Firefox Extension for

The Firefox Extension for this site has been updated, and is available here. If you have the old one installed, it *should* automatically update itself within a few days. However, it's a two click install, so why wait? (It may never happen!)

Click 1: Go to the Mozilla Developer site Click 2: Click on the name of the plugin (

Wait a bit. Look in the search box in the top right for the little purple 'M'.


Firefox Plugins

I thought it may be a good idea to spend some time looking at just why Firefox is such a good browser, and in my opinion is much better than Explorer.

At first glance, it appears no different, just a browser. Then one notices that popup ads are much reduced. There is a built in popup blocker.

The tabbed browsing is my favourite feature. Opera had it too, but I found Opera a bit too clunky in other respects. Admittedly, I have not looked at Opera in about a year.

Firefox has Live Bookmarks. This allows the browser to subscribe to sites with RSS feeds (like this one). By making a live bookmark, when the site updates, your bookmarks for it update. If the page is set up correctly, a small icon should appear to alert you to the possibility of live bookmarks. Of course, you can still use conventional bookmarks. I don't actually use conventional bookmarking anymore - details later.

Firefox has the ability to remember all those logins you use. The passwords can be protected behind a 'master password', and so you can use different passwords for each site, and also complex passwords with impunity.

Firefox has integrated search engines. It is very easy to customise these and add your own search engines. SearchPluginHacks is a useful extension here.

Probably the most potent part of a Firefox installation are the extensions. There are extensions to do almost anything you may want to do. Some add functionality to the browser, some are trivial.

Here are the extensions which I use.

  • Trivial: Just a bit of fun:

    1. Mines, this little extension brings Minesweeper Goodness to Firefox, with hexagonal tiles and multiple mines per tile as options.
    2. SmoothWheel, supposed to make scrolling smoother. To be honest, I find this hard to spot and I would need to see it side by side with the unsmoothed version.
    3. Cards, a variety of card games.
    4. GeoURL, allows browsing of pages by physical location, find the neighbours of the page in 'meatspace'.
  • Looks trivial, but isn't:
    1. Colorful (sic) Tabs, this little plugin colour codes each tab automagically, it seems such a silly little thing, but I would not be without it now.
    2. Image Zoom, allows the user to zoom images in and out with a mouseclick.
    3. Disable Targets for Download, an 'install and forget' extension. This prevents blank window being opened when you download something.
    4. Master Password Timeout, if you use the password storage functions and yet have a habit of walking away from your desk, this will help you to avoid password compromise.
    5. "Password Save (not yet compatible with Fx1.5 - see Nightly Tester), this is potentially dangerous, as it allows the user to save passwords to a plaintext file. Use with care.
  • Useful for various jobs: These can save a lot of hassle. Useful to install:
    1. Ebay Negs (not yet compatible with Fx1.5 - see Nightly Tester), ever scrolled through ebay feedback trying to find out what those negs were for? This does the job for you. There is a fix to make it work with 1.5, but it is not yet official on the mozilla site, and so I have not installed it.
    2. ShowIP, shows the IP address of the website being browsed, and provides easy access to network tools like Whois and Traceroute.
    3. Sage is an RSS reader which is built into Firefox. Personally, I only use sage occasionally, defaulting to Bloglines.
    4. LiveLines, by right clicking on the Live Bookmarks Icon, you can use Livelines to add the RSS feed for a page into your favourite RSS reader. My livelines plugin is set up for Bloglines.
    5. RSS Radio Plugin, this integrates Firefox with the RSSRadio podcast client. This plugin is hosted on the RSSRadio pages, and so you may need to explicitly allow firefox to install it, you will see a message at the top of the window.
  • Useful for me, probably not for many people:
    1. HTML Validator, is a useful tool which provides a visual indication of whether a page is valid HTML. Unfortunately google ads often mess this up!
    2. ColorZilla, this plugin grabs the colour code from any pixel being displayed.
    3. Nightly Tester Tools, this allows the user to run extensions which are not compatible with their current version of Firefox. Useful for people at the bleeding edge, and for running that favoured extension which has not been upgraded yet. It is slightly dangerous though as it may cause instability. There is a reason why extensions don't run by default on the wrong version of Firefox. Please note, that each time Firefox upgrades, most extensions have already been updated, and so it should all be fine.
    4. Web Developer, this is a suite of tools, useful for the curious and for web developers. I don't use this as much as I should!
    5. WML Browser, allows the user to view pages written for wireless devices, such as mobile phones. Here is an example of such a page.
    6. Locale Switcher, this requires language packs to be installed, for version 1.5 the language packs are here. This plugin lets you switch from, say, English-GB to English-US, to French.
  • Absolutely Essential. I'd feel lost without these:
    1., integrates Firefox and Yes, has applets to do a similar job, but this is just slicker. I use for all my bookmarking needs. Don't forget to tag!
    2. Super DragAndGo, this extension looks trivial, but it really is a 'once tried, must have' type thing. Instead of clicking a link one can simply 'throw it' onto a blank area of page and it will open in a new tab. APPARENTLY NO LONGER AVAILABLE.
    3. ReloadEvery, I find this is useful when monitoring a breaking news story, or an ebay auction. Using this plugin a page can be set to reload at periodic intervals. Very handy.
    4. SearchPluginHacks, this allows search engines in the toolbar to be removed with a click (previously one had to delete files in the mozilla directory)
    5. Secure Password Generator, generates secure passwords. Most useful when used with a master password.
  • Search Engines: These are what I consider to be essentially additions to the search engines (I usually remove all the defaults)
    1. Google UK
    2. Amazon UK
    3. Ebay UK
    4. MT Lookup (first written by me)
    5. Technorati
    6. Boris Johnson (originally written by me)
    7. ... and of course: (originally written by me)
    8. Flickr Tags, find photos
    9. IMDB UK, find movies

