All about Google Chrome & Google Chrome OS

20 Dec 12 Criminals use Facebook and Tumblr to push Chrome extensions that can access …

A Facebook user by the name of Philippe Harewood on Wednesday spotted a rather interesting scam that leverages Facebook, Tumblr, and Google Chrome to spy on its victims. The privacy-violating campaign was later detailed further by security firm Webroot.

The whole campaign is based on the hopes that Facebook users want to change the theme of the site to another color, such as red. It can be of course adjusted to target other users as well.

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Harewood explains how it works. A Facebook user is invited to a fake event on the social network. He or she then clicks on a Tumblr link, which redirects to another page (typically hosted on Amazon Web Services) that prompts the user to install a Chrome extension.

The extension then executes a JavaScript file (also hosted on Amazon) when it detects an open Facebook page, which creates a new Tumblr page and a new Facebook event. Finally, the script invites all your friends and pushes the Tumblr link, and the scam starts again.

facebook red event 730x444 Criminals use Facebook and Tumblr to push Chrome extensions that can access all your website data

As Webroot notes, the real danger is the malicious Chrome extension, which once installed, has access to all your data on all websites, as well as access to your tabs and browsing history. The Facebook event and Tumblr links are merely used to trick users into thinking the extension will do what they want; all the URLs in question look legitimate since they are hosted on the aforementioned sites.

Here’s the page that entices users into changing their Facebook color theme:

imag3 730x442 Criminals use Facebook and Tumblr to push Chrome extensions that can access all your website data

As you can see, there’s even an accompanying EULA and privacy policy, in an attempt to further improve the scam’s legitimacy. If the user chooses not to accept the agreements, the cybercriminals behind the campaign try to monetize the hijacked Facebook traffic by asking the victims to participate in surveys full of ads to generate revenue for them anyway.

Protecting yourself is very easy: don’t click on random links on Facebook, even if they are hosted on Tumblr. Being invited to a Facebook even does not suddenly make them safe.

Image credit: Chris Chidsey

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19 Dec 12 Google Chrome updated to 23.0.1271.101

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Date: Tuesday, December 18th, 2012, 07:22
Category: News, Software


Hey, an update’s an update.

Late Monday, Google released version 23.0.1271.101 of its Chrome web browser. The update, a 56.5 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

- This build contains the fix to a bug with sound distortion with microphone input: 157613.

Google Chrome 23.0.1271.101 requires an Intel-based Mac with Mac OS X 10.6 or later to install and run. If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.


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18 Dec 12 Google Chrome to Receive Search Refinements

Aims to deliver search results more swiftly.

Google has detailed changes coming to Chrome, with the company updating the developer’s version of the browser to deliver search results more quickly.

Originally released to a small number of users utilizing Chrome dev for Windows and the developer’s version of Chrome OS that have Google set as their default search provider, the changes have been applied to both the new tab page, as well as any searches typed into the location bar.

Google software engineer David Holloway said the changes are in response to those still navigating to their preferred search engine’s home page as opposed to searching from the location bar.

Situated on the new tab page, the default search engine provider is capable of embedding a search box and “otherwise customize” the page, though the latter wasn’t detailed by Google.

Elsewhere, in the omnibox (the URL field in the location bar), search engines can now depict search terms within the omnibox, excluding the requirement for a second search box displayed on the results page.

Search engine providers are now able to integrate the features through the new Embedded Search API, which is an extension of the SearchBox API. Holloway added that Chrome dev on Mac will receive the update in due course.

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16 Dec 12 Worldwide Gmail, Chrome crash caused by sync server error

Screen Shot 2012-12-11 at 12.53.31

Google’s email service crumbled yesterday for about 40 minutes, leaving millions of enterprise and consumer users without access to their cloud-stored email. 

Gmail didn’t fall down due to a denial-of-service attack as was reported initially yesterday (which was quickly amended), despite no initial evidence to suggest that it was. The search giant said on its dashboard status pages: “Although our engineering team is still fully engaged on investigation, we are confident we have established the root cause of the event and corrected it.”

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Gmail in widespread outage, also caused Chrome browser crashes

Gmail in widespread outage, also caused Chrome browser crashes

At the same time millions of Google Chrome browsers crashed at around the same time. In some cases, Chrome crashed multiple times times within a short period. (It happened to me. Chrome crashed about three times in the space of 20 minutes, annoyingly, as I was — ironically — writing about the Gmail outage and Chrome crashes.)

