Firefox 3.0 has been officially released (http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/) and apart from being much faster at rendering web pages and images, has a whole host of neat features and advantages. If you haven’t tried Firefox yet instead of Internet Explorer this release of Firefox is definitely one to try.

One of the advantages that Firefox has is a whole community of software developers creating additional functionality to Firefox which you can pick and choose what to use. PicLens (www.piclens.com) is one which I’ve already discussed in an earlier blog. Other Add-ons I use and tying out are:-

British English Dictionary
Obvious really, but provides on-the-fly checking of anything you type in text fields in Firefox and possible alternatives for those it does not recognise.

Diigo Bookmarks and Web Annotations
Diigo is a social bookmarking community. Instead of bookmarking your favourite sites on your machine, with Diigo you save them to a communal space where you can find and share in the sites others have found. However, I use Diigo more for its ability to allow you annotate a web-page and share your annotations with others. eg Adding a sticky note to a page, a comment and/or highlighting sections of text. With the Firefox Diigo add-on installed you can annotate a web page with your comments and then save this either for just yourself (as future reference) or share with other Diigo community users.

Foxmarks Bookmark Synchronizer
If you want to access your favourite bookmarks from any machine, or perhaps want to keep the bookmarks at you machine at work synchronised with your machine/s at home then you might want to consider Foxmarks.

IE Tab
Some or rather very few pages don’t render (look good) in Firefox, IE Tab is a nifty little extension which will allow you to view the page using Internet Explorer while within Firefox.

Met Office Weather Gadget
Brings up in a sidebar the latest weather information, forecast and satellite photos from the UK Meteorological Office.

PDF Download
Still trialling this one, but stops PDF files from automatically opened when you select the link and gives you more choice in downloading or opening them.

Zotero
One for the researchers among you. This extension is great for capturing and saving images of web pages and pdf files, but also add notes, add tags for finding it and related saves web pages again, etc.

Skype

[Update 19 October, 2008 – The Skype addon has been updated and now does not appear to be causing the problems described here]. If you are Skype user like me and perhaps have installed the Skype add-on for Firefox (it highlights what it recognises as telephone numbers on a web page and allows you to dial these numbers directly with Skype-out(1) by just clicking on them), The current suggestion is that you disable it (the add-on not Skype itself). It did have me going slightly round the bend trying to work out why Google Maps was not loading and when trying to view the larger version of any thumbnail image, I kept getting an error message saying the picture could not be displayed because it had errors in it. Should have realised I wasn’t the only one with this problem and it’s been mentioned in several forums. I’ll wait until Skype brings out an updated version that deals with these issues.

Incidentally the extension is installed when you install skype. It is not available apparently as a separate add-on.

(1) – Skype out is a function of Skype that you have to purchase, but allows you to make calls to any landline numbers for cheap rates.
Skype itself is independent of Firefox or Internet Explorer.