Archive for the ‘Browsers’ Category


How to use the Download Flash and Video add-on for Firefox

January 27, 2011

I wanted to download some quilting videos from YouTube so that I always had them available whenever I needed to remind myself how to do a particular technique. Searching on YouTube in the hope of finding something I viewed 3 months ago was getting painful — I was tired of trying to remember a video’s name or presenter, even if I knew in general what the content was about. It was time to find some software that would allow me to download a YouTube video and save it to my computer.

The problem was, when I did a Google search, there were many applications out there that profess to do just that. But what was a good one? Off to Twitter, where I asked my followers for a recommendation. Within minutes @mikestarrwriter got back to me recommending ‘Download Flash and Video’ add-on for Firefox ( I checked out the reviews, then decided to install it.

It works well, BUT there’s NO documentation. Nothing to tell you how it works and what to do when it doesn’t work (as happens occasionally). So here’s the ‘missing manual’ for the Download Flash and Video add-on for Firefox.

  1. After you’ve installed the add-on and restarted Firefox, you’ll see a small gray down arrow icon in the menu bar.
  2. Go to YouTube and find a video you want to download.
  3. Start the video.
  4. Watch the icon. When it changes to a blue arrow with a movie ‘clapperboard’ icon (typically 1 to 10 seconds after the video starts), the file is ready to download. You can pause the video at this stage — it will still download.
  5. Click the blue arrow/clapperboard icon in the menu bar to see the options.
  6. Select the video size and format from the drop-down list. If I don’t want high definition, I’ll just choose 720p MP4 (MP4 plays fine in Windows Media Player).
  7. The video will now download to the folder where your Firefox downloads are saved (as set in the Firefox menu: Options > Options > General).

[Steps updated September 2013; link last checked September 2013]


Doing a synonym search in Google

September 24, 2010

Here’s a Google search tip:  To find a word and its synonyms, add a tilde (~) in front of the word.

For example, to find synonyms of inexpensive (e.g. cheap, budget, affordable, discount), type ~inexpensive then the search term/phrase — such as ~inexpensive hotels seattle.


Firefox: Save your bookmarks

September 8, 2010

My husband’s computer had to be reinstalled with Windows last week (don’t ask…). We had time to copy all his data files to an external backup drive, but as usual, there’s always something you forget to copy. In his case, we forgot to copy his Microsoft Word Templates folder — and his Firefox Bookmarks. We probably forgot other stuff too, but these are the ones we noticed immediately. (I’m using the royal ‘we’ here — as the resident geek, it was MY job to do all this copying and remembering…)

The Templates folder was easy to solve — the PC Guru guys had made an image of the hard drive, so they were able to copy it back from his old profile.

But as he hadn’t backed up his Firefox Bookmarks — ever — they seemed to be gone forever. However, the PC Guru guys performed a miracle and found them after a bit of searching under various user names.

BTW, Firefox does save your bookmarks in a JSON file hidden deep in your user profile (e.g. on Windows XP: C:\Documents and Settings\<username>\Application Data\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\<some weird name>\bookmarkbackups)

Of course, this little episode reminded me to save my extensive list of bookmarks to another location immediately. I’ve now set myself an Outlook reminder to back up our bookmarks once a month. I don’t think this is a scheduled task you can set via Windows, so we’ll have to do it manually. And we’ll be saving that file to an external, cloud backup, or networked drive, NOT our main PCs.

Here’s how to save your Firefox bookmarks:

  1. From the Firefox menu, select Bookmarks > Organize Bookmarks.
  2. Click Import and Backup.
  3. You have two choices — you can either select Backup (saves the file as a JSON file), or Export HTML (saves the file as an HTML file). See below for the differences.
  4. Navigate to where you want to save the file, give it a meaningful file name (e.g. include the date you made the backup if you chose the Export HTML option).
  5. Click Save.

