Category Archives: Firefox Add-ons

Update WebMail Notifier To Version 2.9.11 Fixes Broken Gmail Script

imageMy Firefox add-on, WebMail Notifier, stands head and shoulders above the rest in terms of my productivity or, lack of the same if it  stops working – as it did over-night. The problem was restricted to Gmail – Hotmail and Yahoo Mail were unaffected – still, what a pain!

From the: Why reinvent the wheel files – Geeks, just like everyone else, turn to Google, or….. – in the event that others have experienced the same problem and, a solution has been posted.

Long story short –

Google has initiated a number of changes in Gmail’s log-in address (which they seem to do regularly), that broke the log-in script in WebMail Notifier. Apparently, this Google rollout is taking place over several days – so, it’s possible that if a user has more than one Gmail account, one or more may be impacted, but not others.

I found a number of manual solutions to this problem – all of which worked. However, if you are currently dealing with this issue – you can avoid all the hassle by simply downloading version 2.9.11 of WebNotifier, which corrects the problem.

Download at: WebMail Notifier

Kudos to the add-on developer for jumping on this quickly – again.

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3 Comments

Filed under downloads, Email, Firefox Add-ons, Freeware, Gmail

Captcha Monster Eliminates CAPTCHA Completion Frustration

The CAPTCHA, short for Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart”, serves a useful purpose – minimizing, or eliminating, one of the scourges of the Internet; the comment spammer. I can speak to how disruptive comment spam can become since, on a daily basis, I have to deal with 300 – 400 comment spams on this site. It’s infuriating, frankly.

I’ve often though of implementing a CAPTCHA scheme here – but then, I come to my senses. I hate CAPTCHAs and, I do everything I can to avoid sites that use them. I’m just no good at trying to work out a “u” from  “v” – an “rn” from an “m”. I could go on but, you see the point, I expect.

I’m hardly alone in this, and as an alternative, many sites off an audio CAPTCHA. You’d think that this would solve the problem for people like me – but no. Generally, I have absolutely no idea what’s been read back. The end result? I’m out of there.

Visual CAPTCHA samples.

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Graphic – Wikipedia.

So, is there a solution for people like me who have a low solve percentage? (in my case approaching zero   Smile) As it turns out – there is.

Captcha Monster – “an easy-to-use, innovative Firefox add-on that completes CAPTCHA tests without you even asking it to. The add-on was designed with people who suffer from dyslexia and/or sight problems in mind, but also extends to those who are just plain fed up of having to prove they are not a site-hacking machine.”

Captcha Monster – screen shots from the developer’s site. Click to expand.

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Fast facts:

Captcha Monster can work for you in different modes.

Set it to its highest level if you want it to routinely weed out CAPTCHA tests.

Run only when you are filling out forms or simply request it as you need it.

With an average solving time of 8.5 seconds, quite often the CAPTCHA window will be completed before you even see it.

98,94% success rate.

Works with virtually any CAPTCHA.

Complete automation.

Dedicated support.

Unlike many Firefox add-ons however – Captcha Monster is not a free service. Instead, the developer offers a number of monthly plans – as follows.

Basic plan – 60 CAPTCHAs a month @ $2.99 monthly.

Extended plan – 120 CAPTCHAs a month @ $4.99 monthly.

Professional plan – 760 CAPTCHAs a month @ $9.99 monthly.

System requirements: Firefox.

Download: You may download a 30 day trial version at the developer’s site: Captcha Monster.

You can checkout the FAQ page here.

A big shout to Mateusz M. for taking time to turn me on to this service.

10 Comments

Filed under Adaptive Technologies, Comment Spam, downloads, Firefox Add-ons, Software

Collusion – Internet Trackers Are All In It Together

imageLook – every business organization has the right to generate income and make a profit – and, in the real world, most organizations generate that income and make that profit aboveboard, and in clear view. But, that’s not necessarily the process on the Internet. In far too many cases, companies generate revenue by staying far below a user’s horizon – in an underhanded and sneaky fashion.

The tool of choice – a tool, which by its very nature is sneaky and underhanded, is the appropriately named Tracking Cookie. A tool, which not only tracks a user’s footprints across the Web but, the data generated is then used to analyze the user’s online behavior.

It’s this behavior analysis (analyzing links I click on, the content I view, searches I make ….) where I draw the line. I find it disturbing that I have little or no say, in the manner in which I’m tracked as I surf the Internet. And, equally as important – how that information is used.

