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Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Facebook Tips Update - Notifications Overload and Social Fixer

After the recent changes on Facebook, if you moved any friends into the close friends list, you may have noticed that you get tons of notices now about everything they do. If you don't want this - if you just want to be notified about the usual stuff you used to be notified about - here is the fix:
Go to your Facebook homepage, look on the left for Lists, find Close Friends and click on it. 
In Close Friends, click on the Notifications button and choose Off.

If you do have one or two friends who you want to be notified about everything, go to their page, hover over their name on a post and Subscribe. When you Subscribe for the first time, you subscribe to everything. You can modify this by going to the Subscribe button and clicking it and then checking/unchecking your desired settings.

Social Fixer/Better Facebook
I wrote, a while ago, about Better Facebook and how it was a great script to use. Then Facebook kept changing things and the script didn't work so well any more (or at all).

Now the script has become an add-on and it has been much improved. 
So, remove the script (or disable it) and go here to install the add-on for your browser. 
Once installed, you may need to restart your browser.
Then, go to Facebook and click through the wizard that pops up. When you get to the sign-in page, cancel the wizard. Once you log in, the wizard will pop up again - go through it this time.

I found that some settings I made in the wizard did not stick. I had to open up the Social Fixer options (icon beside your name on the Facebook toolbar) and re-do them.
Here are some of the settings I found to be very useful:
- Comments: Popular, check off: Fix "Enter Key" behaviour...   Also, in Posts: check off Fix the missing cursor problem ...

- Chat: Popular: check off Change profile pictures in Chat to names. And, Chat: check off: Show all online friends in chat list, group friends by online status, and Use compact chat list (no thumbnail images).

- Images: Popular: check Show full image previews when hovering your mouse over pictures.

- Applications/Games - if you play games and use applications, you may like to show different game/application stories in different tabs - to do so: Popular, check off Automatically move posts from Applications (games) into their own tabs. Also, if you play games and don't like the new game sidebar that shows up on the right of your screen, you can get rid of it: Layout: hide the game icon sidebar
- Filters: Don't play games or use applications and don't want to see stories about these filling up your newsfeed? To hide these stories: Filtering, Type, scroll down and click on Posts by any application, then check off Hide under Action.
- Ticker/Friends Activity: to hide this: Layout: Hide the ticker feed of friends activity

Once done with the settings, SAVE, and then reload the Facebook page (don't just click on "Facebook" - use your browser function to reload the whole page.)

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Better Facebook

There are a lot of things that annoy Facebook users, especially when FB makes big changes. Some changes are good and take some getting used to. But a lot of changes can make things more annoying. Better Facebook is a script that works in all browsers except IE. It combines controls that many different scripts have individually into one great script. I was using FFixer, Unfuck Facebook, Facebook Comment Fixer, and a couple of Adblock Plus filters to make Facebook work in a better way. I've switched to only using Better Facebook (for now, as of Sept. 2011) as it takes care of all that the above-mentioned did and more.
Go to
to install.
If you have Greasemonkey in Firefox, and you know how to use it, you can install it that way instead (make sure to disable other scripts first before installing Better Facebook as there may be conflicts) 

Here are my settings in Better Facebook
  • all the recommended default changes plus:
  • Added the old Comment button
  • Lock the header bar at the top so it scrolls
  • Change profile images in Chat to names
  • Force the News Feed to be chronological and hide Top Stories
  • Layout, Right Column: Hide the live feed (The Ticker) of friends activity (you can do this instead of using the AdBlock Plus filters).
  • Chat: Show all online friends in chat list, Group friends by online status, Use compact chat list,
  • Theme: Light Sky (yes, there are different themes available that will change the background from white to other things)

Monday, 26 September 2011

Facebook Notifications Overload

Since the recent Facebook updates (Sept. 2011), you may have noticed that you are getting far more notifications than before. This is most likely due to adding some people into the Close Friends group. Depending on how you have arranged your lists, you may need to follow these instructions for more than just the Close Friends list.

To get the notifications back to normal (this applies to notifications from everyone on the list):
* In Facebook, on your Home page
* On the left, click on Close Friends
* In the top right, click on Manage List
* Click on Choose Update Types ...
* You will see: Updates to Show - under this: Status Updates, Photos, Games, Comments and Likes, Other Activity.
* The one that will generate the most notifications is Comments and Likes. Un-check this. I would also recommend un-checking Games if any of your close friends play Facebook games because now, you will be sent a notification any time they do anything in a game
* Depending on how many things show up in your notifications you may want to leave checked or un-check other of the items on this list.

If, for some reason, you like all the notifications you are getting, but just not from certain individuals, you can adjust only the notifications from each person by hovering over a link to their name, hovering over Subscribed, and then choosing which items you want to be notified about or not.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

More Facebook Changes - Ticker, News Feed, Lists...

Facebook has just rolled out more changes as of Sept. 21, 2011.

This is a mini real-time news feed at the top of the right column. Many people find this very annoying/useless and would like to hide it. Here are some tips on hiding it:
How to Kill the Facebook News Ticker
The AdBlock solution should work until FB changes the code again.

News Feed and Ticker
Here is more information about the changes to the News Feed, and scroll down a bit for more info on the Ticker.

Menu Bar
Links on the menu bar have been changed. Now, to get to your profile, click on your name. To get to the regular home page, click on Facebook, or Home. The arrow beside Home will show other options, like your Account and Privacy settings. 

