Google Chrome–Not much to it!

August 27, 2009 at 3:06 pm (Internet surfing, product review) (, , , , )

About a month ago, I researched the top most popular browsers for Internet services and wrote a little bit about Google Chrome. Unfortunately, I hadn’t gotten a chance to download it at home and see if it was as great as they made it out to be. Well, now I have downloaded it, so I would like to share my experience.

First of all, Google Chrome is dial-up friendly! The download size (just over 5 MB) took maybe 20 minutes at the most to download.  Compare that the IE8, which is 16 MB, over three times the size of Chrome!

But there’s a reason Chrome is so much smaller–there almost nothing on it! You don’t have the piles of toolbars, accesories, and features you see on IE8, but it’s just as capable of accessing websites. And isn’t that what a browser is essentially for?

As far as the speed, I honestly didn’t see much of a difference, but I didn’t run any comparison tests or measure loading times. Because of it’s simplicity, I tend to believe the reports of others saying it does run faster. Here a few things I like about Chrome:

* Address bar searching. You can Google search keyword straight from the address bar. Not bad, considering almost everyone already searches with Google, and visits Google.com more than any other website.

* New tab page. When you click on the new tab button, you don’t just get a blank page, you get 9 thumbnails of your frequently visited sites (that  can be edited), recently used search engines, recent bookmarks, and recently closed tabs (in case you didn’t mean to close the tab you were just on).

* Dynamic tabs. Ok, so by now we’re all used to tab browsing, and being able to reorder tabs, but Chrome takes it one step further: tabs can become their own windows, and separate windows can become tabs! You can pull tabs down to become a separate window, or drag a window into a tab row of another window. That. Is cool! :-D

Ok, I am a little OCD, so this might excite me more than the average user. At work, for example, I keep my work related sites all collected in orderly tabs, and my personal email, games, etc., on tabs in a separate window. Two windows, multiple related tabs! Every once in a while, I accidentally open a tab in my work window for a personal venture, or I open a new window to get some work related info, and realize too late that I wish I would have added a new tab in the work window instead. For an organizational freak like me, it bugs me enough to start over so my windows are organized! Not so with Chrome! I really wonder why no one else has come up with this!

And here’s a few “negative” aspects.

*It’s REALLY plain. I was actually confused when I first opened the window. I think I’m so accustomed to having too many options that only having a select few left me nearly helpless! This is easily solved by becoming accustomed to using Chrome. Do not fear! Bookmarks, browsing history, private browsing, find, zoom, print, back, forward, refresh, stop, and go are all still there! :-)

*Chrome does not automatically initiate a dial-up connection. I have checked, there’s no “connections” option in the Chrome settings. However, I didn’t set Chrome as my default browser, so this could be the reason, as there are “Internet Options” in the Control Panel. With my current setup, Chrome will simply give me a page not found error until I connect manually from network connections. This is not a big issue, just something I had to figure out.

All in all, not a bad browser, especially if way too many toolbars and buttons annoy you. The light weight browser is fast, clean, and safe, and a great alternative for troubleshooting if your IE is slow or not functioning.

Check out www.google.com/chrome for more details like security, downloading, and other settings, and to download Chrome on your computer.

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Stimulus Money for Broadband Boosts Economy?

August 17, 2009 at 12:35 pm (broadband, Internet surfing) (, , , , , , , )

In my search of news and blogs related to my niche, I run across articles discussing the billions of stimulus dollars being given to telephone and Internet companies to get broadband access to rural America. Yes, that would be nice. According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, 31% of rural America has broadband—that’s more than 2 out of every 3 rural homes are on dial-up or don’t have Internet services at all. Of course people who use the Internet prefer broadband over dial-up (assuming we don’t discuss costs). But why spend all that government money on getting broadband in the middle of a recession? I am one of those people who lives in the country and I have dial-up, but I oppose these gargantuan spending moves.

