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Top 10 Firefox Extensions to Improve your Productivity

Top 10 Firefox Extensions to Improve your Productivity
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    Firefox is the browser of dreams for many people (myself included). One of the great perks of Firefox is that there are tons of extensions that enhance the functionality of the browser. With over 1500 extensions in existence, there are many that can be used to improve your productivity. The following is my take on the top 10 extensions that will keep you focused, reduce distractions, streamline your daily work flow, and improve your productivity.

    1. Customize Google

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      Customize Google is a very robust extension that lets you customize many features of the services provided by Google. Customize Google lets you block advertisements on pretty much any Google page (including Gmail). It remaps Google Images search results to point directly at the images (no longer will you need to click through the originating site). Customize Google lets you add links from other search engines directly into your search results. It can also block Google click tracking and allows you to connect to Google Calendar and Gmail securely (https). Give it a try, you won’t be sorry.

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      2. Gspace

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        Gspace is a content management extension that lets you turn your Gmail account into an online mass storage device. Gspace integrates nicely into your browser and lets you drag and drop files into Gmail for backup or storage purposes without interrupting your work flow. If you use Gspace, I recommend adding a tag in Gmail to your files so they can be filtered and accessed quickly. The following is the description of Gspace from its homepage: “Gspace turns the 2GB of your Gmail account into free online storage. With Gspace you can manage unlimited Gmail accounts to store all type of files within its simple, user friendly interface. Listen to your favorite stored music directly from your Gspace, view your collections of pictures and manage your Gdrive files as well. Download Gspace now and transfer files between your computer and Gspace at anytime, from everywhere!”

        3. Flashgot/DownThemAll
        The default download manager built into Firefox is very handy; however, there are many occasions that you’ll find that you need more flexibility with your downloads. This is where Flashgot or DownThemAll comes in handy. The features of Flashgot and DownThemAll have their differences; however, they generally provide finer-grained control of your downloads. My personal preference is Flashgot. I recommend trying at least one of them.

        4. Greasemonkey + Stylish + Ad blocking per Gozer
        Greasemonkey is an extension that lets you add scripts that alter the web pages you visit. Using Greasemonkey and Stylish and Ad blocking per Gozer together will block pretty much every advertisement from any Web site you visit.

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        5. Flashblock

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          The Flashblock extension by default blocks flash from playing when a Web page is first opened. Most (distracting) advertisements are written using flash. Flashblock is particularly useful because it replaces the flash from a Web site with a “play” button so you can watch the flash if it something useful (like a video at Youtube) and leave it blocked if it is an advertisement.

          6. Download Statusbar

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            Download Statusbar manages your downloads in the status bar instead of the Firefox Download Manager. I find that the download manager that comes with Firefox to be very intrusive. Download manager tucks your download progress bars into the generally unused status bar of Firefox. This lets you download care-free without the Firefox Download Manager popping up and interrupting you.

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            7. URL Fixer
            URL fixer will replace the common typos you enter when typing a Web site into the URL bar (i.e., http://www.lifehack.rog, htp://lifehack.org). The auto correct feature of URL fixer is very helpful. “[URL Fixer] will correct common misspellings of .com, .net, .org, .edu, .gov, and .mil, as well as the protocol (http:, https:). It will also correct errors in country code TLDS such as .com.XX, .net.XX, and .org.XX.”

            8. Tab Mix Plus
            Many of the features of Tab Mix Plus were incorporated into the release of Firefox 2. However, Tab Mix Plus allows you to add finer-grained control of your tabs. The following is a description of Tab Mix Plus: “Tab Mix Plus enhances Firefox’s tab browsing capabilities. It includes such features as duplicating tabs, controlling tab focus, tab clicking options, undo closed tabs and windows, plus much more. It also includes a full-featured session manager with crash recovery that can save and restore combinations of opened tabs and windows.”

            9. Scrapbook
            Scrapbook is extremely useful for researchers and students. Scrapbook saves blurbs from Web pages to your hard drive along with the URL of the originating Web site. It allows you to organize and categorize your blurbs in a format similar to your bookmarks so that when it comes to creating a bibliography or works cited, you won’t waste any time.

            10. IE Tab

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              I find myself using this extension less and less as more Web developers code their Web sites following standards. However, occasionally you will find it necessary to open a Web site using Internet Explorer in order for it to render correctly. Rather than taking the time to launch a separate browser, just choose “View Page in IE tab” and an Internet Explorer tab opens in Firefox. This is very useful if you like to have multiple Gmail accounts open and active on one computer.

              That’s my take on the extensions that will improve your productivity. Like I previously mentioned, there are tons of Firefox extensions. What extension didn’t I mention that you can’t live without? Please tell us about your favorite productivity-enhancing Firefox extension in the comments.