Friends Lists/Lists
Facebook has also made some changes to Friends Lists, introducing some handy (or not so handy) default lists, allowing you to merge lists, and more. How to edit your lists has changed. 
To see and edit Friend List(s) now, you will need to go to Lists, on he left, and hover over Lists and then click More, to the right of it. You should now your various lists and the new default lists. To manage/edit a list, click on it. Now you will see a feed of those people only, but to the top right, there will be a Manage List button. You can make adjustments to the list here. For more info on this, click here.

If you want to see a list of all your friends, click on your name at the top of the FB page, then click on Friends on the left side. They have added more ways to search, but seem to have removed the Recently Added Friends list. If you know where to find this, please let me know.

Information about this here.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

AVG Free 2012 - Installation Guide

The new version of AVG Free is out. Here are my instructions for installing/upgrading to AVG Free 2012. 

Download the latest version from these links and save the file to your computer.

32 bit version
64 bit version

Which version should I use?
To find out if your operating system is 32bit or 64 bit, click on Start, Control Panel and System. This will bring up a window that will show this information.
If that is too complicated: If you are running Windows XP, or if you got Vista as an upgrade, or, if you got Vista when it first came out, you should most likely pick 32 bit.
If you got Vista later, or if you are using Windows 7, you should, in most cases, download the 64bit version.

What if I install the wrong version?
If you are running a 64bit operating system, it will allow you to install either version. Either version will work fine in a 64bit system (but the 64 bit version will run faster). If you are running a 32bit operating system and you try to install the 64bit version, it won't let you install it. When in doubt, try installing the 64bit version first. If it lets you install it, then you have made the right choice. If not, ho harm, download and install the 32bit version.

These instructions assume you are upgrading from a previous version of AVG Free.
If you are installing AVG fresh (not upgrading from a previous version), the steps may be slightly different.

Print these instructions out before continuing.

Once you have downloaded the installation file (see link above), run the file.

* Accept the License Agreement
* Choose Custom Install. [Vista and Windows 7: also un-check Installs and displays the AVG Gadget...], Next
* Un-check Additional installed languages, Next
* Un-check both: I would like to set AVG Secure Search... and Improve my Internet protection..., and Next.
... wait for it to install ...
* Un-check: I would like to get news...
Choosed to check or uncheck (doesn't matter): I want to improve...
Restart Now
* Double-click on the AVG tray icon to open the interface. [Win7 - if it has disappeared, click on the little up arrow in the Notification Area, choose Customize, scroll down to the AVG icon and change the setting to Show icon and notifications. Okay]
* Hide Notification at the bottom (this is an ad for the paid version)
* Click Update Now. If there are any updates, Update Now. Repeat this until it says you are up to date - Update completed successfully.

Note: Although AVG automatically checks for updates once a day (once for definitions and once for the program), you should manually check when you first install it as there might be updates waiting and updating right away after installing lessens the chance that you might have to restart the computer again after a day due to a special program update).

* Tools, Advanced Settings, Scans. Click on the tiny arrow beside this to open the subsections. Removable Device Scan. Enable, and check off (leave the other things checked that were checked off already - do not uncheck them): Automatically heal..., Report enhanced set of ..., and drag the slider under Adjust how quickly Scan ... all the way to the right. Apply, OK.

* Also in Advanced Settings: Schedules, Scheduled Scan: Enable this task. Run at specific time interval. Check for once a week. Default setting is every Wed at noon. Leave if this is okay for you, change if another time is better.

Note: if you have a computer that is less than 5 years old, then the AVG automatic scan should run fine in the background without slowing down your computer. If your computer is older and the AVG scan is slowing things down while you try to work, right-click on the tray icon, choose Running Scans and then Pause all scans. When you are done working, un-pause the scan.

* Make sure Run on computer startup if task has been missed is checked off. Apply, OK.

You can ignore My Apps, PC Analyzer, Family Safety and LiveKive.

* Close interface.
* Done.

It will download and install updates automatically, and run a weekely scan automatically. Sometimes program updates will require you to restart your computer. It will ask you to do this when applicable.

Note about the trial paid version.
If you do make the mistake of installing the trial of the paid version, and you would like to have the Free version instead, remove AVG (In XP: Start, Control Panel, Add or Remove Programs. In Vista/Win7: Start, Control Panel, Programs and Features). When you initiate the removal procedure, you will be given the option to convert to the Free version. 

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Back to school - Useful technology for students at budget-conscious prices and general buying tips

Back to school: The most popular technology for the return to class -
I was inspired to initially just write a rebuttal of this (above linked) article at But, then I decided to write up something a bit more useful to consumers. I couldn't believe the prices listed in this article! I'm not knocking Parentcentral specifically here (they generally publish some very useful articles), but I've found that often articles like these in newspapers in general don't tend to be researched by anyone with enough knowledge about technology (they just talk to people at a couple of big stores).
Seriously? For students: iPads? Laptops for $850, and routers for $120???!!! (And whats with the camcorder?)

There are always better deals out there. Sometimes you can get much better quality for a much lower price than you are often led to believe. I research and source computers and computer-related equipment every day and I find that there is a wide range of prices on products of similar quality and performance.

