One click fixed it

Fortunately, I guess, I was up earlier than normal this morning. I grabbed my MacBook Pro and headed to the rec room to do some reading like I do every morning. Long time readers know that I play browser roulette on my computers to try and stay on top of things.

This week, I’ve been using the Brave browser. I’ve been intrigued with all the good press about how it blocks advertising and protects your privacy online. They’ve also launched their own search engine at:

It’s also Wednesday morning so part of what I’ll be doing is reviewing the notes for the voicEd Radio This Week in Ontario Edublogs show. Rats. I’ve had difficulties with the Google Document and the Brave browser. It works fine under Windows but on the Macintosh, things get jumbled and centring doesn’t work.


In the back of my mind, I thought that there must be conflicting with the browser and the way that it works with my extensions. So, I tried opening the document in a Private Window with no extensions and the problem followed.


It’s got to be some sort of incompatibility with the browser itself…or…maybe…

I had Brave’s Shields up to block advertising and I just happened to notice this.

I’ll take complete responsibility for this. This fine print was probably there all along on the Shields button and I either didn’t click or didn’t notice. Shields said it was blocking on tracker. I toggled to allow that one tracker through and … voila!

I’m passing this along just so I don’t forget about it should I run into an issue in the future and as a quick fix if you’re having the same problem.

I’m still at a loss to explain why sine the blocked item was a link to the Play store.


Bravely searching

When I go searching on the web, I have a number of schemes to help me feel like I’m getting the best results. Note that I’m using the word “feel”. I don’t know if what I do is the best but at least I feel like I’ve given it the ol’ college try.

If I know that I’ve read an article about it previously, my first stop is my Diigo account. Every time I read an article of interest and share it on social media, it’s automatically tucked away there for future use. My logic is that if I’ve read it and found it significant enough, why should I search for it again? After all, the internet is a pretty big place.

For day to day searching, I bounce between Google and DuckDuckGo. DuckDuckGo claims not to follow me around and, as a result, I have this warm feeling that I’m going to get objective, unbiased results. Google, as we know, does follow us around and that can be a first step is zeroing in on results that would be important to me.

Yesterday, it came out that a new search engine has entered the searching realm. This time, it’s from Brave, the organization behind the Brave browser. Its claim is that it doesn’t track you as you navigate online. It claims that it lets you search without a trace, consistent with its message about the browser.

Now that there’s a new player, what to use? It’s going to take some work and some thinking but it’s always nice to have options. I decided to put it to the test with something near and dear to me – “dougpete”. After all, I should be the ultimate judge on the results.




It was interesting to see the results and priorities of each search engine. Of course, the results could have been predicted. My blog and Twitter account would be like shooting fish in a barrel to any decent search enging. So, I kept on scrolling. It’s important to note that there is a connection between Brave search and Bing for results.

At this point in time, I’m still plugging away at it. It’s always nice to have options. Speaking of options, one of the things that should happen is to change the default searching options. That’s pretty easy with most browsers since they do offer a choice. Brave search, being the new player on the block gives you instructions about how to install it as the default search engine here. Or, if you’re actually using the Brave browser, the latest update has it built-in as a selectable option.

Details about Brave Search are available here.

Tidying up

Logging in to my computer this morning was my inspiration for finally getting serious about groups in my browser. Everything that I had done yesterday was open and spread across the two monitors that form my desktop setup. Where does one start?

Staying organized and yet neat has long been a challenge around here. I’ve tried various things like bookmarks, multiple windows, etc. All seemed like the solution at the time and I manage to mess it up as I go.

When Grouping came out for browsers based on Chromium, I tried it just to see if it flipped a switch for me and it didn’t. This morning, I made more of a commitment and I think I might have a workable solution.

My first group

This was actually quite easy to do. I just selected one of the tabs that I wanted in a group and right clicked on it. The second item from the top lets you add a tab to a group or to create a new group.

Of course, you can add colour to your group. I’m torn whether it looks nicer with different colours or if it looks better with them all having the same colour. It’s a nice problem to solve.

If one group is good, a bunch is better so I created a few more groups based upon the type of page it might be.

