New Google Chrome v4 released

As you should know by now, I favour Google’s Chrome browser and today (finally), Google have released their latest stable build of the Chrome browser, 4.0.249.78. And as you can see from the screen shot above (if you’ve not already used their beta releases of v4 already) extensions and bookmark syncing are now available.

After my previous problems with the latest beta builds and instability on my laptop I was hesitant to stick to the beta builds and opted to wait for the stable version to be released.

Now, finally, I too can enjoy the benefits of over 1500 extensions and bookmark syncing.

Below is a list of the extensions I’ve just installed and tried out (you can click on any of the images below to go to the relevant extension download page):

Since I use Google Reader to keep up with all my various news/RSS feeds the first extension I’ve installed is the Google Reader one. It downloads and installs in, literally, seconds. If you’re already logged into Google the icon will already show you how many unread items there are. Clicking on the icon shows you unread items at a glance which you can click on the title to read the article or open Google Reader in a new tab.

Next on my list of wanted extensions is the 1-click Weather extension provided by Weather.com which gives you a toolbar icon showing the current temperature in your city and clicking on the icon will give you a detailed weather map as well as a mini forecast. If you’re using Windows Vista/7 you’ve probably already, like me, got the Windows Weather widget on your desktop but this is always using Chrome.

Like many other people, I too have and use my Gmail account, especially when sending emails when away from my own laptop and when sending interesting posts to friends. With this extension I can quickly keep a tab of any new emails arriving and the unread email count in my Gmail account right from my browser toolbar.

If you have a Google Wave, Google Voice account as well as Gmail and use Google Reader you can always opt to use the One Number extension which uses a single toolbar icon to monitor all your Google accounts together.

Even though I read most of what I’m interested in via Google Reader, I occasionally search for something through Google or click through to view the full post on the website, since it may be limited in the feed article. I’m so used to where ads appear and how they appear that they don’t really bother me, but others may enjoy the AdBlock extension (works similarly to Mozilla Firefox’s ad blocker – and it’s customizable too).

Update: for developers and designers out there – I’ve just seen the following post recommending 15 must have Google Chrome extensions.

These are just a few extensions that I’ve showcased here like I said there are over 1500 extensions to choose from. Go and have a browse, try them out, if you find an interesting one and it works well, let me know in the comments. Happy surfing!

PS: Remember you can manage your installed extensions (and their respective options) by selecting Extensions from the Tools menu or type in chrome://extensions/ in the address bar.

Visual Studio 2008 Bug

A little while back my Visual Studio 2008 on my work PC started giving me hassles where it just decided to stop tracking the active file I’m working on in the Solution Explorer.

I just ignored it up until now but it’s been bugging me again so I wanted to know what was up. Some people were saying it was a Vista and VS2008 SP1 issue but I’m almost certain it wasn’t always acting like this.

It seems there’s a little checkbox that just needs to be checked again to rectify this.

With the Visual Studio 2008 IDE open go to Tools -> Options and click on the Projects and Solutions node in the tree list.

VS2008-Options

Then simply make sure the “Track Active Item in Solution Explorer” checkbox is ticked and click OK – et voila, your solution explorer is working like it should be again.

VS2008-Options-track-checkbox

Free Software: Smart Defrag

Is your hard- drive slowly becoming more and more sluggish? Is that little HDD LED almost permanently on while you work? Then it might be that your drive needs to be defragmented

As you work with files on your hard drive, creating, saving, moving, deleting, things get a little cluttered and out of order. The more cluttered things get, the longer it takes to find files on your disk. And unless you’re using Solid State Drives, it’s probably the biggest bottleneck on your system.

But wait, if you call now… no this isn’t some lame infomercial. I just want to tell you about a nice, free, hard disk defragmentation tool that I’ve been running for the last couple of days that has made an improvement on file access on the hard disk drive.

It’s called Smart Defrag. Why’s it smart, because it does the work for you, behind the scenes, even while you’re working. Yes, there is a built in defrag utility in Windows but it doesn’t work while you work. and yes there are others such utilities out there, but most want you to pay an arm and a leg for them – this one, is free!

Here’s what my hard disk looked like, in Smart Defrag, after I had just installed it – and ran it for the first time:

defrag-before

As you can see the drive was very fragmented (all those little red blocks signify that). And then after it had done it’s thing later on the next day I checked back by double clicking the Smart Defrag icon in the system tray and this was what it looked like:

defrag-after

No more red little blocks! And the response time of the drive is much quicker.  With the Smart Defrag’s options you can even set what thresholds (CPU usage and HDD activity) should be used to prevent Auto Defrag from ocurring to quickly when you might be very busy. And you can even schedule when you want it to run a full defrag.

It’s as simple as that – then forget about it, and it’ll do the work for you.

Go and download a copy now and try it out for yourself.

Handy .Net tool for you

The dev. team at FishCodeLib have put together a handly little app (less than 700kb install and less than 6MB of memory usage), called Capture.Net that offers you a calendar, ruler, screen capture, colour picker, font viewer, alarm clock and note taker, privacy tool, and file format converter, all in one. You can even measure angles 🙂

capturenet

I’m not a graphic designer, I’m a software developer, but building websites and web applications every now and again you need to capture something, or pick a colour and find out what it would be in hex, to use in your stylesheets. This is the tool for me, quicker than firing up a bulky graphics package. 

