23
Aug
06

Great Firefox Add-Ons (Including Saving YouTube Video Locally!)

title-firefox.gif It seems as if overnight everyone jumped on the Mozilla Firefox bandwagon. (It still amazes me — I would have bet the farm that the Internet Explorer reign was firmly in place. Guess I was wrong.)

One of the things that makes Firefox so great are all of the customizations that the development community have created. And for me to recognize “customizations” in a product is saying a lot. I’m a rather creative bloke, but I’ve never been one to do a lot of “wild customizations”. No iPod interface hacks for me. No weird XP setups where the toolbar is on the side of the screen (or God forbid, at the top!) I’ll pass on tricking out a BMW with big shiny rims. (To me, it’s sacrilegious and just about the most tacky thing you can do to a classy car.) But for some reason these Firefox extensions are just what the doctor ordered.

There are some really silly extensions that add clocks and images that, to me, clutter up your browsing experience. However, there are some really cool ones. There are several “themes” that simply change the look and feel of the toolbar and icons. (A refreshing way to update the interface.) However, I’m going to focus on the “add-ons” — the life savers that do things like recover all closed windows after a system or browser crash.

Here are five of my favorites. (Feel free to share others in the comments section.)

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VideoDownloader 1.0, by Javi Moya – When I first read the description of this add-on claiming that you could “save most videos that you see while browsing”, I kinda chuckled. Yeah, right. This programmer-dude thinks he can do with an add-on what folks have been trying to do in other stand-alone efforts for years. Well, I was wrong again. (I seem to be admitting my poor foresight often in this post.) VideoDownloader sits on the toolbar and is almost unnoticeable. However, it works like a charm. I saved a few videos that I have been regularly visiting YouTube to see. Some of them, like…..every day. I’m sure YouTube doesn’t like this, but I figure I’m saving them a few bucks on their bandwidth bill.

NOTE: You’ll be saving files in an “flv” format. If you haven’t familiarized yourself with VLC Media Player already, please, run….don’t walk…. to http://www.videolan.org and download a copy. This thing will play just about any video you can throw at it.Gmail Space 0.3.4, by Rahul Jonna – For all of the Gmail users, wouldn’t it be nice to leverage all of that unused disk space to back up a few important files? Well, this add-on lets you do that. I haven’t played around with it that much, but from the short time I’ve used it, I’ve been pleased. The interface is about as easy to navigate as any commercial FTP program I’ve used.

NOTE: This is a particularly good idea for saving those important documents that I mentioned in another post.

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SessionSaver .2 0.2.1.031, by rue – We’re creatures of habit. Every day we sit down at our desks and open our web browser. Then we go to the bookmark menu and visit the same 8-10 sites. While we’re reading Engadget or CNN.com, all of that valuable bandwidth (and, more importantly, our time) is being wasted when it could be used to pre-download all of the sites we visit. Well, why not use SessionSaver? Open a bunch of your favorite web pages as tabs and then use SessionSaver to save it as a session. Next morning you’ll sit at your desk, open the session and, voilà…. all of your pages displayed before you in tabs. (Admittedly, I don’t use this one often. I’m a creature of habit to a fault. My O.C.D. wants to open the pages manually.)

One big advantage to using SessionSaver is that you’ll eliminate that feeling of having forgotten to visit a site. There are other possibilities as well. You could set up multiple sessions — one for your work related sites and one for recreation. If you’re really into organization, you could set up themed sessions. For instance, one session for all of your photography related sites and another session for your job hunting sites (Monster, Yahoo Hot Jobs, Dice all on one session).

Crash Recovery 0.6.10, by zeniko – Few applications of technology have actually saved me time like Crash Recovery has. Simply put, if your system or even just your browser happens to crash, Crash Recovery will restore every window that was previously open. If you’re like me and open 10 or 15 browser windows, you’ll be thanking God the first time that the browser crashes. It works like this: after that nasty crash when you reopen Firefox, a prompt will let you know that Crash Recovery will restore all of the windows that were lost.

(NOTE: This has been bad for me only once — I had a crash when Firefox didn’t know how to handle a CNN.com Windows Media movie and it kept crashing…. so I was caught in this endless loop of crashing and reopening. But thankfully the programmer has a feature that lets you stop Crash Recovery. The add-on recognized that I was caught in a loop and after the third or fourth time asked if I didn’t want to restore the windows.

In short, Crash Recovery alone is a compelling reason to use Firefox.

StumbleUpon 2.83, by Geoff Smith – I must forewarn you about StumbleUpon — if you already find yourself not having enough hours in the day, perhaps you should just skip past this one. StumbleUpon is less of an add-on and more like a network. Upon running StumbleUpon for the first time you’ll be brought to a series of checkboxes with interests ranging from “Conservative Politics” to “Music”, much like those warranty registration cards that ask you to select your hobbies so that they can “send you other information based on your interests”. However, StumbleUpon won’t send you any information. But if you click the shortcut, it will take you to a site based on your interest. Usually these are sites that other StumbleUpon users have rated highly.

It might not sound great, but give it a shot and you’ll be led to sites that you’ll wonder why you never heard about before.

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Here’s hoping that these add-ons will make your browsing experience a more pleasurable one. Hats off to the developers who have dedicated their time and energy to creating tools that we all benefit from. If it’s within your means, support them. They have links on their pages where you can make donations.

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