Goodbye Firefox, Hello Google Chrome

As a raving Firefox fan for years, I can’t believe I’m writing this post. My love for all Mozilla products has always been because they “just work”. Unfortunately, that’s no longer the case for me.

Over the past week, Firefox has been acting up – mainly sluggish page loads and running processes, even after the browser has been closed. Basically, this just means that I can’t run Firefox again until I end the process in Task Manager.

Google Chrome has been my #2 browser for several months, so I decided to give it a try. Within a day of serious use, I’m sold. As I posted earlier, Google is planning an entire OS built on the Chrome idea – browser/desktop integration. Chrome makes a great start with my current favorite feature – application shortcuts.

Take any website you visit, add an application shortcut, and you’ve now got a shortcut right on your desktop. Clicking this will open your page in a special Chrome page that’s set apart from normal browsing. This way, you can essentially add shortcuts to your favorite sites, saving a few steps if you just want to check your Gmail, Facebook or Twitter (or your Joupes account!).

google chrome application shortcuts

JavaScript effects and plugins (like LightBox) are faster in Chrome than any other browser I’ve used. Page surfing is smooth and fast-loading. Despite it’s limited customization, Chrome looks good and the lack of buttons works to its advantage by freeing up lots of real estate. Other little design features like the downloads section, highlighted entry text boxes and “Most Visited” (much like the Fast Dial plugin for Firefox) links are icing on the cake.

google chrome downloads

Well done, Google. You’ve won me over. I look forward to you doing the same thing when Google Chrome OS comes out.

Google Announces Plans for Operating System

Today, Google announced their plans to release an operating system dubbed Chrome OS.  So far, it’s mainly targeted at netbooks, though there are plans for release on all computers.  As with the nature of Google, the focus will be simplicity and effective use.  That is, it will be visually very basic, lightweight, and very user friendly compared to (though they didn’t mention it by name) Windows.

One of the neat things about this planned OS is the focus on a “webtop” environment.  I think Google is the perfect company to dive into this – making email, web browsing, and file access easier and quicker than ever.  As someone who uses every major Google web application (Gmail, Docs, Reader, Calendar, and Maps) quite frequently (and on my Blackberry), I have to say that I’m very excited about this.

Now, I’m not going to even begin to speculate on how Chrome OS will operate.  I think that anyone who does so is a fool – Google has shown us again and again why we shouldn’t predict with them.  They blow us away with simplicity.

Bottom line, I think we have something very exciting in store just around the corner.  Get pumped.  They have taken on a massive project, though.  Even though the technology world is abuzz and tweeting like crazy about this release, the vast majority of desktop users won’t be ready to switch their OS for years.  This isn’t a big deal now – face it, this OS is for the people already using netbooks and web applications.  However, if they are going to truly change the way operating systems work, they will have to prove that they have a safer, simpler, and more reliable alternative to Windows.

What do you think are the major obstacles that lie on the road between Google and a successful Chrome OS launch?  Will they succeed?  Will it be a worthy opponent to Windows?  To OS X?  Unix?!

Backup Contacts With Google Sync

A friend of mine (@mindstorms6) showed me how he uses Google Sync to backup his phone contacts to his Gmail account.  Like many Google mobile applications, I have found this suprisingly very useful.

I am always paranoid about losing contacts.  My phone is strictly for personal use, but I still have over 100 entries (including numbers, email addresses, etc) in the Address Book.  The thing is, even though I try and save them to the SIM card, they usually automatically save to the phone or switch when I add a picture or ringtone to the entry.  In addition, lakes, pools, and other natural beauties provide more cause to stress.

Anyway, Google Sync provides a free (except for data plan charges of course) way to backup all your phone contacts.  Simply download the program (or click here if you’re on your phone – iPhone, Blackberry, etc) and set your synchronize settings.  Next thing you know, all of your phone contacts will be listed in the “Contacts” section of your Gmail account.

