Firefox 4 is now available

Browsers, Firefox, Mozilla, Software, things that are awesome, Web, Web - the Industry, Web Development, Work No Comments

Firefox Download Button

Launch days are great, great days. Official announcement here.

Export to Flickr plugin for Lightroom 2 = awesomesauce

Photography, Software No Comments

My entire photoprocessing workflow is now wholly contained in Lightroom 2 because of Jeffrey Friedl’s Export to Flickr plugin. And Lightroom does crazy smart things like stashes images in a temp directory for uploading then automatically deletes the images afterwards so you’re not gumming up your harddrive with unnecessary images that you’ll probably never use again.

Five new apps I really like

Software 2 Comments

I spend a whole lot of time on my computer since it lives right in the center of both work and play for me. I also tend to spend quite a bit of time messing around with new software, always keeping an eye out for applications that will make my life easier, more productive, or just more fun. Recently I’ve started using a bunch of new stuff that’s all pretty good.

TweetDeck

TweetDeck

At first I didn’t like TweetDeck at all, but they seem to be fixing the bugs and working to make it feel a little less alien. The first version I tried didn’t even have a proper titlebar, so it just felt completely wrong. It’s still pretty odd and takes some getting used to, but it is by far the best Twitter client I’ve tried yet.

Together

Together

Together is sort of a digital scrapbook application. I use it to gather and track stories to be included in the about:mozilla weblog and newsletter, for the most part, but also use it to hang on to files and webpages I want to read later, compile sources for another project I’m working on, and so forth. It’s a nice, handy, unobtrusive utility that’s easy to use and works quite well.

MarsEdit 2

MarsEdit

A growing part of my job involves writing posts for a number of weblogs. MarsEdit is a very straightforward blogging tool that lets me manage posts for multiple blogs in a simple UI that never gets in my way. It has all the features I need and nothing extraneous or distracting. It’s hard to ask for more in writing tool you use every day.

Adobe Lightroom 2

Lightroom

I didn’t spend a whole lot of time with the original Lightroom, so I’m not really sure what’s new or changed in LR2, but I’ve been playing with it for a few days and really like it. Lightroom simplifies and streamlines the work that goes into processing digital photos from RAW into a final version for web or print. It doesn’t do everything Photoshop does, of course, but for me it covers about 95% of anything I want to do to my images before publishing or printing. I’m still just learning how to use the software, but I can already process pictures 3-4x faster than I could in Photoshop, and I expect that will only get better as I become more familiar with the software and some of it’s automation features.

The pricetag on Lightroom 2 is a wince-inducing $300 USD, but I think it’s worth it, and I’ll be buying this one as soon as my 30 day demo is up. If you’d like to see some of the pictures I’ve processed with it, I have a set up on Flickr.

Things

Things

Things is basically a fancified To-Do List manager. It has the features you need if you want to go all GTD, but also lets you use a more simple system if you want. I use a semi-GTD system in that I have a list of projects in Things, and have those projects broken down into the various actions needed to get them to completion. For those projects that repeat (ie: the about:mozilla newsletter), I have a set of scheduled tasks I have to do every week or month or whatever.

Each morning I go through the full list, flag the items I want to get done today (there’s a handy “Today” star, which I think most GTD systems lack but I can’t live without) and then I just go ahead and do those things. Ta dah.

There’s also a Things for the iPhone/iPod Touch which I will eventually buy when it will sync with my desktop Things. Until then, it’s really not useful to me since there’s no way I’m going to manually manage two lists. They’re working on it, it’s just not ready yet.

Is there other Mac software out there you think I’d like? Leave a note in the comments.

20 top add-ons that are ready for Firefox 3

add-ons, Firefox, Mozilla, Software, Work 83 Comments

Being involved with Firefox development and testing is both an honour and a privilege. The one major drawback to being on the bleeding edge of the Mozillaverse, however, is that none of your add-ons ever work. Sure, I’ve had the absolute joy of using the Smart Location Bar (aka: Awesomebar) for ages, but I’ve also been living without any of my add-ons for months. It’s been hard. Very, very hard.

