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October 17, 2017

Chrome Extensions, Part 7

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , — Ron @ 4:46 am

This is the last week of our Chrome Extension tour and I have three of them left.  I have also saved the very best for last and you will not believe what it does, it is a miracle!  I am sure you will get my meaning at the end.

First up is, “LastPass: Free Password Manager.”  This is an app that will manage your password collection online.  It works very well as I have been experimenting with it for over a year now.  You can record your site passwords as you create, use or edit them on an online account.  This online LastPass account should have a good password (more about those next week).

If you add a username and password for a site to LastPass the next time you go to the site, you can autofill the answers with the extension.  Very quick and easy.

I do have one concern which has not been confirmed yet and may never be.  I cannot help but think what happens if someone hacks my LastPass password.  LastPass says that they have superior security for your safety and there has never been a major issue…but only time will tell.

Next is “Save to Pocket.”  I have written about GetPocket.com in the past and it is still an excellent site/app.  It is a site which allows you to save interesting sites for later viewing.  With the “Save to Pocket” extension all you need to do while viewing an attention-grabbing site is to click the button then that site will be saved to Pocket.  Later you can log into the Pocket site and view all of those older sites.  It allows you to tag them so that all of your recipes, art, technology, etc. sites can be easily found.

Of course, be careful or you will have more than you have time to read.  I try to keep my list trimmed down and I still have over 60 sites to catch up on.

Now the one you have all been waiting for.  This one is not perfect but it does a lot of good things for you if you are tired of the way Facebook works.  “Social Fixer for Facebook” was created by an individual, Matt Kruse, who was tired of how Facebook worked for him.  It was a personal project that has now significantly evolved.   Read more about him and it at socialfixer.com.Social Fixer logo There are many things you can adjust using this extension for Facebook; however, it will only work on that browser.  So, if you go to another browser or another computer without Social Fixer installed you will get the same old FB.

Here you go, the number one thing this app does well…drumroll please…it allows you to filter out many, many political posts so you do not have to see them.  There are many other “filters” that you can apply to remove other types of posts and make FB perform in different ways but the first one I mentioned is the winner for me!

October 10, 2017

Chrome Extensions, Part 6

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , — Ron @ 4:39 am

This week we will continue examining Chrome Extensions.  They will all be related to one item…Google.  Since I have gotten emails thanking me for this series of articles I have bad news for those who liked it, we only have one more to go after this one.  For those of you that were bored that could be good news.

Google Docs, Google Keep, Google Sheets and Google Slides are the group of extensions we will look at first.  Here I must be honest – they are not that helpful to me.  Basically, they allow you to add a desktop icon to your desktop or menu item and when clicked they will open up the particular app.  I have found the same thing can work by creating a shortcut in your browser for any of them that do the same thing.  So I cannot whole heartedly recommend them.

Google Docs Offline is a good workable extension.  It will allow you to open, edit, review and save Google files while you are not online; hence the name.  If you create or edit a document while offline the next time you get back online, they will sync up and your new/edited files will be put on Google Drive in the cloud.  Using this extension, you will always have the latest copy while online or off.  This is a neat feature and one that I do recommend.

Next is Google Voice which in my opinion is one of the best applications supplied by Google second only to Google Search itself.  I use this extension often.  It does take a bit of setup so I suggest you go here, support.google.com/voice, and get instructions.

Google Voice Sample

There are many features of Google Voice (GV for short).  First it gives you a free phone number for GV use.  You match it to your phone and the fun begins.  One great feature is that it allows you to read any voicemails you receive on GV.   Yes, Google translates it, almost immediately, into an email and sends it to your Gmail account.  The translation is not always perfect but it is usually very close.

Voice & Email Spam Stopping Power

List of recent calls which can be blockedIt will also allow you to text from your computer and/or mobile phone.  Another neat trick is that you can personalize your voicemail greetings.  You may have separate ones for individuals or groups in your Google Contacts as well as a different one for strangers.

