This is something different, but very helpful… especially if you like using Firefox.
Old technology but still cool…
One of my biggest gripes is that it’s sometimes hard to get things working after some of your computer programs make updates. I’ve had lots of issues with Windows 10 updates over the past calendar year, and luckily I’ve been able to fix some of them. The latest problem I had concerns Firefox, which is my preferred browser (I don’t trust Chrome because I don’t totally trust Google). Continue reading →
Do you want to know why I love Firefox? Because it offers the ability to set things up so you can do stuff that none of the other browsers can do, especially Chrome because, well, Chrome doesn’t want you to do any of what I’m about to share with you.
I’m going to share 3 scripts I use to alter Google searches. These modify the Google page as well as hides information Google tracks on you. To use these scripts, you first have to add an extension called Greasemonkey, which I’ve talked about in the past. These scripts, created by other users, then allow you do alter things like what I’m about to share with you.
The first script is something called Hide Google Sidebar. You know how they added that thing that pushes all your information to the right? I hate that thing, and this script will make sure that doesn’t ever bother you again. Of course, I found that I liked being able to access in the past when searching for images (such as looking for images of a certain size), but I can deal with not being able to do that anymore.
The second script is called Remove Google Search Ads. You know those Google ads that you’re always getting served on the right side? I don’t see any of that. Yeah, I know they really want me to see those things, but I’m not in the mood to have them on my search page. I see them in so many other places, and I want to see my entire screen with just the links to websites I’m looking at.
This leads me to the last one, and this one’s a doozy. The script is called Don’t Track Me Google and it’s a very interesting script. I’ll explain it this way. Go do a Google search for anything.
When the page comes up, right click on the link, slide down and copy the link location, then paste that link into your Notepad application, or any other text program you have. You’ll see a whole bunch of stuff that’s not quite the link the Google page tells you that you’re going to. That’s actually how Google tracks where you’re going when you go to a page from their search engine. That’s how they know if someone that ends up clicking on an ad came from the search, which they get paid more money for and thus pays publishers (writers; that be us lol) more, and that’s also how they start determining what ads to show you.
When you add this last script, if you right click and copy the link you’ll see the same link the search page is showing you, nothing else added. Now they can’t track you; neat eh? You have to know that they still keep records of stuff you’re searching; no getting around that. But it’s something different than tracking where you’re going from their site.
That’s that; you now have a bit more control over your workspace and your privacy. You can thank me later. 🙂
Suffice it to say, Firefox is my favorite browser. True, there are times when stuff acts up and I’m a little irked. Then again, what works perfectly all the time, right?
The best thing I love about Firefox is how you can customize it to do so many things for you. You can set it up to track stuff for you. You can set it up to connect with social media sites. You can set it up so you can change both the look of the browser and certain websites you visit. There’s just so much, thousands of things, that I decided to mention my top 5 here. One quick warning, though. Like people tell you with your blog, the more add-ons you activate, the slower your browser might run. If you have enough RAM, or run fewer than 15 add-ons, you’re probably good.
1. Adblock Plus – this is probably their most popular add-on, and with good reason. It blocks all types of ads, which is a great thing. Of course it’s not perfect. For instance, it blocks pop-up ads on news websites, but it can’t block those “subscribe” pop-ins you see on some blogs. It blocks Google Adsense ads unless you decide you want to see them. Since I visit lots of blogs sometimes I want to see what people are doing in case I want to try something. This one is a must have.
2. Stylish – I wrote about Stylish two years ago on this blog, so I’m not going to say much about it again except to say that right now what you see below is what my Wikipedia page looks like:
3. Rank Checker – This is a good plugin if you want to see where your website or other websites rank for search terms on the search engines Google, Yahoo or Bing. It’s great because you can add multiple search terms for one website and you can add multiple websites into one search as wel.
4. Greasemonkey – I’ve mentioned Greasemonkey before, but haven’t written a post about it so I’ll talk about it again here. This one lets you add code that other people have created that allows you to do things on websites that they might not want you to do. For instance, I can download any YouTube video I want to via a script I found. Also, many ads on Facebook are blocked, and many images will automatically pop up larger. It’s a great compliment to Stylish.
5. MultirowBookmarksToolbar – I don’t know why they didn’t separate the words, but I love this one as well. I had a lot of bookmarks, yet I only had the one row. That meant I had to keep clicking on this little arrow that was hard to see so I could see all the bookmarks that I wanted easier access to. With this addon it created 3 toolbar rows, though on the last one I only had 5 bookmarks and decided to trim a few out to get it down to 2 rows. Of course it works best if you have a monitor that has a lot of real estate, and since I have a 22″ widescreen it’s perfect.
And there you are. If you’re using Firefox do you have any favorites?
Last week I heard the news that Google was going to allow people the opportunity to customize their main page. What they were going to do was to have certain images already set, but if you wanted to you could use your own image for the page.
I have to admit that I was excited. Though I have my Google page already altered thusly, there to the left (right click to see it bigger), via Stylish and Firefox, and I have that stupid sidebar shut down through a script on Greasemonkey, the idea of adding my own image was kind of appealing. And all we had to do was wait until, one day, the link to the bottom left of the Google screen popped up.
