Chrome Extensions – Taking Your Web Browser to the Next Level

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Google_Chrome_icon_(2011).svgYour web browser is probably the most used piece of software on your PC, tablet, or phone. They are our chariot to a nearly limitless amount of information on the web. While finding information is their main function, you can supercharge your browser by using extensions or plug ins. Here are few examples of how you can get more out of Google Chrome. (Don’t worry if you are an Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox user: those browsers also have the abilities to take on similar-type plugins.)

YoWindow Weather

Weather extensions are pretty common, and there are a lot out there. But not all are created equal. This is one I recently started using. I like that it adds a little icon, which displays current temperature, to the right of your address bar. Clicking on the icon expands the extension, so you see an extended forecast, along with a ton of other information. You can change backgrounds, which also reflect current conditions, for an extra visual. Overall, YoWindow does a great job of quickly telling you what the weather is doing in one or multiple locations.

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Search by Image

This is great if you find an image and want to find others similar to it, one of better quality, or find out more about it whatever is in the picture. You simply right-click on the image and search Google (look for the blue camera), which will go out and bring back all kinds of related information. For example, I right-clicked on this picture, and the Search Image brought back a plethora of useful information about Albert Einstein.

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Momentum

This extension helps spice up a new tab when you open it — along with providing some nifty features — instead of just showing the plain white background with previously-visited sites. It will greet you, provide the time, temperature, a daily goal set by you, a to-do list, and an inspirational quote. Sometimes you just need a change of scenery!

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Of course, these  plugins only scratch the surface of what’s available. Extensions are easy to install and can usually be done in a click or two.  Head over to the Chrome webstore to check out all of the extensions, apps, and themes available. And remember, if you need help getting any of these installed on your work computers, give us a call at Everon (888-244-1748). We’re here for you, 24/7, 365.

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Microsoft to Stop Making Windows OS: How this will impact your business

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windows 10 - last osIn a recent conference speech, Jerry Nixon, a Microsoft exec, announced that Windows 10 will be the software giant’s last operating system. Instead of creating an entirely new OS after Windows 10 is released (widely rumored to happen in July), Microsoft will continue to make improvements to Windows 10 through regular updates.

This type of OS-updating is already seen to some extent with the Apple OSX architecture. Nixon stated that a big reason behind the move was due to how the development team would lock themselves away for three years to create the next operating system… but their end-result would be a product the world wanted three years ago. Given how quickly technology changes, this new process will be a welcome departure.

Microsoft has not yet determined what it will call its iterations, post-Windows 10. However, we will not see the continued numerical names to its OS. Microsoft also mentioned that this will help sales, as the idea of selling end users on entirely new operating systems has become increasingly difficult. This way of thinking can be somewhat attributed to the failures of Vista and Windows 8.

Windows 10 will have some version of the Start Menu, which is what seemed to be a stopping point for many businesses. You can download a free preview of the operating system here. (For information on how to create a virtual Windows 10 preview, see my previous blog post, found here.)

Of special note, if you are a small-medium business: you can rejoice in the fact that you will no longer have to have a test machine in your network, to test all of your applications and specialized network setup, every time Microsoft releases a brand new OS. Once your company moves to Windows 10, you should not need to worry about having a new operating system, preventing your company from moving to the latest version. (Although you will want to ensure you are getting the appropriate updates, as they will be critical for keeping your computers protected, and allowing Microsoft to patch security flaws.)

Microsoft’s updates to Windows 10 will likely be free, similar to the way Apple handles its updates to OSX. In fact, if you own Windows 7 or later, and you update within the first year of Windows 10′s release, you will get Windows 10 for free. (Details for that can be found here.) The Windows 10 free upgrade is also free for users who have pirated software as well. (Details for that can be found here.) Microsoft is allowing this to happen to help combat piracy and ensure their OS is patched and in the hands of as many end users as possible.

Microsoft’s idea of giving away their OS for free is a departure from their old way of thinking. It is a strategic move, as Microsoft continues to battle Apple for the OS user base.

Microsoft has made some other bold changes lately, including a decision to discontinue its popular web browser Internet Explorer for its new product, Spartan. Spartan will reportedly be lightweight and very similar to other popular lightweight browsers on the market, such as Chrome and Firefox. The new browser will appear on Windows 10.

