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17 Firefox Extensions That Make Blogging Easy

17 Firefox Extensions That Make Blogging Easy
Firefox Extensions That Make Blogging Easy

The great thing about the Firefox browser is when you have a problem, there is usually a solution in the form of an extension. As a blog writer, I’ve been using a few that smooth out the experience and get rid of a few annoyances.

Here are a few suggestions.

Collecting

Google Notebook – Highlight the content you want to save, Note it with this extension. You can organize different ‘notebooks’ with their own sections. Each note will have a link back to the original website.

Session Manager – Great for doing research and rounding up a few sources. Save the session of tabs so you can come back to them later.

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coComment – Keep tracks of comments you’ve left on other websites. This is particularly useful if the comment section is providing more resources than the actual post content.

Speak It – Have articles read out to you so you can do the dishes while researching. Not to be used while at the computer – speed reading = productivity. This extension uses the Microsoft TTS Engine.

DocuFarm – This is a cool extension that previews word, PDFs etc within Firefox. It comes with a search, which you can also use to search PDFs!

Writing

Scribefire – Performancing.com’s popular split-browser blog editor. Multiple blog management, categories and simple source editing. FTP Uploads are available but buggy. No good image support.

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Deepest Sender – Very similar to ScribeFire, these two extensions lack greater features like image uploading, time-stamp editing and compatible tagging. Both are very easy to set up.

Resizable Text Area – If you stick with your regular blog editor, such as WordPress, this extension comes in handy to resize the text area quickly and freely.

Spellbound & Google Toolbar – Inline spell-check, ala Microsoft Word. Use the extension or Google Toolbar’s built-in spell-checker. Both work great. Superseded by Firefox 2’s built in spell check.

Tabinta – turns the Tab Button to a text editor spacing tab rather than cycling through the web forms. Only interacts with the text area, otherwise does the regular Firefox tabbing.

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Split Browser – Great when copy and pasting content and URLs, this extension makes it easy to split any tab any which way. Put your editor in a ‘sidebar’ and continue surfing the other tabs in the other pane.

Copy Plain Text – This is a can’t-live-without extension for me. When I copy text, I don’t want any of the original site’s formating, links or text-link-ads to be copied over as well. Just the text. That’s what this extension does.

Copy As HTML Link – Use this extension in conjunction with Copy Plain Text to create links for your posts. Only make links when you want with the text you want.

Images

Web Developer – Other than View Source and those functions, Web Developer is great for getting image information like size etc. If a site is making it hard to get access to their images, use the View Image Information button to get all the images and their links. Respect copyright.

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Snagit – to use with the SnagIt image capture application, this extension just makes it easy to start grabbing screenshots while still in Firefox.

Picnik – this web based app trumps SnagIt in many respects. With the Picnik extension you can grab a screenshot of the visible page, or the entire page, with one click. The same goes with any images on the web, including a button at Flickr.com.

Picnik is also a very good image editor. I don’t use anything else to edit images for articles. You can take any photo, from your computer, Flickr or Picasso account, or anywhere on the web, and start editing without downloading anything to your computer.

Please share any you have to add.

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Craig Childs

Craig is an editor and web developer who writes about happiness and motivation at Lifehack

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Last Updated on August 20, 2019

Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

Most of the skills I use to make a living are skills I’ve learned on my own: Web design, desktop publishing, marketing, personal productivity skills, even teaching! And most of what I know about science, politics, computers, art, guitar-playing, world history, writing, and a dozen other topics, I’ve picked up outside of any formal education.

This is not to toot my own horn at all; if you stop to think about it, much of what you know how to do you’ve picked up on your own. But we rarely think about the process of becoming self-taught. This is too bad, because often, we shy away from things we don’t know how to do without stopping to think about how we might learn it — in many cases, fairly easily.

The way you approach the world around you dictates to a great degree whether you will find learning something new easy or hard. Learning comes easily to people who have developed:

Curiosity

Being curious means you look forward to learning new things and are troubled by gaps in your understanding of the world. New words and ideas are received as challenges and the work of understanding them is embraced.

People who lack curiosity see learning new things as a chore — or worse, as beyond their capacities.

Patience

Depending on the complexity of a topic, learning something new can take a long time. And it’s bound to be frustrating as you grapple with new terminologies, new models, and apparently irrelevant information.

