Thursday, August 9, 2007

Greasemonkey for Firefox

I know it's been out for a long time now, but I've just discovered the Greasemonkey extension for Firefox. There are countless reviews about it on the web, so I won't bore you with those details. Rather, I will simply endorse it and proclaim it an absolute must-have firefox extension if you spend lots of time on the web.

For those who don't know, Greasemonkey is a Firefox extension that basically re-works web pages of your choice to make them look and act the way YOU want them to. Click here (Wikipedia entry) for more details on that.

Meanwhile, I can tell you that I'm using Greasemonkey to make posting this blog entry a little more efficient, I use it to get rid of all the clutter on my MySpace profile editing page (say goodbye to every single ad they serve up) and it has proven exceedingly handy while on Digg.

Some other must-have Firefox extensions:
  1. FasterFox
  2. NoScript
  3. Foxmarks Bookmark Synchronizer
  4. Minute Minder for AT&T Service (if you have Cingular/AT&T Wireless)
  5. Session Manager
  6. IETab
Here are two extensions that don't get daily usage, but rather are very handy when things could be "just a little more efficient"
  1. Split Browser
  2. Viamatic foXpose

Thursday, August 2, 2007

North Natomas Drivers Suck: Volume 1

We've all seen them: those pesky drivers who refuse to stop at the limit line. Or the antsy driver who's so eager to gun it after waiting so extremely long at a red light (about 3 minutes) that he creeps halfway into the intersection before realizing his light still isn't going to change. Then, much to his chagrin, he throws it into reverse--only to be caught with his hands on his stick as the light turns green.

These types of drivers are everywhere. Of this, there is no equivocation. But is it me, or do they seem particularly fond of a newly-developed neighborhood called North Natomas?

Quick Geographical Background: North Natomas (pronounced nuh-TOW-mus) is a neighborhood in the northern city limits of Sacramento, California that used to be farmland but is rapidly being developed by wide-eyed home builders and developers. Flanked with new homes, it appears that the sprouting community is also riddled with new drivers, too, as nobody here seems to understand what a limit line is, and how it differs from its double-sided cousin, the crosswalk.

Case in point: I recently got back from a kite festival in Berkeley, California, and was really excited to fly a kite. In fact, even though I believe I'll be getting one for my birthday later this month, I decided to make one out of printer paper and go fly it on this breezy day just for fun. As I departed my apartment on foot headed toward the park across the street, I did everything a good pedestrian should do: I pressed the crosswalk button, waited for the signal to light up, and made sure nobody was still driving on my side of the road. Then along comes Little Red Truckinghood.

Now, Little Red clearly had her mind in other places, which is understandable--we've all had a moment when we catch ourselves daydreaming behind the wheel. However, what set Red apart from others is that not only was her mind in another place, so were her eyes--pointed down toward the steering wheel, as if she were playing with her cell phone or reading a fine book. Once she noticed the light was RED (as in "not green nor yellow"), she slowly applied pressure to the brakes and eventually, she stopped--right at the very edge of the crosswalk I was walking on. As Figure 1 to the right illustrates, Little Red did indeed block the *entire crosswalk*.

As I walked toward Red, she shrugged her shoulders and mouthed the obligatory "sorry" through her tightly rolled-up window. Kite in hand, I evoked a blank stare at her and shook my head as I passed. Then, to my astonishment, I raised my eyebrow and one-eyed another car (this time a 2-door silver coupe) who just barely managed to brake enough to avoid the same blunder. And if you'll notice, not one damned car had the wherewithal to stop behind the limit line, even though a pedestrian was crossing the street. (For reference, since it's a little hard to see with the ass-hat drivers covering them: the first solid white line is the limit line; the 2nd and 3rd white lines are the boundaries of the crosswalk.)

Zero for three, North Natomas, not bad--just an average day in cow town where the drivers appear to be as virgin as the homes.