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10 Awesome Chrome Extensions You Should Install

July 04, 2018 0
I’m a big fan of Google Chrome and I feel it’s got just as many extensions as Firefox has add-ons. I also just prefer to use Chrome over IE, Edge or Firefox because I use Gmail, Google Photos, Google Drive and a whole host of other Google products.
There are literally hundreds of great extensions that you can install to enhance Chrome in various ways. There are specific extensions for developers, music lovers, gamers, bloggers, and a bunch of other categories. However, there are some extensions that are more universal and can help pretty much anyone in their daily tasks.
In this article, I’m going to talk about several extensions that I think everyone should install. Even if you haven’t heard of some of these, give them a try before you decide against using them. Having a lot of extensions installed can also slow down your browsing experience, so pick and choose what works best for you, but give each extension a try. You can easily delete or disable an extension in Chrome.
It’s also worth noting that some of the extensions I have listed are based on my heavy reliance on Google, so if you’re not in the Google ecosystem, just ignore those extensions.

Speed Dial 2

One of the first things I like to customize in Google Chrome is the new tab page. By default, it’s a boring list of some recently visited sites and that’s pretty much it. Now there are a lot of fancy extensions that also replace the new tab with dashboards, wallpapers, task lists, etc., but I’ve found the simple Speed Dial 2 to be perfect for my needs.
When I’m browsing the web, I just want quick access to my favorite sites. Speed Dial 2 does that by allowing you to organize all your pages and apps into groups. You can also customize the theme and heavily customize the layout. Lastly, you can create an account and sync everything across all your devices.


If you don’t use any password manager yet, then make sure you try LastPass. If you’re using something like KeePass, then don’t worry about this extension. If you use another password manager like 1Pass, then make sure to install their extension. Password managers are a must these days with the number of companies being hacked always rising and the amount of personal information being leaked even greater.
A password manager lets you create complex passwords that are different for each site. You obviously can’t memorize them, so you have to store them somewhere. The obvious fear most people have is that one of these companies will be hacked themselves and all your passwords will be leaked. That is a possibility and that’s why a lot of people use local databases like KeePass. That being said, I’ve been using LastPass for years and they’ve had one incident, which didn’t result in any compromised passwords.

HTTPS Everywhere

HTTPS Everywhere is one of those extensions you should just install and forget about. It basically tries to use HTTPS security on a site if it’s not already secure. It’s from the folks over at EFF, which is a great organization that exists to protect consumers in the digital world.
The only downside I’ve seen with the extension is that it does use a bit more memory than all the other extensions. It’s not a big deal for me since I have 16GB of RAM on my computer, but if you have less RAM, it might be something to consider.


Disconnect is also another extension you can install and just leave. It’s a great privacy tool for making sure every website you visit isn’t tracking everything you do online. In addition, because it blocks tracking, it also saves data and reduces the load time for sites. A lot of requests made to a website are just for the tracking cookies, tracking scripts, etc.

Adblock Plus

Even though a site like mine relies on ads for income, I still recommend an extension like Adblock Plus because there are so many sites out there with tons of ads. Not only that, a lot of those ads have malware in them, which means you can get a malware infection just by viewing the site! That’s plain ridiculous.
My site only shows ads from high quality networks and I try to keep my ads to a minimum that still let allow me to earn an income. The only downside to this extension is that some of the big sites, like Forbes.com, detect ad blocking extensions and won’t let you enter unless you whitelist their site first.


I was a little skeptical of this extension at first, but the crazy number of good reviews finally made me try it. In the end, I have to say it’s pretty awesome. If you’re online, you have done some kind of online shopping. If you’re like me, you probably buy most things online except for groceries.
Honey will automatically try to find coupons and apply them when you are checking out. Previously, I used to hit up RetailMeNot and a bunch of other sites trying to find a coupon that I could apply before checking out, but now I just use Honey and it finds and tries all kinds of codes. At this point, there are no ads or anything intrusive and hopefully that doesn’t change in the future. It recently saved me $255 on a Dell XPS laptop!


Outside of browsing web pages, watching videos and shopping online, the other major activity in my browser is typing. Typing emails, filling out forms, typing messages in social networking sites, writing articles for my sites, etc. Basically, it’s a lot of typing and inevitably a lot of typing mistakes occur.
Grammarly is a neat extension that will check your spelling and grammar as you type in a whole bunch of different web apps. Most web browsers like Chrome already check spelling, but Grammarly will give you Word-like suggestions for sentence structure, proper wording, etc.

uBlock Origin

Most hardware firewalls that businesses buy for their organizations have web blockers to prevent users from accidentally visiting phishing or malware sites. They work by looking at huge blacklists of bad domains and URLs.
uBlock Origin is an extension that does just that, but in an efficient and memory-saving way for your personal computer. Once you install it, you choose the different lists you would like to protect yourself against and that’s it. Sometimes it’ll block something it shouldn’t, but it’s super easy to disable it for the current website you are on. Highly recommended from a security perspective.