Let's compare some prices and items in this article to some better deals out there.
(Note: my sourcing for this post was done in the Toronto. Prices will vary in other areas. The lower prices I quote are on products of similar quality/performance or better (or, the lower-priced item is of good quality and the higher priced item was overkill for the purpose). Pricing was done Aug 24, 2011 (so beyond a few weeks from this date, the prices and technology will change))

Parentcentral: minimum price: $400
Tweak: minimum price: $225
Savings: $175

Parentcentral: Epson Stylus NX All-in-one wireless. $100 (Best Buy)
Tweak: HP Officejet 4500 Wireless All-In-One. $60 (on sale for this at Best Buy, normally $70 at Staples (cheaper than the regular Best Buy price))
Savings: $40
(Note: Regarding the different printers they mention in the article at Parentcentral: Over-priced or not practical. A student will need to print some things in colour - so a B&W laser is out of the picture. Also, multi-function printers are of good quality, serve more purposes, and are very cost effective so I would recommend these over non-multi-function machines. The touch-screen feature is pretty much eye-candy, adds extra cost, and doesn't make a whole lot of difference in the basic use of the machine.)

Surge Protector
Parentcentral: $53 (Best Buy)
Tweak: $25 (Active Surplus)
Savings: $28

Parentcentral: Netgear Wireless-N Gigbit router. $120 (Best Buy)
Tweak: D-Link Wireless N 150 Home Router. $30 (Canada Computers or Staples)
Savings: $90

Office software
Parentcentral: MS Office 2010 for Home and Student. $160
Includes: Word, Excel, Powerpoint and OneNote. Some very advanced functions might not be available in this version.
Also of note here: There is a free Starter version of MS Office 2010 that you can only get pre-loaded on some new laptops. This version only includes Word and Excel, and you can't run any macros or add-ins and they don't have a lot of advanced features the full version has, and it has advertisements.

Tweak: Open Office. Free.
Fully functional office suite. Word processor, spreadsheet, presentation, drawing, database, and math programs. No advertisements. Compatible with the latest MS Office formats. You can configure it so it will save in MS Office formats by default. Thousands of add-ons also available for free. And, there is a Canadian English spell-checker add-on available. Also, built in one-touch export to PDF format from all of the programs in the suite (no need for other PDF software/Adobe Acrobat).

Savings: $160

Parentcentral: Sony VAIO 15.5 inch laptop. $850 (Best Buy)

Tweak: HP G-Series 15.6 inch laptop. $430 (Future Shop)
This HP model is similar to the Sony model in quality/performance and features, but is better in these regards: more powerful/faster processor, larger capacity hard drive, much lighter weight (and costs $420 less!)

Savings: $420

Parentcentral: $270
Tweak: $200
Savings: $70

On-site basic setup of a computer system
Parentcentral: Geek Squad: $130 (flat fee)
no extra software or customization or optimization of system. They only
hook you up to your Internet connection*, one peripheral and install one
piece of software. Performed by a technician with almost no experience to a few years
of experience. Includes delivery of system (if system purchased at Best

Tweak: Thor Tech Support: $30-$60 (1-2 hours (average amount of time) at an hourly rate)
Includes full
setup and connection of all devices and Internet connecting*, various
free-software installations (office suite, security, and useful
utilities), tutoring of the operating system basics, and customization
and optimization of operating system. Performed by a technician with
over 20 years experience.

(* must already have an Internet service plan with a provider (ISP))

Savings: at least $70

Future Shop
This is one of the best places to go for a deal on a laptop if you are looking for a good budget laptop. They have about the biggest selection at generally decent prices. They also have decent prices on external desktop hard drives (made by Seagate). But watch out as there will be some models of Seagate drives decently priced and some Seagate models that are greatly overpriced.

Best Buy
Contrary to popular belief, you aren't generally going to find better deals here. Sometimes they will have a great sale prices on an item. But usually, the items on sale are sub-par quality and their regular prices are usually higher than other places (for computer and computer-related equipment). They generally don't stock better-quality items. They will sometimes have a good sale price on decent printers. Shop around elsewhere first. Once you find what you want, check to see if they have it on sale here for less.

Generally overpriced in most areas of computer technology. But, there are some gems here. This store has the best selection of printers at good prices. They also have a good selection of routers at decent prices. This is also a good place to go for printer ink/toner and paper, school/work back-packs, and office furniture (including low-priced basic computer desks and chairs).

Active Surplus
Lowest prices in Ethernet cables. Also here: USB cables, surge-protected power bars, and thousands of electronic and odd items.

Canada Computers
Great selection of some computer peripherals and internal parts at generally low prices. A good place to go for: external hard drives, routers, keyboards, mice, USB sticks, card readers, video cards, and more.

Other small stores
There are a lot of other great small computer stores around Toronto (especially around College and Spadina, and along College from Spadina to Bathurst) with good competitive pricing, but you need to know what you are looking for before you enter (see shopping tip below).

All stores will generally have a large ranges in prices for items in each category (and a large range in quality). It helps to do advance research before you go to the store to buy something. If you know what you want to get in advance you can ignore the salesperson's advice (which is usually to buy whatever has the highest mark-up/profit margin for the store). Usually, what they try to sell you is, for good quality items, over-priced, and for the budget items, just poor quality. There are good quality budget-priced items out there, but the sales people won't usually steer you towards them.

Printer Paper and Ink
When you are buying paper, for decent quality printing, buy the paper and ink made by the printer manufacturer. There are chemicals in the individual brands of ink and paper that are made to work together. They do that as they make their money mainly on these items (since you have to keep buying these over and over) as opposed to the printer.

Inkjet Printers
Never power these off. If you do, the ink heads can dry out and clog and then you can't use the cartridge again. When left on all the time, they go into a low-power sleep mode, and the little power used keeps the print head from drying out.

