Friday, September 29, 2006

What is FireFox and why you should be using it?

If you don't already have FireFox, I strongly recommend you get Firefox with Google toolbar via the Make your PC more useful. Get the free Google Pack" referral link above. You will get a list of tools that can make your PC more useful and that include FireFox with Google toolbar plus other stuff which you can choose to ignore if you don't want them.

What is FireFox

FireFox is a free cross-platform graphical web browser developed by Mozilla Foundation and hundreds of volunteers. It is like Internet Explorer but is superior in many ways. Cross platform means you can use it on computers with different operating systems like Windows, Macintosh, and Linux etc. You can install it with other browsers into your computer with no harm done, only you will have the advantages of having more than 1 browsers (see post Why you should be using more than 1 browser

Why you should use FireFox

FireFox is a Web browser that is smaller, faster and more secure than Internet Explorer. It has a cleaner user interface and faster download speed. It has many features which are missing from Internet Explorer. Some of them are dealt with below.

Tabbed browsing

The availability of tabbed browsing is one big advantage FireFox have over Internet Explorer and it is at the top of the list why FireFox is my preferred browser. What is tabbed browsing? Tabbed browsing is one that allows multiple panes of information to be contained within a single master window, using tabs to navigate between them. See screenshot below (click on screenshot to enlarge it. Current tab circled in red. You can go from tab to tab within the same window):
FireFox tabbed browsing
You can open new web pages in tabs in the same window rather than having to open many windows to view them. This create a smaller memory footprint and reduces the system resources required on the operating system. You can conveniently switch from page to page by clicking on the tabs. You can also drag and drop tabs to group similar pages together. You may be, for example, preparing a post for a blog, and you wish to use Google to check for some information, but don't want to lose you current page. You can open a collection of tabs to read at a later time. If while you are doing something like preparing a post for a blog, and you want to search for information, you can just click on File in the menu bar and select New Tab and a new tab will open in the same window (or click ctrl+T). You can use the built-in Google (or other) search-box to search for the items, get the information you want, then go back to your former page. Or you may have done a Google search and you are in the search result page. You can open the links in different tabs to read at your leisure without having to exit from the search result page, and you can go back to the search result page at any time. You can also group together all related Web pages in a window and bookmark that. In that way, you can easily get back to all related pages by just opening one bookmark. If you have a slow connection, or even with a high-speed connection you can save a lot of time by opening a few tabs and downloading a few Web pages simultaneously, and you will be able to read some while the others are downloading in the a lot of your time.

Many webmaster like to make their links open in new windows because they do not want to lose readers. With FireFox, you have the choice of making the link open in new tab instead. Just right-click on the link, select "Open in new tab" (or ctrl+click on the link or middle click on your mouse)

Tabbed browser is one of the major advantage of FireFox over Internet Explorer.

Security and Privacy

FireFox may not be inherently be more secure than Internet Explorer, but suffers from less problems of being hacked, getting spyware, adware and viruses. According to Wikipedia, as of July 2006, the FireFox usage share is around 12% of overall browser usage. So Internet Explorer is still the dominant browser from the point of view of browser usage. Hackers, spyware and virus maker like to focus on browser with dominant usage share, so they concentrate on Internet Explorer. There are many people hacking via Internet Explorer, there are much more spyware and viruses for Internet than FireFox. In that sense, FireFox is the more secure browser.

According to security monitoring company Secunia, if there is a security hole in Microsoft, they may make a patch within 3 months, but FireFox makes a complete fix within 3 days, sometimes not even that long.

Internet Explorer support Active X, tiny scripts that automatically download when you visit certain Web pages. This is another source of vulnerability as hackers use Active X to tweak code to damage your computer. FireFox does not use Active X technology. Some Web sites put Active X to good use, and to use their sites properly, your browser have to have support for Active X. However, these sites are very few and far between. There are plug-ins for FireFox for Active X support, but this will make your FireFox as vulnerable as Internet Explorer. It is far better to keep 2 browser with FireFox as your main browser, and when you come across a site that need Active X, and you trust that site, to switch to Internet Explorer to view that site.

