Talk your IT Department into Firefox

I think I’ve been pretty spoiled in the past when it comes to IT departments. I ran a network at my first job and was the guy with all the toys in the department (aside from my Director at the time, I always bought one for him first).

Moving between different jobs in Marketing and Technology has put me on both sides of the IT door so I know how frustrating it is not to have the tools you need. Though it’s more difficult to support, I’m a firm believer that technology should bring progress and efficiency. It can’t do that if you’re locked down. My good friend Adam Small, who runs a Mobile Marketing company here in Indianapolis, puts it perfect… is your IT department enabling you or disabling you?

I’m back on the Marketing side of the door with my current job and am trying to play by the rules – but it’s not easy. I know all the perfect software out there that streamlines my day – and I can’t use any of it. I’m even on a PC now rather than my faithful Mac. It’s quite an inconvenience.

I’m up for the challenge, though! Rather than grumble (outside my blog), I play by the rules best I can and try to figure out what’s out there to help. One of my biggest saviors has been running Firefox. Not only is it a fantastic browser, but the add-ons are really quite incredible:

  • FireFTP – is a fantastic FTP application that I can run directly in Firefox. It’s free (but please donate – half of all donations go to charity). It’s got everything you need for a robust FTP client!
  • Twitbin – is a Twitter client that runs right in a Firefox sidebar. It’s not as smooth as running your own client, like Twhirl, but it does the trick. I wish they’d put some tabs up on it to make it easier to go from replies to direct messages, etc.
  • Firebug – there is no better tool on the market to help you troubleshoot HTML, CSS and JavaScript issues with your website. Want to dig deep in how other sites are building cool effects? Firebug is incredible!
  • ColorZilla – Ever need to get the color off of a web page? Great little tool for doing it!
  • GreaseMonkey – an amazing add-on that allows you to write and include your own scripts into pages. There are millions of fascinating GreaseMonkey scripts out there that can help you with gmail and a ton of other apps. Check out Greasespot for the latest!

    UPDATE: Use CAUTION with Greasemonkey, there are scripts out there which will try to capture login information for financial websites.

  • CoolIris – an amazingly fun add-on that turns your PC or Mac into a Media browsing monster!

  • Foxclocks – do timezones confuse you? This is a handy little add-on that can provide you with the current times around the globe.
  • ScribeFire – there’s even a blog editor that you can put right into Firefox that utilizes XML-RPC, a standard throughout most blogging platforms for posting content. I don’t use this one, I tend to stick to the ol’ editor in WordPress, but it’s still great!

Perhaps the best part of this is that you typically don’t need Administrator rights to install these add-ons locally, so you can put a lot of outstanding tools at your disposal without bugging your IT guy. Get your IT guys to install Firefox today! Of course, if Firefox starts to crash on you… don’t call your IT help desk… start removing some of those add-ons!


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    OK… I’ll try this again…. noscript really screws up your site btw. I allowed, but apparently that wasn’t enough. And I didn’t see which of the other 16 to allow….

    But until alternative browsers support ActiveX, IE will always have a foot hold in IT Departments.

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      ActiveX will be dead in a few years, ck, or at least left unchanged… mark my words. No web application should require installation and drivers be installed into the Operating System. It’s unnecessary.

      Microsoft is working hard on expanding Silverlight’s reach. Like Flex/AIR, Silverlight will be the core platform for building web to desktop applications with Microsoft technologies. Office will be the first major suite that will launch this way.

      I’ve never tested my site with noscript! I’m a firm believer in the experience that client-side scripting can bring to a site. C’mon ck… let’s get you into 2008. 😉

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        At this point though, Active-X does things that no upcoming technology can do.

        Lets say I want you to log into my secure site via a finger print reader. How does that happen? An Active-X control.

        So until their either make the browser so vulnerable you can access peoples system directories, or they come up with a cross platform replacement of Active-X… it will stay around.

        And I’m generally OK with JavaScript from the site I am viewing. Your site on the other hand calls script files from 18 different sources, of which I have only approved 3 (youtube, google, googlesyndication).

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    In the companies I had pleasure leading ops and IT, we made Firefox a default browser (IE was there too). The caviat is that our users were mostly tech savvy. Unless you are in a heavily regulated industry, too much of the system lock-down is useless. I would rather have my techies chase down solutions on how to make my people more effective than try to keep everyone in line.

    Lock-down is old school. Proper training and education is what makes progressive companies so effective.

    Just my 2 cents.

    Apolinaras “Apollo” Sinkevicius

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    Things will not get easier if you play by the rules. But, it is always the best choice to take for long term.

    Nice list of firefox addons. I don’t have any of the listed addons in my firefox. Agree with you on GreaseMonkey. I’ve faced some problems earlier and things are ok without it.

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    I’ve been using Firefox for so long now I sometimes forget the majority of people still use IE.

    Great list of add-ons. I actually had to back off of my add-ons because I was like a kid in a candy store with them for a while. I had colored tabs, auto previews, download bars, the whole nine yards!

    It’s funny when you look at some people’s Firefox browsers. Half of their screen is taken up by add-on toolbars!

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    My experience at my (not-so-new) job was that I had to prove myself worthy of Firefox in order to get it. Everyone is standard on IE, but after I showed a little techie cred for a “marketing” person, they showed me the secret folder to hook into Firefox. I don’t know why everyone doesn’t have this, I guess they don’t want to deal with “training.” Coming to the company from the outside though, I already know how to use FF to increase my productivity.

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