Dec 082013
 

list-it

List.it is a no frills notes keeper that resides inside Firefox’s sidebar. It is simple and open source and provides an option to synchronize notes but they are kept locally if the user does not use or ignores the sync option.

Install the add-on and access the sidebar interface via Ctrl+Shift+F. Enter any text and save, access the settings by clicking the gear icon. By default the top line of a note is shown, click the arrow icon to expand all. Click x if a note needs to be deleted and use the garbage can icon to view the dustbin where deleted notes can be restored or permanently deleted. It is possible to edit notes by clicking on them, and search or print them too.

Right click anywhere on a page to bookmark the page in list.it or highlight, right click and copy text to list.it. In the latter list-it will also append the url of the page the text was copied from (see first note in screenshot)

If using the synchronize option click the yellow triangle icon and sign up for their service and install list.it where you need the notes. For security quoting the About and FAQ pages:

List.it is a research project from the Haystack Group at MIT CSAIL by a small team of students led by Prof. David Karger. List.it’s chief designers are electronic Max and Greg Vargas.
List.it is released as free and open source software under the MIT License. The source code is available on our Google Code Project.

With respect to data handling policies, we use strong-grade SSL (AES-256) to encrypt all client server communications (HTTP traffic) and have signed our server with a certificate.

List-it should work on Firefox 3.0 and later.

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Nov 282013
 

Save Text To File

Save Text To File is a simple but potentially time saving add-on for Firefox. Saving text for future use and reference is a situation that many encounter. There are countless ways of dealing with and managing things found online. Bookmarking the page, saving the whole page, using ‘read it later’ tools and add-ons or setting up outliners/organizers like CintaNotes to save the text, just to name a few.

Save Text To File is potentially another, it is perhaps minimalistic and simplistic but that is possibly its strength too. It is a No Restart add-on that adds an item to the right click menu. Highlight any text and right click to save it to a text file. The initial setup is as no frills as the add-on itself. The name of the text file and its location is configured as are options to add a line separator, date and time stamp and the url of the page the text is copied from. One can also choose to have separate text files for each use or append every thing to one file. In the screenshot I have checked the ‘Confirm settings’ option, this prompts the user to choose and set options every time the add-on is used. I can see no reason why this would be necessary and would recommend it be unchecked.

Save Text To File

Firefox’s internal bookmark system is just one big mess for anybody who has many bookmarks, I see this as one potential, albeit crude,  addition to it when the option to save urls is used.

Save Text To File works on Firefox 19 and newer with an older version available for older versions.

 

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Sep 162009
 

ScrapBook is a Firefox addon that is perhaps the most useful written. Using ScrapBook it is possible to capture parts or all of a web page and to save it for future reference. It is also in one sense better than bookmarking a page because as much or all of the page is saved locally as it existed at the time of the capture. It is also an alternative to taking a screenshot because all the elements are saved in a text format and can therefore prove useful in the future.
Using ScrapBook is as simple as right clicking any where on a page and choosing the Capture Page to save the page into the root of ScrapBook’s data folder or a subfolder within it. Choosing the other option, Capture Page As provides options to save or not save images, styles or javascripts that reside on the page. Additionally it is possible to save different files that are linked on the page or to even to follow links, meaning one has the ability to download elements that are on the linked pages as well or to essentially download or capture entire web pages.
ScrapBook’s options don’t end there. Once a page is captured, certain portions can be highlighted, an annotation or note can be added to them to ease future reference or certain paragraphs or elements can be removed by clicking on the Dom button. A page can actually be bookmarked and reside in ScrapBook’s folder as a straightforward bookmark as well. When clicking Alt+k to load ScrapBook in the Firefox sidebar all captures can be searched, not only by title but by the text inside them. Notes, which can be added by right clicking a captured item in the sidebar, add further information for and to captured pages. The Tools drop down menu that resides in the top right hand corner of the ScrapBook sidebar includes additional features such as import/export that essentially makes a back up of captures, calculation of size that provides an overview of the size of captured pages and many more.
As of this article the current version of this superior addon is 1.3.5 and works on Firefox 3.0 to 3.5.x.

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PlainEdit.NET Is A Complete Text Editor

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Sep 062009
 

PlainEdit.NET is described by its author as

PlainEdit.NET is a text editor for ANSI, UTF-8 and Unicode files


PlainEditNET

The list of features of PlainEdit.NET are impressive and it is a very complete text editor and notepad replacement. Its features include many of expected and common set like syntax highlighting for many languages and search and replace. But even those regular features are extended in that PlainEdit.NET suports find as you go style search ala Firefox – and only few other text editors. It has such additional features as the ability to choose text encased in HTML tags only. To bookmark a line to be able to return to it any time. To insert such things as the file path, date, special characters and the output of a command line argument. For the latter one can for example choose to output the dir (directory) command to get a list of files in a certain folder inserted into the document. PlainEdit.NET can also paste or input the current clipboard content in various positions in the open file. It can convert text to and from various formats including encoding and case conversion and even to join lines or to eliminate whitespaces and lines that match certain selectable criteria. Under the Extras menu the Configure Shortcuts submenu allows the user to edit or set keyboard shortcuts for such things as launching external applications.

PlainEdit.NET is one of the most feature rich, even beyond those mentioned in this review, and impressive text editors I have reviewed and used, it works well with ANSI, UTF-8 and Unicode files and it requires the host system to be running the 2.0 .NET framework but it is a 526KB RARed portable download. The accompanying help file however is in German only while the product site itself is available both in German and English.

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Lunascape Is The Triple Browser

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Aug 312009
 

Lunascape is described by its author as

…the world’s only triple engine browser

As seen by the developers the main strength or selling point of the browser is that every page can be loaded and rendered properly without switching browsers, since 3 browser engines are available within the program. On first thought that is an excellent concept but the user may need more convincing to use Lunascape because switching between open windows of Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome, by pressing alt-tab for example, does not add significant time to the process of loading a page.


