How to Remove Incredibar and IB Installer

The Nuisance That is Incredibar and IB InstallerHow do we get infected computers? Most attacks are thwarted easily, but if you snooze, the bad guys are waiting to pounce. That happened to me recently. A lapse in my attention span got me an infection of the Incredibar hijacker and adware provider. If you have not seen this one, consider this description from Spybot Search & Destroy:

  • Incredibar is an adware toolbar that gets installed along other software.
  • It shows advertising within Internet Explorer and Firefox and changes the default search engine and startpage.
  • Even uninstall does not revert changes to search engine and startpage.
  • The Firefox addon installs without a request and does not uninstall with the Windows uninstaller and remains fully functional.

It also causes other difficulties.

The process of cleaning is not difficult, but I made it worse by stubbornly trying to do it on my own. Help is available.

The adventure started when I was given an older Dell laptop with XP and not much else. I wanted to convert it to a working spare, but I did not check the anti-virus software situation until after I had downloaded several useful things. After I deleted an old copy of Norton and installed MSE and Malwarebytes, the damage had already been done. IE, Firefox, and Chrome were installed. I used Firefox for downloading most things. That is critical because it and Chrome were contaminated, but IE was clean. I had only used IE to download Firefox.

Initial symptoms were a novel home page and a strange search engine as default. Other bad things happened. The infection had to be removed. Not to fear: I had conquered the Babylon Toolbar and posted an account of my struggles with it. Based on what I learned then, I first tried to uninstall anything that looked like Incredibar. Then I searched through the registry and manually deleted all references to it. Then I was ready to fix Firefox. Since my bookmarks were synched with another computer, without pain I uninstalled it — remembering to click the box that said to delete personal preferences, also! (Fail to do that and, when Firefox is re-installed, you will be surprised.) With a flourish, I downloaded Firefox via IE and it installed clean! Wow, I was a hero. Then it was time to do the same with Chrome. Oops, no good.

I searched online for Incredibar. It has too many references to rate them. This is one I used. Do not click any site promising to help you clean this infection unless you have WOT or the equivalent installed. Several sites have red warnings. Bad guys will try to pull a double scam. Searching showed me what caused my initial failure to eliminate the pest. You must also uninstall “IB Installer.” A few minutes of research would have saved sweat.

There are many YouTube videos, but several of them have annoying audio tracks (why do people do that?). This one seems reasonable.

http://youtu.be/sHHXPuCMRjc

Cleaning Firefox as described in the link above includes making a promise to be careful. To clean Chrome, and this is not always described accurately, you must follow the instructions, but also click on the icon that looks like three bars. Click on Settings. In On startup, click Set Pages. If Incredibar or any variation is present, drag it to the trash can. Failure to follow this step makes all for naught.

After I got things fixed, I found this on Bleeping Computer:

Please downloadAdwCleaner by Xplode onto your desktop.

  • Close all open programs and Internet browsers.
  • Double click on adwcleaner.exe to run the tool.
  • Click on Delete.
  • Confirm each time with OK.
  • You will be prompted to restart your computer. A text file will open after the restart.
  • Please post the contents of that logfile with your next reply.
  • You can find the logfile at C:\AdwCleaner[S1].txt as well.

I have not tried this fix, but Bleeping Computer is reliable. If you have used this or had any other issues with Incredibar, please share.

Image: Warning by karl.herler via Flickr

How I Fell in Love with Google Chrome Apps

How I Fell in Love with Google Chrome AppsWhen a new browser came out, I was always right there. I was reading dev logs and peering over the new details of bug fixes and what modifications we’d see in future releases. To me, an Internet browser was the window to our digital life and, if it’s done wrong and it’s complicated to use, I can’t live. I worked my way past Internet Explorer and leapt at Opera, clamored for Firefox, and when Chrome came out and introduced me to something so simple and clean, I was in love. Absolutely.

After some slow-going roll-outs, Chrome finally introduced us to apps. Much like you could get on your phone, Chrome apps were a way that we could take the applications we loved on our phones and put them on our second most-used interface: Our Internet browser. This gave us a wealth of possibilities and none of these slid past me for even a second as I was right there to absorb all of the productivity enhancers and possible time drains that Google Chrome had to offer me.

Over the past year, I’ve had the pleasure of scaling back and tweaking my experience to be one of customized heaven. What’s wonderful about the app selection in Google Chrome is that it doesn’t want you to take anything you don’t want. The app screen for your Chrome browser isn’t meant to fit a ton of items on one page and clutter up your screen if you don’t want it that way, you know? It just says: “Take what you want until you’re happy, but know you can always go back.” And I needed to see that. I remember when I got my first iPod touch and I knew I could download apps there — I went insane. I needed everything on there and, with a hard drive like you have on a computer, that can get kind of crazy. Nobody wants to see half of a terabyte devoted to silly apps, do they? No, they don’t.