Our engineers at Everon are constantly staying on top of the tech-trends that affect small to medium businesses. If you have any questions about Microsoft or Windows 10, feel free to call 1-888-244-1748.

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Chrome Extensions: Adblock Plus

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When coming up with a blog post to write, I tried thinking of what helps me do my job. There is one thing that really helps me keep my sanity here, and that’s Chrome Extensions.

I was once a part of a test of different Internet browsers to determine which one is the best in terms of speed and security. Chrome was at the top of the list. It has become my go-to browser for not only Windows machines but also Macs. I like how simple Chrome is — and how fast it is. 

Chrome has a feature built-in that allows extensions, which are tools that allow you to change/customize Chrome to your liking. My favorite extension by far is Adblock Plus:

https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/adblock-plus/cfhdojbkjhnklbpkdaibdccddilifddbThis simple extension helps block ads on webpages, ads before youtube videos, and all of those annoying pop ups that show up while you are reading a web page. Now, of course, websites make their money from ads on their pages, so you should not disable ads on sites unless they are causing a serious issue. But even with Adblock Plus, you can allow certain ads to flow through, if you so desire. Here is how to install Adblock Plus and how to modify it to your liking:

Click on the link above; it will take you to the Chrome Store page for ABP. Simply click on the ADD button, and install it. Of course, you need Chrome to install it, but once you do, it will be in your list of extensions (if you want to know how to find your Chrome extensions, go to Chrome Settings ->Extensions) and it will be ready to go.

You will need to restart your Chrome browser. However, once you do, in the upper right-hand corner you will now see what appears to be a stop sign with “ABP” inside. That is Adblock Plus. Click on that logo, and it gives you some information, such as how many ads are blocked on your site. You can enable or disable ABP on individual sites (which could be HUGELY important for certain sites where you have to rely on the inclusion of ads to use the site), and you also have an options location here. You can create your own filters in Options, as well as turn off and on certain types of ads that you might want to come through.

I highly recommend checking out Adblock Plus for your Chrome extensions, as it really cleans up your Internet browsing and makes your experience online a much quicker and more fluid viewing experience.

Google Chrome Malware Cleaner

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Google Chrome has quickly become a top contender in wanting to be your internet browser of choice. With its speed, customizability, and ease of use, I thoroughly enjoy and recommend it to everyone. Unfortunately, when any application starts to gain attention and a user base it also gains the attention of malware developers.

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Browser malware can interrupt many things. It can hijack your searches to other search providers. It can add an incredible amount of ads and/or pop-ups. Or it can simply just slow things down to a crawl when browsing or opening/closing the application itself.

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That’s where the Google Chrome Software Removal Tool comes into play. It is available to download at https://www.google.com/chrome/srt/.

Downloading and running the tool will do a quick scan, which will check for anything suspicious, then request to clear caches and such.

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Very handy tool worth checking out, if Chrome is acting up for you. Only takes a few moments! 

How I broke my phone, got it fixed, and why I might stick with Windows OS the next time I phone-shop

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spotifyFor about a month Spotify hadn’t been working properly on my Samsung Focus. I couldn’t “search” for songs via my phone; I had to wait until I got onto my home computer. So last Saturday I finally decided to take matters into my own hands. Big mistake.

Uninstall? Click-click. Done: Spotify uninstalled. Easy-peasy.

Reinstall? Go to Spotify on the Web. Click “Download.” Easy—. Wait.

There was an error message saying that Spotify wasn’t compatible with my phone and that I needed an update. I went to my phone’s settings, but there were no new updates. I tried to login to my Spotify account manually, but it said my username and/or password were wrong, and that I needed to login via Facebook. So I went to FB and was told that it wasn’t compatible with the iE browser on my phone (which is weird, because I already have a FB app on my phone), so I tried to download Chrome, which stalled out and hung…!

I repeated this vicious cycle of attempting anything and everything I could think of to try to get Spotify back on my phone. (Because without tunes, how was I going to do my workout? Amiright?) I wished I could call one of my tech colleagues from Everon, but it was the weekend; I hated the idea of bugging them with work. By Saturday night I was dreading the thought of tackling a 35-minute powerwalk without Iggy Azalea telling me to “Work!”

