Five Great Alternatives for iGoogle Home Page Portal Obtained via Five Great Alternatives for iGoogle Home Page Portal

Google’s popular home page service, iGoogle will be retired on November 1st, 2013. That’s a little over a year of managing your home page through this service. It came as a great disappointment to me since I had been using the service for a long time. I have a nice home page set up in iGoogle with news from BBC, CNN, and others; my calendar; a widget for time management; topic-specific news on technology, stock quotes, weather; and some other interesting stuff. It was a page that I woke up to for many days.

It seems obvious that the popularity of home page services has been coming down in the recent years; another popular service in this arena, Netvibes has turned into something else entirely. I could have turned my attention to Netvibes after they retire iGoogle, but that won’t happen now.

I will miss Google’s home page, and before that I want to find out another portal service that I could love as I do iGoogle. In search for one, I found these great services which can replace iGoogle.

1. Protopage

Protopage

is almost exactly the same as iGoogle. It has widgets gallery containing games, sports widgets, news, stock quotes, celebrity gossip, arts, etc. The widgets can be added to your home page and you can build tabs on the top to group multiple widgets together. The support for browsers is also diverse.

protopage

Protopage can be set up on your mobile phone – support available for Apple iOS, Android, Windows Mobile, Symbian, etc. Protopage provides you with a Sticky Notes feature that gives you a notepad right inside your home page. Other featured widgets include To-do list, Calendar, Comment box, analog and digital clocks. You can also import Outline Processor Markup (OPML) code if you want custom widgets.

2. WebWag Portal

This portal

gives you a neat home page with widget selections already made – for sports enthusiasts, tech geeks, news, stocks, etc. The interface is not dissimilar to iGoogle too. With Ajax technology, the content addition is simple and fast. It has got a widget gallery arranged in categories like Essentials, Actualities, Finance & bus, Fun & Games, etc. In addition, you can import your own RSS feeds and widgets through user code.

webwag

 

3. Ustart.org

Ustart

has a very elegant interface and gives you a wizard that will help you configure your home page for the first time. Social media activities of your friends can also be tracked from the home page through Twitter and Facebook widgets. The news and RSS widgets are well optimized for viewing a larger number of news stories. Also with an assortment of customizable widgets, the home page would look very nice.

ustart

Ustart has a number of themes that you can use to design your home page. Alternatively, you can choose your own background and colors.

4. Gritwire

Gritwire

gives your browser quick setup links at the bottom. The interface Gritwire gives is radically different from other services we have seen. The features that you can add to your start page are categorized into seven – Speed feeds, Quick links, Friends, Wikis, Podcasts, Inbox, Weather. Other than RSS feeds and others, Gritwire doesn’t give you many options.

gritwire

 

5. Favoor

Favoor

start page has the capability of adding RSS feeds. It gives the feature to add and manage RSS feeds and links only. Widgets and such other interactive stuff are not available in this service. For a generally simple start page, you can use this one.

favoor

 

Conclusion

The number of portal services available out there is dwindling fast. Services that used to be popular like Netvibes, Pageflakes, etc., are no longer available. The only heavyweights still standing are Yahoo and MSN. I suppose you already know the capabilities of these applications. If you are looking for news stories alone, you can still use Google News service. For the time being, you may want to try one of these home page services that are still there.

Microsoft Outlook.com Vs. Google Gmail

outlook.com vs gmail

Microsoft has rebranded their popular Hotmail service to Outlook.com. As you know, for several years Yahoo.com and Hotmail were extremely popular email services. Along came then, Gmail, and with huge free online storage it swept up the users from both of the other email services. Strong fan following of Gmail also washed away other smaller email services.

Even Facebook’s email service was not a match to the mighty Gmail. An important thing to note here is that ironically enough, Hotmail still has the highest number of users followed by Gmail and Yahoo mail, although the user base of Hotmail contains a lot of inactive and secondary email accounts.

Now, everybody is talking about Outlook.com and whether it will be a sizable competitor to Gmail. In this article, let’s do a rematch between Microsoft and Google email services.

Security

 

security

One of the most important aspects of an email service is its security. You don’t want snooping eyes on your email conversations. As far as security goes, you know already how robust Gmail is. Gmail is the only service that offers two-factor authentication. That is, after you sign in with your password, you have to also enter a text verification code that you can receive through an SMS or a voice call.

On Outlook, however, you have a feature known as ‘single-use codes’. This is available on request when you are on an untrusted computer. You can ask Microsoft to send you an SMS code that you can use only once to sign into the account. This way, you will secure your actual password. In the same way, Outlook helps you prevent account thefts by incorporating your cell phone into your email account. This feature is already available in Gmail.

