• Who am I?

    I am Qrystal; or at least, that's my dot-name! Har har. (My name is really Crystal, but that's not as internet-searchable; hence, switching the C for the little-used letter Q.)

    I am here because I enjoy writing. I do this mostly for myself, but I also have a passion for helping others learn things from the things I write. Now that I am done my Ph.D. in Physics, I am stepping away from academic research so that I can indulge in some creative ways to share my knowledge and inspire the appreciation of scientific thinking in others. I am also working as a tutor, which is one of the jobs I've most enjoyed doing in my life so far.


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  • Riding the Chrome Bandwagon (A Personal Account)

    Posted by Qrystal on September 4, 2008 at 13:53.
    Category: Tools. Tags: browser, Chrome, Google, review.

    It’s all shiny and new, and I had to get it:  Google’s new web browser, aka ChromeGoogle Chrome logo In fact, when I heard about it and its features, I was completely agog.  But I’m a geek, I must admit, and as I explain myself it will only become more clear…

    I’ve already twittered some of my very first impressions, but I wanted to gather them in a coherent way, and flesh them out too.  In this post, I will recap my initial pre-release thoughts, through the feelings from the countdown to the hour of release, to actually using Chrome. I won’t discuss all the features, because that can be found elsewhere, but I will mention the ones that wooed me.

    Pre-Release Thoughts

    I heard the news via twitter:

    J_128_goatee_normalyorgleFor you Scott McCloud fans,  http://www.google.com/googlebooks/chrome – comic book about Google’s new web browser “Chrome”. Brilliant! · [View Tweet]

    I would’ve been intrigued by any announcement of anything new from Google, let alone a browser! With all those web-based things Google does (and yes, I use most of them), a browser from them must be A Good Thing.  Then again, I have been a fanbaby ever since I first used their search, so I’m bound to be biased:

    Meshades-cropmore_normalQrystal: / Big fan of Google, / and lots of their products too. / Forgive my bias! / -#haiku of apology .. I am so optimistic about Chrome though!!! · [View Tweet]

    Speed Limit: 10^100 (a googol)

    BUT, even more cool, the link from yorgle was to a comic-book description of this shiny new thing, and it’s an incredibly detailed account, with 38 pages of good dirt and loads of subtle humour…

    ——————————–>

    The speed limit is a googol!!  Get it?!  Google? GET IT?!?!

    / Geeky giggling / at the Google Chrome comic! / I’m also drooling…!! / -#haiku about http://www.google.com/googlebooks/chrome/# · [View Tweet]

    Anyways, the comic had me convinced that this new web browser was going to revolutionize web browsing. It not only promised the browser will be faster, safer, and more stable, but it explained how this was going to be achieved.  It also said that the browser was going to be Open Source (yay!) and that it is meant to be used to enhance, rather than compete with, all other browsers.  How flabbergastingly noble of them!  And I thought I loved Google before this new news!

    Countdown to Release

    After the initial shock wore off, a little bit of pessimism snuck into my thoughts.  This new product sounded way too good to be true, or if it was true, surely something else must go wrong:

    / Google Chrome coming / today at 18 o’ clock. / GMT, that is. / - #haiku of great anticipation! (Anticipate crash by 18:04.) · [View Tweet]

    I continued to waver between surges of excitement:

    / 1 hour to go / until Google Chrome meets World! / Oooo! Shiny! Must have! / - #haiku · [View Tweet]

    and feelings of dread, worrying what might happen at zero hour:

    / Just thirty minutes / until Internet goes boom! / Gears grind to a halt. / -#haiku of pondering what’ll happen when Google Chrome appears · [View Tweet]

    / Twelve minutes until / the web gets all furious / cuz nothing happens…. / -#haiku about the impending Google Chrome release · [View Tweet]

    Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock…

    I decide to tune in to the release presentation, which sadly required me to open Internet Explorer (because I refuse to put a Windows Media Player plugin into my precious Firefox, and refuse to get RealPlayer).  I was not the only one displeased with this:

    orenmazor: one point against google already for the chrome video: no quicktime option :( · [View Tweet]

    But I put it out of my mind, and started grooving to the tunes provided:

    / “A Whole Lotta Love” / emanates from Google page / announcing The Chrome. / - #haiku about http://google.client.shareholder.com/Visitors/event/build2/MediaPre… · [View Tweet]

    How appropriate, I thought to myself. Love. I love it! I was still smiling as the next song started:

    / Is this an omen? / “Another One Bites the Dust” / playing at Google… / – #haiku of dread? Eeeek! Come on, Google Chrome! · [View Tweet]

    A lot of twitterers were chuckling about this choice of song, but personally, I couldn’t help but imagine it was a server biting the dust or something, and the download was not going to be able to happen. I wasn’t the only one questioning the choice of song:

    Me_normaldannysullivan: waiting for webcast, song playing for us is “another one bites the dust” perhaps not wise choice? or on purpose :) · [View Tweet]

    Other meanings were pondered as well:

    Cartoonme_normalNanaGilbertB: Interesting choice of music for Chrome webinar. “Another One Bites The Dust” Are they talking about the other browsers? · [View Tweet]

    When I saw this in the Google Chrome twitter search (which I was frantically refreshing while waiting for the webcast), I started chuckling too.

    Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock…

    Soon, the release presentation began.  I was only about half watching it, partly because I had read about the features beforehand, and partly because the twitter search comments were amusingly taking up my attention.  I was mostly just impatiently waiting for the download to be available, but early in the presentation the release time was given as an hour later than I had originally thought, and so I tweeted a correction:

    / Countdown revision: / 45 minutes until / the Chrome hits the fan. / – #haiku of UBER-EXCITEMENT about Google Chrome!! · [View Tweet]

    I continued tweeting my thoughts as they came to me:

    / Grabbably friendly / the Google Chrome web browser / sounds promiscuous! / – #haiku (30 minutes till download time!) · [View Tweet]

    / Love the idea / of viewing the processes / within the browser! / – #haiku about a Google Chrome feature · [View Tweet]

    / Why a new browser? / Faster, safer, more stable / and super-friendly! / – #haiku about Google Chrome, available for download in ~10min · [View Tweet]

    / DOWNLOADABLE NOW! / Behold: the beginning of / the Chrome Era. Woot! / – #haiku about Google Chrome, available at http://google.com/chrome · [View Tweet]

    First Impressions

    It was a little unnerving that Chrome was able to go ahead and install itself after I clicked its download link, but I supposed that meant it wasn’t doing anything that required Administrator-level permission.  I’m okay with that, because I’m sick of apps that make me jump in hoops just to install them (like, oh, say, any Adobe AIR app, which I can’t even install or update in XP using “Run As” Administrator! What’s the big idea, makin’ me log off and log back on? Grr! But I digress.)

    I went ahead and started up Chrome, twitching with excitement.  It had a bit of trouble getting my Firefox bookmarks and settings, but I think it’s just because Firefox took forever to completely close.

    I loaded up the twitter search to continue monitoring the flood of comments about Chrome, and promptly went to the Settings menu (the wrench icon) to poke around.  There wasn’t much to poke around with, but I saw (and thus I twittered) two tweaks I wanted to do right off the bat:

    Meshades-cropmore_normalQrystal: First tweaks of Google Chrome settings: turn off password saving (looks unencrypted?!), and restrict how third-party cookies can be used. · [View Tweet]

    And then I went ahead and played around on the web.  I clicked, I surfed, and I fell in love.  I have never before felt any software run this quickly and smoothly.  It was unnerving!  I didn’t even know what to say about it, except to declare my undying love, so I just continued playing.  Meanwhile, I was listening to the question and answer part of the release presentation:

    / Someone just mentioned / Company Who Must Not Be Named / during Google show! / – #haiku (She said Voldemort, too!) and btw I <3 Chrome! · [View Tweet]

    She actually said it much like this haiku, which was amusing, and then she muttered Microsoft under her breath, which was also amusing. And I made an oopsie in that last haiku; it had 8 syllables in the second line:

    / Ah, damn, I can’t count. / I must be having so much / fun testing out Chrome! / – #haiku (1st test: facebook app “Guess the Sketch”, heh.) · [View Tweet]

    That facebook app worked very smoothly, to the point where I was suspicious that I had an unfair advantage of my competitors.  Talk about amazing!  I left the game to continue exploring.  Facebook itself had a few issues… many of the links just seem to do nothing, but that could be partly the fault of facebook’s new design (I’ve had the problem in Firefox too, intermittently).  The chat seemed to be confused by question marks, replacing each by a capital E with accent aigu.  But of course, that’s a beta website viewed on a beta browser, so I moved on.

    As I was flying through the intertubes, I was consciously looking for flaws in the interface and how it felt or behaved.  It was tremendously difficult to find anything, which bodes well, but eventually one thing came to mind:

    / Complaint about Chrome: / it’s faster than I’m used to! / It’s freaking me out! / – #Chrome #haiku · [View Tweet]

    So, like so many others, my first impression was amazement at how blazing fast it is.

    Delving Deeper

    My second impression was how intuitive Chrome is to use, particularly its new features!  Again, I am not alone in this impression! I find it completely amazing that something so revolutionary has such a minor learning curve. There was a moment when I realized that it would be very easy to actually forget I was testing out a new browser.  I honestly felt that comfortable.

    The biggest step in the learning curve was getting over the fact that the tabs are at the very top of the screen, above the address bar. Oops, I mean: the Omnibar, which seems to be much more awesome than Firefox’s “Awesome bar”, at least in that I’m noticing how immensely helpful it is. It really does seem to learn from my choices, and it just keeps getting better at guessing.  I couldn’t intuit how to make it search, but I found the answer easily when I looked for it:  the TAB key is key.

