From Fear to Fun

Posted: June 27, 2011 by lisabu00 in solving IT-problems

Before I started studying, my computer was mainly a tool to play – for facebook, emails and other distractions. But since my computer is my best friend and working partner, I decided to order my stuff a bit more structured.
After rearranging all my data in different folders, I tried to achieve a clearly laid out formation in my web browser as well, because it’s the tool I use the most.
So I began to collect a lot of links I often use and need and ordered them in folders and bookmarks to get to the homepage I want just with one click.
But for any reason, I thought it could be even more efficient and I started to look for tools to facilitate my surfing in the web and to save time later on.

My web browser is Mozilla Firefox and so I came across Add-ons and Plug-ins which can amplify your browser and give him a lot more features. They both have almost the same functionality – they extend the usability of a programm. But while Plug-ins are often a part of another software that works together with your browser, Add-ons are a specially built for your browser as a addition to the software.
For more detailed information look at ’Difference betweens add-on and plug-in’.

Surprisingly, I discovered, that my Plug-in folder is already pretty filled with programs like Adobe Acrobat, Java toolkit, DivX Web Player and more.
For this reason, decision making was fast and easy – I want to focus on the diversity of Add-ons.

Firefox offers 2.529.060.452 different add-ons to download, which are all cumulated at mozilla.org.
There you can choose between 14 diverse categories like ‘data privacy & security’ or ‘photos, music & videos’ or ‘RSS-feeds, news & blogging’.

To show how my browser looked like before I started the add-on marathon:

(these coloured stripes at the top I just added some weeks ago – fancy, isn’t it?)

To start with something easy, I thought it might be nice to do some little changes in the design. So I looked in the category for ‘tabs’ and installed ‘Colorful Tabs’. After some installing and saving, the window with all my plug-ins and add-ons appeared, where I just had to click on ‘activate’ and I was done. After restarting Firefox, a dozen of coloured tabs appeared. If you have a lot of tabs opened, the colours makes it easier to distinguish between the different ones and in addition – it just looks nice.

But to come to something more useful:
To make reading easier and faster, I discovered the add-on ‘Readability’. It allows you to reduce the content of a homepage only to the necessary – the text itself. Everything else disappears, which makes it very easy to print the text and to read it without distractions. Same old story: downloading – saving – installing – activating – finished. You can try it with every homepage you want. Just use the shortcut: CTRL + ALT + R.
In the same category I found Read It Later, which works perfectly together with the Readability add-on. This add allows you to move interesting articles to a little folder, where they are collected and saved and it gives you the opportunity to read them at a later date. Just get an account, register yourself and you have access to the list wherever you are. You can filter them, sort them in a special order and just look for the newest.


But to come to the one, which I liked most and which all computer ‘nerds’ I’ve talked to recommended – adblock. After pressing the button ‘Zu Firefox hinzufügen’ and 30 seconds of installing, I was a proud owner of this really helpful tool, how I will recognize in some minutes.
Immediately after I restarted my browser, I was asked if I want to add a filter subscription for the cooperation with adblock. I just said yes – and here we go. To show the effect, the example of gmx.net is a pretty good one:
Before adblock:                                                                                        With adblock:

Adblock inhibits all kinds of annoying and blinking advertisement and commercial articles to appear and reveals the real content of the web page. Many sides are now easier to read, important information are more definite and it’s not that crowded anymore.

I could make an endless list of really useful and great add-ons here, but I think this isn’t the goal of this task.
I got lost for hours and my add-on folder has incredible 20 items now (before there were 2). I also installed ACE Foxdie, FEBE, Last Pass , Play Drums and many more useful or just funny additions for my web browser. They all work the same way. They are like the whipped cream on your icecream. You don’t really need them – but with them – it just starts to be fun.

Add-ons are like apps for your smartphone – you can’t get enough of them and they make you spend too much time for it. But as I have to do a lot of research, have to write many documents and emails, it’s much nicer to spend hours in a colourful browser, with tools helping me to be more efficient and faster than without it.
The idea of this little und free inventions are just to facilitate your daily life and to make improvements in your self- organization.

If you combine some features it can really help you to find information very easily and faster and it also supports you in collecting information and transforming them the way you need it.

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Comments
  1. PhilBart says:

    Hey Lisa,
    another really nice post! I like your introduction and the way you lead up to the add- ons and what you actually want to talk about. The structure of your post is great as you also ordered the add- ons you presented by importance and usefulness. The screenshots fit nicely into your post and all of them really manage to emphasize its respective statement. Nice simile with the Ice- cream as well! The only thing I can criticize is that your browser reminds me of CSD last week and is painful to my eyes;)

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