Winner: Gmail

Message Composition

There are a few differences in message composition on these email services. The reply-to fields are auto-suggested by both Gmail and Outlook. On Outlook, however, you have tiny buttons next to each email address to edit or remove the particular email address.

gmail compose
outlook.com compose

The compose-message window on Gmail has the same look as the entire email interface, while Outlook has come up with a new message window with no sidebar with contacts or folders. The message editor that Microsoft has come up with is simpler with fewer options than Google’s. Copy-pasting text with rich formatting is easier on Gmail’s editor.

Adding attachments to the email is easier on Outlook.com. It gives an option to upload the files you attach to your SkyDrive online storage. Attaching images on Outlook gives an attractive thumbnail list on your message. Also, you can search for images with Bing search and add them directly to the email message. On the other hand, Gmail uses the popular Picasa Web for image management.

Winner: Tie

Social Media Updates

When it comes to Gmail, the only social media site that you can work with is Google+. Don’t worry about others as Google won’t give you any updates from them! No integration to Twitter or Facebook makes Gmail less favored in terms of social media integration. Also, G+ hasn’t yet become anywhere close to Twitter or Facebook in terms of popularity.

On the other hand, Microsoft has made its email service tightly integrated to Facebook and Twitter; hence, you will be able to notice Facebook and Twitter updates of a recognized sender on the sidebar, instead of ads (yes, that’s correct!)

Winner: Outlook

Voice & Video Chat

You may know already that Gmail is the first email service to integrate chatting features through Google Talk. Later on, Google incorporated voice and video chat right from inside the email interface making the service a complete communication solution.

Outlook.com is the property of Microsoft, and so is Skype. Skype will manage voice and chat on Outlook.com. On the top of that, it's a popular service that provides free VoIP.

skype on outlook

Winner: Tie

Organization

The radical innovations created by Gmail in terms of organizing the mail include labels and folders and different colors that can be applied to the labels to archive email messages. Besides the regular email folders, you can create new labels within Gmail and have an email message tagged under multiple labels. The labels can be nested too.

However, the most important and widely used feature of Gmail is probably the ‘starring of messages’. With Google Labs enabled, you can have stars in different colors and designs so that you have a colorful inbox that will give you great organization.

Also, recently Gmail has come up with features like ‘Priority Inbox’, and you can view email according to its importance.

Organization settings on Outlook.com are also comparable. In this area, it’s more or less about personal preferences. Some people want to create folders and others want to use labels.

Winner: Tie

Email Search

You know Google as a search engine rather than an email service. Hence, when the best email service comes from Google, you expect it to have the best search feature as well. Google search within Gmail is spot-on. It will give you the email message that you are looking for quickly. Outlook uses Bing search engine for looking up messages and it’s not as great as Google.

Winner: Gmail (or Google search specifically)

Mobile Features

Gmail is the native email program for Android. It has seamless support on all Android phones and all versions of the operating system. Since Android is the most widely used email platform today, this is a default win for Gmail. Besides this, Google has apps for all the other mobile operating systems for better integration to the Gmail service.

Outlook.com has impressive mobile connectivity with Windows Phone and Apple iOS. However, it’s not a competition to Gmail on mobile.

Winner: Gmail

Other features

Gmail has the Labs feature integrated to the email service. This will enable the email service have extra features—apps running from within email, sidebar gadgets, colorful stars, multiple inboxes, and several others.

spam on gmail and outlook.com

Spam filtering features on Gmail and Outlook are comparable. So far, we had excellent spam filter only on Gmail, but Microsoft has done an impressive job in their email service. Microsoft calls their spam filter ‘SmartScreen’. It also uses the input from users to generate an effective spam filter. You can interact with the spam filter by blocking unwanted email addresses. The advantage with Gmail is that it does all of this automatically and gives you a really intelligent spam filter.

Outlook integrates with MS Office pretty well, while Google Docs manages office documents on Gmail. In terms of features, you will reach a tie here. Both services are great.

Outlook gives you a feature called Active View (similar to ActiveX controls that can be used to embed executable code on a web page). With this feature, you can play videos from YouTube and images from image sharing sites like Flickr, from within a message.

Winner: Tie

Conclusion

In the war between email services, Gmail was a clear winner. Now, however, Outlook.com has come and made it difficult for Google to maintain the upper hand. Yahoo, on the other hand, has probably accepted defeat already. The future will tell us how Outlook progresses in terms of popularity.

How to Make a DVD out of a YouTube Video?

As you well know, Google’s YouTube is one of the most popular video sharing sites out there. Millions of people watch videos in YouTube daily and probably wonder if there is any way they can download them into their computers. A few tech-savvy people do it through certain browser plugins and computer applications designed to download online video.

