Posts Tagged ‘google’

Chrome Extensions, Enough to Replace FireFox?

Posted in Blog, Tech on May 10th, 2010 by Matt – 7 Comments

When FireFox was released most users adopted it for the speed and standards support. But with Opera and Chrome now running circles around it in speed and standards, why is FireFox's user base still growing?

Extensions, extensions, extensions. While FireFox still holds the lead in sheer volume and variety of extensions, Chrome has caught up enough for me to make it my primary browser.

Lets take a look at the some of the most popular FireFox Extensions, a few extensions I can't live without, their Chrome alternatives and the pros and cons of each.


AdBlock: Unquestionably the most "must have" add-on for any browser. Surfing the web just isn't the same without it.

Chrome Alternative: AdBlock
While the Chrome version of Adblock renders up ad-less pages, it's still downloading those ads in the background. If you're running ad-block to reduce your bandwidth usage, the Chrome version of Ad-Block may not cut it for you.


NoScript: Extra security and speed while browsing by blocking JavaScript, Java and other executable content. Stops most of the webs worst browser attacks cold in their tracks.

Chrome Alternative: None
While there are built-in options to only allow javascript only on sites you specifically allow, at this time the necessary functions to enable this sort of blocking aren't available in Chrome. But don't despair, according to the NoScript developers these functions will show up eventually.


FireBug: Web development tools integrated right into FireFox. Shows download times, HTML, CSS, scripts and live edit any of them.

Chrome Alternative: None Needed (for small values of none)
Chrome includes a dev console that mimics 90% of the functionality of FireBug. To access the developer console at any time in Chrome press Control (Command on Mac) + Shift + J.


GreaseMonkey: Modify any website to look better or perform better. Add functions that were not previously available.

Chrome Alternative: None needed! Most GreaseMonkey scripts will install themselves directly as extensions in Chrome. Not 100% compatible, you'll just have to test to see which extensions work.


FireGestures: Mouse gestures for FF. Switch to a new tab, open a tab, close a tab or create your own commands. Opera has this functionality built-in.

Chrome Alternative: Smooth Gestures
Exactly the same functionality, exactly the same performance.


Unlinker: Take a list of unlinked or linked image URLs and in one click have those images load on the page.

Chrome Alternative: SB Unlinker
Same functionality. Only down-side is instead of the unlinking function residing in the right-click menu like FF, it resides in a button in the navigation bar. Functionally its perfect.


Download Statusbar: Skip FireFox's native download window and use this much more streamlined and still functional add-on.

Chrome Alternative: None needed!
It's almost as if Chrome stole the idea from Download Statusbar. As they say; Imitation is sincerest form of flattery.


Smooth Scrolling: FireFox has this built-in, but for some reason the Chrome developers didn't feel the need for it. I'm such a stickler for smooth scrolling that this one lack of feature prevented me from using Chrome at all for quite a while.

Chrome Alternative: SmoothScroll
It does exactly what it says, and because of its customization is better than FireFox's scrolling.


A few of the extensions available for both FireFox and Chrome:

Xmarks: Bookmarks and Password Syncing. Password syncing not supported on Chrome currently.

Cooliris: Transforms your browser into a full-screen 3D Wall for searching, viewing and sharing the Web.

Stylish: Lets you easily install themes and skins for Google, Facebook, YouTube, Orkut, and other sites.

Web Developer: Adds a menu and a toolbar with various web developer tools.

With these extensions Chrome has all of the flexibility plus an extra dose of speed versus FireFox. I've taken the plunge and am now using Chrome as my primary browser. The next version of FireFox is aiming to take back the speed crown by incorporating a lot of the features that makes Chrome so great, running tabs and plugins as independent processes being one of those.

Email for Your Domain for Free

Posted in Tech, Tutorial on May 5th, 2010 by Matt – 1 Comment

This is part 3 of a series on Starting Your Own Website on the Cheap

Until recently setting up your own domain with email required having a business class internet connection, knowledge of how to set up a physical server and email server and someone to run the whole thing. No longer. Today anyone with a couple spare dollars can pick up their own domain and have their own custom email addresses up and running in mere minutes. If you've been following along in this series then you've already purchased a domain and set up DNS for it. Now were going to set up email.

You can, of course, roll your own email server. Just add your home server IP as the MX (Mail Exchange) record on your DNS providers site, set up an email server and away you go. However, even if you are a skilled administrator, I wouldn't recommend this. With spam emails representing 50-60% of all emails, running your own server is just asking for spam headaches.

Two of the webs largest email providers, Microsoft and Google now offer their own free email for domain services. Microsoft now offers Windows Live Admin Center and Google offers Google Apps. There are quite a few differences in their features offered between the services. Microsoft's services is a little easier to use and a little less business oriented. There are a few decisions to make about which features are critical to you in order to determine which provider is right for you. Do you care about exchange connectivity? The benefit of the exchange protocol is its push email, calendar and contact syncing. Oddly enough, it's Microsoft's service that does not offer exchange connectivity for their Live Mail services. For me Exchange connectivity is important. It keeps my email, calendar and contacts synced perfectly across my iPhone, laptop and desktop. Who's web email interface do you prefer? Its a small issue, but if you're a regular email user it can make a difference. Myself, I prefer Google's web interface. Last, do you plan to expand? Google's Apps service can be upgraded in-place to more professional levels with guaranteed levels of uptime and 24/7 support. The only place I feel Google's service falls short of Microsoft's is in accessing their webmail interfaces. In order to log on to the Google Apps webmail interface, users need to navigate to google.com/a/yourdomain.com then login with their credentials. While with Microsoft's webmail users can simply navigate to mail.live.com or even hotmail.com and login with their credentials. Why Google doesn't simply let users go to gmail.com and login with the alternative credentials is beyond me. This could be a moot issue since both services have the option of setting up cname (alias) records so that you can access their mail login interfaces at something like mail.yourdomain.com.

Once you've decided on a particular service the initial setup is fairly straight foward on both services. Google requires you to enter a custom string into your DNS cname or "alias" record to prove you control the domain. Microsoft checks that you've set their mail servers addresses for your domains MX (mail exchange) record before they let you create accounts. Once you've confirmed to each provider you hold the domain and enter in their mail servers in your DNS MX records you can begin creating users via each providers admin interface.

Microsoft's Windows Live Admin Center Interface

Microsoft's Windows Live Admin Center Interface

The admin interfaces reflect the level of features offered by each service. The Windows Live Admin interface is very simple with only three main options areas: adding new users, enabling "open enrollment" and some options for custom logos on the webmail interface. Click the "Add User" button, enter in the account name and user name, and you're off and running. The "open enrollment" option allows anyone to create an email address under your domain, a  handy feature not offered by Google.

Google Apps Admin Interface

Google Apps Admin Interface

The Google interface is more robust with many tabs and sections to cover the various features offered. Fortunately, adding users is just as simple a task as with Microsoft. With Google you have to understand that this is indeed Google "Apps" not just Google Email. There are options for calendars, logo customization, document sharing, member groups and sites.

Now for a $10 investment you've got your very own personal domain with any email address you could want.

Previously -
Part 1: Finding and Purchasing a Domain
Part 2: DNS for Your Domain for Free