What kind of apps did I choose? Why, I’m glad you asked! Among my favorites, I chose the ones I use on a nearly daily basis — and repeatedly. Check them out for yourself:

TweetDeck

Most of you who use Twitter are already familiar with TweetDeck and how spot-on it has always been for us desktop users. Sure, it has its home on mobile devices, but I always loved it here on my PC. As soon as I pop my browser on, this button is right here and waiting to be clicked.

Dropbox

I was a bit late in the game when it came to understanding cloud storage and became a full on supporter once I mastered the Amazon cloud storage and its possibilities. Dropbox offers just what I need plus an easy way to invite people to share the files I put there. You might be thinking: “But Google Docs?” And, no, until Google Drive is ready to go — bug free — I’ll be safe here at Dropbox with my several gigs of cloud storage at the touch of a finger.

PicMonkey

Now I’m well-versed in Photoshop and have been for years, but what about those quick shots you don’t want to have to edit in Photoshop? Maybe they’re just quick snaps of your breakfast or a new gadget? Not worth the trouble? Well, PicMonkey knew I would love it for simplifying color correction, minor editing, and sophisticated filters put into button format. It’s easy to use and it tends to even come in as a finishing stroke after I edit in Photoshop now. I absolutely love it.

Do It (Tomorrow)

This little program is my lifesaver in a world filled with Google Calenders, BaseCamps, and complicated scheduling utilities. I don’t need them because my life is already pretty streamlined and I like it that way. It’s like giving someone a Maybach to drive to the grocery store around the corner, you know? This is where Do It (Tomorrow) eases in and says “Look, you just need to remember what to do tomorrow. That’s it. Don’t go crazy.” and leaves you with it! Simple format, absolutely free, and has one of the sweetest little journals inside with handwritten fonts, coffee stains, and page-turning sounds. I love it. It loves me. End of story.

How I Fell in Love with Google Chrome Apps

Mibbit IRC

Once in a while, I frequent some modification and emulation chatrooms that revolve around imported video games from the ’80s and ’90s and, when I go there, I need a quick shot into those rooms. Mibbit grabs that IRC link and turns your browser into a streamlined IRC chat client in the blink of an eye. Merely slap your nickname into the window and you’re off and running, regaling in stories about when the Sega Master System was the beginning of an amazing era of gaming.

WordPress

True, it’s really easy to just go ahead and type in your blog’s name and access the WP-Admin login system, but this little app knows you’re busy. It knows you’re obviously using WordPress for something personal and close to your chest and it gives you the ability to log in and get it all out. It’s simple, quiet, and without distractions of sidebars and craziness. Sure, I don’t really use it for work, but for my personal blog, it’s perfectly suited there on my app bar.

Pixlr Editor

Remember up there when I was going on and on about Photoshop and PicMonkey? Well, Pixlr Editor is in between those two worlds. Yes, when you edit as many photos as I do, you need a few middle men in the mix. Pixlr Editor is when I’m not quite finding what I want with PicMonkey but I’m on the go. It’s as sophisticated as one can imagine for being absolutely free and gives me the right amount of quick-fire detailing that I need to get to before getting into my Adobe mindset. If I’m going to boot up Photoshop, I know I’ll be there for days working and tweaking. Pixlr is a beautiful little app that cuts those processes down dramatically.

How I Fell in Love with Google Chrome Apps

These programs are ones I use to keep my sanity at a reasonable level and you’ll notice that none of these have anything to do with the rich, casual gaming environment that Google Chrome has ventured into with its apps. You’re right. Why? Because I choose to do my gaming on a console or through Steam. I use Google Chrome to stay as productive as I can and leave the gaming for outside browser windows.

I’m curious what apps you use and if you find yourself drifting towards productivity or casual entertainment. Show off what you use and if you think (or don’t think) that including apps in browsers is far better than just simple extensions and add-ons. Our phones are like small computers in our hands that offer applications on-the-go, and Google actually gives us the opportunity to use those same tools on our computers. Excited? Elated? You know I am.

10 Web Developer Firefox Add-ons

I am an amateur Web developer who has tinkered around with the design of websites and I have even taken classes to learn more about the subject. Every Web developer has their own style and tools to build websites, but his primary tools are usually a text editor and a browser. A browser not only helps with testing a design, but it can even help in the design of the website itself. When I first got started developing websites, I used Firefox as my primary Web browser because it was versatile and offered many skillfully created add-ons to assist in my development.