Netbook, Notebook (aka Laptop), or Tablet

For students who need something to take notes on in class and then use at home and on-the-go for homework, lets look at these options:

iPad and other tablets
So, you want to type a lot and have a versatile device? Then don't buy these. They are priced above low-priced laptops and have no keyboards (only an on-screen keyboard) and lack a lot of other useful features.
What is it good for? If you have money to burn and want to look cool and don't need it to do much and you don't need to do much typing, this might be for you. But for a student on a budget (or a parent looking to get the best value and most useful computer tool for your teen), forget it.
Price: for a decent quality one, about $400 and up ($520 and up for an iPad).

The keyboard is smaller than a normal laptop keyboard (so, they're not great for big hands or if you are going to be doing a lot of typing). Smaller screen (so, things will be tiny, and if you are working on spreadsheets or doing graphic work, forget it). No DVD/CD drive. Bare bones operating system. Small hard drive (so less storage space) and a not so powerful processor. There is a reason they are called Netbooks (handy for quick Internet browsing tasks, not for much else).
What is it good for? If you only need something for quick notes and basic Internet browsing and you need something that is small and light, this might be what you are looking for.
Price: for a decent quality one: about $200 and up

These come in a range of sizes - from just a bit bigger than Netbooks, to 18" screen behemoths.
Laptops have come a long way in the past few years. Now they are very powerful and have large hard drive capacities. Laptops, even the basic budget ones, generally all have full-sized keyboards, DVD/CD drive, webcam with microphone, 2-4 USB ports, HDMI port, VGA port, Ethernet port, card reader, mic and headphone jacks, and Windows 7 Home Premium operating system. If you are on the go and need something light weight, there are small/light models to choose from. If you want something that is mainly to be used in one location, anything goes, including an 18" entertainment laptop.
Laptops in the 15" screen range give you the biggest bang for the buck as they are the most common (so they are more mass produced and thus cheaper to make). Smaller and lighter ones are more expensive. Larger ones with more power are more expensive. But, if you want something light and powerful, there are a lot of models and low prices and good quality to choose from.
Price: for a decent quality one, about $350 and up.

Totalling up all the savings listed above, compared to the linked article, Tweak has just saved you over $1000 (or about 50% off). Those are significant savings for those on a tight budget.

In my business, Thor Tech Support, I normally charge a flat fee of $60 for the research and sourcing work for putting together a desktop computer system, or a laptop (Note: in the post above the savings on the laptop was $420 and it is a much better laptop too. With a $60 R&S fee added, it would still be a savings of about $360.) I also research and source printers and other computer parts and peripherals (at a lower price). This saves my customers not only the time and effort of doing this themselves, but also a lot of money off the price (compared to if they ended up buying something over-priced and of lesser quality, like those in the linked article).

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Facebook Contacts List - Do Not Be Alarmed

I see a lot of alarmist notes going around about the Facebook Contacts List as if it is a big invasion of privacy. It's not. It is as private or un-private as you want it to be.

If you want to see a list of your friends phone numbers (of the friends who have posted phone numbers for their friends to see on Facebook), go to edit your Friends List, and click on Contacts. Notice, you will only see your Facebook friends phone numbers (and not the phone numbers of everyone else on Facebook).

If you want only your friends to see your phone number and/or your mobile/cell phone number, you can post these on your Facebook Page (with your info). If you want anyone, including people you don't know, on Facebook to see your information, then you can adjust this in your Facebook Privacy settings. If you don't want anyone to see your phone numbers at all, don't post them in Facebook.

There is no scary privacy issue here. Whether your phone number appears or not, and who can see it, is up to you.


If you have an iPhone (this might work on other smartphones too), and you find that suddenly a lot of non-facebook people's numbers are on your contact list (your whole contact list from your phone), then you would have allowed a Facebook application on your phone to do this. There is not a lot of harm in this happening as this list is private for you only. However, if you have email addresses in your contacts of people who are not on Facebook, these people will receive automatic invitations from you to join Facebook every couple of weeks. You can disable this reminder on Facebook here.

If you don't want all your contacts from your phone to be in your Facebook on-line too, you can remove them by going here and following the instructions.

You can keep your number and your contacts list private in the Facebook Account Privacy settings on your Facebook page.

Some people have their privacy set so nothing is private. Then anyone can see their private info. These people are either unaware, want everyone to see their private info, or they don't care.

For more details on this, go to this link.

Friday, 29 July 2011

How to Stop Spam on Facebook

How to Stop Spam on Facebook - Scameo
Here are instructions on how to deal with and help stop Spam on Facebook.
The first step when you see Spam posted on your wall:
Hover at the top right of this post. An X mark will appear. Click this x mark to remove the post or report as spam.

Read the link for further details.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Firefox add-on Fireshot update

FireShot - Screenshot tool - Capture and Annotate :: Versions :: Add-ons for Firefox
Today, Fireshot won't let you use it as an add-on for Firefox unless you update to the recent experimental version. Click the link above and Add to Firefox the Experimental version 0.92 and allow it to install. Once done, restart Firefox. Fixed.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Facebook navigation bar scrolling

Scrolling Facebook Navigation bar for Greasemonkey
To keep the navigation bar visible at the top of the page, even when you scroll down the page, install this script. Note, you will need the Greasemonkey add-on installed to.
This works in Firefox 5 and earlier and in Google Chrome.

If you have the FFixer script installed, you don't need this - in FFixer, in Menus/Chat, check off: Keep the top menu bar on the screen always, even after scrolling down.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Facebook's new Sidebar Feature

Facebook has a new feature called The Sidebar. Some of you may have already bumped into it, while others haven't seen it yet. As usual, things like this are rolled out, meaning they release it to some people a bit at a time. Also, the Sidebar appearing depends on your screen size/space. If you have a widescreen monitor, you will most likely see the Sidebar sooner/more frequently.

