Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Firefox Add-Ons

Firefox as a web browser tries to stay close to the web standards. Many of us like to have added functionality in the browser. This is achieved by adding little programs to the browser that supply these functions integrated into the browser. Such a little program is called an Add-On (or Extension).

Usually I install on all my customer’s machines three extensions:
  1. Forecastfox shows the current weather conditions in the menu bar of the browser window.
    I instal this to discourage my customers from playing with WeatherBug and similar stuff because the latter are ad-ware or worse.
    Even a PC World article that was trying to absolve WB said literally "I'm not oblivious to WeatherBug's shortcomings. Previous versions have been resource hogs, and the freeware edition has a nasty habit of introducing unexpected pop-ups".
  2. Adblock Plus suppresses all advertisements from known commercial advertisement servers.
    Ad blocking has become very important because way too many advertisements are carriers of malicious software.
  3. WOT Web Of Trust marks Google and Yahoo search results with green, yellow and red circles to warn from visiting known dubious (yellow) or malicious (red) web sites.
You can easily check what Add-On is installed by clicking Tools, Add-ons, Extensions.

The Add-ons manager has a drop-down menu by the gear symbol; here you could manually check for updates. I usually just keep the check mark by "Update Add-ons Automatically". 

These Add-ons need to be kept up-to-date just as the browser itself.

After you install an update to Firefox or just because Firefox thinks “it’s about time to check again” you may see (when you start Firefox) a square window that is listing some add-ons and asking you whether to "Check now for updates" or "Cancel" the process. Please allow the checking for updates.

In this context a warning is required: Although generally extensions supply added useful functionality they can interfere with Firefox, sometimes even seriously interfere! If you want to experiment with extensions please at least refer to Mozilla's page about blocked add-ons and the page about slow performing add-ons.

Here is another article with much more detail about what else to update.

As usual I welcome comments and suggestions right here in the blog. Thank you in advance.

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Anonymous said...

I like to use "ForecastBar Enhanced" Instead of "ForecastFox" It is a fork from "ForecastFox" and is essentially identical, except that with "ForcastBar Enhanced" you can specify a much larger popup radar map, animated or still, displaying precipitation, clouds, or both.
I have mine displaying animated precipitation with cloud cover, at actual size, which is 640x480. Much larger than the tiny popup on ForecastFox.

Eike Heinze said...

Thank you, Anonymous!
Yes, that is quite a find; I like it too and have already switched to ForecastBar Enhanced.

Eike Heinze said...

This is a good example of a Firefox extension (or add-on) that I can NOT recommend. I have returned to ForecastFox.

It takes WAY TOO LONG until this add-on gets updated after Mozilla releases a new version of Firefox; and the latter happens now more rapidly than ever.