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Archive for August, 2006

Blueorganizer Firefox Extension

Published on August 15, 2006 in Firefox

Blueorganizer is a Mozilla Firefox extension, currently in beta, that is designed to help organize and bookmark content found on the web. It allows for the personalization of content found on sites such as Amazon and eBay, tracking and managing books, movies, music and anything else on the web.

Blueorganizer Firefox Extension

A sort of ‘smart bookmarking tool’, Blueorganizer reads information about the item on a page, storing the item’s image along with several other details. Basically, it does the mundane things for you, such as entering the description, title and adding some tags for the item you are bookmarking (called a bluemark). You can easily override the default selections, for example, by adding and deleting tags. When set up correctly, the tagging system is very helpful when searching your bookmarks. Another neat feature of Blueorganizer is that on the top-right hand corner of every bluemark is a wrench. Called a ‘context action’ tool, this wrench allows you to instantly find, shop, and compare items on the web. You can easily find similar items, compare prices on the item at different places, and search for the item on the web.

The collection of products in your Blueorganizer can be saved locally to a PC or online, if you sign up for an adaptiveblue account. Saving your data online gives you the ability to publish your bluemarks as an RSS feed and provides access to your collection from anywhere. In addition, Blueorganizer gives you the ability to add widgets to a website to allow anyone to view your bluemarks.

BlueOrganizer is one of the most impressive Firefox extensions I have used so far, but clearly it is not for everyone. It is somewhat of a niche tool appealing more toward the user who likes to organize their books, music, movies, etc., than the average web surfer. There is really no major drawbacks to using the tool, if you do not mind that the service makes money by inserting affiliate codes into your bluemark links and you do not mind having to remove the preset bluemarks.

I have not made up by mind on whether I will continue using the tool in the future but see the potential in Blueorganizer and am going to give it a whirl. This is of no fault of the tool, but a reflection on how organized (or lack thereof) of a person I am. I probably have not even begun to scratch the surface of everything Blueorgainzer has to offer. Give Blueorganizer and try and see if it is something that appeals to you.

Note: Take some time to read Alex Iskold’s article entitled “Smart Browser, Where Art Thou?” (PDF) in which he explains his reasoning behind creating such an extension. It is well worth reading.

Firefox 2 Visual Refresh

Published on August 6, 2006 in Firefox

Mozilla has released a new Firefox build that includes the much anticpated Firefox 2.0 visual refresh designed by Radiant Core. The new theme uses more glossy buttons, the address bar now has “clickable” buttons, and the search area has been redesigned.

Though, it is early, I am really ambivalent about the new theme. It is not nearly as major of a change as some had hyped and I am not sure if it is better than the old one anyway. Some of the changes are nice but I do care for the new icons. They look out of place on my setup of Windows XP. If you would rather stick with the old theme there is hope. A Firefox theme of the classic version has been created for Firefox 2.0b1 and greater. Kevin Gerich has packaged the Pinstripe on Mac and Winstripe on Windows which you can install as a stand-alone theme.

You can find out more about the Firefox visual refresh from Screwedbydesign and the Mozilla wiki. Download the lastest nightly build from here. Work is still being done of the theme so I am looking forward to having my initial impressions changed.

Mozilla Thunderbird 2.0 Alpha Released

Published on August 5, 2006 in Software

Mozilla has recently released a preview of its 2.0 Thunderbird email client. Like the upcoming new version of Mozilla Firefox, the changes in this Thunderbird release are not revolutionary but welcome improvements.

The first change revolves around a new tagging system to mark messages. This feature replaces Thunderbird’s current concept of labels. Thunderbird 2.0 allows you to mark messages with user-definable tags, the current rage on the web. You can define as many tags has you want and apply as many tags as you want to each message. A second new feature is several new folder views. Thunderbird 2.0 will add three new views: a view that only shows folders with unread messages, a view that shows recently accessed folders, and a view that shows your favorite folders.

Two changes were also made to Thunderbird that resemble features found in Firefox. Thunderbird now has a find-as-you-type search feature, though it only works on the contents of the currently displayed folder. Secondly, extensions and themes are now managed through one window called Add-ons.

One thing missing from this release of Thunderbird is tabbed browsing. I, at one time, tried a modified build of Thunderbird that included tabbed browsing. Like with Firefox, once you use tabbed browsing there is no going back. Hopefully we will see this soon in Thunderbird likewise.

Users have reported that Thunderbird runs faster both in startup and when retrieving messages. Additionally, it appears to be very stable. Remember though, this is pre-release software and you should make a backup of Thunderbird before installing this new version. Secondly, remember that most extensions built for Thunderbird 1.5 will not work in 2.0 preview releases without modifications.

Why Are Users Not Switching to Opera?

Published on August 2, 2006 in Browsers, Firefox

There is a nice discussion going on now over at Opera Watch about why more people do not switch over and use Opera as their main desktop browser of choice. As a current Mozilla Firefox user, who has used IE, Firefox, and Opera in the past, I believe there are several reasons that Opera has not developed a large following.

One of the most important reasons that people have not switched to Opera is a lack of a clearly defined reason to make the switch. A key to marketing is to market a solution not the product. For the average user, what compelling reason is there to switch to Opera? Or put another way, what does Opera add to my browsing experience? Mozilla, with Firefox, pointed to issues such as tabbed browsing, extensions, and most importantly security, which people could easily understand and relate to. With Opera the solution is missing, Opera’s innovation and advanced features do not matter to the average user.

A second reason people avoid switching to Opera is that too many web sites fail to function properly in Opera. Whether it be with Google or other sites, Opera has failed to work on too many times. Users are not going to understand that it may be the web site’s fault, not Opera’s, that the page does not render correctly. Since it works fine in their current browser, they will blame it on Opera and go back to the browser they were using before.

Finally, the look and feel (UI) of the Opera browser is different than Internet Explorer or even Firefox. It is not as smooth as a transition from IE to Opera, as it was from IE to Firefox. Opera is not always easy to use, has a very busy interface, and is missing buttons, like the stop button, on the toolbar. This only adds to the confusion. First impressions are very important. The average user will only quickly give Opera a try. To them the UI is a hurdle to continued usage of the product.

Opera Firefox and IE UI

One way for Opera to grow their desktop browser market share is to use their name recognition and leading status in the mobile browser market to encourage and push people to using Opera on the desktop as well. As mobile browsers become more and more sophisticated and people learn to trust Opera on their phone or PDA this may become an easier and easier thing to do. Ultimately, though, Opera needs to find an answer to the question of ‘What compelling reason is there for me to switch to Opera?’. In many ways, like the new Flock browser Opera seems to be a solution without a problem.

Who Am I?

Leslie Franke Profile

Leslie Franke:[les-lee fran-key]; 1. Husband and proud dogowner; 2. Seventh-day Adventist; 3. Web Designer; 4. Atlanta Braves Fan; 5. Northeast Ohio Native; 6. Bottle Caps Lover; 7. Certified 'Freakonomic';