It’s fair to say, that many users do not object to being tracked. I wonder though, that if these same unconcerned users were aware of just how insidious and overwhelming tracking has become – if, they’d continue to be unconcerned.

Should an unconcerned user run the recently released Collusion Firefox add-0n – an add-on which graphs in real-time the “following behavior” of tracking cookies, they might feel less confident that their “I don’t care” perspective is the correct one.

Mozilla CEO Gary Kovacs, in describing Collusion at the recent Technology, Entertainment, and Design conference pointed out, that Collusion “allows you to see all the third parties that are tracking your movements across the Web. It will show, in real time, how that data creates a spider-web of interaction between companies and other trackers.”

Kovacs went on to say that “Collusion will allow us to pull back the curtain and provide users with more information about the growing role of third parties, how data drives most Web experiences, and ultimately how little control we have over that experience and our loss of data.”

I’ve been tinkering with Collusion for the past several days, and I must admit to a new level of unease with this “behind the scenes” look at the nature of tracking now been practiced.

Here’s a screen shot of a spider-web of interaction between companies and trackers, from a short hop around the Internet which I made this morning.

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I think you’ll agree, that the connection between and amongst trackers and tracking companies, might be more insidious than you had previously considered.

The graphic below (captured from the Collusion site),  briefly explains the  connections illustrated.

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The Collusion add-on is available for download at Mozilla.

Back to the previous graphic for a moment – you’ll notice that you can export the graph. Should you do so, you’ll end up with data which will look something like the following. What you see is a very small portion of the exported data from today’s test.

javascript”],”news.com”:[2855341,”image/png”]},”visited”:false},”adtechus.com”:{“referrers”:{“techrepublic.com”:[1070986,”application/x-javascript”],”cnet.com”:[2853754,”application/x-javascript”],”thestar.com”:[5351704,”application/x-javascript”]},”visited”:false},”adnxs.com”:{“referrers”:{“techrepublic.com”:[1071838,”text/javascript”,”image/jpeg”],”baselinemag.com”:[2084558,null],”cnet.com”:[2853938,”text/javascript”,”image/jpeg”,”image/gif”],”thestar.com”:[5352178,”text/javascript”,”image/jpeg”,”application/x-shockwave-flash”]},”visited”:false},”techrepublic.com”:{“referrers”:{“twitter.com”:[1077104,”text/html;charset=utf-8″]},”visited”:true},”stumbleupon.com”:{“referrers”:{“techrepublic.com”:[1073845,”text/html;charset=utf-8″],”pcmag.com”:[1466423,”text/html;charset=utf-8″],”webopedia.com

And yes, there are a truckload of free tools which, to some extent, can impact and reduce the effectiveness of tracking – but, the downside in running with these tools is often a less than enjoyable Internet experience.

18 Comments

Filed under downloads, Firefox Add-ons, Opinion, Privacy

Protect Your Privacy – Use Startpage.com To Search The Web Anonymously

imageIf personal privacy makes the short list of your Internet concerns, then take a look at the following search engine – Startpage.com – a search engine provider that promises to safeguard your privacy (not recording your IP address, not salting tracking cookies, not recording your search terms, the links you choose, etc.), while you search the Internet.

Keep in mind, that when you use a free service such as this, you are trusting the developer to adhere to the wording of the Privacy Policy.

The search engine’s home page is not very much different from any typical search engine.

Note: SSL encryption is the default standard.

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Since we all know that nothing is every really for nothing – it’s appropriate to wonder how this service provider manages to generate revenue. And, according to the developer – inserting relevant sponsored results on the top and the bottom of the results page, makes it possible – “Each time these sponsored results are clicked upon Startpage receives a minimal fee from the advertiser.”

The sample search page screen shot below, shows two relevant “sponsored results” as described by the developer.

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Whereas, the same search string in Google is ad free (see below). Not counting of course, the “normal” Google ads which normally fill the far right hand pane.

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From the site: Startpage offers you Web search results from Google in complete privacy!

When you search with Startpage, we remove all identifying information from your query and submit it anonymously to Google ourselves. We get the results and return them to you in total privacy.

Your IP address is never recorded, your visit is not logged, and no tracking cookies are placed on your browser. When it comes to protecting your privacy, Startpage runs the tightest ship on the Internet. Our outstanding privacy policy and thoughtful engineering give you great search results in total anonymity. Here are some of our key features:

  • Free proxy surfing available.
  • Praised by privacy experts worldwide.
  • Twelve-year company track record.
  • Third-party certified.

