Managing my bookmarks on Firefox over various computers

When you work on multiple computers as well as multiple platforms, the one thing that is a chore is keeping up with all of your bookmarks.

I’ve tried a variety of browsers and methods, and some have worked better than others. Firefox has become my mainstay of default browser, so I’ve gone through a few variations of what is possible with various add-ons and plugins you can get for it.

Let it be said that Google Browser Sync was one of the best plugins for bookmark sharing, period. Install it on your main computer, sync it, move to the next computer, install it there, and you basically had a mirrored setup. Sadly, Google killed the project when Firefox released version 3.0 of their browser, and I think there was a good reason for them doing so.

Simply put, you can do relatively the same thing with the Google Toolbar. It lacks the syncing aspect that made Google Sync very powerful, but you can install the toolbar on Internet Explorer as well. The management of your book marks is less intuitive, but it is nice when you are doing web development over various machines and browsers.

Recently, I discovered Foxmarks, another plugin for Firefox that replicates a lot of the functionality that I missed since the loss of Google Sync. For every bookmark you actually make inside of Firefox, whether it’s in the “Bookmarks” menu or in the “Bookmarks Toolbar”, those links will be synced to any other machine you have Foxmarks installed within Firefox, regardless if it’s Mac, Windows, or Linux. If you add or delete a bookmark, the same thing happens across the other installations.

I have to say that after using this service for over a month now, the functionality of it has been very pleasing. Even better is that Foxmarks currently has a beta version of their plugin in operation for Internet Explorer and Safari. I don’t have any experience with those versions, but the thought is very encouraging.

If you’ve been looking for a way to share bookmarks over multiple browsers or machines, then you have my recommendations over what works for me. And I have to say, it’s been working really well.

Checking out Firefox 3 beta RC3

In an effort to at least post something in about a week, I thought I would make a quick mention of some initial thoughts I had when I downloaded Firefox 3 beta 3. Now to get that in normal people speak, that would be version 3.0 of Firefox, but it’s still in the beta phase of development, meaning that it’s not ready for official, widespread release and/or use. The second 3 means that it’s third in a series of release candidates for the big day when Firefox 3 is finally here.

You still with me?

The first thing I noticed, on my Powerbook G4 with a 1GHz processor circa 2003, is the speed that this browser works. It’s fast. The current release of Firefox,, is rough on my laptop. I can only achieve half the speed of the latest beta by plugging in a hard wire connection, and that only makes me even more sad to the reality that this beautiful laptop is ending its life cycle, but that’s a whole other story.

Rebecca has been using it a bit more than I after I told her about how well it operated, but it starts and stops with the speed. There are some minor bugs that still need to be worked out. There are key commands for WordPress that don’t work in the beta release, but that’s less important than the numerous plugins that I rely on daily which need to be updated and ported into this new version. That will come in time, but certainly makes me hesitate to make the upgrade before I get all my tools lined up and readily available.

Phillip sent me a Twitter the other night when I mentioned this, asking if he should download it. I would say that it wouldn’t hurt if you are a multi-browser user. Firefox is my main workhorse, but I also bounce in and out of Safari and Camino. I expect to do the same with this beta release as well, so if you think you are along those lines, then go for it. Otherwise, hold off. This beta release (beta being the very important word here) isn’t quite ready for the big time.

Tips & Tools: Spyware removal software for Windows XP users

The main reason that I am making this post is for my sister-in-law’s mother, but I figure that it’s worth mentioning in a full out post. Since I’m back in the technical support realm of things in the world of broadcasting, I’ve gone back to my tricks of the trade when working in the Windows XP world, and this certainly works for those running Windows 2000 and ME.

No matter what websites you are or are not surfing while on a PC running Windows, spyware[wiki] lurks around every corner. You don’t have to download anything for it to find its way onto your machine, although that is one of numerous ways that it can get onto your machine. It can come from cookies, holes in the programming of your browser, or a variety of other ways that hackers are constantly trying to exploit.

When it starts getting painful to operate your computer and rebooting it just doesn’t fix the problem, try running the following two programs in conjunction with each other. They will scan and, hopefully, remove these malicious pieces of software from your computer. The best part is that they are completely free.

  • Spybot Search and Destroy
    If you are doing this for the first time, start with this program. Download and follow the directions. Don’t forget to download the latest virus definitions and immunize your computer against future problems when Spybot asks for it. A full scan with this program can take a while, and you might have to reboot your machine and cycle through with this program a few times before it can successfully eliminate any issues you might have.
  • Ad-Aware
    This is what I typically run second after already running a Spybot scan. When you first download Ad-Aware, don’t get confused between having to pay for the pro version of the software compared to the free version. Just cancel out of the window when it asks you to pay for the program. Once again, follow the directions and download the most up to date definitions so it knows what to look for and possibly remove from your computer. When you go to scan your computer, do the full scan, as this will look deep into your computer’s hard drive for anything that shouldn’t be there.

