A few habits separate the average Web surfer from the hyper-obsessive or "geek" Web surfer. Average Web surfers browse from site to site in a spidery fashion, allowing the contents of one to link them to the landing page of another. These pages, in turn, become new gateways for successive clicks in a giant, unfolding map of activity. Average Web surfers might have a few sites they like to hit up from time to time, but their general browsing habits are more random voyage than predestined path.
Geeks are not that. A geeky Web surfer has a set list of sites that are nothing short of awesome. These sites are scoured as much as your average preteen checks Facebook on a daily basis, if not more. Every last drop of useful information is extracted from each browsing session, and every one of these sites contains a melting pot of useful hyperlinks for adding extra innings to the surfing experience. Geeks will settle for nothing less than a constant influx of news and information.
The Firefox add-on Update Scanner bridges these two extremes by delivering a useful tool for browsing sessions of all shapes and sizes. The extension mimics the functionality of an RSS feed-even though it's anything but-and works extremely well on sites that don't give you the option for checking their contents outside of direct click on the page. It prevents you from wasting time when you repeatedly click on a favorite site, only to discover that the page hasn't updated since the last few times you were there.
Update Scanner allows you to set an interval for checking out a predefined list of sites. If the add-on sees that one of these pages has been updated since you were last there, it'll let you know and-upon you return to said site-highlight all changes to the page for easy scanability. And, yes, the add-on will ignore minor changes to the page to prevent false alarms from the fixing of an errant comma or the changing of a date.
As I mentioned, Update Scanner is nothing compared to the powers of RSS. But for sites that lack an RSS feed or for users that lack the desire to build an RSS feed for such sites, Update Scanner is a simple solution for finding out when your favorite pages have new material-without you having to go there first, of course.
Maximum PC picks one new Firefox add-on as its favorite of the week each... week. Have a nifty extension that you can't live without? Twitter David Murphy @acererak with your latest suggestions.