The Awesome Bar. Expert retro surfing, Firefox style.

Ok, let me ask you this, what if you really need to revisit a website or a webpage you’ve seen previously but you forgot to bookmark it?

And what if you don’t remember the website address? Or even what it starts with? Or ever knew it at all because you arrived there via a link. Or it’s too generic to Google efficiently?

And what I ask…what if none of that mattered to finding it again anyway!

Because with Firefox as your browser none of nonsense does matter, you will still be able to find your site in seconds.

But how is such virtuoso virtual voodoo possible you may ask.

Well it’s all courtesy of the amazing power of the Firefox address bar, so much so that Mozilla decided it wasn’t enough to merely call it an address bar, instead they officially dubbed it The Awesome Bar.

And what makes it awesome is an amazingly comprehensive search function. Because while other browsers have a predictive feature that only works from the start of a url, the The Awesome Bar has one for any characters anywhere within the url.

So for instance if you vaguely recall that the word Shop, Blog, Football or perhaps Britney was somewhere in the website address, type that into the addr…sorry, The Awesome Bar, and now all the instances matching that word will appear in a drop down box to easily select from.

And if that finds your site, all well and good, but Firefox can perform even deeper searching. Because it also remembers the title given to any visited webpage, a keyword rich description of itself that is usually far more specific than its address.

Meaning that if your elusive web page was for a Chicken Scalopini recipe, those words are unlikely to appear in the url but very likely to appear in its title.

And that’s the key, because all you need to do is type in the words Chicken Scallopini, The Awesome Bar works its keyword matching magic and now you can have it for tonight’s dinner after all.

Assuming of course that you haven’t cleared your browsing history since, otherwise you’ll be making do with KFC.

Another example for you, if you use a service like Amazon and want to revisit an item, don’t bother going back and doing the searching again, just type that item directly into the Firefox address field and voila, that page can be instantly selected.

Truly after a while you stop thinking in terms of urls to revisit old websites, you start thinking of keywords, what the subject matter is you want to end up on, or you lazily just type the middle of a url because it’s more distinctive.

In fact if you’re on Firefox now, have a play, experiment, start typing and see how the The Awesome Bar actually works its voodoo. And if you’re not on Firefox now, I hope you finally realise that you bloody should be!

But that, my friends, is how easily you can revisit a site you don’t remember the address for.

Isn’t it just awesome.

Google…not everything is the latest technology.

Those people at Google think of everything.

Because what do you do for the Street View feature on Google Maps when the streets in question are too narrow to send the Street View Camera Van down?

Obviously you pimp out a tricycle instead.

Witness these photos I took while on holiday in Italy recently.

And far from feeling my privacy invaded because I’d been caught on their camera, I followed the thing 50 yards to make sure my civil rights had been violated.

So in a short while, should you be using Street View at the junction of Piazza San Elena and Vico di San Cristoforo in Genoa, the only thing I will feel compromised by is how stupidly excited I might appear and how white my legs will look in shorts.

genoa2

genoa1

AutoPager. Whatever next, immediately.

Sorry Internet Explorer users, this is a Firefox only offering again.

I make no apologies, apart from that one above, for if you haven’t yet swapped web browsers to Firefox you should be blatantly confronted with your terrible error.

Because this time I’ll be explaining about making Google, admittedly available for several web browsers, even better if that browser is Firefox.

Actually I shall be telling you of a way of making the navigation of many sites easier on Firefox, although Google is the most obvious example.

Now then, while Google couldn’t be much simpler to use, the one thing that could definitely be improved upon is its basic navigation field.

It’s small, a bit fiddly and since you only get 10 results per page there’s a good chance you’ll be clicking on it back and forth several times per search.

autopager4Well not if you download a free add-on to Firefox called AutoPager, because now you’ll never need to click to the next page of Google again, it will automatically load for you!

That’s because with AutoPager the next page of Google will load right below the current page of Google almost simultaneously, stacking the pages one on top of the other, building an infinite scrolling content that you only need a mouse wheel or the browser scroll bar to whizz through page after page after page.

Trust me, it is so much faster using Google with Autopager you have to see it yourself to believe it. A process which AutoPager also applies by default with many other websites that utilise a Next button.

And you can even configure websites that aren’t automatically set up with AutoPager to act in the same manner, in fact whenever you see web pages with a Next button. Although I have to admit, while it’s not difficult to do when you know how, it’s not immediately obvious and is a bit too much to explain here.

