How to navigate the web with your keyboard and gleeBox

I love keyboard shortcuts. I find using a mouse, menus and clicking to be an incredibly inefficient way of doing things. I spent a lot of time in college working with Adobe programs and using three and four character keyboard shortcuts to get things done faster. So when I found gleeBox and the amount of time-saving shorthand it had to offer. I was pretty excited.

GleeBox is a browser add-on available for Chrome, Safari, and Firefox. Once installed, pushing the G key will bring up the dialogue box. From here you can input a variety of commands as simple as opening a search page in a new window, to sharing whatever page you happen to be viewing with your friends via Facebook, Twitter, or Gmail with the input of a simple command.

Pushing the period key will show a list of open tabs.

Pushing the Period (.) key will bring up a list of the current tabs you have open in your browsers. From there you can use your arrow keys to select the tab you want.

!share fb automatically shares your current page on your Facebook profile

There are also functions such as :wp and :tube that will allow you to search for a term on Wikipedia and YouTube respectively.

The amount of options available are endless due the ability to customize actions. This allows you to tailor gleeBox to do things that you typically do while browsing. I like to share websites with my friends on Facebook and the ability to share a link without having open up a different page and copy and paste the URL is really pretty cool for me. I am not much of a Twitter person, but the command that will automatically share whatever page you are on with a shortened URL would also seem to be pretty handy.

All in all gleeBox is a pretty cool and useful app. The amount of default commands available, and the ability to customize, means the sky is the limit.

Finally, here’s a link to a list of default commands: http://thegleebox.com/manual.html

Make Your Searches More Social With Wajam

Wajam

How do you find out about things? I’m talking about things like interesting places to visit while on vacation, a good place to eat, whether or not a particular bicycle seat is worth buying. Well, that and more.

Chances are you take one of two routes. One, you turn to your favorite search engine. Or two, you ask a friend or someone in your social network a question or three.

What if you were able to combine those two approaches and make your searches a bit more social? Well, Wajam tries to do just that. And, for the most part, it succeeds.

Wajam?

Let’s look at the concept and the technology. The idea behind Wajam is to improve the results that a search engine returns by combining those results with mentions of, say, that product or place from your online social network. More on how to combine the two in a few paragraphs.

Wajam itself is a browser extension for Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Internet Explorer. Once installed, it works in the background and adds results derived from your social network to the results from Google, Bing, Yahoo, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, and Blekko.

Getting started

Head over to the Wajam and log in using either your Twitter or Facebook login information. Wajam links to your account. When you start searching (more on this in a moment), will add hits from your network. And once you’ve logged in, you can download and install the extension for your browser.

But what happens if, say, you logged in using your Facebook account but want to add your Twitter account to Wajam? On the Wajam Web site, click the Sources tab. Then, click the icon for Twitter.

Wajam Sources tab

But it’s not just your Twitter and Facebook friends. If you have an account with the bookmarking service Delicious, you can link that account to Wajam. You can also upload a bookmark file from your computer to the Wajam dashboard. That’s a potentially great feature: using your past choices to help enhance your searches.

Using Wajam

There are two ways you can do that. The first way is to head over to your favorite search engine and plug in a search. The search engine will do its thing, but at the top of the results Wajam adds mentions from your social networks about what you’re searching for.

Wajam search results

If one of the results from Wajam fits you bill, then just click a link to jump to that page. You’ll notice the Wajam toolbar at the top of the page. You can use the toolbar to share what you’ve found on Facebook or Twitter.

Wajam toolbar

The second way to search is within Wajam itself. When logged in, click the Home tab. You’re taken to a search engine that actually combs your social networks and uploaded bookmarks (if any) for matches.

Wajam internal search

Click a link to open it. Again, you reach the page you get the Wajam toolbar that lets you share that page on Facebook or Twitter.

On the other hand …

The results themselves can vary. For example, I wanted to find some places to do indoor bouldering in Toronto (where I live) — I searched for bouldering Toronto using Google. The results that came back from Wajam were … well, interesting. I got a tweet from a musician who did a show in Toronto, and a pointer to a blog mentioning a company with an office in Boulder, Colorado. The results from Google, in this case, were more focused.

Also, the freshness of the information can be a bit of a problem. The two results I mentioned in the last paragraph were two months and two years old, respectively. You can sort the results by relevance, newest mentions, and older mentions. But a useful addition to Wajam would be a way to set a range of dates over which to perform a search.

