Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

A Real Life Review of Google’s New Browser

Google recently made news with its entry into the Web browser “war” — a direct challenge to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and Mozilla’s Firefox.

Google’s browser is called “Chrome” (no, I don’t know why). It is still in Beta, but was released to the public early this month.


Needless to say, the “tech community” was a-buzz. Why would Google build a browser? Aren’t there enough of those? (Read Google’s answer here.)
It was fun to watch.. especially the conspiracy theorists.

But seriously, are you still searching for the perfect Web browser? Or, do you have your favorite ‘tweaked’ just right.. and it would take some kind of revolutionary quantum leap forward to get you to change? (I am one of the latter.)

I recently exchanged e-mails with a frequent reader of Tech–for Everyone, and the subject of Chrome came up. Since she is an excellent writer (check out her poker-oriented blog and computer savvy, I asked her for her opinion of, and experiences with, Chrome.

She has kindly agreed to allow me to share with you what she wrote.. a non-techie review: 
Chrome is definitely nicer than Firefox is some respects.  I certainly don’t have the Flash issues with it that I sometimes have with Firefox…

The interface is clean, but I prefer that my actual window space be maximized and the menus and toolbars to be as small as possible…

I realize this is still a Beta release so I hold out hope that the issues I had with it will be addressed prior to release. (Issues = nit picky quirks.)
Every time Chrome opens it opens in the same place and size: WHICH IS NOT THE PLACE AND SIZE I WANT IT TO BE. Even after I maneuver it into the spot I want and the size I want, it continues to open where it darn well pleases. A nuisance for sure but not necessarily a deal breaker.
Chrome must have and/or allow Add-ons: I LOVE my Delicious Toolbar, Woot Watcher, Abduction!, Adblock Plus, Colorful Tabs, Forecastfox, ScribeFire… you get the picture.  I assume Chrome won’t have any need for IE Tab.  Honestly, I could live without all of those BUT Delicious.  I have to have my Delicious.  I assume the Chrome will take Add-ons once it’s released.  I can’t see anyway they can compete with Firefox without add-ons.
• For something that is supposed to be so streamlined I find the title area to be pretty large compared to my compact theme for FF.  I think they could do a better job minimizing the browser and maximizing the viewable area. Since Chrome has no footer bar, it appears they have pretty comparable viewing areas..

Other than those quirks I found Chrome to be delightful (my emphasis). I would be inclined to give it a serious go as my default browser when it’s released.. provided I will have access to my Delicious bookmarks toolbar!

There’s a good chance I will use it before IE when I run into a Webpage that just won’t load right for me in FF.  I recently pulled up a page with video feeds from all over the areas being hit by the hurricane.  Firefox just didn’t want to load that page correctly while Chrome loaded it just fine. 
I will be giving Chrome another tryout once they release the full version, that’s for sure.  It definitely needs some work before it will replace Firefox as my default browser.

So there you have it– an average person’s (by that I mean, not a tech blogger’s) experience with Google’s new browser.

I don’t have anything to add. I welcome competition in the browser market. I am looking for serious improvements in security (and speed is nice too).
Who will win the “browser war”? You got me, but I’ve no doubt Chrome will prove a very serious contender.

Today’s free download(s): The new generation of Web browsers are here, and if you’re still using IE 6, well, please stop. Try a more secure and capable browser– such as:
* Microsoft’s (currently in Beta2).
* from Mozilla (first update released).
* Google’s (Beta).
* Apple’s .
* | | | | etc.

Bonus link(s): for an excellent advisory on general browser security, please read Drive-by Downlods–Update Your Browser Right Now! by Bill Mullins.
And for TWiT’s (Leo Laporte, Steve Gibson) podcast on Chrome’s security, click here.

Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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September 15, 2008 Posted by | Apple, browsers, computers, Firefox, IE 7, Internet, News, PC, software, tech, Windows | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The WWDC and MobileMe

For the sake of ratings, I simply must write something about the hot topic on the Web right now– a topic so hot (how hot is it?) that the amount of “buzz” has caused the social networking/blogging site Twitter to crash under the burden.
That topic is Apple’s WWDC (aka “Stevenotes”*).

The Worldwide Developer Conference has become (one of) the venues where Apple offers sneak peek (preview) at new products and technologies… A glimpse at what the immediate future holds.
(Personally, I find such teases annoying, but the iFanatics feel different, I guess.)

For instance, this year, we were told about OS 10.6 (aka “Snow Leopard”).. which won’t offer any new features and we might see it in a year. WooHoo!!! Yay!!! I mean.. yawn.
And we’re told about a new version (2.0) of the iPhone’s OS, which will affect every person on the planet. Not.