Suffice to say that in the normal automatic detection mode, whenever a pop up message appears, just say ‘yes’ to allow AutoPager to work it’s magic and make sure it’s ‘enabled’ on your Navigational Toolbar via the AP icon that will conveniently appear there once you download it.

But getting any extra sites to work is just gravy on the main course that will keep feeding one page after another of continuous AutoPager goodness for sites like Google and Amazon.

So, hungry to sample AutoPager for yourself, just click this link to it’s Firefox add-ons page to do so.

Yet another good reason to turn the page on ever using Internet Explorer again as well.

Spotify. The latest music for free, FREE!

Have you heard, there’s a new player in town.

Because while I’ve already told you about We7 with all its wealth of free music, I’m compelled to tell you there is an equal source for all the latest and greatest tracks and full albums.

It’s called Spotify, and despite a name like an instruction to rub butter into the pores of a pimply teenager, with millions of songs to listen to, it spreads only musical joy.

spotify5And like We7 the music is all free and legal because the Spotify business model is likewise supported by advertising. Although unlike We7 whose adverts are short but frequent, Spotify has fewer ads but they are a more typical radio stylee 30 seconds.

Mind you, if you want to go to the expense of paying a premium service of 99p a day or £9.99 for a month you can turn those adverts off, although there’s no real need to. Unless of course you’re up for a night of seduction and rather not risk an awkwardly timed condom ad interupting that ‘Luurve’ playlist you prepared.

But anyway, one main difference between the two is that while We7 is a web browser based streaming service, Spotify is a downloaded application to your computer hard drive. It is quick and simple though, only requires filling in a short registration and is a tiny 1.45MB download size.

That’s because the actual tracks are not downloaded, they just play in the Spotify interface. This is free music remember, it’s not iTunes, you do need to be connected to the internet to access them and you can’t add any to your mp3 player, even if the interface itself will remind you of iTunes.

For the clean looks and minimalist controls make searching and playing a doddle and it’s easy to create your own playlists with the drag and drop functionality.

Plus when you are searching for a popular artist or song you’ll be wide eyed with its amount of results. Spotify will return your enquiry for the artists own albums, compilation albums, soundtrack albums, the lot, everything short of their kiddy photo album.

And while I could explain more, I’ll leave those discoveries to you. I will just add that Spotify is another fantastic free music source you’d be crazy not to take advantage of, and you can download it by clicking this link

So go on, get Spotify, spotifying and spotified, and I don’t mean with a knob of Lurpak.

(*Hi again folks. It’s November 2009 and clearly Spotify isn’t the little known application I spoke of 6 months ago, it’s become the Daddy of ALL the free music sites.

It’s moved on as well, new features include the option to buy the tracks and an improved Premium service that now provides iPhone integration,  access to your music off-line and apparently even better sound quality as well.

Myself, I’m still happy with the quality of the free stuff.)

The real reason Susan Boyle conquered the World.

A miraculous thing happened this week, something that united millions and millions of people across the world and something that couldn’t have happened just 5 years ago.

It wasn’t a religious event, it wasn’t a sporting occasion, it wasn’t aliens bringing Elvis back, it was something far more unlikely.

It was a woman called Susan Boyle singing a showtune.

There’s no chance you haven’t heard of Miss Boyle by now, the lady with the brillo hair but brilliant voice who appeared on Britain’s Got Talent and then computer monitors around the globe.

But I’m not here to add to the media commentary about how society views talent and attractiveness, instead I thought it was worth mentioning about how the world is viewing at all.

Because in all the talk of her impact there is always one common denominator, one currency that validates her popularity in every news article and one main reason those outside Britain have been able to hear Susan Boyle sing, and that’s…YouTube.

And it’s this side of her story I thought was worthwhile giving a nod towards, the side without which not that long ago, there would be no worldwide fairytale.

For when you think that YouTube only started in February 2005 and it’s dropped into reports like everybody knows what it is without reference, that we realise the likes of what it is, and what it does, is now taken so much for granted.

The social web may be synonymous with MySpace, Facebook and now Twitter, but it’s clear that YouTube demonstrates the real power of the peoples internet.

You can read all you like about the Susan Boyle effect but you can’t be emotionally included in this phenomenon until your eyes leak by watching it yourself.

And part of this global experience is that for seven eye opening minutes we can feel connected to so many others who watched the same small flickering box, within the same white background, and who must have felt as joyful and uplifted as you did.

A connection emphasised by all the comments on the site, like a planet wide group hug.

Although who would have thought that YouTube could have quite this much cultural influence. That within days our most famous British singer would change from a rehab denying, bedraggled tattooed waif who looks like she’s never been washed, to an ordinary lady with an extraordinary voice who’s never been kissed.

