Hot on HuffPost Tech:

See More Stories
Engadget for the iPhone: download the app now
AOL Tech

Firefox Friday Five: all quiet on the Firefox front, so here are some neat websites, tips, features and tricks

With classic, why-does-the-universe-hate-me irony it seems that Mozilla had a flurry of activity while I was on vacation. Except the Thunderbird Contacts thing that Lee gushed about earlier this week, there's been absolutely nothing since I got back. Incidentally, if you still haven't downloaded the FF4.0 beta 2, you should do that now. The first release candidate should be only a couple of months away, so what you see in the beta is close to the real thing.

Don't worry about the lack of news, though. I've saved up a bunch of cool add-ons, neat things, tips and tricks over the last three weeks -- let's start with the best!

1. Show your homepage when you open a new tab

One of the reasons I still use Chrome is its Home Tab. I just love having quick access to my most-visited websites: just Ctrl-T and click; nice and fast. When you open a new tab in Firefox, however, you get a blank page... unless you have an add-on like New Tab Homepage!

As the add-on's page says, if you have another add-on like Tab Mix, New Tab Homepage is redundant. But if you want a light-weight (and thus fast!) add-on that only modifies your new tabs, this one's for you. Set your homepage to something useful, like your Delicious bookmark page or your to-do list, and voilá!

(Don't forget that some version of Firefox 4 will probably get its own built-in Home Tab)

2. Do you like that cute little Foxkeh guy? Now you can make your own Foxkeh desktop wallpaper!

Lee's out of town at the moment, so I can say this with relative safety: Lee has a bit of a thing for Foxkeh. He doesn't really do it for me -- I like my drawn art to be a bit more, er, female... and naked... -- but hey, if you're into furry animals, you'll love Foxkeh's Wallpaper Creator.

Created by Mozilla Japan, the Wallpaper Creator is an example of what you can do with Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) in modern Web browsers. Have a play with little Foxkeh -- it's surprisingly smooth! I'm now rather excited about what FF4 and IE9 will be able to do with hardware-accelerated SVG manipulation.

P.S. note how it looks like Foxkeh is defecating some very juicy pieces of watermelon in the picture above.

3. In the same vein, Firefox 4 Beta 2 now has CSS3 transitions

To celebrate the new functionality, Mozilla Hacks (their Web developer blog), has published a few very cool demos that show off CSS transitions. The screenshot above shows a combination of HTML5 video and CSS transforms -- play around with the demo yourself and you'll see just how cool it is. Interestingly, the black and white filter on the thumbnails doesn't work in Chrome, but I guess CSS3 and HTML5 support is very much a work-in-progress for every browser.

Another cool demo shows a field of images which you can dizzily navigate around. The white-bordered thumbnails are actually in-line video placeholders.

These demos, along with those published as part of the IE9 Test Drive, show us the beginnings of what we can expect from the next generation of browsers. This is a sneak-peek at what will constitute the 'Web 3.0' experience!

4. Squeeze a little more out of your mobile browsing experience with the Netbook Optimization Kit

The Netbook Optimization Kit is a clever collection of 10 Firefox add-ons that are meant to make your low-resolution, low-powered browsing experience faster and easier.

Most of the add-ons are pretty obvious: there's Hide Caption Titlebar, and Adblock Plus -- but also some cool add-ons like URL Tooltip (which removes the need for the status bar) and Fission (which combines the address and progress bars).

All in all, this little bundle is well worth installing if your vertical resolution is in that crippling 600-to-800-pixel range.

5. Wield more control over how PDFs interact with Firefox by installing the PDF Download add-on

We covered PDF Download many moons ago, but since PDFs don't seem to be going away any time soon -- and boy do I hate unwittingly opening them on my laptop (it grinds to a halt!) -- I thought I would rehash it. While a lot of new functionality has been added, PDF Download's main purpose is to 'catch' PDF link clicks, offering you the option of downloading, viewing as HTML or simply viewing it in the default Adobe Reader plug-in.

No doubt because of Google's built-in PDF-to-HTML conversion, PDF Download now has another feature: it lets you convert whole pages to PDF at the click of a button -- or send a Web page as a PDF via email.

It's highly configurable, too: both the viewing and conversion aspects of PDF Download can be tailored to perform exactly as required. You can even configure the 'PDF link catching' to snoop the MIME type, rather than file extension.

At the end of the day, you're still dealing with frickin' PDF files though. I'm amazed how resilient the format has been! Maybe with hardware-rendered fonts, and the other shiny aspects of CSS3 and HTML5, we might finally see a shift away from Adobe's closed, commercial platforms?

Tags: add-on, adobe, css3, features, firefox, firefox friday five, FirefoxFridayFive, foxkeh, html5, mozilla, netbook, netbook optimization kit, NetbookOptimizationKit, optimization, pdf, PDF Download, PdfDownload, svg, transitions