Keeping track of things


I know that I’m not the only one that’s afraid of losing things! So often, I’ll be reading a story and want to do something with it or about it later. Just not right now.

Depending upon the urgency, I’ll just leave the tab the resource is open in in my browser so that it’s there. When I get on a roll, that can add up to a bunch of open tabs. It’s particularly noticeable on my Chromebook with its lesser power. There might be light at the end of the tunnel though with an upcoming version of the Chrome browser.

Google is finally bringing one of Chrome’s best mobile features to the desktop

That’s still in the future though.

At present, I have a couple of solutions that have worked really well for me.

The first, I like to think of as things that requiring short term action, is through an extension called OneTab.

For the short term, I’ll send all of my open tabs to OneTab which nicely cleans up the messiness. I don’t send pinned tabs because they’re pinned for a reason. When it’s time to return to the tab, they’re all located in the OneTab page. Just pick the one I want and, voila, it’s back.

For the longer term, I take a different tact. A while back, Peter Beens had introduced me to Packrati.us which worked nicely. Essentially, it bookmarked everything that I sent to Twitter. Sadly, it went away.

Twitter has added a bookmarking service which is kind of handy. It’s more functional than a “like” but still wasn’t quite there. I poked around IFTTT and found a script that was perfect and involves sending links to my Diigo account.

Readers of this blog know that I go one step beyond that and have Diigo write me a blog post daily that summarizes the links. I can then easily go back and pick off a story that I want to use. It also helps for the Sunday afternoon weekly summary post.

So, I’ve got a routine that works for me. It doesn’t matter what computer or what browser I use, it all ends up in the same spot.

And yet, the experimenter in me wonders about this implementation that’s in Chrome’s future. Will it offer a better approach?

Who knows? I’ll undoubtedly give it a shot when it’s available.

In the meantime, what technique(s) do you use? Can you offer me a better suggestion? I’d love to read about it.

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

Try it yourself


If you’re like me, you probably hear and read a lot about this.  “Chromebooks aren’t real computers”.

I always like to challenge back with a why?

The answers are typical – it doesn’t run Photoshop.  Or, I’m not always connected to the Internet.

So, I’ll add a reply to that – “When was the last time you used Photoshop?”  “Did you buy your current computer just because of Photoshop?” “If you could install a program on your Chromebook and could run it offline, would that change your perspective?”

Now, the misconception of a Chromebook’s capabilities undoubtedly stem back to the beginning when it really was a browser in a box needing an Internet connection.  It’s just that it’s come a long way since then but the Internet never forgets.  Neither do some of the silly people who still maintain that it’s just a browser.

In fact, the whole concept like the Chrome browser and Chromebook has come so far.  And, you’re not limited to just that; modern Chromebooks run Android and some are experimenting with Linux.

And yes, it’s not the product of universal choice in schools.  I’d be up in arms if someone indicated that a Computer Science or Drafting or Visual Arts program would be equally as served.  But, there are so many other areas where the Chromebook does a terrific job.

So terrific, in fact, that we’re now seeing that Microsoft is developing a version of Windows to put computers at the same price point.  That’s going to be interesting.

In the meantime, you owe it to yourself to get yourself up to speed.  To that end, you should check out the Chromebook Simulator in your current system.

chromebook

Even if you are a Chromebook user, there’s always something new to learn.  Maybe a little time in the simulator will change the opinions of some or make others more sophisticated users!

Make your own


I’ve been doing a bit of tweaking of the way my browser looks recently and sharing them here on this blog. In the past, I’ve played around with Google offered themes and the Chinese Zodiac ones.

Yesterday, I had the laptop out on the patio enjoying the warm spring (finally) weather and decided to create my own. That’s where I learned about the Chrome Theme Creator.

At 1.1 million themes already created at this site, I was definitely late to this party!

As a visitor, there are two options.

One is to download someone else’s work and install it as the theme for your browser. You can find something that comes close and then look to related themes or use the hashtags for each theme to find similarly tagged themes.

The second is to create your own. And, with the onscreen editor, it’s simple.

Just work your way through the four steps and you too can be a designer.

Now, I supposed if you were artistically inclined, it would be easy. For people who are challenged in this area like me, it sounds easier than it is. It’s not that it’s not easy to do – it actually is. It’s just finding colours that work well together.