What’s the difference: My understanding of the differences between a Backup (JSON) file and an exported HTML file is that if you need to restore your bookmarks later, the JSON file option will overwrite all current bookmarks on Restore. The HTML option will append (not overwrite) bookmarks not already in the existing list to the existing list on Import HTML. (See for details.)

Bottom line:

  • Backup your bookmarks regularly — set yourself a reminder to do so.
  • Make a copy of your backed up bookmarks to an external or network drive, or back them up to ‘cloud’ storage.

[Links last checked September 2010]


New Google image search

July 26, 2010

Google’s rolled out a new way to display image search results — and a lot of people don’t like it, especially as up to 1000 image thumbnails display per page now and all the old information like where the image was from, its dimensions and its file size are now only available by hovering over the image and seeing the details in a pop-up window.

You can reset your image results display back to the old view by scrolling to the bottom of the search results, then clicking Switch to basic version. However, as at the date of writing this post (25 July 2010), this setting only holds for the current session and doesn’t ‘stick’.

I can imagine an awful lot of people still on dial-up or slow links or limited download plans (and yes, that’s a LOT of the world, Google!) will NOT be happy with this change as the amount of data transferred to display 1000 images could well blow out their slow connections or download limits.

#fail Google. At least allow users to set the type of display they want in their search Preferences… and don’t assume that Google users throughout the world have high-speed, always-on, unlimited download access like many in the US do. We don’t.

(By the way, I don’t see the new search results display yet in Firefox or IE — but my husband has been getting them for a day or so. We’re on the same static IP address, so I have no idea why he sees them and I don’t as there’s nothing different in our settings.)


Welcome to 2010, Australian Tax Office!

July 4, 2010

I needed to see if I could change my business details online at the Australian Tax Office (ATO) — Australia’s version of the IRS. Here’s what I got:

Hello??? It’s 2010, ATO. IE 5 has been dead for a long time, and Netscape? When did anyone last speak of Netscape???

And I can ‘update my browser’ from Firefox 3.6.x to IE 5 or Netscape 6? I don’t think so…

It was all too hard so I emailed my accountant to ask her to do it. I won’t call them — the last time I called the ATO, I was on hold for 3 hours, and then the call got dropped.

ATO #fail!


Browser support for HTML5 and CSS3

June 23, 2010

As HTML5 and CSS3 support grows, you might need to know which browsers support the various new features.

While there are many tables that give this information in text form (see for an example), some of you might find that a graphic explains it better.

The screen shot below is from — when you go to that website, hover over the radiating points to see which feature is support by the various browsers; the screen shot shows that none of the Internet Explorer (IE) versions support HTML5 Forms:

See also:

[Links last checked June 2010]


Page navigation – top AND bottom, please

May 5, 2010

One thing that’s always annoyed me about Google search (and other sites that show search or other results down the page) is that the page navigation to get to the next or previous pages in the results list is at the BOTTOM of the list/page. There’s no page navigation at the top.

Often I just scan the results, discover that what I’m looking for isn’t there and want to go to the next page. But to get to the next page, I have to pick up the mouse and scroll down to the bottom (or press Ctrl+End if my cursor isn’t in the search term field, or press the Page Down key), then move the mouse to click on Page 2, 3, or whatever.

However, in Google the next page’s results refresh the display so that you’re at the top of that page’s list again. Which is good. But not so good when you want to go from that position to the next page — again, you have to scroll to the bottom, pick up the mouse and click on Page 3. (Yes, I know you can tab through all the links to get to the page navigation, but that’s far more work than using the mouse.)

Why can’t the page navigation be at the TOP of the list as well as at the bottom? Surely, the same code would be used for both?

BTW, I have a 19″ monitor rotated into portrait orientation (like a page), but even with that size monitor and orientation I still don’t see all 10 (default) results on a Google search results page. And therefore I have to scroll to the bottom. Which annoys me no end — there has to be a way to have the page navigation at the top too. Please? Pretty please?

(If anyone knows of a setting in Google that puts the page navigation at the top too, please let me know so I can adjust it!)