Once again, if this is your first time ever doing this on your computer, repeat this process a second time. I recommend this out of experience because it can save you from having to completely reinstall Windows onto your computer. However, if you still have problems, the issue might be too deep for this to be your solution.

In my time working in the I.T. realm of things, I can say that these problems typically come from those using Internet Explorer. There are points where you can’t get away from the browser, but if you want an extra line of defense from this happening, get Firefox and make that your default browser. It works extremely well, is less vulnerable to things like spyware, thrives in an open source community, has a strong user base, is very versatile, and is the browser that I use on both Mac and PC platforms. The learning curve isn’t that bad, but there are a variety of add-ons you can put into Firefox to enhance your use.

Just to give you a first hand account of how these tools have been effective for me, I ran into an issue with a machine where the user complained that it had become so sluggish that they couldn’t do anything with it, including shutting it down. Running Spybot, it found two issues and removed them. Never running Ad-Aware on the machine before, the full scan found 1,200 various files that were not supposed to be there. Repeated the process without finding anything a second time and turned the computer back over to the user. There haven’t been any issues since, but repeating the scans in the future will help keep the machine healthy. Well, at least until the next problem, such as spilling coffee in the keyboard, occurs.

I’m sure there might be other things out there that work well, so I invite readers to add them into the comments. And hopefully Carol will be able to fix the issues she was having with her PC.

I am all not for Snap previews

If there is anything more annoying to me when it comes to website browsing, it’s Snap previews. It’s completely a matter of preference, but I cannot help but express my disregard for something that is supposed to be helpful.

When I’m looking at a site, I don’t want to see a tiny preview in a pop-up bubble of the link that I think I might like to click on, from said site that I am already looking at, especially when it has a bunch of links on it. Maybe it comes from the fact that I get a lot of content from RSS feeds, not bothering with loading websites unless I find it necessary. However, if I want to view a web page, I want to see the whole thing. I don’t want to peek through the keyhole. I’d rather just kick the door down and go in to see what I can find.

Thankfully, BoingBoing has pointed to a great post about what you can do to stop this helpful service from functioning on your browser. Rock!

Dinking with things that dink with content

I’ve been cramming a lot into my brain over the past few days. For one thing, I’ve been exploring the lovely world of Drupal. After all the things I’ve seen and heard about it, I’ve been impressed. It’s everything that it’s said to be. Content management system, and they ain’t kidding.

I set it up locally and played quite a bit yesterday. Every time I tried to do something that would be complicated by doing it stupidly, Drupal had some sort of built-in way to do what I wanted. Very interesting. Not sure that I like it from a blogging aspect, but it has that too. It can be oh so much more.

I’m experimenting with WordPress more and more. I’ve been a long time user of the visual rich editor. However, not anymore. It’s come to be such a pain, and the WYSIWYG interface gets so annoying after a while. Being a user of only version 2.0 and on, this is what previous versions did. I’ve gotta say that I like this, non-rich editor, much more. Loads faster in FireFox and has no lag. I’ll stick with this for now.

I did find a really great Flickr plugin for WordPress. Flickr Photo Album adds a nice interface for dropping images from your Flickr account straight into a post, all from within the editor. You can already do this with Flock, but I am still not impressed with its performance. This plugin makes things simple and quick, but the setup takes a little to sort out.

I also got into some Unix[wiki] junk last night. Seems that my external hard drive has the occasional ability of renaming itself at random times and confusing some of my peer to peer programs. How else are we to have our cheap nights in with some ghetto Tivo, aka BitTorrent? This could also cause problems with some of my podcast projects. If I spent enough time with it, Unix could become another language I could start to really understand. I’ve got way too many other things on the list right now. I should get some tape for the middle of my glasses.

Noticing some slight bugs in Firefox 2

Firefox 2.0 Screen ShotIt seems that every time I launch Firefox 2.0 on my Powerbook, it never likes to load Google like a good browser should(click on the image to the left to see a screen shot). It takes the logo and positions it almost in the center of my screen rather than the center of the window. Usually resizing the window will solve this and everything goes back to normal. I’m making a post about this and then sending the link as feedback for Mozilla.

There are other issues creeping up with the latest release, but they seem to not be overly critical. They are worth reading up on because users are concerned about security problems, but Mozilla is saying that there is nothing threatening about any of the problems that are showing up. I would expect an update soon, but it’s interesting to note that they are hard at work on version 3.0.

Something else to pass on is this link that I got from BoingBoing about a series of tweaks that you can implement on Firefox. Granted that these are for the more geeky individuals, but it’s really not that hard to do. If those tweaks aren’t enough for you, check out the MozillaZine Wiki for a all sorts of geeky and nerdy stuff that you can do with Firefox.