And just like that, my stress is gone.  Enjoy.

Facebook 1.5 for BlackBerry

A few days ago, I upgraded all the software and apps on my Blackberry Curve. It actually didn’t take as long as I thought it would, even though it backed up, wiped, and restored everything on the device. Apart from some great changes in the main software (and the addition of a video camera), it updated the Facebook for BlackBerry application to version 1.5.

While I’ve had this app for sometime, I don’t use it that much – I find it easier to simply go to the mobile web version, which lets me see messages, wall posts, and notifications easier.  However, the new version has several great features that make it worth while.

First, contact synchronization.  Simply put, the app synchronizes contacts in your phone with your friends.  If a number matches a friends number online, it will add a “Facebook Name:” field to the Address Book, and randomly sync their profile picture to your phone for caller ID.

Second, phone notifications.  Just like when you have a missed call or receive a text message, you now get a Facebook icon and message number when you receive messages, notifications, etc.  Even better, the notifications and messages are sorted with your texts and emails for convenience.

Lastly (at least for this post), the addition (and ease) of “Send to Facebook” buttons.  For instance, when you snap a picture with your phone, you can send it to Facebook with the click of a button.  The uploader doesn’t seem as bulky as other application uploaders.

Getting to the Core of the Apple Problem

This is a rant that I had to write for an English class, but I thought it fit, so here it is.

I hate that guy.  You know exactly who i’m talking about.  Sipping his latte on a couch at Starbucks, Macbook propped on his lap, iPhone vibrating at his side, a $200 messy haircut, and an assortment of grungy, but not too grungy, clothes.  He turns to me, a smug look on his face.  Depending on which friend it is, he’ll describe some application he’s just discovered, a podcast he’s just recorded, or a website he’s just designed – all using his trusty Mac.  Without fail, in a somewhat sadistic, most definitely condescending tone, he’ll end with, “See, Apple stuff is just better.  Vista sucks.”

*SLAP*
“You idiot!”
*SLAP*
“I can do the same thing on my PC – running (oh my gosh!) VISTA!”
*SLAP*
“Audacity!  KompoZer!  OpenOffice!  Picasa!  And those are FREE!”
*SLAP*
“Don’t spill your latte!”

Ok, so I don’t actually do this.  But I want to.  My goodness do I want to.  You see, my problem isn’t even with Apple – I think they’re a fine company.  In fact, I think they understand marketing and design better than a lot of businesses – computer or otherwise.  Every year, Apple releases something so beautiful, so utterly sexy, that the whole world stops to praise them for the best invention ever made.  Bit by bit, though, Steve Jobs’ minions, either by using flashy, colorful advertising and hip young “Mac” people juxtaposed by older, plump “PC” guys or by creating Mac-praising magazines, podcasts, and websites, have created a cult.  You aren’t cool if you don’t have a Mac.  In fact, you’re somewhat of an ignorant, God-forsaken, lost puppy.  Don’t worry, kiddo, you’ll see the light – just give it time.

And guess what?  I’m not ok with that!  Why?  Because the fact of the matter is, Apple computers just AREN’T BETTER!  Numerous times I have been called technologically-ignorant, since I placed Mac on the same level (if not lower), than a PC.  Besides the fact that I am a dedicated blogger, Computer Information Systems major, and very passionate about computers, I am usually attacked relentlessly and without two-sided discussion.  Let’s look at the specs, shall we?

The basic MacBook comes with 2 gigs of memory, a 2.0GHz processor, and a 160 gigabyte hard drive – for $1,299.  The basic Sony Vaio comes with 4 gigs of memory, a 2.0GHz processor, and 320 gigabytes of space – for $839.  And it’s sexy, too.  For those who aren’t familiar with these specifications, it’s not golf – the higher the better.  So we can logically draw that, if Mrs. Floyd, my first grade teacher taught me correctly, 4 gigs is better than 2, and 320 gigs is better than 160.  So, technically, I’m paying $500 less for a more well-equipped computer.  Technically.