Turn Off the Lights

As I mentioned previously, I’m watching a lot of video when I’m working on my computer. In addition to just YouTube, I also check out other video sites and Turn Off the Lights makes the experience more enjoyable. It basically blacks everything out or replaces everything except the video with a nice background. It’s really not an extension you must install, but if you watch a ton of video on your computer, it’s definitely nice to have.
For YouTube specifically, you can have it play only the high resolution version of videos automatically. This is nice if you have a 2K or 4K monitor and have to keep changing those settings for every video.


Lastly, sometimes you have to take screenshots of what’s in your browser and this plugin is way better than trying to use the Windows Snipping tool or something like that. FireShot can capture full scrolling web pages and save them as images or PDF files. You can capture all tabs at once to a single PDF and upload it to OneNote. You can also edit the screenshots and annotate them.
So those are ten extensions that pretty much anyone can use on a daily basis when using Chrome. I tried to keep them as general as possible, so most of them will do their work in the background without you even noticing. Enjoy!
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Google Chrome Memory Usage/Memory Leak Issues?

July 04, 2018 0
I love using Google Chrome for browsing the Internet and one of the main reasons has always been because it’s super fast! I never liked the bloat of Firefox with all the add-ons and Internet Explorer is just plain slow.
Microsoft Edge is quite a bit faster than IE, but I use so many other Google services that Chrome keeps pulling me back. Firefox’s new Quantum browser is even faster than Chrome and I really have been thinking about switching.
When I first started using Chrome, I was delighted with the simple clean interface and the incredible browsing speed. However, after a few months of using Chrome heavily on a very fast PC, I noticed tabs would be blank for a few seconds before loading a webpage and other general slowness.

Chrome Task Manager

After doing a little poking around, I decided to take a look at the task manager and see what processes were running for Chrome. Here’s what I found:
Holy cow! That’s a whopping 35 Google Chrome processes! That’s a lot of processes plus over 5 GB in memory usage. What are all those Chrome processes? Granted, I had 16 tabs open when I took the screenshot above, but all the webpages were static without videos playing or animations. So why 35 processes and GBs of memory?
You can find out what is behind each of those processes in Chrome by right-clicking on the title bar (not on a tab) and selecting Task manager.
Here you will see each process (called a Task) running in Google Chrome. I was quickly surprised by what I saw.
The browser is one process, each tab is its own process and then there were processes web apps, the GPU and for each extension and plug-in that I had enabled! Eeeks! From what I read online from Google, they separate everything out into different processes because it makes the browser more stable. For example, if the Flash plugin crashes, it won’t take down all your tabs or the entire browser.
Using Google Chrome for so long, I realized that this is very true. There were many times when one tab dies and I can just close the tab and keep using my other tabs normally or Shockwave would just hang and I killed that one tab and everything else worked fine.
So my next thought was if having all the separate processes used additional memory as opposed to how it was earlier. From what I have gathered online, it seems that even if there were fewer processes, the plugins and extensions would still use up memory, maybe just slightly less. There is a slight overhead to creating a new process, but it’s minor.
You may have also noticed several items listed as subframe: https://accounts.google.com. At first, I thought this was something to do with having a tab open to Gmail, but learned it is something else completely. Basically, Google puts some processes into its own process in order to properly isolate them. So there were several websites that were inside of these subframes instead of having their own separate tab process listed.
So is there anything you can do to reduce the amount of memory Chrome uses? For me, I noticed a big difference when I disabled flash for all sites rather than leaving it on the Ask me first setting. To disable flash completely, go to Settings, then click on Advanced at the bottom and then click on Content Settings under Privacy and Security. Click on Flash and then make sure it says Block sites from running Flash.
That saved me over 1 GB in memory usage. I didn’t know, but several websites were using Flash. Even with Flash disabled, the websites worked fine, so I kept Flash disabled. The other way to reduce memory is to remove some extensions, especially if you are not using them. Also, you can simply disable an extension if you need it occasionally and don’t want to remove it completely.
Disabling the extension will prevent it from using up memory. Lastly, you may have noticed a GPU process in Chrome, which should be enabled by default. If your hardware supports it, Chrome will offload some tasks to your GPU, which is faster and more efficient than your CPU. This is called Hardware Acceleration. If you want, you can disable it by going to Settings and then scrolling all the way to the bottom to System.
If you do disable hardware acceleration, your experience in Chrome will be a bit slower, so keep that in mind.
So if you feel Chrome is taking up too much RAM, check in Task Manager and try to disable the extension that is using an excessive amount of memory. For me, I had an extension that I liked, but hadn’t been updated since 2013, which is why it could have been using so much memory. If you don’t need a resource-hogging extension, disable it and you’ll have a better browsing experience. Also, disable Flash unless you really need it. Enjoy!
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How to Share a Google Calendar

July 04, 2018 0
Google Calendar is a great app. I can access it from any computer, sync it to my smartphone, sync it to my desktop email app, and lots more. It’s simple to use and has a ton of features. One of the nice features that I’ve only started using recently is sharing a Google calendar.
When you share a Google calendar, you can quickly give controlled access to your events to a coworker, family member or friend. In this article, I’ll show you the different methods to share a calendar and give some tips along the way.

