Shows: 10.13.08

Monday mornings I'm on the air sharing more stories about how people are living better through computers. I'll tuck field notes from those shows right here. You'll also be able to dig into the archives to explore previous shows as I determine how best to share some of the highlights of the past 9 year's worth of adventures.

Happy Thanksgiving, Canada!

I hope you're having a wonderful holiday weekend surrounded by the people you care about most.

Free and Easy Ways to Protect Yourself …

Monday, October 13, 2008

Google Chrome - The Ugly Duckling with a Swan Under the Hood

When it comes to the experiences you have on the internet your browser is the most important tool you have. While there are a handful of industry standards that define people's window on cyberspace, the trend tends to be more bells and whistles and a sexier interface. So why the radical departure from Google Labs, generally known for their cutting edge innovations, as they release what most people agree is a lightweight ugly duckling in the browser pond?

If you're one of the people that took a look at Google Chrome and brushed it aside as a waste of time, you might want to look under the hood. There are two things that distinguish this browser inspite of it's seemingly feature-poor veneer: 1) performance smarts, and 2) security. In the wake of increasingly menacing browser exploits, having something that's battoned down and keeps unwanted people out of your bank account and your private affairs becomes more important for many of us than the slick new add-ons that other browsers might offer.

What's So Hot About Chrome?

Last week I talked about three tools that listeners can use to keep themselves safer from "clickjacking", the latest internet threat. As a rule I always recommend the Firefox browser because it's less susceptible to the kind of security problems that other browsers (particularly IE) are plagued with. Google's new "chrome" browser actually trumps Firefox in this regard.

So what's so different about chrome? For a start Google threw out the works and started from scratch. Browsers were originally designed to handle a very different type of internet experience when the web became a mainstream portal to the world in the 90's. Today we demand a great deal more from our digital window, pushing a variety of multimedia through it and requiring that a large number of diverse applications work together in a single space. Our current browsers tend to have everything drawing from one large pool of memory, no matter how many windows you have open in them. Over time you likely notice that performance degrades, and that when a plugin or application hiccoughs it may crash our entire browser without giving a clue as to what the problem was. This is one of the most noticeable departures in Chrome. Each tab is it's own "process", having it's own pool of memory and not affecting or being affected by things going on in other browser tabs. This way if you crash you are only losing a single pane, instead of having your entire browser fold. Another coup is Chrome's ability to isolate misbehaving plugins and applications and allowing you the opportunity to simply turn them off, instead of hobbling the entire web page or browser. This approach is smarter and more efficient, allowing us to surf virtually all day without any noticeable degradation in performance.

It's this separation of applications and data from pane to pane that actually offers us a safer browsing environment. If you happen to land on a nefarious web site that attempts to capture things like passwords, access codes or even keystrokes on a bank account page you may have open in another pane, Chrome offers a significant buffer in it's very separation of processes. What happens in one window cannot affect another.

For People Who Want to Know the Nitty-Gritty

Google has a clever little cartoon approach to explaining the details of exactly what is going on under the hood. If you're curious about the technicalities of what distinguishes Chrome you might want to take a peek here:

Think you might want to give why this little engine a try to find out for yourself what makes this stripped-down lightweight smarter and more powerful than industry titans Internet Explorer and Firefox? You can download it here:


Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License