Google Nerds Are Antsy for Google+

Google+ ProjectGoogle is introducing a competitor to Facebook called Google+:

Introducing the Google+ project: Real-life sharing, rethought for the web

… Google+ is a different kind of project, requiring a different kind of focus—on you. That’s why we’re giving you more ways to stay private or go public; more meaningful choices around your friends and your data; and more ways to let us know how we’re doing. All across Google.

How sweet of them, thinking about me.

This is a major project for google, where it consists of multiple sub-projects (Circles, Sparks), plus retooling their existing products like Gmail (via their People Widget), Buzz, and even their Search interface.

It’s by invitation only. You can hope for an invitation to Google+ by signing up.

Wired has an interesting article about Google+ (despite it reading like an ad too much) that highlights why many (including myself) don’t like Facebook: one tends to over-share information – too many damn “friends”. Google+ appears to be addressing that. We’ll see.

I know this is old (yesterday) news.

Gmail: Google Uses Tape Drives For Backups

gmail logoGmail screwed up yesterday due to a bug from a software update:

Imagine the sinking feeling of logging in to your Gmail account and finding it empty. That’s what happened to 0.02% of Gmail users yesterday, and we’re very sorry.

There are about 170 million Gmail users. 0.02% of 170 million is 34,000.

They’re in the process of restoring all lost email, but what surprised me is they use tape backups.

Tape backup technology has been around since the 1950s. It’s used by every major corporation – it’s the final backup solution – backups of backups resort to tapes in the end, despite their failure rate.

I use an external hard-drive, but tape drives are cheaper (in the long run).

Update: Some resources on how to backup gmail:
Back Up Your Gmail the Easy Way (or the Cheap Way)
How to Backup Your Gmail Account
Backing up your mail with POP (from Google)
– Or just google “backup gmail

If You Like Steel White Table, You’ll Like…

Google Simlar Pages is a Google Chrome extension that recommends webpages similar to the one you’re currently viewing.
google similar pages
Google Similar Pages recommends the following when viewing this site (Steel White Table):

What the hell is “The J-Walk Blog“?!

I Almost Switched to Chrome Today

My default browser is Firefox and has been for years. I’m not a Luddite. I have enough technical skill to customize my browser so it’s just the way I like it, but I prefer to keep my browsing options simple. For instance, I don’t use RSS readers. If I can’t go to a site on my own, then I probably don’t need the information anyway. So that’s where I am as a web user. I’m probably more internet savvy than the average Internet Explorer user, but I don’t want to do anything that resembles coding or become inundated with too much information.

I installed Google’s Chrome browser a few times over the past year or so, but the Adblock function was clunky and the zoom feature for magnifying pages didn’t remember the amount of zoom for each page, requiring a manual zoom every time. (I don’t like micro fonts.) I decided I wouldn’t try Chrome again until those issued were addressed.

FAVOURITE SITESThose issues have been addressed with the latest version of Chrome. So I imported my bookmarks and my tool bar from Firefox (can’t live without my buttons) and things were looking great. The transition was easy and painless.

But it wasn’t long before I noticed the absence of two features, and it’s a deal breaker for me.

Firefox saves my most visited sites in the address bar and allows me to access them instantly. Chrome doesn’t. In Firefox, I don’t even have to bookmark my most popular sites. I just click a little triangle at the end of the address bar and ten or so of my most frequented sites are listed. Then I easily click on the site I want to go to. This is a huge time saver for me.

SEARCHESThe other missing feature in Chrome is the easy installation and use of multiple search engines. I have about twenty search engines that I can access in Firefox with two clicks. Is that the case with Chrome? I don’t know, because I gave up when I was required to modify some URL code while trying to add a search engine to Chrome. Adding a search plugin to Firefox requires practically no technical skill, and that’s the way it should be. Chrome needs to simpify the installation and use of multiple search engines.

My latest trial of Chrome lasted for maybe fifteen minutes. It’s possible I didn’t give it enough time. If I’d poked around a little more, I may have discovered quick and easy methods for accessing my most visited sites and using multiple search engines. Any Chrome users who would like to enlighten me, please do so in the comments. I like the look and the speed of Chrome (it’s fast) and I’m willing to make the switch from Firefox. Just not yet. Google came this close. So close.

UPDATE (Feb. 23/11): Firefox has been extra slow lately, so I’m giving Chrome another try. The plugins Pender posted are useful. The recent history plugin (so far) does an okay job at mimicking Firefox, which speeds things up. The multiple search engine plugin is an improvement over Chrome’s default multiple search feature, but neither one of them outshines the under-rated Mycroft Project which makes setting up and selecting multiple search engines in Firefox a breeze.

In Firefox, I can look for a new search engine through Mycroft, then install it and use it in about 30 seconds. In Chrome, again, I would have to go to the website I want to search, do a search, copy the resulting URL into Chrome’s search engine manager, and then change the URL by replacing the search object inside the URL with this code: %s. All of that is asking too much for a general user (especially any kind of coding), and it would likely take me my lunch hour to do that with all the search engines I use on a regular basis. (Setting up the multiple search engine plugin requires the same amount of messing around, though it’s easier to use once it’s finally set up.)

And then actually using the multiple search engine feature in Chrome — I don’t see what all the fuss is about. It’s clever how the Omnibox anticipates the search and can recognize the specific search engine by a nickname, but is that any faster or easier than choosing a search engine from a drop-down box in Firefox and typing in the search? It also requires the user to remember all the installed search engines and their nicknames.

Chrome’s multiple search engine features are not an improvement over similar features available in Firefox, but I’m impressed with the enhancements Google has made to the browser so far. They’re getting there.

I’ll continue to test the browser, but further updates will show up in the comments.