You didn’t expect that did you, did you, no.

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We7, now have an advert break from the advert break.

If you’ve been paying attention since the second post I ever wrote on here you may already know about a website called We7.

But since only my wife and our cat have been around all that time you could perhaps have a look at my enthusiastic review of the thing by clicking this link to it.

But if you must know, without referring to my purple prose, We7 is a free music site. A free music site that has millions of whole tracks and complete albums to listen to online totally legally.

And the reason it’s all free, and this is the only minor downside, is that between this musical bonanza are very short adverts which generate the income so that We7 can provide such a service at all.

But now you don’t even have to suffer that tiny inconvenience, because you can enjoy the double delight of having the free music and having it advert free for a whole month as well!

That is if you know how to and fortunately I do.

I can’t claim any secret knowledge though as it’s actually courtesy of a promotion that We7 have with the Daily Star newspaper, but since they always say no purchase is necessary I thought I’d giveaway the details here too.

So go to this address we7.com/go/dailystar and if you’re already a member log in on that page, or if not complete the short registration form, then in the box for the Special Promotional Code add this not very secret code 52GWNSW8HB7B.

I have and it works but since I’m not sure how long it will work for, you’d better go and do it now hadn’t you.

With friends like these who need enemas.

A bit more behind the scenes stuff for you again.

Because no sooner have I explained how Mr Clive Owen unexpectedly helped to increase my Blog hits, than I have the tale of an equally unlikely reason that people are visiting here.

A reason that if you’d have told me beforehand, I would have told you to butt out, that you were talking out of your arse, that you were full of crap and actually, I would have been right.

For the new reason of this blogs increasing popularity is, and I can barely believe I’m writing this, the new reason is…enemas.

Or to be slightly more precise, DIY enemas. Yes indeed folks, there are people specifically coming to this blog to stick a hose up their harris.

Not that I mind, I’ve been linked with the extraction of bodily waste before this, and it doesn’t matter to me how people are being drawn here as long as they are. But why would they be arriving here looking for enemas?

Well, it seems that I have the inadvertent help of Google to be thankful for again. Not for the new Google Alerts service I spoke of previously but with the old, type it in yourself and see what comes up method. Or perhaps for these folk, what comes out.

Because courtesy of a post that I wrote on here called ‘How To Perform a DIY Enema and Other Essential Knowledge‘, that is totally enema unrelated apart from its title, it seems that I am starting to rank very highly on Google for people who actually do want to perform DIY Enemas.

Not that I’m quite public enema No. 1 just yet, but I am certainly in the Top 10.

Have a look yourself. Crack open Google, insert ‘DIY Enemas’, examine the contents and how about that, on Page 1, you’ll find this blog.

Mmm, putting it like that, perhaps I should be offended.

But anyway, as surprised as I am for this new flush of visitors, anybody who followed that link – and the technical stuff behind this blog tells me dozens have, they will be just as surprised to discover that this is not an amateur proctology blog.

Nevertheless, to any of the new arrivals who are here prior to shoving tubing up your back passage, I’m still delighted you stopped by.

Although I’ll be honest, when I thought I’d be showing people how to defrag their system, I did have something else in mind.

Google Alerts. How Clive Owen made me a very happy man.

It’s a funny thing this blogging lark.

I toil away with every post, beads of creative perspiration dotted on my brow each time as I try to educate and amuse in equal measure and I’ll be honest with you, I’ve been lucky if I got 10 people a week come visit me.

But that’s ok, there’s a million Blogs out there and why should I think mine deserves any special attention, even if it clearly should.

Something happened with my last post though, something that suddenly sent my hits through the roof, well, the roof of a modest bungalow anyway.

And the thing that did it, the sole reason that propelled my visitors roofwards was all down to one happy accident…I mentioned Clive Owen.

Clive Owen, famous British actor and handsome bugger.

Now I like Mr Owen, he isn’t my type but when I needed a name to illustrate a point about someone appealing to women he obviously fitted the bill. Plus it was somehow funnier and not much longer to type than Brad Pitt.

And at the time I didn’t give it another thought it but I obviously underestimated how much our Clive does appeal to the ladies. Because within hours I could see that my hits had mysteriously shot up, and with the marvelous background wizardry they include with these Blogs I could even pinpoint the source.

That source being a Clive Owen fansite. A site that had somehow found my Top 10 Reasons You Need a New Web Designer post, saw Reason No. 4 which name-checked the man, liked it, borrowed it for themselves, but since they enjoyed the rest of the list did the nice thing of linking back to me as the author.