While Wajam has an extension for Google Chrome, I wasn’t able to download and install it in Chromium (the Open Source version of Chrome). That’s strange, because every other Chrome extension I’ve tried with Chromium has installed and has worked.

Final thoughts

Wajam takes search to an interesting new place. By adding a social element, your search results are potentially better targeted and focused to your needs. And, you’d hope, with that social element you’re also getting an element of trust in your results — opinions or just links from people whose opinions matter to you.

I’m not sure that Wajam fully achieves those goals. At least, not yet. But it’s definitely worth taking a closer look at Wajam.

Firefox Tip: How to Prevent JavaScript Code from Resizing Your Browser Window

Have you ever been browsing the internet, opened a new link, and suddenly had your entire browser window change size?  This is a trick that web developers can easily do with JavaScript (and was heavily used in the “older” days of the internet) but has become a nuisance in modern times.  If I’ve got a pile of tabs open, I don’t like my newly-opened tab kicking my browser to 680×480 just because an antique webpage was built to that resolution.

If you’re using Firefox, there is a very simple way to prevent websites from resizing your browser window without disabling JavaScript altogether.  Sure, disabling JavaScript is the kill-all solution (and would be more secure for your browser), but there are way too many legitimate uses for JavaScript for me to suggest doing that.

Disabling JavaScript’s Ability to Resize Your Browser Window in Firefox

Note: In this guide, I’ll be using Firefox version 3.6.8.  Details in this procedure may vary according to your version.

Step 1: In Firefox, click Tools then select Options.

Step 2: Click the Content tab, then click the Advanced… button to the right of Enable JavaScript.

Step 3: Uncheck the box that says “Move or resize existing windows“.

That’s it!  Those pesky websites won’t be able to resize your browser window anymore.  Make sure to check out the rest of our articles about Firefox!

Image credit: Mixy Lorenzo (seriously, how good does that cupcake look?)

Gather Information About Your Client’s PC with Support Details

Building websites that function properly across multiple browsers can be a time consuming process.  Most of that time is put into backwards compatibility to support outdated web browsers – I’m looking at you, IE6.

If a client or end-user of your website is experiencing a problem, it can be a difficult task to ask all of the questions necessary to pinpoint the cause of the problem.

Support Details is a simple and easy-to-use web application that will gather all of the necessary information about your client’s personal computer.  To use Support Details, you can simply send your client to http://www.supportdetails.com.

Your client will be presented with information about their PC as shown below.

Have the user fill-out the information bar at the top of the page with their name, email address, and your email address and click Send Details.  They also have the option to export their PC’s information as a CSV or PDF file.

Support Details lets you create custom URLs to send to your clients with the correct contact information already entered, so all they have to do is click Send Details.

Let us know what you think about Support Details by commenting below!

Image credit: rcourtie

Opera Web Browser: Fighting Back With Version 10.50

Many people are aware of the instant popularity of the Google Chrome web browser, taking just over 3% of the browser market share upon its release.  Opera, a competitor in the web browser market since 1996, has only achieved a 2% market share in the past 14 years.  The Opera developers aim to get back into the web browser market with the 10.50 release of the Opera web browser.

The Opera 10.50 web browser boasts some features that all internet users will enjoy.  I’ll go over some of the major features of Opera 10.50 in this article.

Faster JavaScript Performance

Having the fastest JavaScript speeds is a major factor in why Google Chrome has been successful.  With the continued move to feature-rich, web-based applications, more load is being placed on the web browser.  Opera 10.50 is setting the bar higher by boasting to have the fastest JavaScript performance yet, performing 10 times faster than the previous version of Opera.

Opera Turbo

Opera Turbo is a feature that can help decrease page load times if you happen to be on a slow connection.  Using Opera’s compression servers, web pages are compressed up to 80%, allowing your pages to load faster.  Opera Turbo also helps to decrease page load times by preventing Flash content such as YouTube videos from loading until you click on them.  Image sizes are also reduced to decrease page load times.  Opera Turbo features an automatic mode, which will sense if you network connection has become slow, and enable Opera Turbo.

Visual Tabs

Opera already supported tabbed browsing, but a new feature in version 10.50 are Visual Tabs.  Visual Tabs allow you to see a preview of the open tab, along with the page title.  Visually recognizing the tab can sometimes be easier than referring to the page title.

Opera 10.50 also offers tab previews.  Hovering the mouse over a tab will show a quick thumbnail of that tab.

Speed Dial

Speed Dial allows you to quickly access your favorite sites whenever you open a new tab.  When opening a new tab, the Speed Dial page is shown with your 9 favorite sites.  Speed Dial pages can easily be changed or removed from the Speed Dial page.

