Monthly Archives: March 2008

Proprietary Programs that Drive You Crazy

In a way, this is a segue to my previous post on Firefox.

Although living with proprietary programs is often a fact of life, Open Source products are more and more prevalent. I’ve become fascinated with many developer’s insistence that code should be shared, and that it is the only way that a product will not only become better but move forward much faster. WordPress, the blog software I use to power my blog is a case in point. The server my blog is on is powered by Linux, an open source operating system (although some parts must now be purchases). I’m using the Firefox browser to write and read my blog entries. I belong to Facebook, Librarything, LiveJournal, and Goodreads, W2 systems whose structure is powered by open source developers.

Increasingly, proprietary programs such as Microsoft’s suite of programs are annoying to users. Some become downright hysterical when you even whisper words such as Windows or Adobe. If you are one of those, or like me are on your way of becoming this way, I found a site that points to the Top 50 Proprietary Programs and Their Open Source Alternatives .

It’s well worth going through the list and trying those programs that you’d be using regularly, and maybe some just for fun.

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Life After Firefox

No, Firefox is not a new kind of genetically enhanced animal. It’s a free browser that lets you surf the internet in a completely new way. It’s sturdier, less sensitive to attacks by viruses and worms, it has tons of features, and it’s fast. Firefox has several basic advantages: first, it’s completely free. Firefox is a product in the Mozilla suite that has been developed as Open Source, a concept where people develop applications and enhancement and provide them free to individuals (organizations must pay a modest fee for its use). The Open Source concept developed as a reaction to monopolies such as Microsoft who not only imposed their own restrictions of what the product was and how to use it but also created an interdependence that is difficult to break from. Here’s what so neat about Firefox:

  1. It includes protection from active scams, viruses and worms; this browser is considered one of the most sturdy in existence, which means you seriously decrease your chances of attack.
  2. It completely eliminates pop-ups; my dad was going nearly insane with pop-ups he wasn’t able to eliminate with Internet Explorer. Since he’s using Firefox, he hasn’t had one pop-up — and he’s going to the same sites he used to.
  3. It takes less than five minutes to install and it’s free
  4. It has hundreds of additional tools and add-ons that change the functionality, usage and look of your browser.

What do I mean by tools and add-ons? These are features that lets you use your browser for more than surfing the internet. Let’s look at a few of the more popular ones (my favorites have a star beside them):

  • Firefox Companion for Kodak EasyShare Gallery: Organizing and sharing your pictures is easier than ever with Firefox Companion for Kodak EasyShare Gallery. Upload photos directly to your Kodak EasyShare Gallery, all within your browser. Drag, drop and arrange pictures adding photo titles, etc.
  • Firefox Companion for eBay 1.5:: Keep an eye on your eBay trading wherever you are on the web when you install the eBay Companion for Firefox. It’s a free tool built with eBay users in mind that will help you get more out of your buying and selling.
  • Interclue 1.5.2: Interclue tooltip windows display content previews, useful extra information and relevant next actions for almost any link on the web. A truly user-centric design, “Clueview” tooltips show you only the most relevant content from linked pages, and can provide embedded viewing for images, mp3s and YouTube videos.
  • *PDF Download 1.0.1.: PDF Download relieves the pain experienced when encountering PDF files on the Web. Whenever you click on a PDF file, PDF Download lets you know before trying to open it, and then offers you choices such as downloading, opening, or converting it straight to HTML.
  • Download Statusbar: View and manage downloads from a tidy statusbar – without the download window getting in the way of your web browsing.
  • Piclens: *PicLens instantly transforms your browser into a full-screen 3D experience for viewing images across the web. Our new interactive “3D Wall” and built-in search function lets you effortlessly drag, click, zoom, and zip your way around a wall of pictures for an extraordinary viewing experience.
  • *Foxmarks Bookmark Synchronizer: If you use Firefox on more than one computer, you’ll want Foxmarks. Install Foxmarks on each computer, and it will work silently in the background to keep your bookmarks synchronized. You can also log in to to manage your bookmarks from any computer.
  • *FireFTP: FireFTP is a free, secure, cross-platform FTP client for Mozilla Firefox which provides easy and intuitive access to FTP servers.
  • *Cooliris Previews: Cooliris Previews gives you the power to browse and share Web links and rich media faster. Just mouse over any link, and the Cooliris preview window immediately appears to show you the content. To email it, just click.
  • *ColorfulTabs: The most beautiful yet the simplest add-on that makes a strong colorful appeal. Colors every tab in a different color and makes them easy to distinguish while beautifying the overall appearance of the interface.
  • Delicious Bookmarks: The Official Delicious Add-on seamlessly integrates your browser with, the leading social bookmarking service on the Web.
  • Scribefire: ScribeFire (previously Performancing for Firefox) is a full-featured blog editor that integrates with your browser and lets you easily post to your blog.
  • *Dictionaries and Language Packs: From Afrikaans to Zulu, if you use your browser to write (emails, blogs, etc.) Firefox will highlight your spelling mistakes. You can install more than one language pack and switch between them, as well as add new words to each dictionary.

These are only a very few add-ons from the thousands you can choose from (all free!) to personalize or streamline your browsing experience. Firefox has add-ons in the following categories:

* Alerts & Updates
* Bookmarks
* Download Management
* Feeds, News & Blogging
* Language Support
* Photos, Music & Videos
* Privacy & Security
* Search Tools
* Social & Communication
* Tabs
* Themes & Appearance
* Toolbars
* Web Development

You can also change the look of your browser through the hundreds of themes (from cute to gloomy to businesslike).

The beauty of it? Any and all of these add-on and themes are one download click away (any download takes between two and ten seconds), they are all tested and work, and they are as easy to uninstall if you decide you don’t want them. Firefox is compatible for both Windows and Mac.

See the light. Switch to Firefox. Your Internet time will be greatly enhanced.

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