It offers good protection from spam calls which I mentioned several weeks ago.  Another of my favorites is that you can use several phones for the account.  This means that you could take the original call on your cell, go into your home and continue the call on your landline, or office phone, or spouses phone and on-and-on.

One last feature about the app before I finally get to the extension.  It will let you to listen to people leaving you a voice message.  You can listen without them hearing you and decide if you would like to interrupt and speak with them or let them go straight through to voice mail.

The extension allows you to see a list of calls received, text other phones, go to your inbox for GV or change options.  I use my GV number for all incoming calls.  In my greeting I tell everyone that if you do not leave a message I will block your number and no longer receive calls from them.  That way if I get a hang up or a message that I am under investigation by the IRS (which is happening way to often now that people are scamming phone numbers) I block and delete the offending number with GV.  It is a bit of a cumbersome process which I hope Google simplifies soon but it works great.

October 3, 2017

Chrome Extensions, Part 5

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , — Ron @ 5:23 am

Thanks to the emails I have received I will continue this week with many of the Google Chrome browser extensions that I like and/or find useful.

First this week is the "Email this page (by Google)" extension.  If you use Gmail, which you are since you are using Chrome or you would not be reading this, this extension could be beneficial for you.  Have you been online before surfing the web and see a neat site you want to send to someone?  I have many times, sometimes wanting to send it to myself for later use.  I always had to copy the link, open Gmail, paste it in the email, type in the email address to send it to and then hit Send. 

To use, "Email this page" click the extension while you are on the page you want to send.  Gmail will open with the title of the site in the Subject line and the link in the email both automatically.  All you need to do it enter who it is going to and hit Send.  Many steps shorter and much quicker. 

Image of a new email from Email this Page-by Google

I am going to step away from the extensions for a paragraph or so for something related to the above.  If you are a Gmail user as I am, this is a neat trick.  While in Chrome and on your Gmail account, click the menu button, (three dots on the upper right corner) then "More tools" and finally "Add to desktop."  A box will pop up asking you to rename it (if you wish) and a checkbox to "Open as window."  Check the box, or leave it checked if already done and click "Add."  You will now find an icon on your desktop and when opened Gmail will open in its own window, not in your browser. 

Larger View

All emails will be viewed in that window but all links you click in those emails will open in Chrome. You can minimize it and leave it open on your computer while you continue using Chrome.    

image

I take it a step further and right click the newly created desktop icon and choose either or both "Pin to Start" and/or "Pin to taskbar."  Then you can delete the desktop icon if you would like to free up some room on your desktop.  You now have an interesting new way to use Gmail.  This will work with any webpage you view on Chrome.  So, if you like to regularly visit the DNR or the Double Click site, create icons for them too!

The last extension today is "Feedly checker."  I wrote about Feedly two months ago so check that article if you need a refresher.  I get many news and tech stories from Feedly.  With this extension, the small Feedly icon on the extension bar will show how many unread articles you have in your account.  You can right click it after you install it and set the button to either; dropdown and show you the latest posted article or go to the Feedly site and you can view them all.  I use the second.  That way I do not have to check the site for news if I need some and nothing has been added to the feeds.  Great time saver and convenient too.

Feedly checker icon on my Chrome browser

September 26, 2017

Chrome Extensions, Part 4

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , — Ron @ 4:55 am

As I start off this week many of you have written me asking about other extensions.  A friend who reads the articles, knowing how I use my computer, suggested I put in more extensions than I had originally planned.  So, today I will continue by showing you the Chrome Browser Extensions I intended to.  However, I will add some more that I had not initially planned.   This also means that although I started listing them in alphabetical order that is no longer the case.  Enjoy!

First today is “Annotary” which allows you to click the icon and save the page to read later online at Annotary.com.  There is also much more.  You can use an electronic highlighter which comes built in to highlight anything on the page.  You can add a note regarding your thoughts on the article.   I really appreciate and enjoy using this note taking feature.  When I am reviewing articles for items to write about I use it to add my thoughts about the things I read and want to share with you. There is more so check it out.

