Category Archives: Chrome Add-ons

Update WebMail Notifier To Version 2.8 – Fixes Broken Gmail Script

imageAbove all my Firefox and Chrome add-ons, WebMail Notifier stands head and shoulders above the rest in terms of my productivity or, lack of the same if it  stops working – as it did last night. The problem was restricted to Gmail (thankfully), and Hotmail and Yahoo Mail were unaffected – still, what a pain!

Geeks, just like everyone else, turn to Google, or….., in the hope that others have experienced the same problem and, a solution has been posted.

Long story short –

Google has initiated a number of changes in Gmail’s log-in address (which they have done in the past), that broke the log-in script in WebMail Notifier. Apparently, this Google rollout is taking place over several days – so, it’s possible that if a user has more than one Gmail account, one or more may be impacted, but not others.

I found a number of manual solutions to this problem – all of which worked. However, if you are currently dealing with this issue – you can avoid all the hassle by simply downloading version 2.8 of WebNotifier, which corrects the problem.

Download at: WebMail Notifier

Kudos to the add-on developer for jumping on this quickly.

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Filed under Chrome Add-ons, downloads, Email, Firefox Add-ons, Freeware, Tech Net News, Windows Tips and Tools

Flash Cookies – Spyware By Any Other Name

imageI first wrote on the issue of Flash cookies back in September 2009, and since then, I’ve watched as these obnoxious web trackers and privacy invaders multiply like a virus. Based on the number of questions I continue to get on the Flash cookie issue, it’s apparent – confusion reigns when it comes to this underhanded privacy threat.

One of the better forum comments I’ve seen referencing Flash cookies:

“I think many people may not realize how serious it is. In many ways, I see it as the virtual equivalent of dumpster diving or taping together a shredded document. It is deliberately ignoring a data owners deletion of data by an entity that has no business doing so.”

This practice of  web sites dropping Flash cookies onto your computer, which occurs without your knowledge or permission, is akin to hacking – according to some in the security community. Frankly, I agree.

Continuing developments in tracking technologies, and a complete disregard for fundamental privacy rights, should be a major topic of conversation in the security community – until such time as the issue has been resolved in favor of consumers.

In the meantime, we’re on our own. It’s up to us, as individual consumers, to take the appropriate steps to safeguard our privacy (as best we can), while interacting with the Internet.

Here’s what we’re up against – and, this is just one small example.

From Disinformation.com

McDonald’s, CBS, Mazda, Microsoft Sued For Tracking Internet Users’ Histories

In a complaint filed Tuesday with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, Sonal Bose alleges that McDonald’s and the other companies “acted in concert with Interclick,” to mine users’ Web surfing history for marketing purposes. “Defendants circumvented the privacy and security controls of consumers who, like plaintiff, had configured their browsers to prevent third-party advertisers from monitoring their online activities,” Bose alleges.

The lawsuit alleges that the companies violated the federal computer fraud law, wiretap law and other statutes. She is seeking class-action status. This lawsuit comes several weeks after Bose sued Interclick for allegedly using history-sniffing technology and Flash cookies to track her online activity.

History-sniffing technology exploits a vulnerability in browsers to discover the Web sites users previously visited. Researchers from the University of California, San Diego recently brought the technique to light when they published a paper explaining the technique and naming 46 Web sites where history-sniffing technology was being deployed. In at least some cases, ad company Interclick reportedly used the technology without the publishers’ knowledge.

Bose also says in her complaint that she believes that the defendants used Flash cookies for tracking purposes. Flash cookies are stored in a different place in the browser than HTTP cookies, and therefore, require additional effort to delete.

Flash cookie quick facts:

They never expire

Can store up to 100 KB of information compared to a text cookie’s 4 KB.

Internet browsers are not aware of those cookies.

LSO’s usually cannot be removed by browsers.

Using Flash they can access and store highly specific personal and technical information (system, user name, files,…).

Can send the stored information to the appropriate server, without user’s permission.

Flash applications do not need to be visible.

There is no easy way to tell which flash-cookie sites are tracking you.

Shared folders allow cross-browser tracking – LSO’s work in every flash-enabled application

No user-friendly way to manage LSO’s, in fact it’s incredible cumbersome.

Many domains and tracking companies make extensive use of flash-cookies.

If you value your privacy, then without a doubt you need to control these highly invasive objects, and if you are a Firefox user there is a solution – BetterPrivacy – a free Firefox add-on.