If you want to learn Web development or you’re just getting started, I’ve got a list of Firefox add-ons that may help. Firefox is the browser of choice for many Web developers because of its simple platform and popularity across the Web. These add-ons might not only help you with developing, but even day-to-day tasks.

Web Developer has a very obvious name, which also happens to provide a pretty clear explanation for what the app does. It’s a suite of tools that are essential for every Web developer to have when modifying and designing websites. The add-on gives you a toolbar of many useful functions to design your website without any hassle and even allows you to change things in real-time to tweak what you’re looking at without having to keep going back and changing the code and refreshing the page. This tool gives you options to block storing cookies so you’ll always have the most up to date information on the website when tweaking it. The set of CSS options that gives you a wide range of settings — from disabling certain styles and editing the CSS in real-time — might be the add-on’s most powerful feature. Whether you need to modify the CSS or validate the website to be in compliance with W3C standards, this add-on is essential.

10 Web Developer Firefox Add-onsMeasureit is a great tool for checking dimensions of elements and ensuring that they all fit on the page properly and are sized to fit. So, instead of holding up a ruler to the screen and hoping that you measure accurately, this add-on gives you a virtual ruler that measures in pixels — both horizontally and vertically at the same time — to make your job easier.

Firebug is by far one of my very favorite add-ons for Firefox because it’s not only open source but it has an active community that create extensions for this add-on. Firebug is mostly a frontend development tool like Web Developer, but it can help you diagnose existing problems. It can help you figure out what CSS elements are affecting other elements on the page; this can be very useful when you’re having trouble with a style rule that isn’t showing up right on your page. Firebug can even inspect the page to tell you about the structure of the page and can determine a wide array of elements such as color, height, width, and many other HTML based elements.

CSS Usage, a Firebug add-on, is a very powerful CSS tool that can find unused elements in your CSS code to clean it up and remove unused or straggling code that shouldn’t be there. CSS Usage analyzes your page and finds everything that isn’t being used or referenced in the HTML and lets you know how to trim the excess fat off your website.

ColorZilla is one of those tools that every Web designer uses because a website is just plain ugly if it doesn’t have a splash of color somewhere. To make the page attractive, you need colors that complement each other, and finding the HEX code for these colors can be very daunting. ColorZilla is just like the color picker inside of Photoshop where you see a gradient of colors and a color slider on the right to select the correct hue of color you want. You can manually enter colors into the tool to see where the color is and then use that reference to pick a complementing color to go along with it.

HTML Validator is a nifty tool to check that all of your HTML coding is correct and up to par on HTML standards. HTML Validator will check your code for compliance, and if it finds something not up to par it will alert you and tell you what you can do to update the code to be compliant.

Page Speed checks your website and grades it on loading performance. Nobody likes a slow loading website that hangs when loading images that are of super high quality. Web design is not only about the look of the website but the load speed of the website. It’s said that every 100 milliseconds increased in load time at Amazon.com decreases sales by 1%. Page speed is everything, and this Firefox add-on will grade your website’s performance on a 100 point scale. It’s a Google developed add-on and uses its PageSpeed API to judge your performance. I use this tool constantly to check my websites and a grade of 80 points or above is generally the best for a normal website. Not only will it check your website, but it even gives recommendations on what you can do to improve its performance.

IE Tab 2 is useful because there are still a majority of users who use Internet Explorer. This add-on simulates an Internet Explorer window to check your design in a different browser without actually having to open a new browser. This add-on is very simple to use; after installing it you right-click on the tab and select to view the tab as an Internet Explorer window.

Screengrab is a great tool if you need to collaborate with a client or other developers to show off a design in progress or even a mock-up. This add-on has three different options for taking a screen shot of the website. It can take a picture of just the visible area on the website, so if your page is longer than the browser window it will only take a picture of what you can see. The second option offers to take a picture of the whole webpage; this is great when your website scrolls and you need to get the page from top to bottom in a single image for a client. Last, there is the selection option that will allow you to highlight just what you want to take a picture of. It’s simple to use and highly recommended.

SEO Doctor should be an essential tool in the final design stages of a website. If you want people to find your website when they are searching for it, this tool is what you need to get recommendations on how to improve performance of the website. SEO Doctor analyzes the page and gives you a score from 0% to 100% based on SEO. It will even highlight some areas of the website that can be optimized better for search engine traffic. One of the best features about this add-on is that it can export the data into a spreadsheet for logging and analysis.

These are just some of the most used tools out there for designing websites. Firefox has a vast array of different add-ons from which you can search. What development tools do you use for designing a website?

