One of the basic tools of an intel studies student's life is the internet browser. Everyone has an opinion, of course, but for my money Firefox 3 is the best choice. I have come to really like the flexibility of Firefox for the project-based work we usually find ourselves doing and have become increasingly impressed with the new features on Firefox 3 (introduced back in June).
- Beyond Firefox 3, of course, there is Internet Explorer 7, Safari, and Opera. I like Opera the best of the three (particularly for cell phones) with Safari a close runner up. IE 8, which should improve on the current browser, is still in beta and Google's addition to the browser wars, Chrome, is not due out until today. There are, of course, other browsers out there and anyone with strong preferences is welcome to post to the comments...
- Zotero or Scrapbook. Both are very good ways to store and retrieve web pages for research purposes. Zotero is a little more complicated but is very useful for writing academic style as well as intel style papers (Zotero integrates easily with MS Word which makes including citations and bibliographies in papers a breeze). Scrapbook is easier to use but does not have the power that Zotero has. Because of Zotero's ability to help students in both intel and non-intel classes, we require the use of Zotero in our freshman Advanced Intel Analysis class.
- IE Tab. IE Tab allows you to see content that is typically only viewable in Internet Explorer in Firefox. There aren't many sites where you need this tab but some troglodytes out there still insist on optimizing their content for IE only. In these cases, IE Tab is invaluable.
- PDF Download and Download Statusbar. Both of these add-ons help manage downloads, particularly large PDF files, with ease.
- McAfee Site Advisor, Web Of Trust or Netcraft Toolbar. When poking around the internet you are almost certain to come across what might look like a suspicious website. All of these add-ons provide you information to help make an informed decision. I use McAfee Site Advisor and Web Of Trust has come recommended by a source I trust (Thanks, Megan!). Netcraft Toolbar is another such add-on (targeting phishing attacks in particular) that comes recommended to me.
- Morning Coffee. This add-on allows you to bring up a whole menu of websites with a single click. It is particularly useful if you are working on a project and want to monitor a number of sites routinely and simultaneously.
- Adblock Plus. Tired of annoying ads on pages? Adblock Plus gets rid of them.
- Forecastbar Enhanced. Gives you a complete weather picture whenever you want it. Particularly useful in places where the weather can shift from one extreme to another within hours (like Erie...).
- Ubiquity. I almost put this one first. It is one of the most advanced tools I have seen for Firefox. My only hesitation is that it is in extreme Alpha status right now (but getting better quickly!) and it requires Firefox 3. What does it do? Just about everything. Check out the video below.
This is a short list of the add-ons that have been repeatedly recommended to me over the last year. If you have others, please post a link to the comments!
SAM Goes Back To School, Part 1: Wake Up!