However, in spite of Google Chrome’s sandboxing feature, which allows each tab and process to run in a separate thread to prevent the browser from fully crashing if a plug-in or bad bit of Web site code causes issues, the entire browser crashed, losing any unsaved work at the same time.

Google engineer Tim Steele took to the firm’s developer forums to confirm that, in spite of the apparent link between Gmail’s outage and Chrome crashes, it was Google Sync that was causing the browser to crash worldwide, which ultimately then had a knock-on effect to other Google services, not limited to Gmail, Google Docs, Drive and Apps.

Google Sync keeps a user’s Chrome browser in sync when they log in to their browser. Bookmarks, extensions, apps and settings are transferred across to the new Chrome browser on another machine when a user logs in. 

But this back-end service’s failure had a knock-on effect to Chrome browsers. (Presumably, browsers that aren’t set up to synchronize settings were not affected). Steele noted that Google’s Sync Server relies on a component to enforce quotas on per-datatype sync traffic, which failed. The quota service “experienced traffic problems today due to a faulty load balancing configuration change.”

He added: “That change was to a core piece of infrastructure that many services at Google depend on. This means other services may have been affected at the same time, leading to the confounding original title of this bug.”

As a result, Google’s Sync Server “reacted too conservatively” by telling the Chrome browser to “throttle ‘all’ data types,” without taking into account for the fact that the browser doesn’t support all these data types. This caused Chrome to crash en masse around the world.

The ‘too-long, didn’t-read’ version is that Google changed something, it didn’t work, and it caused the crashes. No hackers were involved, and the outage and crashes certainly were not a result of a denial-of-service attack.

(via Wired)

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15 Dec 12 CNET Editors’ note:

This developer’s build of Google Chrome is unstable and should only be used with caution.

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14 Dec 12 Google Chrome For iOS Can Now Play Audio In The Background After It’s Been …

Google Chrome For iOS Can Now Play Audio In The Background After It’s Been Closed

(5:37 am PDT, Dec 14th)

Google Chrome For iOS Can Now Play Audio In The Background After It’s Been Closed

Have you ever used Google Chrome on your iOS devices to listen to music on YouTube, only to find it stops playing when you close the app? Sometimes that’s a good thing — you don’t always need videos to continue to playing in the background when they’ve been closed. But sometimes it’s annoying, like when you’re listening to music.

Thanks to the app’s latest update, you can prevent that from happening.

The latest version of Google Chrome, which hit the App Store this morning, allows you to continue playing audio in the background even after the app’s been closed. It won’t happen automatically, so you won’t have things playing in the background and eating away at your battery inadvertently; here’s how it works.

When you’re watching a video or a song on YouTube — or anywhere else for that matter — and you close Google Chrome, it’ll cut out. At this point, you can double-tap the home button on your iOS device, then swipe to the right on the multitasking tray to access the media controls, where you should see the Google Chrome icon.

Simply hit play and your video or song will continue playing where it left off — allowing you to enjoy it while you use other apps.

Isn’t that neat?

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14 Dec 12 How a Simple Gmail Outage Crashed Google Chrome

Gmail went down yesterday for a relatively short period of time — service was intermittent for about an hour (compare that to the extended outage of 2009). However, this outage had an unexpected complication: It also caused the Google Chrome browser to crash.

On the surface, that appears very odd: Gmail is a service, but Chrome is an app. Sure, they’re both Google products, but they do different things — why would a hiccup in one affect the other?

It has to do with sync. If you log into Chrome with your Gmail address (and if you want to sync bookmarks, tabs and extensions, you need to), the app on your computer is now tied directly to Google’s servers. And, of course, so is Gmail.

According to a post on a Chrome developer forum, when Gmail went down, it set off a chain reaction that ended with the servers sending all client apps (i.e. the Chrome browser on millions of devices) a command they couldn’t process. The result: one of the biggest mass app crashes in history.

It all started with a simple human error, which Chrome developer “Tim” characterizes as a “faulty load-balancing configuration change” in a core part of the infrastructure of Google’s back-end servers. Those servers maintain Chrome sync, among many other services — including Gmail.