Firefox 5 Still Plagued by Memory Issues

Firefox 5 Still Plagued by Memory IssuesMy experience with the Firefox Browser began with its release of version 1 and, while even then a memory hog, I found it to be an excellent browser that loaded Web pages quickly. However, when version 4 became available, its memory issues caused me to change my default browser to Google’s Chrome browser, which seems to be able to better manage the memory issues that plague Firefox.

Last night I decided to give it another try and downloaded the latest browser from Mozilla, Firefox 5. After using it, I must admit that the team at Mozilla has done an excellent programming job with this latest version. One of the immediate things I noticed was that the GUI was easy to use and that even when opening multiple Web pages I was impressed with the speed and ease of this latest version of Firefox 5.

However, after about 10 minutes using the browser, I checked the memory usage using Process Explorer, a program that replaces the task manager, and found it disturbing that in just 10 minutes of use, Firefox was using a whopping 276 MB of memory. I cannot speak for, nor did I compare any other browser, to Firefox 5, but in my opinion, 276 MB of memory usage is excessive for any browser no matter who makes it. Sadly, that means, in my opinion, that Mozilla has not addressed one of the biggest complaints that users have had against Firefox regarding excessive memory usage. However, I must note that many of these users have stated that they don’t believe that it is the browser that is using this excessive memory but rather the add-ons that come with it. If this is in fact the case, however, one would think that the folks at Mozilla would test the add-ons and reject any that use an excessive amount of memory.

Since I believe that the people at Mozilla have a good product, I hope that they will address this issue because if they don’t, I believe that the company will continue its market share slide as consumers choose Google’s Chrome.

Comments welcome.

Free Browser in a Box Uses Firefox to Isolate Malware

In a perfect world we would not need to worry about infections and we could surf anywhere we wanted on the Internet. Unfortunately no matter which operating system or browser we use, there is always the possibility of becoming infected by some sort of critter. BitBox is one solution that may just keep your system safe when used in conjunction with Firefox.

Here is how it works. BitBox uses a virtual machine to isolate your browser software away from your operating system The browser and virtual machine can be used with Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7 while one uses Firefox normally. What BitBox does is isolate any viruses or malware that attack the browser. Once the browser is restarted, the infection is eradicated protecting your system completely.

In addition, BitBox also has versions for some distributions of Linux. The Web site must be translated from German to English. I did this using my Chrome browser, which automatically did the translating without a problem. I accessed the software and installed BitBox in about 20 minutes on my test box. The software package is just about 1GB and uses about 2GB of space on your hard disk.

Once you start BitBox and your Firefox browser, your surfing is relatively the same as if your were using Firefox by itself. I did notice some minor lag, but overall this was not a problem. My overall experience was positive and did not find any issues using BitBox.

There are some caveats one should be aware of. A user still needs to be careful not to fall for phishing attacks that may request you to provide personal information or data. As with any type of security protection, the user still must be alert for attempts to garner private information or to grant access to your computer system.

I have always found that the best protection any of us can use is common sense. Unfortunately, common sense cannot be bottled and sold over the Internet.

Angry Birds for Chrome OS Plus a Firefox Workaround

Those Angry Birds are chasing after the green pigs again, but this time the game is being played on the Google Chrome OS. The free beta version of Angry Birds for Chrome OS is available now and comes in either SD or HD game play. There are 70 levels currently available with seven new levels for Chrome OS users. To get Angry Birds on your Chrome OS notebook, go to the Google Web Store and click the Install button for Angry Birds.

You next need to select which format you wish displayed, either Standard Definition or High Definition. View the fortification that is protecting the green pigs from destruction and you are ready to play. The screen auto-scrolls over to a sling shot, which holds one of the Angry Birds. Your job is to launch the Angry Bird with enough height and velocity to knock down the fortress, which collapses and wipes out the green piggies.

I installed the game this morning and in a matter of minutes was launching the Angry Birds into the fortresses protecting the green pigs. Each level requires a skill set including geometry and physics. Oh, luck is also helpful when propelling the birds through the air and trying to smash down the fortifications. This has become one of the most popular games and now has versions for just about every platform including Chrome OS.

There is also a trick to get Angry Birds to play on your Firefox browser that should work for you. The first requirement is that you must make sure that you have Adobe Flash installed. You can then find Angry Birds Chrome online, which also works in Firefox.

I haven’t tried playing Angry Birds in Firefox and I am not sure if it will work or not, but according to LockerGnome’s Jake Ludington it works in Firefox 4 on Windows 7. Playing Angry Birds is a great way to waste your time and keep yourself entertained. Enjoy.