Mouse Gestures

Mouse Gestures are a way to quickly perform common web browser actions with a right-click and movement of the mouse.  Some common browser actions you can perform with Mouse Gestures include opening new tabs, closing tabs, previous page, next page, reload, home, and many more.

Opera Link

Opera Link is a feature included in Opera 10.50 that allows you to sync your Opera browser information between multiple computers.  Opera Link allows you to sync bookmarks, Speed Dial, notes, history, and searches, allowing you to have them available wherever you are.  If you use Opera at home and at work, Opera Link is a great way to keep the same browsing information synced between the two computers.  Opera Link is also a great way to backup your browser information automatically.

Integrated Email

One of my favorite features of Opera 10.50 is the integrated email support.  Opera integrated email supports both POP and IMAP email and is easily configured.  Once your account has been added, your email is automatically fetched and displayed.  Opera’s integrated email also allows composing and sending of emails with the feature rich editor.

Opera Unite

Another promising features of Opera 10.50 is Opera Unite.  Opera Unite is a set of extension applications that add functionality such as photo sharing, music streaming, and file sharing, all from your browser.  Opera Unite already features a wide list of community developed applications with more constantly being developed.

Opera Widgets

New to Opera 10.50, Opera Widgets allow you to run your favorite internet service outside of your browser.  Acting like desktop applications, Opera Widgets allow you to access services like Twitter and Facebook even when your web browser is closed.  Opera features many community developed widgets, with more being actively developed.

Conclusion

If you’re looking for a fast, full-featured web browser and want to try something other than Firefox and Chrome, then I suggest you give the Opera 10.50 a try.  I’m sure everyone will find something they like about the Opera web browser.

Have you used Opera as your web browser?  What is your favorite upcoming feature of Opera?  Let us know your thoughts about Opera by commenting below!

Essential Add-ons for Firefox #1: Power User Edition

firefox_addons_poweruser_thumbOne of the most useful features of Firefox are add-ons, small applications that can add new functionality to the browser or change its appearance.  Unfortunately, there are literally thousands of add-ons available, meaning that many of the good ones get lost in the noise.

In part one of our featured Essential Add-ons for Firefox series, I’ll be covering add-ons that I feel are vital to getting the most from your browsing experience.

Tree Style Tab

treestyletab_thumbThis add-on quickly skyrocketed on my of “Things I must have in Firefox” list.  Tree Style Tab changes your horizontal tab bar into a vertical bar with a tree hierarchy, which can give you more vertical space on a widescreen monitor.  Although it takes a little getting used to (I still instinctively look to the top of my screen), you will be able to manage many more tabs at a once.  Tree Style Tab is very customizable and works well with other tab modification add-ons.  Check out our full guide to Tree Style Tab.

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LastPass

lastpass_genpassLastPass is the ultimate in cross-platform, cross-browser password management.  This add-on securely stores your passwords in an online vault and locks them with a password that only you know.  This allows you to create dozens of complex, random passwords without having to remember them.  Since the vault is accessible online, you can access your passwords on any computer or browser (using a JavaScript bookmarklet in browsers without plugin support).  Check out or full guide to LastPass.

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IE Tab

firefox_addons_poweruser_ietabWindows only: Let’s be honest – there will always be a few websites that only render properly in Internet Explorer.  We can hope that web developers follow best practices when creating websites, but in the mean time IE Tab allows you to render any website in Internet Explorer from within Firefox.  You can even set it to automatically render certain websites, which works great for *.microsoft.com domains.

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Right-Click-Link

firefox_addons_poweruser_rightclicklinkOccasionally, I’ll encounter an unclickable link.  Normally, a person would copy and paste (or type) the address in the URL bar, but Right-Click-Link allows you to right click the dead link and open it without the extra work.  This is a great example of the “little things” that can be improved with add-ons.

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Locationbar²

firefox_addons_poweruser_locationbarHighlighting URL roots was popularized in Google Chrome, and now Firefox users can add this feature with the Locationbar² add-on.  This add-on highlights the root domain of the website you are browsing to help identify phishing or spoofing in URLs.  Even better, it makes subsections of the URL clickable when you hold the CTRL or ALT keys, so you can click directly to the root of a website.

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Multiple Tab Handler

firefox_addons_poweruser_multipletabsMultiple Tab Handler adds one of my single favorite features: Close Other Tabs.  This allows you to right click a tab (or tabs) you want to keep open and close all other quickly.  It also adds features to close, reload, and duplicated selected (or all) tabs.  This add-on doesn’t work perfectly with Tree Style Tab yet, but the developers appear to be working together to improve this.