In order to get YouTube movies into a DVD, first you have to download the video, and then if necessary, convert the format so that it fits into a DVD. The downloaders usually do the conversion too. First, let’s look at how you download videos from YouTube.

If you have a regular Windows PC or laptop, then use one of the following applications to download videos from YouTube. Some of these applications also work with other video sharing sites like MetaCafe, DailyMotion, MegaVideo, Veoh, etc.

VDownloader

Well, if you want a free application for video download, this is the one. VDownloader is an absolutely free application, and it downloads from several popular video sharing sites. The number of file formats supported also is big—avi, mp4, 3gp, mpg, flv, and the list goes on. Besides this, the application uses a built-in proxy server that helps download from blocked video sites.

In fact, if you have an application like Nero, then this downloader is all you need to fetch, convert, and burn videos into a DVD.

ClipGrab

This is another free program for not only YouTube, but also DailyMotion, Vimeo, MyVideo, etc., among others. ClipGrab is available for both Windows and Apple Mac OS X. The videos can be converted to MPEG4, WMV, OGG, etc.

Fastest Free YouTube Downloader

Just as the name suggests, Fastest Free YouTube Downloader downloads videos from YouTube very quickly. Tests have indicated that it fetches videos at the speed of nearly 2MB/s (that’s 16mbps). As long as you have a fast Internet connection, this application could be very useful. Also, it has both Windows and Mac versions.

Here’s a how to video:

 

Tubulator


With an interface similar to your web browser, this download manager is easy on the eyes. Although it has limited support for output format, it is a free version for the time being.

Until the software development reaches version 1.0, Tubulator will remain free. And it has got a Mac version too.

 

Vixy Freecorder

Vixy Freecorder runs from your browser, whether it is Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, or Mozilla Firefox. The application is free and powerful. Vixy Freecorder can download videos from a number of sites other than YouTube. It also can download videos in HD format. The biggest advantage of the application is that it has what you really need—a media converter. It can convert videos into other popular file formats so that you can burn them into a DVD or a VCD easily.

Besides these applications, you can use the following website to download the video directly.

FetchVideo.com

This is a popular video download site. Just paste the URL of the YouTube video you want to download and press the button ‘Download by URL’. It will generate a download window, from where you have to click ‘Run’ in order for the download to start. However, you should have your browser’s Java plugin updated and enabled properly as the site uses Java for this purpose.

Do you have that video downloaded? Good! The video you have is probably in .flv format. If so, you need a converter to make it into the DVD format. If you already have a proprietary application installed (such as Nero Burning Rom), then the conversion is not difficult. In case you don’t have an application, here is the free alternative.

Creating DVD Directly From YouTube Videos

 

The free application developed by DVDVideoSoft, the Free YouTube to DVD Converter is a complete application that downloads and converts YouTube videos and then burns them into a DVD. Here is the ‘for-dummies’ for this application

1. Download the Free YouTube to DVD Converter from here.
2. Open up YouTube and get the links to the videos that you want to download (make it into a list), and paste the list into the application.
3. Among the presets, make your choice (DVD-NTSC or DVD-PAL).
4. Now, click on ‘Create DVD’, and off you go!

The Free YouTube to DVD converter, as you can see, is an amazing application. Maybe, you could use just that to get a DVD collection of all your favorite YouTube videos.

How to Fix Issues on Google Chrome Web Browser?

Chrome browser blue

If you are one of the guys who are always on the internet, I bet you use Google Chrome at least as a backup browser. As far as Browser statistics go, Google Chrome is number one.

An advanced user might have a huge number of add-ons and plugins to enable this browser user-friendly. With such great add-ons, Chrome is addictive, intuitive, and fast.

Check out the popularity of browsers as of 2012 July:

pie chart of browser statistics

[Data courtesy: w3schools.com]

Also, this is probably the only browser that can take you across borders with all your data—all you need is sign in using a Google account and sync your local data with Google. This way, on another location, if you want the same user experience, just log into Google with that account from Chrome. Besides all these, Chrome is the native product of Google, making it perfect for a great next generation Web experience.

However, if you come across any issues on Chrome, then here you will find what you have to do. I have looked through some of the known issues in Chrome and prepared this article. If you find your issue here, the solution will help you. If not, please comment and we can work on that and update the article later.

The ‘Aw, Snap!’

 

Aw snap! Chrome issue

This message is displayed on a number of occasions. When a web page is not displayed properly or has crashed, the message will appear. It would say, “Something went wrong while displaying this web page. To continue, press Reload or go to another page.”

Certain security applications may cause this sort of an error occasionally. Google has identified some of these applications—Spyware Doctor, McAfee Virus Scan (also Enterprise), Comodo Firewall, etc. If you have any such application installed, you may have to create an exception for Chrome browser.