Mozilla Has Posted A List Of 50 Slow Performing Add-Ons For Firefox

I have used Firefox for about six years before making the switch over to Google Chrome. I made the switch not because I thought that Google Chrome was better than Firefox. I made the switch because one add-0n aka extension would not work properly in Firefox so I decided to switch.  So when I read an article directly from the Mozilla team, which lists 50 slow performing add-0ns, I thought to myself that it was about time that Mozilla put the slowness of Firefox on the actual culprits. It is surprising how many complain that for them, Firefox crawls, but they don’t mention how many add-ons they load up on the browser.

In another surprise, the 50 top slow performing add-0ns include some of the most popular ones like FasterFox, which actually claims to speed up the Firefox browser. But according to the folks at Mozilla, FasterFox can slow the browser as much as 32%. But there are other add-ons that can slow down your browsing experience by as much as 40%. Here is a listing of the top 10 that can slow your browser down:

#1 Firebug 74% slower
#2 FoxLingo 73% slower
#3 FoxClocks 46% slower
#4 FoxyTunes 44% slower
#5 Video DownloadHelper 35% slower
#6 FastestFox 32% slower
#7 Xmarks Sync 30% slower
#8 Similar Web 23% slower
#9 CoolPreviews 21% slower
#10 Adblock Plus 20% slower

Another thing that can slow down Firefox are what is called Flash cookies. The cookies are related to Adobe’s Flash and is used to store their data own data in your browser. What is also disturbing is that these Flash cookies are not dumped when you delete traditional cookies. One program I have seen advertised, but that I have not used is Kill Flash Cookies. The nice thing about the program is that it isn’t dependent on the browser.

One of the suggestions by the Mozilla developers are to uninstall add-ons that you no longer use or need. This is a great suggestions and may just help to bring speed back to your Firefox browser.

Comments welcome.

PS the additional 40 add-ons can be located at the link below.

Source – Mozilla

What is the Tipping Point for Open Source?

If you work with or around your company’s IT department, chances are you know someone that is an absolute evangelist for open source. The concept of putting your code out there for the world to see and improve upon has become a philosophy that a growing number of tech enthusiasts are beginning to embrace, but where is that tipping point that takes open source software from the point of being an occasional alternative to the industry standard?

Video Editing
Recently, Lightworks has announced plans to make their robust and award winning video editing program open source. Unlike a lot of open source software on the market, Lightworks comes as a professional-grade program with a background in award winning video production. Being freely available, if it has the functionality to go head-to-head with Final Cut Pro, Avis, or Adobe Premiere, could it compete to become the industry standard in low-budget video production? Down the line, could it capture a larger share in the blockbuster film industry?

Office Software
Office software has been thus far dominated by Microsoft’s Office Suite. Open Office has been improving over the years and is beginning to gain ground in the battle for market dominance. Being free, it makes me wonder why more companies aren’t taking advantage of the deal. After all, in today’s world are the extra little tidbit features of Office really that necessary?

Audio Editing
The world of audio editing is driven by programs like Pro Tools and Adobe Audition. Currently, the biggest player in the open source world is Audacity. I’ve mentioned before a few features that would make Audacity a serious contender for Adobe Audition’s market share, but as of right now there isn’t a lot of competition for Pro Tools in the world of open source.

Photo and Graphics
PhotoShop leads the graphics world by leaps and bounds. It’s become such a popular tools for creating and improving images that the word PhotoShop acts as a verb in the English language meaning improving or altering images.

Currently, the biggest open source competition to Adobe’s product is Gimp. Gimp has an impressive feature set, but it falls short too often to become a viable replacement.  At one point, a derivative of Gimp called GimpShop was created to mimic PhotoShop’s layout in order to make the transition easier for seasoned PhotoShop users.

Browsers
For the longest time, Microsoft Internet Explorer has been the heavy hitter in the realm of browsers. Over the past five years, open source contenders like Mozilla’s Firefox and Google’s Chrome projects have slammed their way in to the browser battles and in some cases surpassed IE. As I’m writing this, Firefox 4 has overtaken Internet Explorer 9 while IE 8 and Firefox 3.5 are within mere percentage points of each other.

Operating Systems
The debate between Windows, OS X, and Linux is practically a religious one among the tech minded. Linux is given a bad wrap because of its low market share and lack of a single primary contender.  Unfortunately, the debate isn’t limited to the main OS types. The debate over which Linux distribution (distro) is best is just about as heated as the other. This scattering has put a severe damper on Linux’s ability to cross over from a server and fringe platform to something more.

Not only are there seemingly hundreds of distributions out there, but each one typically has multiple derivatives that branch off at various points of development.

Currently, Ubuntu has made great strides towards bringing Linux to a wider market of home users. By being distributed through OEMs such as Dell, the OS has become more of a household name and less of another small fish in a giant pool of distros.

