Tweaking Your Personal Freedom & Privacy in Google Chrome

I’m a Google and Chrome fan because of their tools and the simplicity and performance they adhere to—apart from search this is exactly what the company and it’s engineers have excelled at and has for many years. However untangling the browsers privacy issues to give you more personal freedom is a different art all together.

chrome-tab1

Google’s browser Chrome is lightweight, responsive and performs fantastically even when browsing many tabs at once. We can thank  the Chromium Open Source project for giving users more stable, faster and safer web experiences.

Having said that, with the increasing amount of hackers compromising individuals and other companies information, it’s important to think of how to protect companies & individuals from snooping on your personal privacy. It’s quite obvious that Google’s interface to their users is the web and web browsers, while Apple’s is the screen. That is why you as an end user using Google (or any other product for that matter) should understand how their privacy policy and terms work, and in this case especially for the browser. Have you ever looked? You should go ahead and read through the notice if you haven’t.


privacy-chrome

One should realize that maybe Google Chrome’s policy is not good at all when you realize:

  • If you use Google Chrome, Google will know every URL you type into the location bar.
  • Google will know (almost) every partial URL you type into the location bar.
  • Moreover, they will know every word or phrase you type into the location bar, even if you type it and then delete it before pressing enter.
  • They will also know every word or phrase you type into the location bar, even if you type it and then delete it before pressing enter.
  • All this information can be linked with your main Google account, because Google sends your cookie along with every automatic search it performs from the location bar.

If you are at all doubtful that they actually do this then try downloading fiddlr (A web debugging proxy), and shows that for nearly every character you type, Chrome sends a request back to Google.

At least they give you options to disable their data collection services, the only problem is most of your average users don’t understand what’s really going on “under the hood.” It’s wise to get an understanding about how they collect data and then try to tweak it for better privacy results. Anonymity matters to me for these simple reasons, and I think they should matter to you as well:

  • Prevent people from watching and learning what sites I visit and my physical location.
  • Protect your communications from irresponsible corporations.
  • Protect your privacy from unscrupulous marketers and identity thieves.

How can I tweak my privacy so that Google and third parties don’t receive all my data?

  1. First get to grips with how Google uses your data which they say is just standard log information collected and used to further help improve the user’s experience. Fair enough, however, each Google Chrome installation contains a unique ID that identifies its user, and for the average user it’s tough to remove that ID.  So the first task is to do this. You can easily achieve your goal by using UnChrome to anonymize yourself.
  2. Cookies. Are they safe? This is an endless debate, but the fact remains that near to all websites use them to track and remember you so turning them off could lead to unexpected results when browsing with cookies on.
    cookie-optionsAfter you click on the little wrench on the top-right side of the browser, goto options > under the hood > content settings and check “Ignore exceptions and block third=party cookies from being sent. This will help you block those third party vendors from tracking you.
  3. If you have read this article you should know that this is where Chrome learns the most about you, by logging your data. They even say that they use only 2% of the data they receive, along with the IP addresses of it’s users in Chrome.  To disable these features goto little wrench on the top-right side of your browser, goto options > under the hood and disable these features:
    chrome-options1
  4. Google uses the omnibox (search address bar) to help you search faster—no other browser has this feature and at first glance it’s really cool. Goto the little wrench on your browser > options > basics and disable Instant for faster searching and browsing.
    chrome-omnibox
  5. Concurrently you may also disable the Chrome Auto-fill options and never save passwords, or prompt the user if you’d like to save your password for a particular site. You may also set your default search engine to Bing or Yahoo, but know that if you do this then they will receive your data (whatever’s left of it after you have tweaked) instead of Google.

Another Preventive Measure To Browse More Safely:
chrome-incogAlong with tweaking your cookies, options and search one of the safest ways to use Chrome is the Incognito Mode.  Briefly what you want to know about browsing in this mode is (a) webpages that you open and files downloaded while you are incognito aren’t recorded in your browsing and download histories and (b) all new cookies are deleted after you close all incognito windows that you’ve opened.

If you use Google Chrome in incognito mode, it will not transmit any pre-existing cookies to sites that you visit. Sites may deposit new cookies on your machine while you are in incognito mode, however. These cookies will be temporarily stored and transmitted to sites while you remain in incognito mode. They will be deleted when you close the browser or return to normal browsing mode.

How Much Does Google Already Know About Me?

What’s really interesting is that Google knows a LOT about you already. Sign into your Google Dashboard and you can clearly see what data of your they already have in their systems. I just checked that out while writing this post and they know almost everything about me including my address, phone number, email, websites, blogs, social media connections, contacts and a hell of alot more.

I can’t help but thinking how much data they have in their centers and how that number is growing exponentially with more and more people using their services. You can try disabling your web history as well, but at this stage for both you and I, it probably doesn’t matter.

The point of this whole article is to get to know how privacy works in Google Chrome and clearly understand the preventive measures you can take to help people / companies from snooping or your data. Make no mistake of it, you are being watched in some form of the other, whether it’s Google, Facebook, Microsoft, an ISP which or even a third party snoop.

Protecting yourself online is an art that even the most novice user should understand and embrace, especially with the internet in this day and age. I’m certain that end users don’t have control over everything but it’s clearly important to understand and use what you can control now and prepare yourself for the future.

Bonus:  Try using Tor and defend your personal freedom and privacy while browsing online.

Google Chrome Net Market Share Usage Surges %0.75 For November, $GOOG

The browser i most depend upon is Google Chrome not Firefox, Internet Explorer or Opera. Chrome has a lightweight footprint and out-performs all the others by miles.  It pleases me to watch their market-share grow over the months and for November it surges %0.75 (from %8.75 to %9.50 from the months of October to November) whilst other browsers didn’t see the same rise in numbers.

