Extension Addendum - InformationWeek

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1/27/2006
07:37 PM
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Extension Addendum

I've received some great feedback on my Firefox extensions article; judging from the number of people reading it, this is just as popular a topic as it has always been. Some readers have emailed asking whether these are my own favorite extensions, or actually my picks specifically for beginning Firefox users -- as I'll explain, it's more the latter. I have also have received two other questions (so far) that I figure enough people will want to

I've received some great feedback on my Firefox extensions article; judging from the number of people reading it, this is just as popular a topic as it has always been. Some readers have emailed asking whether these are my own favorite extensions, or actually my picks specifically for beginning Firefox users -- as I'll explain, it's more the latter. I have also have received two other questions (so far) that I figure enough people will want to see answered to discuss them right here.My selection process for this list of Firefox extensions was a response to what has become an embarrassment of riches. Today, roughly 1,000 extensions are available through AMO: How does a new Firefox user (or a not so new one, for that matter) decide which are merely interesting, which are actually useful, and which ones are so useful that pretty much everyone should install them? Although I enjoy browsing the "popular" list on AMO, as some of the truly misguided attacks on Adblock Plus and Wladimir Palant demonstrate, simply counting stars is not a good way to give yourself anything but a headache -- as will squinting at partial-stars, trying to decide if one is bigger than another.

That's why I focused this article specifically on the latter of the three groups I just mentioned: extensions which, if I were installing Firefox for a friend, relative or co-worker, I would install at the same time.

Once I made that choice, however, several of my own favorite extensions fell off the list. Of course, I use all 10 of these extensions (soon to be nine -- read on to find out why). Yet my own favorite extensions naturally reflect my experience using Firefox, what I do for a living, and other highly personal factors. So as much as I love extensions such as MR Tech Local Install, Sage, and Remove It Permanently, a vanity list including those choices would be about as useful as a thumbtack sandwich to someone who installed Firefox yesterday and wants to know what's what.

A list of Firefox extensions for expert users who are also professional journalists and at least one beer short of a six-pack is a rather specialized critter, but who knows -- if there's any interest in seeing it, I'm willing to write about it.

On to the extension-specific questions. First: Why do I have it in for poor Session Saver? I didn't actually name my beef in the article, which turned out to be a bad idea

My problem with Session Saver boils down to one thing: startup time. With Session Saver installed and active, my Firefox startup times increase by a factor of three or more. That may be a pet peeve rearing its ugly head, but I can't help it; software that starts up like I've got nothing better to do than wait for it to get its act together drives me completely nuts. Maybe I'm totally alone on that one, but my gut tells me that's not the case.

As you just guessed, Tab Mix Plus adds precisely nothing to perceptible Firefox startup times on my machines. (No, I won't time it with a stopwatch. If it turns out that I'm wrong, I'll probably have some kind of psychotic break over my inability to judge time, and I'm not gonna ruin my weekend that way.) And while Session Saver will apparently save tabs that are just opening when a crash occurs, whereas Tab Mix Plus will not, the fact that Tab Mix Plus rocks my world on startup times is more than enough to outweigh minor differences in functionality.

Even if startup times aren't such a big deal, you're going to load Tab Mix Plus anyway: If you end up happy with its session saving capabilities, you just saved yourself a download and a restart. And if you need Session Saver after all, it's still there waiting for you, just like before.

(By the way, I haven't yet received a single email asking what the deal is with the salmon mousse. Either you're a bunch of hipsters who love your Monty Python just a little more than most folks, or you wish I'd get back on my meds. Or maybe you're wading through one recipe after another on Google: The first Python reference in a "salmon mousse" search was about 120 results down the list when I last checked.)

Now, what about that "nine extensions" remark above? One reader (just one?) turned me on to a fact that I had completely missed in the feature-rama that is Tab Mix Plus: It will disable download target tabs or pages, and in fact, this feature is turned on by default. That makes Disable Targets for Downloads redundant, unless I'm missing something here.

We could, and probably should, go in and change the article to reflect this fact. Then again, I can live with being responsible for people downloading a redundant 10kb extension that's as close to invisible and harmless as something like this can be. Anyway, I figure the average desktop application wastes more than 10kb just on snarky comments that programmers are too lazy to delete before build time.

For some reason, all of reminds me of a favorite scene from "History Of The World, Pt. 1": Moses coming down from Mt. Sinai with the "Fifteen -- -- ....Ten, TEN! Commandments!"

Have a good weekend.

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