My groups

Using them is dead simple. If I want something to do with my blog, I just click the “My Blog” group and it flies open in the browser.

Inside a group

When I’m done and it’s time to move on, clicking on the group title again collapses it and I move on.

It’s very fast and does seem to give me a tidier look to my desktop. It’s possible to drag the entire group to a second monitor should I feel the need. An immediate distraction-saving feature is that I’m no longer distracted by notifications from an application. Since it’s inside a group, it isn’t there to bug me.

Anyway, I’ve configured it here – on my incidence of Brave – and it seems to be working nicely. I hope that it continues and that I have the strength to keep things in check.

I’m always looking for tips to make things better. If you’ve gone the route with groups and have some to share, please do so.

Getting serious about privacy

I think we’ve all heard of the stories – I mention that I was looking to buy this or I did a search for that product and then, lo and behold, advertisements for that product appears on your desktop. Coincidence or not, it’s pretty freaky when it happens.

A long time ago, I took action around here to block advertising and third party cookies. When I want to purchase something, I would like to do my own research and come to my own conclusions about products. Plus, I didn’t like all the bandwidth that these advertisements were using. It definitely slowed things down here and my internet access is slow enough to begin with.

If only this setting, which is available on all modern browsers, did the trick.

Basically, websites are on their honour to recognize this and do something about it. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a banner that told you that they respecting you. Actually, search engines like DuckDuckGo that do respect you make that claim up and front. Thank you for that.

For the others, I guess we’re on our own. Allow it to happen or do something to prevent it like installing an advertising browser blocker.

Fortunately, for us, latest releases of browsers are helping the cause.

Opera has advertising blocking built right in and also offers a free VPN.

Brave also has advertising blocking as a key component. It also has an interesting feature – most modern browsers allow you to open a “Private Window” which has a limited privacy protection. But, Brave also allows you to open a tab using the Tor network. That’s very handy instead of using the Tor Browser.

Chrome is promising a feature that will block what they’re calling “heavy” advertising. Where the advertisement blocking extension fits into this remains to be seen.

This weekend, I’ve been playing around with the latest in Privacy protection from Firefox. It’s labelled as “Enhance Privacy Protection”. Rather than just taking their word that they’re blocking things, a graph, by day, shows what they’re blocking. As I write this, Firefox claims that it has blocked 47 trackers. For the record, it’s 11:15 on Sunday morning. I’ve been on Twitter, Facebook, Flipboard, my blog, and a couple of newspaper websites. I haven’t even checked my email yet; it’s the weekend…

So, what’s it blocking?

There’s a warning that some sites won’t work with this level of paranoia. That’s always been the concern when you’re using blockers. For those special times when I absolutely need to go to a website, I’ll open it in a Private Window so that it can set all the cookies it wants and they’ll be gone when I close the window.

If you do one bit of learning today, read the corresponding documentation from Mozilla.

Trackers and scripts Firefox blocks in Enhanced Tracking Protection

Are you a rat?

Yesterday, Peter Beens asked me if I have ever used the Brave web browser.  The answer was yes but with a qualified … but not for a while.  I felt guilty so fired it up, did the required updates, and then decided to make it my browser of choice yesterday afternoon.

But, before that, I had to juice up the interface a bit.  As I went into the preferences, Brave had dark and light built in but then I noticed that it supported themes from Google.  Remember the post from about a month ago about Google themes?  Off I went to grab one of those beautiful coloured themes.

That’s where I found the rat worm hole!

Under the coloured themes from Google was a new collection of themes – based upon the Chinese Zodiac.

Now, I don’t know about you, but when I’m waiting for my Hot and Sour Soup to show up at any Chinese restaurant, I always read the Zodiac Sign placemat.  Doesn’t everyone?

With these collection of themes at the Google Extension Theme Web Store, you can now bring your browser to life with your Zodiac sign.  Or, someone else’s sign…


The sketches are incredibly well done and show up on your new tab page.   (unless you have defined a new tab over-riding than the built-in one).

The colours are all pastel colours based upon the sign you chose so if you installed the Rat Theme, your browser will look like this.


Of course, I had to try them all and read the descriptions for each.

Who needs a placemat?

And they display nicely in the Brave browser.