firefox logoToyed with a mozilla vs godzilla piece, but the Japanese TV overview can wait til later. For now, a closer look at Firefox, the killa (mo)zilla web browser that can make your browsing faster, smoother, less ad-filled and more flexible – via the magic of Firefox Extensions.

Some Browser History
Tim Berners-Lee, in the beginning, wrote the first web browser. Three years later in 1993, Marc Andreessen released Mosaic, the first browser for X-Windows on unix machines, and mac and Pc computers shortly after. In 1994, Andreesen’s company Netscape released Mozilla, the first commercial web browser ( being free to students and educators tho, it spread rapidly). Internet Explorer arrived on the scene in 1995, and being embedded within Windows 95, became the most common browser by 1999, which it has remained to date. In 1998 Netscape release their code online, and the Mozilla project starts to build an open source browser. In the same year AOL buys Netscape, but by 2003 AOL are forced to distribute Explorer instead. AOL cuts Mozilla loose and transforms the open source project into a non-profit organization with 2 Million US dollars in seed funding, producing first the open source mozilla browser in 2002, and Firefox in the last year.

Browsers such as Opera, Safari & Flock have since added their own minor historical footprints, but it’s the open-source development of Firefox which has made the biggest dent into Explorer’s web dominance, it’s array of advanced features and customisation quickly attracting most of the early tech adopters and media makers. ( Wikipedia as ever, has much more to say on ‘browsers’.

Spreading The Love
Given it’s just a browser, Firefox has gathered a surprising evangelism in it’s supporters. I like the browser a lot, but people out there are spending their own time making video clips and ads for it. Championing the underdog I suppose, or enjoying the growth of an open source rival to the dominant monolithic browser. How else to explain the excitement of these people?
: : :

Firefox Features
-Best support of web standards ( pages are more likely to work properly )
-Better privacy, less spyware
-Tabbed browsing – keep track of several pages at once in one browser window, and open links on a page in background tabs and then read them when you’re ready.
– Blocks pop-up ads.
– Search shortcuts – eg smart keywords : typing ‘dict’ & ‘kinky’ in the URL brings a dictionary definition. ( Can make your own smart keywords too! )
– ‘Portable Firefox’ can run on a USB stick with your preferences embedded.
‘Mouse-less Firefox’ : article about keyboard shortcuts to speed up your browsing.

– Open source, which means, customisable, continuously developed and extended. See also Songbird, an open source itunes competitor, with many different ways to find, share and even jam music. Or perhaps – – which let’s you map a functional Firefox webrowser onto a 3D object. Both built on the same open source gecko platform as Firefox. But wait, there’s more:

Firefox Extensions
These add-ons can radically transform your browser’s abilities, so it’s well worth combing through this massive collection of extensions. Some cool examples noted below, and linked via

Update: These 2 are particularly effective…
Flashblocker – all flash ( including a lot of annoying ads ) stopped, with an added play button which allows it to be viewed if need be. Helps speed up /block ads many flash-heavy sites. bookmarker – the ultra-useful bookmarking tool and exploring-ground works great when built into your browser.

FOXY TUNES – play itunes, winamp etc from within browser
GMAIL SPACE – use your Gmail Space (2 GB) for file storage, and transfer files between your hard drive and gmail.
DownThemAll! – Get all the media files from a webpage in one go.
Adblock – see your favourite sites without ads! ( Works great, love it! )
Rip (Remove any unwanted content from a web page permanently).
Right Click Advanced Search ( eg select a word and right click to search in Wikipedia, Flickr images etc )
Bug Me Not – bypass compulsory registration at sites like NY Times etc..
Performancing – full featured blog editor, drag and drop text or post to your blog
COPY URL – Copies all URLs and titles of open tabs to clipboard.
Fasterfox – performance and network tweaks for Firefox.
Tiny URL – right click a page to generate a shorter URL for it ( useful for emailing, referencing etc ).
SmoothWheel – much smoother webpage scrolling.
5 useful firefox extensions for torrent freaks.
Turn open tabs into floating thumbnails, click on the one u want.
All Peers – Cool looking almost there, service to easily allow bit torrent file swapping between friends via Firefox.
Grease Monkey – bit further up the food chain, popular extension able to import various scripts to customise your web browsing even further.
Co-Browse – Useful for remote presentations / tutorials / jams? Allows someone to steer your browser remotely.
BORK BORK BORK Have a web pages translated by the Swedish muppet Chef. post – post button, placed to the left of the address bar.
MeasureIt -A ruler to get the pixel width and height of any elements on a webpage. (Abundance of such web developery extensions )
Techno(rati)Bar – shows live Technorati links to the web pages you’re browsing, in a sidebar.
Tabbrowser Preferences – Enhanced tabbed browsing – eg mouseover a tab and it switches.
IE View – Load pages in IE with a single right-click, useful for incompatible pages, or cross-browser testing.
PDF Download – View PDFs within the browser if u prefer.

And anybody with the time and inclination can add to the Firefox open source effort by writing some extensions (how to guide).

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