    Also tricky for me was the fact that my desktop background image had a blue sky very similar in colour to Chrome’s “chrome” (the part of the browser that surrounds the webpage, and where the browser gets its name), so I went ahead and changed my background image. Sure, it would’ve been nice to be able to change the chrome colour instead, but I’m willing to wait for that.  I was about ready for a new desktop background anyways.

    I was most excited to try out a feature known as “Application Shortcuts”, which creates a less browser-like window that can be used to run a web-based application.  I use a lot of web apps from Google and many others, and in fact I vaguely remember, awhile ago, trying and being disappointed by something called Bubbles, and also Mozilla’s Prism.  I tried Prism again much more recently (I think only a week or two ago!), checking to see if it was working yet, but alas, no, it didn’t cut it.

    With trepidation and great hope, I tried it out using Chrome.  First up to bat: Gmail, because hey, it’s Google, right? The setup process was incredibly easy, even without looking up how to do it (I only looked it up to link it~!) and within moments, I was looking at a beautiful Gmail icon on my desktop.  So I saved a copy of the shortcut to the Start Menu, and chose to also Pin to Start Menu so it would always be handy.  Then I went ahead and did the same thing for Toodledo and LiquidPlanner and Joe’s Goals.  My Quick Launch Bar contains links to some of the less important, but still often used, web app-like places that I also love and would be able to make use of quick links to:  blip.fm, SocialThing!, PhotoBlog, and there will surely be more.  I may even put some on my Desktop, who knows?  They’re as flexible as ordinary shortcuts, but they use the website favicons and open the website in a super-speedy dedicated web browsing window.  Perfect.

    Final Thoughts

    So, I am quite amazed with Chrome, but the question everyone seems to be asking and answering lately is:  will it be my default browser?

    Believe it or not, I say yes, Chrome is perfect as my default browser! It opens links so quickly, whether a browser was open already or not.  I often find myself quickly wanting to look something up, or clicking on links from other programs (like the twhirl twitter client).  The quickness of Chrome makes this possible, but only if I set it as my default! And with this going for it, why wouldn’t I?

    I’ll also still be using Firefox for many things (Diigo and StumbleUpon both come to mind), and also for things that don’t quite work right in Chrome (such as facebook, as described above, and WordPress, which tends to freeze up sometimes when I use the pulldown Format menu when writing a post).  I also feel more comfortable, for now, using Firefox for things requiring security, like banking, but this may change as Chrome matures.  And, of course, I have to keep Firefox handy for website development and testing.  I still love Firefox, but I suspect I’ll be using both browsers interchangeably for awhile.

    Overall, I give great kudos to Google, for this incredible new browser. I can’t wait to see how it evolves in time!

    8 Comments »

    • http://qrystal.name Qrystal

      Update:
      I have been using Diigo in Chrome, via their Diigolet. I chose the Firefox one as a first test, dragged it to my Bookmarks bar (which I pretty much always keep open) and I’ve been using it sporadically ever since. Because of the whole deal with the tabs each having their own process, the Diigolet needs to be opened (by clicking the link) on each tab that you want to use it.

    • http://qrystal.name Qrystal

      Update:
      I have been using Diigo in Chrome, via their Diigolet. I chose the Firefox one as a first test, dragged it to my Bookmarks bar (which I pretty much always keep open) and I’ve been using it sporadically ever since. Because of the whole deal with the tabs each having their own process, the Diigolet needs to be opened (by clicking the link) on each tab that you want to use it.

    • http://mikemacd.wordpress.com Mike MacDonagh

      Interesting read :)

    • http://mikemacd.wordpress.com Mike MacDonagh

      Interesting read :)

    • Acai Berries

      You have a pretty good writing skills. Nice blog. Add to my reader!

    • Acai Berries

      You have a pretty good writing skills. Nice blog. Add to my reader!

    • http://qrystal.name Qrystal

      More updates:
      * Facebook is working very well now.
      * Gmail could really use better integration. I can’t stand the official Gmail Notifier, partly because it kept interrupting my train of thought to tell me it wasn’t working. I also don’t actually need “notifying”. I just need to be able to click on mailto links, dagnabbit! :P
      * I am now using a StumbleUpon bookmarklet, which is pretty much all I need for now as I’m not an avid Stumbler.

    • http://qrystal.name Qrystal

      More updates:
      * Facebook is working very well now.
      * Gmail could really use better integration. I can’t stand the official Gmail Notifier, partly because it kept interrupting my train of thought to tell me it wasn’t working. I also don’t actually need “notifying”. I just need to be able to click on mailto links, dagnabbit! :P
      * I am now using a StumbleUpon bookmarklet, which is pretty much all I need for now as I’m not an avid Stumbler.