Your browser vertically challenged?

I played basketball competitively in high school and intramural basketball at The Ohio State University. I'm a mere 6' 1" and not a powerful jumper. I played forward and for those of you that know basketball, you well understand that I was vertically challenged. Ah, if I'd been 6' 6"! Even 6' 4" would have been a tremendous help.

You probably never thought of browsers being vertically challenged, but each of them have subtle differences. 

Yes, this and the other posts in this series are diving into what may seem like seriously, "who cares" minutiae, but the little things matter. My basketball coaches certainly thought so. If you want to be your best and utilize your talents, in this case your tools, to the best effect, paying attention to details pays off with you having more "game".

See a side by side comparison of Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer in this video.

Remove ads in webmail.

One important productivity tip whether it be in the physical or virtual worlds is to avoid clutter. 

Ever notice how a cluttered desk or office space can cause stress? You may not realize it till you clean up and then realize, "Wow, I feel so much better now". Whether you consciously realize it or not, clutter distracts you in a variety of ways and none of them are good.

A week or so ago I introduced you to the web page decluttering tool, Clearly. Today, let's talk about another Chrome extension, Webmail Ad Blocker.

Declutter webmail tip.png

Concept is simple, this little baby removes the ad clutter from your GMail, Hotmail and Yahoo email screen. Below is a real life example from my Gmail earlier today with Webmail Ad Blocker off and then with it on. I've been using this for over a year and have not had any problems with it. 

Now you can stay focused on the task at hand. Less clutter. Less chance of being distracted by an ad and running off down a time-wasting rabbit-hole!

Hot topic: Browser extension / add-on security

A hot topic in recent days has been about security around extensions / addons in browsers. The terms "extensions" and "add-on" are interchangeable and amount to the same thing. Chrome uses the term extensions, IE and FireFox use the term add-ons. I'm a Chrome user so I'll use the term extensions from here on out.

Regardless the term, extensions can provide handy functionality to your browsing experience. To do so, they have to be granted some level of permissions upon installation to do whatever "handy thing" the extension promises. For instance, last week I discussed and recommended the Evernote Clearly extension. This extension allows for manipulation of the display of web pages. I feel comfortable in recommending this extension as I trust the Evernote folks to not do something else nefarious in the extension.

At the bottom of this post is a good article from Ars Technica discussing the latest kerfuffle and discussing the pros / cons of extension handling in the major browsers. It also has some links to more information about the issue that may be of interest.

What does ProTechCoach recommend?

  1. Regardless of what browser you use, stick with "major brand" extensions. I currently have 8 extensions installed in Chrome published by the following entities. I trust these organizations based on past experience, reputation and that they are large enough that if they do something purposely heinous, it will hurt their brand immensely.
    • Adblockplus, Bitly, Evernote, Google, Lastpass, Picmonkey
  2. Review your extensions and uninstall any you aren't using or don't know how they got there. You can always reinstall them later if something you really depended on suddenly isn't working. If you want to check if you are using them you can start by disabling them for a day and if you don't notice anything critical changed in your browsing experience, you can go ahead and delete them or re-enable them if you do realize why you had them for.
  3. I'm sticking with Chrome. As the Ars Technica article mentions, Chrome has made changes and more are coming in June to further secure extension handling.

Chrome’s regulations for existing extensions are set to change in June 2014. The changes should prevent extensions from being anything but “simple and single-purpose in nature,” with a “single visible UI surface” in Chrome and a “single browser action or page action button,” like the extensions made by Pinterest or OneTab.

This has always been the policy, per a post to the Chromium blog back in December. But going forward, it will be enforced for all new extensions immediately and for all existing extensions retroactively beginning in June.

Here's a quick video showing how to check and manage your extensions in Chrome.

Ars Technica: After Chrome’s recent extension drama, what browser has the safest add-ons?

Web page reading tip: Evernote Clearly

Web page clutter messing with your reading and comprehension ability?

There's a great solution I'd like to point you to: Evernote Clearly.

I particularly use the Clearly extension when reading web pages from my comfy chair in front of my main TV. Sure it is a 52" TV, but I'm quite a long way from it for reading. Some pages are merely annoying to read from that distance and others are impossible. Clearly allows me to get at the content without bugging my eyes out of their sockets  to read too small print or having to wear or a welder's helmet to shield my eyes from the annoying, surrounding nonsense.

See it in action in this video.

Download Clearly for your browser of choice.