Next, “Boomerang for Gmail” has several interesting features.  The main is that once you give it permission to access your Gmail account it will let you send the email at a later time.  You can choose a time limit, i.e. hours, minutes or a future date/time to send an email.   Programs like Outlook and Thunderbird already have this built in; however, Gmail does not.  This is a free add in but there is a limit of 10 messages per month.  If you have more than that you can choose to pay a monthly fee.

Boomerang for Gmail

This one is for very specific users, the ones who use KeePass as their password keeper called, “CKP – KeePass integration for Chrome.”  This basically allows users of KeePass to add the password capability into Chrome for quicker access.  That way you do not have to open the stand-alone program to get to your site passwords but only use the link for CKP.  I have written about KeePass several times over the years so check for it on DoubleClicks.info.

This next one may be very useful for some yet useless to others.  Pretend you have a webpage you are reading with several valuable (to you) links on the page.  You would like to keep a list of the links only.  You do not need the graphics, write up or ads that are also on the page.  Enter, “Copy Links” which does just what it says.   After you install the extension, go to a page you want the links from, click the “Copy Links” icon. It gives you several choices of what to copy, you click and nothing happens.  At least nothing that you can see.  But if you use the paste controls on your computer it will paste all the links that were on the page.  No additional text just the plain “http” address without graphics, etcetera.

Keep those emails coming and I will see you for the next few weeks with some more Google Chrome Extensions.

September 19, 2017

Chrome Extensions, Part 3

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:12 am

For several weeks, we have been looking at some of my favorite Chrome browser extensions. Last week we ended with a couple that could save you money while shopping online. Today we will start with one that makes your startup window better looking and functional too.

Leoh New Tab” is the next extension I will bring to your attention. As with all the others go to the Chrome Web Store and type the name quoted above. When installed it will set up a very picturesque useful page when you open a new tab. Last year I wrote an article entirely related to Leoh so check the site for many details.

Leoh New Tab

Leoh New Tab

Next one of my favorite and most useful Chrome extensions, “Mighty Text” which was one that made my list of favs from years ago. Mighty Text” allows you to send and receive SMS and MMS using your computer. The only prerequisites are that you use Chrome and have an Android phone.

Mighty Text syncs with your phone and actually uses your phone to send and receive the messages, pictures, etc. It pulls in your contacts list from your Gmail account so that you can send messages to people from your list using only their name. It allows you to text message, send pictures, etc. from your phone while at your computer. I do not have to pull my phone out while working to read or answer a message…very convenient.

Mighty Text

Mighty Text

Another valuable extension is “Office Online.” It is so good there are many imitators out there. Make sure you add the one that states, “Office Online Microsoft Corporation.” Basically, it is a free Office cloud version. This is almost as good as the full-blown version. As I have said before it will handle most anything that Office users would ever have a need to perform in Office. (Yes, I know, Google Docs is good too, but my preference is Office.) You can run One Drive, Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Once you install OneNote Clipper I wrote about several weeks ago, all the features OneNote are immediately available. This is truly a very useful and productive addition to Chrome.

Office Online

Next up is, “Print Friendly & Pdf.” This extension does a great job of taking any webpage that you want to read, email, save for informational purposes or as one of my friends puts it allows him to read the NY Times without all the “junk” included. When you are on a page click the extension’s button and the magic begins. It will generate another view of the page without ads and other distracting, non-related junk on the page. It will then allow you to print it, create a PDF or email the file to someone. I personally like to save it as a PDF file then email if from my own email account.

Print Friendly & Pdf

September 12, 2017

Chrome Extensions, Part 2

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:48 am

Last week I started a look at some of my favorite Chrome browser extensions.  We started with "Behind the Overlay."  To learn how to install them check out last week’s column.