The look and feel of can also be changed with a click or two, helper plugins are also available

... and all of this is free

One more Firefox Plugin

I have created one more plugin for firefox, this one is useful for users of Movabletype. The plugin allows the user to search the excellent MTLookup site from within the firefox browser. This was created as I recently wanted to look something up using MTLookup, and for some reason I could not remember the name of the site, and I had not bookmarked it as it was an obvious name! Doh!

Previous plugins include the search box for this site, as well as a search box for BorisBlog.

It seems reasonable at this point to reference the extension 'SearchPluginHacks'.

More MT related firefox plugins can be found here

(Update: This plugin linked to by the creator of mtlookup - I just hope that a rewrite is not needed when V3 of mtlookup is created!)

More Firefox Plugins

After playing with the Firefox plugin for my site, it is fairly trivial to create plugins for other sites. I am on limited time at the moment, so I have only done one other site. In honour of the great entertainment provided last week, there is now a plugin which allows Firefox users to search the Boris Johnson site directly from their browsers.

The effect of this plugin can be seen here.

The plugin for my site is here

This site, RSS, Bloglines and

THIS ARTICLE HAS BEEN SUPERCEDED Someone coming to this site on the day I wrote this would probably look at the homepage and think 'Geekfest Techie site'. Someone looking at it a little while ago might think 'Bad Art', at another time, 'Politics', or even 'General Ramblings'

The truth is that this site is all of these things, and none of these things.

There will be phases of all of the above, and indeed, I may go off in another direction entirely. This site is all about 'whatever interests me at the time'.

The RSS feed for this site, obviously, reflects this - but I have provided RSS Feeds within each category so that people can focus on just their interest. The more specific the category, the less often the feed will update.

Subscribe with Bloglines What is an RSS feed? An RSS feed is like a cutdown version of a site. You can use an 'RSS aggregator' to group together feeds from MANY sites and look at them in one place. I, for example, use bloglines - a web based aggregator. Once you have a bloglines account, you can tell it the address of the RSS feeds you want to watch, and then it will do all the donkey work for you.

You can tell it to show you changed items, or not. You can group feeds together (e.g. 'read every day', 'read if you have time' / or whatever you like!)

Bloglines also deals with ATOM feeds, there are technical differences, but they essentially do the same job as RSS.

Look for RSS/ATOM or XML on a website for a feed. If you use Firefox a little icon appears when a feed is available to you.

If you know someone who has a bloglines account; they can 'invite you' to bloglines. When they do this they can select feeds that you might like. This is a nice way to get started - if you would like to be invited to bloglines, please leave a request using the comment form (being sure that the email address is correct, this will not appear on the site).

The website works well with bloglines. Like bloglines, an account on is free. is a 'social bookmarking' site. What this means is that it will hold your bookmarks for you, so they will be available when you move to a new machine.

The site doesn't look pretty, but the power is in the tag. When you add a bookmark you will be asked to provide tags, this are words which describe the link. For example, if bookmarking this page you might use 'murky', 'rss', 'bloglines', 'delicious', ''.

This site has built in links to enable you to do add a bookmark to with one click, if you have an account.

