Top 3 must-have Google Chrome extensions

The best Google Chrome extensions is, without any doubt, AdBlock [do not confuse it with his “little-big” brother AdBlock Plus]. I simply can’t live or even think to browse the web without having it installed anymore. Nowadays nearly all webpages are full of ads and there are so many types that you can even distinguish between them: banners, pop-ups, pop-unders, etc. and they all share the same aspect: intrusiveness. Not only, in fact they can even follow and track your browsing experience site-by-site without caring about your privacy and/or giving you to ability to opt-out from this process. Luckily AdBlock give you the possibility to block ads on all websites even before they get loaded from your browser and it also blocks companies which tracks you on the web [like Google’s DoubleClick] at the same time. Be sure to select EasyList and EasyPrivacy from the blacklists menu.

Auto_HD_for_YouTubeThe second best Chrome extension in my opinion is Auto HD For YouTube by JRA Apps. This simple and lightweight extension makes your YouTube experience more seamless by automatically selecting the video quality you prefer for any videos you watch. If you’re like me in fact selecting video quality for each videos is a pain and if you’re also as lazy as I am sometimes you prefer watching a video at the ugly resolution of 240p instead of selecting 1080p or 720p and waiting for the YouTube player to reload the entire video from the beginning with the selected quality. This extensions also works with embedded videos, unlike other similar extensions.

The third best Chrome extensions is DoNotTrackMe by Abine. This extension, also available for Firefox, protects your online privacy by blocking nearly all tracking and advertising companies from seeing which sites you visit, videos you watch, purchases you make, etc.. If you use it in conjuction with AdBlock your browser will be able to protect your privacy from 99.99% of websites out in the internet. It needs no configuration  so it does the job for you right after you install it.

How to speed up Google Chrome by disabling useless plugins

Google_Chrome_icon

Google Chrome has quickly become the most used internet browser surpassing Firefox and Internet Explorer and its user base grown seems unstoppable, and it deserves it. It’s a fast, safe and extensible internet browser compared to the second most used, Internet Explorer.

But, like any other PC and Mac software, it can become slow and unresponsive over time. Luckily there are a few ways to speed it up again and the most effective is by disabling installed plugins you don’t need.

When you installed Chrome on you computer for the first time there weren’t many plugins installed other than Chrome’s default ones but third party software [for example Adobe Reader, Quicktime, VLC Media player, etc.], already present on your computer or which you installed in a second moment, tends to install new plugins to better integrate with your browser without asking and, while this is a good thing for safe and good softwares its not so good with bad ones like viruses, adwares and/or plugins you don’t need.

You can think of plugin like toolbars, the more you have the slower your browser will be.

So how can we disable those plugins? It’s a simple thing to do, just follow those steps:

  1. Launch Google Chrome
  2. Once it’s launched type [or copy and paste] this in your URL bar and press Enter:
    chrome://plugins
  3. Now you should see a list of the currently installed plugins, you can safely disable the ones you don’t need by clicking the Disable link under them.

I suggest you to disable third-party plugins like:

  • Windows Media Player Plugin
  • Microsoft DRM
  • DivX Web Player [If you already have VLC and/or you never used it]
  • iTunes Application Detector [100% useless]
  • Chrome Remote Desktop Viewer [If you don’t need remote support]

Careful: Do not disable Default Browser Helper and/or Native Client or Chrome won’t work.

Chrome_Plugins

iPhone is too mainstream

Note to readers: I am not a hipster 😬.

By November 2013 over 421 million iPhones have been sold, with that number we can’t be wrong saying that nowadays the iPhone is in the hand of nearly everyone who have a smartphone and that’s a lot of [different] people. From the geek boy to the old woman, from the school girl to her grandma, they all have the same device. And they all keep downloading apps. In fact by October 2013 Apple announced that more than 60 billion total apps have been downloaded and there are more then 1 million different apps are in the App Store.

With so many apps we can easily imagine that while some of them are crafted with quality in mind, the majority are not. Before it wasn’t like this. I owned every single iPhone model since the original iPhone back in 2007, and I can easily remember how different the App Store was at the beginning. There were way less apps and it wasn’t full of stupid apps and games like today, and do you know what the reason of this “change in quality standards” is? People.

The biggest problem is that the most of users doesn’t even know what a quality iOS app looks like, and, since most of the people download pointless apps those are the results:

iTunes_Top_Paid

Seriously. How can an app like Pou be at the top positions of the most selled paid apps?.

We all know the only way iOS users can run third-party software on their devices is by using the App Store to search and download them, they can’t use any other store or website to do that, unlike Android. Also the App Store is totally under Apple’s control and for this reason it’s a completely closed environment, because they can decide which apps iOS devices can run or not and they can even pull them without any notice. Sure, this is made for security reasons and/or to defend already present apps from clones, but this behavior has a big downside in my opinion and I call it “software saturation“. With this term I mean that there are too many apps users can search for.

On the App Store those are confirmed facts:

  1. The most downloaded apps are the one that are more present on the top charts since they have more visibility over the others.
  2. Searching for apps doesn’t work anymore, there’s too of them.
    People doesn’t search anymore they simply download the most famous apps they find on the top 250 chart.

Mac_App_Store

On the other hand OS X, Windows and Linux [even if they now have their own stores] have an open environment  and anyone can write their own softwareIn fact, if you’re like me when you need a new software for OS X, Windows or Linux you simply search it on Google or any other search engine and then you pick the perfect one for you needs from a majority of similar apps, simple as that, no “App Store” needed. In this situation, with no “charts” or “top downloaded apps” anyone can have the visibility they deserve for their work and, even if there are tons of similar apps no one gets unnoticed [if the software is well made off course] and for this reason there are no conditioning.