Note, however, that you need the .Net framework installed (but it’s compatible with all versions).

It’s free, so go and get your copy and try it out for yourself.  [via Lifehacker]

Wider audience for .Net developers

The Mono Project has just released its latest version 2.0 allowing .Net developers to test and port (sometimes with little or no coding changes) so that they can be run on other platforms like Linux and Mac. The lastest version of Mono is compatible with server and desktop version of the 2.0 version of the .Net platform. This will now allow software developers and software houses to reach a wider range of clients since they can develop software using Microsoft’s architecture that will run on different platforms. 

MultiSet 6.1 – System rebuilding tool (Free, for limited time only)

The team at Almeza have developed a tool all system admins and power home users, who rebuild often, should get an use. It allows you to create a bootable DVD with the OS, default usernames as well as software you require to be installed once the OS has been installed and pre-configures, together with serial numbers and registry entries. And since the install set is not machine specific you can use it to rebuild the same machine, or others, perfect for system admins who need to build more than one machine with the same set of software and configuration. And what better than getting it for FREE, for a limited time only. 

If you head over to the Giveaway of the Day website now you can download (and activate) the software for free (normal retail price is $99.95USD). Note that you have to download and activate it within the limited time period – and as of this post, there’s still 14 hours left, so hurry!

Caveat to the free download is that you’re not eligible to support or future upgrades – but a great way to try it out and keep it if you like it.

Free alternative to Photoshop

At a fraction of the size, and incomparable in cost, since it’s available for FRE, Artweaver is a pretty good alternative to a very expensive piece of software. It supports most of the features Photoshop does, like layers, plugins, brushes, a few effects and even tablet support. !t is currently in version 0.5 and is available in English and German but since it has an SDK other languages and plugins can easily be developed and added by other developers. 

You can see the list of available features and download the application (8.8MB) to try out for yourself – no complicated installation, just download, extract and try it out. If you’ve used Photoshop before you’ll feel right at home.

Fake Antivirus/Anti-Spyware Software

For the veteran Internet users and software developers like myself this may not be a surprise but to newer Internet users or people not too familiar with spyware and malware out there take care! First there were innocent viruses that would just popup at a specific date/time or randomly with an annoying message. Then they became malicious and wrote destructive viruses, deleting/infecting files and with the increase use of the Internet spread them like wildfire through email.

There are numerous amounts of phishing scams out there already but now they’re targetting the unsuspecting user by offerring tools to rid your machine of viruses and spyware. Unfortunately, this is the very software you may unsuspectingly be downloading and installing thinking you’re protecting yourself, while in-fact, putting yourself in harms way instead. There are now tonns of fake antivirus and spyware removal tools luring people to download and install them but leaving themselves open instead. These fakes will alert you to viruses that don’t really exist and keep pestering you to purchase the software to “effectively” remove them. All you’re doing in the end is spending money on useless software and leaving your machine, possibly, more infected than it was before.

How do they lure the unsuspecting user? Often with popups on websites you visit claiming that your PC may be infected and that you should act now by downloading their antivirus/spyware removal software now. Take my advice and stick to reputable sources for antivirus and spyware removal tools and don’t trust these freebies/free-trial offers from vendors you don’t know/trust. If in doubt, ask a friend, or a friend of a friend who may be in the know.

The ones you can trust are the ones who’ve been around the longest – and more often than not you can protect yourself without spending a fortune, or anything! I have been using, and will continue to use, Grisoft’s AVG Free edition antivirus software since it’s original release back in the 90’s and I’ve yet (knock on wood) to be infected. Regular daily update checks and daily scans (including realtime scanning) ensures my machine(s) are kept safe. If you’re using a company machine they’ve probably got some commercial version of antivirus software installed like Trend Micro, Microsoft Forefront, McAfee Antivirus, AVG Internet Security, etc.

Click here to see an example of fake antivirus software (Antivirus2008 Pro) which looks legitimate.

There’s a page that’s been updated by it’s auther since 2004, containing a list of rogue anti-spyware software out there that will infect your machine and offer no help whatsoever. Looking at the list can be scary but it just go to show how vigilant you need to be and how important it is to protect yourself and get help from someone who knows if you don’t. 

You can read up more on this on posts/sites like the following:

Want to know more about AVG and how to set it up on your own PC and starting protecting yourself from virus now? Head on over to a great “how-to” guide on the How To Geek website now.

Skype Backdoor

Skype

I was reading a post this morning on MyBroadband and I was wondering about other IM/VoIP software out there to use as an alternative to landline/mobile communication to circumvent this ludicrous bill that they want passed in SA soon.

So, whom better than probably the most widely known and best-publicised product out there, Skype! And then I did a little digging and it didn’t take me long to come up with this article where they’re talking about a backdoor in Skype for listening in on VoIP calls or monitoring IM chats. Although Skype denies the allegations, it’s still of concern.

Skype VoIP Calls

Which brings me to another point, alternatives – trustworthy alternatives. The words “trust” and “internet” just don’t go hand in hand anymore these days or are we just becoming a bunch of cynics. So I looked at what other alternatives for IM/VoIP software there is out there and it’s almost a limitless list, where to begin, which is better?

Where to from here? Encrypted smoke-signals? Or do we just learn how to communicate telepathically (encrypted of course) to prevent Big Brother from listening in?