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Tue 17 Mar 2009 04:00 AM

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Pump up your browsing

Do you remember dial-up, flashing JavaScript images and Netscape? The web used to be a primeval place but luckily things have changed, and nothing symbolises this change more than internet browser Mozilla Firefox's selection of add-ons.

Do you remember dial-up, flashing JavaScript images and Netscape? The web used to be a primeval place but luckily things have changed, and nothing symbolises this change more than internet browser Mozilla Firefox's selection of add-ons.

Today, it's not only about what's on the web but also about how you surf the web. The popular Firefox browser has thousands of add-ons (https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/) that add an extra dimension to your internet browsing from seeing Google with a dark background to changing your desktop theme into an all out NASA rocket experience. To weed out the useful from futile and help you evolve your web browsing, Windows ME lists its top ten Mozilla Firefox add-ons.

10. Foxmarks

Have you ever bookmarked a web address at work and then, by the time you've got home, you've forgotten what the web address is that you've bookmarked? Foxmarks is the solution. Once you've installed the add-on, you sign into your Foxmarks account, and Foxmarks stores all your bookmarks (even your passwords) onto a database on a third party server (Foxmarks manages over half a billion bookmarks). You can also separate your work bookmarks from your personal bookmarks and then maintain them across your various computers as long as all of those computers have this Firefox add-on.

9. FoxTab

When surfing the web maybe you run into the nasty habit of opening dozens and dozens of web pages. But by just right-clicking on a link in your bookmarks and selecting the ‘Open in a New Tab' option, you can open up a whole new browsing experience with the use of tabs. Tabs are multiple instances of web pages that appear in your browser and FoxTab extends your ability to control these tabs. FoxTab offers you the ability to duplicate tabs, reload tabs and copy tabs.

You can also open a completely new tab that is blank and then surf to whatever website you choose. It may seem to be simple in concept but it is very useful for those who surf dozens of web pages at the same time. FoxTab also has a session manager that saves your tabs if the browser crashes.

8. Web of Trust (WOT)

Apart from using the latest Anti-Virus software, another tool that can make your web-surfing that much safer is using Mozilla Firefox's Web of Trust (WOT) add-on.

This add-on warns you about websites that try to scam visitors, deliver malware or that send spam. It further keeps you safe from Spyware, adware and viruses, browser exploits, unreliable online shops, phishing, spam and other Internet scams and annoying or malicious spam A colour-coded icon appears in your browser bar that gives an indication of how safe the website is, with green being the safest and red the most dangerous.

Once you've visited a site you can also give the site a rating according to "Trustworthiness", "Vendor Reliability", "Privacy" and "Child Safety". Also, before visiting a potentially harmful website, WOT warns you and saves your computer before any damage can be done.

7. Ad Block Plus

This add-on is a must-have if you're really annoyed by those ads that keep popping up on your screen when visiting a particular site. It works in a really simple way: all you have to do is right-click on a particular banner ad and choose "Adblock" from the context menu. Voila! The banner will not be shown again. If you come across similar banners in future again, the banners will be covered in stars. Alternatively, you can choose a filter subscription service that will do all of this for you automatically.

6. Webmynd

We all use Google just about everyday of our lives and it is easy to get bored of the results that come our way whenever we conduct a search on a particular topic. Maybe you would like to have a broader view on some of the search results that comes your way.

Then you need to download Webmynd. This is a useful add-on that embeds the search results you most value from the sources you most value. Of course, Webmynd does have a few sources that it already relies upon such as YouTube, Wikipedia, CNN, reddit and Flickr. Webmynd doesn't only allow you to search the web better, but it also gives you the ability to manage your browsing history better.

Maybe you've tried going back into your history folder and found it difficult to navigate through names of dozens and dozens of web pages that you just cannot remember. Webmynd provides a feature that records your web pages and allows you to then track back those web pages visually. 5. Media Converter

There are quite a few services and even Mozilla Firefox add-ons out there that convert media to file formats that you can read on your computer. But this particular Media Converter add-on is by far the easiest to use: all it requires is a single click when visiting a site such as YouTube. You can then download files in a particular file format as well. When you visit a site where you can download video or any other media, the media converter icon next to the browser bar turns from grey to blue.

4. DownThemAll

This add-on allows you to download your files up to 400% faster and the ability to download multiple files at the same time. You can pause and restart downloading at any time and you can also introduce filters into your download capabilities. This tool also gives you the option to ‘spider' all the links in a page. The add-on goes on to allow you to auto-rename downloads.

3. Stumbleupon

Stumbleupon is an online service that gives the user the ability to ‘stumble upon' random websites according to the user's favourite content categories. Stumbleupon integrates with Google as well so as to give the user the ability to see how other Stumbleupon users have rated a particular website. Also, Stumbleupon learns what you like and brings you more of what you like while surfing the web.

2. Greasemonkey

This has to be one of the most useful add-ons ever. Have you ever wanted your Google home page to appear with a dark background so that it isn't damaging to your eyes. Maybe you want Gmail or YouTube to be more flexible. Perhaps you want to colourise your Facebook profile to your favourite colours. Well, Greasemonkey uses the programming language JavaScript to alter the way your browser views pages and it changes the way one can view the web.

1. Cooliris

Drum roll please, and the top spot goes to Cooliris. This add-on takes the web to the next level with a black Matrix type background that shows the web in images in 3D. This plugin is perfect for conducting Google searches on images, video or even within a site. You can flick through sites such as YouTube, Flickr and FaceBook with greater ease as this add-on's interface is extremely smooth.

On a lighter note:Apart from turning your browser into an all-in-one multi-purpose gadget that can help you surf the web better, there is also another side to the add-ons one can integrate to this browser. Take a read...

Pacman

In between that hard task of surfing the web, one might as well take a break and play a game of Pacman. (https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/2053)

NASA Night Launch

With this add-on, when you click your away across web pages, a rocket takes off in the corner of your screen. Your web browser itself is then also rendered with a dark black theme that looks very stylish. (https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/4908)

MushroomKingdom

If you've ever been a big fan of the Mario Brothers video game, then this add-on renders your browser in a 'Mario Bros' theme. An add-on only for those who are really feeling overly happy and cheerful. (https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/9858)

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