Category Archives: Google Chrome

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

Firefox and Chrome Add-ons For The Paranoid Internet Surfer

image Two of the most popular readers questions I get here are: Which Browser add-ons do I really need? Which add-ons do I (meaning me), use? Not a surprising question really; with the huge number of Browser extensions available, it can be difficult for users to determine which ones to consider adding – the choices seem unlimited.

I could sit down and write an article on those Browser add-ons that I wouldn’t be without. But, let’s try something a little different today.

Regular reader Georg L., an IT Professional from Vienna, Austria, who’s experience ranges from the days of DOS to the present, has laid out a list of Browser extensions (for Firefox and Chrome), which he has installed to boost Browser security, and in some cases, to increase Browser functionality.

This list of Browser add-ons will resonate with readers who recognize the need to elevate Browser security. Not surprisingly, both Georg and I have installed essentially the same add-ons. Particularly those add-ons designed to increase Browser security.

Firefox:

Adblock Plus 1.2.2

Better Privacy

BitDefender QuickScan

Flagfox

Flashblock

FoxyProxy Standard

Ghostery

GoogleSharing

HTTPS-Everywhere

NoScript

PDF Download

Perspectives

Qualys BrowserCheck

Search Engine Security

SkipScreen

Chrome:

AdBlock

AntiAds

BitDefender QuickScan

ChromeFlags

FastestChrome – Browse Faster

FlashBlock

Ghostery

Google Analytics Opt-out

Google Dictionary

Mini Google Maps

Secbrowsing

SmoothScroll 

Ultimate Google Docs Viewer

Wikipedia Companion

Just to be clear – it’s not paranoia if they really are after you? I can assure you, if you’re connected to the Internet, they (cyber criminals) really are after you!

This article is an edited version of the original article which was published August 30, 2010.

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Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, Chrome Add-ons, Cyber Criminals, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Firefox, Firefox Add-ons, Freeware, Google Chrome, Internet Paranoia, Internet Safety Tools, Malware Protection, Safe Surfing, Software

Take 10 Seconds And Have BitDefender QuickScan Add-on Audit Your System For Malware

BitDefender’s QuickScan (last updated April 7, 2011), is a Firefox, and Chrome add-on, built around cloud based technology (a continuously updated malware database and scanner, hosted on remote servers), making it FAST! FAST! FAST!

Following installation of the add-on, QuickScan sets a quick launch Icon in the Browser Toolbar for easy access. (Firefox 4 shown)

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The following screen shots show QuickScan in the process of scanning critical files and modules, on my Win 7 machine.

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Elapsed time 10 seconds!!!! That meets my definition of FAST! I run QuickScan daily, and a 10 second scan completion is fairly typical.

My Internet connection speed is – 16 Mbps (download), and 1.5 Mbps (upload). Your results may vary, depending on your connection speed.

Following the scan, you’ll have access to a full report. The following screen capture is only a partial representation of the report, (it’s just too big to insert in this article). Click on image to expand to original.

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Fast facts:

Very fast scanning

Runs online from any Internet connected Windows PC

Based on BitDefender anti-malware technologies

Detects running malware

Detects hidden threats (rootkits) and keyloggers

Scans:

Processes

Network activity

Autoruns and critical files

Browser plug-ins

Note:

This add-on is not a replacement for active antimalware protection.

No cleaning capabilities are included in QuickScan, so if you encounter a positive indication of a malware infection, use your onboard antimalware application to clear it.

Takeaway:

Today’s malware is quite capable of shutting down onboard antimalware applications, while allowing the user to believe the application/s are fully functional. A simply scan with QuickScan can provide an early warning of such activity.

Download: Firefox

Download: Chrome

 

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Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, BitDefender, Browser add-ons, Chrome Add-ons, Cloud Computing Applications, Don't Get Hacked, Firefox Add-ons, Free Security Programs, Freeware, Google Chrome, Online Malware Scanners, Software, System Security, Windows Tips and Tools

Is Awesome Screenshot Browser Add-on, Really Awesome?

So, is Awesome Screenshot, a screen capture add-on for Firefox 4.0 (which I recently installed), Chrome, and Safari really awesome? If you’re an active Blogger and you have a need to capture web graphics, or you’re the type of web enthusiast who likes to share unique content, then I think you’ll agree that it just might be.

Using Awesome Screenshot by activating its Browser toolbar push button icon

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(which launches the add-on’s toolbar), you can capture a visible part, a selected part, or an entire web page. You then have the option to annotate the screen capture with rectangles, circles, arrows, lines and even text.

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Sample Capture

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Saving the image to your Hard Drive, or sharing – by uploading the image to the Pict image hosting site, is a snap. In the following illustration, I’ve uploaded the sample capture to http://awesomescreenshot.com/0879qyp64, which, when clicked, (try it), opens the following.

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This neat add-on doesn’t stop there though. You can share your capture on Twitter, Facebook, or Google Buzz – and even email it with Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo Mail.

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Fast facts:

Capture

  • Capture visible part
  • Capture any region
  • Capture the whole page
  • Crop any portion and show crop dimension

Annotate

  • Annotate it with rectangles, circles, arrows, lines and text
  • Erase the sensitive information with blur tool

Share

  • One-click Upload the screenshot to awesomescreenshot.com
    and get a sharable link
  • Hard to guess URL to allow private sharing
  • Share the link to Twitter, Facebook, email etc.

