Screen real estate optimization in Firefox

So here is a collection of hacks that I have made in my Firefox browser to optimize the usage of real estate and still have control over my browser

  • Install the TinyMenu extension to replace your menu with a single menu item.
  • Now that you have space in your main menu-bar, move all your navigation toolbar items to the main menu-bar and then hide the navigation bar. Also hide the toolbar. You can do this by right-clicking on one of the toolbars and unchecking all of them!
  • Right click the Main menu bar, choose Customize. Remove the Home and other icons that you hardly use.
  • Remove the 'Go' button next to the address bar, remove the magnifying glass, remove Back/Forward/Reload/Stop buttons when disabled as shown here.
  • Install the Searchbar Autosizer extension to make your search bar extremely small and then to expand when you type characters in the search box.
  • Auto-hide the tab bar.
  • Use Fuller screen to remove the menu-bar and status bar when not required!
  • Preview your tabs and search for one using Firefox Showcase extension.
  • Clean up your menu's using Menu editor extension.
  • Keyboar shortcuts are extremely important to increase your productivity. Reconfigure your shortcuts using Keyconfig extension.
  • Also you can add these new key combinations in Keyconfig to cycle through your tabs:

Move one tab left (Ctrl+Left)

if(gBrowser.mTabContainer.selectedIndex == 0)
gBrowser.mTabContainer.selectedIndex = gBrowser.mTabContainer.childNodes.length - 1;
else
gBrowser.mTabContainer.advanceSelectedTab(-1);

Move one tab right (Ctrl+Right)

if(gBrowser.mTabContainer.selectedIndex == gBrowser.mTabContainer.childNodes.length - 1)
gBrowser.mTabContainer.selectedIndex = 0;
else
gBrowser.mTabContainer.advanceSelectedTab(1);

And once you do this, you will definitely want to take backup of your profile. Use FEBE and you are done!

Search results and relevancy

Search engines suggest alternative keywords when you mistype keywords.

I was looking for a Wikipedia article on Liskov substitution principle. I came across this when I was reading about Design By Contract elsewhere and the article had 'mistyped' the phrase as Lyskov substitution principle.

I first entered it in my Firefox Wikipedia search engine plugin and got no results. My next target was Google and this is what I got:

Not knowing that I had mistyped the phrase, I did not click on the suggestion. I was in fact surprised that Wikipedia does not have an article on this!

Then I searched in Yahoo and this is what I got:

Wow! I had indeed mistyped the phrase and Yahoo turned out to be intelligent in guessing what I was interested in.

Google's approach is like: 'I guess you have made a mistake, but I am not sure, here is the result for what you typed. However, I think you are looking for this.' Yahoo's approach is: 'I guess you have made a mistake and this is what I think you are looking for, if you are interested in search results for only what you typed, click here.'

I am not sure which approach is better, but I definitely like Yahoo's approach because it saves me a page load and a click.

Google, Google, more Google

Google released spreadsheets recently. (Ok, now the world is not quite excited about Google releases).

But I am one of those guys who tries out anything that is thrown at us. I registered for the limited test of Google spreadsheets and tested it out today. And for the first time I felt that Google is losing its standard. They have done a good job no doubt, but it still needs a lot of work before it can be really used.

I could see some bugs and lots of usability issues. Some petty features that we see in full fledged spreadsheet applications are missing. For example, I miss the drag and populate feature where you write some numbers and then drag the pointer down from the last cell and see the rest of the cells populate automatically. I also miss the drag and move feature, wherein I can drag a cell's value and populate some other cell, there by performing an implicit cut/paste.

Am I asking for too much? I don't think so. For regular users of spreadsheets, I don't see an application like this suitable. The number of cells is far too limited (2000 cells). There are no graphs available. Lots of other important features are missing.

So now the question is who is Google targeting? I am sure Google has a definite agenda in mind. There could be 2 possibilities (may be Google is aiming for both):

1. Google is trying to build web applications and wants users to try it out and once they are stable you package everything together and sell an appliance that can help host these services in your enterprise (Software As A Service – SaaS). So users can use these from their browsers without requiring to install anything, but at the same time data remains behind the firewall and so is safe.

2. Google will provide API access to the spreadsheets so you will be able to manipulate your spreadsheets from other applications, and be able to send values, recalculate certain fields and get the calculated columns.

Now this is interesting!

Ok, so does that remind you of Ananya? It sure does! 🙂

And what is Google upto next? Google Presentations? Google Web Designer? If you ask me, I should say a full fledged development environment that can work out of a browser, full with syntax validating editors, inbuilt compilers, databases, web-servers and code sync utilities is something really cool to work on. That way, software is easy to maintain and also this ensures that people are using the same version of the products for development and thus eliminates some common problems faced during software development. Is anyone listening?