With FireFox, it is also easy to clear cookies, cache, browsing history, passwords in just one step. Just click Tools on the menu bar, then click Clear private data, and a pop-up will appear (see screenshot)
<br />FireFox privacy
With just one click, all the private data will be gone.

FireFox Extensions

Extensions are small add-ons that add new functionality to Mozilla applications. They can add anything from a toolbar button to a completely new feature. They allow the application to be customized to fit the personal needs of each user if they need additional features, while minimizing the size of the application itself. An example is the extensions for the very popular social bookmarking (see screenshot below. The extensions are marked in red) I use and find it very useful.
social bookmarking

Another very useful extension is the session saver. SessionSaver restores your browser -exactly- as you left it, every startup, every time. Not even a crash will phase it. Windows, tabs, even things you were typing -- they're all saved. Use the menu to add + remove sessions; right, shift, or middle-clicking will delete. "Simple mode" for peace of mind, or "Expert mode" for advanced flexibility. Enabling this saves your session history every time the browser is shut down manually, and restores it when it is fired up again. Crash recovery remains enabled, independent of this setting.

Literally thousands of extensions are available to add functionality to your FireFox browser, but you should only install those that meet your needs.

FireFox and Google toolbar

(Click on screenshot to enlarge it)

FireFox with Google toolbar
You can have FireFox with the Google toolbar. With the toolbar, you can do many things. The above screenshot shows the Google toolbar. The first tool you see is the Smart Google searchbox. With this searchbox, you can search in many ways. A particularly useful feature is it enable you to search the content of the site you currently are on which can be very convenient when you want to search for a particular topic on a site. See screenshot below:
Google toolbar search site only
You can also search for images, Google groups, your Desktop, Google Maps, etc, as you can see from the screenshot.

With the toolbar, you can easily check the Google PageRank of your site or any other site with the Google PageRank tool Google PageRank tool.

You can check the spelling of the text you typed in online forms with the built-in Spell-checker Google toolbar spell-checker.Click on the ABC button and after a short interval, you will see the form change color and the spelling mistakes highlighted. Click on the spelling mistake and you will see a list of suggested correction. You can also choose to correct your own. I find this very convenient when I publish posts for my Google Blogger blog, as the spell-check is done within the post editor rather than via a pop-up which can be very inconvenient.

When you do a search, you can also choose to highlight the search terms in the content by clicking the highlight button toolbar highlight search terms button. This will help you zero into the relevant portion of the content quickly.

Google have also integrated the Safe Browsing extension into Toolbar to alert you when a page is trying to steal sensitive information. Get warnings about web pages that may be unsafe. It also has incorporated a very effective pop-up blocker which will very effectively block pop-ups.

Note: You can download FireFox directly from this page by clicking on the link "Browse the Web faster. Get FireFox with Google Toolbar" at the top of the right sidebar.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

How to get the PageRank of your (and other) websites

Easily get PageRank of your blog or blogs or any other websites by getting FireFox with Google toolbar via referral link above (below Search box) "Make your PC more useful. Get the free Google Pack". Google Pack will include FireFox with Google toolbar plus other Google Pack components which you can choose to ignore or to install.

What is PageRank

PageRank is a number from zero to 10 devised by Google to measure not only how many links point to a website, but the "quality" of the sites providing the links. It has significance in that when someone type a word or phrase connected to your blog in Google search, the higher the PageRank, the more likely it is to appear in the first few pages, and therefore your site is more likely to be found.

How to easily get the PageRank of a site

Here is an easy way to get the PageRank of your website/s or any other websites you visit. Install FireFox with the Google toolbar. To get that, or if you already have FireFox, but do not have the Google toolbar, get it via the "

In the toolbar, you will see the icon "PageRank" Google PageRank tool with a narrow band just below the text. If the PageRank is zero, you will just see a white band. For websites that have PageRank higher than zero, part of the band will be green. The higher the PageRank, the longer will be the green band. If you want the exact PageRank, let your mouse hover over the icon. You will see a "pop-up" giving the PageRank of the website. See the screenshot below (click on the screenshot to enlarge it):
Also, you can see the other very useful features of the Google toolbar in the screenshot. On the extreme left is the built-in Google search box. With this, you can search either the whole web or ONLY the website you are visiting. Also, as you type in the search terms, you will see useful suggestions for the search terms which if relevant, you can just click without having to type out the whole search terms. Also, you can easily get your recent search terms by click on the down arrow.

