Firefox 4 has adopted many good features available in Chrome

This edition of NetSpeak discusses a few more tools that facilitate web-based research.

Firefox, has for long been the browser that has been preferred by the more savvy netizen. However, the popularity of Firefox seems to be slowly slipping and it is losing ground to other modern browsers such as Chrome (http://goo.gl/LU93).

The major reason for Firefox's decline in popularity has been the undue delay in bringing out new and innovative features. Anyway, after a long wait, a new version of Firefox has hit cyberspace. This version also has some attributes that might facilitate the research process.

Firefox 4

Firefox 4 has adopted many good features that are already available in Chrome and Opera (such as integrated search/address box, Pin Tab, Paste and Go and the like).

A facility that could come in handy for a researcher is the ‘Group your Tabs' feature. The significance of this feature is that it lets one organise tabs into subject-specific groups.

It is likely that you may be working on different themes and projects simultaneously. Obviously, opening hundreds of tabs on a variety of subjects could make tab management quite unwieldy. The best solution is to keep related tabs in subject-specific groups and invoke them as and when you need them. The Firefox 4's ‘Group your Tabs' feature helps you do exactly this.

Another feature worth a mention is ‘Pin as App Tab'. If you wish to keep certain web sites always opened (Gmail, for instance), this feature could come in handy. In Firefox 4, the tabs are now located above the address bar. If you are uncomfortable with this arrangement, you can take the address bar to its original location. For this, right-click on the address bar and untick the option ‘Tabs on Top'.

gTalk guru

As discussed in the past (http://www.hindu.com /2008/01/07/stories/200801 0750041500 .htm), an IM (Instant Messenger) bot is a program that acts like a real IM buddy.

Many such virtual contacts are used to retrieve a variety of information via IM clients such as gTalk. ‘Google Talk Guru' (http://guru.googlelabs.com/), a chat bot recently released from Google, is a good one for those who need instantaneous answers to certain queries. This bot helps you obtain information on a variety of events/facts such as sports results, weather forecasts, word definitions and so on via your gTalk client. To use this chat bot, you simply have to add ‘guru@googlelabs.com' as your friend and chat with this buddy using commands specified by the service. For instance, if you wish to obtain the latest cricket score, invoke the chat window for ‘guru@googlelabs.com' and enter the command ‘score cricket'. The command ‘1 USD to IN' will display the latest value of dollar in rupees.

Many web pages, even the ones with valuable and informative content, feature lots of pictures and banner advertisements. This kind of web page cluttering hampers serious reading.

The cluttering menace becomes all the more acute when one views the page from a mobile device. If one's intention is just to read the text content, the ideal solution is to enlist the service of a tool that can filter just text content. In this regard, you may find the service Viewtext.org rather useful.

To use the service, just paste the address of the (troubled) web page on to Viewtext's input box. To use the service directly from the browser, simply use the bookmarklet offered by it.

The Chrome extension ‘Text only, Please' (https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/jdfpkfddmojhlcoepfpdileleloickfj) is yet another easy way to use the ViewText service without interrupting your workflow. Once installed, the extension (tipped off to this author by Shankar Ganesh, its developer) plants an icon on the browser toolbar. To view the current page in text-only mode, simply click on this icon. The extension consults the ViewText service and displays the current page in text-only mode. The advantage of the extension is that it allows you to open any web link in text-only mode (just right-click on the link and access the option ‘Open in text-only' mode from the menu that pops-up).

Folder sync

As discussed in the past, Dropbox is an excellent solution to store/share files across the Net.

The advantage of Dropbox is that it automatically syncs all the files/folders stored on a specific folder in your machine to your account on its server. One shortcoming of Dropbox service is that you cannot sync files/folders outside the Dropbox folder. If you need to sync a folder lying outside the Dropbox folder, you have to first move it to the Dropbox folder.

If you are looking for a better solution, the Dropbox add-on ‘Folder Sync' (http://wiki.dropbox.com/DropboxAddons/DropboxFolderSync) offers an answer. Once installed, the add-on lets you link any folder to your Dropbox folder with a couple of mouse clicks. To sync a folder with your Dropbox folder, simply right-click on it and access the menu option ‘Sync with Dropbox'.

Once synced, the tool will keep a copy of the folder in your Dropbox folder and enable you to access this folder from two locations. Also, you can remove the link using the ‘Unsync' option and take the folder back to its original state anytime you wish so.

State of Wikipedia

Wikipedia, the web-based encyclopedia that can be edited by anyone on the Web is celebrating its 10th anniversary. Wish to know, how this amazing web application evolved? If so, check out the animated narration ‘The State of Wikipedia' (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gXD1TRGafQ0&feature=player_embedded).

He can be contacted at: jmurali@gmail.com