Mine popped up Sunday evening, and I thought that was pretty cool. I went to look to see what I had to do, and saw some choices already there. I saw that you also had to log in to your Google account, and for the first time I was sort of hesitant, and I wasn’t sure why. Then I realized why. The thing is if you want to use your own image, you must set up a Picasa account, which is their photo sharing site. Then you can upload your image and attach it to your page, and go on with your business. If you didn’t want to do that, you could upload one of their pictures, but you still have to have a Google account to use it, so that when you sign in it knows it’s you. Otherwise, you can stick with your white background, or do something like what I’ve done.
Here’s the thing about a Picasa account. If you have one, it pretty much means other people can go through your images. That’s what the user agreement says. I don’t have an account, so if there’s a way to make it private I don’t know about it. Still, the idea of someone being able to go through my personal pictures and use them for whatever reason they wish to bothers me somewhat. Yeah, I have some pictures on Facebook, but I knew that I’d be sharing those pictures with people I allow into my Facebook life, since that’s the kind of privacy I put on my account there. Anything beyond that, I’m not sure I want to deal with.
For me, I can do without it. Truthfully, if I wanted to tinker with it, I think, because I use Firefox, I could figure out a way to alter one of the scripts to use my own picture if I wanted to badly enough. However, overall, unless you really know what you’re doing, it’s not a great thing to go messing around with these scripts. That’s why my background is black instead of my favorite color, which is red.
Anyway, if you’re not quite as skittish as I am about sharing some of your images with the world, and you want to customize your Google page, go for it. It’s not a bad deal overall, and gets rid of the boring white. Lucky for me, I’ve already taken care of that on my favorite browser.
As the title says, today I’m going to introduce two free programs you might not know about, and then talk about two free chess sites that those of you who like playing chess might enjoy, and I’ll have something else for you at the end.
The first is a free PDF program called doPDF. Obviously what it lets you do is print pdf files from any program on your computer. I’d been looking for one of these for a long time, because the one I had was free as long as you wanted to look at an ad every time you created a pdf. That wouldn’t have been so bad, except it opened up IE every single time, and if I was creating a bunch of pdfs, or needed to make corrections on one, that just got tiring after awhile. Anyway, there are no frills with the program, but at least it lets you save your pdf wherever you want to.
The next program is something from a company called Brothersoft. The program is called Convert MP4 to MP3. Plain and simple, that’s also what it does. Once again this was something I’d been looking for. Through a script from Greasemonkey, which you can use with Firefox, I can actually download movies in an MP4 format from YouTube. However, many times I’m downloading the video because I really want the song, and I’d been wanting to add those songs to my music database. So I found this program, totally freeware, and you can convert multiple files at a time. Works very fast as well, and since the download from YouTube is the highest quality download, what you end up getting after the conversion is high quality as well. That is, as long as the original version was high quality to begin with.
Done with programs; now onto chess. It’s one of the few games I play online, probably because it’s not something that you have to sit down and play live with someone, although there are sites that do that. For both of these sites, you get to make your move, then go about your life until you get an email notification that there’s been a move in a game you’re playing. I love that.
The first site I’m going to mention is called Scheming Mind, and it’s a site created by a friend of mine named Austin Lockwood; I’m not quite sure where he’s from, but the site is located somewhere in Europe. Anyway, it’s a free chess site as long as you play fewer than 10 games at a time. If you want to play unlimited games, it’s only $20 a year, and trust me he’s not getting rich off the site.
Sire and I play here, and I think it works for us because not only can we talk during the games, but every message we write is saved so we can go back and read them again, or address them after a move so we can take some time to think about things. The site also offers multiple types of games and different speeds of games, so that you can have as many as 30 days for each player to make a single move or as few as 5 days. You can join tournaments, though if you’re playing for free you can only join one tournament at a time. You can also ask the site to suggest a player based on ranking criteria, then select someone who they suggest or ask for more suggestions. However, sometimes it’s a hit or miss as to whether you’ll be playing that game, since people can reject you. Overall I love the site.
The other chess site is called Net-Chess, and I like this site as well, but for a different reason. With this site you can play as many games as you want to, but you’ll also find that it can be overwhelming if you’re not paying attention to how you’re joining the games. Every game you get into is some kind of mini tournament. You can decide how many games you’re going to play against each opponent if you create the tournament, or you can join a tournament that fits your ranking; you’ll establish a real ranking after you’ve played so many games.
The overwhelming part is that you might not be paying attention and suddenly find yourself playing upwards of 40 or more games at one time. True, you get to make each individual move at your leisure, but for some folks, like myself, that’s a few too many games at once. I like to have 20 going when I can, mainly because some people won’t ever start the games every though they signed up, and some people will forget, being overwhelmed, and they’ll lose on time. As long as they’ve made 10 moves in the game, if they time out you automatically get both the win and the points, and points are given based on your rank and the rank of your opponent at the time.
There are the two free programs and the two chess sites. The final thing is a little motivational thing from a blog friend named Marelisa, whom I’ve mentioned thrice before, once within a post on great posts, once highlighting her blog on Blog Day 2009, and later on a post on creativity. Anyway she’s got another great post, short by her standards, titled 525+ Bucket List Ideas, somewhat based on the movie The Bucket List. Yeah, that’s pretty comprehensive, but that’s kind of her point, that there are limitless opportunities for all of us to find within ourselves to try if we’re predisposed to do it.
There you go; don’t ever say I don’t provide any value to anyone! lol