Group Tabs in Firefox for Greater Web Productivity

Mozilla’s Firefox web browser now includes a feature that some of you out there might find useful. First, though, I think it makes sense to say a few words about browser choice more broadly.

Web Browser Statistics from Wikimedia contributor Daniel.CardenasRight now the ongoing “browser wars” are dominated by three options, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE), Mozilla’s Firefox, and Google’s Chrome. In the last few years Chrome has been steadily eating away at IE’s market dominance while Firefox remained fairly stable at around 30 percent of the market. There are other options out there, most of which have small but very devoted user bases. But for our purposes I’ll just address the big three.

So as you probably guessed from the title of this post, I’m a Firefox user. For now I’m locked into that choice because I use Zotero, a Firefox add-on, to organize my research. Currently the fine folks at the Rozenwig Center for History and New Media are hard at work on a standalone version of Zotero that will allow it to work with other browsers. But since I’m not willing to trust my dissertation research to the currently available Beta version of that system, I’ll happily keep using Firefox for my web needs. And, frankly, when a standalone version of Zotero is ready for prime time, I suspect that I’ll remain a Firefox user. Here’s three reasons why: Continue reading

Use Dropbox to Sync and Store Your Zotero Database

DropboxWe’ve mentioned Dropbox here at DiYiT before. In fact, back in our very first post Philip declared it to be “an academic’s best friend.” If you missed that post and aren’t familiar with Dropbox, you should definitely check it out. In a nutshell, Dropbox allows you to sync folders between two or more computers. You can also access the files in your Dropbox folders via the web at dropbox.com. The service effectively eliminates version control issues while also providing a convenient offsite backup for your files. For this post I want to describe how Dropbox has improved my research workflow by housing my Zotero database.

If you aren’t familiar with Zotero, unfortunately we don’t have a previous post to help you. At some point soon, I plan to write up a full review describing the many benefits of this free, open-source research organization and citation system produced by the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University. For now, you’ll need to check out their page to learn about this wildly useful add-on for Firefox. And although it has a certain cart-before-the-horse feel to it, I’m going to forge ahead with this current post about how Dropbox can improve upon the typical Zotero user experience. Those of you who use Zotero might benefit from it. And those of you who don’t will undoubtedly be switching over now that you’ve heard of it. So there’s really no downside here. Continue reading

Get a Better View of the Web with Readability

Each day we all do a great deal of reading on the web. Along with blog posts like this one, you’ll probably plow through some news articles and maybe even some research publications before turning your attention elsewhere. Unfortunately, much of this content resides on web pages ill-suited for actually conveying information. Many web sites with news content, for instance, have been designed not to show you news, but, instead, to show you advertising. These sites also inundate you with links to their other content in the hopes that you’ll browse around a while. Readability strips away all of that clutter and presents the content you desire in a format designed for one thing, reading. Continue reading

How To Perform Nearly Any Task From Your Browser’s Address Bar

screengrab of the address barToday over at Lifehacker they’ve got a fascinating post about using the address bar in your web browser to perform a whole host of useful tasks.  After reading through their post and watching their how-to videos, I’ve already trained my installation of Firefox to recognize several of these shortcuts. In particular, I’m very excited about integrating Google Maps’ directions into my address bar and sending quick emails from there. Now I can get directions from my town to another location by simply typing “dir” and then the address of the second location in the address bar. And I can send a quick email to my wife by typing her name and then the body of the email in the address bar. Continue reading