Today we will start with one for your security.  We all keep reading about protecting your privacy while online and I agree that is important.  When you are in a coffee shop, fast food joint, airport, basically anywhere that offers free Wi-Fi you could be giving away information.  If you are at one of those places and visit your bank’s site to check your balance, etc. you could be giving away your username and password.  A VPN protects your data while on that Wi-Fi connection.  For more info search Google for, "What is VPN?"  However, many of the VPN applications cost money and some of the free ones are questionable.  One of the many solutions is to install "Hotspot Shield."  It is free with an upgradable premium version and it easily adds the extension to your browser. 

Hotspot Shield

Like all the other VPN apps it basically provides a "pipeline" to reroute everything from your computer to a secure server where no one else can see what goes on.  It can also show you in a different location.  That way you could watch a TV show in England that you may not get in the U.S.  They also provide an application for your computer if you wish.  I am using it now in a coffee shop and it shows my computer as being in the Netherlands.  I am actually in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.  You can use it without signing up for anything; however, you will get ads and requests to rate it, etc. 

Next one of the few that is still in my favorite extension list is, "IE Tab."  I wrote a separate article about this in February of this year, so go check that out for lots of details.  But here is a quick review.  "IE Tab" allows you to view those pesky websites that will only allow you to use the Microsoft Internet Explorer or EDGE browsers to view their sites.  This is fairly old-school developing but it is still around.  Use "IE Tab" and you can enter the sites you want to view correctly in Chrome.  It works well.

IE Tab

The final ones for today are "Invisible Hand" and "Honey."  (Yes, I said I would list these extensions alphabetically last week but these are similar and I like IH most so it is first.)  They are both shopping extensions that work well to save you money online.  Invisible Hand works by popping up when you are looking at buying something on a site.  It will be searching the web in the background for the same item at a better price.  When/if it finds it, you can click the suggested link and go to the other site.  Be careful as I have noticed that it does not always include shipping or free shipping in its calculations. 

Invisible Hand

"Honey" works a differently.  When you are on the checkout screen on the site you are purchasing your product from Honey goes to work.   It quickly scans the web looking for discount coupons that may help you out.  It has worked sometimes for me and occasionally it does not; however, it is worth installing it to save some money. 

September 5, 2017

Chrome Extensions, Part 1

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:29 am

Before I get started on Chrome extensions, one thing about last week’s article, titled, “Read a Book”.  I received emails from several readers regarding the article on places you can get eBooks, audiobooks, etc.  There were several others that were suggested to me.  They were all good but I just picked a few of the ones that I was familiar with.  There are many others out there including all of the large bookstores; however, I can only afford to try a few.  I do not get free samples from companies like some of the big boys out there (hint, hint to the big companies).  I only mention the ones I have experience with (unless I state otherwise).  I test them before I tell you about them.  Oh yeah, one other thing: I do not get paid to mention them so you get my actual opinion on all that I write to you about.

Now onto Chrome extensions.

image

An extension or plugin for any browser is small software that adds on or extends the capabilities of the “out of the box” browser.  It adds some sort of additional functionality to a browser that was not originally present.  Browser extensions can change a webpage in some way, add a new feature to the browser and give the browser more, “skills”.

I have read many articles over the years, and even written one regarding computer nerds’ favorite extensions.  I figured it is time to give it a go again as mine have changed over the years and some have been replaced.  This week I will start a multipart series listing some I use with a short explanation of each…in alphabetical order so I will not upset anyone.  To hurt a few feelings those I list are for Google’s Chrome browser; however, many are available for the other browsers too.

To get to your extension setting in Chrome, click the menu button (the three dots in the upper right corner of Chrome), then “More tools,” and finally “Extensions.”  Once on that page, scroll to the bottom and click “Get more extensions.”  Or Ron’s quick way – type “chrome://extensions/” in the address bar without the quotes.  When you arrive type the name of the extension given and you will get to the page to install them.