Open source software has come a long way in the past few years, gaining ground and proving that a community can come together and build something great. Whether or not open source software will become an industry standard among professionals for anything beyond web hosting is, only time will tell.

Hands-On With Firefox 4

Early Tuesday, Mozilla released Firefox 4. This is a full two years after the last major release of 3.5.

Since Firefox 3.5, things have changed, and we aren’t talking about small changes. No, the whole landscape of browsing has changed and Mozilla Firefox is here and showing off those new Web standards.

When Firefox first hit the market in 2000, it revolutionized the way people browse the Internet. Mozilla was the first of its kind to be open source and have a cleaner UI. Since the first release, Mozilla has brought innovative features like tabbed browsing and add-ons to an extent that hadn’t been seen before.

Sadly, over the last few years, users have shifted away from it. Most add-ons started to slow down the users’ systems and Firefox experienced periods where the program had a memory leak. Firefox was also using an outdated layout engine called Gecko, but with the introduction of WebKit, every other browser was using it; Firefox neglected to switch and started losing the browser market because of it.

This hugely important release from Mozilla fixes these problems. There hasn’t been an extensive beta test period of this version of Firefox; the developers have been very thorough and spent countless hours getting up to this final release.

User Interface

Mozilla 4 first hit the Internet back in 2009 when Mozilla released some screen shots of the new browser with the tabs on top of the application. The minimalist design is exactly what users want in a browser and Mozilla seems to have built upon that common thought in browsers.

Tabs are a nice size and don’t blur the line between the tabs and top of the application so users won’t drag a tab instead of dragging the window. Cycling between tabs within Firefox has gotten even easier.

Mozilla has even done something radical and changed the location of the home button to the very right hand side of the address bar. The minimalist design can be built upon and the bookmarks bar can be expanded to its own line for the users who use bookmarks frequently. All components can be customized simply by right clicking on the area and choosing “customize.”

Firefox has even done some innovating and created what it calls Panorama, which is a way to group tabs. It creates different groups of tabs and lets you switch easily between them. Power users will find great use of the new grouping system while others who might not care for it can just ignore it.

Speed

It used to be commonly known that Mozilla Firefox was the fastest browser on the Web. But that was back during Firefox 3. Over the years it has become bloated and slowed down significantly. Since earlier releases, other browser makers have opted for a more powerful JavaScript engine and focused less on the rendering engine.

With Firefox 4, Mozilla claims it to be six times faster than its predecessor. It does have some amazing speed improvements and pages are loading faster than ever compared between Firefox 3.5 and Firefox 4. Compared to Chrome, they both launch in about the same time and load pages just as fast.

Add-ons

Within this new release Firefox gets a totally redesigned add-on system. Add-on installation and browsing now takes place in its own full browser window, rather than a pop-up screen. This is not only easier on the eyes but makes reading, finding, installing, and removing add-ons a breeze.

Most of the major mainstream add-ons are compatible with Firefox 4. Users may run into an add-on or two that are incompatible. But add-on developers seem to be on the ball with this new update. Since this is a new browser, give developers a week or two to make their add-ons compatible. If your favorite add-on isn’t updated in the next week or two, it might be time to look for a replacement — it probably indicates developer abandonment.

Since the release of this major version, Firefox will be pushing for lighter weight extensions, like those for Google Chrome. These add-ons are usually built using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript and tend to use less resources on the browser.

Add-ons have been Firefox’s best strength in the browser market but it has also been its weakness. The impact of most of these add-ons have affected performance of the browser, which seems to slow down with each new add-on installed. It is safe to say that not all of Firefox’s downfalls come from the quality of the add-ons available for it.

It is tough to find the line between utility and performance: users want to try every new add-on under the sun and the cost of doing so tends to cast a bad image when the users’ computers and browsers start to crash. But from what I understand about the Firefox add-on APIs and toolkits, it is an area Mozilla has spent a lot of time working to make better; with the new API and add-on options, the browser might make a huge come back.

Conclusion

With the massive changes of Firefox 4, old users might come back and existing users can take a deep breath and start anew. My personal answer is mixed; at home I will continue to use Google Chrome, but when I am traveling and not at my work or home computer I will keep Firefox close to me on a USB drive. I will keep Firefox 4 on my computer for those off chances that Google Chrome crashes.

The new UI is exciting and a great relief from past versions of Firefox. Its new feature, Panorama, is something I could potentially use and the performance improvements are remarkable.

Firefox users are gonna love this. Developers are gonna be overjoyed with having this on their computers. And the obsessive compulsive clean freaks will be pleased with this simple layout.

As far as competition goes, Firefox is getting up there. Like Google Chrome and Safari before it, they have these cleaner interfaces and smooth browsing experience.