For one, many rural people are farmers and have other outdoor occupations. That’s what you do when you have the outdoors all around you! Sure, there’s probably a lot of people that would enjoy having broadband in their homes, but how will that improve the economy?

In every article that I read about increasing broadband availability and how it will boost the economy, there is a story about Mrs. So-and-so who needs broadband Internet to improve her online business, etc. Is that a substantial justification for spending billions of dollars to make broadband available—the presumption that entrepreneurs all over rural America need to get their online business off the ground?

This got me thinking. What is the Internet for, to the majority of America? What do people spend the most time doing when they are online? Is it work and business related? I will discuss my research over the next several posts, and I hope you find them as interesting as I did.

First, I ran a search query for the top most popular websites. The first result was blocked on my work computer for nudity and the like. Well that’s inspiring! Moving on.

Here’s a list of most popular websites according to Alexa.com. NOTE: I did not include any search engine websites, like Google (which is number one), because we can’t tell whether it was used for work or pleasure (I may research most popular search queries later).

  1. Facebook—Hmm… social networking! Ok, sure, some people are using Facebook for work and advertising, but it’s mainly used for personal, social, and entertainment purposes.
  2. Youtube—Watching movies? Yes, this should boost our economy.

  3. Blogger.com—Another form of social networking, focused on posting opinions and stories.

  4. Myspace—Anyone see a pattern?

  5. Twitter—…billions of dollars so more people can tweet! How exciting!

  6. Rapidshare—A website where you can upload and share large files. Could be work-related.

  7. Microsoft Corporation—Now here’s a possible serious, work-related site—than again, you’re probably doing window’s updates, or trying to fix your Windows computer…again.

  8. WordPress.com—Oh cool! I’m on wordpress.com right now!

  9. Ebay—now this site could definitely be a small business/work related site! …and also a very popular shopping site.

  10. Craigslist—see entry above.

I’m sure that the argument could be made that businesses can benefit from social networking sites, which is clearly at an all time high. I could be wrong, but I wouldn’t go as far to suppose that even half of the social networking going on every day has anything to do with entrepreneurship, job seeking, or business advancement.

We also see a clear trend in online shopping and advertising, which can help improve the economy in some ways. I would agree with the theory that making broadband more widely available would increase the amount of money spent on online purchases, or as a result of online advertising. While spending and ecomonic success are correlated, it’s not a causal relationship. I would venture to say that we’ve already learned our lesson in that area–but that is for another discussion! :-D

More research to come! Please feel free to comment!

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Not bad, IE8!

August 10, 2009 at 1:19 pm (Internet surfing) (, , , )

I am not a big fan of Microsoft. For one, their products cost a lot, and secondly, everyone still uses their products! I never like the feeling that my choices of Internet services are limited or that I’m following the majority of American consumers. I think it’s my innate need to be unique–just like everyone else. :-P

For those of you who read my article about IE8, I have a confession to make. I wrote that without ever using it. But now I am. And I love it! I will tell you why, and this time, it’s from experience!

1. Web slices really are the bomb! Not many websites are compatible with this thing, but I think the more we get the hang of it, the more we’ll start seeing them available. A green webslice button shows up  in your command bar (top right, next to the home button) when it is available.

Basically, a web slice is for seeing a mini page of a site you look at frequently–right from your favorites toolbar. The example they use on the Microsoft website is bidding on an ebay item. You can add a slice for an individual item, not just that webpage, and the slice becomes bold when new information is available. I would test it if I had money to buy something! *tear* 

I use a web slice for my yahoo mail. I can just click on it and see what messages I have in my inbox, regardless of what website I’m on! I really wonder why no one came up with this sooner! I haven’t seen it become bold, so I don’t know if I’m doing something wrong, or what. I still like it!

