Untitled #4 ~ Extensions
Wednesday, February 28, 2007 12:00:00 PM
Extensions or add-ons, add additional functionality to the browser. Some extensions make the browser more secure while others allow you to click and icon and block advertisements or get the latest news from your favorite newspaper or magazine through an RSS feed.
There are too many to mention in this column, but you can access the Firefox extensions through Tools/Add-ons. At the bottom right of the dialog box that shows the extensions you have installed is a link “Get More Extensions”. If you have a few hours to kill, scroll though the pages and pages of extensions and choose what you like.
I use several extensions for security and more for my web development work and one to check my Gmail account. But let's start with security.
The instructions for allowing or forbidding the action can be a bit confusing. To activate the script, left click on the “S”, and a context menu will pop-up. What web addresses that are being allowed to run have the “Do Not Enter” sign over the blue S and the word Forbid (site address).com. The site addresses not being allowed to run have the blue S and the word Allow (site address).com.
IE Tab is a good one. There are some companies that develop there sites to work with only Internet Explorer. You can view them in another browser, but if you want to buy something, everything goes bananas. HP is one of those sites. MSN.com is another. My wife likes to play some of the games on MSN and she had to use Internet Explorer until i installed IE Tab. You can even use Windows Update with this extension.
This extension puts an icon on the browser status bar that indicates whether the Firefox or IE rendering engine is being used. A left click on the icon switches the rendering engine from the current engine to the other. A middle click opens a new tab with the other rendering engine, and a right click opens the IE Tab Sites Filter. Here you can add the site you are viewing to the filter and the next time you visit the site it will automatically use the IE rendering engine. Now if that ain't the cat's meow.
Flashblock is one of my favorites. Besides making a web site inaccessible (you've got to have the latest Flash program installed), I find them annoying. Usually they are advertisements, and I don't like being bombarded with ads when I visit certain sites. This extension gives you the choice of viewing the Flash file or not. With the extension functioning, the size of the file is outlined and a small circle with an “f” inside is shown. When you move your cursor inside the block, the “f” changes to a black triangle on it's side. If you then click the triangle, presto, the Flash file plays.
Adblock Plus is the extension to have if you don't like ads on the page. If you go to the New York Times page and you want to read the news, you don't want to be distracted by the ads on the page. Now you have control to remove the advertisements and be free to see only the news; and that's why you are there in the first place, correct?
There is a bit of manipulation to block all of the ads all of the time, but I'll discuss each of these extensions in more detail later. Now here's the rub. None of these extensions work when you are using the Internet Explorer rendering engine in IE Tab. Maybe the developer will figure out a way to allow the Firefox extensions to work when you use the IE rendering engine. Until then, you just have to bear the ads and Flash bits.
Next time I'll talk about the browser cache and how that can effect your internet experience and begin a more detailed discussion on the extensions I mentioned today.
But for now, my time is up; I thank you for yours.