From the BetterPrivacy page:

“Better Privacy serves to protect against not delectable, long-term cookies, a new generation of ‘Super-Cookie’, which silently conquered the internet.

This new cookie generation offers unlimited user tracking to industry and market research. Concerning privacy Flash- and DOM Storage objects are most critical.

This add-on was made to make users aware of those hidden, never expiring objects and to offer an easy way to get rid of them – since browsers are unable to do that for you”.

In the following screen capture (click to expand to original), you’ll notice BetterPrivacy has deleted a cumulative total of 6188 Super Cookies.

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The Options and Help tab (shown in the following screen shot), will allow you to choose specific deletion methods. You should consider selecting “Disable Ping Tracking”, which will prohibit sites from following you as you surf the Net.

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Download at: Mozilla

For a more detailed breakdown on flash cookies, and the danger they represent to personal privacy, checkout The Electronic Privacy Information Center.

Google Chrome users can take advantage of the Click&Clean Extension (works with Firefox as well).

The following screen capture of Click&Clean’s Options menu, illustrates the application’s ability to deal with Flash cookies.

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Fast facts:

Delete your browsing history
Clear records from your download history
Remove cookies and Empty cache
Delete temporary files
Remove Flash Local Shared Objects (LSO)
Delete private data when Firefox closes
Automatically close all windows/tabs
Clean up your hard drives and Free up more disk space – including secure file deletion
Launch external applications, like CCleaner, Wise Disk Cleaner etc. on Windows – or Janitor, BleachBit, etc. on Linux

Download the Firefox version at: Mozilla

Download the Chrome version at: The Chrome Web store

You can read a full review of this application – Clean Up With Click&Clean Firefox and Chrome Extension, on this site.

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Filed under Browser add-ons, Chrome Add-ons, downloads, Firefox Add-ons, Flash Cookies, Freeware, Privacy, Windows Tips and Tools

Not Using Google Shortcuts? Here’s What You’re Missing

The following article was originally posted September 6, 2010.

Comments from readers:

I have to say that is such a great plugin. It is so customizable and puts all the Google services at one place. I can even remove the separate plugins I have for Gmail and reader.

Great find, Bill. I’m going to be putting this to good use!

Looks fabulous Bill. I removed the Google Toolbar from Firefox as it refused to untick some checkboxes, so this could be a great substitute.

imageDespite my personal view that Google trashes personal privacy rights, I continue to use a fairly large number of Google services, including Gmail, Google Reader, Maps, Calendar, and so on.

Until now, I’ve used my Bookmarks menu in Firefox to access these services, since this method is very convenient. But, when I came across the Google Shortcuts extension for Firefox, all that changed.

An  add-on that can display over 160 Google services as buttons next to the address bar, or in a one-click popup menu, is a sure fire winner with me. And Google Shortcuts for Firefox, or Chrome, can do that – and more.

Adding this extension to either Firefox, or Chrome, is accomplished in the usual manner that most of us are familiar with (you’ll find the download links at the end of this article).

Following installation, I jumped right in – setting up the extension to best serve my particular needs.

You can place your most commonly used Google services as buttons beside the address bar in Firefox, as the following screen capture indicates. This seems like an awkward way to display – eats up a lot of screen real estate.

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The option of using a dropdown menu option instead, as I’ve done here, is a better alternative – at least for me.

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The number of services available is really astonishing. In fact, there are services listed here that I was completely unaware of. Hopefully, G+ will be added shortly.

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Additional control options are available on the advanced options setting screen.

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Requirements: Firefox 2.0 – 6.*, or Chrome

Download at: Mozilla or Google Chrome Extensions

For super convenience, this is one of the better Firefox add-ons I’ve come across – I highly recommend it.

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Filed under Browser add-ons, Chrome, Chrome Add-ons, Cloud Computing Applications, downloads, Firefox, Firefox Add-ons, Freeware, Google, Google Chrome, Google Software, Interconnectivity, Software, Windows Tips and Tools

Catch Your Online Grammar, Spelling, and Style Mistakes, With After The Deadline

imageChurning out two blog posts every day is hard on the eyes – not to mention the back, the wrists – well you get the point. As a consequence – I sometimes find myself looking (with crossed eyes) at words running into words, gross misspellings (easy to correct), or improper word usage (sometimes, not so easy to correct). Your versus you’re, and its versus it’s, for example, can be particularly difficult to pick up when used incorrectly.