I've checked it out and it seems useful and a good interface so far.

The sidebar is a new way to connect with friends you often connect with on FB. When it is open, it replaces the Friends on Chat list on the left.

from the help page:
The sidebar lets you quickly contact some of the friends you message most. Just clicking on a friend’s name opens a chat window. If your friend isn’t available to chat, you can still send messages for them to read later.

How you know a friend is available to chat:

Friends with a green dot next to their names are available to chat
Friends with a gray moon next to their names are available but inactive
Friends with no icon next to their names are unavailable

The sidebar is sensitive to the amount of free space you have on your screen, so it only appears if there’s enough room for it. If you don’t see the sidebar, just click Chat in the bottom right corner of your screen, which shows the same list of friends you’ll find in your sidebar.
The list of friends in your sidebar is based on who you’ve interacted with most frequently or recently on Facebook. Since it updates dynamically, you can’t manually add friends to the list.

The list shows both friends who are available to chat and friends who aren’t. Clicking on a friend’s name opens a chat window. If your friend isn’t available to chat, you can still send messages for them to read later.
To collapse the sidebar, select Hide Sidebar from the actions menu in the bottom right corner of the sidebar.

To expand the sidebar again, click Chat in the bottom right corner of your screen.

For more details:
Facebook Using the Sidebar

Facebook Privacy for chat:

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Facebook vs Google+

By now, you have probably heard of Google+, a new social networking system to rival (or not) Facebook.

There are a lot of similarities, and some differences are not much different.

Below is an excerpt from WXP News Social Networking Showdown: Facebook vs. Google+

I've been testing Google+ for the past week, and it has some advantages - and some disadvantages - when compared to Facebook. And there's a lot that was obviously lifted directly from its rival, including the "It's complicated" choice for relationship status (G+ also gives you a choice that FB doesn't: "I don't want to say"). The much-hyped Circles feature is undisputedly useful, but it requires a bit more work on the part of the user. Now whenever you want to add a friend, you have to decide which circle(s) he/she belongs in. You start with some default circles (Friends, Acquaintances, Family, Following) and you can then create your own custom circles (for example, I made circles for Tech industry professionals, fellow Dog Owners, Law Enforcement friends, Writers, and so forth).

If this sounds a bit like the Facebook feature that allows you to create Friend Lists, it is - with a big difference: in Facebook, that's an option and it's not a very obvious one; many FB users don't even know it exists.. In Google+, it's mandatory; every person you add has to go into one or more circles. Then when you create a post, you have to pick which circles will be allowed to see it. It does annoy me that a number of reviews of G+ erroneously say this can't be done in FB.

Otherwise, posting and commenting is pretty much the same as on Facebook. That is, you can share a photo, video or link along with your post. On G+, you can also share your location with the click of an icon beside the status update field. This works similarly to the Check In feature on FB, but is quicker and easier to use. To me, the bigger improvement that Google brings to the table is the increased level of control that you have over your own posts. In FB, if you decide you want to change a few words (or notice a typo and want to correct it), you have to delete the post and rewrite it. In G+, there's a drop-down arrow button by each of your posts that gives you the choice to delete it, edit it, link to it, or you can disable comments on it if you want to put something out there but don't want people posting their responses on it, or you can block resharing if you don't want others to "steal" your brilliant words and repost them with a single click (of course, they can always copy and paste it into their update box, but that's a little more trouble). I like this flexibility a lot; it can save perfectionists like me a great deal of time.

Another "big deal" in G+ is its video chat feature, but Zuckerberg fired back quickly on that one, partnering with Skype to provide video chat within Facebook, a week after the debut of G+.

The biggest difference between the two, at least at the moment, is that the FB/Skype combo allows you to conduct video calls with only one person at a time. G+ gives you more of a videoconferencing experience, with the ability to chat with a group of up to ten people.
As I wrote in a discussion (on Facebook!) about this, it seems most people today want things to be extremely simple, even at the cost of flexibility or quality (hence the popularity of locked-down Apple products). Even a small "hassle factor" deters them from adopting something new - but they will stick with something familiar despite its level of hassle because switching isn't simple. When I put out a message on Facebook telling my friends to email me if they wanted to be invited to G+, almost everyone who responded was a techie. The rest didn't seem to be very interested. They have something that works for them and although they might get frustrated with its quirks at times, they don't want to bother with starting over with something else.

Finally, I think the biggest obstacle G+ has to overcome has to do with trust. I hear from newsletter readers all the time who say they don't trust Google with their information. Now, I'm not sure why they think Facebook is inherently more trustworthy; my philosophy is "If you would be mortified to see it on the front page of your local newspaper, don't post it on any social network." But the problem with Google isn't just about security or privacy. Because they have come out with so many new services and products and then killed them, many people don't trust that G+ will still be around a year or five years from now, so they don't want to commit to it. Google has its fingers in a lot of pies, whereas Facebook does this one thing and does it, if perhaps not extremely well, well enough. People may not trust FB about privacy, but they do trust that it's going to stay around.

One issue that is left out of the article is the user base. For social networking systems to work, your friends and potential friends have to be using it too. If they are not, it's useless. Currently, Google+ has about 70 million users worldwide. Facebook has about 750 million users.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

More ways to make old add ons compatible in Firefox and Thunderbird

If you have updated Firefox and/or Thunderbird and have found that some of your favourite add ons no longer work, there are a number of ways to make them work.
One way, that I have written about for Firefox and for Thunderbird, is to install Mr. Tech Toolkit. But, the problem with that add on is that it is outdated and incompatible and must be adjusted to be made to work. Also, currently, the forced-to-work version of Mr Tech Toolkit will also cause the Add-Ons Manager page to show in a way that makes it difficult to close it. If you want to switch from using that add on to using the Add-on Compatibility Reporter (see below), install the reporter add on and disable the toolkit add on and restart (in either Firefox or Thunderbird).

