Month: March 2014

Tricks and extensions to improve Google Chrome user experience

chromeGoogle Chrome is one of the best browsers available for surfing the web, thanks to its speed, simplicity and huge collection of extensions. Most of all we can personalize our Chrome in order to have an extra juice. Let’s have a lookm at the main tricks and extensions we can use to improve our experience with Google’s browser.

Reset Chrome. Chrome added few months ago a function to restore the browser to its original state . Quite useful if you start to have constantly crashes or have been infected by some malware.

Increase the speed of Chrome with “Too Many Tabs” extension. If you tend to open lots of tabs, Chrome can start to slow and crash. This is because Chrome treats each tab as an individual process and maintains all active. With this extension Chrome will handle tabs as Firefox does, giving priority to the active, avoiding an excessive memory consumption.

Save memory. As mentioned above, we know that each tab consumes memory and the more are open more Chrome tends to be slow. There is an extension which is almost a miracle: OneTab. It can save up to 95 % of memory. By pressing the button OneTab in the browser, all the opened collaps into a single. This allows users to visit necessary tabs where relevant, but having them all listed in one “big” tag.

Save directly to Google Drive. If you are a strong Google Drive user, this extension is the one for you. It lets you save any link, document or image directly to your cloud files in Google Drive.

Virtualization, advantages and disadvantages

virtualizationServer virtualization optimizes the physical resources available and facilitate management and use of the server. More in detail, here are the main advantages of virtualization:

  • reduction of physical servers: the same hardware can allow the execution of multiple virtual machines with the advantage of reducing energy consumption, heat generated, risk of hardware failures, number of rack cabinets and space needed to house all the servers
  • server consolidation: it is estimated that, on average, a modern server is used only by 15 %to 20% of its maximum power. It is therefore reasonable that it can house 3 or 4 virtual machines without any performance problem
  • hardware independence: the software, and in particular the operating system, is closely tied to the underlying hardware. So, if for some reason, a server installation must be moved or copied on another machine, you will may need to take into account some hardware compatibility problems. Since virtualization create layers of abstraction in an operating system, there are no problem due to physical hardware.
  • stronger adaptability: virtual server can easily change based on a company’s priorities and needs. Virtualization allows to allocate the virtual hardware resources in a much faster and more flexible way

On the other hand virtualization is not problem-free. Here are main troubles:

  • overhead: each virtualization decrease the overall performance of the physical server, such as time of disk access, memory access and so on. Some critical applications may be affected by the environment of the overhead introduced by virtualization;
  • not all the hardware may be virtualizzabile, depending on the product used. Most trouble can be found on serial and parallel ports, USB devices, Bluetooth interfaces, graphics hardware acceleration and so on .

What is Time Machine, how to backup data and how to recover them

Time-MachineOne of the features that distinguishes OSx from other operative system is the presence of a superb system backup, easy and pleasant to use. Let’s see how this works in detail and how to use it.

First of all: what is a backup? A backup is a way to save your precious data from unexpected loss. You can feel safe but never say never so a regular backup should always be performed to save against headache in the future.

The sense of backup is giving the option to bring back the system to a previous state.

Time Machine is the easiest way to perform a backup, in just few clicks.

Main advantages of Time Machine on third part software are:

  • Time Machine is natively integrated into the operating system, which means you can enable in few seconds, without installing anything
  • It’s one of the easiest backup software out there, no joke!

The only things required for starting to immediately use Time Machine are an external hard drive large enough to contain all your data and one minute. The hard drive must be connected via USB, Firewire or Thunderbolt to the Mac. After that you can launch the backup software and decide the main options, such as how many backups to do per day and when delete old backups (after a day, a week and so on).

How to recover data from a previous backup? Super-easy. Just connect the hard drive to your new Mac and launch the Time Machine software. Follow the instructions and after a while (depending on how many files you are recovering) you’ll have you data on your new Mac.

