You use Firefox, you keep Gmail and Google Reader open at all times, and you wish they didn’t take up so much space in the tab bar. (Maybe you’re on a netbook, or maybe you’ve always got a dozen tabs open at once, so real estate is scarce.) You can permanently affix the Gmail and Reader tabs in your tab bar, reduce them to show the tab favicon only, and display the number of unread items in each using a collection of Firefox add-ons. See what it looks like in the image above: the Gmail and Reader tabs are on the far left, icon-only, with unread item counts–19 unread messages and 1k+ unread items (yikes!)–on the icons themselves.
To reproduce this setup in your own copy of Firefox, you’ll need four Firefox add-ons which I’ve put all together in a single collection. Install all the add-ons in the Icon-Only Perma-Tabs for Gmail and Google Reader collection. Restart Firefox.
Then, in Better Gmail 2, make sure “Unread Message Count in Favicon” is checked. In Better GReader, make sure “Show Unread Count in Favicon” is checked. Open Gmail and Google Reader in new tabs. Right-click on those tabs, and choose “Faviconize tab.” Then, to make them permanent (i.e., open automatically every time you launch Firefox), right-click again and choose “Permatabs->Permanent Tab.” Once you’re done, whenever you launch Firefox or even hit “Close All Tabs,” your icon-only perma-tabs containing Gmail and GReader will persist. (Hat tip to the Lifehacker reader who reminded me of this cool trick!)