Firefox 4 Final Version Ready For Download

If you haven’t got your hands on the final release of Firefox 4, you can download the Windows 32 bit version in English U.S. from the link at the bottom of this article. I am currently using the final release version of Firefox 4 to write this article and to share my observations with you.

After upgrading my add-ons to the latest versions, everything seems to be working properly.

Those who have tried the beta are already familiar with the graphic user interface [GUI]. It is totally different from past versions of Firefox and uses a look a la Google Chrome with the tabs up on top. I actually prefer the tabs up on top. Since I started using Google Chrome as my primary browser because of a compatibility issues using Zemanta, I have adapted easily to this feature. You also have the option to turn off tabs on top if you wish.

Memory usage, which has always been a bone of contention for me, has not improved. After running Firefox 4 for less than an hour, memory soared to 223,556K , according to Process Explorer. Though some have claimed that memory usage has improved, I haven’t seen it.

Speed. Everyone wants to talk about speed. Plus everyone wants to claim that their browser is the fastest. Today, every browser is fast — or is it the browser’s connection speed to the Internet that is fast? For those of you who are still on dial-up, no browser is going to be speedy. For those who use broadband, I seriously doubt that one will be able to see any speed difference as pages render quickly before your eyes.

What is going to separate and differentiate all of the browsers is when everyone starts to use all of the new versions and we can determine which browser is more secure.

Download a copy of Firefox 4 for yourself and let us know what you think.

Comments welcome.

Firefox 4 Final Release Windows 32 bit English U.S. version

How to Capture a Web Page as an Image

Having the ability to capture a web page as an image is vital for tech bloggers, IT professionals, video podcasters, and web developers. Being able to capture the entire page instead of just a visible portion requires some additional help not available in most browsers by default. Below are some tools and suggestions that can help you achieve your goal.

Capturing Web Pages in Firefox:
Firefox has an overwhelming number of plug-ins and add-ons that allow this functionality. Below are a few that the community have taken a liking to. Keep in mind this isn’t an all-inclusive list.

Screengrab captures pages either in their entirety or just what you can see in the current Firefox window. It captures mostly everything you can see in Firefox including flash components.

Abduction! adds a right click option to take screenshots of an entire web page or just part of a web page to save as an image.

FireShot boasts the most forward thinking compatibility being compatible up to 4.0b9pre. That’s not to say others aren’t either heading in that direction or already there. Unlike other extensions, this plugin provides a set of editing and annotation tools, which let users quickly modify web captures and insert text annotations and graphical annotations. Such functionality will be especially useful for web designers, testers and content reviewers.

Capturing Web Pages in Chrome:
Webpage Screenshot, is it’s called, does exactly that. It takes a picture of either part of a page or the whole thing and sends you to a built-in editor that allows you to add annotations and small edits before saving it or sending it to a free hosting service. This is one of the more robust page capturing tools I tested doing research for this article.

Capturing Web Pages in Windows:
IECapt is an open-source solution that captures images of pages rendered using the Internet Explorer engine. This is a pretty standard image capture program and it works for a variety of site styles out there. If it loads in default IE, it will capture in IECapt.

Capturing Web Pages in OS X:
Paparazzi! is a free stand-alone program that allows you to capture an entire web page as an image file. It has a simple interface that asks for the URL you wish to capture and size requirements. You can set a minimum and maximum capture area or let it capture a page in its entirety and tell you the results.

Paparazzi! is based on WebKit and Cocoa, and while it captures a lot of different web code bases, it doesn’t render anything that requires a plug-in such as Adobe Flash. This might also be a great way to test a site for compatibility across desktop and mobile browsers. As an example, Jquery and HTML5 resources pull up fine where Flash and Silverlight do not.

If you’ve ever found yourself in the need of capturing an entire web page in the form of an image file, Paparrazi! might be worth a look at. The failure to render embedded YouTube videos, scripted menus, etc. is a drawback, though at a price tag of free there isn’t much of a reason not to keep Paparazzi in mind when searching for a solution to this often nagging problem.

IE, Opera, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and More – What Browser Do You Use and Why?

Reader Buffet asked me a question about upgrading to IE8:

When IE8 first came out, the Internet was rampant with horror stories of people who had downloaded and installed the final release only to have it wreak havoc on their systems and plague them with problems! Have the issues been addressed and corrected? In your opinion, should I feel safe upgrading from 7 to 8? Thank you very much for your time.

I responded to Buffet that I knew that IE8 worked well in Windows 7. My wife uses IE8, which she prefers, on her Windows 7 box. I also knew that Microsoft had fixed the original problems that many experienced and that it should work OK for him. I also said to make a restore point, which is always a good idea no matter which software you install.

