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Summary:

About seven months ago I made the decision to sell my Macbook and use only my iMac. I love this decision and I don’t regret it, other than one small issue…portability. This isn’t a huge issue but since I do quite a bit of traveling it […]

About seven months ago I made the decision to sell my Macbook and use only my iMac. I love this decision and I don’t regret it, other than one small issue…portability. This isn’t a huge issue but since I do quite a bit of traveling it does cross my mind once in a while.

Traveling without my iMac isn’t to say I go without a computer. I typically am given a loaner, or have a personal computer I am allowed to use on such trips, which is one of the reasons I decided I didn’t need my Macbook. However there is a catch, the computers I use are typically Windows machines. So how do I make the constant switch between the two machines without my own files, applications, or preferences? One simple application…Firefox.

One of the main issues I have with using a strange laptop is my hindered freedom when it comes to installing and customizing applications. However I was given Firefox to work with, which if used properly can be one of the most versatile and practical applications you can have installed. So how can you make Firefox bend over backwards for you?

On a consistent basis I use Gmail, Twitter, Pandora, Tumblr and various messaging clients. All of which have separate window/application on my Mac.

For email I use OS X’s Mail application, and I’ve gotten in the habit of not necessarily checking my mail. But rather having it check and notify me every thirty minutes or so of new messages. Aside from me just hating to go to the Gmail website, I find this to be much more productive. So to combat this on a computer without Mail, I installed the Gmail Notifier Firefox Extension.

After I locked down the basic survival need of email, I moved on to a few supplemental additions to my Firefox workhorse. I installed TwitterFox to fight my Twitter needs. TwitterFox lets me post, view, and reply to all of my friends on Twitter. This is one of my favorite clients for Twitter simply because I seldom find myself needing to actually go to the Twitter website, I can do everything from within this extension.

I, like many of you out there, love to listen to music while I’m working, and I rarely listen to the same artist song after song…I keep iTunes on a constant shuffle. Aside from just listening to my iPod, I like to frequent Pandora, and that is exactly how I’m bringing my music with me to an unfamiliar computer. Using Foxytunes, a Firefox extension that allows you to control nearly any media player out there as well as Last.fm and Pandora right from your browser.

Among listening to music, surfing the web, and Twittering I find myself blogging from time to time. Whether it’s a note to myself for later, or a post I want the entire world to see, I want the process of writing to be as frivolous as possible. So finding a blogging extension that fits my needs was a bit of a challenge until I stumbled across Scribefire, a blogging extension for Firefox. I have used just about every mainstream blogging platform in existence today, and this is a common trait between Scribefire and myself. Whether you use Tumblr, WordPress, Livejournal, or Myspace, Scribefire has you covered as far as your blogging needs go.

The last thing I needed was something for messaging. I could use Meebo, but I wanted something that I didn’t have to click into a tab each time I wanted to check my buddy list out. So I tried the Meebo Firefox Extension, which brings the functionality of the popular web service into Firefox, with a buddy list sidebar it makes messaging within Firefox a breeze and almost easier than using a standalone messenger.

Using a strange computer is always a hassle, but hopefully making a few customizations within a single application can ease the pain, and make the time pass a little faster until you can get back to that sweet, sweet Apple of your eye.

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  1. Would it not make more sense to put Portable Apps on a USB stick and load up Firefox with your favorite extensions? You could use Foxmarks to sync your bookmarks and passwords, and leave no traces behind on the borrowed windows machine.

    http://portableapps.com/

    http://www.foxmarks.com/

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  3. Please put a margin on the left; some white space will improve readability immensely!

  4. What do you use for keeping bookmarks in sync? Delicious extension for Firefox?

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  6. Martin (OnlyFourHors.com) Sunday, December 28, 2008

    Thanks for this post. I’m also writing up advice for remote working on my new blog.

    I agree with JP that FoxMarks is excellent and also I’d be lost without add-ins for Evernotes (personal information management) and Remember The Milk (Time Management).

    There is also one other program I’ve just discovered called DexRex that stores all IM chat logs online. This isn’t a firefox add-in but I thought it might be of interest anyway.

    Best wishes,

    Martin

  7. Ditto on Foxmarks! It’s a big saver for me since I spend so much time on my work computer and often put aside sites that I’d love to visit in length when I’m home.

    It also occurred to me that you could also use portable apps, as mentioned by JP. There’s some hassle to that but it would work fairly well.

  8. With all this twittering, blogging etc – when do you do any work ;o)

  9. @jp – I agree, some Portable Apps are great, particularly Notebook++; definitely a good option. Remember to have Firefox portable version on the stick!

    As this is an Apple blog, it’s probably also worth noting that most Mac OS X applications already work straight off a USB stick. So you could have a USB stick with both platforms set up for use. For syncing contacts on the move you could try http://www.plaxo.com/ cross platform and works well with Thunderbird etc.

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