Similar Items Shopper popup removal

Lately I’ve had this cursed “Similar Items Shopper” popup appearing when I browse shopping sites like Amazon.com or ebay.com. I can’t tell you how annoying this is, but I finally found the source and I’m sharing in the hopes of helping others out there avoid suffering the same rage I’ve experienced.

The cursed popup appears when browsing Amazon

Similar Items Shopper popup

Another example of the Similar Items Shopper popup, this time at ebay

After trying various virus scanners and finding no relief from this annoyance, I found that the source of the ads is the New Tab Page extension for Chrome, which is a shame because it’s a sweet little extension that mimics Google Now.

To remove it, go into Menu -> More Tools -> Extensions. The New Tab Page extension has an option to Disable Ads. Check this box and you’re set. No need to restart, no need to reboot.

Disable Similar Items Shopper

Disable this guy

In fact you should probably check each and every extension for this option. If the popup still appears, then disable all extensions. At this point you’ll know whether or not the extensions are responsible and you can start turning them on again one at a time. Feel free to send appropriate feedback to the extension developer via his web site or via the Google Chrome store.

Hope someone gets some use out of this. You are welcome.

Embedding Google Plus posts

Google+ introduced a couple of new features on Monday, including a new tool that allows bloggers and content creators to embed public Google+ posts on other sites.

Users who wish to highlight a Google+ post within a news story or on a personal blog can do so by clicking the “Embed post” tab from the drop down menu in the post’s upper righthand corner. Users can then copy and paste the available line of code to embed the post, including text and photos.

This is great, since I spend most of my time now on Google+ rather than on Facebook or tending my mostly neglected blog. Hey, it’s paying it’s way so it’s been a bit of a set/forget thing. But now I can post once on Google and then drag it over here.

I’m now part of an F1 Team

I’ve been given the honour of being a moderator on the Official Sauber F1 Team Community on Google Plus, for apparently being “passionate and knowledgeable about F1 motor racing”.

Sauber F1 Team Google Plus Community Moderator

So I’m officially part of the Sauber F1 Team! Sauber are the first team to jump into Google Plus so far and have done so in a big way, supplying great insight into the team and being very engaging with their fans and so it has been easy for me to become a fan. My job as Community Moderator is just to make sure conversations stay on topic and people don’t use rude words, but pretty soon I fully expect to become a test driver and perhaps earn a seat in an F1 car just like Sebastian Vettel did all those years ago.

Sebastian Vettel, Sauber, 2007

Finger-boy in 2007 for Sauber

You may ask yourself “How did I get here?”

So I’m currently reading a book called How Music Works by David Byrne of Talking Heads fame. Great read so far… thankfully not too autobiographical but an interesting investigation into music styles based on history, technology and sociology. Anyhow, there’s line from a song called Once in a Lifetime, “How did I get here?” I thought it’d be a good question to ask of everyone reading this here little blog.

So, I turned to Google Analytics which tells me that in the last year people have landed here by searching mostly for:

  • Venus Surface
  • Pale Blue Dot
  • Spud Shed
  • Michael Palin
  • Brian Hoover
It’s nice to know people are looking for me, but why do none of you ever say “hello”?
Among the more surprising search terms which have lead people here in the last year are:
  • rule 13
  • how to bring down a web server
  • how does singing in mandarin work
  • i’m a preop transgender female
  • is mandurah train station real?
That last one just boggles my mind.

Kindle is better than real books

It might have taken me a while, but I’m more convinced now than ever than electronic books like Amazon’s Kindle and Google’s Play Books are better than their real-world counterparts. Before, say, two or three years ago I wasn’t so sure, but having used e-books very regularly I can see a time where real books will be a bastion of old-time stalwarts doggedly holding on to old nostalgic tech much like how vinyl records are treated by recorded music enthusiasts today.

I used to take a certain pride in my home library, small though it was. Through high school and uni, I built a small but well loved collection of books including both fiction and non-fiction. I’ve had to cull a lot of books from time to time, mostly to keep my wife sane and happy. But I’ve kept a core books which I could easily say defined what I knew of the world and of myself; great reference books and timeless stories which both educated me and inspired me.