But Apple products just work, ya know?  Well, not mine.  I got an iPod on the assumption that their advertising was somewhat correct – spend $250 on an Apple product to insure ease of mind, usability, and so that it would “just work”.  Ever since I got it, I have had problem after problem syncing it with my iTunes in Windows.  First it won’t detect it, then the data is corrupt, then it’s working fine.  In less than a year, I have been forced to delete everything (that’s 50 gigabytes of music, videos, and games) from my iPod due to a fatal error.  Now, I don’t use third party applications and the iPod is branded to work in Vista.

When Apple released their new version of iTunes (8) several months ago, they forgot to check to see if it would work with Windows, and as a result, it crashed every Vista system.  But man, once I rebooted my computer, uninstalled it, emailed Apple, downloaded and installed the new 80mb installation file, it looked great!  Crashed my iPod two weeks later, but it looked fantastic!

To be fair, every computer has problems, and since I’m a geek, I love working on them.  With Windows, though, I can at least sound intelligent.  No talk of bouncing beach balls, jungle animals, or adding a pronoun before each application.  That’s “i” if you can’t figure it out.  iThis, iThat.  iCal, iPhoto, iPod, iTunes, iPhone.  Wanna talk about me, wanna talk about I, wanna talk about number one.  Oh my me my.

-Made On a PC-

Install WordPress on Your Desktop!

Thanks to a recent post by DesiznTech, I have learned that you can actually install WordPress (and a few other CMS) locally, on your desktop! For me, at least, this is an answer to prayer. As a web designer by hobby, having a local way to make changes and design without affecting a live site is great. Before now, I installed WordPress in a separate folder on my account to use as a “sandbox”.

To clarify, I haven’t actually done this yet. Personal situations and upcoming exams have drained me of time and energy, so I haven’t had a chance to try this out. However, I plan to do this as soon as I’m able, and I would encourage you to give it a try. If you do, let me know what you think!

Here is the WAMP Server, which you will need to install PHP, Apache, and MySQL on your desktop, and Jeff Chandler’s tutorial on how to actually install the software.

Ubuntu Portable Review – @pubcrawlercom

In response to a tweet of mine yesterday, @pubcrawlercom sent me a live twitter review while he installed and ran Ubuntu Portable. With his permission, I’ve reposted his thoughts here.

From what he has said, I think I’ll try it – as soon as I boot up Vista again, that is. It might be a while (or at least until I need to sync my iPod next. For some reason, Banshee doesn’t work with the Classic and Wine won’t configure with iTunes 8 correctly).

read one tweet that it crashed for someone under XP. Extracting to disk now. this machine only has 512MB RAM 🙁 might be issue…

decompressed portable ubtun is around 2GB… moving it around and rebooting fresh XP loadup to test it.


my tweetreview of ubuntu portable starts now 🙂 as I go

bunch of random errors on bootup in text shell window ran from.

updates last ran 200+ days ago – 177 updates downloadable… 118.3 MB

screen video refreshes slow at times – like when asks for root pwd for updates. dreadfully slow

ubuntu update downloads seem slow to download – often can be 🙂 whos knows… not my bandwidth here.

network stuff works fine, but ping doesn’t for external IPs… unsure why…

firefox loads and runs much faster than in XP on same machine.

still downloading updates for ubuntu portable… computer paging memory to disk.. but that’s my fault.. tweetdeck pigging out on RAM

portable ubuntu finally finished downloading the updates. now the wait for them to install. always the 1st things I do in order 😉

ubuntu portable crashed during excessive paging on XP. trying again – that was my fault. all well after restarting it 🙂

running near out of RAM 🙂 but portable Ubuntu works on 512MB XP system.

