Chrome for Mac: Review

Today, I got my hands on a Macbook, installed Chrome, and played around with it for a good solid hour, trying to cram in as much stuff as I could in the time I had with it. Man, I seriously need a virtual Mac or something.

How is it?

mac-google-chrome-logo[1]

It's finally here!

Chrome comes with most of the goodies its Windows sibling has, like its ridiculously fast speed and lightweight size. While it is still slightly slower than Safari (by roughly 12%) in a general benchmarking test, it still has a boot time that can’t be beat; As one friend put it, “I just clicked on it, and its like the internet was just… there.” Chrome, as it stands, can render Javascript 10x faster than Opera 10, and 4x faster than the latest Firefox build, which is certainly saying something. On Windows, Chrome is still heralded as the fastest browser available.

Features

Probably the absolute best feature in Chrome is its “Omnibox,” the word for Google’s new address bar. You can search almost any site from it. Try it out; Type something random into it, and it’ll search it with whatever your search engine is (Of course, Google by default). But wait, there’s more! Type in any website you’ve visited and searched something on, and after typing it in, hit tab; then, just type whatever you want, and it will search the site for it. It’s really, really helpful.

Chrome still has its famous site-specific browser feature available, making webapps ridiculously easy to access; just hit “File,” and select “Create Application Shortcut” to pin any webapp to your desktop. How easy is that? Now, Pixlr.com, Google Docs, and ScreenToaster are all available, right from my laptop, in a nice, discreet window.

One thing that Chrome has been known for is keeping every tab in a separate process, meaning that when one tab crashes, that tab and ONLY that tab crashes. This really helps if you often find yourself on sites with poorly coded javascript, for example, that would usually just crash your entire browser. As for safety, there have been many instances in which Google Chrome as alerted me when I try to view a fake site, or a site with a known history of malicious content. In that respect, Chrome always has my back.

Make sure to check out the Google Chrome videos, explaining its features with a variety of interesting personifications.

chrome-mac[1]

Shortcuts

Finally, finally, you can use ctrl+tab to switch between tabs. I’ve been waiting so long for this shortcut, it’s not even funny. Safari has yet to add it, which is a huge bummer; I think  the only way to switch between tabs is command+shift+left/right, which is really annoying, especially since I’m so used to just ctrl+tabbing through my web pages. You should see my computer; at any given time, I have something like 10 or 11 tabs open, although recently I’ve been keeping it down around 5.

Also, check this out; close a tab, and then hit command+shift+t; it pulls up the tab you just closed. I use that SO often. There are so may times that I’ve closed tabs on myself, its not even funny.

Whats next?

While Chrome for Mac doesn’t support themes or plugins, like the Windows version does, Google has promised to roll out updates for plugin support, as well as things like themes and speed increases. After all, their ultimate goal is to create the fastest, easiest to use browser. Because of restrictions in Apple’s software platform, we might never get to see little interface things, like having all the menu items contained in a “Pages” or “Tools” icon, as in the Windows version. I highly recommend downloading it. In fact…

Download Google Chrome here!

Google Wave Beta Invite Giveaway!

Edit:

Anyone who has signed up for an invite should know that I will be pulling winners by the 20th of this month. Additionally, if anyone wants a second chance at winning beta invites, check out my friend’s blog at www.h4x3d.com for additional beta invites.


I’m giving away 10 Google Wave Beta Invites! Thats right; 10 lucky people will get Google Wave beta invites, courtesy of myself. I feel like when I’m low on post ideas and visitors, the best way to snag a few extras is to give free stuff away. Besides, I like giving out free stuff; what am I going to do with all these invites anyways? It’s not like I have friends or anything (whatever those are).

Google Wave is a communication program aimed at making it easy and simple to collaborate with multiple people. There’s really no other way to describe it besides to direct you to my quick review on it or to point you to the site, which has a nice introductory video on Google Wave and what it’s about.

This giveaway is going to work a little different than the ones I’ve done in the past. To be submitted in this contest, you’ll need to do one of two things: tweet the post, or digg it.

1. Tweet this post!

All you’ll need to do to tweet this post is to click the big “Tweet this now!” button below, and clicking the “Update” button to post the tweet. Thats it! If you win, I’ll send you a message on twitter.

Tweet this now!

If you submit, I’ll follow you, so that’s an added bonus. Plus, if you post your twitter account name in the comments section, I’m sure other viewers would be happy to follow you.

Get on twitter, log in, and then click the image create a tweet with a link to this post. Its that easy!

2. Digg this post.

A horribly easy way to get another submission is to Digg this post. Again, all you have to do is click the big button below, and click “Digg this”.  Oh, and make sure you have a Digg account, too. You’ll need one of those. Reagardless, digging is really easy, and takes one click. Go for it! You might just win.

Tweet or Digg this post now!

Halo 3: ODST

Here it goes again…

Looks like Bungie’s done it again; they’ve cranked out another Halo title, dubbing this one “Halo 3: ODST,” which is short for “Orbital Drop Shock Trooper.” Its all over twitter, IGN, and every game site ever. I personally LOVE it when Bungie releases a new game for Xbox, because I, as one of the few who don’t own an Xbox, get to bash the game to bits based on advertising, public appearance, trailers, and whatever dirt I can dig up on it. This is not a review, mind you. This is just me being absolutely mean to a company that likes to beat dead horses for so long that they might as well be beating a bag of decomposing manure.

