All posts by Isam

Fetching Lots of Small Files from RapidShare? Tip to Save Time

I was staring at the 30+ RapidShare tabs I have open, annoyed that I had to keep waiting for the countdown timer before starting each download. The problem was that I kept forgetting about the countdown and the downloads altogether (30 second timer + Geek-ADD… impossible). It literally took me 10+ hours to get one file just because the session kept expiring.

Some Greasemonkey scripts helped a bit, but I don’t like keeping Greasemonkey enabled just for 1-2 tiny scripts that aren’t that useful anyway, nor restarting Firefox (which I’d need to do to re-enable it). I also don’t really need a solution that’s 100% automatic because I’m usually on the PC when I’m downloading these files, so a little manual work isn’t a problem. A premium account would be fine, but I don’t trust RapidShare with my payment information. I don’t know what other information they store (I emailed them, see reply below) . It’s like giving BTJunkie (good people) your name and address before you’re authorized to download torrents. It’s 100% safe, but just makes me feel uneasy. Even though my downloads are public domain. Warez is BAD NEWS, like Weed or premarital sex.

So I just kept refreshing the site and viewing the source hoping that something useful would magically appear, sort of like when I’m hungry and keep opening the fridge, even though I know there’s nothing interesting in it because I checked it a few minutes earlier.

A lot of older scripts and hacks don’t work because RapidShare now (actually it has been a few years) does most of its auth stuff server-side instead of using Javascript. The following tip is useful in some cases. It isn’t a “hack,” and wouldn’t work when downloading big (10MB+) files. It works great for me because I use RapidShare to download ebooks, scripts, and other not-so-big files (usually 1-10 megs each).

RapidShare displays a countdown timer with a duration that depends on the size of the file. Files about 500KB or less have no countdown, while files up to ~30-40 megs have a 30 second countdown. Bigger files have a 50-60 second countdown. I’m not sure of the exact numbers, but you get the idea. After the countdown is done, the page reloads with a unique URL to download the file. This URL expires after some time, but …

Countdown Can Be Started on Multiple Files Simultaneously

When the countdown is active on a file, you can click “Free user” on other RS links you have open, and the link to download each of the other files (the big DOWNLOAD icon) remains active for awhile. If you can finish any downloads before this time expires, you can begin the other downloads using this link, without having to go through the countdown again.

So this basically saves having to wait the 30 seconds. That’s it. You can’t download more than one file simultaneously when you aren’t registered, but by having all the download links ready to go, you can begin each download as soon as the prior download has finished.

I’m not sure when the download link expires, but the time seems to have increased to at least a few minutes. Unfortunately, download speed is capped at around 70-80 KB/s on free accounts, but in my experience this still works great (I DL at the max speed).

Note, clicking “download” when another file isn’t complete will give you a warning that your IP is already downloading another file, and you must now refresh – meaning you must wait for the countdown again.

Usual Scenario

Pamela has 9 tabs open - Normally, she would have to click “Free user,” wait for the countdown timer, and then DL… and when done, click the next tab and repeat the process.

But now, she can get some of that work (waiting) out of the way – She clicks “Free user” on the first file. 30.. 29.. 28.., … while she waits for that to reach zero, she goes through every other tab, hitting “Free user.”

Now ALL her RS tabs’ countdown timers are going down, and when finished, they will each redirect to the page featuring the download button. After the first download is done – Pamela just goes to the next tab and clicks “Download” and the next download instantly starts. No waiting.

And so on. Again, this wouldn’t work with big files (or anything on a slow connection) because by the time you have finished downloading one item, the other RapidShare download sessions will have expired.

You can squeeze more time out of the session by waiting till the first countdown is almost done before activating the rest. This can give you a 20-25 second headstart. If the session(s) do expire, you can just repeat the process, preferably starting with smaller files first. Also, this might differ depending on time of the day, as RapidShare’s limits are changing throughout the day. I.e., rush hour, happy hour, etc.

I don’t use RapidShare.de, just .com. If you’re tried this on .de, be sure to report your results.

Top 10 Firefox Extensions that Enhance Usability

All of these extensions work on Firefox 3.x

Firebug


What can I say.. Firebug is indispensable. It’s quite possibly the greatest piece of software since Firefox itself. It’s a *must* have if you do any sort of XHTML/CSS/Javascript/AJAX/er.. anything!

You can edit code on any site, live. Hate the annoying background on a specific site? Get rid of it. Ugly font? Change it. No contrast between colors? No problem. The changes aren’t permanent, of course (that’s what Greasemonkey‘s for).

There’s no better AJAX/CSS debugger. It even has a console you can use to interact with the site. Works with AJAX libraries (since they’re essentially just Javascript), and jQuery can output text to the Firebug console. No more alerts()!I won’t even go into the neat array of plugins it has.

Just get it. Tip: F12 toggles Firebug, and ctrl+F12 opens it in its own window.


Open In Browser

This should be built into Firefox.

FF Save as.. dialog

It’s still experimental, so you need to register to install it, but it’s well worth it. Sometimes when you’re viewing images or ASCII files (like source code) online, you want them viewed in the browser, but the site forces you to download them.

One example any Google Images Surfer is aware of is the fact that images hosted on Blogger cannot be viewed in the browser. Very annoying – unless you have this extension installed. It adds an option to open files in the browser to the file download dialog.


