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Customize Firefox browser

If you're not running the Firefox Web browser, for either Windows or Mac operating systems, take a moment and download it at www.mozilla.com. It's free, and it's fast, and it has always given Microsoft Explorer a run for its money.

Firefox has the added advantage of an ever-expanding series of creative and useful add-ons that enhance the browser. There are scores of add-ons, most written by the same dedicated open platform buffs who contribute their time and efforts to improve Firefox. A software developer sees a need for enhancing Firefox, submits it to Mozilla, and if it makes the grade, it's incorporated into one of the browser's frequent upgrades.

Add-ons will provide shortcuts to shopping, social networks, Web search, games and just about every other endeavor you're likely to consider. Chances are, if a developer sees a need for an add-on that would bathe your ditzy poodle, it will soon appear. I couldn't find one yet, which is why my standard poodle reeks these days.

One of the most useful add-ons is called Adblock Plus, which as its name suggests, blocks ads from most Web pages.

One of my favorite add-ons, called Colorfultabs, assigns colors to tabs, to make them stand out. Another shows you, via a flag, the country whose website you're visiting. Another lets you split your screen, and still another shows you the website page you're visiting just by running your cursor over the tab. (To be fair, Explorer has the feature, too.).

You can also pick from a wide variety of weather add-ons, such as Forecastfox Weather and WeatherBug, that can bring local weather conditions and weather radar to your browser toolbar. The Xmarks add-on allows you to access your bookmarks from one computer on another. Firefox's Personas add-on lets you customize the appearance of the browser with thousands of different looks.

Downloading and installing the add-ons takes seconds, but scrolling through all of them will burn up the better part of a day. It's fun, though, and certainly better than bathing your poodle.

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