This is about a web browser, so it may be boring, but it does have pictures. You can download Firefox here. These extension let me do stuff like search by thumbnails, search all the Google services from my browser, get notified of new mail, and backup entire webpages with images and all. These are my favorite Firefox extensions. (Here’s a big list, by the way)
CSS PREVIEW: CSS is what a use to make this page look ‘this’ way. It tells your browser what colors, fonts, and layout to use. They’re usually a pain to change, specially for me cause I never learned CSS. What I normally do is make a change to the CSS file, then open a new window and hit refresh on the page in question. This is a pain in the ass. With this plug in I click the CSS button and it displays a little sidebar with the CSS. I can make changes and see their results instantly. It saves me (on this connection) about a 45 seconds per change I make, which adds up to hours over the course of a design. Of course, changing the CSS in Preview mode doesn’t change the file itself, I still need to save it, but having a preview is as big a step as a DJ getting a second turntable. A DJ uses the second turntable to listen to a record and match beats _before_ they put it on, which spares them a lot of embarassment. I’ve done some horrible things to CSS files that I’ve forgotten how to repair. CSS Preview spares me that.
McSEARCH ENHANCER: I installed this extension and now whenever I run a search it displays a little thumbnail of the page next to it’s title. This is cool because it looks cool, and because it lets me weed out crappy sites with relevant titles. I also think that my brain is best suited for visuals (http://indi.ca/papers/WebDesignAndBrain.pdf). When I move my mouse over a thumbnail it gets bigger so I can see the page better. I love it.
SCRAPBOOK: This is amazing. With this extension I can right-click and save any webpage _and_ all the files on it. This extension downloads the page _and_ all the attached images. This is important to me because the web is a light medium, it moves fast through space, but it disappears in time. The web is closer to the brain than print, every neuron is always changing – but the broad structure is the same. Sometimes, however, I’m interested in one particular moment in time. Everything on the web changes and passes away, but this lets me take a snapshot and store it away. You can save as HTML, but that misses the images and files, or save a webpage as an Adobe PDF – but I hate opening PDFs. Scrapbook works.
GMAIL NOTIFIER: This simply tells me when I get new Gmail with a little notifier that slides in-and-out of view at the bottom of my screen. I click that and it takes me to my Gmail. It’s easy.
GOOGLE TOOLBAR: You can see this in the top image. Google search is already built into Firefox, but this lets me search Images, Froogle, Universities, anything – more than the official Googlebar in fact. I am now tired of this and will do something else. Thank you to all the open-source developers at and around Firefox.