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Ubiquity for Firefox

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One of the myriad reasons that Firefox is superior to Internet Explorer is the ability to extend the browser with Add-Ons. Add-Ons take the form of extensions, themes or plug-ins. You can add a GMail notifier, a Facebook toolbar, an extension that allows you to save any video embedded in a page to your hard drive. You can get developer extensions that allow you to debug, test the load-time of a page, or write scripts that are loaded on specific pages, allowing you to customize any web site. In short, Add-Ons are right on (Power to the People).

Today, I saw a mention on Webmonkey of an a new extension from Mozilla Labs called Ubiquity. I don’t generally get excited about extensions, unless we’re talking about hair extensions, because my sister-in-law is a hairderesser and I just think they are FABULOUS, but Ubiquity is really stinking cool. What Ubiquity does is give you a key command that pulls up a command line type interface where you can type in simple english language commands to return information from the web. For example, if you type in google hillbilly hercules, Ubiquity returns a thumbnail and description of one of the greatest films of all time. Type in “map okinawa health club louisville” and Ubiquity returns a map for each location of the famed Oriental health spa and Gentleman’s club (bet you didn’t know there were two locations did you? Neither did I – thanks Google!).

The thing that makes this so cool is the speed with which it executes. You don’t have to go to a website and load all the javascripts and the flash files, not to mention the superfluous graphics – you can do things quickly. Of course this won’t preclude you from actually visiting a site. If I’m looking for something very specific, like a Doctor’s office phone number, I can get it quickly without leaving the page I’m on. Not such a great time-saver, but damned convenient.

It is still in beta, and so is a little buggy. Some of the text is hard to read as well, but all in all, this is my new favorite extension. There are already a bunch of commands and Mozilla Labs has an editor where you can create your own. Download it and try it out. It may not change your life, but it will change the way you surf the web.

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