Posts tagged with google - page 3

Firefox cool extensions: Sync, del.icio.us & microformats

These Firefox extensions just keep getting more innovative and useful. Here’s the latest additions to my ever-growing Firefox arsenal.

Google Browser Sync

If, like me, you find yourself wondering what the URL was of that site you visited/bookmarked on your other machine/os/virtual machine then this extension is for you. You can choose to sync bookmarks, history, cookies and passwords (if you really want – they are encrypted) across your copies of Firefox. Great for us MacBook owners using Boot Camp and Firefox :) .

Del.icio.us Extension

Social networking is all the rage at the moment and an easy way to get in is to start using Del.icio.us to manage your bookmarks – well at least the ones you don’t mind other people knowing about. You can tag bookmarks and also let Del.icio.us know who your friends are. By doing this you should discover great bookmarks you didn’t know about. This is all very well but unless it’s just a click or two away nobody will bother and so in comes the Del.icio.us Extension for Firefox.

Tails and microformats

Microformats are something on the horizon that should take off in a big way. Basically they are small useful nuggets of recordable information that are often embedded in web pages. Examples include contact details, calendar events, etc. It’s early days yet although even Mr Gates sees the value in microformats and proposals for other microformat such as driving instructions are under way. In the mean time grab hold of a copy of Tails and see what the fuss is about.

[)amien

Google nuggets

As a frequent user of many of Google’s various services I continually find myself finding new tips and tricks for getting the most out of them. Here are a few to share;

Gmail extra features

Gmail are constantly introducing new features however the localised user-interfaces are often lagging behind and failing to expose the options. Set your language to “English (US)” to get access to the latest options.

Current options revealed include: Vacation responder, integration with Google Chat, Send mail as an alternative address (not just a reply-to) and web clips.

Gmail compose with mailto:

Many web sites use the standard mailto: syntax to indicate email addresses. This works great for local mail applications such as Outlook and Thunderbird but fails miserably with web based mail providers.

Ideally web browsers would handle this but in the mean time a GreaseMonkey script is available called MailtoComposeInGmail that will internally rewrite any mailto: scripts to head over to your Compose option in Gmail :)

If you don’t have GreaseMonkey already installed give it a shot. It effectively gives your machine the ability to customize the page just for you by running small scripts on your own computer.

Gmail on your own domain name

Google have just opened registrations for getting the Gmail interface, account management and mailing lists on your own domain name. This will no doubt mean MX records have to change and it will be interesting to know what SMTP/POP options they offer. Will let you know if I get in!

Google Analytics availability

If you, like me, have been itching to get into analytics but are still waiting for Google to re-open sign-ups then there is something you can do. Find somebody who has an account and get them to add your web site to their monitoring – they can monitor up to 10. Add the snippet to your site and wait.

They can then grant access to your reports and statistics information to your Google account so you can browse at your pleasure.

If you want to know when you visit a site being tracked by Analytics there’s yet another GreaseMonkey script to do the job.

Keep tabs on the Labs

Google’s engineers are always coming up with something new to play with, sometimes it will become a new product, sometimes a feature inside an existing one. Either way there’s usually a few interesting or useful nuggets to play with.

Google Suggest is very cool and the Site Flavoured Google Search is rather interesting.

Google Video

Currently one of the items in the labs but certainly soon to graduate with its selection of home videos, commercial TV shows and great clips. The commercial stuff is US-only at the moment and costs $1.99 a show but there is plenty of free amazing clips to enjoy.

There is also a GreaseMonkey script to hack round the US-only limitation by firing it through Google’s own translator… Let’s see how long that works for.

Google Maps

They’ve just improved the detail of their UK aerial data once again. It’s a shame Guernsey isn’t covered despite a local company having the information available but hidden away to those willing to pay. The route finding options are pretty useful and this is going to just get better and better.

The 3D real-time Windows application Google Earth is, well, incredible. I wonder how long before they add real-time weather simulation and predictive ones based on forecasts.

Google Search operators

This is pretty simple old stuff but you’d be amazed at how few people still seem to use/know about it.

To search for an exact phrase put quotes around it. For example “sql server” will get you pages about Microsoft’s SQL Server product while sql server without the quotes will return you pages with the word sql and the word server anywhere on the page. In this example, pages about Oracle, MySql, DB2 and every other SQL compatible database known to man.

The other option worth it’s weight in gold is the – operator. This looks for pages without a term or phrase. For example Leopard -Apple -OS will let you find results for Leopards as opposed to getting back lots of pages about the next version of Apple’s operating system.

Hope you found something useful,

GrinGod points out that Google have acquired MeasureMap which provides much more Blogger-friendly statistics than Google Analytics. Sign up for when they’re ready to roll!

[)amien

Google tracking outbound links from searches

I’ve never realized but Google use your browser in such a way it tells them which link you followed out from the search results. Searching for “damieng” for example will show my home page as the first result. The browser window will show https://damieng.com but click on it with JavaScript enabled and instead you’ll go somewhere like;

http://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&ct=res&cd=1&url=http%3A//damieng.com/&ei=yMf5QoHUJczcQr-YvfAN

Let’s break this down:

  1. http://www.google.co.uk/url (their tracking and redirect page)
  2. sa=t (“t” for normal search area, “l” for right-hand sponsored results)
  3. ct=res (“res” for normal results, “pro” for sponsored results above normal results)
  4. cd=1 (result number for normal results, a unique code for sponsored results)
  5. url=http%3A//www.damieng.com/ (the HTTP encoded version of where you were going)
  6. ei=yMf5QoHUJczcQr-YvfAN (a base-64 encoded request number, no doubt tied to what I searched for)

Google’s page then returns a “302 Not Found” and tells your browser that page can be found at https://damieng.com

Google have apparently been doing this on and off for some time.

It is telling that they have gone to the trouble of hiding the tracking link by using JavaScript when they could just have linked directly to their tracking pages… but then that would have given the game away to anyone copying the links or looking at their status bar I guess…

If you want to see all this for yourself either view the source or try out the excellent Live HTTP Headers extension for Firefox.

[)amien