<rant>

Ok. I’ve seen the “GROUNDBREAKING TRAILER!” everyone is talking about. It involves a metropolan city being bombarded by what look like mechanical asteroids, shortly followed by a thunderstorm and several thousand search parties. At this point, an asteroid opens up, some guy gets out and looks heroic, and then runs into the shadows as aliens march by, apparently incredibly focused on maintaining exactly 3 feet apart from each other, while still trying to appear haphazard.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tWKjXkJVRWk

And here’s the best part; according to the site…

You are an Orbital Drop Shock Trooper. Your orders: Stay alive, meet up with your scattered squad, and escape the embattled city.

So… why were you launched into the city in the first place? I mean, hell, whoever launched you would have been better off just substituting those neat little drop pods for giant rocks and obliterating half the city. And there were hundreds of those stupid pods. I’m to believe that once you land, randomly, in a city, you’re to find your way to a select GROUP of these troopers? I can almost imagine running into another human in all the rubble… “Hey, sup. You from Bravo squad? No? A’ight, cool. Cya.” And why would the omnipotent, god-like leader of the “marines” choose to launch people into a city, only to tell them to ‘rough it out until you can sneak out quietly”?

The city, according to the site, was taken over by aliens- sorry, i meant “Covenant forces” some time ago, and you’re eventually supposed to reclaim the city (which you already pretty much totaled by launching hundreds of large asteroids into the city). But… isn’t that almost exactly like every other mission in any other Halo game? You’re either destroying aliens on THEIR planets or on ours. I really wish Bungie would stop beating the crap out of the dead Halo horse long enough to think of a better idea. Yeah, sure, Halo 1 was epic, Halo 2 added some more stuff on, and Halo 3, while refusing to make the computer players any less pants-on-head retarded, was actually quite fun. But its nothing new. At all. I know Bungie is trying to secretly hype up their new ‘project,’ Halo: Reach, but as of right now, the trailer consists of earth being blown to bits. Or something along those lines at least.

Overall, don’t expect me to praise a game I haven’t played, but don’t expect me to like it if the things you’ve been jamming down my throat are monotonous and status-quo. Sorry, Bungie, but this game seems to be something I won’t really appreciate until I end up at the house of a Halo fanboy (which, I can’t say will be much fun either, because he’ll already be good at the game while I’m still getting my feet wet).

</rant>

Sorry about that Bungie… I just have to do that from time to time to vent off some steam. I’m sure if I had an Xbox I’d be as addicted as everyone else.

iTunes $30 Giveaway!

Because I’m shabby, I felt the need to throw out a few giveaways from time to time. This time, I’m giving away TWO $15 iTunes Giftcards! All you have to do to enter is promote my blog somehow. I have a points system set up. Below is a huge list of ways you can earn submissions for the gift card. Every time you do something, you can earn more and more submissions. When the deadline rolls around (which I’m going to set as the 20th of September, Midnight EST), I will use Random.org to pull a random ticket from your list of submissions. Make sure you enter your correct email when you post comments, so I can contact you if you’re the winner. If your email returns a “Does Not Exist” email, or you do not respond to it within a week, I will choose a second winner. Anyways, I’m willing to give submissions for almost anything that’ll get my blog a bit of publicity. Here are some ideas I came up with;

Just post a comment!  (1) (Easiest way!)
Come on. How much easier could it be? Heck, I’ll even give you a second submission if your comment is funny.

Digg this post! (2) (ALMOST easiest way)
I want this post to be ALL over Digg. Help me out here!

Tweet about this post on Twitter (1)
Everyone is tweeting these days. Fairly self-explanitory. The “Share This” link on the bottom makes tweeting this post really easy. One submission.

Join my Facebook Fan Page! (2 each)
I set up a Facebook page for my site. Check it out here, and post a comment here AND on the fan page itself once you’ve subscribed. You can find it here.

Follow me! (2 each)
Follow me, either by email or RSS , and post a comment once you have so I can check. – 2 submissions each.

Network me! (1 each)
Add me to a social network or web bookmarking site (StumbleUpon, Delicious.com, etc). Again, post a comment here with a link to the added submission. – 1 submission

Donate 100 Entrecard Credits (3)
If you’re an Entrecard user, you can donate Entrecard Credits to me. I’ll give you 3 submissions for every 100 you send me.

Review my blog on yours! (3)

If you review my blog, not only will you get 3 submissions, but I’ll review yours if you win! Good deal, huh? Just contact me or post a comment here, and I’ll get you your credits right away.

Post a link for my site on yours (3)
This is one of the best way to get submissions. I get a few hits, and you get 3 submissions to win the gift card!

Put an ad up for my site (5)
This is fairly straighforward; if you’re a blogger, put an image ad for my site up on your site. I can provide images if you need. Just click the “Contact” tab on the top of this page. For this, I award 5 submissions.

