Over the last 45 years of my involvement in computer technology I’ve often glazed people’s eyes over when trying to explain an important concept, and I’ve been guilty of it here on my blog several times. Often I say to myself just shut-up Jim!, nobody want’s to learn stuff here, they want to see pictures and read witty content!
Well damn it, blogs can offer teachable moments also, so here goes:
Your window to the internet is your browser of choice. Personally, I have all the major PC browsers installed for testing purposes, but I use FireFox as my main development tool and personal browser.
My general purpose extensions include Adblock Plus (a no-brainer), Case Changer which lets me convert capped text into sentences when I post on Pinterest, Facepaste grabs entire Facebook photo albums and goo.gl lite creates shortened URLs.
Firefox becomes a brilliant code development platform with extensions like: FireFTP which transfers files to my server, FireQuery, a Firebug code debugger for jQuery and Web Developer, a great set of coding analysis tools.
Ok, I see your eyes glazing over so here’s the meat of this post: Firefox can protect you!
The Web Of Trust extension puts little round dots next to all your clickable links, which represent the personal experiences of a global community of millions of users. Green indicates a site has been rated safe, grey is questionable and red means don’t click!.
Ghostery is perhaps my favorite extension. Every time you visit a website you are being tracked by an amazing number of invisible web tags, web bugs, pixels and beacons. The reason I know this is because Ghostery traps all of them and shows them to me in a drop-down list in the upper right corner of the browser. I’ve seen 20+ trackers blocked at a time on websites you may use everyday and by blocked I mean the fact that you clicked on that site is never known to all those information mining companies.
The final thing you can do is to use OpenDNS. It’s a bit tricky changing your default Dynamic Name Server settings over to this service but very worth it. Several times it’s detected a vicious website that’s slipped through my bad-ass defenses, and alerted me.
The Web Of Trust, Ghostery and OpenDNS sites have excellent tutorials on how to set them up on your system. I strongly recommend them!