The Add-on Compatibility Reporter
This is an add-on made by Mozilla that will enable all old add-ons and will also let you send a report to Mozilla that a certain old add-on still works fine in the new version of Firefox or Thunderbird if you so desire.
Here is the version for Thunderbird.

There is an issue with forcing old add ons to work. Sometimes they don't work and can cause problems. The only way to troubleshoot this is to disable them one by one and restart to test things out. Sometimes an add-on can cause a very odd specific problem. Once you find out which add on is causing the problem, disable it and keep it disabled. If you don't need it anymore, uninstall it. But, if you would like to use it if it would work, keep it disabled but check once in a while to see if it is updated. If it is ever properly updated, it will usually stop being labelled as incompatible with the current version on the Add Ons Manager list. Once you see this you could give it a try again - enable it - and see if it still causes the old problem.

Here are a couple of articles from discussing the Add-on Compatibility Reporter and other methods of forcing compatibility and the issues around this.

Firefox Add-on Compatibility Reporter, Force Add-On Compatibility

Three Methods To Force Add-On Compatibility in Firefox

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Thunderbird 5 and making old add-ons work

The fix for this is the same as for Firefox 5.
Go to this post and follow the instructions.
You can install Mr. Tech Toolkit in Thunderbird too.
Exception to the instructions - when you come to adjust the MaxVersion, change it for where it says Thunderbird this time instead of Firefox - it is most likely at 3.2pre or something similar - change this value to
With this updated Mr Tech Toolkit installed in Thunderbird your old add-ons should work. Note, for some they might work only be very buggy, so use with caution. If you find one that is very buggy, disable it and restart Thunderbird.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Lost after updating to Firefox 5?

Common questions after updating Firefox | Troubleshooting | Firefox Help
This link has some answers to common questions.

Many answers to questions from updating from v3.6 to v4 also apply. For more info and tips, see these posts as well:
Firefox 5 update and making old add-ons work

Firefox 4 - Recommended Add-Ons

Tab Groups and App Tabs in Firefox 4

Firefox 4 - new features explained in detail

Firefox 5 update and making old add-ons work

Firefox just came out with their update from v4.01 to v5. This will, for the time being, make a lot of themes and add-ons incompatible.

To get around this, install Mr Tech Toolkit. But, the latest version of this does not work with FF5. To make it work (and make your other add-ons work), download (don't install), v6.0.4.9000 here.
Next, open this file with 7zip (get that here.)
Once you have 7zip installed, right-click on the toolkit.xpi file, choose 7zip and Open Archive.
Extract the install.rdf file.
Open it with Notepad.
Look for 2 locations of
and replace these with
This will force this add-on to be compatible with all FF versions up to just before 8.
Save this file and close it. Now, drag it into the 7zip window, archiving it and overwriting the original file in the archive.
To make sure you did things correctly, double-click on the install.rdf file and check to make sure the maxVersion>4.* has been changed to maxVersion>7.*

Once you've successfully changed this, open Firefox.
Open Add-ons (orange button at top left, then Add Ons, or, compact Menu button, tools, add-ons, or Tools, Add-ons)

At the top right beside the search field, there is a button with a down arrow on the side of it. Click on this and choose Install Add on from file.
Then, navigate to the file toolkit.xpi.
Install it.
Restart Firefox
Close Firefox again
Open it again.
The problems should be solved.
(You might need to close and open Firefox one more time.)

Note, if the Add-ons manager page can't be closed, press Alt+F4 to close it.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Facebook facial recognition - Handy time-saver, or invasion of privacy?

Say hello (or goodbye) to Facebook Photo facial recognition | Sync™ Blog
Facebook is going to make it so when you upload your album of photos, you can choose to have FB automatically scan and tag your album photos with the names of your friends who are in them (so you don't have to do this one by one manually).

Some say having FB automatically tag you in friends' albums is an invasion of privacy. But, how can you say that when your friends will often tag you in these photos anyway? And, if you are tagged in a photo by a friend, you are notified on FB. If you don't like being tagged in certain photos, you can always remove the tags.

Whenever I upload photos, I usually tag friends.

Unfounded concern?
In all the information about this new feature, it only speaks of your friends and automatically tagging your friends in your photos. It does not mention that it will automatically tag strangers with their names (if they are on Facebook). Yes, this would be a concern, but it seems that it will only be suggesting tags for people you are FB friends with.

More info on the Facebook Blog

How to opt out of the new feature
If you don't want this new feature to automatically tag you in your friends' photos, you can opt out by going to:
Account, Privacy Settings, Customize Settings, and finally to Things others share.
There will be a new section that you can adjust (when this new feature goes through):
Disable > Suggest photos of me to friends.
You can still use the new feature to tag your photos, but others won't be able to use it to automatically tag you (they will have to manually tag you in their photos).

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Firefox 4 - Recommended Add-Ons

It's been 4 years since I posted a listed of recommended add-ons (extensions) for Firefox. A lot has changed, but some things stay the same.

Some add-ons continue to be very useful. Some have stopped being updated and have been replaced by newer and better versions. And Firefox has incorporated some into their program.

Note: if any of the links don't work, just Google Firefox Add On and the name of the add on.