A malfunctioning browser extension could also cause this error. If you have several of them, you may have to disable one at a time to see how the browser is performing. This way, you can pinpoint which extension is causing the issue.

Sometimes presence of malware can also cause this issue. Check for malware using the free edition of Malwarebytes Antimalware.

If none of these works, go ahead and create a new user profile for Chrome. Here’s how to do it.

1. Close Google Chrome
2. Find the user data folder for Chrome (on Windows XP, go to Windows Explorer and browse to “%USERPROFILE%\Local Settings\Application Data\Google\Chrome\User Data\”; on Windows Vista or 7, go to “%LOCALAPPDATA%\Google\Chrome\User Data\”;
On Mac OS X, “~/Library/Application Support/Google/Chrome/Default”).
3. Rename the folder ‘Default’ and restart the browser. This will automatically generate a new user profile. In order to restore the contents on the original profile, just rename the folder back.

“Whoa! Google Chrome has crashed.”

This message appears when Google Chrome has been terminated unexpectedly. In this case, just try to reopen the browser and see if it works. If not, just follow the troubleshooting steps outlined for ‘Aw, Snap’ above, and that should fix the issue.

Here’s a video from Google:

In case it’s still not fixed, you may need to check for errors on protected system files on Windows. For this, you can use the System File Checker (SFC) utility.

Depending on the Windows version you are using, just type in ‘SFC /scannow’ on the Start Search box or the Run window. In case any system file replacement is required, Windows will ask you for the installation DVD. Otherwise, the system files should be fine.

Google Chrome Not Saving Passwords

 

What if google chrome does not save password

Depending on the version of Chrome you have on, you should have the option to enable saving web-based passwords. In the latest version, under the settings, get to advanced settings. From there, select the checkbox, ‘Offer to save passwords…’

After doing this, normally all passwords should be saved without any issues. Google Chrome will automatically display a bar on the top asking you if you want to save a password. If you don’t want to, select ‘Never for this site’.

In certain websites, Google Chrome neither saves the password nor auto-fills anything in username and password fields. In case, Chrome is still not asking for the password and you haven’t excluded the site from this feature, then it may be because the site itself is blocking Chrome from doing that.

If you look into the source code of the website in which password saving is not working, you may find that the autocomplete feature is turned off (this feature automatically fills in the rest of the data as you are typing into a web form). You need to enable the autocomplete option. In order to do this, right-click on the page, click ‘Inspect Element’, and then delete the ‘autocomplete=off’ option (just right-click and choose ‘delete node’).

In order to automate this process, you can also use a plugin available for Chrome. Install the ‘autocomplete=on’ plugin. This plugin automatically checks for autocomplete option and turns it on.

However, certain websites take extra measure to stop browsers from remembering passwords. In such cases, these efforts may not work.

“A script running on this page is taking a loooong time to do its job”

This long message comes up when you have a web page having JavaScript that is taking too long to respond. This is the case with pages studded with JavaScript codes. You can either let the browser wait till the script completes or stop the script.

“He’s Dead, Jim!”

If Windows itself interferes and deletes a particular tab that you opened from memory, this message appears. This happens when you are low on system memory and the operating system has to make adjustments. You can reload the tab and see if it starts working.

Use Google Chrome’s Task Manager (different from the Windows task manager; click on the wrench icon and then click on Tools to open it) to free up memory by closing unnecessary tabs and plugins. Windows task manager also displays multiple Chrome processes which you can terminate in order to make the system faster.

When you use the Task Manager, Chrome may display error messages related to crash in plugins that you have closed. You can restart the plugin if required.

Google Chrome Is Too Slow

In case it’s taking ages to respond to a web page or if the browser is just sitting idle without any progress, reasons could be several. It may be due to a bad browser plugin, system issues such as low memory, Chrome using a proxy server, browser user profile corrupted, or due to cookies and temp files.

As a first step, try to reload the page. Delete the unnecessary browser data and cookies and try again. If this doesn’t work, look for a rogue plugin by disabling one plugin at a time. After spotting it, uninstall it to continue.

If in case ‘Resolving Proxy’ message appears on lower left-hand corner of the page, you may be using a proxy server. Google Chrome updates proxy server details from Internet Explorer or the Windows connection utility. Hence, you can directly check the proxy server details of IE and remove it or replace with a faster proxy server.

In order to change the user profile information, follow the steps outlined above in ‘Aw Snap’ troubleshooting.

Conclusion

Google Chrome is faster than ever today, even with a myriad of plugins and add-ons. You can open plenty of tabs and just browse through them in a jiffy. In case you come across any issues, just follow the troubleshooting steps mentioned here. If you still come across issues, please mention in comments.