Tagged With web browsing

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A common pitfall of internet use is clicking on broken links that lead nowhere. Sometimes dodgy coding is to blame, other times the linked-to webpage or subsite has been removed. Whatever the cause, it can be bloody annoying. Occasionally though, the website in question will take some of the sting out by turning its 404 error page into an interactive experience. Here are 15 of the best; from digital art canvases to full-blown text adventures. (We've also included broken links so you can play them yourself.)

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If you use your browser's bookmarks to store stuff for later reference, it can soon become cluttered with outdated links. Lifehacker reader Michael solves that problem by storing long-term links he wants to keep as PDF documents on his hard drive.

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Windows< only: Proxy Switcher Lite is a tiny application that allows you to easily choose between proxy servers without having to open the settings panel. The application runs in the system tray, providing a context menu that switches the current connection with a mouse click. Once installed, use the Show Manager panel to add in your proxy servers. (Use the "Notes" field in the properties screen to give you proxy a friendlier name.) This simple utility has been an essential tool in my kit ever since I learned how to encrypt my web browsing with an SSH SOCKS proxy to give me some privacy while browsing at work. Proxy Switcher Lite should work perfectly whether you're using Internet Explorer, Opera, or any application that relies on the Windows proxy settings. Firefox users, check out the previously mentioned FoxyProxy extension.

Proxy Switcher Lite

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Windows/Mac/Linux (Firefox): Mr. Uptime, friend to anyone who's ever waited for the Digg/Slashdot/Lifehacker Effect to abate before reaching a cool new web site, has recently updated to be Firefox 3 compatible. Not much seems entirely new with Mr. Uptime, available both at its Mozilla home and official page, but that's probably a good thing. As we noted when we last checked it out, the Firefox add-on can also monitor sites and alert you when specific text appears or disappears from a site, making it more than just a monitor of web hosting power. But next time a big, time-sensitive promotional give-away happens and you can't grab it in the first few tries, you'll be glad Mr. Uptime also does its basic function so well.

Mr. Uptime is a free download, works wherever Firefox does. Thanks, ScaryMike! Mr. Uptime

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Adobe is in the process of building a time machine for web content designed to provide users with robust tools for analysing not only changes in web pages over time, but also for tracking actual data within web pages and comparing it with other data from around the web. MIT's Technology Review has posted a demo video in which the app looks incredible, but don't get too excited—Zoetrope isn't available in download form yet.

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Web site Notify Me When It's Up performs a very simple but worthwhile task: It sends you an email when a downed site you want to visit returns to the internet. Similar to previously mentioned Down For Everyone or Just Me—which helps you figure out if a site you're having trouble reaching is really down or its, well, just you—Notify Me When It's Up takes the next logical step by monitoring a downed site and letting you know when it returns. Might be useful next time your favourite weblog is unreachable or a link you really want to check out crashes under the weight of its popularity.

Notify Me When It's Up

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Web site WebToMail sends full web pages to your email on demand. Why? Let's say, for example, you're sitting behind a nasty internet filter at work that won't even let you access your friendly, productivity-enhancing Lifehacker. Just fire off an email to [email protected] with the URL of the web page you want in the subject (http://lifehacker.com.au). A few minutes later, you'll receive an email back from WebToMail with the contents of the URL you requested conveniently embedded in the email. The results vary depending on the email client you're using; in Gmail, you don't get nicely styled CSS, but you do in desktop apps like Thunderbird. Seems like a worthwhile utility to add to your IT lockdown toolbox.

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Firefox only (Windows/Mac/Linux): If you're sick of clicking through to subsequent pages of online articles, Firefox extension Repagination adds an option to your context menu to pull all of the pages onto one. After installing the extension, just right-click a page's Next link (or the 2 link, for example) and select to view all pages or a limited number. Repagination will load the pages you tell it to inline at the end of the current page so you don't have to reload at every turn. I tested it on Lifehacker, this barefoot walking article, and Google, and it worked flawlessly with all of them. The only downside is that it loads the entire subsequent page and not just the text, but it's better than the annoyance of multi-page articles. Repagination is free, works wherever the 'fox runs. Repaginzation

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Amit at the Digital Inspiration blog has written up a how-to on launching web sites directly from Windows Vista's Start Search box (and therefore at the tap of a "Windows" key), using Google's "I'm Feeling Lucky" function to quickly bring up the first result of a search using your entry. The hack involves using the Group Policy editor (gpedit.msc), which is unfortunately available only in the Ultimate, Business, and Enterprise editions—unless, of course, one of our intrepid readers can point us toward enabling or unlocking that feature in the Home and Basic versions. Hit the link below for yet another way to make your Windows key into a full-fledged quick-launcher. Open Your Favourite Website Directly from Windows Vista Start Menu

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The subtitle of this post should have been "Tabs versus Home Pages: The Showdown". :)Aka Mike posed the question 'how many tabs do you have open for your main web browse of the day'. I always have too many tabs open, so I thought I'd check out his post and the comments to get some ideas for better tab management.Here's my current morning browsing ritual  - it basically boils down to 2 Firefox windows - one for writing and the other for reading.Each morning I open Firefox and hit the "Work Time" folder of links that I've set up on my bookmarks toolbar. That opens up my CMS, the Lifehacker AU website and our internal photo gallery - everything I need to start work with one click. Next I open up another Window in Firefox (because I like to keep my work page separate to my reading page) and hit the "Blogs" folder I've also got set up on my toolbar. That opens up  my Bloglines page as well as IT Journo (a subscribers-only website for journalists) which gives me access to all the blogs I read. From there I'll open individual stories as tabs if I want to put them aside to read later, or if I want to read the comments on them.There are a few other sites I visit on a daily basis, which include my iGoogle home page (which, if I'm honest, I'm just using to read Twitter via the BeTwittered gadget). I also have Google Talk and Google reader set up on my iGoogle page, as well as the Don't Break the Chain motivational gadget and the Activity Tracker gadget. Apart from Twitter, I also check in on Livejournal and Facebook each day. I'm thinking I should look at centralising my social networking through Friendfeed or Netvibes.So, Lifehackers. How do you manage your daily browsing? Do you lean towards tabs or home pages? Have you centralised through a social networking aggregator or a home page? Tips appreciated in comments.

Daily Browsing Tab Count

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Windows Mobile only: Windows Mobile and PDA devices may have a copy/paste function, but selecting and copying can be a serious click-click-click pain. ceSnipURL, a free link-shortening app for Windows Mobile-compatible devices, does the same kind of work as SnipURL, TinyURL and all the rest, but much more conveniently. Load the app and paste in a URL, and it's automatically converted (using snipr.com) and copied to your clipboard for texting, emailing, or any other use. ceSnipURL is a free download for Windows Mobile 6 and compatible devices only. ceSnipURL

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Most relatively new Linux users might have used the wget command a few times while installing packages or grabbing specific files, but the little command word can be a pretty powerful tool. The FOSSwire open source blog points out how you can use wget to mirror a website, either one page at a time or with all the internal links available for offline browsing. As noted, however, grabbing large, multi-page sites can be a serious drain on bandwith (both yours and the site's), so adding a delay option is both considerate and wise. Hit the link for details on using wget for offline website access. Create a mirror of a website with Wget