My buddy Mike M., from Dripping Springs, Texas, started pestering me. "You're still using that pile of junk browser?" he wrote, referring to Microsoft Internet Explorer.
Yes and no, I told him. I'm still using Maxthon 1.0, that marvelous browser that sits on top of IE. It works fine, I said, and no, I insisted, I'm not switching to Mozilla Firefox.
It didn't stop him from telling me about two add-ons to Firefox that he finds extremely useful, so I decided to pass along Mike's pearls.
The first is CoolIris, an add-on that allows you to preview a page by floating your mouse over a link. Once you're floating, a smaller, resizable preview window pops up, saving you from having to fully open another page. Mike says that's especially handy when reading news stories from Google News and reviewing search results from Google.
The other nifty add-on is PicLens. If you ever search Google Images, you'll appreciate how PicLens turns all those little thumbnail images into a full-screen slide show. It also works with Facebook, Picasa, Flickr, and other image management tools.
Dig This: Watch this woman and lion bonding. If you didn't know better, you'd think something awful was about to happen.
Dig This, Too: Not impressed with the lion hugging? Okay, how about Guinness's $10 million "Tipping Point" TV commercial? [Thanks, Kris.]
Smart Ways to Use Gmail in Firefox
Did you know you can color Gmail labels? That's perfect for highlighting incoming mail by color. You can also have a "preview bubble" that will show you a floating window when you right-click a piece of incoming mail. I love this because I don't have to open the e-mail in another tab or window.
It'll take three short steps to make this work.
First, if you haven't already done it, you've got to install Greasemonkey. It's a Firefox add-on that allows the implementation of user scripts. Just head for the site, click "Install Now" to get it, and restart Firefox.
Second, to install the label colors, go to the Google Code site and click on "Label Colors" from the list on the right-hand side of the page under "Links." You'll get a pop-up asking you to confirm the install by clicking the "Install" button when it lights up. The install will happen pretty quickly; you may not even notice that it occurred. No Firefox restart is required.
Finally, stay on the Google Code's page and in the Links section, click on "Conversation Preview." Follow the same routine as with Label Colors, and it will install quickly.
To color the labels, just rename them and add "color" to the name. For instance, Michael is renamed Michael red; e-mail from Steve is Steve blue. Read the full description if you want to get fancier colors.
BTW, Mike said that Gmail has recently started to roll out a "new" interface. If you're using the newer version of Gmail, you can now directly color labels by clicking the gray box to the right of the label name and choosing a color. How can you tell if you're using the "new version"? If you are, there will be a link in the top right corner of the screen that says "Older version." Google temporarily left a link to let users go back to the old if they don't like the new.
Dig This: These pictures from the Endeavour are something else: They make you feel like you're up there with the astronauts circling the Earth. [Thanks, Don G.]
Dig This, Too: I never get tired of watching squirrels work their way through obstacle courses.
Want More Firefox Goodies? Can Do...
Identify Tracking Cookies: Lincoln Spector tells you about the cookies you accumulate while surfing the Net.
Undocumented Firefox Tips: Lincoln's favorite browser is--you guessed it--Firefox. He's got 15 tips to customize Firefox.
Firefox 3 Beta 1 Review: Curious about the next version of Firefox? Here are some details.
PCWorld.com Year-End Stats: Are you the only one using Firefox? Editor-in-Chief Harry McCracken shows us the numbers.
Rein in Firefox: Scott Spanbauer tells you how to get back the memory Firefox gobbles in its cache.
Zillions of Firefox Downloads
Okay, I exaggerated, but I do have freebies, extensions, add-ons, and other software for you to download and try out.
Firefox Portable: This version of Firefox is customized to run from a USB drive.
Foxmarks Bookmarks Synchronizer Firefox Extension: Synchronize your bookmarks between multiple computers.
Gmail Notifier Firefox Extension: At-a-glance browser indicator for new Gmail messages.
Loki for Mozilla Firefox: Turn your laptop into a virtual GPS device.
Del.icio.us Bookmarks for Firefox: Convert to social bookmarks with the latest del.icio.us Firefox plugin.
1-Click Answers for Firefox: Get quick info on any word or phrase on your screen.
MR Tech Local Install Firefox Extension: A powerful metatool for managing Firefox add-ons.
Chromatab Firefox Extension: Colorize Firefox tabs for quicker navigation.
Tweak Network Settings Firefox Extension: Change Firefox internal settings to speed page loads and downloads.
AllPeers: Easily share files online.
Yahoo Toolbar for Mozilla Firefox: Search Yahoo from Firefox, without opening a new tab or window.
ThumbStrips: Browse your Firefox session with thumbnails of recently visited sites.
IE Tab: Open pages that require Internet Explorer in Firefox.
Tab Mix Plus: This add-on provides a raft of useful tab controls for Firefox fans.
Snap Links: Open or save multiple search results with one mouse click.
Steve Bass writes PC World's monthly "Hassle-Free PC" column and is the author of PC Annoyances, 2nd Edition: How to Fix the Most Annoying Things About Your Personal Computer, available from O'Reilly. He also writes PC World's daily Tips & Tweaks blog. Sign up to have Steve's newsletter e-mailed to you each week. Comments or questions? Send Steve e-mail.