The crashes in Chrome, however, weren’t because the sync servers were suddenly unavailable (if they were, Chrome wouldn’t sync, but it also wouldn’t crash). Chrome crashed because the servers — which act as traffic cops for all the data being synced from Chrome clients all over the world — suddenly believed syncing traffic was through the roof. It looked like, to Chrome, the syncing equivalent of everyone flushing their toilets at once.

As a result, the sync servers then reacted “too conservatively” in Tim’s words, telling all Chrome clients to throttle all data types. However, not all versions of Chrome support all data types. Millions of Chrome browsers suddenly attempted to throttle data they couldn’t process in the first place. The result: crash city.

Could it happen again? You can bet Chrome’s engineers are working to ensure that it doesn’t. It should be pretty easy to change how the sync servers react to traffic problems. But it’s also a sobering reminder about how vulnerable to problems cloud software can be. If a key link in the chain — which users don’t even control — falters, everybody loses.

Has this crashing issue affected your confidence in Chrome or cloud software? Let us know in the comments.

Photo by Mashable

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19 Jun 12 Fight! Chrome sync, Xmarks shred browser bookmarks

This morning I’m dealing with the wreckage after enabling Xmarks on both my Firefox and Chrome browsers. Xmarks is a cloud-based service that synchronizes bookmarks between browsers. It worked beautifully when I began using it with Firefox, but I wanted to use it as a cross-browser solution. When I added the extension to Google Chrome, however, everything went haywire.

Unfortunately for me, at some time in the past I had enabled the sync function in Chrome, and then promptly forgot about it….until now. When the two sync engines revved up they began fighting each other like battling tops. The dueling vortexes of updates and counter-updates destroyed the integrity of my bookmarks on every browser instance across several different computers. By the time I realized what was happpening I was left with many nested sets of bookmark folders, most of which are now empty. 

So here it is, Monday morning, and I find myself trolling through my Time Machine backups in hopes of turning back the clock.

If you’re considering a bookmark synchronization tool such as Xmarks, a word of advice: Make sure you haven’t already enabled a similar function within the browser. Turn off Google’s sync function in the Chrome browser settings before you begin.


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16 Jun 12 Google Chrome Gets Early Metro-Style App for Windows 8

Google Chrome Gets Early Metro-Style App for Windows 8Windows 8 users may now try out an early version of Metro-style Google Chrome by installing the browser’s developer build.

To access the Metro-style browser, users must installChromethroughthedevchannel, then set Chrome as the default browser. Once they do, the Chrome icon in the Windows 8 Start menu will change to show that it’s a Metro-style app.

The Metro-style version of Chrome is similar to its desktop counterpart, but it has larger tabs that are more conducive to touchscreens. Unlike Internet Explorer 10, Chrome shows all open tabs at all times — IE hides them until the user right-clicks or swipes upward on a touchscreen — so it’s a good option for users who need to quickly switch between tabs. The browser also supports Incognito mode and all Adobe Flash content, whereas Internet Explorer uses a whitelist of approved Flash content.

Google Chrome Gets Early Metro-Style App for Windows 8Chrome also supports some of Windows 8’s Metro features. Through the charms bar, users can share links with other apps, but the universal search function in Windows 8 doesn’t seem to work. The browser supports side-by-side snapping of other apps, so you can keep an eye on Twitter or e-mail as you surf the Web.

But as EdBottpointsout, Chrome violates Metro design principles with the browser’s right-click functionality. In Windows 8, right-clicking is supposed to do the same thing as swiping upward on a touchscreen, but that’s not the case in Metro-style Chrome. Swiping upward toggles full-screen browsing in Chrome, while right-clicking shows a pop-up context menu, as it does in the desktop browser.

I don’t have a tablet for testing Windows 8, but when using Splashtop’s Win8 MetroTestbedapp on the iPad, scrolling didn’t work in Chrome. If this is a problem with all tablets, I’m sure it will be fixed with future versions. But I also hope Google goes back and follows Metro design principles for right-clicks and upward swipes.

Google Chrome Gets Early Metro-Style App for Windows 8A few other nitpicks: There’s currently no way to send a Web page from Metro-style Chrome to the desktop, and the “New window” command opens a new tab instead. (Some sort of windowing function for Metro-style Chrome would be great for tab junkies.) Metro-style Chrome also has a “Pin to Start Screen” button that, at the moment, only crashes the browser.