If you’re a Firefox users you can easily add Startpage.com  to your Search Engine List.

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The developer has provided an applet (see below), to make this a quick and easy process. Go here.

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If Internet privacy is something you have concerns about then, I recommend that you checkout Startpage.com in depth.  There are a surprising number of additional benefits, including a Proxy Service (designed for additional privacy), not discussed in this article.

Note: Startpage has earned the coveted EuroPriSe “trust mark” for outstanding privacy and data handling practices. It is also certified by Certified Secure and registered with the Dutch Data Protection Authority.

This article is an updated and revised version which was originally posted – September 20, 2011

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12 Comments

Filed under downloads, Firefox Add-ons, Freeware, Google, Privacy, Search Engines

Startpage.com – Search The Web Anonymously

imageI’m an Internet privacy advocate, and I have a great interest in any tool that will either stop Google, and other data accumulators, from collecting personal information on me, or in any tool which restricts their ability to do so.

If you’re into protecting your privacy, then take a look at the following search engine – Startpage.com – a search engine provider that promises to safeguard your privacy (not recording your IP address, not salting tracking cookies, not recording your search terms, the links you choose, etc.), while you search the Internet.

Keep in mind, that when you use a free service such as this, you are trusting the developer to adhere to the wording of the Privacy Policy.

The search engine’s home page is not very much different from any typical search engine.

image

Since we all know that nothing is every really for nothing – it’s appropriate to wonder how this service provider manages to generate revenue. And, according to the developer – inserting relevant sponsored results on the top and the bottom of the results page, makes it possible – “Each time these sponsored results are clicked upon Startpage receives a minimal fee from the advertiser.”

The sample search page screen shot below, shows two relevant “sponsored results” as described by the developer.

image

Whereas, the same search string in Google is ad free (see below). Not counting of course, the “normal” Google ads which normally fill the far right hand pane.

image

From the site: Startpage offers you Web search results from Google in complete privacy!

When you search with Startpage, we remove all identifying information from your query and submit it anonymously to Google ourselves. We get the results and return them to you in total privacy.

Your IP address is never recorded, your visit is not logged, and no tracking cookies are placed on your browser. When it comes to protecting your privacy, Startpage runs the tightest ship on the Internet. Our outstanding privacy policy and thoughtful engineering give you great search results in total anonymity. Here are some of our key features:

  • Free proxy surfing available.
  • Praised by privacy experts worldwide.
  • Twelve-year company track record.
  • Third-party certified.

If you’re a Firefox users you can easily add Startpage.com  to your Search Engine List.

image

The developer has provided an applet (see below), to make this a quick and easy process. Go here.

image

If Internet privacy is something you have concerns about then, I recommend that you checkout Startpage.com in depth.  There are a surprising number of additional benefits, including a Proxy Service (designed for additional privacy), not discussed in this article.

Note: We may yet see a game changer – the European Union, which seems much more concerned with Internet user privacy than elsewhere, is in the process of drawing up legislation which may allow citizens of EU member states to delete data stored by websites and services.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

18 Comments

Filed under Firefox Add-ons, Freeware, Google, Opinion, Privacy, Windows Tips and Tools

Update WebMail Notifier To Version 2.8 – Fixes Broken Gmail Script

imageAbove all my Firefox and Chrome add-ons, WebMail Notifier stands head and shoulders above the rest in terms of my productivity or, lack of the same if it  stops working – as it did last night. The problem was restricted to Gmail (thankfully), and Hotmail and Yahoo Mail were unaffected – still, what a pain!

Geeks, just like everyone else, turn to Google, or….., in the hope that others have experienced the same problem and, a solution has been posted.

Long story short –

Google has initiated a number of changes in Gmail’s log-in address (which they have done in the past), that broke the log-in script in WebMail Notifier. Apparently, this Google rollout is taking place over several days – so, it’s possible that if a user has more than one Gmail account, one or more may be impacted, but not others.

I found a number of manual solutions to this problem – all of which worked. However, if you are currently dealing with this issue – you can avoid all the hassle by simply downloading version 2.8 of WebNotifier, which corrects the problem.

Download at: WebMail Notifier

Kudos to the add-on developer for jumping on this quickly.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

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Filed under Chrome Add-ons, downloads, Email, Firefox Add-ons, Freeware, Tech Net News, Windows Tips and Tools