If you come up with a better idea for ways to promote my blog, I’ll add it to the list above AND give you 1 submission for free. Just contact me, and I’ll respond as soon as I can. So, comment up, promote my blog, and you might be the owner of $15 iTunes Dollars!

Trance.FM: Ambient Radio

Personally, I’m a big fan of ambient electronica and trance music. I’ve never really been able to find a good site with active, 24/7, streaming content, though, which really got to me. A friend of mine recommended I try out “Trance.Fm” to see how I liked it. Sure enough, the site is exactly what I’ve been looking for. It has 2 constantly running channels; one for trance music, and another for DJ mixes. They can both stream directly from web players, each of which has a live rating for each channel. This makes it easy to see which channels are really good and which aren’t doing so well.

If you join as a member, you get access to a few cool features, such as a live chatroom. Often enough, DJ’s will hang out in the chatroom while their music is playing, so you can ask them about their music, complement them, or divulge your life story to them in the hopes that they can help. Although they might not be very good with that last bit, they’re often very interesting. I spent a while talking to someone named Jacob. When I realized he was the same “Jacob” as the DJ whose music was currently playing, I was really blown away. You can check out some of his music here, or visit trance.fm on wednesday afternoons (EST) to hear some of his work. He’s really good. Its particularly humerous to listen to his music while he and his friends make fun of eachother, so I seriously recommend becoming a member (for free, of course) at Trance.Fm.

Finally, if you’re an aspiring DJ, Trance.Fm is one of the best ways to get your music heard. It is fairly simple to contact the site’s administrator (There’s a nice big contact link on the side). From there, submit some of your music, and with luck, you might find yourself with a spot on the air, being heard by people all around the internet. Believe me, its very good publicity.

Just to wrap things up, make sure you pay Trance.Fm a visit if you’re into electronic or ambient music. Its well worth the visit.

Oh, and if anyone out there is interested, Royksopp, the Norwegian 2-man electronic group, is hosting a remix contest. More on that in a later post, but if you don’t want to download every individual layer from their website, you can get all the clips in a .zip file here.

Immunet: A new kind of security.

A new approach to security.

Recently, I came across a program called “Immunet Protect” while browsing around Twitter. Typically, I don’t like to experiment with different software when I don’t have to, particularly those of the computer security genre, but Immunet is different; it’s one of the few cloud-based antivirus programs out there. On top of that, its free. I’ll get into more of that in a second. In addition, it doesn’t waste time scanning inactive files on your computer. Instead, it monitors (actively or passively) your system processes as they start and stop, or as they run, depending on your preference.

Lightweight, yet sturdy.

immunet_settings

As I mentioned before, Immunet Protect works through a sort of cloud. When a user using Immunet is attacked by a virus of any sort, the event is logged and sent back to Immunet’s servers. From there, the servers push updated definitions to client computers. This allows every computer to stay up to date with the latest threats immediately, as well as allow Immunet to take care of any specific issues, like false positives (incorrectly identified legitimate files). The program is also rather lightweight; While running one of its scans, the program took up only an additional 2% of my processing power, and 15 megabytes of system memory. Thats what I call lightweight.

File and Process Handling.

Immunet is radically different from what I’ve seen in most other antivirus programs. For one, scanning takes all of 40 seconds to a minute and a half, depending on how many processes you have running. For me, running Windows 7, with a mediocre-at-best laptop processor, I finished a complete “Flash Scan,” encompassing around 4,000 files, in a minute and 2 seconds flat. Immunet Protect doesn’t go through and pick out every single file in your system, scan it, and verify it. Instead, it scans critical files, like active registry keys, startup files,  and files being used by processes. It also monitors installations and new files, so that you remain safe. According to Oliver Friedrichs, the company’s founder and CEO:

We scan any new file that is copied to your file system while protection mode is active.  A FlashScan will scan all running processes as well as the file that are pointed to by common registry keys.  At the moment you cannot scan specific files, but we will be adding a shell extension to allow you to do this in the future.

The one thing I missed in the program, a feature to scan specific files, is already underway. Fantastic.

Asthetics and Interface

immunet_scan

One thing that impressed me about Immunet was its simplicity. The program has 4 tabs; Summary, History, Scan, and Settings, all wrapped in a neat chrome-blue window.

Summary
The summary tab displays how many Immunet users are online, and a brief overview of the program’s history (clean and infected files).

History
The history tab allows you to quickly view recent events, with search functionality (something I greatly appreciate).

Scan
The scan tab allows you to perform a FlashScan. You can also set whether or not you want to scan running and flashpoint processes.

Settings
Finally, the settings tab lets you set… well, the settings. You can chose whether or not to monitor program installations and startups, show notifications, and allow “Active Protection” to run.

Conclusion

Immunet really surprised me. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting anything fantastic when I saw yet another free antivirus program. But the speed and efficiency it yields is quite surprising. If you’re wary of installing a new antivirus program, you can leave your old one on in addition. Although its not recommended to run multiple security programs on the same computer, Immunet works fine in conjunction with Norton Antivirus and McAfee, from my experiences with it. I highly recommend this program for anyone who wants quality security for free.

You can download Immunet Protect for free from their website.