If you’re running a preview version of Windows 8 and want to give Chrome a try, keep in mind that only the default browser may run as a Metro-style app, so Internet Explorer will only run on the desktop once you switch. To switch back to Metro-style IE, you must open the desktop version, go to “Internet Options,” click the “Programs” tab and click the link to “Make Internet Explorer the default browser.”

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16 Jun 12 50 essential Chrome tips

Behind its no-frills, stripped-down exterior, the Google Chrome browser hides a wealth of useful features and functions.

Read on to discover some tips and tricks you can make use of to unlock the power of Chrome. Oh, and chip in with your own in the comments at the bottom.

1. Pin tabs

Pinned tabs shuffle along to the left-hand side of the screen, take up less room and in some cases (e.g. Twitter), they glow if there’s an update to the page. They also keep their places whenever you start up Chrome in the future. Right-click on a tab title to access the pin tab option.

50 essential Chrome tips: pinned tabs

2. Log out with incognito mode

Like most browsers, Chrome has an incognito mode that disables history logging. Open up an incognito window whenever you want to quickly check how a site — such as your Facebook page or Google+ profile — looks to someone who isn’t signed in as you. If you’re using Windows, Control+Shift+N opens a new incognito window.

3. Browse files

Chrome offers a rudimentary file explorer — try typing ‘C:’ into the omnibox and hitting Enter to look around.

4. Search by site

All the usual Google operators apply in the Chrome omnibox. Type ‘site:’ followed by your keywords to restrict a search to a particular website, for example.

5. View background tasks

Chrome is powerful enough to have its own task manager. Hit Shift+Esc to see what’s running in the background (typically extensions and offline caching tools), alongside your open tabs, and how much CPU time and memory space each one is taking up.

6. Hide extensions

If you want to clean up the toolbar but don’t want to uninstall all your extensions, you can hide them instead (right-click, Hide button). This can come in very handy for extensions that work mainly in the background.

7. Change version

As well as the stable version, Chrome is available in three more versions, which get increasingly more cutting edge and less stable — Beta, Dev and Canary. Visit the Chrome Release Channels page to switch between them.

8. Use the keyboard

There’s a wealth of keyboard shortcuts that make Chrome easier and faster to use, but here we’ll just mention two of the most useful — Ctrl+click to open up a link in its own tab and Ctrl+W to close the current tab.

9. Add desktop shortcuts

Right-click on a web app on the New Tab page and choose ‘Create shortcut’ to add a link to it from the Start menu, desktop or taskbar.

10. Check memory usage

Enter ‘chrome://memory’ into the address bar to see where all of your RAM is going. Try ‘chrome://chrome-urls’ to see the other diagnostic shortcuts that are available.

11. Drag links

If you find clicking on links somewhat old hat, try dragging them to the omnibox or the tab bar.

12. Visualise bookmarks

Add bookmarks to the bookmarks bar, then remove their names in the Bookmarks Manager to be left with a row of compact favicon shortcuts.

50 essential Chrome tips: remove names from bookmarks

13. Edit most visited sites

If there’s a thumbnail on the ‘Most visited sites’ page you no longer want to see, click the cross in the top right-hand corner of the image to replace it with the next most visited site in Chrome’s list.

14. Rearrange apps

Click and drag an app on the Apps page to change its position — drag to the far right to create a new page of apps.

15. Go full screen

See more of the web in full-screen mode — F11 toggles it on and off.

16. Change History

Head to chrome://chrome/history and you can remove specific pages from your browsing record via the check boxes and the ‘Remove selected items’ button.

17. Enlarge text

If your eyesight is poor or you’re using a huge monitor, you can increase the default text size via Settings Web content Font size.

18. Forget everything

Clear everything in Chrome’s memory by hitting Ctrl+Shift+Del, ticking all of the boxes (from history to cookies), selecting ‘the beginning of time’ as the timespan and clicking ‘Clear browsing data’.

19. Change the theme

Like Gmail, Chrome comes with a range of official and unofficial themes — click ‘Get themes’ on the Settings page to browse the selection.

20. Go further back

Click and hold on the back button to see a list of recently visited pages for the current tab.

21. Jump tabs

Hit Ctrl+ to jump to that tab in Chrome — Ctrl+2, for example, will open the second tab from the left.

22. Go offline

Keep emailing even when your online connection is down with Offline Gmail from the Chrome Web Store. Google promises more offline apps are on the way.

