Androids have become a reality

Human looking robots have always been a fantasy in the modern world. They are fictitious characters in movies, cartoons, comic strips, video games and children’s books. We dream that one day they’ll live alongside us and aid us in our everyday lives being caregivers and companions as depicted in the movie “I, Robot”. Yet, we fear that when that day comes, they would’ve have acquired far too much intelligence and will want to overthrow the human race. All these of course, are part of the imaginative mind that seeks to captivate and entertain. Yet, what was once only part of a dream is slowly taking form.

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Firefox 3.5 and 7 extensions I can’t live without

Mozilla Firefox
Image via Wikipedia

In case you haven’t upgraded your Firefox to the latest 3.5, hit your Check for Updates… button. If you don’t have Firefox (*gasp*) grab it now!

Some of the features includes:

  • Faster page load
  • Faster Javascript
  • Smaller memory footprint
  • Tabs tearing
  • Built-in privacy browsing
  • And more…

This is also a good opportunity for me to share some of the extensions I use, 7 of my favourites which I may or may not live without:

Adblock Plus + NoScript

abp

Ever been annoyed by all those ads and banners on the internet that often take longer to download than everything else on the page? Install Adblock Plus now and get rid of them.

Adblock Plus

noscript

The best security you can get in a web browser!
Allow active content to run only from sites you trust, and protect yourself against XSS and Clickjacking attacks.

NoScript

With these two extensions, you basically idiot-proof your system against most threats. And it’d get rid of all the annoying ads, pop-up or otherwise.

DownThemAll!

dta

The first and only download manager/accelerator built inside Firefox!

DownThemAll!

The description is rather brief but dTa! is a must-get in my opinion. It has other nifty stuff like resume, queuing and mass grabbing of embedded static media and links.

FireGestures

firegesture

A customizable mouse gestures extension which enables you to execute various commands and user scripts with five types of gestures.

FireGestures

I used to use another extension but it became incompatible with 3.5. I run gestures without trace and only have short-cuts for Next / Previous Tab, New Tab, Reload, Reload without cache and Close Tab.

Greasemonkey + Greasefire

greasemonkey

Allows you to customize the way a webpage displays using small bits of JavaScript. …

Greasemonkey

Basically allows you to customise how parts of websites look with bits of Javascript; basically client-side changes to website. Of course, not all of us know what we’re doing, that’s why there’s a huge library of scripts available at UserScripts.

greasefire

Automatically find Greasemonkey scripts on Userscripts.org (requires Greasemonkey)

Greasefire

Rather self-explanatory. Good helper to Greasemonkey and entirely pointless without it.

Some of the Greasemonkey scripts I’m running:

Categories

IETab

ietab

IE Tab – an extension from Taiwan, features: Embedding Internet Explorer in tabs of Mozilla/Firefox…

IE Tab

There’s basically 2 function of this extension. The first is as the author intend, “easily see how your web page displayed in IE”. The second, which I mostly use it for, is to make a web page look sensible to me because there are still some sites which Firefox can’t render properly.

Tabs Open Relative

opentabsrelative

Tabs Open Relative makes all new tabs open to the right of the current tab, rather than at the far right of the tab bar (optionally this only applies to links).

Tabs Open Relative

New tabs in Firefox are typically chucked at the end of tabs list. This extension simply makes new tabs open in a new queue relative to current tab. If words are hard to comprehend, the author has a simple example:

In the case where several new tabs are opened in a row without switching tabs, each subsequent tab will be opened to the right of the previous one, so as to keep them in order.
For example if you have three tabs open, {A}, {B} and {C}, where the current tab is {B}, and then you open three more tabs, {1}, {2} and {3}, you’ll get:
{A} {B} {1} {2} {3} {C}.

UnPlug

unplug

UnPlug is an extension which lets you save video and audio which is embedded on a webpage – it’s a video download tool.

UnPlug

This is the only extension in this list that isn’t compatible with 3.5 but seems to work perfectly. Somehow the author doesn’t update at Mozilla’s add-on portal anymore so go to the author’s website to grab the latest version.

Some of the cool features:

  • Don’t need to buffer the video
  • Doesn’t send you to another URL to download the video
  • Tries to locate highest quality video, meaning it’d help you get a HD MP4 video file if it’s available
  • Integrates with dTa for higher speed!

Follow the instructions provided here at Lifehacker to circumvent version checking for extensions to use UnPlug. It has a huge USE AT YOUR OWN RISK warning but UnPlug hasn’t exploded on it yet.


Of course I cheated and listed 9 extensions instead of 7 but who cares. Hope this rare non-vlog entry is useful. Do leave a comment if you have any cool extensions to recommend or feedback for any of those in the list.

How to remove Microsoft .NET Assistant from Firefox

Mozilla Firefox

Image via Wikipedia

Not exactly breaking news but better late than never. Prevent your favourite browser from becoming Internet Fire Explorer Fox.

2nd link has lots of screen shots and may be easier to follow.

This update adds to Firefox one of the most dangerous vulnerabilities present in all versions of Internet Explorer: the ability for websites to easily and quietly install software on your PC. Since this design flaw is one of the reasons you may’ve originally chosen to abandon IE in favor of a safer browser like Firefox, you may wish to remove this extension with all due haste.
[Annoyances.org]

I like Microsoft products overall, but I cannot and will never condone blatant misuse of corporate power to distribute useless, unasked-for software to masses who do not have the skills to tell part good from bad or how to handle issues like the above.

The Assistant, if at all, should be an optional package, with clear user consent granted before any installation. Furthermore, the installation should be fully 100% revocable, so that anyone using the computer can do it, via the standard Add/Remove panel.