Firefox 2.0 released today

I haven’t had much time to really put Firefox 2 through the test, but it is installed and running on my Powerbook. The main reason that I really wanted to make this post is the inline spell checking that now comes in this version. This is the thing that I have been wanting for a long time and, I finally have it. Hallelujah!

Firefox 2 is the next generation release of the award-winning Firefox web browser from Mozilla.

These Release Notes cover what’s new, download and installation instructions, known issues and frequently asked questions for Firefox 2. Please read these notes and the bug filing instructions before reporting any bugs to Bugzilla.

Give us your feedback through this feedback form.


After painless installation, I checked to see if the speed up tweaks that I posted about a while back held, and they were all there. I only have two extensions that didn’t want to play nice, but they seem to have been built into the new release. All the additional search engines that I have added are there as well.

For the most part, what I’ve been able to read about this release is that the internal overhaul has been more than the external. There is some noticeable changes, but it’s looks and feels the same for the most part. Then again, I’ve been using a skin that made it appear more like Safari, so that might have something to do with it. Oddly enough, that was one of the extensions that didn’t want to work with this version. The other one was a tabbed browsing extension.

Wow. I love this built-in inline spell checking. Oh how I have missed this.

Speeding up Firefox

When I used to do I.T. for WSUI, I pushed for people to use Firefox as their default browser on their PC. Fellow tech support monkeys can understand that for obvious reasons.

I just recalled this tip that I caught wind of about a year or so ago. This is a really great way to speed up Firefox, and it doesn’t require you to download anything to do it. This mostly applies to those folks on broadband, so if you’re on dial-up, this isn’t for you.

  1. Type “about:config” into the address bar and hit return. Scroll down and look for the following entries:
    • network.http.pipelining
    • network.http.proxy.pipelining
    • network.http.pipelining.maxrequests
  2. Normally the browser will make one request to a web page at a time. When you enable pipelining it will make several at once, which really speeds up page loading.
  3. Alter the entries as follows:
    • Set “network.http.pipelining” to “true
    • Set “network.http.proxy.pipelining” to “true
    • Set “network.http.pipelining.maxrequests” to some number like 30. This means it will make 30 requests at once.
  4. Lastly, right-click anywhere and select “New” -> “Integer“.
  5. Name it “nglayout.initialpaint.delay” and set its value to “0“. This value is the amount of time the browser waits before it acts on information it receives.
  6. Restart Firefox.  You can follow steps 1 through 5 to be sure that your changes saved correctly.
    • Note: You might have to make these settings changes everytime Firefox is updated.

This works for the Mac version, too. Logging into WordPress is a snap, and browsing just got a whole lot faster. Once again, another reason I’m a happy switcher to Firefox.

Firefox 2 beta 2 released today

Going along with my recent post about converting over to Firefox as my default browser[post], I thought I would also point out that the second beta of Firefox 2 was released today. The features noted in this post makes me anxious for the final version. I’m not too keen on the idea of downloading and running this right now, plus not all extensions are fully compatible with this beta version.

There’s too much to detail about what you can expect from 2.0 when it is launched in its final form, so check out the release notes for more details there.

One thing I will say that I am excited about is inline spell checking! This was the one feature about Safari that I loved the most. Finally, we’ll see it on a Mozilla product.

Use a bookmark to resize your browser window

I found this tip via Macworld a while ago, but it was meant for use in Safari. However, in making my switch to Firefox, this was a feature that made the jump all the more interesting because it works in this browser as well. Here’s how it breaks down from Macworld.

Launch Safari (or your favorite browser) and create a new bookmark. Most browsers will require that you bookmark a specific site. In Safari, open a site and then choose Bookmarks: Add Bookmark. Give the bookmark a name that will help you remember the screen size, such as 800×600 or 1024×768. Next, edit the address of the bookmark—in Safari, go to Bookmarks: Show All Bookmarks and navigate to your newly created bookmark. Change the Address portion of the bookmark to:

javascript:self .moveTo(0,0);self.resizeTo(800,600);

Open any page in Safari and select the bookmark. You’ll see that page in an 800-by-600-pixel browser window. You can then duplicate this bookmark and create other sizes as needed; just change the name and the relevant code. When you’re done, move your new bookmarks to a convenient location; then click on them when you want to test your pages at different resolutions. [macworld]

I like to have three of these bookmarks in my toolbar. From small, medium, to large, it gets very useful. I’ve even gone as far as making them slightly button-like, naming them “-“, “+”, and “++”. You can minimize and maximize windows all you want, but to make it quick and simple, just hit your bookmark and you’re done.

This might not be too handy for those folks out there that don’t have a lot of real estate on their monitor. If you run a monitor at the screen size of 1024-by-768, then you might not see the advantage. I can’t be sure if this works in the world of PC’s, but it stands to reason that it should. It’s great for previewing how websites you are working on look, but I just like it for the simple reason of keeping everything on my screen in a more controlled state of chaos.