Category Archives: Google and Gmail

Google Chrome targeted by Malware

Interesting piece by Ed Bott: Malware authors target Google Chrome (on Windows).

Sounds similar to these kinds of fake Windows anti-virus scans which you see around the place, and try to convince you to click and download an executable which will supposedly clean up your PC:

Fake anti-virus check in Google Chrome

This type of thing reinforces the fact that no browser/platform is safe from malware, and that it’s important not to regularly run your account with Admin privileges on your PC.

Personally I reckon it wouldn’t hurt to have a setting in Windows (and other operating systems) that prevents running executables from any directory where the current (non-Admin user) has write-permissions, eg only letting them run programs that have been installed by an Administrator.

Does any OS offer something like that at the moment?

GMail irritation #2

I love GMail, and this error probably seemed like a good idea when they coded it…

Gmail error

…but it’s just irritating.

Please trust me. I know what I’m doing. I know I’m replying to something in the Trash. I don’t care if the sent copy isn’t saved… invariably it’s going to an email list which I have no interest in archiving for myself when it’s stored on Yahoo’s servers or whatever.

So I don’t need this error popping up unpredictably multiple times to interrupt me, when I’ve seen it hundreds of times before.

In fact despite the wording, I didn’t save the message. GMail auto-saved it for me.

And when I send the email, just to cap it off, I get this:

Gmail error

1. These shouldn’t even be Errors. They should be Warnings.

2. How about an option to turn these warnings off, once and for all?

Email startup times

Gmail vs ThunderbirdA quick timing test on my main home workhorse computer, which isn’t the fastest in the world, but isn’t the slowest either. (Windows 7, Athlon 64 X2 dual core 4400+ 2300 Mhz, 3 Gb RAM, on a fast ADSL2+ net connection.)

Having started Windows and logged onto a clean desktop:

  • Start Chrome with GMail set as the home page: 8.5 seconds to ready
  • Start Thunderbird: 11.6 seconds to ready

No wonder people are heading into the cloud.

Subsequent timings (without a reboot, so some things may be cached, eg later in a session when you’ve closed your email and you want to go back in):

  • Chrome with GMail: 3.4 seconds
  • Thunderbird: 3.1 seconds


Gmail irritation #1

Sometimes Gmail decides your session has expired, when you’re in the middle of writing an email.

Gmail: Your connection has expired

If you’re lucky you might be able to copy the text from the draft out. If not, the most recently saved draft may or may not be up to date.

This is bad design. Why interrupt like this when you’re in the middle of something?

If you must have sessions that expire, than at least give the user a bit more time to actually finish what they’re doing — send and/or exit the draft — and then ask them to logon again.

Google’s buggy and annoying custom backgrounds

Google’s introduced custom background images for its plain search page.

You know what? I find it annoying. It’s just slowing down the page, and making it less readable.


And the clincher is… you can’t turn it off! Initially there’s a very well-concealed link at the bottom left to do it, but once you take a look at the options and try it out, that becomes a “Change background image” option, and there’s no way to remove it completely.

I’ve also seen it momentarily change to a “Remove background” link, but it doesn’t work — instead it changes back to a default picture.

Seriously, if I wanted this kind of crap, I’d use Bing.

Under Editor’s Picks, there is an option for a white background (as well as other colours), but choosing white is not very readable, because the writing has also been changed to white, with a grey shadow. For now, I’ve switched it to the blue one, which isn’t excessively bad, but I’d like it gone completely.

Mashable has found there are a couple of not-very-convenient ways to turn it off:

Go to

or use HTTPS, eg

Attn: Google, by all means offer this as an option, but for heaven’s sake provide an easy way to turn it off.

Update: Google blog post about this (via Richard Thornton.)

Update 8am Friday: They’ve fixed the bug, so the Remove Background Image link now works. As this update notes: Due to a bug, the explanatory link did not appear for most users. As a result, many people thought we had permanently changed our homepage, so we decided to stop today‚Äôs series early.

Call me crazy, but maybe they should have tested it properly before turning it on. (Thanks again Richard)

Google Pac-man!

To celebrate Pacman’s 30th anniversary, Google’s banner today is not only Pac-man-based, it’s a playable game if you wait for a few seconds.