Here’s a good example of this – recently pointed out by a reader.

Comment:

“You’re friends won’t – other than to deny that they watch it – or, perhaps to decry it’s prevalence” You’re means You are – so “you are friends won’t” doesn’t make sense, use “Your friends” instead.

“It’s” always means “It is” – so “decry it is presence” doesn’t make sense; use “decry its presence” instead.

Not a big deal, you might be thinking. Maybe not – but as often as not, common errors, particularly punctuation errors, can change the meaning of what you meant to say. I’m sure you’ve seen this example – Let’s eat, Mother. versus – Let’s eat Mother.

I write all my blog articles in open source LibreOffice (with grammar checker turned on), and then copy the articles to Windows Live Writer prior to posting into WordPress.

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Despite an active grammar checker, proofreading, as time consuming as it can often be, is unavoidable. Still, I’ve learned that proofreading is no guarantee that the odd mistake will not slip through.

There is a partial solution (no technology is perfect), that can help you (and me), avoid the most common grammar mistakes, spelling errors (including contextual spelling errors), and style mistakes, in online interactions – including blog postings, emails (mistakes here can be deadly), Facebook, Twitter, etc.

After the Deadline – developed by the people behind WordPress – is an open source (free), language checker for the Web which is available as:

An add-on for Firefox.

An extension for Google Chrome.

A plugin for Windows Live Writer.

A plugin for self-hosted WordPress blogs.

An extension for OpenOffice.org Writer (still in Beta).

Following installation of After the Deadline on my system as a Firefox add-on, I found it to be reasonably accurate – but not perfect (more on this later). Nevertheless, I’ll keep it on my system – at least in the short term (for the second time).

Installation, in my case, was the usual automatic Firefox add-on install, followed by an easy Options set up as the following screen capture indicates.

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The following screen shots (click to expand) show spelling errors (an unrecognized word), and style recommendations – in a previous post.

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The type of recommendation shown in the screen shot directly above (change “terminate” to “end”, or “stop”), is the primary reason I deleted this add-on previously.

Consistently, higher level words were marked down as “complex expressions”. It may be popular to assume that “dumbing down” is in vogue, but not from where I’m sitting.

Fast facts:

Checks Spelling – Spell checker looks at context and uses artificial intelligence to make recommendations.

Detects Misused Words – Most spell checkers assume any word in their dictionary is correct regardless of context. This means all misused word errors go unnoticed.

Checks Style – Style checker has thousands of rules and uses context to choose the best suggestions.

Checks Grammar – The grammar checker in After the Deadline protects you from common writing errors. After the Deadline uses statistics to automatically find exceptions to its grammar rules, making it one of the smartest grammar checkers around.

Explains Errors – The misused word detector, grammar checker, and style checker explain the mistakes and suggestions to you. Click an error and choose the “Explain …” option.

Download at: After the Deadline

After the Deadline checks English, French, German, Portuguese, and Spanish text.

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Filed under Browser add-ons, Chrome Add-ons, downloads, Email, FaceBook, Firefox, Firefox Add-ons, Freeware, Google Chrome, Interconnectivity, Software, Twitter, Windows Tips and Tools, WordPress, Writing

Clean Up With Click&Clean Firefox and Chrome Extension

imageIf there’s one thing regular readers here seem to agree on it’s – CCleaner is an awesome application. You can count me in the “awesome application” appreciation group. This free system cleaner is still my “go to” application for simple system cleanup.

CCleaner users know, that running this venerable utility can help keep a system clean by emptying the Recycle Bin, Temporary Setup Files, Downloaded Program Files, Temporary Internet Files, Old Chkdsk Files, Temporary Files, Temporary Offline Files, Offline Files, and more.

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Generally, I would run CCleaner once a day – if I could remember to do so. I’ve now discovered a “no need to remember” way to launch CCleaner automatically, whenever I close my Browsers – either Firefox, or Chrome.

Click&Clean is a free Firefox and Chrome extension which not only does a major cleanup job on Browser activity in its own right (see fast facts), but the application can be set to launch CCleaner automatically (for a deeper and more secure cleaning), on Browser shut down. Additional external applications (rather than CCleaner), which can be set to run automatically include – Wise Disk Cleaner Free, Computer Janitor, and BleachBit.

Setup is simple and straightforward. From within the options menu, you can choose which external application you wish to run.

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For convenience, you can add an extension icon to the Browser’s navigation Toolbar, as illustrated below.