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When you are learning something by yourself, there is nobody to control the flow of information, to make sure you move from basic knowledge to intermediate and finally advanced concepts.

Patience with your topic, and more importantly with yourself is crucial — there’s no field of knowledge that someone in the world hasn’t managed to learn, starting from exactly where you are.

A Feeling for Connectedness

This is the hardest talent to cultivate, and is where most people flounder when approaching a new topic.

A new body of knowledge is always easiest to learn if you can figure out the way it connects to what you already know. For years, I struggled with calculus in college until one day, my chemistry professor demonstrated how to do half-life calculations using integrals. From then on, calculus came much easier, because I had made a connection between a concept I understood well (the chemistry of half-lifes) and a field I had always struggled in (higher maths).

The more you look for and pay attention to the connections between different fields, the more readily your mind will be able to latch onto new concepts.

With a learning attitude in place, working your way into a new topic is simply a matter of research, practice, networking, and scheduling:

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1. Research

Of course, the most important step in learning something new is actually finding out stuff about it. I tend to go through three distinct phases when I’m teaching myself a new topic:

Learning the Basics

Start as all things start today: Google it! Somehow people managed to learn before Google ( I learned HTML when Altavista was the best we got!) but nowadays a well-formed search on Google will get you a wealth of information on any topic in seconds.

Surfing Wikipedia articles is a great way to get a basic grounding in a new field, too — and usually the Wikipedia entry for your search term will be on the first page of your Google search.

What I look for is basic information and then the work of experts — blogs by researchers in a field, forums about a topic, organizational websites, magazines. I subscribe to a bunch of RSS feeds to keep up with new material as it’s posted, I print out articles to read in-depth later, and I look for the names of top authors or top books in the field.

Hitting the Books

Once I have a good outline of a field of knowledge, I hit the library. I look up the key names and titles I came across online, and then scan the shelves around those titles for other books that look interesting.

Then, I go to the children’s section of the library and look up the same call numbers — a good overview for teens is probably going to be clearer, more concise, and more geared towards learning than many adult books.

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Long-Term Reference

While I’m reading my stack of books from the library, I start keeping my eyes out for books I will want to give a permanent place on my shelves. I check online and brick-and-mortar bookstores, but also search thrift stores, used bookstores, library book sales, garage sales, wherever I happen to find myself in the presence of books.

My goal is a collection of reference manuals and top books that I will come back to either to answer thorny questions or to refresh my knowledge as I put new skills into practice. And to do this cheaply and quickly.

2. Practice

Putting new knowledges into practice helps us develop better understandings now and remember more later. Although a lot of books offer exercises and self-tests, I prefer to jump right in and build something: a website, an essay, a desk, whatever.

A great way to put any new body of knowledge into action is to start a blog on it — put it out there for the world to see and comment on.

Just don’t lock your learning up in your head where nobody ever sees how much you know about something, and you never see how much you still don’t know.

3. Network

One of the most powerful sources of knowledge and understanding in my life have been the social networks I have become embedded in over the years — the websites I write on, the LISTSERV I belong to, the people I talk with and present alongside at conferences, my colleagues in the department where I studied and the department where I now teach, and so on.

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These networks are crucial to extending my knowledge in areas I am already involved, and for referring me to contacts in areas where I have no prior experience. Joining an email list, emailing someone working in the field, asking colleagues for recommendations, all are useful ways of getting a foothold in a new field.

Networking also allows you to test your newly-acquired knowledge against others’ understandings, giving you a chance to grow and further develop.

4. Schedule

For anything more complex than a simple overview, it pays to schedule time to commit to learning. Having the books on the shelf, the top websites bookmarked, and a string of contacts does no good if you don’t give yourself time to focus on reading, digesting, and implementing your knowledge.

Give yourself a deadline, even if there is no externally imposed time limit, and work out a schedule to reach that deadline.

Final Thoughts

In a sense, even formal education is a form of self-guided learning — in the end, a teacher can only suggest and encourage a path to learning, at best cutting out some of the work of finding reliable sources to learn from.

If you’re already working, or have a range of interests beside the purely academic, formal instruction may be too inconvenient or too expensive to undertake. That doesn’t mean you have to set aside the possibility of learning, though; history is full of self-taught successes.

At its best, even a formal education is meant to prepare you for a life of self-guided learning; with the power of the Internet and the mass media at our disposal, there’s really no reason not to follow your muse wherever it may lead.

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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