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Greasemonkey

firefox_essentials_poweruser_greasemonkeyGreasemonkey allows you to install small scripts which can dramatically change the way a website looks or functions.  This add-on is one of the single most useful on this list, and many Greasemonkey scripts eventually work their way into independent add-ons.  Greasemonkey can help you manage multiple gmail accounts, turn you into a Facebook power user, and let you automatically watch YouTube videos in high definitionCheck out our full guide to Greasemonkey.

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Personal Menu

firefox_addons_poweruser_personalmenuPersonal Menu can save you some serious space in your browser (which is great for netbooks).  This add-on lets you remove Firefox’s standard menu toolbar and replace it with highly customizable buttons.  You’ll have an independent button for history and favorites, as well as the Personal Menu button which can contain any of the menus present in the standard toolbar.

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Xmarks

firefox_addons_poweruser_xmarksXmarks (formerly Foxmarks) is a great way to keep all your bookmarks synchronized across multiple computers.  This add-on provides seamless synchronization between your browser and the Xmarks servers, allowing you to access your bookmarks anywhere.  Xmarks has the unique ability to sync bookmarks from Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Safari, and also provides a secure password sync (but I recommend sticking with LastPass).  Check out our guide to making the most of your bookmarks.

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Download Statusbar

firefox_addons_poweruser_downloadbarThe default download manager window in Firefox is clunky and can get in the way.  Download Statusbar replaces the standard download window with a small, sleek toolbar that exists at the bottom of your browser.  This add-on is incredibly customizable (with more features than the standard window) and can be set to auto-hide to save space.

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URL Fixer

firefox_addons_poweruser_urlfixerThis great little add-on will automatically correct typos in your URL bar.  If you accidentally type techerator.con it will automatically suggest techerator.com (and the notification can be disabled for seamless correction).  URL Fixer works for common misspellings of .com, .net, .org, .edu, .gov, .mil, and many other URLs.

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AutoPager

firefox_addons_autopagerAutoPager will make it so you never have to click ‘Next Page’ on a website ever again.  When you reach the bottom of a page (such as Google search results), the next page will automatically be loaded seamlessly with the current page you are viewing.  AutoPager supports hundreds of popular websites and will dramatically improve your browsing experience.  Note: AutoPager includes advertisements by default, but they can be easily disabled by following this guide.

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If you’d like to install all of the add-ons in the Techerator Essential Add-ons for Firefox #1: Power User Edition pack, check out our Firefox Collections site.
 

For more great Firefox Add-ons, check out Essential Add-ons for Firefox #2: Socialite Edition.

Browse Safer: Expand Shortened URLs

expand_urls_featURL shorteners are everywhere, and have exploded in popularity with sites like Twitter that have a character limit per message.  While URL shortening services provide a great way to share links quickly with friends – there is also a significant security risk of being sent to a malicious website.  For example, check out this great link: http://is.gd/2dPpA.

This risk can be mitigated by using a URL expanding service called LongURL, which can help you avoid viruses, phishing, and malware by expanding a shortened URL before you click it.  LongURL supports nearly every popular URL shortener, such as tinyurl.com, is.gd, ping.fm, ur1.ca, bit.ly, snipurl.com, tweetburner.com, metamark.net, url.ie, x.se, 6url.com, yep.it, piurl.com, and more.

Using LongURL via LongURL.org

LongURL can be used in any browser through LongURL.org.  Simply copy and paste (or type) your shortened URL into the box and click expand to be presented with a screenshot of the website, its title, and any details that can be discovered.

expand_urls_expandedUsing the LongURL Add-on in Firefox

LongURL provides a useful add-on for Firefox that seamlessly integrates the service with your browser.  Simply install the LongURL Mobile Expander add-on and you can expand any shortened URL by hovering your mouse over it.  To view additional information about the link, click the ‘More’ button and you will be taken to the LongURL website.

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Using LongURL in Greasemonkey

If you prefer to use Greasemonkey (a Firefox add-on that allows you to run user-created scripts to modify websites), check out the LongURL Mobile Expander Greasemonkey script.  After installing the script, any shortened URLs will automatically be expanded when you hover your mouse over them.  To view additional information about the link, click the ‘More’ button and you will be taken to the LongURL website.

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Have any tips for safer browsing?  Share them with us in the comments!