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Fast facts:

Delete your browsing history
Clear records from your download history
Remove cookies and Empty cache
Delete temporary files
Remove Flash Local Shared Objects (LSO)
Delete private data when Firefox closes
Automatically close all windows/tabs
Clean up your hard drives and Free up more disk space – including secure file deletion
Launch external applications, like CCleaner, Wise Disk Cleaner etc. on Windows – or Janitor, BleachBit, etc. on Linux

System requirements: Windows XP, Vista, Win 7, Linux, Mac

Download the Firefox version at: Mozilla

Download the Chrome version at: The Chrome Web store

The Chrome version has several additional features not available in the Firefox version.

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WordPress: This is your 2,407th post. Woohoo!

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Filed under Browser add-ons, Browser Plug-ins, Browsers, Chrome Add-ons, downloads, Firefox Add-ons, Freeware, Google Chrome, Linux, Mac, Software, Ubuntu, Windows Tips and Tools

Updated: An IT Professional’s Must Have Firefox and Chrome Add-ons

imagePersonally, when I need advice I go straight to the experts . And, given the overwhelming reach and the complexity of today’s IT environment, I find myself, more and more, reaching out for additional information.

I have a terrific advantage though, since regular readers here tend to be in the IT game or, are extreme high level computer users possessing a wealth of techno recommendations. So, quite often, I don’t have to go very far to fill in the blanks in my own knowledge base. How cool is that?

Regular reader Georg L., an IT Professional from Vienna, Austria, who’s experience ranges from the days of DOS to the present, is always ready to “fill in the blanks” – as he did last year, when he generously put together a list of Browser extensions (for both Firefox and Chrome), which he has personally installed to boost Browser security, and in some cases, to increase Browser functionality.

Recently, I reposted this comprehensive list of add-ons which led to the following note from Georg – in response to the ever-evolving threat scenario, some changes have occurred in the meantime, and readers should update accordingly.

My current list of add-ons to Firefox 4.01:

Adblock Plus 1.3.8

Better Privacy 1.5.1

BitDefender QuickScan 0.9.9.3

Disconnect – A browser extension that stops major third parties and search engines from tracking the webpages you go to and searches you do

Download Statusbar 0.9.8   –   a very nice one to make downloads easier

Dr. Web anti-virus link checker 1.0.23   –  does what it says

Extended Copy Menu (fix version) 1.6.1c   –   another little helper

Fireclam 0.6.6   –   scans downloads for viruses

Flagfox 4.1.2

Flashblock 1.5.14.2

FoxyProxy Standard 2.22.6

Ghostery 2.5.3

HTTPS-Everywhere 0.9.6

Key Scrambler 2.8.0.1   –   a must for online banking

NextPlease 0.9.2   –   fast navigation over next and previous pages

NoScript 2.1.0.5

Optimize Google 0.78.2   –   removes ads and spam from Google search results

Padlock 0.1.2   –   padlock URL bar icon

PDF Download 3.0.0.2

Perspectives 4.1

Search Engine Security 1.2.0

ShowIP 0.8.19   –   shows the IP address of the current page in the status bar

SkipScreen 0.5.21amo   –   not really helpful, but still there

SmoothWheel (AMO) 0.45.6.20100202.1   –   scrolls the document smoothly when scrolling the mouse wheel

TACO with Abine 3.6.5   –   an absolute must these days

My current list of extensions to Chrome 13.0.772.0 in their current iterations:

AdBlock 2.4.6

BitDefender QuickScan 0.9.9.95

Disconnect – A browser extension that stops major third parties and search engines from tracking the webpages you go to and searches you do

Docs PDF/Power Point Viewer (by Google) – 3.5

FastestChrome – Browse Faster – 4.06

FlashBlock 0.9.31

Ghostery 2.3.0

Google Analytics Opt-out 0.9.0

Google Dictionary 2.0.5

Keep My Opt-Outs 1.0.10

Mini Google Maps 1.0.2

Secbrowsing 1.7

SmoothScroll  1.0.1

Ultimate Chrome Flag 0.3.7

Ultimate Google Docs Viewer 0.8.4.7

Wikipedia Companion 1.7.0

Georg is an accomplished professional and I can safely say, this list of Browser add-ons will resonate with readers who recognize the need to elevate Browser security.

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Filed under Chrome Add-ons, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Firefox Add-ons, Freeware, Internet Safety Tools, Privacy, Productivity Software, Software, Spyware - Adware Protection