Public vs Private Calendar

The first thing you have to understand is the difference between a public calendar and a private calendar. A private calendar is only visible to you and that means all your events will only be visible to you.
This means that if you create an event with a private calendar and then try to publish the event and send someone the link, they will not be able to view the event. This is because the calendar is private. When you make it public, you can either share it with individual people or with the whole world.
When a calendar is public, you’ll then be able to share events and choose different levels of privacy, which I will explain below. The best way to separate your personal and public calendars is to create a new calendar that you can share with individuals or everyone.

 Share a Calendar

Once you have created a new calendar or picked an existing calendar to share, log into Google Calendar and hover your mouse over the calendar.
You’ll see three small vertical dots appear, which will give you the options for that particular calendar. You’ll want to click on Settings and sharing. Also, the plus sign next to the Add a friend’s calendar box is where you can add a new calendar.
On the following screen, the sharing options are in the middle of the page. There are Access permissions, which allow you to make the entire calendar public. Most public calendars are from organizations like schools, universities, etc.
When you check the Make available to public box, you’ll get a warning indicating that the entire world will be able to view your calendar. You’ll also get to choose between See only free/busy (hide details) and See all event details.
If you only need to share your calendar with a few people, it’s easier to add them in the Share with specific people section. Click on ADD PEOPLE and type in the email address for the person you want to share the calendar with.
You can also choose permissions that the user should have: See only free/busy (hide details), See all event details, make changes to events and make changes and manage sharing.
There is one thing to take note of here. If you share with specific people, they have to be using Google Calendar also. If you want to share your calendar with someone who is not using Google Calendar, then the only option you have is to make the calendar public.
The invitation will be sent and the user simply has to click on the link and your calendar will now show up in their list of calendars. Once you make a calendar public, you can start adding events to the calendar. You’ll also notice that each event has its own visibility option: Public or Private.
Depending on how your calendar is shared (Private, Only with Specific People, or Public), people will either see the event as busy or they will be able to view all the event details. Google has a full page that walks you through all the different combinations of options here, which can be a bit confusing. For example, if your calendar is public, but you choose private for an individual event, then it’ll only show that time block as busy, but no one will be able to view the name of the event or any details.
There is also an option that shows up sometimes called Only Me. This event will not be visible to anyone other than you and won’t even show as busy.
At this point, you can start inviting people to your events. Once you have created an event, you can click on it in Google Calendar and then click on the three vertical dots.
One option should be Publish event. You’ll have to option to copy some HTML code, which you can then paste onto a website or simply copy a URL, which you can then email out or share on social media sites, etc.
You can also click on the Pencil icon at the left to edit the event and add guests on the right-hand side.
You can choose whether guests can modify the event, invite others to the event or see the guest list.
So those are pretty much all the ways you can share your Google calendar and events with other people or the entire world. It can be a little confusing, but once you play around with the settings, it’s not hard to figure out. Enjoy!
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How to Create Fillable Forms in Word

July 04, 2018 0
Did you know that you can create forms in Word that people can fill out? When you hear about fillable forms, it is almost always related to Adobe and PDF documents because that’s the most popular format.
However, Word is also quite a powerful tool and you can use it to quickly create forms that you can either print or send via email, etc. If you need to create a survey that will go out to many people and you want all the responses tallied for your automatically, it might be best to use Google Docs to create the survey.
In this article, I’ll show you how to create a form with text boxes, check boxes, a date picker and a list box. You can also make your forms a lot better looking if you use tables to organize everything.

Enable Developer Tab

By default, you can’t create forms in Word unless you enable the Developer tab in the ribbon. Since it’s not used by a lot of people, Microsoft disabled it by default. To enable the tab, click on File and then Options.
file options
On the left-hand side, click on Customize Ribbon and then check the Developer box in the right-hand list box.
customize ribbon word
Click OK and click on the tab in the ribbon. The section we are most interested in is Controls.