This is a very serious breach of user trust. Not only is this package delivered without explicit approval, it’s also made difficult to remove. Moreover, its use is not clear. Lastly, the change affects third-party software, not one of Microsoft products, so the question is, what the hell did Microsoft want to achieve with this nebulous, spyware-like update? Animosity from a few trusted users? Force people not to install updates or use older versions of their products?
[Dedoimedo]

Again, But Slower and Simple Wikipedia

[Lifehacker – Again, But Slower Shows Simplified Wikipedia Pages and Their Originals – Wikipedia]

I never knew there is a Simple English Wikipedia, now I also learnt there’s a free site which shows you both for comparison without having to sign-up. Check it out, especially when researching on cheem subjects is giving you a headache and you need a simpler explanation.

Defragging is pretty again

I’m not sure if I’m the only crazy one but I was kinda disappointed when I fired up XP’s built-in defragmenter and found out all I got is this tiny bar which changes colours as it defrags your hard disk. No longer do I get to see tiny coloured boxes jumping about. :cry:

Well, problem solved because Piriform, the people who brougt you CCleaner, presents Defraggler.

piriform_defraggler-20090519215211-medium

I’m sure a lot of you are not bat-shit crazy like me so these are the features Piriform is advertising for Defraggler:

Defrag Individual Files
Most defragmentation tools only let you defrag the whole drive. Defraggler gives you the power to select individual files and folders to defrag. So you can get the job done in seconds, rather than waiting for the whole drive to complete. Of course if you want to defrag the whole drive Defraggler will let you do that too.

Compact and Portable
Defraggler was written in the same compact architecture as other Piriform products (CCleaner and Recuva). This results in a compact single EXE application, which can be copied to a thumbdrive and then used whenever you need it, without a complex installation process. The EXE itself is less than 1MB!

Vista Support
Defraggler supports all OSs released since Windows 2000, this includes Windows 2000, 2003, XP and Vista. 64-bit support has also just been added! Additionally Defraggler supports both NTFS and FAT32 file systems.

Locate Files on the Drive
After analysis Defraggler lists all the fragmented files on the drive. Selecting one or many will highlight their location on the disk. Allowing you to visually see the location of files on the disk.

Freeware
Why pay hundreds of dollars for a commercial defragmentation tool, when you can use Defraggler for free! This includes corporate use as well!

I’m not sure if Defraggler works better than XP’s disk defragmenter. It seems to take a little longer so far but that just means more time to look at the pretty colours!!

Download Defraggler

Edit: Maybe those running Vista can give it a try and see if works better than what Vista is providing.

Make windows media player start faster

Another annoyance from microsoft but the good thing is it is solvable without needing to head to registry to tweak stuff (Which was their suggested solution -.-). First thing I noticed about playing sounds from wmp is the few seconds wait to start playing the songs. Something which did not happen when I played songs in xp.

If you listen to songs through your headphones or laptop speakers or you’re not an audiophile, the following will remove the few seconds wait.

1. Right click the speaker icon on your task bar.
2. Select playback devices.
3. Under the playback tab, double click speakers.
4. Under enhancements tab, click the disable all enhancements checkbox.

Play your music with satisfaction now. :)

Read about the explaination here.

Making vista startup faster and other annoyances

I bought the lenovo T400 recently which runs on vista business. I love the new theme with the awesome transitions. However, the slow startup time and totally different catelog system from xp can a pain in the ass for this switch. Here’s some tweaks I did to make the start up faster.

From the start menu, type in services in the start search box and press enter.

svc

You will get the screen above which is a list of processes which may run from your computer. Some processes may be stopped from automatically running at the  start and hence makes the startup time faster overall. To do this, click on the process followed by Action -> Properties. From there, you can change the startup type. Do read up on the description of the processes before you disable them as a wrong move may lead to dire consequences.

Here’s what I did:
1. Secondary logon -> disabled (Allows you to run certain program from another profile in your current profile. I don’t see the use of this.)
2. System update -> disabled (Specific to lenovo only. As lenovo does not provide auto updates anymore, there’s no point in executing it.)
3. Tablet and input service -> manual (If you’re not using a tablet pc, there’s no need to automatically execute this.)
4. Windows update -> manual (Just very fed up with the update pop ups)
5. Windows image acquisition -> manual

Black viper published this in greater detail. He has 3 different settings of “safe”. “tweaked” and “bare bones” which may interest you.

Edit @ 10.45pm: found more processes to disable and a very handy site which explains the uses of many processes.

Here’s a list of annoyances which I tweaked:
1. Disabling UAC which keeps asking for confirmation. Details can be found here.
2. Pictures from windows photo gallery (the vista version of windows picture viewer) has a pink tint. Solution can be found here.

Freebies you should install which I did =)

1. Launchy – a cool looking launcher. Help to keep your desktop clean.

2. Firefox – a browser that allows themes and many plugins.

3. Maintenance and protection with AVG free antivirius, zonealarm, CCleaner, Spybot

4. Digsby – a im.
I love msn mesenger but microsoft has withdrawn and replaced it with messenger live which has irritating bullets. Cheers to digsby.

IE is bad for you, it’s true.

[Internet Explorer: Security Experts Advising You Stay Off Internet Explorer For Now.]

I don’t like using Internet Explorer for so many reasons. For a big corporation like Microsoft, they’re not particularly bothered with making their browser compliant with web-standards or even secure. So yea, if you’re still using IE, now is good time to jump on to another browser. I like Firefox. ;)