Portable Ubuntu would be nicer say with Portable Crunchbang Ubuntu version less resource use

Loaded up Rythmbox and streaming music plays fine in Ubuntu Portable 🙂

Software sources in Ubuntu Portable set to Argentina. Change to your local country.

hey try Ubuntu Portable. worked well for me. Haven’t tested everything, but it looks good. certainly will need more polish 🙂

Microsoft Unveils IE 8 – Lacks Yet Again

internet-explorer-8-beta-logo

[tag]Microsoft[/tag] unveiled [tag]Internet Explorer 8[/tag] at the [tag]Mix09[/tag] conference March 18-20. The following day, an article was released on their site, explaining the new features and usability comforts, as well as using popular web companies, such as Facebook, ESPN, and eBay as testimonials. But seriously, wouldn’t you? I mean, with still over 70% of the browser market belonging to IE, wouldn’t your company do anything it could to support and encourage a browser that, despite its constant shortcomings, reaches millions more than [tag]Firefox[/tag], [tag]Safari[/tag], and [tag]Opera[/tag] put together?

But, down to the point. [tag]IE8[/tag] boasts developer tools, the ability to easily connect to the “news, stories and videos that people are buzzing about right now”. Great. Seriously, that’s wonderful that you’ve done that. But yet again, there is a lack of basic usability features and improvements.

For example, CNET reports that [tag]Google[/tag] Toolbar crashed IE8 on first run. According to user reviews, many sites would crash the tab, IE would sometimes randomly crash, there is no history button, and CSS and HTML rendering is still off from the standard (Firefox, Opera, and Safari). [tag]CNET[/tag] users rate IE8 2 out of 5.

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Forget Customization, etc – Firefox > IE

Forget safety, speed, and [tag]customization[/tag] for just a second. If you still haven’t switched to [tag]Firefox[/tag], do so based on one fact – you will see more. Don’t confuse me for a second – I am not a crazy enthusiast who thinks your eyes will be magically opened once you switch. However, you will see a lot more than you have been seeing on [tag]web[/tag] pages. Especially if you’re with [tag]IE 6[/tag].

For example, [tag]IE[/tag] users will not know that by hovering over the top navigations links on this site, there is an overline text decoration. This is supported in both Firefox and [tag]Safari[/tag]. (Try this out in either, it’s pretty neat!)

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Installing WordPress on Byethost

Thanks to [tag]DesiznTech[/tag]’s article on how to build a free website, I am retracting my statement that [tag]AgilityHoster[/tag] is my favorite free host. [tag]Byethost[/tag] is simple to use, clean, and allows more storage, [tag]database[/tag]s, and support than AgilityHoster. It’s also much, much faster.

I am currently creating my first “start from scratch” [tag]WordPress[/tag] theme for a new website I’m building. Last night, I needed to install WordPress on my new Byethost [tag]server[/tag], but I ran into difficulty. If you are faced with the same task, hopefully this tutorial will help with some of the more confusing aspects of this particular host.

First, you will need to create a new database for your install. Simply click “[tag]MySQL[/tag] Databases” from your [tag]VistaPanel[/tag] and type “wordpress” in the field “<database-name>”. Click “Create Database” and wait for the page to refresh.

Assuming you have an FTP client ([tag]Filezilla[/tag] is a great choice for Windows users), open it up. In your VistaPanel, you should see “Account Information”. This will tell you the ftp host name and user name. Your password will be the same as your password for Byethost. Type these in and connect.

Now comes the tricky part. When you connect to your server, you’ll see two folders – [tag]htdocs[/tag] and yourdomain.com. Now, Byethost tells you to upload your files to the htdocs folder. However, this is NOT the htdocs folder you are looking for. Open up yourdomain.com and you should see another htdocs folder. Upload your WordPress folder here.

Now, if you’re using Filezilla, right click the wp-config-sample.php file and edit it. Put your database name, database user, database password, and MySQL host with your settings. These can be found on your VistaPanel sidebar.

Upload this back to the server and go to www.yourdomain.com/wp-admin/install.php. Follow the directions and your WordPress will be installed!