GButts: Fast, Easy Access to Google Services Through a Firefox Button

If you’re like me, you’re probably skipping between various Google (s goog) services all the time. If you use Firefox, and are looking for a simple, customizable and, above all, fast way to access Google web sites from either a drop-down menu or a toolbar, you should check out GButts, a nifty add-on with a silly name.
To get started with GButts, install the add-on from the Mozilla Add-ons site and restart Firefox (it’s compatible with Firefox 2 and later). You won’t see any changes yet, because you need to configure GButts and add the drop-down menu or toolbar to your browser. First, go to Tools -> Add-ons and open GButts’ Preferences page. You’ll be presented with a huge list of Google services, as well as a few configuration options:
GButts Preferences Read More about GButts: Fast, Easy Access to Google Services Through a Firefox Button

The WebWorkerDaily Firefox Add-Ons Collection

logo-wordmark-version-verticalTo celebrate this week’s launch of the superb Firefox 3.5, we’ve put together a collection of the WebWorkerDaily team’s favorite Firefox extensions. You can subscribe to our collection here; as we discover useful new add-ons, we’ll add to it over time. The great thing about add-on collections is that you can pick and choose which add-ons to install, so if you don’t agree with all of our choices, you can just pick the ones that you like.

Here are the add-ons that made our collection (they’re all compatible with Firefox 3.5):

These are our favorites, but if we’re missing any, please let us know in the comments.

Identify Enables Easy Social Snooping

As the number of sites we all use grows, our personal profile information is increasingly scattered across the web. If you make a connection with people on one site, it’s often hard to quickly find out if they use any of the other sites you use, too. Fortunately, a nifty Firefox add-on called Identify makes it easy to access all of a person’s available profiles just by hitting Alt-I on any of his or her publicly accessible profile pages (a Twitter profile page, blog, Flickr stream, Friendfeed page, Digg bio, etc).

This add-on tackles the same problem addressed by web app GizaPage (covered by Scott last week), but goes about it in a different way. GizaPage only works when the person you’re looking for has set up a GizaPages account, while Identify should, in theory, work for anyone.

As an example, here’s Identify on my Twitter homepage: Read More about Identify Enables Easy Social Snooping

Surf Canyon: Targeted Search Extension for Firefox Gets an Update

As Simon noted in his review of the Search Site Firefox extension, some browser extensions can really help streamline online searching. One of the best extensions for this is Surf Canyon, which has just come out in a new version, 2.0.4. It’s only a tiny 33K extension, but it can be a great help in steering you quickly to the most relevant information on any search topic. Here’s how it works.

Read More about Surf Canyon: Targeted Search Extension for Firefox Gets an Update

Streamline Site Search in Firefox

One of the great things about Firefox is the huge number of useful add-ons available to customize and streamline your browsing experience. One such extension is the brand-new Search Site extension, which lets you easily search the site you’re on for a word or phrase.

The normal method to search a site is to use the “site:”  parameter in a search engine query. Searching for “Twitter site:webworkerdaily.com” in Google will return all of the pages on WebWorkerDaily that discuss Twitter, for example. I use this type of search all the time, but it does require a little typing.

Search Site gives you a couple of ways to simplify the process. Firstly, it adds a green magnifying glass button to your regular Firefox search bar, which searched the site you’re currently on when you click it.

Seach Site button added to Firefox search bar

Search Site button added to Firefox search bar

Read More about Streamline Site Search in Firefox

I Need to Read This: The Instant Version of Read It Later

Last year, I covered the very useful Firefox extension Read It Later. It’s the recipient of an award from Mozilla for the easy way it lets you make a note of web pages of interest that you don’t have time to read now, but want to read later. It’s still a Firefox extension, though, and even though you can install it quickly, the installation alone might keep some busy web workers from using it. So I noted with interest Josh Lowensohn’s post on a new service called I Need to Read This, where the service lets you save pages for reading later, but uses bookmarklets that you can get going with immediately.

Read More about I Need to Read This: The Instant Version of Read It Later

Daily Apple: German Pears, Google Manners, & A Seinfeld Plea

PearC Starts Selling OS X Preinstalled, Backed by Law – Another company is challenging Apple’s belief in their unimpeachable right to be the sole company allowed to sell OS X on its computers. This time, the company is German, and they may have the law on their side. According to German law, Apple’s EULA for OS X is void because consumers can’t read it prior to purchase, since it’s inside the sealed box. We’ll see if that holds water in court.

