I am not big on Add-on Browser Toolbars.
These toolbars are add-on utilities to Internet
Explorer (or other internet browsers like Firefox).
Many search engines and websites now have their own
toolbar. There’s a Yahoo Toolbar, an AltaVista
Toolbar, an MSN Toolbar, an Ask Toolbar, an AOL Toolbar,
a Wikipedia Toolbar, A Merriam-Webster Toolbar, an ICQ
Toolbar, an ESPN Toolbar … and about a zillion
other toolbars. Many of these toolbars may be useful,
but you can see if you choose every toolbar out there,
you won’t have any space on your screen for your web
browsing. So you need to pick carefully which
toolbars you really want to use.
There are some really bad toolbars that
you don’t ever want to get on your computer. These are
intrusive toolbars that spy on your internet
browsing or interrupt your internet use with
endless pop-up ads. These toolbars are installed
sometimes without you even knowing it by carelessly
clicking on links on some web pages. So beware
of these types of toolbars.
OK – like I said, I am not a big fan of toolbars.
With all the toolbars available, I only use one – the
Google Toolbar. The Google Toolbar has been around
for 6 years now – and it keeps getting better and
better. You can read a Tech Tip about the Google
But keep in mind that this Tech Tip was written in July
of 2005 and the Google Toolbar has gone through several
revisions since then. The current version of the
Google Toolbar is Version 4.0. If you want to choose
just one toolbar (like me), get the Google
Toolbar. It’s the best! It is available here:
Ok – so after all the rigamarole about using only one
browser add-on toolbar, I am going to recommend
another toolbar to try out. I have downloaded it
and added it to my Internet Explorer – and it is
The name of the toolbar is Stumble – or
StumbleUpon. StumbleUpon is a free program that
gets added to your Internet Explorer – or to
Firefox if you have made the switch to that
browser. When you download the software and install it,
you select some preliminary topics of
interest to you from nearly 500 topics.
You can later add more topics, as well
as delete some of the topics you initially selected.
Stumble then becomes part of your browser as a
toolbar. It offers you a myriad of features
that allows you to surf the internet for sites that are
of particular interest to you based upon those interests
that you selected.
To actually use the program, you simply click on the
word Stumble in the toolbar and you are
instantly sent to a website based upon your
interests. At each site that you “stumble” upon,
you can rate the site with a “thumbs up” or a “thumbs
down.” So you can surf or “stumble” to your hearts
content – and the websites that you stumble upon are
really cool. The chances are, you will never find these
sites by doing traditional searches with Google
or some other search engine.
As you continue to surf (“stumble”) upon websites and
rate them, the program continues to refine
your preferences and give you more and more relevant
sites according to your interests. It’s kind of like
the “Tivo” of web surfing – for those of you that
use Tivo. It learns about what you like and supplies
you with that web content. Rating pages improves
your stumbles. Rating just a few sites a day will
further refine your preferences, matching you to
more similar people and more interesting sites. Very
OK – that’s not all. If you want, you can choose
to interact with other StumbleUpon users.
You can email other users from within the
application while keeping your anonymity. You
can comment on any website you stumble upon and
build a social network as you surf. Well, I
haven’t done any of this stuff yet – but I have enjoyed
surfing the net in a way that is non-threatening,
relevant, and actually fun.
Now if you are nervous about adding things to
your computer that will invade your privacy, be
They clearly state what they do and will not
do with the information you give them. And you
actually give them very little information.
In the nutshell, this software will help you find
interesting web pages you wouldn’t think to search
for or have the time and patience to search for. I
recommend that you give this toolbar a try. You can
go to the StumbleUpon website and install the
software on your computer. If it is not all that it is
cracked up to be, simply go to the Add/Remove
Programs in the Control Panel and
uninstall it. You can also uninstall it directly
from the Stumble Toolbar. I have a feeling,
though, that after you get it on your computer, you’ll
never take it off!
Here is the StumbleUpon website – give it a try!