

Issues with cookies:

  • A lot of websites set cookies to do things that you may not like.
  • A lot of websites set cookies to provide a convenience, like keeping you logged in across sessions.
  • Some websites require cookies in order to work.

For the reasons above, I’ve decided that it would be best to clear cookies when firefox exits, and find some way to exempt some cookies from being cleared with the rest. To do that in Firefox, I found the setup a little confusing. There is no clear setting to exempt sites from clearing of cookies. As it turns out, the trick is to set the site to allow cookies. Sites in that exceptions list are also deferred when you have Firefox set to clear cookies on exit.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Go to the Options window.
  2. In the Privacy panel, set “Firefox will” to Use custom settings for history.
  3. Set Keep until to I close Firefox, then click OK.
  4. For each website you exempted from being cleared on exit, visit it. When viewing the site, click on the site info icon to the left of the site address, and click More Information.
  5. In the Permissions panel, uncheck Use Default under Set Cookies, and set it to Allow.

Cookies from those sites set to allow cookies will not be cleared on exit. No add-on required.



Google Reader alternatives for Firefox

If you use Firefox and need an alternative to Google reader, Feedly isn’t the only option.

First, you can try the live bookmarks feature that’s part of Firefox. Here are instructions on how to use it.

Second, there are plenty of extensions available for reading web feeds. I used to use Sage. Other popular ones:

Third, if you use Mozilla Thunderbird, the email and newsgroups app built on Mozilla, it contains a great rss reader.  For instructions on how to use it visit Thunderbird support – How to Subscribe to News Feeds and Blogs.

How to disable new tab page in Firefox

Sometimes people complain about Firefox lacking a feature that is already there, but they didn’t notice. A common one is the ability to prevent Firefox from displaying thumbnails of websites you often visit when opening a new tab.

I thought most people knew how to do it, until I saw one of the Firefox developers not know about it!

Here’s how to disable it:

Just click on the tile icon in the top-right corner of the new tab page.

Need help with Firefox in Toronto?

If you need help with a Firefox problem and live in Toronto, send me an email and I can meet you in person at a public place to help solve your Firefox problem.

I’ve been wanting to put together some sort of system to allow support community members to schedule in-person sessions with nearby users at either public places or Mozilla offices. The biggest barrier of quality for online support is communication. We rely on the user to describe their problem through mostly text, and they usually don’t give all necessary info. That’s why we try to use screenshots and videos. Being able to provide in-person support not only eliminates that barrier, but it showcases the power of community in a big way that creates a great support experience.

There’s no system like that for Mozilla, but that doesn’t prevent me from doing it on my own. 🙂

You can now set the URL Firefox goes to when opening a new tab

In my last post, I talked about Firefox now indicating which feed items are unread. In this post, I’d like to post about the other change I think people should be more aware of – you can now set the URL Firefox goes to when opening a new tab.

This one’s pretty simple.

  1. In the Firefox location bar, type about:config and press Enter.
  2. Click I’ll be careful, I Promise!
  3. Search for the preference: browser.newtab.url

  4. Double-click on it, and set the value to whatever URL you want.

The default value is about:newtab.
If you want to set it to open the default home page, set the value to about:home.

Live bookmarks now indicate which items are unread

Firefox was updated this week with a new home page and new “new tab” page, but it also contains a couple of new things that I really think people should be more aware of. I’ll spend this blog post telling you about the first one.

Since the first version of Firefox, it has had a feature called live bookmarks, which are bookmark folders that load web feeds. It’s a nice technology demo, but I have trouble finding a practical use for it. As I said in 2005…it does not indicate which RSS items I have read, and which ones are new. I don’t want to have to reread through the list of items on every RSS feed to see if I recognize the titles.

In the latest update, Firefox now indicates which feed items are unread!

When the feature landed on the beta channel, I decided to try switching from my current feed reader to live bookmarks, and so far it hasn’t been bad. I set up a folder in my bookmarks called “Web Feeds“, put all my web feeds in it, and hovering the mouse over a feed makes the list of items load.