2. Accelerators are a major time-saver! Whenever you highlight anything a webpage, you’ll see a little blue accelerator button. It gives you a pile of options. These are the ones I use the most:

  • Highlight any address and open a Google or Bing maps page on a new tab with this location mapped. No more copy/paste, new window, clicking and typing! I actually thought of this idea before! Read my mind! :-D
  • Highlight any word or phrase and run a google or wiki search in one click. AMAZING! I use this all the time!
  • Right click on any website and share it with digg, reddit, stumbleupon, and Delicious. Sometimes you can do it right from the current page, or you it will quick link to the website in a new tab. Either way, it’s a wonderful time saver.

I would suggest browsing through all the accelerators and adding all of them that interest you. You may be surprised how many they have and how often you’ll use them. Plus, both web slices and accelerators either open new tabs or don’t require you to leave the page you’re on, so you don’t have to lose what you’re working on just to look something up.

3. One sweet search box! You can set up default search engines, like Google, Bing, Wiki, Amazon, etc., choose any of them at a given time for a quick and easy search.

4. Three words:  previous session recovery. Ever accidentally closed all tabs and realized you still wanted them? Now all you have to do is open IE again, click Tools, and then click Reopen Last Browsing Session. Works like a charm. I’m saved!

There’s other features that I haven’t covered (or figured out how to use). I would suggest reading over more features on the Microsoft website or watching the videos so you can get the most out of IE8.

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Chrome: Surfing the Internet Google-Style

July 10, 2009 at 2:52 pm (Internet surfing) (, , , )

The idea behind Google creating their own web browser was to start from scratch on a program that was made for today’s Internet services. They wanted to make a browser that’s simple and neat, but complicated in it’s security, speed, and functionality.

Google openly used features that have already been implemented on other browsers, they credit Mozilla (who created the Firefox browser) and Apple (who created the Webkit program they used) for ideas on how to create Chrome. An example of some borrowed features you’ll see is bookmarks. You can automatically transfer your bookmarks and favorites from your old browser and save new bookmarks instantly by clicking the star next to your address bar, features identical to Firefox.

Google uses the “tab” feature that most browsers have now adopted. Chrome reflects Google’s way of making products personalized and convenient, using the features they have on their search page and Google toolbar. For example, every time a new tab is opened, instead of white space under the address bar, you will see a layout of thumbnails of previous and often visited websites to choose from, based on your previous surfing. Once you begin typing in the address bar, Google suggests previously visited sites and popular sites, and prompts to run a Google search on the keyword(s) you are typing. It’s like a mini Google search feature in your address bar.

If you want to surf discreetly, for Christmas shopping for example, you can use the incognito window to surf undetected by your computer. It delivers the pages as read-only, and no history or files from these sites are saved on your computer. Simply open the incognito window in a new tab and continue your normal surfing on the other tabs.

Another unique feature of Google Chrome is the task manager. Just like the task manager for Windows, Chrome allows you to track the usage and functionality of each process running on your browser. Not only can you detect with add-on, tab, or other process that is using the most bandwidth, you can end processes individually without disrupting the other processes. The “Crash Control” feature, letting each tab run separately so an individual tab crashing won’t shut down the whole browser, is very handy to avoid losing all of your tabs when one web page is causing problems.

Like any other browser, Google Chrome claims to be the safest and the fastest, implementing their own ideas to how to tackle these areas. Since page loading speed is dependent on so many factors, from the applications and features on each individual webpages, to the connection speed and applications of the individual computers veiwing the Internet, it would be difficult to actually measure one browser speed to another. For example, Google Chrome uses Javascript to run web applications, but a website that is not created for Javascript may not load nearly as quickly as on Internet Explorer using ActiveX.

You may be surprised at the speed at which you can load webpages on Google chrome. Speeds will vary based on your computer, Internet connection, and surfing habits, so try it out if you want to know how it will work for you. You can also check out the website, google.com/chrome to download the product, read about more features in detail, and learn about what security measures have been taken in the creation of this browser.

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