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The Best Firefox Plugins and Extensions

Firefox is a great web browser. If nothing else, the large number of people switching from Internet Explorer to Firefox convinced Microsoft to finally update IE. When Firefox added inline spell checking with version 2.0 they boosted the writing quality of every blogger, wiki contributor, and forum post on the Internet. What more can you ask for?

Actually, the best thing about Firefox is its extensibility. Anyone with some programming skill and some free time can add features and functionality by building plugins and extensions. There are well over 2000 extensions listed at Mozilla.org, so where do you start? You can find a lot of “top 10″ lists around the web, but I thought I’d add my two cents as well. Here is a list of some of the best Firefox extensions.

1. Adblock Plus – Adblock is a controversial choice because it allows users to block out the advertisements that many websites rely on for income. This website, for example. But again and again I find myself thanking the Flying Spaghetti Monster for Adblock. Some sites fill their pages with flash-based ads that flash, flutter, crawl across the pages, etc. And those are the ads I inevitably block.

2. StumbleUpon – StumbleUpon lets you channel surf the web. Click on the Stumble button and you’ll get a new web site – give it a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down and StumbleUpon will suggest sites more to your liking. I should warn you, though, that this extension is very addictive and a terrible time-waster.

3. Procrastato – Now that I’ve ruined your productivity with StumbleUpon, I’ll give you a little bit back. Procrastato watches for notorious time-wasting sites like Digg, MySapce, and YouTube and reminds you every few minutes to get back to work.


A Horrible, but Amazing, Abuse of HTML

This goes out to all y’all web developers out there.  You know who you are.  In 1999 while others partied like it was…  1999, you slaved away trying to get your table-based layout working on Netscape and IE.  Thank goodness it’s now 2007, and you can just grab CSS-based layouts from A List Apart.

But off all the possible abuses of old-skool HTML, I bet you never thought of this one:  using table cells and bgcolor to build an image, one pixel at a time!
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Link to video for those of you on RSS.

Brought to you by Japan and cutesy anime chicks.

Taking Web Stats to the Next Level (of Weirdness) with Google Analytics

If you have ever run a web site, you’ve been exposed to the addictive, number-crunching fun provided by web stats. Any web site that’s worth it’s pixels will have, at the very least, a freeware program like AWStats parsing through the server logs and putting together colorful charts and reports. Our host, Q5media, are kind enough to provide us with LiveStats by Deepmetrix.

Web stats can be really useful for blogs. They can tell you all sorts of interesting things about your readership, for example, last month 55 people found the site while searching for Yakety Sax, no doubt landing on our article about how Yakety Sax makes anything funny. Other top searches included guys kissing, how youtube works, and once you go black. Hopefully everyone found what they were looking for.


Knocked Up and why I never need to enter a theater again

knockedup_resized.jpgI could turn this into a simple review of Knocked Up. I could say that, while funny, well-cast and full of Katherine Heigl hottness, its needless and mostly uncritical obsession over celebrity culture (and the repeated celebrity cameos) dulls it faster than an evening watching C-SPAN. I could point out the major disconnect of the main character’s obsession with celebrity nudity with the fact that we never get to see any of Katherine Heigl’s naughty bits, despite two sex scenes and a tub scene. I could list all the ways that Judd Apatow, Seth Rogen and all the supporting characters are interconnected in such a way to make Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon devotees cream their jeans.

But no, the reason Knocked Up has me swearing off paying $8 for a theater ticket and another $8 for popcorns and sodas (yeah, things are cheap here in Vermont sometimes) is because I’ve already seen it. Sure, it’s a largely original movie, and I’m not going to claim Apatow stole the ideas for it from an previous work (barring, perhaps, the Miracle of Life, that sex-ed film we all had to watch in the eighth grade). But if you’ve seen just one trailer for the comedy, then you’ve seen the whole damn movie.


Sick of PowerPoint Slides? Here’s a Better way to Present Data

If you design web sites, write reports, or do presentations, you should probably take a look at the work of Edward Tufte. One of his best-known essays tells how your typical PowerPoint presentation can obscure information more than it helps illustrate.

So what do you do if you have a ton of numerical data and just two and a half minutes to present it? Well, if it’s data about the pron industry on the Internet, you could do something like this:

(Might be NSFW)

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