Google Reader & Instapaper

If you use Google Reader and Instapaper, then you want to make sure you pay attention to this post here. Using some of the new features introduced over at Greader this week, it permits you to add articles to your Instapaper queue straight from inside your feed reader. It’s very slick.

The only shortcomings I see at the moment are the blank 201 result page and the lack of fine tuning what URL gets sent over. I like to choose a print view before adding an item to Instapaper, but perhaps saving a few clicks may be a worthwhile tradeoff.

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Type display on Windows

Yesterday, the Safari 4 beta died on my work PC, taking with it a slew of tabs with no mechanism to restore them. I am so accustomed to Firefox and Chrome saving my sessions that I really take that for granted, but it is so awful that I resumed using Chrome as my default browser on my PC. (At home, I move back and forth between Firefox and Camino.)

No sooner did I fire up Chrome than I was reminded how awful the type display on Windows is. Look at the three samples below:

screen14
Type rendered in Chrome using XP and no ClearType
screen15
The same thing, with ClearType enabled
screen16
And finally, the same text from Safari 4 in Windows.

Seriously, it is 2009 – how is it possible that Apple can manage to display type on a Windows machine more attractively than the native rendering routines? Wikipedia says ClearType is now 10 years old – yet type looks better on my iPod touch than it does on my PC, for crying out loud!

Even more amazing, when Apple first released Safari for Windows, was the outcry by so many users that Apple made the type look blurry, which is (I assume) the reason Safari 4 brags about native rendering as the default.

In my book, this is further proof that the Windoze world does not deserve a satisfying, aesthetically coherent computing experience. Thank heavens I can go home and return to my Mac at the end of the day.

Google Chrome links

As a follow up to my post this afternoon that covered my initial impressions of Google Chrome, here is a collection of links I have found useful in terms of learning about Chrome and placing it into both technical and business contexts.

From Google

From others

I cannot fully explain why I, and so many others apparently, find Google so fascinating, but perhaps you may find some of the above sources useful and entertaining.

Google Chrome Impressions

Following the Tuesday release of Google’s new web browser, Chrome, I have used it for the last two days for a great deal of my web use. I wanted to write up a quick summary of my impressions, which I hope to follow up with some pointers to the torrent of articles that are filling my news feeds. Clearly, I am not the only person intrigued by this release and the motivations behind it.

Where are my checkboxes?
I can’t haz checkboxes?

For a first release, Chrome seems to be stable and well thought out. My standard browser, on a PC and on my Macs at home, is Firefox 3. I have not performed stopwatch tests, but browsing in Chrome feels faster to me, with launch being substantially better than FF3. I have not used it long enough to speak to memory use, but I applaud the Chrome team’s desire to curb Firefox’s ravenous appetite for RAM. Rendering seems nearly identical, although I am struck by how many check boxes appear blank in Chrome – WordPress and, most oddly, Gmail are both victims of this Chrome quirk.

The largest difference between them is the absence of extensions for Chrome. First and foremost, I miss the amazing RTM for Gmail plug-in, which I use daily. In this regard, Chrome reminds me of Camino, which I like very much on my Macs, but is also extension-free. The other real losses here are the site-enhancements I use via Greasemonkey and Stylish. Things like Jasper’s Google Reader subscribe are conveniences, but Google Reader without “Mark All as Read” is a key block between me and madness. I understand why these things are not available in Chrome, but I do miss them.

Another goal Chrome has set for itself is enabling their browser to work as a site-specific browser, or SSB (read this if the term is unfamiliar to you). I use Mozilla’s Prism for this under XP (I prefer v0.8 over v0.9 as 0.9 broke the RTM widget and various other sites). I have used the Gecko-based Prism for this purpose with Gmail, Gcal, Google Reader, Google Docs, Remember The Milk, and Facebook. It works well with all of them. At home, I use the WebKit-based Fluid for these same sites under OS X. Now Chrome brings WebKit-based SSBs to me under XP. Again, I would say the launch times are much better under Chrome, and that the rendering seems essentially equivalent. I still have disappearing check-box issues with Chrome and I have noted, using the Chrome Task Manager, that pages spawned from Chrome SSB’s do not seem to be separate processes with their own memory spaces – perhaps I am misreading the Task manager? Not sure. An example:

It seems processes spawned from Chrome's SSB windows are not partioned?
It seems processes spawned from Chrome are not partitioned?

Perhaps this is why the Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg had Chrome crash on him as he noted in his lukewarm review? (As an aside, the NBC Olympics site, which is what bit Mossberg, has been, in my not so humble opinion, an unmitigated disaster of useless, dead-end navigation.)

One last note – the redesigned Facebook uses some sort of AJAX-y links to enable a variety of the links in its life-stream – the comments link or the “Become A Fan” links, for example. I am consistently unable to click those links while using Chrome, which is mighty annoying. It would be great to see those bugs fixed.

I am delighted to have a WebKit-based browser with a wonderfully minimal interface available to me for free from Google. I applaud their decision to develop this as an open-source initiative and I feel certain that this effort will go on to enrich Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, Camino, Opera, Prism, and Fluid. I look forward to having a crack at Chrome on my Macs at home, which will be in a few months according to Brin’s comments to Swisher today. Sigh.

My next post on this topic will be a host of links to useful Chrome resources across the web (Update: link post here).

Google Notebook woes

If you have read any of my prior posts on my use of Google Notebook to catalog most of what I read on the web (most recent in the series here), you may recall that a month ago I was having all sorts of problems. Things got better for a spell, but they’ve died again, and I am once again unable to open or add to my Google Notebook log. While I realize I never paid anything for this service, it does make me wonder about relying on Google’s free services like this. If Gmail died on me like this, I’d be really up a creek without my email.

Here’s all I see these days:

Google Notebook error message

My use of the service had me blacklisted once before, and I will be curious to see if that’s again the case. It looks different this time, but that does not prove anything.

Google Notebook belly up?

“Unable to load user data. Please try again in a few seconds.” That’s the only sign of life I’ve been able to get from Google Notebook since 8AM this morning. Sigh.

Hopefully, I’m not blacklisted this time.

If you’re new here, this is why I care.

Google tames Reader’s dreaded “Mark All As Read” button

This is a few weeks late, because I use the groovy Greasemonkey script that saves a person from the old “Mark All As Read” gotchas (1, 2, 3, and 4) in Google Reader, but it seems Google actually took steps to defang this disaster waiting to happen.

“This dialog box doesn’t show up every time, but only if you’re marking 50 or more posts as read. We chose this as a balance between helping people avoid accidentally losing large amounts of unread items, while not being so intrusive as to interrupt people on every single mark-all-as-read action. Thanks for your feedback on it, though. We appreciate hearing what folks think about features and changes so we can keep iterating and improving.

Thanks,
Graham”

Source here. [This change was coincident with the new favicon, which I did notice. Old: greader-old.gif New: greader-new.gif]

Now if only old unread posts wouldn’t simply vanish after some vague, undefined, and varying (in my experience) amount of time. (1, 2, and 3)