Naturally, when faced with the choice between using the new Firefox 3 features with no add-ons and reverting to Firefox 2 and getting all my add-ons back, I stuck with Firefox 3. I’m not kidding when I say that Firefox 3 is better than Firefox 2 in pretty much every possible way. It’s awesome and there’s no way I’m going back. Now, however, I don’t have to choose one over the other — with the recent delivery of Firefox 3 Release Candidate 1, I get to have my cake and eat it too.

Release Candidate 1, you see, coincides with the addons.mozilla.org (AMO) site adding support for the final add-ons MaxVersion update. This means that all Firefox add-ons can now finally be updated such that they will work with the final release of Firefox 3. Lots of add-on developers have been waiting for this, so a huge number of add-ons are now getting updated. I spent yesterday going through the list and playing with some of my favourites, and it’s like Christmas has come seven months early.

I know a lot of folks are waiting for add-ons to get updated before diving in to help test the Firefox 3 release candidate, but now’s your chance. Dozens of add-ons are being updated to work with Firefox 3 every day, and there are hundreds already set to go. Here’s a list of 20 I’ve installed and checked out (arranged conveniently in alphabetical order):

Adblock Plus – This one does pretty much what it says on the box: Adblock blocks ads, and does so with grace and aplomb. This is one of the universals that pretty much every Firefox user I know has installed, and is one of the hardest to live without. Also updated for Firefox 3 is the Adblock Filterset.G Updater add-on companion for Adblock.

adblockplus

Download Statusbar – While the Firefox 3 download manager has been revamped, some folks have slightly more hardcore download requirements, which is where Download Statusbar comes in. Freshly updated for Firefox 3, this is one of the more popular Firefox add-ons out there.

downloadstatusbar

Faviconize Tab – This is the one add-on I really have a hard time living without, and I’m unbelievably happy it’s finally updated for Firefox 3. I danced a dance of joy when I was finally able to stop overriding my add-ons compatibility check (which is generally a terrible idea) and could actually install Faviconize Tab for real. Such a simple thing, but such an incredibly useful thing. I love this add-on.

faviconizetab

Firefox Companion for Ebay – I’m still a little afraid of Ebay (impulse shopping habits + credit card + 24hr access to a world of awesome things to buy = fear), but I do use the Companion to watch some of the more interesting auctions I run across.

ebay2

Flashblock – One of the more infuriating things about trying to read on the Web are the flippy flashy animated doodads that hover around the margins making it impossible to focus. This is pretty much what Flashblock is created to fix, blocking the animated fiddlybits until you click a button on each to display it. This is a vital sanity saver for me, and I’m really glad it’s updated now.

flashblock

FlashGot – If you do a lot of downloading, FlashGot is a must-have Firefox add-on. This being updated for Firefox 3 is going to save me a ton of time and mouseclicks.

flashgot

Forecastfox – Being Canadian and currently on the edge of summer, I’m a little obsessed with the weather these days. When it’s not raining, or cold, or too windy to stand up, or dark, it’s actually gorgeous out, and keeping close track of when that sun is going to shine is a vital part of day-to-day life in May. Forecastfox being ready for Firefox 3 means I don’t have to obsessive-compulsively reload the Environment Canada website any more.

forecastfox

GooglePreview – This is actually a “new to me” add-on that I discovered yesterday, but it’s really great. Again, it’s simple and unobtrusive, just quietly enhancing your Web experience without getting in your way. What it does is add a small preview thumbnail to your Google search results. It’s just neat.

googlepreview

Live HTTP Headers – This one’s for the Web Developers in the audience, as it lets you view the running stream of HTTP headers of the pages you browse. Very useful, and ready for Firefox 3.

livehttpheaders2

Mouse Gestures – This is another “new to me” add-on that I was playing with yesterday that may change how I use the Web. I never really thought much about mouse gestures until I started using them, and it turns out they’re actually pretty awesome. I’ll definitely be messing around with this one for a while to see if the novelty wears off, or whether it’ll be a long-term sort of add-on for me.

mousegestures

NoScript – NoScript is a hugely popular security-related add-on that gives Firefox users very fine-grained control over what JavaScript, Java, and executable content is allowed to run in the browser.

noscript

ScribeFire – Formerly known as “Performancing”, ScribeFire is a very cool and full-featured blog editor that integrates with Firefox. Now that it’s ready for Firefox 3 I’m going to start using it again — it makes sense to have a blog editor integrated with a browser, in my opinion, because blogging is so absolutely tied to the Web. ScribeFire has come a long way since its original launch, so if you haven’t checked it out lately, you should take it for a spin.

