Extension Finished

I am pleased to announce that the extensions are all finished. Phew!

It took a while to wrap up the finishing touches, with the biggest headache caused by the carpet. But all done and dusted now and I have also taken a buch of photos and thrown them up on flickr.

We are yet to finish up outside as we had some clearing done and the grass was taken out as a result. We are also going to move the fence forward to give the boys more room to play in.

The extension is awesome and we love it. It had transformed our family and our lifestyle. We now have segmented living areas and some space to get some time out. Entertaining will be a lot easier now and we also have room for guests!

Take a look at the flickr page as pictures speak louder than words.

Extension Finished

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Never See Another Google Ad Again

I was just posting a comment on Scoble’s Blog about advertising and I mentioned that I don’t even see Google Adsense advertisements. That gave me an idea to share what I do. I don’t know if everyone knows this but what the heck you might be interested.

I use Firefox, the new shiny 2 actually. There is an extension, or I should say “add-ons”; as they have changed the name now (not sure why, anyone know?) called Adblock which I have installed. You can customise which advertisements you do not want to see by filtering elements at the source address, or just right click and select block. You can also view all the blockable elements on a page or white list a whole page. Plus a lot of other options and features.

So to block Google Adsense ads on any site you visit put this in your filter set under options:

http://googlesyndication.com*

The “*” is a wild card that blocks the domain regardless of sub domain addresses (I think I got that right!). That is all you have to do, no more Google Ads – woot! (although I do know of someone that likes Google ads, personal choice I guess)
There is one other alternative and it too is a Firefox Extension called Adblock Plus. I have never used it so I can not comment on how good it is but it does appear on the top Extension for Firefox so that speaks volumes.

You could also choose to install Adblock Filterset.G Updater  which blocks most ads on the Internet. Adblock Filterset.G Updater is a companion to both Adblock and Adblock Plus and should be used with either. This extension automatically downloads updates every four to seven days. This is a “nuke all” approach and may be what you are looking for.

You are probably wondering why I block certain ads and not others. Well the simple answer is that I block the ones that annoy me, Google Adsense ads annoy me, a lot. Especially the sites that go overboard and have half a page of them. The rest that don’t annoy me as much I leave as they are.

The reason I do this is that I feel that ads are sometimes a part of a sites experience and feel. Sure you can go the totally sterile approach if you wish, but if an ad is unobtrusive and doesn’t cause nasty things to happen then that is fine with me. Another good reason to block ads and banners is that they save you bandwidth and speed up your surfing experience. Especially if your connection is a bit on the slower side.  The other reason that I leave a lot is because of the podcast. It is sometimes good to know who has what ads on their site so you can spot those “cash for comment” posts or maybe a bias report or something like that. I also like knowing what is going on rather than leaving it up to a filter set, I am a control freak.

I know this post has been about Firefox’s ability to install great add-ons to the browser and that is because if you use Internet Explorer you are buggered and have to look at ads if you want to or not. Choice is great, do yourself a favour and choose Firefox.

Firefox 2 Rediscover the Web Again Banner

AllPeers: New Version

AllPeers LogoAs regular readers will know I have been following the AllPeers release closely. I have as I said removed it from my extensions list. This was mainly due to the fact that no one that I knew was using it and it was slowing the start up of Firefox. But this new version of it might give me cause to have another look.

The AllPeers Road map was released over the last week or so. I have not covered it as it was a projected pace and changes to match. But it appears that they have come good and just released AllPeers v0.51. The key features that they claim to have added and addressed are:

  • A Work-Offline feature
  • The inclusion of a hide toolbar link
  • Better registration process
  • Added an option to create a new group in Add Contact form
  • Various small performance, download and presence improvements
  • Included an option to select the download directory

The last inclusion was one of my previous criticisms in that I did not have a clue where the downloads were going! So that is good to see. I have not installed it yet so I am not sure what the performance improvements would be. But it would not appear that they have addressed the slow start up of Firefox. Which is disappointing.

To be honest the next two versions look a lot more promising. If you are holding off I would recommend that you wait until version 0.60 surfaces as that seems to be when the most significant improvements and bug fixes would have been implemented. I am considering this myself, especially with the lack of people to use it with.

The AllPeers crew still seem to be doing their best to please their user base and are working hard at improving their product. I still believe that users are being very critical of an application that is in beta.

I concur with one suggestion of the inclusion of a simple change log between versions, I am looking forward to where it goes from here.

First Impressions of AllPeers

AllPeers LogoI have download and installed AllPeers, the much anticipated P2P file sharing extension for Firefox. While I am still excited about the possibilities I am somewhat disappointed with the application and it does need some work. I know that one of my contacts is removing the extension until it improves.

The application does tend to dominate Firefox in some undesirable ways. Such as when you close Firefox it stays open until you close Firefox from the system tray. This proved especially annoying when we were in a Skype call last night and some annoying music was playing in the background because one of the call participants did not realise Firefox was still open although they had closed it from view.

It would seem that there are some registration and logging on problems in LINUX. The long and the short of that issue is that if you use LINUX you can’t use the application. The other thing is that once you have registered, it would seem that you never have to log on again, nor do you have the ability to change your details or your password.

You are able to close the toolbar that AllPeers installs so it doesn’t take up space on your screen. I found that most of the needed functions are able to be executed via the icon in the top right of the Firefox screen. The fact that to fully interact with the AllPeers interface takes up the entire screen is annoying. Everything could be scaled down in size. The current size on a 19 inch monitor means that some crucial buttons are located a long way from the screen they are associated with. It took me a while to find the “share” key for example.