Tabs Open Relative

This should not only be built into Firefox, it should be the default behavior.

Causes new tabs to open next to the current tab, instead of launching after the last tab you have open.


Download Statusbar

What’s more annoying than tabs opening a thousand pixels away? The Firefox download dialog. It’s big and too intrusive to keep open permanently, and I get annoyed when the download is done and it suddenly vanishes. Solution? Download to the desktop and don’t use the download dialog.

Another solution? Use this extension. In mini-mode (full-mode is too bloated IMO), it displays the number of files still in progress on the bottom-right of the browser, and a single click on this opens a little “drop up” menu that displays your downloads and their status. Hovering over the filename reveals all the info you need about that download. Double clicking the file opens it and removes it from the download list.

And the ctrl+Y default download dialog is still available and functions normally (if you want to use it).


Ubiquity

Ubiquity is to Firefox what Quicksilver is to OS X, what Gnome Do is to Linux. From its Wikipedia page:

Ubiquity’s main goal is to take a disjointed web and bring everything the user needs to them. This is accomplished through a command-line-like interface which is based on natural language commands. These commands are supplied both by Mozilla and by individual users. Commands are written in Javascript and either directly typed into the command editor that comes with Ubiquity or subscribed to. Commands to which a user subscribes are automatically updated when the author updates the code.

I won’t go in-depth about this because Aza has done so already.




NoScript

This extension is initially unappealing because it seems to break most sites. What it does is disable Javascript (and by default, Flash) on any new sites you visit, until you explicitly teach NoScript that they’re trustworthy.

Besides nuisance and security reasons, one huge benefit is the fact that you can block/unblock specific domains per site. So you can enable JS on a site but keep Google Analytics or some annoying JS ads being loaded remotely, disabled.

I used NoScript on and off, but finally settled on making it permanent by changing some options to make it less annoying to me. These settings work good for my own browsing habits; YMMV.

  • Stop auto-page reload – I prefer doing this manually.
  • Forbid everything except Flash and IFRAME – nspluginwrapper crashes Flash all the time anyway :P
  • Show Status bar icon (not label)
  • Place blocked-scripts message on the bottom instead of top
  • Hide message after 3 seconds – I don’t even need this. I’m aware that JS is off by default now
  • Allow local links – Good if you develop

The main turn-off people have towards NoScript is the fact that you need to get used to unblocking sites you’ve been visiting hassle-free for years, but after a few days you’ll notice that, since you only need to allow a site once (permanently), nearly every site you visit on a regular basis will be whitelisted and will work as it always had.

My whitelist has hundreds of items, and I do view new sites on a daily basis, but in the past few days the only site I recall turning JS on for was InventiveLabs’, to see the crazy js light-switch effect.


Stealther

Stealther has plenty of uses, one of which is being able to quickly see what your site will look like for users with cookies disabled, but it’s not a very versatile porn-mode. A lot of sites require cookies to be enabled, including Google Images (to keep the filter option saved), but Stealther has be fine tuned.

Hiding your history can also be achieved by using ctrl+H, sorted by Last Visited, and just hitting DEL on the top few links (why can’t you ctrl/shift select?) you visited. It doesn’t remove everything, but removes enough.


Gmail Notifier

This is not the same as Google’s Gmail Notifier Toolbar.

I’ve tried a bunch of Gmail notifiers for browsers, Gnome, KDE, etc. Nothing compares to Firefox’ Gmail Notifier. First, who only has 1 email address anymore? A notifier needs to allow multiple accounts. Second, I’d like to be notified of unread messages only until I actually visit my inbox and decide whether I want to read them or not. Many notifiers will continue to bug me until I mark the emails read or explicitly tell the notifier to stop.


Adblock Plus

I like ads. Well placed ads, not the Adsense box in the middle of an article, or sites that have more ads than content, like About.com. Ads are downplayed and taken for granted, but some are brilliant, and they still work, even on us geeks. But people hate them, and so we have Adblock.

I initially couldn’t stand this extension because it kept blocking legitimate images. That was way-back-when, and I was re-introduced to adblock when I picked up Swiftweasel. Actually, I don’t know if re-introduced is the right word. I just happened to notice it was available and was too lazy to remove it.

Install it, set it on the easy-filter and forget about it. If curious, here is the difference between Adblock vs Adblock Plus.


TimeTracker

I have a bad habit of losing track of my time when browsing the web (I’m literally addicted to the Internet). This extension helps shed light on this fact. . It keeps track of how long you’ve been using wasting your life browsing the web.

Has a useful filter option to disregard specific sites (i.e., editing your router settings, doing job related work, etc). However, in practice, I usually forget I have it installed and don’t notice it. What I really want is a timer that will alert me every N minutes I’m viewing a site. So if I’m on Wikipedia for more than 10 minutes, it’ll bring me back to Earth and make me realize that I should be working instead of holding ctrl and clicking every in-site link on the Wikipedia page.

The extension is actively being developed, and a lot of nice features are planned (see this thread).

(Honorable mention)

Vimperator

Vimperator is amazing. You know those crazy ideas you get sometimes that you think are brilliant in a humorous, “if only,” sarcastic, sort of way, like “Why can’t everything in life have a vim-like interface and bindings?” — yeah, that’s exactly what Vimperator does with Firefox.

Opera users may check out this page.




What Firefox extensions do you recommend?