Welcome to the bloggy home of Noah Brier. I'm the co-founder of Percolate and general internet tinkerer. This site is about media, culture, technology, and randomness. It's been around since 2004 (I'm pretty sure). Feel free to get in touch. Get in touch.

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Firefox 101

Yesterday I got an email from a loyal reader suggesting that I make all links open in new windows. He explained:

This is because I will read something, then click the link in the middle and follow that tangent for a while and sometimes its annoying to have to click back x number of times to get back to the article.

Well, Firefox is your answer. I agree 100 percent, it is annoying to have to keep clicking back after you click through to one of my links, but that’s why Firefox has tabs.

I’ve been meaning to write this entry for a while and I’m glad I finally have a good reason. Here is my Firefox primer and if you’re not using it yet, go download it now, it’s free and fantastic.

Lesson 1: Tabs

Tabs allow you to open multiple webpages in one windows. It organizes those pages with tabs along the top of your Firefox window (hence the name). All you have to do is hit CTRL + T to open a new tab or, if you’re click a link, just CTRL + Click to open that link in a new tab. That way you can follow all the links you want and still have this page open in another tab.

Lesson 2: Live Bookmarks

Firefox has RSS support built right into the browser. When you’re using Firefox and visit NoahBrier.com or any other site with an embedded RSS feed, you’ll see a little orange button that looks just like this: screen-firefox-rss-icon.png. All you need to do with that is click and add it to your “Bookmarks Toolbar Folder.” After that, every time the site is updated you’ll just be able to click you’re Live Bookmark, see the title of the entry and go read it or not. No more need to keep checking back to find updates. (If you really like my bookmarks, you can click your way over to my del.icio.us page and add a Live Bookmark from that.)

Lesson 3: Integrated Search

With Firefox there’s no more need to type in search engines or install the Google Toolbar. That’s because there’s a search box built into the browser, it’s in the upper-right hand corner and is completely customizable. You can add any number of search engines to it. And trust me, it makes life much easier. For instance, there’s no more need to go to Amazon, just scroll down and search the site instantly.

Lesson 4: Security

Firefox is far more secure than Internet Explorer. It has a great built-in popup blocker and doesn’t have the same holes that IE does. In fact, since installing Firefox I can honestly say that the amount of spyware has gone to almost nothing. The last time I ran Spybot, it only found two things, as opposed to the hundreds it found with IE.

Lesson 5: Easy Install

Don’t worry about switching from Internet Explorer, Firefox will copy everything over for you automatically. It’ll save your bookmarks and preference so you can relax and browse in your newfound comfort and style.

Lesson 6: Extensions

This is probably my favorite lesson. Firefox allows developers to write little programs that add-on to Firefox called extensions. Basically they all add functionality to Firefox in different ways. Here are some of my favorites:

1. Tabbrowser Preferences: This is a must-have for any tab users. It gives you way more options for your tabs, like automatically opening “new windows” in new tabs and opening outside links (like from email or IM) into a new tab so it doesn’t overwrite the window you already have open.

2. Spellbound: This is a spellchecker for Firefox. It allows you to spellcheck any window you can type in including webmail and comments. I have way fewer spelling mistakes thanks to this extension (at least I hope I do).

3. ForecastFox: This extension sticks a little weather forecast box right into the browser so you don’t have to visit Weather.com anymore. It looks like this: new_tooltip.png

4. SessionSaver: For those who open lots of tabs like I do and don’t always get around to reading them all, this extension saves your tabs when you close Firefox. Now, next time you open it you can pick up right where you left off.

That ends the Firefox class for the day, hope you all found it enjoyable and informative. Now go get it!

Get Firefox!

UPDATE (4/13/05): I’ve added another entry with a list of other extensions worth downloading.

March 30, 2005