December 31, 2007

Eight Firefox extensions you don't need

Author: Lisa Hoover

The Firefox Web browser community has created thousands of wonderful extensions that make surfing and working with the Internet fun and productive. While many extensions are homes runs, here are a few that just don't make it out of the ballpark.

The object of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is to write a 50,000-word novel in a mere 30 days. That's stressful enough without being constantly reminded of how far you're falling behind, yet that's just what the Nanowrimo Meter does. Most writers won't want a reminder of their cumulative lack of progress. Unless, of course, you're the type of writer that can churn out 11,554 cogent words in two days. If that's the case, we should talk.

As someone who has used Leet-speak more than once to transmit messages to my geekiest of friends (let's keep that between us), I can completely understand the attraction of the Leet Key extension. The idea of being able to automatically type in Leet is nifty, but the extension is so over-the-top geeky that it's probably best to not even download it. Or at least not tell anyone if you do. \/\/0u|dn'7 y0u 46r33? is a Web site that helps job-seekers create the perfect résumé. There's an extension available that lets Emurse users send their résumés to prospective employers any time the mood strikes by simply right-clicking on any email link and choosing "Send Resume via" There are so many things that could go wrong with this process that it's hard to know where to begin. Emurse might send the résumé in a format the employer doesn't want; it may contain header and footer ads; and of course, it adds the potential for technical glitches or mishaps as your résumé wings its way to the human resources department. You certainly don't want to get on a job recruiter's radar because your résumé was accidentally sent 17 times. While the résumé service itself is likely a good one, the extension is better left in the toolbox.

Unless you don't browse the Internet until Mercury is in retrograde, you can probably skip's extension that helps you identify your daily tarot and fortune cookie. On the other hand, if you use other kinds of data input to plan your day, maybe you'll find the US Department of Homeland Insecurity Idiocy Level useful.

I tried to think of a use for the Homepage Randomizer extension, and I have to admit, I'm stumped. Isn't the whole purpose of a home page to be a predictable location to return to as a starting point at the beginning or end of a browsing session? Isn't a static home page like Netvibes or iGoogle what people choose when they want a parking place for all the information they're busy collecting all day? I, for one, want to know that clicking on my homepage will take me right where I'm expecting. Maybe that's just me.

While I'm all about customizing the look and feel of the browsing experience, there is such a thing as taking the idea too far. Google Icon? Just how long are you looking at a Google search results page if you need to dress up each result with its own icon?

Grocery List Generator helps you list and track your shopping list so you always remember just what you need when you get to the store. Although it seems like this extension should have a ton of features to make it a more practical tool than otheroptions, it really doesn't. It has space for listing food items, and it prints your list. Think I'll stick to the old-fashioned method.

Fans of comedian Tom Green might like the extension that tracks the status of his Web site, Are his fans so rabid that they need up-to-the-second information on his every movement? I don't know, since I couldn't find anyone to ask. If you're a fan then, um, enjoy this extension I found. If you're Tom Green, forget I said anything.

Every Monday we highlight a different extension, plugin, or add-on. Write an article of less than 1,000 words telling us about one that you use and how it makes your work easier, along with tips for getting the most out of it. If we publish it, we'll pay you $100. (Send us a query first to be sure we haven't already published a story on your chosen topic recently or have one in hand.)


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