Killing time waiting in the barber shop so it seemed logical to knock out a post about Chrome. If you’ve been reading SOD ( and let’s face it, who doesn’t), you know I’ve been playing with Chrome for about a year. I’ve never been able to switch to it as my full time browser because of poor support for ad blocking.
But now things have changed because of pre-loading blocking capabilities being added to Webkit. Cool. Now most ads are blocked prior to loading and the speed of Chrome shows through. Add to that some decent addons like Gmail Checker Plus (the 1.1.8 pre release version) and some very nice features in Gmail two of which only work with Chrome (drag and drop attachments, in-line pictures, and attachment downloads) makes Chrome a no brainer for for heavy Gmail users like me.
If you are a power user of Gmail you will want to at least give MailBrowser a try (http://mailbrowser.com). It is mostly a straight up clone of Xnobi, an excellent plugin for Outlook, that works in your browser with Gmail. It installs as a regular application and runs in your system try. On Firefox it also installs an addon called MailBrowser that I presume creates the sidebar MailBrowser runs in.
Once you’ve installed the program and given it your login credentials for your Gmail account, it downloads your contacts and all the attachments in your Gmail account. The attachments are stored in a folder on your local machine by contact name, and are indexed by MailBrowser so you can search them. The MB interface presents you with information about your contacts, and what they have sent you either by thread or as a list of files.
Among the helpful things you can do is edit files opened from the MB interface. The changed file is synced back to your Gmail account and you can get a link to email the changes back.
This addon is still under heavy development but has lots of potential. I would like to see it run in Gmail as a loadable gadget to give even deeper integration. But even as is it is very usable.
As far as security goes, the developers say this addon only communicates with Gmail, nothing goes back to them. Your files are stored and indexed on your machine and under your control.
Google is making progress, its slow but its progress, on some of the issues I’ve long complained about. First among these is the lack of drag and drop attachments for Gmail. Lo and behold last week this feature was announced for users of Firefox and Chrome. Google says that drag and drop picture insertions is working for Chrome users and should be working soon for Firefox. Great.
The Google mandarins also announced last week that all of Google’s applications (Picasa, Buzz, etc.) would be available for Google apps domains by the end of the summer. Laudable since treating paying customers like second class citizens seems silly.
While these announcements are appreciated they are way over due, not having drag and drop attachments and photo inserts is so 2002, not 2010. What took so long? And not letting premium customers have all the neat features. What were you thinking Google?
Now that those are out of the way (or soon will be) they need to implement their actual top requested features: revamping the look and feel of contacts to something modern and permitting users to turn off threading in the mail application.
Get with it dudes.
I’ve been trying to use Google Chrome as my primary web browser for the past week. I really like the clean interface with the tabs on top and looked forward to the promised speed bump over Firefox. I also really like two addons, Friends Mural for Facebook and Mail Checker Plus. They are really slick ways to interface with Facebook and Gmail that are seriously better than anything I’ve found for Firefox.
So more speed, better addons, what’s not to like? Several basic things actually. While several adblock style addons have are available that actually use the adblock filterset, they do not work nearly as well as adblock for Firefox. Even with the addition of the adblock element blocker they do not display and adblocked page as cleanly as adblock in Firefox and many of the ads appear briefly before being blocked. To add injury to annoyance, adblock seriously slows down Chrome making it seem slower than Firefox.
Comments on the Chrome adblock download page indicate that the fault lies with the architecture of chrome. There is apparently no way to block ads similar to the functionality provided by Firefox. Bummer.
The other major issue is continual freezes and lockups. This may be related to any of the addons running, I have not tested. But I am using the stable version of Chrome with adblock, adblock element blocker, Friends Mural and Mail Checker running and get constant lockups and freezes. This seems to happen mostly when checking mail, so I’m going to tentatively blame Mail Checker Plus, but that may not be right.
I feel that one day, over time, the adblocking and other issues will be solved by the addon devs and the possibility for tight integration of the browser with the Google services I use extensively will provide a compelling reason for me to switch. But today is not that day.