You click on a link. Your browser returns the dreaded "Server not found" message. You get discouraged. You check your link for a typo--none. You make sure your Internet connection is still working--yes. You hit refresh a few times in an attempt to coax the site back online--zilch. You frown. You close your browser, turn off your computer, and go outside.
Okay, perhaps your everyday bit of Web browsing doesn't end in quite as disastrous of an outcome. But still, there's no denying that Web browser errors can be frustrating when you're trying to access a particular piece of information that's mission-critical to the task at-hand. And your inability to connect to said site could be occurring for any number of reasons, including the dreaded typo, an overloaded server, or some kind of muck-up via your ISP. But how do you know what's going on? It's not like Firefox's "sorry" page is of much use to your digital detective work.
Well you, friend, need a Watson to your Holmes. In this case, your enterprising sidekick is none other than the Firefox Extension ErrorZilla Plus--and using it will give you a whole host of new options for combatting page-loading errors. Read on to find out how!
In this week's security-themed freeware roundup, I called out Mozilla Firefox for not being that secure of a web browser as compared to the virtualization-friendly Google Chrome. And that's still true. Unpleasant web sites can inject and exploit all sorts of nastiness in Firefox--not as badly as, say, the security lapses of Internet Explorer, but Firefox still contains the potential to open a door to your system's innermost workings. If this happens because of some hosted exploit or less-than-friendly extension you've downloaded, you're in for a world of hurt. Google Chrome, on the other hand, requires a separate exploit to somehow break its virtualization in tandem with malware that attacks the browser as a whole. The latter is doable, but the former is much more difficult to accomplish via web-based tricks.
So how, then, do you make for the most secure browsing experience possible if you're a die-hard Firefox user? Three words: web of Trust. This popular Firefox add-on uses the power of a five-million-user community, as well as a host of recommendations by site listings and phishing alerts, to rate the security of the web sites you want to visit. If you're about to step into a trap, you get a big, fancy alert window telling you that the site you're about to click on might not be the best choice from a security standpoint. In short, this is one of the most preventative techniques you can use to protect yourself against unknown web threats!
Just last week, I showed you a batch of add-ons for, er, a Firefox add-on called Jetpack. With these, you'd be able to tap into the raw power of HTML and CSS-based extensions to add new functionality to your browser without needing a reboot whatsoever--just one of the many features provided by this new class of add-ons.
Well, in case that wasn't for you, I've gone out and searched for a way to duplicate the effects of some of these Jetpack add-ons using normal Firefox extensions. And this is an important point. Although nice to install and configure, many of said Jetpack extensions just felt a touch incomplete, slow, or otherwise non-functioning depending on the circumstances. And that's expected. Jetpack, after all, is a relatively new tool to the Firefox arsenal. Developers surely have a few bugs and eccentricities to work out.
That said, one of the more useful Jetpack applications granted a user the ability to load browser tabs into a live sidebar, giving you the opportunity to see the exact contents of what you wanted to click on prior to doing so. Tab Sidebar is the simple Firefox extension that duplicates this process sans Jetpack, and it's worth your while to install.
I don't know about you, but the last thing I enjoy doing in Mozilla Firefox is surfing through about:config. While can't complain about the various performance boosts and other clever tweaks that this massive configuration database can provide, trying to make any sense of the about:config screen sans helpful guide is, in a word, impossible. If you're trying to stumble in there blindly, you're in for a world of confusion--and, depending on how much you fiddle with the settings, one broken browsing experience.
Thankfully, a clever developer has finally translated the arcane about:config language into real-world speech. And by that, I mean that an awesome add-on now exists that lets you edit about:config settings while being told exactly what it is that you're doing to your browser. In a sense, Configuration Mania is like one big guide to about:config that's built directly into Firefox. Tell the add-on what it is you want to do to enhance or otherwise alter your browsing experience, and the add-on will automatically configure the associated about:config string without forcing you to deal with confusing preferences or values.