Lunascape

Probably needing to rely on different and interesting features the developers have tried to include some options and ease of use features in the default install. For example it is claimed that Internet Explorer toolbars will work without any problems, using the same browser engine as Microsoft’s browser that might seem obvious, but as with most software that may not always be the case. A set of mouse gestures are included with the ability to set one’s own. Different tabs can be loaded using different engines within the same window. The Bookmarklets located under the Tools menu offer many built-in capabilities. One can go one level up in the site’s structure, check the cookies set by the particular site that is loaded, translate pages, zoom in and out, get a tinyurl for the address, using the Webkit engine rotate the page 90 degrees and many more. Lunascape supports add-ons and a large number of themes or skins are also available. Lunascape comes with an auto hide sidebar that gives access to virtually all its settings by hovering the mouse on the left hand side of the window.

It will likely find it difficult to compete with the browsers that everybody is more familiar with but Lunascape has most of the features users want or need.
Another note or two of interest is that the Lunascape download is 9MB for its initial setup file and in the process of installation it downloads approximately 19MB more for the Webkit (the Chrome and Safari engine) and Gecko (the Mozilla/Firefox engine). Also as a sort of crude test I loaded the same page (only 1 tab open) using all engines and recorded the memory usage and they are as follows:

23MB for Trident
58MB for Gecko
23MB for Webkit

These results are in line with most memory use tests of Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome respectively. Requirements are Windows 2000 to Vista and Internet Explorer 6 installed.

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Aug 302009
 

Hyperwords is a firefox add-on that adds useful features and shortcuts to some common and may be not so common tasks. The default install available on the author’s website and via the Mozilla add-ons site presents a menu any time a word is highlighted or selected. Via the menu one can search google, Microsoft’s bing, the web page the word resides on, and others for the selected word. The search options do not stop there as share prices can be checked if the selected word is a stock symbol, the word can be searched for on wikipedia, wiktionary, urban dictionary and other places. A shop shortcut checks amazon, eBay and others. One can share the text via email, twitter, facebook, and other supported blogging platforms as well. In some cases even more useful is the option to copy the text as plain text or as link and send it to notepad for example. The translate option presents many languages to choose from and replaces the chosen words with the translated version, however it is not immediately obvious how the original text can be reset to its original language. The view option scans the page for occurrences of the same word, paragraphs with the same word and more.
Hyperwords

The settings of Hyperwords include some additional possibilities and advanced features and give a good amount of control over the appearance and behaviour of this add-on. The first and perhaps most important in terms of making Hyperwords less intrusive is the ability to make its menu not appear any time a text is selected but to use it via Firefox’s own right click context menu or to require the user to click enter after highlighting a text. The aforementioned options for this are not the only ones available as others can be chosen as the list of settings is rather extensive. The included currency converter, available when a number is highlighted, can be tweaked for example and shortcuts for its use edited. The shop services such as Amazon can be localized to search local shops. One can set how search results are presented as well with the default being a new tab in the foreground.
Hyperwords is rather useful and the developers have provided its users ways to make it less intrusive and perhaps more interesting. Downloading it requires the acceptance of privacy policy that insists that no IP addresses or identifiable information are recorded but that stats are collected only to improve the add-on. A Windows application for use with software other than firefox is said to be in the works as well.

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Aug 162009
 

Caderno is described by its author as

Caderno is a remake of the common program “notepad”


Caderno
Another point the author likes to emphasis is that Caderno attempts to re-create a Firefox like experience. One important feature of Caderno that makes the aforementioned statement true, and the program very much Firefox-like, is that it comes with a ‘find as you type’ feature to search .txt or other files. It also features tabs for opening multiple documents. A session management console allows a user to work with a set number of documents and be able to reload them together. The revert feature – found under the file menu – can reload the last saved version of an open document. Caderno also supports PHP code completion, syntax highlighting for a growing number of languages and an improving though yet not full support for utf documents. A portable version is also in the works and should arrive after the author makes decisions on how to handle the program’s built-in crash recovery when working with a USB thumb drive.
Caderno is a relatively young project and a very interesting one, it should run on all more recent versions of Windows.

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Mar 252009
 

Canaware NetNotes allows the capture, organization and storage of whole webpages or excerpts directly from a browser. It is really easy to create a knowledgebase or simply a collection of text using NetNotes. The captured material can be categorized, highlighted and even edited using the built-in editor. The captures are organized and saved in folders that reside within libraries, all of which are fully searchable, movable and mergeable. It is further possible to email notes and captures and also to back them up in zipped format and since all are stored in HTML they remain usable even without the NetNotes application.

netnotes

Canaware NetNotes’ usage consists of highlighting the portion of a web page or just right clicking (Firefox requires the accompanying but optional Add-on) on an empty area of a page and choosing the Export To Canaware Netnotes option. The program then opens with the option of saving the capture and optionally editing its title and adding keywords. Prompt will be given to choose and download any attachments that are part of the capture as in elements that may exist within a webpage.
Under the Tools—>Option menu such things as the default library, in which to automatically save new notes, is configurable but more importanly it is possible to make the captures safe by forcing NetNotes to filter out potentially dangerous elements and scripts. (see image above)
Canaware NetNotes runs on Windows 2000 and up and requires Internet Explorer or Firefox and perhaps as a con the .Net framework. The limitation on browsers of either not being directly supported or needing an Add-on can be viewed as a negative, and when there is no support such as for Opera, to a positive because one is not forced into yet another download and can just launch the program directly to and paste the contents of the clipboard and use the program.

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