50 essential Chrome tips: offline Gmail

23. Analyse pages

Right-click on a web page and choose ‘Inspect element’ to see the HTML, CSS, JavaScript and other resources it’s made up from.

24. Import data

Chrome can import bookmarks, browsing history and more from Internet Explorer and Firefox via the Import bookmarks and settings option on the Bookmarks menu.

25. Remote desktop

There’s a beta Chrome Remote Desktop app in the Chrome Web Store that lets you access your other machines that have Chrome running. Follow the on-screen instructions to set it up.

26. Pick up where you left off

Rather than opening a set URL or the New Tab screen when you start Chrome, you can opt to relaunch the same tabs that were open when you shut it down — visit the Settings page under ‘On start-up’.

27. Send to phone

The Chrome to Phone extension available in the Chrome Web Store is developed by Google and can send links and other information straight to your Android device. You’ll need to install the mobile app too.

28. Stay in sync

Sync some, all or none of the following by signing into Chrome with your Google account: apps, bookmarks, extensions, auto-fill data, passwords, open tabs, omnibox history, themes and settings.

29. Do your sums

Type a calculation into the omnibox to see the result in the suggestions without even hitting Enter.

30. Search elsewhere

On the Settings page under Search, you can set the omnibox search to query sites such as Facebook, or Wikipedia by default.

31. Make more room

Drag out the edges of any text input box to give yourself more room to express yourself.

32. Save to Google Drive

Chrome doesn’t have this option yet — in the meantime, set the default download location to a folder being synced by the Google Drive desktop client.

50 essential Chrome tips: Google Drive download location

33. Zoom

Use the Ctrl button in conjunction with your mouse’s scroll wheel to zoom in and out.

34. See more suggestions

Increase the number of suggestions offered below the omnibox with a command line switch. Create a shortcut to chrome.exe with the ‘-omnibox-popup-count=’ start-up switch afterwards.

35. Find in page

Hit Ctrl+F and type your text to find keywords in a page — matches are highlighted in yellow on the right-hand scrollbar.

36. Highlight to search

Highlight a word or phrase and on the right-click menu you’ll find an option to use the selection as a query for a Google search in a new tab.

37. Reopen a tab

If you’ve just closed a tab you didn’t mean to, right-click on the tab bar and choose Reopen closed tab to bring it back.

38. Switch between Google accounts

Use the ‘Add new user’ button on the Settings page to sign in using another Google Account. You can then quickly switch between them by clicking on the user icon in the top-left corner.

39. Experiment

Enter ‘about:flags’ in the omnibox to see some experimental Chrome features you can try out, covering everything from geolocation APIs to gamepad support.

40. Paste and go

With a link on the clipboard, right-click on the omnibox and choose ‘Paste and go’ to visit it. If a link isn’t detected, the option becomes Paste and search.

41. Find recent bookmarks

The Bookmark Manager creates an automatic list of recently bookmarked links if you can’t remember which folder you saved your new favourite YouTube video to.

42. Get nostalgic

Click the globe icon (or padlock icon) on the far left of the omnibox to check when you first visited the current site. A cache clear-out or browser reinstall will reset this data.

50 essential Chrome tips: how long you've been frequenting a site

43. Disable spellcheck

If you don’t like Chrome correcting you on your spelling, you can disable the feature under the Languages heading on the advanced settings screen.

44. Print from anywhere

Activate Google Cloud Print on your current PC with Chrome installed and you can access that computer’s printers from every other Chrome browser you sign into.

45. Pan around

Click the mouse scroll wheel on a blank part of a web page to then pan around the site by moving the mouse.

46. Send feedback

You can let the Google Chrome team know about a bug via the ‘Report an issue’ link on the Tools menu. A screenshot can be included automatically.

47. Manage handlers

Visit Content settings (under Privacy on the Settings page), then click ‘Manage handlers’ to change the applications used to handle email and calendar links inside Chrome.

48. Speak to type

On any text box marked with a microphone icon, click the icon to speak to type, assuming you have a working microphone attached.

49. Use the jump list

If you’re running Chrome on Windows 7, right-click on the taskbar icon to access its jump-list — from here you can open recently closed tabs and most visited sites.

50. Enjoy your music

Right-click on an MP3 file in Windows and choose Open With Google Chrome if you want to quickly hear a tune without the hassle of opening up iTunes or Windows Media Player.

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