VMware Player, the best free virtualization software out there

VMwareVirtual Machines are so far the best way to make experiments on our computer, such as installing new software, without any risk to compromise the main OS. One of the best virtualization software out there is VMware Player, which is free for personal use (for commercial use there is the “Plus” version which costs £ 75.95).

How can we use this software and in which way it can be useful? First of all, we need to download it (it is available both for Windows and Linux). Currently the latest version is 6.0.1. Once the download has been finished and the software has been installed, is possible to launch the program and create a New Virtual Machine.

The system will ask for a media source to proceed with the installation. We can provide a CD, a DVD or an ISO image. In few steps the process is completed and we have at our entire disposal a brand new virtual machine for tests or just to try out new OS (i.e. the latest Ubuntu release or a new Linux distro we never tried before).

During installation the process will ask how many space we want to reserve for the virtual machines. It depends what we need the virtual machine for. If it’s just to try it, do not go over 30Gb, otherwise we can reserve more space.

VMware Player behaves like a physical pc, then we can proceed with software installation, surfing the internet and so on. Please be aware that, as it’s a virtual OS, it can be a bit more limited than real OS, so probably more heavier operations won’t perform so good than they would do on a real PC.

How to Install latest Ubuntu version

UBUNTUBefore you can proceed with a brand new installation of Ubuntu, which is 13.10, you must perform 3 steps:

  1. download the ISO image of Ubuntu
  2. burn the ISO image into a CD / DVD or into a USB flash drive
  3. configure the BIOS of your PC to boot from the CD / DVD or from the USB flash drive, depending on what you chosen during the previous step.

Once you have configured the BIOS to boot from the media of your choice, you can restart the computer. After a while, the Ubuntu boot loader GRUB appear. Here are basically two ways to go: live or installation. The first one allow you to try the Linux OS without install it. This is the recommended option if you never tried Ubuntu beforeto. The second option is to directly install the OS on your PC.

Supposing you want to install Ubuntu, steps to successfully proceed with the installation are quite easy and well explained on the installation windows.

You should choose your country and your favourite language, set up an internet connection (it is recommended but not compulsory to go through) and, most important, you should set up an admin password.

During installation Ubuntu asks you to download additional software, such as third party software. It is not compulsory, but it can increase your user experience with the Linux operative system.

One of the hardest part is disk partitioning. That means how much space you would like to reserve for Ubuntu. Here you can wipe the original OS (usually Windows), install Ubuntu alongside Microsoft OS or partition the disk manually. If you are not an expert, avoid the third option and let Ubuntu do all the job.

When all the steps are done, installation will finish within minutes and you can start to enjoy your new OS.

How to install non-store application in Windows 8

windowsWindows 8, the new operative system by Microsoft, has completely revolutionized the Windows world. The Eight is totally different from its predecessors: quicker, easier and beautiful. The tiles interface, even if a first glance can seem tricky, is very simple and funny.

It looks clear that Microsoft developed Windows 8 with tablet and smartphone in mind, with the goal to give a complete environment where to move into.

One of the biggest difference between Win8 and its predecessors is the Store. Microsoft developed a Windows Store which contain all the apps users can install on their PC. By default, Windows 8 allow to install only applications downloaded from the Windows Store. These applications are known as “authorized” and have gone through a review process by Microsoft team which gives its approval. That means they are safe to be installed. Should you need an app which is not in the store (be cautious!) you can follow those steps:

  • search for “Run” from the start screen
  • on the window type in “gpedit.msc”, then click OK
  • go on Local Group Policy Editor and, from the main screen, go on “Computer Configuration -> Administrative Templates -> Windows Component -> App Package Deployment”
  • enable “Allow all trusted apps to install”

That allow to install non-store apps. Two more things to check:

  • the developer must have cryptographically signed the app
  • your PC must have accepted that certificate

If both criteria are met, you can use Windows PowerShell to run this command:

add-appxpackage C:\apptoinstall.appx –DependencyPath C:\dependency.appx

apptoinstall.appx is the app to install, dependency.appx is the dependency of the app, which is included within the app itself.