How to get to your Extensions

The first I will share is “Behind the Overlay.”  (Remove the spaces between the words to find it in the store, “BehindtheOverlay)  I have just started using this one.  For advertisements on sties we used to get a popup, then a pop under, next those that pop up when you get to a specific point on the page.  This new advertisement “getter” is the one you have seen recently which pops up a window and greys out the page you were viewing with a clickable ad.  If you search very carefully you may be able to find the “x” that will close it and return you to the original page.  The “x” is not usually very easy to see and next to another clickable link you may not want to use.  Beyond the Overlay ads is a button to Chrome at the top right side, where all of the extension controls will be.  Click the button and the ad page vanishes easily.

image

I have run out of room today so, next week we start with an extension to help secure your browsing security.

March 21, 2017

Secret Surfing, Part 2

Last week we looked at private browser settings.  If you have any setup questions, go back to last week on DoubleClicks.info and check it out.

Internet Explorer InPrivate Mode

This week a few more good things you can do with the Private Mode on your browser.

If you have ever needed to browse to the same site but different accounts, you can do it with the private mode.  For instance, say you want to look in two different bank accounts at the same bank. You cannot do this in the regular browser.  You could open another browser and do this; however, open a private window in the same browser and you can check in to the other account at the same time.  Or different email accounts, two Netflix accounts, Amazon and on it goes.  Open the account in a regular browser’s tab then open a private window and open the other.  Easy and works since it is totally separated from your system.  When you log off it and close the browser it goes away with no trace of your access.

The same thing will work for some of us on work sites.  If you have a regular account and an Admin account, you can visit both the same way.  It is a very convenient solution.

Now here is a biggie you may have experienced and not realized what was happening.  This seems to happen especially when you go shopping for vacation travel and plane tickets.  You look them up and do not buy them. Then later you come back to purchase and the price is up…I have shopped for web site addresses and found the same thing. Always shop in a private window and go back to find the prices are the same or better.  They are not keeping your browser’s cookies so they do not know that you have been there before.  Now not all sites do this but some do.  I do not like to shop in regular mode on my browser.  Reputable sites like Amazon and other well know sites do not do this.  Just be cautious.

Another thing that cookies perform in your browser in the normal mode is track you online. This is not quite as nefarious as it sounds; however, most sites do know where you were before you came to their site and what you looked at.  Just like the vacation prices, it could be that some site you looked at “Thingamajig 123” at the xyz.com store and saw it for $29.00 so they could (though not likely) reduce theirs to $27.50 and then up your shipping by $5 to cover it.  Again, I imagine that is rare but it has been done. There is no way for you to know or prove it.  However, in private mode no one knows where you came from before you got to them.

Also, think of logging into your bank from a computer that is not yours.  In normal mode your username and password could be easily recorded.  Then someone else “could” access your account.  In Incognito mode (Google Chrome’s name) they could not do this since nothing is left behind.

Note that you are not totally invisible in a private mode.  The internet service provider can make available all of your computer’s activities if it was required of them.  Private Mode only keeps your history off of your local computer and does not allow cookies for tracking.

Chrome Incognito logo

March 14, 2017

Secret Surfing, Part 1

What is “Private Browsing?” is a question I receive from time-to-time.  People write that they were looking around in their browser and saw it.  In Google Chrome the same thing is named “Incognito Mode.”  In Internet Explorer, it is “InPrivate Browsing” and others have slightly different names.

The Private browser settings are sometimes referred to as “Porn Browser Mode.”

What does Private Mode/Browsing do that normal browsing does not?

Incognito Mode SpyIt does not keep any trace of you on your computer or any website.  When you surf in normal mode everywhere you go is recorded in your browser’s history.  That way you can go back to your history and look where you have been.  This is good if you know you went to a site last week but cannot remember its name.  Search your history and you can go right back to the same page.

Cookies are not stored in private either, so your search information and sites visited are not stored for other sites to pull from your computer to send back info on which news sites you read, where you do all of your online shopping, etc.  When using private mode, it is as if you were never online.  Well, up to a point but more on that next week.