Fix: Firefox Won’t Save Cookies or Auto-Logins

firefoxquestion1Update 06-16-09: Mozilla has announced in Firefox 3.0.11 that “Several issues were reported with the internal database, SQLite, which have now been fixed by upgrading to a newer version.”  So if this guide works for you, be sure to upgrade to the newest version of Firefox.

It can strike when you least expect it – Firefox amnesia.  The symptom: Firefox no longer keeps you automatically logged in to sites where you have selected the “remember me” option.  I recently had this problem, and although Firefox would maintain my logins during my current session, they would immediately be forgotten when I closed the browser.  Typically, this problem is related to browser cookies, which are small data files stored on your computer by websites to help identify you and store information.

Before you start, it is important that you verify that Firefox’s forgetfulness is not caused by a simpler problem.  First, you should clear your current cookies, which can be done by going to Tools –> Clear Private Data and checking the Cookies box.  While you’re in there, you could clear your browser’s cache and authenticated sessions as well (just in to be safe).

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Next, you should temporarily disable any add-ons you are currently using to ensure they are not causing conflicts with your browser’s operation.  You can systematically disable them one at a time via Tools –> Add-ons, or you can disable them all at once by running Firefox in Safe Mode and choosing to disable all add-ons.

To disable all add-ons at once, go to Start –> Mozilla Firefox –> Mozilla Firefox (Safe Mode)  and check the “Disable all add-ons” box.  You could also check the “Reset all user preferences to Firefox defaults” to make sure it isn’t a problem with your browser settings, but be warned: this will remove any custom settings you have made (such as your browser’s start page).

firefoxamnesia

If the methods above did not resolve Firefox’s forgetfulness, then the source of this problem is likely caused by a file called cookies.sqlite becoming corrupt.  This file manages Firefox’s cookies, and if it becomes corrupt it can stop Firefox from storing cookies altogether.

To fix the problem, completely exit Firefox and head to your Firefox Profile folder.  In Windows XP/Vista, this folder can be accessed by going to your Start Menu and clicking Run.  Copy and paste the following: %APPDATA%/Mozilla/Firefox/Profiles into the dialog box and press enter, and open your unique profile folder which will appear like jibberish (mine being 1nbhqks4.default)

In this folder, locate the file named cookies.sqlite.  Copy this file to a safe location as a backup (or you can rename the file to something like cookies.BAK) and then delete the original.  When you reopen Firefox, it will create a new cookies.sqlite file and it should now store cookies properly.

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Note:  If you are still having problems after following this guide, check your virus scanner to make sure it is not modifying or quarantining your cookie files.

Files Over Miles: Browser to Browser File Sharing

A newly launched service allows you to send files (large files included) directly from your web browser to another web browser.  Files Over Miles is a service that is built upon the P2P file transfer capabilities that are included in Version 10 of Adobe Flash Player.  With this P2P capability, the need for an intermediate server is eliminated, transferring the file directly from one web browser to another.

Features of Files Over Miles include:

  • High Speed
  • Ability to send large files
  • Encryption (128 bit AES)
  • Works with any browser with Adobe Flash Player 10.
  • UDP Hole Punching

Limitations of Files Over Miles:

  • Sent file can only be as large as the available amount RAM of the sender’s computer  (ex. 755 MB of RAM free means 755 MB is the largest size file transmittable).
  • Recipient may only receive files that are smaller than half of the available RAM on their computer (ex. 512 MB of RAM free means largest receivable file is 255 MB) [Limitation of Adobe Flash].
  • Will not work if either party is behind a firewall that blocks UDP packets.
  • Sender’s browser must remain open while recipient is download the file.

How To

  1. Visit http://www.FilesOverMiles.com
  2. Select the file to upload from your local computer and a unique URL will be generated.
  3. Share the URL with the person you want to receive the file.
  4. Once they have started the download, the file will be loaded into the sender’s memory  (The sender’s browser must remain open for the duration of the file transfer).
  5. The file is transferred and loaded into the recipient’s memory.
  6. When the file has been transferred, it can be saved onto a local drive on the recipient’s computer.
  7. Both browser windows may be closed when the file transfer is complete.

Future Development

Currently Files Over Miles is a beta product with more development planned.  The next stage of development includes a BitTorrent-like protocol that distributes the upstream load on the uploaded, allowing the file to be shared faster.  Solutions to tight firewall/network restrictions are also being worked on.  There is also a link on the right side of the page to allow you to give feedback and suggest new features for the service.

Let us know your thoughts of Files Over Miles below.