A sick feeling began to develop in the pit of my stomach. I knew I was going to have to visit a phone store. Maybe the pros could fix what was wrong. Or maybe my 3 year-old Samsung Focus was just too old, too antiquated. Maybe I’d have to crack and change. I was facing the possibility of having to readjust my life to a new phone. Probably an Android.

Samsung Galaxy Note 4

Samsung Galaxy Note 4

The hot trend that stormed the market this month is the phablet—like Samsung’s Galaxy Note 4 (which pioneered phablets four years ago; Android), Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus (iOS), and Motorola’s Moto X (also Android). I’m not sure how I feel about handling the oversized devices or whether they would fit into my purse-pockets, but the idea of being able to write and text more easily is starting to grow on me.

However, I’m used to Windows, and I’m not a heavy-duty app user. I can organize my schedule and sync it with Outlook. I can take notes and upload my photos to OneDrive. I recently learned how to utilize the GPS-thingy so I can navigate to new places in Boulder. And I absolutely love my Spotify. But all of Microsoft’s latest bells and whistles, like Cortana (Microsoft’s Siri), and its forthcoming, universal Windows OS, are getting ready to be overhauled into the new Lumia (Microsoft is dropping the Nokia brand name) sometime in 2015. So I’d like to put off a purchase for as long as possible.

Sunday morning, shortly after the mall opened, I put on my game-face, strode past Old Navy, H&M, and even White House Black Market—without wavering—all the way to the AT&T store. (Yup: I didn’t stop. Didn’t even look at the storefronts. Music is that important.) Fortunately, my exposure to the funny, friendly techs here at Everon has rendered me uber-comfortable dealing with techs. It was pretty easy for me to hand my phone to the guy behind the counter, Alex, and explain the problem. Alex frowned, going through the same vicious cycle of error messages I’d been through earlier.

One of the friendly techs, and fellow bloggers, here at Everon: Tony Cooper.

One of the friendly techs, and a fellow blogger, here at Everon: Tony Cooper.

“Sorry this is taking me a while,” he apologized. “We don’t get a lot of Windows phones in here.” Yeah, I figured. I’m in a minority of cell phone owners. I’m sure my game-face morphed into reluctant resignation as I began glancing at the displays along the wall, wondering which one would be hard-sale-forced upon me.

Alex went to confer with a colleague. I wandered over to the wall and cradled the weird, curved shape of the LG Flex with its Android OS, the giant Samsung Galaxy Note 3 (the Note 4 won’t hit stores until October), and the Windows-based Nokia Lumia 1020, with a near-professional-grade camera and a hefty price tag. They all felt foreign in my palm. Alex came back; I returned to the counter.

“I know it’s really old,” I sighed, gesturing at my Focus. “I probably just need a new one.”

“But does this one work for you?” Alex asked.

“Well, aside from now, yes,” I shrugged.

“Well, then, that’s all that matters,” he said. “Let’s see if we can fix it.”

Wait—what?

I blinked. Yes, he’d just said that. He wasn’t going to hard-sell me on something I didn’t need; he was genuinely going to try to help me. Come to think of it, it’s the same attitude my guys maintain at work. Heck, it’s our motto: “People first, technology second.” Hope rose in my chest.

Alex proceeded to go to the Windows Marketplace on my phone and download Spotify from there. It worked, without error messages. From there, we had a bit of trouble trying to correctly login (for some reason it wanted my old username), but suddenly—voila—music!

He handed me back my phone. I gushed thank yous at him as he smiled, nodded, and turned to the next customer. It wasn’t until I’d practically danced out the door of the shop that I realized not only had I not had to buy a new phone, but I’d just had my phone fixed… for free… just because I have a monthly plan with AT&T.

Now I know what our Everon customers feel like when they rave about “dealing with true professionals” who fixed their machines. Ah, happy endings!

More friendly Everon techs: L2 Engineer Tim Woodworth and L1 Engineer Jay McGuire.

More friendly Everon techs: L2 Engineer Tim Woodworth and L1 Engineer Jay McGuire.