scribefire

Shareaholic – If you’re like me and spend a whole lot of time looking at things on the Web, you end up finding piles of things that you want to share with other folks. Shareaholic is a fantastic add-on for this, integrating with digg, del.icio.us, facebook, foxiewire, friendfeed, google bookmarks, google reader, magnolia, reddit, stumbleupon, tumbler, twitter, and more. Jay Meattle, the developer who also happened to win the Extend Firefox 2 contest with this add-on, has recently updated it to work with Firefox 3. And there has been much rejoicing.

shareaholic

Speed Dial – The Speed Dial feature was originally debuted by the Opera web browser, but several add-ons mimicking the functionality very quickly came available for Firefox. I like Speed Dial in particular because it’s very straightforward, super easy to customize, and is now completely up to date for Firefox 3.

speeddial

StumbleUpon – I didn’t actually start using this add-on until my Dad told me about it one day, and now I’m a bit of an addict. Be wary, however — StumbleUpon is a bit dangerous in that it can eat days of your life if you’re not careful. I’m just glad the toolbar can be toggled on and off, else I’d never get anything done. Fun stuff, extraordinarily popular, very slick.

stumbleupon

ThumbStrips – ThumbStrips creates a browseable graphical timeline of your surfing history that is displayed along the bottom of the browser. Originally I figured it would be like another, fancier version of tabs but it’s not that at all — it makes flipping back and forth through your recent browser history really easy, which can be great in situations when you’re checking out Google search results and so forth. Neat stuff.

thumbstrips

TwitterFox – Being slightly unnerved by social networking in general (FaceBook, LinkedIn, etc.) I generally don’t spend much time on such sites, but I’ve made an exception for Twitter. Twitter is simple and fun. It’s also useful, believe it or not, and (if you keep your “Following” list pared down sensibly) it can be super interesting and informative. TwitterFox is a neat little add-on that integrates Twitter right into Firefox that works well and generally does what you expect it to do.

twitterfox

Video DownloadHelper – If you’re interested in saving Web videos to your local machine — for example, to watch while on a plane or otherwise offline — Video DownloadHelper is a great add-on to use. Sites it works with include YouTube, MySpace, Google videos, DailyMotion, iFilm, and others.

videodownloadhelper

Web Developer Toolbar – Chris Pederick’s Web Developer Toolbar is one of the absolute must-have Firefox add-ons if you’re a Web Developer. It’s been around for years and puts a world of useful utilities at your fingertips, saving time, effort, and frustration.

webdevtoolbar

Wizz RSS Reader – If you’re a bit of a Webfeed junkie and LiveBookmarks aren’t enough, you’ll probably want to check out the Wizz RSS news reader add-on. By way of the sidebar, Wizz lets you subscribe to Webfeeds and quickly flip through new posts or updates to those sites. Wizz is, in my opinion, a great middle ground between LiveBookmarks and a full-featured desktop Webfeed client like Vienna.

wizzrss

So, there you have it — 20 top notch add-ons that are ready to go for Firefox 3. If you’re curious about Firefox 3 and would like to check out the Release Candidate and play with some of these, Friday afternoon seems like a perfectly reasonable time to do it.

Alex Polvi is doing a weekly update about the “State of the Add-ons” that need help getting updated for Firefox 3. If you’re an add-on developer (or would like to be one!) and would like to help, head over to Polvi’s blog and he’ll point you in the right direction.


“two decades have brought zero advance in productivity”

Computers, Software, Technology No Comments

From an article with an interesting, if arguable, perspective:

“User Experience” has not changed much in two decades. Due to bloated code that has to incorporate hundreds of functions that average users don’t even know exist, let alone ever utilize, the software companies have weighed down our PCs to effectively neutralize their vast speed advantages. When we compare strictly common, everyday, basic user tasks between the Mac Plus and the AMD we find remarkable similarities in overall speed, thus it can be stated that for the majority of simple office uses, the massive advances in technology in the past two decades have brought zero advance in productivity.

And that’s just plain crazy.

Read the full article here: 86 Mac Plus Vs. 07 AMD DualCore.

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