Mr Tech Toolkit (used to be Mr Tech Local Install)
Get the FF4 version (6.04.9000) hereLinkThis is a quick fix version that seems to work okay in FF4, but the Add-ons manager window is often too big. To close the Add-ons manager window, hit Alt+F4.
**Install this add-on first. With it installed, you can then install add-ons that are not deemed compatible with FF4, yet might work in FF4.
Here is the regular add-on page
The primary goal of this extension is to provide the tools needed to install and manage extensions and themes locally and tons of other features.

Compact Menu 2 (replaces Tiny Menu)
(replaces Tiny Menu)
Add a compact menu button to the navigation toolbar, and hide the menu bar.

Tab Group Menu
See more about this, Tab Groups and App Tabs here

Tab Mix Plus
Tab Mix Plus enhances Firefox's tab browsing capabilities. It includes such features as duplicating tabs, controlling tab focus, tab clicking options, undo closed tabs and windows, plus much more. It also includes a full-featured session manager.

Send Link Button
Add a toolbar button to trigger Firefox's built-in "Send Link..." menu item.
Quickly email the link to the page you are on by clicking this Send Link button.

Add a dictionary search tool to the Add-ons bar. Results open in a new tab.

Adblock Plus (replaces Adblock)
Blocks ads.
Install, and then subscribe to EasyList filter subscription when this pops up.
If it is not blocking ads, make sure it is enabled, and if already enabled, right-click on the adblock icon, choose Preferences, Filters, Update all subscriptions.
If you want to temporarily disable, Right-click on the icon and choose Disable Everywhere, then re-load your tab.
To permanently disable it on a site or page, choose Disable on , or Disable on This Page Only.

Video Download Helper (replaces Fast Video Download and Unplug)
The easy way to download and convert Web videos from hundreds of YouTube-like sites.
This works also for audio and picture galleries.

Fireshot (replaces Snapper)
Capture all or part of a web page, even flash. Annotate, save to disk, upload, email ... very versatile Firefox screen capture add-on.

Personas Plus
Personas are free, easy-to-install "skins" for Firefox. Personas Plus extends that built-in functionality to give you even more control and easier access to new, popular, and your own favourite Personas.

Googlebar (not to be confused with Google Toolbar)
The original (though unofficial) Google toolbar for Firefox, with an emphasis on easy access to many types of specialized searches.
Install Mr Tech Toolkit first to make this work in FF4. It is not compatible, but it will work okay.
I especially like the fact that you an have google local search on the toolbar.

Print/Print Preview Update (replaces Print/Print Preview)
Replace the default "Print" button with the Mozilla Suite "Print/Print Preview" toolbar button/menu, with additional "Page setup" option. Adds Print and Print Preview to the context menu.

Update Notifier - no longer needed as FF4 has a setting to update add-ons automatically.

Blog much? Get Scribefire
ScribeFire is a full-featured blog editor that integrates with your browser and lets you easily post to your blog(s).

Scribefire Next
A work in progress - the next version of Scribefire. I would recommend waiting for a while for the bugs to be ironed out of this before switching to this new version.

FireFTP is a free, secure, cross-platform FTP/SFTP client for Mozilla Firefox which provides easy and intuitive access to FTP/SFTP servers.
A great and very quick and easy way to upload/download files for your website.

Greasemonkey and Greasefire,
Customize the way a web page displays or behaves, by using small bits of JavaScript. You don't have to write the scripts if you aren't into that. There are thousands of scripts written for all sorts of sites.
You can go here
and root around for scripts, or, better yet, install
and let this automatically find scripts for you.
When you visit a web page that has compatible user scripts on, this extension will highlight the Greasemonkey/Scriptish icon in the toolbar button (or status bar icon for older versions of Greasemonkey). Right click the icon and choose the "X scripts available" menu item to see and install the scripts available for the current page.
I mainly use these to fix issues on Facebook. I use: FFixer, Unfuck Facebook, Facebook and Comment Fixer.

IETab Plus (updated version of IETab)
Make sure to un-check Support Price Comparison feature in Settings.
Supports Adblock Plus in IE mode!
Works with IE8 and IE9 now.
IETab Plus enables you to use the embedded IE engine within tabs of Mozilla Firefox. It is not only a great tool for web developers, like the old IE Tab, but also an useful tool for normal users, since you can easily switch to IE when you meet incorrectly rendered web pages in Firefox.

Great for viewing and downloading a number of pictures at once from a web page.
You will need Mr Tech Toolkit to make this work.

Converts text links into genuine, clickable links.
Newest version compatible with FF4 (linked above).
Regular FF Add-ons link:

Special Mouse Gestures add-ons
Great for use with a mouse, not so handy for use with a touchpad.

FireGestures (replaces All-in-OneGestures)
A customizable mouse gestures extension which enables to execute various commands and user scripts with five types of gestures.

QuickDrag (replaces Super DragAndGo)
Extends the function of the drag-and-drop mouse gesture so that it can be used to load URLs, do a web search of selected text on a page, or save an image on a page. The successor to Super DragAndGo.

Others that might be useful/interesting (that I have not tried them out):

LinkExtend - Safety, KidSafe, Site Tools
LinkExtend provides meta-site-ratings for computer safety, child safety, company ethics, and popularity. Safety results come from eight online services giving you a safer browsing experience. Site links, titles, files and reviews are also included.

Beyond the page zoom in/out features in Firefox (Ctrl+ to enlarge a page, Ctrl- to reduce and Ctrl0 to reset), NoSquint allows you to adjust the text-only and full-page (both text and images) zoom levels as well as colour settings both globally (for all sites) and per site.