3 free alternatives to Whatsapp

WhatsAppWhatsApp may be king but does not mean it is the only alternative to chat with friends using mobile. The company has been bought some weeks ago by Facebook for the sum of 19 billion dollars. Mark Zuckerberg acquired the undisputed leader of mobile messaging with over 50 billion messages a day. If you do not like Facebook and its services, then you can start to look for alternatives, such as those presented in this post.

Line, a pretty serious contender in the battle of mobile messaging. Last year more than 300 million users used it. Line has other functions besides social messaging, such as a Facebook style “wall” and several games like Pokopang and Bubble.

BlackBerry Messenger. Eve if ex-RIM has almost lost the battle of smartphone, the canadian company still today offer some good products like BlackBerry Messenger. Before Android and iOS, BlackBerry was leader of smartphone market and one of the reasons for that has always been the instant messaging service, focused on privacy and security. Trying not to lose too much market share, BlackBerry (this is the new name of RIM) developed an Android and an iOs of its IM.

Telegram. This free app has an impressive growth especially in spanish-speaking countries: 70,000 new daily users in Latin America and 150,000 in Spain. Most of the code of this application is open, it put enough emphasis on encrypting communications, works perfectly and has a very simple interface. Other than that, Telegram developed a full API service for developer. The app is free on Android, iOS , Windows Phone , Windows , Linux , Mac , Chrome and any other browser.

Tips, Tricks and Secrets of Windows 8

windows8Windows 8, the latest version of Microsoft OS, is quite easy to use and many persons fell in love with it. New interface version and new features distinguish this OS from its predecessor: Windows 7. One of the first questions new Windows 8 users can ask is “which new things can I do with Win8?”. Here are some of the most useful.

Find and open applications in Windows 8. Locate programs or applications in Windows 8 can be somewhat confusing at first, indeed its easier than previous versions. Just need to go to the Metro interface and start typing to see a list of suggested applications. Easy, isn’t it?

Remove, move and resize mosaics on the Home Screen. Mosaics of the home screen can be modified, deleted, moved or changed in position. Just right click on an icon to visualize options on the bottom bar.

Open applications from the home screen. Windows 8 allows you to enter the name or just the first few letters of any program or application on the Home screen and open it directly.  This is limited only to programs and applications installed.

Take screen capture using keyboard. The easiest way to take screen capture is to press down Windows key, which usually has the Windows logo on the keyboard, and the PrintScreen key.  The screen will fade almost imperceptibly and an image will be saved in the Pictures folder.
Use the Windows-X menu. The menu called “Windows-X” is a small one with several shortcuts to access the most used programs in Win8. To start using this menu just press Windows key + X.

3 reasons to quit Windows and use Linux

linuxThe end is near. If you’ve been following the technology world, you should know that the official support for Windows XP (one of the best ever made OS by Microsoft) ends April 8th. It is amazing how an operating system older than 12 years yet maintain a high market share. Microsoft has already released newer versions after it, such as Windows 7 and Windows 8.

Windows XP is still used by millions of computers, including critical systems. Microsoft knows that and so extended support for antimalware in Windows XP until 2015. This is not a reason to wait until 2015 to update your system, as Microsoft wants you to move to Windows 8. Latest Redmond’s OS is not the alternative out there, as one interesting option is to migrate to Linux. Why should you do that?

It’s free. Windows doesn’t. Windows 7 may cost a little over $ 100 to over $ 300, Windows 8 is cheaper, ranging from $ 69.99 to $ 119.99. The price of any Linux distro is zero. While there is nothing wrong with paying for good software (and the truth is that both Windows 7 and 8 are good) not everybody want to spend hundreds of bucks pay for a license.

It is very easy to use. There were in prehistoric times (technologically speaking) that Linux was a complicated operative system, hard to install and to update. Today latest versions of Linux, such as Ubuntu or Mandriva are very user-friendly.

It is safe. Windows is vulnerable to virus and malware in general, which can steal your private data, steal your credit card number and so on. Linux has always been safer, thanks also to the support of the community.