To see  Awesome Screenshot in action, watch this YouTube video.

Compatible with: Firefox 4.0, Chrome, Safari.

Download at: Mozilla, or the developer’s site.

Note: No restart required for Firefox 4.0 add-on.

Just a quick word on Firefox 4.0, which I’ve been running for a few weeks.

Contrary to most of the hype I’ve been reading regarding Firefox 4.0 which attempts to reposition Firefox 4.0 as the “reinvention” of the Browser, it’s simple not so.

Yes, there are major differences under the hood in this latest version, some of which you may find valuable, but in terms of productivity increases, I doubt if an average user will notice. For example, I have a very high end Video Card which Firefox 4.0 is designed to take advantage of – I have yet to see any improvement in performance based on this.

The following type of pseudo scientific testing is misleading, and really just twists reality out of shape – “performance tests on the Kraken, SunSpider and V8 benchmarks, for example, Firefox 4 blew away previous versions of the browser, with performance results between three and six times better.” The test results may be accurate, but unless you can count in milliseconds, I doubt if you’ll notice any appreciable increase in speed.

Nevertheless, if you’re a Firefox user, you do need to upgrade for security reasons. But don’t expect that you’ll be walking into a new and exciting Browser world.

With all the new releases, upgrades, and what have you in the Browser market in the last few weeks, and the accompany trumpeting of “were the best”, “we’re the fastest”, “we’ve got the best technology”, ad nauseam – it very much reminded me of children bragging in the school yard.

It would be helpful for average users if certain tech journalists, and the product developers, stopped trying to “sell” browsers as if they were used cars, it seems to me.

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Filed under Blogging Tools, Browser add-ons, Browsers, Chrome Add-ons, downloads, Firefox, Firefox Add-ons, Freeware, Gmail, Google Chrome, Image Editors, Interconnectivity, Safari, Safari add-ons, Screen Capture Utilities, Software, Windows Tips and Tools

Run Splashtop, A Free Web Centric OS To Reduce Your Exposure To Malware

imageCurrent statistics indicate that over 95 percent of viruses, spyware, and other types of malware, are designed and targeted to attack Microsoft Windows. And, the route by which the majority of malware spreads, and intrusion attempts take place is the Internet Browser.

It seems reasonable to make the point then, that if you’re not running Windows while surfing the Net, but instead, you’re running an alternative operating system, you shouldn’t have to unnecessarily worry about malware, viruses, and spyware.

Regular readers might recall that I do most of my surfing using Linux; specifically Ubuntu. And yes, I’m aware of of all the counter arguments that surround this choice – “security through obscurity”, “Linux is built from the ground up with security in mind”, and on and on.

None of the various contentious points of view really make much difference to me. The reality is straightforward – all statistics indicate that surfing with a non-Windows system can reduce the malware risks Windows users have to contend with.

If you are leaning towards running an alternative to Windows, while interacting with the Net, then Splashtop OS, a Linux driven Web centric, (Chrome focused), specialty operating system (which coexists with Windows),  and is close to “instant on”, – about 10 seconds to boot and reach the Net in my tests, is worth taking for a spin.

Splashtop, (in beta currently), was initially designed to run on specific HP systems only, but it can now run on virtually any Windows system. Following installation, (from within Windows), on subsequent boots you will have the opportunity to boot into Splashtop, or Windows, through a boot menu.

Booting back into Windows once you’re in Splashtop, is “one click” simple.

You won’t get lost during the install which is very straightforward.

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On completion of the install process, you will have an opportunity to gather additional information.

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and perform a number of setup tasks.

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The desktop is rather plain, but given that Splashtop has been designed as a Web centric OS, it’s still very functional.

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Fast facts:

FAST:  Starts in seconds — way before Windows

EASY:  Featuring Instant Search, powered by Bing

SAFE:  A Linux-based platform running Chromium

READY:  Includes Adobe Flash Player pre-installed

PERSONAL:  Choose from thousands of Web Apps, extensions, and themes at the Chrome Web Store, and install the ones you want

SIMPLE:  Your existing Windows bookmarks and Wi-Fi Settings profile can be imported from Windows into Splashtop OS

CONVENIENT:  Visual Bookmarks show thumbnails of recently visited web pages (or can be hidden if desired)

CUSTOMIZABLE:  From the Status Bar, check the status of network connections, volume, power supply; or open the Configuration Panel and then set your preferences

FLEXIBLE:  If desired, you can exit Splashtop OS and boot to the Windows OS at any time

Running Splashtop will allow you to surf, and interact with the Internet as you normally would – including interacting with instant messaging, email, music, photos, documents, gaming, etc. And, it really is virtually “instant on”.

Additional details available at the developer’s site:

Using features of the Web Browser

Using the Splashtop OS Configuration Utility in Windows

Using the Boot Menu (unsupported computers only)

Announcements and Frequently Asked Questions

More information at the Splashtop OS web page

Download at: Splashtop

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Filed under Alternatives to Windows, Beta Software, Chrome, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Freeware, Google Chrome, Interconnectivity, Internet Safety Tools, Linux, Operating Systems, Software, System Security, Windows Tips and Tools