Bookmarks Menu Tool Button

Friday, 27 May 2011

Tab Groups and App Tabs in Firefox 4

What are Tab Groups? | How to | Firefox Help
If you work with a lot of tabs open at a time, this new feature in Firefox 4 can be quite useful.

Tab Groups win1

Click the link above to find out how to use tab groups.

Tab groups are a way to organize tabs. The feature itself is good, but, to make it more convenient, here is an extension that creates a drop-down menu from beside the tab group button so you don't have to open tab groups to name the groups, switch between the groups and other handy things.
Note: if the TabGroupsMenu drop down menu arrow is not showing on the Tab Groups icon on your toolbar, open Add Ons Manager, go to TabGroupsMenu, click More, and then check off ON, instead of Default. Fixed.
TabGroups Menu

Also, very useful - App Tabs
This is meant for web applications you have open, but, you can use it for any tabs you have open all the time. Right-click on the tab and choose Pin as App Tab. The tab will be pinned to the far left, with just the icon showing on the tab. You can do this to more than one tab. When you close the browser and open it again later, your app tabs will be there still. If you switch groups, these app tabs stay at the left side of the tab bar, no matter what tab group you are looking at.
If you want to put the tab back as a regular tab, right-click on the tab and choose Unpin Tab.
More details about App Tabs here.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Make old extensions work in Firefox 4

If you want to upgrade to Firefox 4, and you use some extensions (add-ons) that you can't live without, make sure you install the latest version of Mr Tech Toolkit. Right-click this link and save the xpi file to your computer. Then open your add-ons manager in FF4 and click on the little cog wheel in the top right and choose to install from a file.

To make it so you can use non-compatible extensions: in the Add Ons manager, click on the Options for Mr Tech Toolkit, Miscellaneous tab, XPI Install Options, UN-check Enable Addons Compatibility Check, and make sure to check Allow web sites to install software (if you want to be able to install extensions from different web sites).

Note: sometimes using old non-compatible extensions can make things buggy, so, use at your own risk.

For more tips on customizing the Firefox 4 layout, see:

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Untrrackerd keeps Apple from tracking your iPhone/iPad locations

Canadian app takes Apple's eye off your iPhone

OTTAWA — A Canadian software developer has created a program that
allows iPhone and iPad users to wipe clean the location history of their
devices — a day after security researchers unleashed a privacy uproar
by revealing that Apple Inc. records the location details in a hidden
file on the user's phone and copies the unencrypted data to the user's
home computer.

Ryan Petrich of Edmonton said Thursday he's
being bombarded with emails and online messages about his new tool
called "Untrackerd." When installed, the program deletes the location
tracking information, held in a hidden file called consolidated.db,
every 30 minutes.

The iPhone developer launched the free
program late Wednesday after news broke that — ever since Apple updated
the devices last year — the new phones have been keeping track of where a
user goes in a secret file, using information gleaned from nearby
cellphone towers and Wi-Fi networks. Locations and time stamps are then
copied to the owner's computer if the two are synchronized.


Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Firefox 4 - new features explained in detail

Back to the front of the pack: Ars reviews Firefox 4
Ars Technica reviews the major new features of Firefox 4.

The link above has some tips on adjusting things more to your liking. See the link below for more tips:
Lifehacker: How to fix annoyances with Firefox 4's new look

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

New Facebook Messages feature rolling out and causing confusion

Facebook is currently rolling out a new message feature that combines chat, messages, txt messages, and email. They are also offering a Facebook email address as part of all this.
I haven't got this feature yet, so I can't comment on it from personal experience.

Here are some links that may help:

Facebook blog: See the Messages That Matter
This is Facebook's explanation of how the new feature is supposed to work.

Facebook's help page about this topic

Both these above links from Facebook will point you toward the Tour. But it tells you practically nothing.

Reviews and news about the new feature:
Facebook's new messaging feature raises privacy questions

Facebook's new features, but borking up the site in the process

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Enable HTTPS for Facebook

How to Enable and Set Facebook Secure HTTPS Login | Web Talk
This post (above) takes you through the steps to always log into Facebook with a more secure connection.
Basically, go to Accounts, account security, change, and check off the Browse Facebook on a secure connection (https) whenever possible checkbox.

Restore Default Enter Key Behaviour in Facebook Comments

Restore Default Enter Key Behavior In Facebook Comments | Better Facebook
Want to be able to use Enter instead of Shift+Enter to add a new line in your comment in Facebook. Currently, with the new behaviour in FB, Pressing Enter while typing a comment posts the comment.
The the add-ons available at this site (above), you can restore the Comment button and the normal behaviour of the Enter key.

Friday, 28 January 2011

Greater security via https coming - in a while - for Facebook

The Facebook Setting You Should Change as Quickly as Possible
Facebook has at long last offered an option to use the encrypted "HTTPS" protocol,
a feature it will begin rolling out today but won't finish for a "few
weeks." You should check now if it's available, and sign up as soon as
it is enabled for your account. The performance overhead is minor—zippy
Gmail, for example, uses HTTPS for everything—and it's an important step
to keep your Facebook account safe from being hijacked on an open or
poorly secured wireless network.
You can sign up for Facebook HTTPS by going to Account Settings and then selecting "Account Security," third from the bottom. Then click under "Secure Browsing" — if it's there. Facebook says everyone should have this by the end of the day, but in the meantime you might be missing the relevant option toggle.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Open Office 3.3 is available now

Open Office 3.3 is finally finished and is available for download.
You can download it from here.

I'm excited about the fact that the spreadsheet tabs can now be coloured.
You can read about more changes here.