But I refrained from adding in my reply to dump IE8 and use Firefox or Chrome. I haven’t used any version of IE for at least five years. I have used both Firefox and now Chrome exclusively on my personal systems. On the Cr-48 notebook I am testing for Google, the only option is Chrome. On my personal laptop, which dual boots Windows 7 and Linux Mint, I have also switched over to Chrome.

Do I recommend that everyone switch over to Chrome? Absolutely not. We all have our favorite software that we use and basically all of the browsers do the same thing: open up Web sites to us on our computers. But I have mentioned this before and I will say it again. It is the feel of the software that dictates which one I use. But in this case with my choice of browser was the issue that one particular add-on I used failed in Firefox. In Chrome the extension worked fine, so I switched browsers.

Now my question to all of you is: which browser do you use and why?

Comments welcome.

Have Firefox Add-Ons Caused You Problems?

I have kept something quiet for the past few months, that I haven’t shared with anyone. I have stopped using Firefox on my Windows machine running Windows 7 Ultimate for about two months. The problem began several months ago when one of my add-ons named Zemanta disappeared on my web sites here at Lockergnome. I contacted Chris and he assured me that nothing was changed to prevent Zemanta from working. So I installed Google Chrome on my box, installed the Zemanta extension and it worked perfectly.

So what is Zemanta? Zemanta is designed with the blogger in mind. The program provides relevant images, articles, links and tags for the article you are writing. I find Zemanta as great asset and use it often. When it stopped working, I really missed it, so I switched to Chrome to get it back.

When I switched over Linux Mint I was happy to se an old friend waiting for me. Mint uses Firefox as the default browser, so I fired it up and added all of the add-ons I used, including Zemanta. All was well until yesterday. When I fired up Mint and launched Firefox, I had trouble accessing my web sites. I did all of the trouble shooting, rebooting Firefox, clear cache, reboot router, modem, all to no avail. All other sites I visited worked perfectly.

So I once again contacted Chris, The sites were checked and all was well. This morning it dawned on me. Could it be Zemanta causing the problem once again? I uninstalled Zemanta and the web sites worked perfectly for me. But since I like using Zemanta when I blog.I downloaded and installed Google Chrome and installed Zemanta and it worked perfectly.

This is the first time I have experienced a problem with a Firefox Add-On.

Have I been lucky in the past? Or is this an exception and all other add-ons work well?

So my question is this. Have you had problems with any Firefox Add-Ons?

Comments welcome.

Firefox 4 Thoughts and Review

This week, Matthew is going to give you a little preview of Firefox 4 Beta 7. He wants all of you to see why he believes Firefox is most definitely still in the running for best browser available.


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The only issue Matt has seen is that Aero crashes when he opens this Beta. Mozilla has integrated a lot of new features and a nice speed boost. One of the nicest inclusions is the way you can organize your tabs now. This gives you a visual overview of all open tabs, allowing them to be sorted and grouped. Additionally, your tabs are now on top by default.

You can search for and switch to already open tabs in the Smart Location Bar. There’s a new Addons manager which makes it much easier for you to sift through your extensions and decide what you want to enable, disable or update. The Bookmarks Toolbar has been replaced with a Bookmarks Button by default (you can switch it back if you’d like). And, the stop and reload buttons have been merged into a single button.

There are many other improvements to this already powerful browser. Have you checked out the new beta yet? What are your thoughts?

Want to embed this video on your own site, blog, or forum? Download the video!

Does Mozilla F1 Change The Game?

Mozilla looks to be taking on a new role in the browser game. Instead of merely going on as it always has, this time it is trying something new by addressing a major problem its users have when they want to share links with one another. Enter a new Mozilla concept called F1. The idea is fairly straightforward: Mozilla’s F1 allows users to share the links they want with their friends, but without fear of using unknown sources with questionable practices. I mean, do you really want to give out your email address to that strange sharing tool? Probably not.

The message here seems fairly clear. Mozilla is working to make sharing on the Web easier. And this is honestly something that is long overdue. There are a number of ways to sync bookmarks, among other nice features, but I’m not entirely sure this is a brand new concept. Wasn’t Flock doing this like two years ago already? Obviously, I cannot speak to who is doing this link sharing in a safer manner and, in the end, both are using Mozilla code as their base… perhaps it doesn’t really matter at all?

For Firefox users, though, this is cool as it means that users will be able to put their trust in Mozilla-branded extensions and free themselves from using the unknown. Speaking for myself, I am old school. Copy and paste more than does the job and the best part is I don’t have to worry about some unusual exploit surrounding the tools accessing my social media pages and creating headaches. Call me a luddite when it comes to changing my browsing habits, but it has worked great for me so far.