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.