Users Soon to “Prey” on iPhone – There have been rumors of fully functional first-person shooters arriving on the iPhone before, but Prey may be the first that’s playable and well-developed, if it does indeed come out in the next week or two like it’s supposed to. Watch for the non-accelerometer controlled interface, should be interesting.

Apple Asked Google Not to Use Multi-Touch, Google Agreed – Google seems less a competitor to Apple in the cell phone market and more a booster every day. First Google Sync launches on the iPhone, and now it comes to light that Apple politely asked Google not to use multi-touch tech in their Android OS, and Google politely complied. Then they had a tea party.

Leopard To Bring ZFS Support to Servers, Printer Drivers on Demand – If you get in your way back machine, you’ll find that Apple had originally planned to bring full ZFS file system support to the Mac with Leopard. Now, it’s looking like the desktop will again get passed up in Snow Leopard, although ZFS will come server side. Also, printer drivers will be on demand, so as not to add clutter.

Seinfeld, Microsoft Needs You – I liked the ads personally, and this article on CNET by Don Reisinger provides a stirring defense of the odd-ball Gates/Seinfeld team-ups.

RocketOn Adds Monsters, Quests for Launch

Judging by the geek cocktail buzz I keep hearing over RocketOn, the web-based “parallel virtual world” being developed by the Bay Area startup with the same name, I’m not the only one excited about its Sept. 15th launch. RocketOn CEO Steve Hoffman and Co-founder Eric Hayashi stopped by the GigaOM office this week to give me a preview — including an advance look at some recently added features that should help boost RocketOn as it comes out of alpha.

While RocketOn is web-driven, it isn’t a virtual world chatroom like Lively or IMVU; instead, the web itself is your playspace. A Flash-driven browser plug-in with Java and open source code running the back end, RocketOn adds a transparent layer onto every web page you visit; your avatar sits atop of the layer, where it can socialize with other users. In the screenshot above, for example, three RocketOn avatars engage in shenanigans on top of GigaOM. The girl on the left is commenting on the funky glasses worn by the guy pictured in Stacey’s post, while the two dudes on the right are watching a heated battle between their pet monsters. Read More about RocketOn Adds Monsters, Quests for Launch

Make your startup sustainable at (almost) no cost

When your company‘s a start-up, you care a lot about economy and simplicity. And when rapid growth kicks in, for many businesses, the amount of attention paid to energy efficiency and maintaining a small carbon footprint drops in priority.
I’ve held positions at startups and large corporations, including a non-profit arts organization where I was employee # 1 (of 2!) and an energy utility where I was one of 20,000 people. From this wide range of experience I’ve found that there are many ways to make your business sustainable. The good news, for bootstrappers and Fortune 500 corporations alike, is that sustainable practices can cost your company very little, or nothing at all. Read More about Make your startup sustainable at (almost) no cost

Schilling’s Laws for Perfect Start(up)s

Last Thursday, June 7, I took my son to the *Red Sox vs. A’s baseball game in Oakland.* Curt Schilling was starting for the Sox; we were celebrating Jacob’s graduation from 2nd grade: it was a perfect day for baseball. We settled into our seats and ended up witnessing the greatest pitchingperformance I have ever seen.

For 8 2/3 innings Schilling was flawless. No hits. No walks. Julio Lugo, the otherwise sure-handed Red Sox shortstop, muffed a routine grounder in the 5th inning; otherwise, Schilling was perfect. As the game wore on, the significance of the moment began to emerge. The Red Sox fans around me, who had been so vocal in the early innings, got quiet. They appreciated the significance of this moment- the fact that Schilling had never thrown a no-hitter during his Hall-of-Fame career. Our normal trash talking bravado gave way to an even stronger puritanical superstition: don’t talk about it (the no-hitter) otherwise you will ruin it.

As many know by now, Schilling made it all the way to the bottom of the ninth inning, with two outs, before giving up a solid hit to Shannon Stewart. He retired the next batter and we celebrated the victory, enjoying such a tantalizing brush with immortality. In the days since watching this performance, it has dawned on me that *there are many lessons for entrepreneurs embedded in Schilling’s performance.*

*1. THROW STRIKES*
Do not waste time nibbling around the edges. Don’t be cute. Don’t fall behind. Get up there and hit your target. Get the opposing player in a hole, force him to catch up to you, get him to play your game. Schilling threw 71 out of his 100 pitches for strikes. He walked nobody, and only got to 3 balls on one batter. The entire game lasted a bit over two hours and lost that ‘drag’ that ruins baseball today for all but the most hard core fans.
Corollary: dont waste time up front with branding, market research, business partnerships, investor presentations; get your product to market quickly and hit the problem on the head with a solid solution.