Can you tell? Even though this event is being held right up the road, and I am a World Renown Tech Journalist, I made no effort to attend, and am too experienced to get wow!-ed by the hype. I also confess, I am not a iPerson/iFanatic.

Yet, there are some interesting and relevant items to note: Namely, Apple’s investment in bringing to us the “wonders” of cloud computing with MobileMe and the 20GB iDisk (and they’re hoping.. the 3G iPhone). This video from the conference explains, and demostrates. (For some reason I can’t embed the video, so you need to click the link. Sorry.)

This $99/year service will work “cross platform” (Windows/Mac/Linux) and across devices.

Here we really are looking at “Web 2.0”, and the future of computing. People, before too long, will be storing their whole lives and all their personal information on the Internet. So that we can share it.
Has anyone considered the security implications?

I’m an old dinosaur, and I’m a curmudgeon to boot.. I think there already is too much personal information available about us on the Web, and I’m not about to go putting my address book and calendar (and.. my accounting program?) there.
But those of the Look At Me Generation will probably be clamoring for it.

[update 8/1/08: I have been following MobileMe in various user forums, and tech blogs– the general impression I get is that MobileMe doesn’t work, and is causing intense frustration amongst the public.]

* A reference to the fact that the keynote address is usually given by Apple founder Steve Jobs.

Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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June 11, 2008 Posted by | Apple, blogging, computers, Internet, iPhone, PC, Portable Computing, privacy, tech, Web 2.0 | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Some basic security pointers–#1

Is your computer a zombie? You can never be too secure, and neither can your PC. These few steps will go a long way in keeping your private information away from prying eyes, and prevent your machine from being used as a “zombie” by tech-savvy evil doers. (Most owners of zombie PCs are totally unaware that their computers are being used in this way.)

Tip of the day: The two basic steps I will discuss today–password protecting your User Accounts (and requiring logging in), and renaming your Administrator Account–should be prefaced with a quick description of what is, exactly, a strong password.

Strong passwords should be “complex”. That means that they should contain both upper and lower-case letters, special characters (!@#$%^&*(){}[]) and numbers, and be at least eight characters long, and–most definately–not be a word (or name) found in the dictionary. Your passwords (notice the plural. It is not wise to use the same password for everything.) will be easier to remember if you make them into a ‘passphrase’. A equestrian might use a passphrase of 1Lu^h0rsez, for example.

Now that you have a good password, it’s time to require authentication to use your machine. Start by clicking on Start>Control Panel>User Accounts (or Start>Settings>Control Panel>User Accounts. Depending on your version and preference setting). Then click on “Change an account,” and then click on “Create a password for your account.” Enter your password, twice, and if you’ld like, a password “hint” that will remind you (but not clue in the whole world) of your new password. Click “Create password.”

Now, since knowing your User Name is half the battle, click on “Change the way users log on or off.” Deselect (by unchecking the check in the checkbox) “Use the Welcome screen.”

Unbeknownst to most folks, Windows has a hidden Administrator account (this becomes vitally important when troubleshooting failing systems, or when User accounts get “locked out”) named “Administrator”. Hackers are well aware of this, and it is their favorite method of gaining access (and control over) your machine; since they know the User name, all they have to do is guess the password–which by default, and unless you set one, there isn’t one! Remedy this in XP Professional by going to Control Panel>Administrative Tools (you must use Classic View) and clicking on Local Security Policy. Then in the left column click on the plus sign next to Local Policies, and then click the Security Options folder (If you receive a warning about Group Policy, just ignore it) and a series of policies will appear in the right pane. The 4th or 5th one from the top should be “Accounts: Rename administrator account”. Double click on it and a dialogue box will open. Enter a new name, and click Apply, and OK.

In XP Home, the method is to click Start>Run. In the Run dialogue type in “Control userpasswords2” [no quotes] and click OK. From the User Accounts dialogue box, select the Administrator Account and click Properties. Enter the new name in the User Name text box, and click OK.

(For other versions of Windows the methodology is similar, but I recommend Searching Microsoft’s website for the specific steps.)

The last step is to congratulate yourself, because you have just made your computer much, much harder for a determined cracker to penetrate, and practically eliminated access to the casual browser.

Today’s free link: Steve Gibson’s ShieldsUp! This free scan, offered by a true giant in the computer field, analyzes your computer for vulnerabilities coming from the Internet, and tells you how your private data may be visible to outsiders. This link will appeal to the more tech-savvy, and be an eye openning experience for those of you who have not learned about firewalls yet.

Copyright © 2007 Tech Paul. All rights reserved.

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June 9, 2007 Posted by | advice, anti-spyware, antivirus, computers, file system, how to, passwords, PC, privacy, rootkits, security, tech, User mode, Vista, Windows, XP | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments