How to navigate the web with your keyboard and gleeBox

I love keyboard shortcuts. I find using a mouse, menus and clicking to be an incredibly inefficient way of doing things. I spent a lot of time in college working with Adobe programs and using three and four character keyboard shortcuts to get things done faster. So when I found gleeBox and the amount of time-saving shorthand it had to offer. I was pretty excited.

GleeBox is a browser add-on available for Chrome, Safari, and Firefox. Once installed, pushing the G key will bring up the dialogue box. From here you can input a variety of commands as simple as opening a search page in a new window, to sharing whatever page you happen to be viewing with your friends via Facebook, Twitter, or Gmail with the input of a simple command.

Pushing the period key will show a list of open tabs.

Pushing the Period (.) key will bring up a list of the current tabs you have open in your browsers. From there you can use your arrow keys to select the tab you want.

!share fb automatically shares your current page on your Facebook profile

There are also functions such as :wp and :tube that will allow you to search for a term on Wikipedia and YouTube respectively.

The amount of options available are endless due the ability to customize actions. This allows you to tailor gleeBox to do things that you typically do while browsing. I like to share websites with my friends on Facebook and the ability to share a link without having open up a different page and copy and paste the URL is really pretty cool for me. I am not much of a Twitter person, but the command that will automatically share whatever page you are on with a shortened URL would also seem to be pretty handy.

All in all gleeBox is a pretty cool and useful app. The amount of default commands available, and the ability to customize, means the sky is the limit.

Finally, here’s a link to a list of default commands: http://thegleebox.com/manual.html

Clearly: Chrome browser extension cuts distractions from web pages

Clearly Less Distracting

Evernote has created a tool for people who are easily distracted. Clearly is a Google Chrome extension that strips out navigation, links and advertisement from any Web page and presents you with a cleaner, less distracting online reading experience.

Clearly Less Distracting
Clearly is a Chrome browser extension that strips navigation, links and ads from a page

The Clearly reading experience is customizable: you can choose between three styles of background and typography – which are clean but perfectly boring, but that is the point. Sometimes, a plain vanilla reading experience without the option of clicking on links helps readers concentrate on the reading.

To be honest, I don’t care so much about that. The links and navigation do little to interrupt my reading. But online advertising is becoming more obtrusive. The worst are the ads are the type  that pop up in the amount of time it takes me to read a paragraph or two. That’s more of an interruption than distraction but still stymied by Clearly.

I appreciate that Clearly attempts to stitch together multi-page articles into one page. While that worked for me when reading the New York Times, it failed in Sports Illustrated. Clearly seems to be easier to trigger and faster than clicking on the “Single Page” link on the page. And not every multi-page post has that “Single Page” option.

Of course Clearly has a button to clip the page to your Evernote notebooks. Which is nice if you have something against bookmarklets. But the winning feature for me is that it creates a print-friendly version of the meanest of web pages.

Note that Clearly only works in Chrome although the developers are promising that support for other browsers is coming.

This is a limited extension that strips distractions from a web page and leaves just a clean presentation of text. Even if that is not important to you, Clearly is worth having so you can have fast access to single-page and printer-friendly versions.

Download Clearly [Google Chrome Web Store]

A Chrome Experiment that (Literally) Shakes up the Google Homepage

Give people the option to work with Google Chrome using JavaScript, HTML5, and other browser tools, and they’ll start designing some pretty creative things.  For example:

Is that the Google homepage?  It certainly appears that way.  But something is wrong.

Did I break it?

Sweet mercy…the Google homepage has developed its own gravitational force.  The second you hover over the page with your mouse the buttons, search bar, and logo break apart and all fall down to the bottom of the browser.  This crazy creation is from a designer called Mr.doob, and comes from the Google Chrome Experiments site, which houses tons of user created tweaks, graphics, and experimental coding to make Google Chrome more exciting and aesthetic.  In this forceful experiment, each component from the home page can be moved about and thrown around before eventually settling down.  But wait, there’s more.

I hope science can fix this

Every time you use the search bar, results just fall down and fill up the frame.  It’s gravi-tastic!  So go ahead, waste some time on this awesome Chrome experiment, and maybe you’ll be inspired to make something just as great.

Google Brings Back Offline Support to Gmail, Adds Offline Docs and Calendar

Ever since the demise of Google Gears back in December 2009, we’ve always been yearning to get some kind of offline support back to our essential Google applications. Finally, they’ve added offline mode to Gmail, Docs and Calendars. However, it’s only available through the Chrome web browser.

Why only Chrome, you ask? Well, Google says that other browsers haven’t implemented the specifications that are needed to run their Offline Mode, specifically the FileSystem API. Will we see Mozilla make room for Google’s Offline Mode anytime soon? Probably not.

To get your sans-Internet Gmail shenanigans going, you’ll need the Gmail Offline app from the Chrome App Store. From there, it’s just a matter of clicking on it whenever you don’t have a connection. The interface should look very familiar to tablet users, since it looks almost identical to the Gmail tablet web interface. Once you establish an Internet connection, the Gmail Offline app will automatically synchronize everything.

Offline Google Docs and Calendar are a little different from Offline Gmail. You won’t need an extension or app, since they both work seamlessly between online and offline modes. All you have to do is head into the upper-right corner and click the gear icon. From there it’s just a matter of checking the box for offline access. If you’re not yet seeing this option, Google is slowly rolling out the new feature throughout the week, so be patient.

At the moment, Docs and Calendar are view-only in offline mode, but Google is making it a point to edit offline in the future.


“Replies and more for Google+” Adds Awesome Features to Google+

Chrome web browser: Like many of you, I’ve been having a great time playing around with Google+ for the last week. Because it’s so new – let’s not forget that it’s still in a beta field trial – engineers at Google have been tweaking and changing things like crazy in response to user feedback. This isn’t anything new of course, Twitter’s ubiquitous @reply and #hashtag features were actually created by users, and they became so popular that the company built them right into the platform.

Replies and more for Google+ is an extension for Google Chrome that adds several great features to Google’s new social network. I’m sure some of these things are already in the works at Google+, but why wait when you can have them now?

Easily reply to posts and comments

Google+ took the @reply feature from Twitter outright, which makes it easy to mention specific people by just appending a plus sign (+) before a person’s name (i.e. +Evan Wondrasek would mention me in a post, and I would receive a notification about it). Replies and more for Google+ adds handy links to posts and comments, and lets you reply to anyone in your stream with a simple click.

Quick access to Replies will increase the likelihood of mentioning other users in posts and will definitely spur conversation.

Reply to Author links under each Google+ post

Before you go out and start +replying to every person on Google+, though: The +reply feature isn’t meant to reply to the original post’s author necessarily (although it doesn’t hurt, they’ll get a notification either way). What it is useful for is replying to a specific user in a multi-person comment thread.

For example:

Evan Wondrasek: I just posted a message on Google+.
Sam Rothstein: No, I don’t think you did.
Nicky Santoro: +Sam Rothstein Actually, I’m pretty sure he did. But what would I know?

Submit comments or posts with Ctrl+Enter and Shift+Enter

I’ve gotten in the habit of pressing Shift+Enter to post a comment online (I think I can thank Facebook for that). Replies and more for Google+ adds this convenient keyboard shortcut as well as Ctrl+Enter so you’ll never have to take your hands off the keyboard when posting a message.

Favicon notifications with unread message count

I keep a few important tabs pinned to the top of my tab bar, so it’s nice to be able to glance at tab’s icon to see if I have any new messages. Gmail already offers this feature, and Replies and more for Google+ adds it to Google+ as well.

I would say that the message count icon could be a little larger, but hey, it’s better than nothing.

The header bar floats with your screen as you scroll down

This is a wonderful feature, and I won’t shroud it with unnecessary verbiage; when you scroll down the Google+ stream, the black navigation bar will follow you down the page. Ahh, features.

Share posts to Twitter, Facebook, and Email

Let’s be real: Most of us aren’t leaving Facebook or Twitter. But, also being realistic, there’s a lot of great new content on Google+ and many of these things are just begging to be shared with your other social networks. Replies and more for Google+ adds a dropdown menu to the Share button on Google+, which reveals simple options to share a post with Twitter, Facebook, and good ol’ email.

 

Go ahead, try to resist Smooth Jazz Nyan Cat.

Know of any other extensions, add-ons, or scripts to enhance Google+? Share them in the comments below!

 

Write Blog Posts From Inside Your Browser with ScribeFire

ScribeFire

blogThat seems kind of obvious, doesn’t it? Blogging from insider your browser, I mean. That’s how most people do it — go to whatever blogging site they use, log in, and start typing.

But that’s not necessarily the best way. And it’s not the most convenient, either, especially if you have more than one blog. So, what is the best way? That depends on your needs. But a good choice is a browser extension called ScribeFire.

Let’s take a look at ScribeFire and what it can do.

A little about ScribeFire

ScribeFire ScribeFire is an extension for Google Chrome (it also works with Chromium, Chrome’s Open Source cousin), Safari, Firefox, and Opera. It adds a WYSIWYG blog editor to your browser that supports posting to most blogging platforms, including WordPress, Blogger, Movable Type, Posterous, and Tumblr.

Instead of logging into each blog, you can just pop open a ScribeFire window, type a post, and then publish that post with a couple of clicks. You can also save drafts on your computer to post later.

Now that all the background information is out of the way, let’s walk through how to work with ScribeFire.

Getting set up

The first thing that you’ll want to do is install ScribeFire. Just follow one of these links:

Once ScribeFire is installed, click the toolbar icon to open it. Then, click Add a New Blog. In the window that opens, enter the URL to your blog, select the type of blog it is from the Blog Type dropdown list, and enter your user name and password. After that, click Finish.

Adding a blog

Now you’re ready to go.

Writing posts

You’ve set up your blog or blogs. You probably want to start posting. To do that, select the blog for which you want to write the post from the BLOG list in the top-left corner. If you’ve only got one blog, then it’s already selected. Then, click Start a New Post. The WYSIWYG editor opens. Just start typing.

Editing a post

You can add various types of formatting to your post, like bold and italic text, indents, or highlighting. You can also add links, images, and YouTube videos as well as lists. You can’t add tables or actual headings in WYSIWYG mode, though.

But if you know some basic HTML, you can add a bit more formatting. Just click Switch to HTML Mode. In the HTML editor, add HTML tags (including the ones for headings and tables).

You can also add tags to your post by typing them in the TAGS field on the left of the ScribeFire window. You don’t need to do that, but it can help the folks who read your blog find posts on a specific topic faster.

Editing HTML

Once you’re done, click Publish to send the post to your blog. Or click Save Progress if you’re offline or still have some work to do later. ScribeFire saves your work to your hard drive and opens the unfinished/unpublished post the next time you start it up.

Moving your data between computers

If you’re using ScribeFire on more than one computer — say, your desktop and a laptop — and you have several blogs, it’s a lot of work to re-enter the information for each blog. Instead, you can back up your data. Click Transfer your ScribeFire data to/from another computer.

Transfer data

Then, do one of the following:

  • Click Export. A new browser tab containing some information opens. Copy and past that information into a text editor, then save it to your hard drive or something like your Dropbox account.
  • Click Choose File. Find the file that you saved, and then click Open. You’ll be prompted to close and then reopen ScribeFire.

ScribeFire is an easy-to-use and flexible tool for blogging. While it’s not a fully-featured as tools like BlogJet, ecto, or MarsEdit, ScribeFire is more than capable of handling most of your blogging needs. And you can’t beat the price.

Photo credit: svilen001

Chrome: ‘New Tabs At End’ Puts New Tabs at the End

Never has a title been more self-explanatory.

Chris Finke, who has previously developed killer Firefox add-ons like TwitterBar, ScribeFire, and the innovative TapSure for mobile Firefox, recently brought some much-needed functionality to Google’s Chrome web browser: the ability to open new tabs at the end of the tab bar, just like Firefox.

If you have a group of tabs open in Google Chrome and open a new tab from an existing tab, its child tab will open to the right of the parent. This keeps tabs groups logically, but with a busy tab bar it can be nearly impossible to figure out where your new tabs are appearing. This can be especially frustrating when opening links while browsing Twitter, since the new tabs won’t have similar favicons to visually differentiate them from existing tabs.

Yep, this can be confusing.

New Tabs At End does exactly what it says – it forces any new tab top open as the last tab on the right. This means that any freshly opened tab will be easy to find by glancing to the top right of your browser, and certainly helps me find what I’m looking for when I’m on a tab binge.

I understand why Chrome displays a new tab next to its parent by default, but with the limited functionality of a horizontal tab bar it only makes things more confusing. The single most important add-on I use in Firefox is Tree Style Tabs, which groups tabs vertically but also displays them in hierarchical trees so it’s easy to deal with groups of tabs with multiple parent-child relationships.

Chrome has been slowly working on their own flavor of vertical tabs, and I’m hoping they can come up with something similar to Tree Style Tabs when the feature is officially rolled out.

How to Prevent Facebook and Google from Tracking You Online

These days it’s impossible to casually surf the web and avoid sites that use tools from Facebook, Twitter, Google, and others that make the experience more social and immersive.  Still, with privacy issues at the forefront of technology news, it is worth noting that many of these social media tools make your e-life more convenient at a price – they track your behavior.

In most cases, this isn’t at bad as it sounds. Google tracks your search and browsing history with cookies to deliver more relevant advertisements to your favorite pages. Facebook performs similar tracking of your social behavior to gain a better sense of your browsing habits as it builds tools for its users.

The troublesome part of third-party tracking of your daily surfing is that there are many things companies can do with this information that isn’t so beneficial to its userbase; after all, they needs to make their money somewhere. Imagine a scenario where your personal searches and browsing habits were sold to advertisers or used against you – the possibilities are nearly endless.

Note: For more information on cookies and third-party tracking, refer to this Lifehacker post which does a decent job of explaining some facts and myths.

End Third-Party Data Collection

A former Google engineer, Brian Kennish, developed an open-source browser add-on called Disconnect to avoid such possibilities as he began to learn more and more about cookies, third-party tracking, and Internet privacy while working at the Big G.

Disconnect is available as both Chrome and Safari browser add-ons and unobtrusively stymies third-party tracking scripts from major data gatherers like Google, Facebook, Yahoo!, Twitter, and Digg. The function is pretty simple: Disconnect blocks tracker scripts from collecting information from you, such as Facebook ‘Like’ buttons or those pesky auto-login sites, and de-personalizes your searches on Google.

While it’s true that Google has the option to turn off your Search History, it can do what it pleases with your search habits. Disconnect is a good way of staying logged in to your social media accounts without needing to worry that your sudden interest in “red spots on my inner thigh” will come back to haunt you.

The browser add-on is easy to install and shows you with a counter how many scripts were blocked from collecting personal data. It is also easy to disable and re-enable (just click the big icon of your choice) should you decide that you want to re-Tweet, Digg, or ‘Like’ something on your favorite sites.

Seven blocked scripts during a visit to Huffingtonpost.com

I hope that one day the internet will become a place where the big social players such as Google and Facebook won’t be able to collect information about you unless they expressly ask your permission, but until that day comes Disconnect has you covered.

As a side note, Mr. Kennish forfeited his golden ticket job with Google to work on this passion project, so he must be serious about it. He was kind enough to keep this project open-source, so should he be forced to abandon it surely another developer would pick up the slack. With any luck, protection for third-party tracking is here to stay.

Subscribe to Techerator with the Techerator Extension for Google Chrome

Here at Techerator, we know that our site wouldn’t be the success it is without all of our readers (Thank you!).  Since our launch in May 2009, we’ve made many improvements to the site for our readers.  Our most recent change was an entire redesign of Techerator.

A big focus on the redesign was making it easier for our readers to keep updated on new articles with the tools in our sidebar.

Today we’re making it even easier to subscribe to our content at Techerator.

Techerator extension for Google Chrome

We’re happy to announce the Techerator Extension for Google Chrome.  The Techerator Extension for Google Chrome is another great way to keep updated on our newest articles, especially if you don’t use social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.

Download the Techerator Extension for Google Chrome to get started using it.

Once the extension is installed, you’ll see its icon in your Chrome browser.

Click the extension’s icon to expand the list of newest articles from Techerator.  You can see from the image below that your unread articles are shown in bold.

Clicking on an article expands the reading pane, allowing you to read the entire article right in the extension!  If you click on the article title at the top of the reading pane, you can read the article on Techerator.com.

The Techerator Extension for Google Chrome also features an integrated search for Techerator.  Looking for a specific article, or just want to see what we’ve written about Twitter? You can search our site right in the extension.

Give the Techerator Extension for Google Chrome a try and let us know what you think!

Special thanks to the Ookong team for developing this Google Chrome extension.

Score Great Deals on Woot.com with Firefox and Chrome Browser Extensions

If you don’t know what Woot! is, it’s a site sells a single item each day (usually at an exciting price).  There are several different versions of the site – selling things like shirts, wine, and stuff for kids – but the original Woot! is the place where most of the action happens.

Every once in awhile, Woot! has a “Woot-Off”, where they abandon their usual deal-a-day methodology and instead offer limited quantities of items, sold one at a time, with a new item appearing as soon as the current one is sold out.  Mixed into Woot-Offs are “bags of crap”, which are blind grab bags full of random goodies.  At times, these bags of crap (lovingly referred to as BOCs) contain really nice things, like HDTVs and Xboxes.  Needless to say, it’s really hard to get a bag of crap, and the woot.com website is usually completely unreachable when one comes up for sale.

If you enjoy the occasional impulse buy, you can use some extensions for your Firefox or Google Chrome web browsers to stay up-to-date on the latest deals (and even get a better chance at purchasing the fabled bag of crap).

Woot! Watcher for Google Chrome

Chrome has a great extension called Woot! Watcher that gives you all the functionality you’ll need to grab deals on all of the Woot! websites.  This extension shows you deals from each website in a single window, and has optional notifications to let you know when new items are available.

woot-watcher-chrome

If a Woot-Off is going down (which is happening right now, if you’re lucky enough to read this article when it was posted), the Woot! Watcher icon turns into a flashing yellow siren.  You can set up optional Woot-Off voice alerts and notifications, and Woot! Watcher can even be configured to auto-buy bags of crap if they come up for sale (well, it doesn’t automatically buy it for you, but it will take you to the purchase screen to speed up the process).

woot-alarm

woot-settings

You will also see a percentage of how much stock the current item has left during a Woot-Off.

Woot BOC Purchaser for Firefox

The same developer of previously mentioned Woot! Watcher for Chrome makes the same extension for Firefox, but it is much less elegant and requires a giant sidebar window to display the daily deals.  I had preferred the less obtrusive Woot Watcher add-on, but unfortunately it hasn’t been updated since February 2010 and no longer functions properly.

Luckily, a different developer decided to pick up the abandoned Woot Watcher for Firefox add-on, fix the code, and add some new features.  You can download it at the Shopper Addon website, and to install it you’ll have to click Allow at the top of your browser window.

boc-1

boc-2

After restarting Firefox, today’s Woot! deal will be displayed in the status bar of your browser.  Clicking the item’s name will take you straight to Woot.com.  If a bag of crap happens to come up for sale, you will be automatically taken to the purchase page.

boc-3

Conclusion

With these extensions, you should be well on your way to blowing your hard-earned cash on impulse purchases.  And if you’re lucky, you might catch the Woot-Off that is going on right now.