Now given that extra visitors are exactly what I need, and that this was the first other site to link to mine, I was very happy for the recognition.

But it did beg the question, how the hell did they find me in the first place, and so quickly?

Well, I discovered that like a lot of things on the web it came courtesy of Google, but not in the usual search engine way, oh no, and this is where I do get to my point dear reader, it was actually because of a entirely new and different kind of service called Google Alerts.

A kind of pre-ordering your favorite search terms by telling Google just the once about a topic of interest and then relaxing as they keep the results coming back to you with daily, weekly or ‘as it happens’ updates via email.

And it’s easy done, just fill in a simple 4 part form field, and from then on, any reference of Clive Owen for instance will come to you rather than you going to it. Plus you can have any number of different Google Alerts stacked up and sent to you.

As an example, I’ve now asked Google Alerts to let me know whenever there’s a mention of my web design company or this Blog. Or you might use it to receive news of your favorite Football team, or to find particular job vacancies in your area, or just like my new friend Lessy37 at Clive Owen_Daily follow every new reference of your favorite film star.

And when you think she found me by the merest mention of Clive Owen, that’s some powerful searching that Google Alerts is doing on your behalf, how long would it take on a regular Google search to find that?

But to find out out how efficient it could be for you as well, just click this link to Google Alerts.

Anyway, my thanks goes to Lessy, all the visitors from her fansite who followed that link back to me, the other Clive Owen sites who found me from Lessy finding me, and for her alerting me to Google Alerts.

Now all I need, since I also mentioned Spider-Man and Harry Potter in that Top 10 list, is for Marvel Comics and Hogwarts to link to me too.

The Top 10 Reasons You Need A New Web Designer

How about another Top 10 list.

Because previously I wrote of the “Top 10 Reasons Your Website Needs A Redesign“.

But now instead of wild and comedic exaggerations to indirectly insult your web designer, to hell with it, let’s slander them in a more immediate fashion.

It is all meant in jest although with some sites I see, I may be more accurate than I could imagine.

So, I present to you “The Top 10 Reasons You Need A New Web Designerand in true Top 10 list fashion you should read this from bottom to top.

  1. He said “What’s a Google?”
  2. AND THE NUMBER ONE REASON YOU NEED A NEW WEB DESIGNER…

  3. Your guy thinks screen resolutions come in ‘small’, ‘medium’, and ‘large’.
  4. Your guy thinks spell checking is something that only Harry Potter needs to do.
  5. After a request to make a site more appealing to women, your guy adds pictures of shoes and Clive Owen.
  6. Your guy tries to convince you Search Engines are just a fad.
  7. Your guy thinks Usability Testing is only to make sure the site loads.
  8. Your guy thinks a search engine submission is a wrestling manoeuvre.
  9. Your guy thinks an Apple Mac is dessert for a Quarter Pounder.
  10. Your guy thinks a web server is what Spider-Man wears on his wrists.
  11. Your guy’s concept for your website is urban grunge, but you own a pet shop.

Earth Album. Not just a pretty picture, there’s lots of them.

A bit of a variation on my previous theme with this one.

Because in the last blog post I told you of the new features of Google Maps and how I can see it being used for a bit of retro-tourism.

That is with its ability to provide photographs of any place that you’ve been to and want to revisit again, at least virtually.

Well if you’d like to view absolutely the finest and most evocative photographs of a favourite destination then I have an alternative for you, one that will have you cooing wistfully and planning your next visit back there.

Earth Album

There's no place like Rome.

It’s an application that combines the DNA of Google Maps and Flickr and from such a blessed coupling has been born a website love-child called Earth Album…a fantastic picture book of the whole World.

One that’s prefaced within the Satellite View we know from Google Maps but don’t usually see from such a heavenly perspective.

And just as in Google Maps you can zoom down, down deeper and down over your area of choice, or your own house for that matter, until you see your neighbour throwing some rubbish in your back garden. Well not quite but I know he did it. My cat does crap in his garden though so I let it go.

But the real eye candy occurs when you select a country to visit because now you will be presented with a strip of thumbnail images that you just click on to enlarge to absolutely captivating effect. For these are no ordinary holiday snaps, these are some of the most beautiful photographs you could ever hope to see.

Photographs that don’t just capture the places of that country but also it’s people and spirit. And as you would expect, further refinement can be achieved by clicking a specific city, or by searching for it, which will display only those particular images for you.