You can also do a spell-check on any text you enter in online forms. This is especially useful for bloggers using Blogger (blogspot), as the built-in spell-checker of the built-in spell-checker of the post editor involve a pop-up and is cumbersome to use. If you are using Blogger for your blogs, have a look at this post: How to do spellcheck for your Blogger post" target="_blank". With the Google toolbar spell-checker, you can also do spell-check in many languages. See screenshot below:

Note: You can download FireFox with Google Toolbar directly from this page via the referral link "Make your PC more useful. Get the free Google Pack" at the top of the right sidebar. You will then be given a choice of a large selection or useful stuff like FireFox with Google toolbar, Spyware Doctor, Google Earth, etc. Just tick the one you want and download.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Blogger: What to do when you can't publish, upload photos, etc.

(see notes and updates below)

I have been using Blogger for my blogging for almost two years now, and occasionally, I have faced various problems like being unable to publish or republish, unable to upload photos, the tool for uploading photo (picture icon) not visible, etc. When faced with such problems, I switch browser and find that often that helps. If I am using Internet Explorer, I switch to FireFox, and vice versa, and often this helped. Only when this does not help would I think of other ways or of contacting Blogger support. (Note: whether this will help or not will depend on the situation)

Update: Recently, I tried to upload a picture using IE. It said DONE, I clicked and checked. The picture (or the HTML) was nowhere to be seen. I tried a few time. Same result. I changed to FireFox. I succeeded on the first attempt. This has happened more than once.

Update: Blogger Employee has also offered this piece of advice for the problem described: If your Done button isn't appearing, sign out of Blogger, clear your
cache, and then sign back in."

Update 7 May 2007: Someone reported having difficulties uploading photos with Safari (Mac). I recommended FireFox which is cross-platform. Here is his response: "It worked. Thank You!!!" You can read the thread here: Problem with Add a Page Element. There were numerous cases where I recommended changing browser and it worked.

By the way, if you are still using only Internet Explorer, I strongly recommend that you get FireFox. It is a far better and more secure browser. There are other advantages as well. It is good to be able to view your blog in more than one browser to make sure that the blog is displayed as you want it to be. For example, a common complaint of bloggers are that the sidebar or the content slide down to the bottom of the page. Often this occur with only some browser and not others. With more than one browser, you can check and be alerted to it if it happened. You may also install Opera, but I prefer FireFox. FireFox is better supported by Blogger, not Opera. There will be lots of things you can do when using FireFox for Blogger that you can't with Opera. I use 3, FireFox with the Google toolbar (most often), Internet Explorer and Opera (hardly). When using FireFox with the Google toolbar, you can do spell check within your Blogger post editor window which is very convenient. There are many other advantages, described further below.

Like others, I have more than one email account, some to control spam as I leave my email in some of my blogs. I find that by accessing the email accounts in different browsers, I can simultaneously have access to more than one email without having to log out. This apply to Blogger account as well, and sometimes it can be useful as I also happened to have more than 1 Blogger account. At times I want to transfer things from one account to the other.

Tabbed Browsing

A big advantage of FireFox over Internet Explorer is the availability of tabbed browsing where you can open multiple web pages in a a single browser window, and quickly flip back and forth. This alone is enough reason for you to get FireFox if you are using only Internet. Further, you can even drag and drop tabs to keep related pages together. There is also the possibility when a hyperlink is set to open in a new window, to right-click on it and select "open in a new tab" so that you don't open too many windows.

Pop-up Blocking

FireFox has a very effective built-in pop-up blocker which block irritating pop-ups and pop-unders. I find FireFox pop-up blocker is more effective.

Integrated Search Box

There is an search box integrated into the menu bar where you can search Google, Yahoo, eBay, Wikipedia, and any other search engine you fancy.


You can select new button controls for your toolbars, install extensions to add new features, or change the look of the FireFox browser by changing themes.

Google toolbar

And with the Google toolbar, you can check the PageRank of any site easily. The built-in search box allow you to search the whole web or current site. The search term suggestion feature is very good also. Plus the Google toolbar’s auto fill function allows you to automatically have any form filled in based on your saved personal information.