Are iPhones bad for our health?

This is a very [very] delicate theme to cover.

Even after years and years of scientific researches and numerous studies about RF Exposures and the Specific absorption rate [also known as SAR] we still can’t tell for sure that radio frequencies are bad for our body and health. In fact some will prove you they are bad for our health, showing you the results of a continuos RF exposure, and some will prove you the right opposite. For anything like this you have two choices:

  1. Who cares, I didn’t even know what RF and SAR were before this post.
  2. Understand the the problem and make the possible you can to reduce or avoid exposures to preserve your health until science has the answer.

What’s the situations about RF Exposure and SAR with iPhones? In order to facilitate the comparison of SAR values [both head and body] and also to understand its trend, I decided to spend some time to make a graph with those values of every single iPhone ever made, and this the result:

Head SAR value:

Head_SAR

Body SAR Value:

Body_SAR

From the graphs we can see four things in my opinion:

  1. The models with more plastic [3G and 3GS] have lower SAR values.
    [Plastic is more efficient that metal when transmitting the antenna signal and it need less power so lower exposure]
  2. The SAR values are increasing.
  3. The maximum limit value of 2,00 W/kg hasn’t never been reached.
    [And that’s a good thing].
  4. Apple tries to keep values under half of the limit.
    [To be sure that SAR won’t be a problem for user’s health and/or limit damages I guess].

So, are iPhones bad for our health or not? Well, while they do emit more radiations than other smartphones available on the market, I think that since all iPhones SAR values are under half of the recommended value of 2,00 W/kg they are safebut keep in mind that until we have a precise answer from scientists we can’t be 100% sure about this.

If you want more informations about RF Exposure and/or SAR you can read more on Wikipedia or, limited to the iPhone or Apple devices, on the official Apple RF Exposure information page.

How to enable TRIM on SSD drives on Mac OS X

Trim

Note: If you bought your Mac with an SSD already installed this tutorial post is not for you, in fact Trim is already and automatically enabled by OS X for you since you’re using an original Apple SSD. If you bought a Mac with an Hard Disk Drive or a SSD and you replaced it with a third-party SSD, or you have an Hackintosh, follow this post and we’ll get Trim fixed!

Before we begin, I know you heard somewhere that Trim is great for SSD performances and that it can increase the durability of them but, do you know what Trim actually is?
If not:

Because low-level operation of SSDs differs significantly from hard drives, the typical way in which operating systems handle operations like deletes and formats resulted in unanticipated progressive performance degradation of write operations on SSDs. Trimming enables the SSD to handle garbage collection overhead.

If this simple definition is still not enough for you, jump over to Wikipedia where you will find a lot more.

So how do we being? First download Trim Enabler, an application developed by Oskar Groth, and place it in your Application folder, launch it and then follow those steps:

  1. Once Trim Enabler has launched click on the main switch to make it On
    Trim_Enabler
  2. Restart you Mac when asked in order to enable Trim
  3. Open Trim Enabler again and navigate to the Settings tab
  4. Enable the switch named “Check for Trim support on boot
    [In this way an alert will be shown if Trim will be disabled in the future]
    Trim_Enabler_2
  5. Done

Why you should always restore your iDevice when installing a new iOS version

OTA_iOS_7

Admit it, when was the last time you restored your iDevice?. Do you remember? That weird process of plugging your device to your computer using a cable, launch iTunes and click restore? Well if you’re like 80 to 90% of the iOS users out there you never restored it and, trust me, it’s a bad thing [while for Apple that’s super great news to hear, instead].

It all begun with iOS 5, when Apple introduced a new feature to his mobile operative system: over-the-air updates.

AirPort_logoYou should already know what over-the-air updates [also know as OTA updates] are but in case you don’t it’s a feature that let’s you install new updates available for your OS literally “over the air”, meaning that you can download them using any network connection [Wi-Fi and 3G in the iOS case] and install them right in your device instead on needing a Mac or PC [like with iOS 4 and prior]. Sound like a great thing, uh? Well on paper it is but only if you use it wisely.

While OTA updates are a great thing for iOS users, especially for those who are not computer or tech experts, because it make them up to date with the latest iOS version available without even knowing, and for Apple too, since they can be sure nearly everyone has the latest and greatest iOS version on their device, it has a few downsides and the biggest it:

It makes your iDevice slower. Sad news to hear but that’s true [sadly].

Why? Because when you perform an OTA update the OS does not clean itself from old caches, temp files, obsolete settings, etc., generally it only replace old files with new ones without looking for any dependencies around. And that can make your system slower and cluttered [OTA] update after update. While this is not evident with small updates like iOS 7.0.6, which weights nearly 16 MB, things gets worst with enormous updates like iOS 7 was [around 700+ MB of flat greatness], especially with older devices like the iPhone 4.

Restore_iPhone

The only thing you can do to maintain your device as snappy as it was out of the box is to use that restore button when a major update comes out [like iOS 7.1]. Also, do not restore an older backup on to it after the restore process has done or the “restore magic” will be lost since the backup will bring back those cache and temp files right where they was, you can always restore your personal things with iCloud.

Recently the New York Times discovered this fact too:

When I called tech analysts, they said that the new operating system (iOS 7) being pushed out to existing users was making older models unbearably slow.

from “Cracking the Apple Trap
by Catherine Rampell

Remember: Apple wants you to buy a new device every year and OTA updates helps them with this process, who wants a slow device anyway?

So try it by yourself and restore your device! [instead of being lazy].

You [we] should stop thinking that iOS is a mobile OS, it is an OS like all the others like OS X and Windows are, and it has the same problems.