ExtremeCPA - Technology for Business

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Become a Power Internet User with Firefox

I know this is a little bit of a step away from my normal posts, but hear me out. If you have not yet heard about Mozilla's Firefox browser (which I would find very hard to believe, but I suppose it's possible), I'll tell you about it here and how you can harness the power of a better internet by using it. And in case you weren't aware, Firefox is COMPLETELY free! No holds barred.

To begin, I find that one of the most useful features available is the built in support of RSS feeds. What are RSS feeds? Essentially, they contact web sites that you designate (such as this blog!) and download the latest headers to your bookmarks folder for you to review whenever you like. If you think you'd enjoy the article (as evidenced by the article title), you click on the feed to go directly to it. If not, you do nothing.
Getting feeds is fairly easy - many of the sites you visit have them enabled by default with a little orange box that says "RSS". In Firefox, you can simply click on the box and select "Subscribe to..." and that's it. It will ask you where to store the feed, and you can view it whenever you want thereafter. Sites like the Economist, The Wall Street Journal and others have created feeds - just go out and get them. Alternatively, you can search sites like NewsIsFree.com to find sites with feeds you might not know about.

The next topic of discussion is the quickness with which you can navigate if you learn the "quick keys". For example, hitting Ctrl-L will take you to the address bar where you can enter your next destination on the web. If you use bookmarks, you'll soon learn that you can add "keywords" that are essentially short-cuts to the website. For example, I have a bookmark for one of my favorite sites, Sourceforge.net (a site with tons of open source software). After I initially created the bookmark, I accessed the properties of the bookmark (by right clicking on it) and added the keyword "sf". Now, when I want to access the site I hit "Ctrl-L sf " and I'm there. Very useful.

You can also add "quick-searches" which are similar to shortcuts to websites, but they're actually shortcuts to search boxes. So, I go to the SEC's website and find the spot where I can search for company filings. On this page, I want to be able to quickly search company's filings so I right click in the "Company Name" box and choose "Add a Keyword for this search...", and give it a keyword of "sec". Now, whenever I want to search for a company filing, I hit "Ctrl-L sec company_name" and it will automatically search for whatever company I specify! This is much more efficient than going to the website, selecting the box and typing the company name, then hitting enter or clicking the "submit" button. I also have quick searches on Amazon, dictionary.com, etc.

There is also a built in search toolbar. To quickly access that, you'd hit Ctrl-K and type whatever you're looking for ... and it searches any search engine you specify. By default, I keep mine on Google, but Yahoo!, Amazon, eBay and others are available as well.

Finally, one last item to whet your appetite is the ability to quickly search a document for a word or link. To do that, you'd simply hit the backslash key ("/") followed by whatever you're looking for in the page. No more Ctrl-F to get some hideous box that gets in your way, blocks your view and makes you do so much work for something so simple. Want to find the next word that matches your criteria? A simple F3 does the trick. This search technique is extremely powerful when searching long documents (like a 10-K) when you may want to search, then read for a little and search again, etc.

Hopefully this article gave you a reason to at least check out the best browser on the block. Once you use it, you'll never go back. Especially after tabbed browsing (Ctrl-T) which allows you to open up a new site without opening a new window, extensions that allow you to enhance the interface or functionality of the browser, improved security and the host of other things this browser can do that Internet Exploder is no where near doing yet. Check out the download, and then read the website when you want to become a power internet user.


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