Since buying into the Smart-Phone market, I’ve been able to sell most of those books on ebay (not without a measure of emotion) and buy their e-book equivalents on Amazon Kindle and Google Play, even making a modest profit in the process. I’ll admit, it’s fairly hard going reading, say, War and Peace on a 4 inch phone screen but since investing in a Google Nexus 7 this year I’ve found myself reading a lot more than I used to.

There are lots of benefits to the e-book paradigm. In my device, I can carry THOUSANDS of books. If I’m stuck on the train or looking for something to do, I can reach out and have access to every book I’ve ever bought, no matter where I am. You always have a selection of books to read, and no weight to carry around.

And since they’re instantly delivered wirelessly, buying a book any time any place is a simple matter. No more disappointments from sold-out titles at book stores. No more dings, dents or dog-ears from other less thoughtful consumers who’ve previously handled those physical books. Nope. I enjoy the system of browsing, downloading and reading instantly.

I’ve even got some magazine subscriptions, which are a nice surprise to find waiting for me when I turn my device on.

If you’re short sighted, you can always zoom in or increase the font size. Things like changing the font or paper colour, or setting the screen brightness are a snap. Searching the book is a lot easier and more thorough. Kindle and Play also allows you to highlight parts of your e-book, much like using a neon highlighter, with the advantage of being able to remove unwanted highlights. Of course there’s also the electronic version of the good old bookmark so you can easily find the last page you were reading.

And if, Heaven forbid, I lose my device then I can simply re-download the books for free onto my new device. There’s even a system for “loaning” books to a friend.

So if you’re into books, I say “throw off the chains of the physical world” and invest in an e-book reader whether it’s a Kindle, iPad or Android device. You’ll be glad you did.

This is sure and impressive library

Happy fifth birthday, Android!

Well, sorta. There are different dates for different things. On September 23, 2008 the Android Developers Blog announced that Android 1.0 SDK release 1 was available. Then, on October 28th, 2008, the first commercially available Android phone, the HTC G1 launched. And lastly, today, is the birthday of November 5, 2007, when the Open Handset Alliance announced that Android was in the works.

Been having too much fun on Google+

Wow, been a while since I posted anything worthwhile. I’ve been spending too much time on Google+ and have been a bit distracted by it. It finally came out of beta a couple weeks ago, and notwithstanding some idiotic articles about it, Google plus has been pretty fun to use so far. I’ve been involved in a couple Hangouts, been involved in the “Perth Plussers” circle, and found some interesting people “nearby”. I also use it to automatically back up all the photos I take on my phone, and it lets me share them any time later on. I really can’t wait for it to grow and adapt. For those who want games, it’s got ‘em but so far I haven’t received any game invitations so it’s all good.

I’ve got a few unfinished blog entries I can pick up and finish off, so I guess I’ll have to get cracking over the next few days. I usually have a couple finished and ready to go in the pipeline but the cupboard is bare until the 5th of November.

Google+: a better social networking framework

OK, been playing with Google+ for a day or two. Once I get a critical mass of friends over there, I plan on dumping Facebook. Well, maybe not dumping it but I don’t really want to actively use it any more, like I’m over it.

If you’re new to Google+, I have a couple suggestions:

  1. Change your default email notifications – By default Google+ sends you notifications for anything involving your new account. Go to the Google+ section of your Google Accounts settings page and change what gets sent to your email and what gets sent to your phone. Once you hit triple digits in your active Google+ friends, it might start to get overwhelming.
  2. Change your profile’s field-sharing settings – For each field in your Google Profile, you choose what to share and how far to share it. As above, go to the Profile and Privacy section in your Google Accounts settings and set it how you want it.
  3. Disable Resharing – Sure you can choose who you share stuff (photos, posts) but you can stop others passing this on by disabling Resharing. This is set on a post-by-post basis, but will likely be found as a default in the future.

Oh, and add the Android App to your phone for that mobile experience.

So, come on over to the smart side with Google+. Look me up and add me to your circle of friends!