New .new stuff


I mentioned last week about attending the session delivered by Nicole Batte and Leslie Boerkamp dealing with extensions for Google Chrome. In particular, one extension was of interest to me – Google Docs Quick Create.

It seems like a very powerful extension and I did explore it a bit. The reviews are mixed though. But, the internet can be kind of troll-ish and besides, things are constantly changing and issues will undoubtedly be addressed. The author offers you to fork his code on GitHub so that could help the cause as well.

I didn’t keep the extension though. I’m cognisant of the performance hits that can be taken on your computer and browser with too many extensions or, even worse, too many tabs open.

Besides, I already had that functionality.

I can’t believe that it was over a year ago when I first started playing around with Google’s .new site and functionality. I remember specifically because I was doing a presentation about Hyperdocs. At one point, I had demonstrated to the group how to repurpose a Webquest into a Hyperdoc and I had used the docs.new command to create and open a new Google document for that purpose. The crowd gasped.

At least in my mind.

There was actually a pause in the presentation while I had to explain what I had done. Of course, a Google Document wasn’t the only thing that could be created. Sheets and Slides were there as well.

Each could easily be invoked by typing the URL in the address bar. It’s not limited to Google Chrome; it works in any browser since it’s just an address. So, it’s equally as functional in Firefox. Ever in search of something more productive, these things work nicely as a bookmark! So, I had created the three of them and then put them together into a folder on my bookmark bar in all my browsers.

As often happens, I forgot about it until the presentation. Those in attendance were impressed with how easy students could create new documents. It definitely would work for that.

After the presentation, I forgot again until this past weekend when I read this blog post on the Google site.

10 shortcuts made possible by .new

It’s just not the three shortcuts that I’d previously been using. In fact, there are a few more. I took a look through the list. If there’s something that I do repeatedly, it only makes sense to add them to my bookmarks. And I did. My list now looks like…

If you read the article, Google is letting people apply for new .new domains. The good news is that there may be more productivity shortcuts on the way. This is a good thing.

How about a .new to create a WordPress post?

Whole lotta extensions going on


Not related to this topic but I love this song anyway…

The session “There’s an Extension for That” was given by these ladies at the Bring IT, Together Conference.

I’m a sucker for sessions like these.

I firmly believe that owning a browser is just a starting point. You make it “yours” by customising the look and functionality. It makes no difference whether you’re using Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Brave, Vivaldi, or any of the other alternatives. They all browse the web well.

I’m a long time Firefox user and have always thought that you could turn a good experience into a great experience by adding addons that extend the functionality of the browser. I have my favourite collections – devoted to privacy and what I need for functionality.

But, I’m not confident enough that I have the best of the best or that I have them all. I enjoy sessions where people identify what extensions they use and how it makes them productive. I’m not above stealing borrowing a good idea.

That led me to this session, run on Leslie’s laptop, to see what these two presenters felt were important to them. I remember thinking that surely, surely, all of these extensions were loaded on Leslie’s computer just for the sake of the presentation and not that they’re always there!

I like the presentation dynamic that they had. Leslie was seated and operating the computer while Nicole gave us the description of the extension and what they felt was the value for them. The presentation moved along very quickly and if you were taking notes, you might have missed something. Thankfully, they shared their presentation.

https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1eRxe6lfDs6mKnKtxcHM3bYJTTJ_Jft98JuNG7QcqpYI/edit#slide=id.g35f391192_04

The presentation was done in Chrome but most of the extensions/addons are available for all browsers.

I would encourage you to walk your way through the presentations and see what they’ve identified as their “Best of the best” choices. We can always learn from others. http://bit.ly/BIT19Extensions

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

Saving things


I had a question posed to me today about curating the content for my Friday posts. It’s an ongoing thing that happens as I do regular reading throughout the week. The problem is that I like to have a number of posts and yet I don’t find them all in a single sitting. It may take close to a week to find what I’d like to include in the post.

In the beginning, I tried a number of ways to save them until I wrote the actual post on Thursday.

  • saved into a Google Document
  • saved into Google Keep
  • saved into OneNote
  • saved right into a new WordPress post

All worked well and got the job done. The only problem was that I’d have to go looking for them and bring them forward while creating the actual post. I thought that there had to be a better way. The easiest way was just to leave the blog post open in its own tab and then pull things together for the post. It had the added advantage of being open to look at and discuss during the Wednesday voicEd Radio show.

