My Flypaper Mind Brenden Schaaf's opinions, ideas, comments, rantings, & minutiae

3Jul/100

Firefox Add-on: Shareaholic

The customized Shareaholic menu from my Firefox address bar.

If you find that you constantly share links with friends through Twitter, Facebook, email, etc. then this add-on is for you.  There are literally dozens of services in Shareaholic that can be turned on or off so you can set up only the ones that you use.  Chances are that just the act of going through the setup will introduce you to some services that you didn't even know about before.

The ones I have set up, for example, are Facebook, Twitter, bit.ly, Google Mail, Google Reader, LinkedIn, and Microsoft Outlook.  Sharing the current page or a link on the current page using any of these methods is just a click away.

Download Link: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/5457/

12May/090

Firefox Add-on: Greasefire

I posted a couple days ago about the Greasemonkey add-on and, as a result, I've discovered a companion add-on called Greasefire.  If you have Greasefire installed, when you are on a site like StarTribune.com for which there are Greasemonky scripts available, a little "flame" colored icon shows up behind your Greasemonkey icon in your status bar that looks like this: greasefire (the "normal" icon looks like this: reggmlogo)

When you see the one with the colored background, you can right-click on the icon and the very top item will tell you how many Greasemonkey scripts are available for that particular site.  StarTribune.com, to continue the example, has 3 scripts available, 2 of which I have installed as indicted on the resulting menu shown here.

Greasefire adds the top item to the Greasemonkey right-click menu

Greasefire adds the top item to the Greasemonkey right-click menu

If you then click on the "XX scripts available" item you will be taken to a screen where the available scripts (userscripts.org is the source of all of the scripts by the way) are organized fairly well with the more useful/popular scripts near the top.  For the Strib with only 3 scripts the order doesn't matter all that much, but for something like Google Reader (or just plain Google even) there may be hundreds of scripts so it becomes important.  If (or should I say when) you find a useful script installing it is just a single click away and happens seamlessly from within the Greasefire interface.

Speaking of Google Reader, one of the handy Greasemonkey scripts that I found using Greasefire is one that turns the various feeds in Google Reader different colors making things easier to read, in my opinon.  See the sample of that below.  There are other scripts that will add favicons to each feed or to each post and there are even some that will join your Gmail and Google Reader screens together so that you can monitor your email and incoming news feeds all in one place.

Here is what Google Reader looks like after installing the Greasemonkey script "Google Reader - Colorful List View."  You may click the image to see a larger version.

Here is what Google Reader looks like after installing the Greasemonkey script "Google Reader - Colorful List View." You may click the image to see a larger version.

In short, to really get some usefulness from Greasemonkey you need to install some scripts and Greasefire makes it very easy to find scripts for the sites that you visit most.  Visit this link for more information (you have to have Greasemonkey installed first for this to work, of course):

5May/090

“Clicking” scroll-wheel opens web pages in a new tab

Most of the computer-related tips I know are things I discovered by mistake due to hitting the "wrong" key or something like that.  This one is no exception.

You may already know that holding down the shift button while you left-click (with your mouse) on a hyperlink, the destination page will open in a new browser window.  Now that browsers have tabs (remember when they didn't?) wouldn't it be great to use them instead of cluttering up your system with lots of open windows?  In a similar fashion, you can hold the Ctrl key down while clicking on a hyperlink and it will open the destination page in a new tab, instead of in a new window.

But today I learned a way that is even quicker/better -- instead of clicking the hyperlink with the left mouse button, click it with the scroll wheel.  Yes, really, if you push down on the scroll wheel while your mouse pointer is over a hyperlink it will open the page in a new tab and (this is the best part, in my opinion) the focus will remain on the page you are currently viewing.  This works in Internet Explorer and Firefox for sure, and may very well work in other browsers too.

This functionality is great, for example, if you are in Google Reader and you want to open all the interesting stories at one time without hopping back and forth between the Google Reader tab and the story tabs.  Hopefully this tip is handy for you!

Edit to add: it may be necessary to make changes to your mouse settings for this to work.  For example, the Logitech wireless keyboard/mouse that I run on my desktop computer defaults to a different function if I click the scroll-wheel.  I was able to easily make the switch in the Logitech software.  On my laptop, I was able to define a zone in the bottom right of the touchpad that works as a middle click if I tap there.

26Apr/090

Google Reader

I was late to the RSS game discovering Google Reader only a couple months ago.  For probably a couple years I had bookmarked in Firefox some RSS feeds to my Bookmark Toolbar.  This gave me the ability to view updated bookmarks with all the most recent StarTribune.com stories, for example, but it showed 10 or fewer links and if I didn't look at it for a while I inevitably missed some stories.

Another issue I had was trying to monitor a handful (around 5) of blogs for updates on a regular basis.  It became a chore to remember to visit the sites I had bookmarked every day or two and I would inevitably miss important news items.

Enter Google Reader.  There are better resources than I could create to help you learn about Google Reader and how to use it, but the simplest way to get started with it is to subscribe to updates for this site by clicking on the "In an RSS Reader" link in the right column of this page.  If you have a Google account for Gmail, iGoogle, Google Calendar, etc. you will find the process to be quite simple.  Otherwise your biggest hurdle will be to set up a Google account.

As evidence of the Google Reader addict I have become, you see in the bottom of the column to the right all the RSS feeds I follow.  As you can see, RSS feeds can come not only from blogs, but also from news website and that is my primary use of them.  Google Reader collects all the sites I like to follow in one place and I can click a link in a snippet of an article to read the entire article on the original site.

Here are some other resources that may interest you:

http://googlereader.blogspot.com/2009/01/google-reader-for-beginners.html

http://google.com/support/reader/bin/answer.py?answer=113517