2. TRUST YOUR DEFENSE

Coco Catch

Schilling was not afraid to throw it over the plate because he trusted his defense behind him. This was clear from the first pitch. He may not be the most popular player because of his arrogance, but he is loyal and his teammates trust him to let them do their jobs. Coco Crisp made a spectacular play in the bottom of the sixth inning, leaping to keep Mark Kotsay’s long fly ball from going over his head.

Corollary: don’t try to do everything yourself. Let your people play their positions, and trust that they can support you if you bring them the business.

3. LISTEN TO YOUR CATCHER

Varitek

Schilling is blessed with one of the greatest catchers a pitcher could have: Jason Varitek. Varitek possesses a remarkable ability to call pitches and locations, and has a firm sense of pacing and rhythm. Not only does he understand the batters but he also knows how to read his pitcher, sometimes better than the pitcher himself- who may be caught up in the ’emotion’ of the game.

Schilling took his cues effortlessly from Varitek throughout the game. There were few if any times he waved off his catcher’s sign. The body language between them, even at 90 feet away, was as tight as the best moments of Starsky & Hutch bust. At least up until the very last out, when Schilling’s emotions did in fact overtake him and he
waved off Varitek’s call. From Schilling’s own great blog post about the game:

Now comes the infamous “shake”. In talking with Tek after the game it’s clear to me that he was 100% spot on with his thought, and I was completely wrong with mine. Why would he take a strike at this point? I had gone to 1 three ball count all day. I wasn’t going to walk him and the only thing you do at that point, by taking a strike, is allow me freedom to use my split. There was no way in hell he was taking. I was sure otherwise. So I shake off the slider, execute the pitch I want, and he lines it to right.

Shannon Stewart promptly swung at the fastball (that Schilling thought he would take) and lined it to right field for the first hit of the game.

Corollary: listen to your board. Listen to your advisors. Listen to your investors. They want you to succeed, they see the field better than you do, they know what you are capable of and whether you are having a good day or if your stuff happens to be “off.” If you listen to them, they can help you compensate for your own weaknesses, or for the strength of your opponent. They can help you match the right pitch, the right delivery, and the right direction to the situation at hand. This is not to suggest that you aren’t in control. These are of course your pitches, your delivery, your mechanics. At any time you can wave off the catcher because of a gut feel, since in the end nobody knows your body (or your vision!) like you do. But don’t make a habit of ignoring or overriding your catcher’s signs, else your mistakes will compound quickly and expensively.

4. PITCH, DONT THROW

Schilling Two Outs

Ten years ago when he was 30 not 40, Schilling had the power to throw balls by people. Today he needs to pitch. Changing locations and speeds are more important, and more efficient, than simply whizzing the ball by batters. During the game, Schilling was locked in. He alternated fastballs with splitters with sliders. He threw strikes inside and then outside. He knew that if he followed his gameplan, listened to his catcher, that he could keep the aggressive A’s hitters off-balance and force them to hit weak fly balls and grounders to his fielders. By the end of the game, his legs were still fresh and he could lean back and hit 93-94 as he did throughout the ninth inning.

Corollary: pick your spots, modulate your energy, don’t try to sprint through a marathon. Like a baseball game, a startup takes a long time to develop and the founder is rarely still around at the end. In order to achieve the equivalent of a complete game, you need to carefully balance your passion and your wisdom: too much of the former and you will burn yourself and your team out; too much of the latter and you will never get up the hockey stick of growth.

There will always be a few entrepreneurs who have the technical genius or unlimited salesmanship to realize their vision without needing to change a thing; but most of us need to grind it out one pitch at a time and adjust our strategy accordingly. To achieve as a startup what Schilling achieved on the field last week is to balance a complex set of priorities- vision, engineering, distribution, monetization, without taking a single customer, partner, employee or investor for granted. It does not happen often, but when it does, it is inevitably a combination of raw talent, hard work, and a few lucky plays by your defense.