Google Pacman

And yes, if you clear the first two boards, you get the traditional cut-scene.

Google Pacman

Google Pacman

Is that totally awesome or what?

Am I correct in thinking it’s not actually written in Flash, but in some clever HTML-type thingy?

Update: Yes. CNet reports: ccording to Germick, the company worked with Pac-Man’s publisher, Namco Bandai, to make the project as realistic as possible. Yet the Google team, with the inspirational lead of Marcin Wichary, a Google senior user experience designer, built their version of the game from the ground up using JavaScript, HTML, and CSS.

Update 4pm: If you click Insert Coin twice, you get a two-player game (W/A/S/Z controls Ms Pac-Man). And there is one minor bug I’ve noticed — sometimes when chasing ghosts after eating a power pill, you can pass right through them.

Update 9:30pm: Google Pac-Man: The FAQ + Kill Screen Winners — contains more details on how it was written, where to find it when it’s gone from the main Google page, and a picture of the”kill” screen.

Update Monday: It’s gone from Google’s home page now, but is still online here:

Chrome doesn’t sandbox the CPU; Goggle docs waits really hard

Chrome doesn’t attempt to sandbox CPU consumption. I just closed an inactive Google docs spreadsheet, and saw CPU fall from pegged-at-100% to bubbling along at 10%.

Does it really need each available CPU cycle to wait for the other end to do something? Apparently so, in the way it’s coded.

Google: not as clever as the press release makes out.

Windows 7 temporary user profiles

Windows 7 has impressed me, with one exception: it periodically logs in using a “temporary user profile”. This seems to happen only after a previous user has logged off.

Various people around the Interwebs have had the same problem. The only firm answer I’ve seen so far is that it appears to relate to Google’s automatic updates services for Chrome (and possibly other software).

So if it’s happening to you, get into the list of Services, and disable anything to do with Google updates. Seems to work for me — though at one point I thought I had it licked, with the Google Update Service disabled, but it started happening again. I took another look and from nowhere, the Google Software Updater had arrived on the scene, and had to be disabled separately.

(I wanted to post a picture of the error message, but that, like everything else to do with the temporary profile, has now disappeared into the ether.)

Less crazy than the Acid Tests is

Here’s what I get from a few random browsers I have lying around the place:

Firefox 3.5.9 scores 100 out of 160.

Chrome 4.1 scores 118 out of 160.

IE6? 11 out of 160.

IE8? Surprisingly, only 19 out of 160.

The browser on my Nokia N95 phone doesn’t load the page properly; it just says “Working…” and 0 out of 4 (eg it stalls on the first round of tests).

Interestingly, I also tried IE6 with the Google Chrome Frame in it; it scored 137 out of 160, better than Chrome itself. Weird.

Obviously all the browser authors have a way to go to support this if it’s going to be the bold new standard on the web.

(Found via Andrew)

Gmail bug?

Anybody else seeing this Gmail Bug? The message preview on the Inbox list shows text from the first message in the thread, even if it’s since been deleted.

Which means when you go to open it, the text you get to read doesn’t match what was in the preview.

It seems to be particularly prevalent in email list discussions, where what I usually do is delete the threads as I read them (unless I have a good reason for keeping them).

I tried to replicate it by sending myself a few test messages, but Gmail didn’t join them together as a thread, and I don’t have time right now to try any harder.

The buzz on Google Buzz

On Google Buzz (posted on Google Buzz):

Daniel Bowen – So this is Google Buzz, eh? Is it going to be as useful and popular as Google Wave? Or Google Orkut?

Anthony Malloy – Problem is that while you can bring stuff in to your Buzz feed you can’t push stuff out to Facebook – and I think that would be the killer for most people.

Daniel Bowen – Yep. Unless it has unique functionality (like Google Docs) or interoperability (like GMail) or it’s got to reach critical mass before it’s worthwhile.

Daniel Bowen – OK so I found the Connect Sites stuff. Which makes it look a little like Friendfeed (another service I’ve dabbled with then deserted). But you’re right Tony, it’s Facebook where the critical mass of people is, and Buzz doesn’t (yet) talk to that.

Some of Google’s stuff is brilliant, but given on this they are so far behind Twitter, FriendFeed and Facebook, I’m finding it hard to believe that this will achieve any great success.