The interface itself while seeming to be easily navigated, does seem buggy. One transfer we did of a file did not open and might have been corrupted in transit as the second attempt worked.

It would be good to be able to specify a directory where the shared files end up on your computer. I had to search for the files until I found out that from your default download directory it creates a folder for each contact that you have in your AllPeers list. The files are saved in the appropriate directory associated with the user.

I do not like the fact that AllPeers is in an “always connected” state. I would like the option to “switch it off”. As other users have indicated, some of us do not have the bandwidth to spare when doing certain activities. Same goes for me. I don’t want anything else using my bandwidth when I am uploading the podcast for example.

The transfer speeds are what might be expected and better then I thought they would be. Of course the speed is somewhat restricted by your own connection. I was satisfied by the speed.

Many of these issues are known to the developers and they are working on them. The help section has also stated that there are plans for a stand-alone version, which will be nice. The issues as far as it’s integration with Firefox are also being looked at.

That said this application is a beta, it would seem that some users are expecting full-version functionality. It works and there are bugs and things that need to be assessed and modified. This is what I would have expected. Perhaps the quality of beta builds has in the past been high and people now expect a lot more from them. But I always expect the beta status to have issues and if they don’t then I am surprised. The extension and development of it looks exciting. I am sure that with further modification and design it is going to be a valued application/ extension. We just need to give it time and enjoy what we have now, as for me this is better than I had before.

UPDATE: For some reason the comments for this post were turned off. This was not intentinal and I have switched them on. Sorry to those I missed in their travels that wished to leave a comment.

Microsoft Internet Explorer Seems More Broken than Ever

IE LogoI know that I rant about the uselessness of Internet Explorer and the virtues of Firefox. That has not changed but it would seem that Internet Explorer is more broken now than it ever has been.

You might be wondering why I have said that. Since my discovery of Firefox I have not used Internet Explorer, for anything. I mean nothing, if a site does not let me view their content in Firefox; I don't bother. Or if I really have to I use the IETab extension for Firefox. So lately I have had cause to test a webpage using Internet Explorer and a few other things, much to my disgust. What I have noticed is that there are so many images, icons, logos, pictures and other elements that just will not load in Internet explorer, they display the box with the red X in the top. The big one being the cool new player we have on the podcast homepage fails to load! When the majority of people surfing the web are doing it in IE that's a big deal!

Is this because the Microsoft boys are concentrating on the up and coming release of Internet Explorer 7 and neglecting this version. Or perhaps it is the fact that the sites that I frequent are sites that "geeks" use and therefore the sites are optimised for Firefox. I just have no clue really. I will say that when I was writing the Global Geek Podcast Homepage, it was much easier to code it for Firefox than Internet Explorer, by a long shot. We are currently doing a rebuild of the site and that continues to be the case. Suffice to say that the site will be optimised for Firefox, yes you will be able to load it in IE but it will not be as pretty.
Having said all that the things that refuse to load in IE are not critical to the site but eh, it is a browser; it is supposed to do it! This is however what we have com to expect from this browser.

So to this just adds to reasons not to use IE, along with the fact that Firefox is a superior browser, both for functionality and form. In addition to the fact that it is highly customisable and is more secure.

Be smart, make the switch.

Firefox Bar

Must Have Firefox Extension!

I must tell you about a great Firefox extension, it also works with Internet Explorer. I don’t think anyone should use Internet Explorer so I am not going to focus on that, damn clunky awful piece of software that it is…

The extension is Site Advisor. As some of you might unfortunately know, these days you only have to visit a site to have something nasty exploit your browser and install some bastard software. It might be a virus or more commonly it is spy-ware or some other rubbish. Or it may be a site that requires registration, for which you register only to find that you start getting about 20 spam emails a day. Or you are unsure if a download contains some malicious software, not necessarily a virus but spy-ware or ad-ware; which in my opinion is no different. But your virus program doesn’t necessarily treat it as a virus. Step in Site Advisor.

Site Advisor DemoBasically what this extension does is places an icon in the bottom right of your browser and the colour changes according to the site’s rating that you are on. There are three ratings, green, yellow and red. You can read the definitions on the link to the homepage. But it is sort of like: cool, worry and panic – get me out of here type thing. The other thing that is excellent is that it displays the rating next to Google searches, with the colour and icon displayed (I do not find this interferes with my searching). Then you can hover over the icon to get the brief information or click for more detailed (the screen capture shows this feature). You can turn off this feature if you wish, but I use it everyday and it has saved my bacon more than once. Click the picture on the left to get the full size.

The good thing about green sites is that it is a requirement that they only link to green sites. So once on a link path of green then you know that you will stay on green sites. So it is a great reassurance. Unrated sites are grey in colour. They may or may not be safe, I have used grey sites as I have known their content. As the system is based on domain names it only takes someone to submit the domain and it is thoroughly checked. As I have had to do with globalgeekpodcast.com; which is currently grey. I have submitted the site and I will let you know how long it takes to get checked.

Of note is the acquisition of Site Advisor by McAffee as of the 5th of April 2006. I hope that this adds to it’s credibility and it remains free to all and continues to provide the safe surfing experience that I have had since installing it.

You do not have to be a user to submit a site and you don’t have to have the extension to manually enter in a site on their homepage to check it. But save yourself the pain in the butt and get the extension. It is my most recommended extension and I find that I love it and so do the people that use it.

It is a mine field out there do something to level the playing field. Also take a look around their site they have heaps of information about the extension, I even read the “why trust us” and other FAQ’s on the main page – worthwhile. I can not recommend this extension enough.

Safe Surfing.