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Firefox in your key-chain

HAPPY GREGORIAN New Year! This week NetSpeak takes a look at a couple of applications that can be taken along with you wherever you go.

The need for applications that can be taken to other machines and run without any hassles is increasingly being felt by netizens. One can point out many instances that demand portable computer applications that work across systems.

Of late, computer-based presentations have become quite common. Presentations done for seminars and classrooms are fast becoming more and more web-based.

It is obvious that a web-based presentation can be made more efficient if the presenter can use the same browser that she operates with regularly. For example, she might have stored many valuable bookmarks and attached several bookmarklets on to the browser for accessing the various web-based services/tools easily.

Also, it is likely that during the course of her web life, a netizen has added many browser add-ons (like Google toolbar) and has customised the browser with a wide range of features such as cookies, passwords for accessing certain sites and so on.

So, having your familiar browser, with all its customised features intact, at your disposal will certainly help you conduct your digital life more smoothly. This is no problem if you have a laptop and are willing to carry it along. However, the problem can be easily solved if one can have a browser completely stored on a portable medium like CD-RW or pen drive. The `Portable Firefox' (http://johnhaller.com/jh/mozilla/portable_ firefox/) project has been designed with this goal in mind.

Portable Firefox "is a fully functional package of Firefox optimised for use on a USB key drive." The installation process is quite simple. Just download the archive, expand it on to the portable device and start the browser by clicking on the program file, `PortableFirefox'. As all the browser related data — cookies, browser history, extensions and the like — will be stored in the portable drive only, you can take the browser to other similar systems without losing any information.

Another portable application worth a try is the `Portable Thunderbird project' (http://portablethunderbird.mozdev. org/) that allows you to keep a fully functional `Thunderbird' e-mail client on your portable device so that it can be used to fetch e-mails from any system you work with. Hence, while on travel, if you visit a cyber-café for viewing your mails, you can download them on to your pen drive, which has Thunderbird installed on it. No need to access the same mails several times.

In this context, you may also note that Thunderbird, which has a reasonably good anti-spam control built-in, is fast turning out to be a popular mail client.

Anti-spyware software

As mentioned earlier, programs that get installed on a PC without the knowledge or consent of its owner are generally called spyware. Apart from sending some personal information about the PC user and tracking her web habits, some of them hijack her browser and force her to visit junk web sites with obscene content. `Spybot Search & Destroy' (http://www.safer-networking.org/en/index.html) is another tool that can be deployed in your fight against such menaces.

Switch Bookmarklet

Though many search engines are in place, it is probable that you are settled on to one or two of them. Also, if you are not satisfied with the results produced by your favourite search engine, at times, you may want to invoke the same search process with another search service. For this, normally, you will have to go through several steps that include accessing the alternative search service and typing in the search string.

Of course, for each search, one may not always be keen to go through this boring procedure.

The switch bookmarklet (http://www.faganfinder.com/switch/) service is a good tool that can be used for smoothening out this process.

`Switch Bookmarklet' creator allows you to create custom bookmarklets that enable you to switch from the search output produced by one search engine to that of another.

For example, if you want to view the search output from the search service `Yahoo', along with the Google's output, create a switch bookmarklet by selecting `Yahoo' from the various search services displayed at the `switch tool' drop-down box.

Once the switch bookmarlet is created, place it on the browser toolbar. Now, after a Google search, if you want to fire up a `Yahoo' search also, just click on the `switch to yahoo' bookmarklet.

You will immediately get a new window filled with Yahoo search output.

Job search engine

Advertisements for job opportunities are available at different sources that include on-line job services, newspapers and so on. A search engine that lets a job seeker spot the available opportunities relevant to his expertise will certainly make the job hunting process rather easy.

If you are a job seeker, check out the job search engine, Indeed (http://www.indeed.com/about.html), which lets you "search millions of jobs across all career fields".

You can save your search as an e-mail alert or as a news-feed so that latest job advertisements can be collected automatically in your mailbox or in your newsreader.

J. Murali

Email the author at:
murali27@satyam.net.in

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