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Sure Chrome doesn’t have all the plugins that Firefox has (but they do have a growing market of some really cool existing extensions) nor have they thought through their bookmarks feature completely. Pound for pound this is still the best browser in the world. It’s all about speed and performance at the end of the day…

When You Rethink Your Sidebar, Don’t Forget Google Translate

The web is full of people who don’t speak English (roughly over 400 million users and growing), a constant ecosystem of cowboys and injuns scowering the wild wild wild web in search of information, attention and acceptance. Acceptance being one of the most important factors, and these people like to tell stories and have their say.

For the many years I’ve worked as a project manager or team lead in offshore development startup cultures i’ve had to communicate with people who don’t speak fluent English;  that doesn’t make them any less intelligent than you or I, on the contrary they’re extremely well versed in their areas of expertise, but they just prefer to speak in their native tongue.

Just the other day i was sitting with a friend while and he was typing furiously away, doing business with folks from all around the world.  Half of the links and information his colleagues posted to him in chat where in different languages.

Fortunately for this young entrepreneur he was using Google Chrome, which recently adopted a translate toolbar and with a click of a button he all the information he needed was translated for him.   We both smiled at each other, extremely satisfied with the toolbar, and went back to business as usual. International business that is, with folks from different background across all different regions of the world..

If,

Generally speaking, English is the universal language on the Internet, but it has no official status, and it will never have. The reasons for the position of English are the imperialism and economical and political importance of English-speaking countries. Linguistically, English is extremely unsuitable for international communication, and the actual wide use of English tends to polarize the world into Internet users and Internet illiterates.

then, it’s safe to assume that you should use a translate mechanism to reach all types of audiences .  One so called mechanism built right out of the box and easy to implement is Google Translate.

translate

and you can use it not only to translate stuff on your blog but to directly translate and communicate with people in different languages.

Head on over to the Google Translate Tools area and copy and paste the code into your blog,  and get started today.   Rethinking your sidebar requires some thought and organization, and bloggers should be aware of the language barriers on the web; make your blog more friendly for all the folks on the web, it only requires a couple of clicks of a button.

Google Service Allows You To Run Ads On National T.V.

Google TV Ads is a marketplace that makes it easy to buy, sell and measure TV advertising. In an advertising experiment for just $1,300.00 these folks reached 1.3 million people by utilizing a simple Google Service – Google T.V. Ads.

The advertising industry wont crumble over night, but its easy to see the barriers to entry have bee lowered. It might not be long before you’re promoting your blog, your punk band or christmas ornaments on national T.V.

With Google TV ads you can create a campaign, set a budget and pick the time and network you want it to air from, all from your computer.

Getting started with Google TV Ads
AdSense for TV
How it works

If you’re not convinced just watch the video.

How To: Become a Speed Surfing Demon with 3 Simple Chrome Extensions

If you’re one for keyboard shortcuts and you’re using one the newer browser out there (Opera, Chrome, Firefox) than this post is for you.  At the end of this little article you’ll be able to input commands directly into a prompt and run them on light speed to get to all your good stuff.  Note that the bookmarklet Quix works on many browsers (it’s extensible) but i’m concentrating on Google Chrome in this post.

speed_demon

Patterns of surfing the web differ from person to person depending on browser choice, time of day and hours spent surfing the web.  However  one variable we can all change is the time factor while surfing.

Don’t you want to be more productive and spend less time “mouse clicking” on bookmarks, bookmarklets and all the other browser stuff that takes time to do?

I know I do,  and t’s simple all you have to do is install 3 Google Chrome Extensions and you’re on your way to being a superhero.

Just follow the steps here, we’ll be using these Chrome Extensions:  Shortcut ManagerQuix , and X-Marks bookmarks sync.

  1. Download and install Shortcut Manager for Chrome.  It’s a charmer of an extension.  You can change the browser default shortcut keys, and assign any bookmarklets or Javascript action to your hotkeys. It works as Keyconfig on Firefox.
  2. You’ll need the Quix bookmarklet as well.  To get the quix bookmarklet working you have two choices.  You may assign a shortcut key (by using shortcut manager) to the quix prompt box , or just drag the little bookmarklet to your brower toolbar.
  3. Start using Quix commands for shortcuts to your favorite social bookmarklets, url shortners, wordpress, etc etc.

For Example:  Lets say i wanted to run a basic command of  a simple Google search for Chicken?  All i would have to type in the prompt box is:

quix_command

Note: Access your Quix bookmarklet by assigning a key, or clicking on the bookmarklet (in your browser).

And voila you’ll be searching for the term in not time!  There are alot of other commands like social bookmarklets, bookmarking on delicious, posterous et cetera.  Some of my favorites include:

whois
speed
bitly
firebug

Check over on the commands page for more and start using them, you’ll soon see how productive and how much time you can really save.

If you decide not to use these extensions in your browsing experiences, I won’t hold it against you.  However with the amount of information and bookmarking we do it would be wise to be able to save them somewhere (besides your local computer) for future reference.

To do that all you need is the X-Marks Bookmark Sync which synchronizes across multiple computers, and across web browsers: Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Internet Explorer.  You can easily sign up for an account via the installed bookmarklet in your toolbar.

For power users these commands are readily available for your fingertips to execute. Fact is once you get used to it anyone will be able to achieve the mundane tasks a lot quicker than you would with a mouse, thus increasing your productivity and helping you organize your content better. What are you waiting for get to commanding!

That said, I truly believe that Google Chrome will be at the forefront of browsers within the next few years, especially with the Google operating system giving birth.

What else do you like about Chrome extensions? Do you have any to share that we’d like as well?