You may be asking where the 'social' comes in. Well, you can search by tag - and discover links on a particular subject. You can also subscribe to tags, and when someone else uses that tag, the link will appear in your 'inbox'. Every page on has an RSS feed, and so you can see your inbox using bloglines!

RSS is a glue that can bind many websites together!


I'm sitting in Spam Free Bliss at the moment. I had the weird experience of waking up to not one spam. McAfee Spamkiller intercepted most of them, with Thunderbird catching the rest (which I duly scolded the McAfee filter for).

On the website, there was a flurry of spammy comments and trackbacks last night, but the new SpamLookup filter built into MT3.2 just swept them all into the 'Junk' folder, in case of false positives. Not one made it to the site, no cleanup to do, as has been the case.

Sheer bliss.

(Some sites point out that MT doesn't come with new templates. This is true for upgrades as you wouldn't want it to go over modified templates. You can get the new templates by refreshing the templates with the plugin, existing templates are backed up at this point. Though one problem I had was with a new template, the plugin can only get new templates if told they exist! This template is required to get the typekey stuff working with the new templates. Stylecatcher will only work well with the updated templates, as the styles depend upon the template having pre-agreed names for certain things.)

Firefox and Powergen

I'm using powergen for my gas and electricity at the moment (though this will change as their tariff is not really green enough, they don't retain enough green certificates)

Their site has a browser detection script which blocks Firefox. See my earlier discussion of Firefox.

I sent them this email:

I previously wrote to you regarding your rather annoying 'browser detection' script - and its blocking of the Firefox browser.

I have yet to receive a response. However I have installed a plugin to fool your site into thinking I am using Internet Explorer, when in fact I am not. The site works without problem when this is done. I am sending you this message so that when you look at your logs you will not assume that there is nobody using firefox. Indeed, I imagine that others will simply use the plugin without informing you.

Please amend your script, it does little except annoy.

Migrating to Firefox is a great idea. I've not looked back, and now I've got the user agent extension to fool brain dead websites (I only enable it when I have to), I find that I only run MSIE to check that there are no major bugs when MSIE mis-renders my websites. (e.g. MSIE mishandles .png graphics, but I've decided to stick two fingers at microsoft on this one - as it's not a fatal error).


A couple of days ago, to great fanfare, Firefox 1.0 was released. I've been using Firefox as my main browser for months now, and have had no problems, even with the early preview releases. It is a stable platform and standards compliant. It has a built in popup blocker, and plenty of plugins which allow you to change the look and feel, as well as do tasks like monitor gmail and post to a weblog.

It has inbuilt support for RSS (like the one supplied by this site), though I prefer it's sister product, Thunderbird, for this. Essentially, one subscribed to the RSS feed, and when a site is updated the 'live' bookmarks change on the fly.

It doesn't have some of the bugs of Internet Explorer, such as suspect CSS support and incorrect handling of PNG graphic files, and bugs/problems are published and fixed promptly. It's configurable (so if you see no images, be sure to switch them on again. One thing with swapping platform is that you may be prompted to download plugins when you hit flash-ridden pages for the first time - however, this is a case of clicking the 'download the plugin' option.

It is a stable browser, and has been for some time even before this stable release. It remembers your passwords for you (with an optional master password to protect them - I recommend you use it). To top it all, I've not seen a popup in months.

It's multi-platform (WinXP/OSX/Linux)

It's good.

It has tabbed browsing.

It is also free.

The only problem I've ever had is one website which had a moronic 'which browser are you?' detection script.... never fear, there is a plugin to hop over to MSIE for just this eventuality.

Wil and Firefox

Wil Wheaton, of Wesley Crusher and 'Just a Geek' fame, but latterly known for his popular website, has had nice things to say about Firefox. You can find my thoughts about the latest builds elsewhere on this site.

I also commented on Wil's site: To those folks who have had problems with firefox (e.g. version 0.8), remember that it is still in beta release.

It's now up to 1.0 (preview release) and they're finally hammering all the bugs (though I find more in MSIE).

I find firefox to be rock stable. It's great. Bugmenot is a wonderful extension, I also have the gmail plugin, web developer, HTML validator (lovely), single window and ieview (which hops a page to MSIE - I only ever use this to check that MSIE isn't doing something silly with a stylesheet).

I did have some problems with an earlier build of Thunderbird, but this too looks stable now. Both thunderbird and firefox have good support for RSS feeds - personally I think that the thunderbird model for RSS feeds is better (the RSS updates and it looks like new email).