Editor’s note: The "Innovation Exchange," a regular feature in Local Tech Wire, is written by Noah Garrett, former director of communications for the North Carolina Technology Association. Garrett is a creative spirit, from writing music to news stories, who owns and operates NGC Communications. The focus of the Innovation Exchange is just that creating a Web community through which people can exchange ideas and foster creativity. Contact Noah at noah@thinkngc.com

CHARLESTON, S.C. – One full week into 2009 and already plenty of innovative scoop to keep you newsies busy.

Browser Shopping

For the last month or so, I have been trying out new browsers. I have tried everything under the sun to optimize my Web experience. After careful consideration and review, I have determined that Firefox 3.0.5 is the best out there. Google Chrome is pretty good and worth a try, but is limited and not supported by many Web sites at least for now. I highly recommend upgrading to Firefox in 2009. If you’re still using Internet Explorer, get rid of it.

Four Top Firefox Add-ons

is great, but the add-on capabilities make it legendary.

1. Morning Coffee. This keeps track of your entire routine Web visitation. All you have to do is program the Web sites you visit first thing in the morning and then click one button to open them all in new tabs. Very cool.

2. NoScript. This extension provides extra protection for Firefox, Flock, Seamonkey and other mozilla-based browsers. This free, open source add-on allows JavaScript, Java, Flash and other plugins to be executed only by trusted sites of your choice and provides the most powerful Anti-XSS protection available in a browser.

3. Cooliris. Formerly known as PicLens, is a Web browser plugin that provides interactive full-screen slideshows of online images. The plugin is available for Safari, Firefox, and Internet Explorer. Really not practical just yet and reminds me of browsing on the iPhone, but it is really, really cool. You must give it a go to see what it can do.

4. Speed Dial. This extension provides a tab of your most visited Web sites, so you can open a new tab and quickly find the site you want. This is similar in concept to Morning Coffee, but different on delivery method.

I’m always searching for new and exciting add-ons, so if you have some ideas, let me know. FYI, I didn’t mention all the social networking extensions out there for Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc., basically because there are so many good ones. If you have a favorite, I would be happy to give it a try.

Chief Performance Officer

This is a great idea. Every company should think about creating this position if they haven’t already. President-elect Barack Obama this week named management consultant and former assistant Secretary of the Treasury Nancy Killefer to be his administration’s chief performance officer, saying she would be crucial to restoring trust in government during the economic crisis. The newly-created position aims to make government more efficient, effective and transparent, the Democrat told reporters during a press conference at his transition headquarters in Washington. We’ll see.

The End of MacWorld?

Apple recently announced that this month’s Macworld would be the last one for the company. The company also announced that the keynote, traditionally a Steve Jobs affair, would instead be filled by Phil Schiller, Apple’s head of product marketing. All of these decisions mark many things but no doom and gloom, as far as I’m concerned. It could be the end of the line for the relationship between Apple and IDG, the event organizer, which has been on rocky ground for many years. As for Jobs’ health, though he has just admitted to suffering from a hormone imbalance that has caused him to lose weight, he is staying on as CEO. Maybe this is Apple doing what it does best – changing the rules again.

More from MacWorld

Apple announced significant changes to its iTunes Store this week during Macworld, but the first is undoubtedly the biggest news: The music and video download service, which features more than 10 million songs, is finally going Digital Rights Management (DRM)-free. Also, since going online, the iTunes Store has retained one pricing model 99 cents per track, with many albums priced at $9.99. That’s changing in April. There will then be three pricing tiers: 99 cents, 69 cents, and $1.29. We’ll just have to wait and see how many songs are going to be offered at 69 cents than at $1.29.

Just for Fun

If you haven’t heard, there is an online movement to name the New7Wonders of Nature. Apparently, it has been going on for a while now, and has reached the second phase of voting. There are 261 qualified national and multinational nominees competing to make it to the top 77 which will be announced in July. Among the qualified nominees from the United States are: Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, Lake Superior, and Buck Island Reef National Monument, which is in the U.S. Virgin Islands. for details.