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              Last Updated on November 5, 2019

              How to Cultivate Continuous Learning to Stay Competitive

              How to Cultivate Continuous Learning to Stay Competitive

              Assuming the public school system didn’t crush your soul, learning is a great activity. It expands your viewpoint. It gives you new knowledge you can use to improve your life. It is important for your personal growth. Even if you discount the worldly benefits, the act of learning can be a source of enjoyment.

              “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” — Mark Twain

              But in a busy world, it can often be hard to fit in time to learn anything that isn’t essential. The only things learned are those that need to be. Everything beyond that is considered frivolous. Even those who do appreciate the practice of lifelong learning, can find it difficult to make the effort.

              Here are some tips for installing the habit of continuous learning:

              1. Always Have a Book

              It doesn’t matter if it takes you a year or a week to read a book. Always strive to have a book that you are reading through, and take it with you so you can read it when you have time.

              Just by shaving off a few minutes in-between activities in my day I can read about a book per week. That’s at least fifty each year.

              2. Keep a “To-Learn” List

              We all have to-do lists. These are the tasks we need to accomplish. Try to also have a “to-learn” list. On it you can write ideas for new areas of study.

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              Maybe you would like to take up a new language, learn a skill or read the collective works of Shakespeare. Whatever motivates you, write it down.

              3. Get More Intellectual Friends

              Start spending more time with people who think. Not just people who are smart, but people who actually invest much of their time in learning new skills. Their habits will rub off on you.

              Even better, they will probably share some of their knowledge with you.

              4. Guided Thinking

              Albert Einstein once said,

              “Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.”

              Simply studying the wisdom of others isn’t enough, you have to think through ideas yourself. Spend time journaling, meditating or contemplating over ideas you have learned.

              5. Put it Into Practice

              Skill based learning is useless if it isn’t applied. Reading a book on C++ isn’t the same thing as writing a program. Studying painting isn’t the same as picking up a brush.

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              If your knowledge can be applied, put it into practice.

              In this information age, we’re all exposed to a lot of information, it’s important to re-learn how to learn so as to put the knowledge into practice.

              6. Teach Others

              You learn what you teach. If you have an outlet of communicating ideas to others, you are more likely to solidify that learning.

              Start a blog, mentor someone or even discuss ideas with a friend.

              7. Clean Your Input

              Some forms of learning are easy to digest, but often lack substance.

              I make a point of regularly cleaning out my feed reader for blogs I subscribe to. Great blogs can be a powerful source of new ideas. But every few months, I realize I’m collecting posts from blogs that I am simply skimming.

              Every few months, purify your input to save time and focus on what counts.

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              8. Learn in Groups

              Lifelong learning doesn’t mean condemning yourself to a stack of dusty textbooks. Join organizations that teach skills.

              Workshops and group learning events can make educating yourself a fun, social experience.

              9. Unlearn Assumptions

              You can’t add water to a full cup. I always try to maintain a distance away from any idea. Too many convictions simply mean too few paths for new ideas.

              Actively seek out information that contradicts your worldview.

              Our minds can’t be trusted, but this is what we can do about it to be wiser.

              10. Find Jobs that Encourage Learning

              Pick a career that encourages continual learning. If you are in a job that doesn’t have much intellectual freedom, consider switching to one that does.

              Don’t spend forty hours of your week in a job that doesn’t challenge you.

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              11. Start a Project

              Set out to do something you don’t know how. Forced learning in this way can be fun and challenging.

              If you don’t know anything about computers, try building one. If you consider yourself a horrible artist, try a painting.

              12. Follow Your Intuition

              Lifelong learning is like wandering through the wilderness. You can’t be sure what to expect and there isn’t always an end goal in mind.

              Letting your intuition guide you can make self-education more enjoyable. Most of our lives have been broken down to completely logical decisions, that making choices on a whim has been stamped out.

              13. The Morning Fifteen

              Productive people always wake up early. Use the first fifteen minutes of your morning as a period for education.

              If you find yourself too groggy, you might want to wait a short time. Just don’t put it off later in the day where urgent activities will push it out of the way.

              14. Reap the Rewards

              Learn information you can use. Understanding the basics of programming allows me to handle projects that other people would require outside help. Meeting a situation that makes use of your educational efforts can be a source of pride.

              15. Make Learning a Priority

              Few external forces are going to persuade you to learn. The desire has to come from within. Once you decide you want to make lifelong learning a habit, it is up to you to make it a priority in your life.

              More About Continuous Learning

              Featured photo credit: Paul Schafer via unsplash.com

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