However, there are many other useful reasons you may want to practice it at times.

Setting Google Chrome for IncognitoIn the majority of browsers to open a window in “Private” look to the upper right of the browser and click the gear or three-dot icon.  This is where you get to all of the settings in your browser.  Then look for the private mode.  For instance, in Chrome click the three dots in upper right then choose “New incognito windows.”  You may also utilize the shortcut keys of “Ctrl + Shift + N.”  Once in the private/incognito window you will see some sort of label showing you that your browsing is secret.  In Chrome an icon of a man in a hat with glasses will be in the upper left corner.  All browsers are slightly different so search online for how to set it up and what is displayed on yours.
What other more respectable reasons should you want to use it?  First, pretend you are shopping online for a gift for your significant other, or someone else who may use your computer occasionally.  You search for a “Thingamajig 123” in the regular browsing window.  You find it and read all about it.  Well, cookies from that site will be saved to your browser.  When the other person opens that browser minutes, hours or days later and searches in Google, guess what?  Ads for a “Thingamajig 123” will appear in Google so you are given away.  Cookies are shared from site to site so that is why you see advertisements for things you have been looking for.  It seems spooky until you realize why.

Next week more reasons you may want to consider Secret Surfing.

February 28, 2017

IE Tab for Chrome

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:51 am

My friend, John and I were talking a couple of weeks ago about a geek hassle we have all faced.  Usually this happens at work but on occasion anywhere.  Some specific websites are designed to open and function properly in Microsoft Internet Explorer…only.  SharePoint seems to be one of the main offenders.  They may open in other browsers; however, they will not function properly.

Since I am an advocate of the Google Chrome browser I hate when I am working on something in deep thought.  I open a site in anticipation of reading something, completing a process or researching information and poof, it fails to respond properly.  Then we all do the same thing, copy the URL from the failed site and paste it in MSIE to get where we need to be.  What a hassle!  IE Tab logo

Enter IE Tab.  Chrome as well as other browsers, have extensions or add-ins depending on what they are called by each company.  These allow additional features to be added to the browser that were not available originally.  There are many types available which perform a wide variety of functions.  They help you with your shopping, find articles, check the weather, help you navigate in your browser as well as your car and do hundreds, if not thousands of other things.

IE tab was built originally for Chrome but now comes in a version for Firefox as well.  You can get it for Chrome while in the browser.   Go to the three vertical dots in the upper right hand corner, when you hover there it will show “Customize and control Google Chrome” and click.  Go down to “More tools” then “Extensions.”  At the very bottom of the window you then click on “Get more extensions” and search for “IE Tab.”  Finally click and install the extension.  (As a shortcut, you can type “chrome://extensions” and skip many of those steps.)  After IE Tab installs and you use it the first time you will be directed to install “IEtabhelper” which is needed to make it work.  Do not worry, this is a safe app too.

Once all is done you will get a dark blue extension icon with an “e” to the right of your address bar.  Right click it and then click on “Options.”  Then scroll down to “Auto URLs” and start by entering an offending URL and click “Add.”  The next time you go to that site which would not work correctly in Chrome it will now function flawlessly.  It will continue working any other time you go there in the future.  The makers of IE Tab say that it will properly use Java, Silverlight, ActiveX, SharePoint, and other Microsoft browser features.

One thing my buddy John mentioned is that he uses the Safari browser.  Yes, even though he is my good friend he uses a MAC!  I found this about Mac’s lack of IE Tab.  It has it built in, sort of.  While in Safari go to Safari, Preferences, Advanced Tab and check “Show Develop menu in menu bar.”  This will place the Develop tab in the menu where under it you will find “User Agent.”  There is a list of browsers so select the browser you would like Safari to emulate, then go to your web address.  The only problem with this is that you must do this each time you need to visit that site again.

Safari Browser logo

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