With all these advantages, there is just no reason not to add FireFox with Google toolbar to your computer.

Update: A reply from Blogger Employee (Google Blogger official representative) when I made a recommendation at Google Blogger Help group to try switching browser on the Google Help group: "Unfortunately, it sounds like you guys might be experiencing the same difficulties some other users have been experiencing with uploading pictures. We have been investigating some issues with our image uploading feature and are working hard on a resolution.

In the meantime, Enviroman's (me) suggestion is something to consider. Also, a few other troubleshooting tips include:

- Ensure that JavaScript is enabled.
- Clear your cache and cookies, and then try again.
- Check for plugins on your browser. These sometimes cause unexpected
incompatibilities with the post editor. If you have any, try
temporarily disabling them to see if that makes a difference.

Additionally, for other ways that you can post pictures on your blog, you may want to check out our Blogger Help article here:
What other ways to post pictures are available?

Sorry for the inconvenience!"

An email from a grateful reader (posted with the kind permission of author): "Peter, I LOVE YOU! You are so wise! I begrudgingly downloaded FireFox figuring I was just on a long and ugly goose chase. BUT YOU WERE ABSOLUTELY RIGHT! Smooches! That photo popped up and everything goes so much faster -- WOW! I am happy, blogging my brains out once again.. The Home Stretch". Check it out for a chuckle."


Ann Kult
(Ann is a freelance humorous columnist. If you have need for one, contact her via her website via the link above.)

Another Blogger blogger, MaryK of Virgin Wool (close new window to return to this page) who found switching browser helped: This is what she posted in the thread Photographs (close new window to get back to this page) in the Google Blogger Help group: "I've found that switching browsers has helped out a lot with the photo issue. There are still issues on occasion, but the "no photo when clicking Done" issue has all but gone away since I started using Mozilla's Firefox rather than Microsoft's Internet Explorer to publish pictures to my blog posts. On good days I can upload five pictures at a time, which is especially nice, as that saves quite a bit of time."

Installing FireFox from this site will also install the Google toolbar which will block annoying pop-up's.

Note: You can download FireFox with Google Toolbar directly from this page by via the link "Browse the Web faster. Get FireFox with Google Toolbar" at the top of the right sidebar.

Update 6 August 2007: A blogger had problem dragging a Page Element in the Layout. I suggested try using different browser. His respond: "I don't know why, but your suggestion worked. Thank you". See
Move adsense header page element under header.

Recent personal experience. Tried to sign into my online banking account. No luck. Changed browser. Got signed in within seconds.

Books from Amazon

Firefox For Dummies

Firefox Secrets : A Need-To-Know Guide

Hacking FireFox : More Than 150 Hacks, Mods, and Customizations

Firefox and Thunderbird Garage (The Garage Series)

Firefox Hacks : Tips & Tools for Next-Generation Web Browsing

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Get your own domain. It command more respect than a sub-domain like

There are a few blogger platform which offers bloggers free sub-domains for their blogs. There is Google Blogger for example, where a sub-domain will have an URL like This sub-domain remain the property of Blogger. Also, some have the opinion that blogspot address command less respect, rather like having your home address as your business address.

If they are of such inclination, it is easy to register for a domain name of your own. But the problem is, Internet have been around for quite some time, and most of the more desirable domain names have been already registered and not available. If you are faced with a situation like this, what should your do?

No sweat. You can always search for a suitable domain name to buy at You can search by keywords or categories at or you can register to be alerted to new domain names available by keyword or categories at Alert Subscription at You can also do an advanced search at Conduct an Advanced Domain Search.

If you are creative, and good at thinking up of good, in demand domain names, you can register the domain and put it up for sale at, and probably make yourself a tidy sum.

Buying and selling domains are not the only thing you can do at You can have access to Small Business Resources at You can get lots of free, useful articles at Small Business at

However, as for me, I am a pensioner, and I don't want the hassle of having to renew my domain name subscription every year, and I know that by using the free address, even if I am not able to renew the yearly subscription, my blogs will still be up on the web. The price I have to pay for this is that my blog will command less respect than others who use their own domain name. Anyway, to each his own according to his needs and preferences.