But Earth Album is so smart and selective that if you zoom zoom until almost the zoomiest of zooms, and then click anywhere on the Satellite View, a little yellow rectangle will appear and now only the photographs taken from that exact spot will appear. It is amazing.

It has to be a popular location mind you, don’t expect pictures of cat poo in your back garden to show up.

And you can even look by category of images as well, whether it’s mountain, sunset, city or even for some reason food, but whatever your selection it’s all a visual feast for the eye anyway.

So whether you want to revisit a favourite city, check out an intended destination or just want to view spectacular photography this is a great resource and click this link to Earth Album to see how good for yourself.

For if a picture is supposed to paint a thousand words, the thousands of pictures on Earth Album speak absolute bloody volumes.

Google Maps, all that’s missing now is a teleporter.

Have you seen Google Maps yet?

No, I know you’ve seen it, but have you seen it since it’s all changed?

Since they have added Street View, Videos, Photographs and even frickin’ Wikipedia entries!!!

It seems that gone are the days when maps were just a source of directions, now you need to feel you’ve already been to a place before you ever have.

Anyway, I’m not going to tell you how to negotiate Google Maps, you must know how to do get basic directions but to access all the funky new features you do need to click the ‘More’ button and check the boxes for Video, Photos and Wikipedia. And next to it there’s even a button to view live traffic updates or anticipated road congestion in that area as well.

Not that you’ll be able to even see your route anymore for all the tiny photo thumbnails, video screen icons and the Wikipedia logo covering the whole screen now, but they are easily toggled off from the same menu.

But the startling new feature is Street View, that is if you’re viewing one of the 25 cities in the UK that the Google camera van has so far trundled through, which allows you to swoop down for a 360 degree virtual tour of your location.

And you implement that uncannily enough whenever you see a Street View link or whenever the ‘zoomy-in-and-out-bar-thingee’, that’s the proper technical term, has a little yellow man displayed which you can drag to the part of the map you want to view in all it’s panoramic glory.

Then it’s just a matter of moving forward or back using the onscreen arrows, clicking and dragging the image to move the view around or doing the same with it’s circular navigational tool. But however you use it, you will surely be impressed with how seamlessly and quickly it responds.

Truly, Google Maps with it’s new features is an amazing use of technology particularly as the web becomes increasing mobile. It can be your means of orientation and your informative tour guide. And as it rolls out across the World you can check out an area to see if it’s worth visiting at all.

But I think the Street View will be used just as much as a nostalgic retro sightseeing device after you’ve already been somewhere. For instance, I’ve just enjoyed a weekend in London and I’ve been wandering down Memory Lane by clicking down Drury Lane.

Hold on though, when you think about it, that means using an application even when you don’t need it and you’ll be going from A to B via G even when you’re not leaving A. OMG!

Now can someone direct me to a psychiatrist, I think I just blew my mind.

Promotional Codes for your online shopping.

We all shop on the Internet these days don’t we.

And when we do, and you’re deep within your virtual shopping basket you’ll often see a form field asking the tantalising question ‘Do you have a Promotional Code?’

A frustrating little box isn’t it

Because no, I don’t have a expletive deleted Promotional Code and now I’m expletive deleted off because I’m paying full expletive deleted price and some other expletive deleted isn’t!

Sorry, I was having a momentary flashback there.

But it turns out that getting these codes isn’t difficult, it’s just knowing where to find them, and I have two websites for you to check out for the next time you’re at the checkout.

The first one is www.myvouchercodes.co.uk which is the UK’s largest website of discount codes and is a price comparison site of sorts as well. And the other one you should try is www.promotionalcodes.org.uk which isn’t quite so all encompassing but it is easier to navigate.

They’re both very good, with tons of participating retailers, and you can get codes for online shopping and printable vouchers for various high street stores and restaurants.

Of course another option your shouldn’t overlook is simply to go to Google and for example type in ‘Ann Summers discount codes’ and see what’s available. But often the displayed results are for offers that have expired by then so here’s something else you can do. (and could come in handy for any search query)

On Googles own page click the little Advanced Search link by the side of the input box and once there, expand an option under the sexy title +Date, usage rights, numeric range, and more and now you can refine your search to within a day or a week and Google will only provide the very freshest results.

But remember fellas, even if you’re not paying full price for that french tickler and saucy maids outfit just be certain to be home when your purchases are delivered.

If the wife takes delivery and she’s a size 18 when the outfit is a 12 and she doesn’t believe the tickler is a blow up novelty cheese grater you could end up paying a far higher price.

And I don’t think divorce lawyers do discounts.