The only problem is that I have this bad habit of leaving a lot of tabs open! In addition to the blog posts, I have other things that I want to read or re-read or work my way through. It got really messy. So messy, in fact, that there are times when my computer just became very sluggish because of the demands on memory.

I changed my tactics. Why not look for a way to just manage tabs better. So, off I went and tried a number of different extensions. To make things difficult, the solution had to work on Chrome, Opera, Brave, and Firefox because, well just because. Regular readers know why.

I ended up using OneTab and it has been a really good solution for me. It basically sits as an icon in my browser and I have it configured to collapse all of my unpinned tabs into, ready for it?, one tab in my browser.

It’s just a click away.

Additional options appear here

And, it’s configurable too.

The configurability put it over the top for me. It’s now part of my regular routine; it’s been a “temporary” bookmarking tool for me. My “permanent” tool is Diigo.

Back to my routine, when it comes time to write the blog post, I just go to my OneTab tab, find the post I want, click on it and it’s ready to go in its own tab.

It’s just that easy and configurable.

TMI


Just for a little entertainment…

Mozilla has created a new website called Track This.  What it does was interesting enough for me to try it out.  The site is dedicated to those who would track you across the web.  What Track This does is automatically open 100 tabs in your browser based upon a theme.

The theme is selected to be a persona that you want the web to think you are!

Choose from one of these…

2019-06-26_1202

Sit back and watch while the site opens 100 tabs based on what you select.

Except, of course, on Firefox which

2019-06-26_1158

If nothing else, this will let you test to see if your browser indeed stops pop-ups from appearing because you need to turn that feature off for things to work.  Purely for academic purposes, I did and sure enough, the tabs appeared.

2019-06-26_1156

Now, to be honest, I didn’t let it run until all 100 tabs were open and indeed as you’ll note until the tabs had finished loading.  I did opt for the Doomsday persona and found that I was loading tabs about getting good drinking water.  I also tried to be safe about it and opened a new Private Window and ran Track This from there.  That would defeat any real time purpose of this; since the cookies aren’t retained but the decision about how is up to you.

We all need a bit of a diversion every now and again.  For today, this was mine.  It was a nice way to make sure that my popup blocker was working.  When enabled, I just got one new tab.

Sharing


Followers of mine know that I’ve likely to share new and interesting things that I’m reading.

On any of the Chromium based browsers, one of the first extensions that I add is Shareaholic. It has access to just about anywhere that I want to share things. (and I might share to unique places just for my own purpose)

Now, I know that most services have links on their site for sharing. The problem with that is actually finding them. There’s no standard for placement on a page. Sometimes what looks like a sharing button actually ends up being a link to the site’s actual social media presence. It can be frustrating and time consuming finding the right link.

And there was a time when Shareaholic was also available for Firefox which made for one big happy collector. Then, at some point, it went away from the Firefox add-on. There are still links available on the internet but they’re broken.

I’ve searched and searched and searched.

Over the weekend, I took a dive into the Firefox add-on collection and did something that I should have done a long time ago. I didn’t search for Shareaholic. I just searched for “share”.

And, a huge collection of things appeared. As I poked about, one really caught my attention. – AddToAny

I knew I was in the right place when I found all of its supported places to share. There are plenty of places I didn’t know existed!

With a recent update in March of this year, it appears to be well supported. It is free and also doesn’t require an account to use.

I’m looking forward to giving it a thorough testing.

For those big files


I remember once a tirade an email administrator went on one about sending attachments to messages.

We’re not a file transfer service

And yet, it was something that I need to do periodically.  So, I ended up setting up an FTP server on a disposable computer and sent the link to people who needed the file.  My security?  I’d use PKZip and compress the file and tack on a password to it.  It worked well as long as people who wanted the file were inside the firewall.

This was way before services like we have today.  Over the years, I’ve:

  • created another email account just for file transfers
  • used FTP on a fileserver to make the files anywhere
  • used Google Drive as a host
  • used OneDrive as a host
  • used Dropbox as a host

Now, there’s another option – Firefox Send.

Its value lies in simplicity of use, no account needed (although you can send bigger files with an account), encryption of the file, automatic deletion, and the fact that it comes from Firefox, long known as a champion of your privacy.

To use it, just head over to https://send.firefox.com/ and get busy.

1. Upload the file

2. Set when it expires3.  Get the link

Share the link with your recipient.  (and the password if you chose one)

What could be simpler?