Creating a Form in Word

The Controls section has about eight different controls that can be added to your Word document: Rich Text, Plain-Text, Picture, Building Block Gallery, Checkbox, Combo Box, Drop-Down List, and Date Picker.
developer tab controls
To insert a control, just click on it and it will appear wherever your cursor was located. In my example below, I created a table and added two plain-text boxes for first name and last name.
plain text content control
By default, each control has its own filler text. For a plain text control, it is Click or tap here to enter text. You can edit this text for any control by clicking on the Design Mode button that is to the right of the control icons.
design mode word
You’ll see some blue placeholders appear on the left and right of any controls you have added to your document. Select the text and change it to whatever you like. Click on the Design Mode button again to exit the mode.
Next, click on your newly added control so that it is highlighted and then click on Properties, which is directly below the Design Mode button. Each control will have a standard set of options with custom options at the bottom based on what type of control it is.
content control properties
Here you can give the control a title, change the color, style the text and specify whether or not the control can be edited or deleted. At the very bottom are the control specific options, which for the case of a plain text control, is whether you want to allow multiple lines or not. That last option is useful if you need someone to type in a paragraph of text.
So what’s the difference between a plain-text control and a rich text control? Well, not much. In a rich text control, you can change the font/color settings for each word individually, whereas the plain-text control will apply the formatting to all the text. You would think the plain-text control would not allow bold, font changes or color changes, but it does.
Next, I went ahead and added a drop down list control to my form. You’ll see it says Choose an item and that’s it. In order to add items to the list, you have to click on Properties.
dropdown list properties
Click the Add button and then type in a name for your choice. By default, the Display Nameand Value will be the same, but you can change it if you like. There really is no reason to change the value unless you are writing Word macros and refer to the controls in code.
Once you have added all your choices, go ahead and click OK and you’ll now be able to select the options from the drop-down list.
drop down list
The only difference between the dropdown list control and the combo box control is that the latter allows the user to enter their own value if they please. In the dropdown list, you have to choose from one of choices in the list. In the combo box, you can either choose from the list or type in your own value.
The date picker control works just like any date picker you have probably used on airline booking sites, etc. When you click on it, a calendar appears and you can simply click on the date to select it.
date picker control
If you click on the Properties button, you’ll see that there are quite a few options for the date picker control.
date picker properties
You can choose a different format to display the date and choose a different calendar type. The picture control is another nice option that will allow users to insert a picture easily.
picture content control
When the user clicks on the image, a dialog will appear where they can choose a picture from their computer, from Bing image search or from OneDrive. They also have options for Facebook and Flickr.
insert picture word
Now let’s add a few checkboxes to our document. Note that when you add a checkbox and try to type text into it, it will tell you that the selection is locked. I believe this is by design. You have to click next to the checkbox and then type in your text.
checkbox example word
Lastly, you can insert a building block control, which lets you pick content from Quick Parts and AutoText. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out my post on how to use AutoText and Quick Parts in Word. In my example, I added some quotes to a custom AutoText and then linked the control to it via the Properties dialog.
building block control
Once you have all the controls in your document the way you want, it might be a good idea to protect the document so that user can only fill out the form fields and that’s it. To do this, click on Restrict Editing on the Developer tab.
restrict editing
In the pane that shows up on the right, click on the dropdown under Editing restrictions and choose Filling in forms. Make sure to check the Allow only this type of editing in the document box.
word restrict editing
Click Yes, Start Enforcing Protection and then enter a password if you like. Now only the form fields will be editable and everything else locked/protected. The user can easily use the TAB key to move between the different form fields.
Overall, Word isn’t the greatest tool for making forms, but it’s decent and probably more than enough for most people. If you have any questions, feel free to comment. Enjoy!
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Migrate Data from MS Access to SQL Server Database

July 04, 2018 0
Recently, I had to migrate the data from an Access database to SQL Server 2014 because my database was getting too large for Access to handle. Even though the process is fairly simple, I figured I would write an article with step-by-step instructions.
First, you need to make sure you have SQL Server or SQL Server Express installed on your computer. When downloading SQL Server Express on a personal computer, make sure you download the version with Advanced Services. If you don’t, then the database engine won’t be installed and you’ll have SQL Management Studio without any database instance to connect to.
sql server express
Once you have SQL Server installed properly, you can continue with the steps below to import the Access database into a new database in SQL Server.

Transfer Access Database to SQL Server

Open SQL Server Management Studio and connect to the database server you want to import your Access database into. Under Databases, right-click and choose New Database. If you already have a database and you simply want to import a couple of tables from Access, then just skip this and go to the Import Data step below. Just right-click on your current database instead of creating a new one.
new database
If you’re creating a new database, go ahead and give it a name and configure the settings if you want to change them from the defaults.
database settings
Now we need to right-click on the Test database we just created and choose Tasks and thenImport Data.
import data
On the Choose a Data Source dialog box, select Microsoft Access (Microsoft Jet Database Engine) from the drop down box.
choose data source
Next to File name, click on Browse and navigate to the Access database you want to import and click Open. Note that the database cannot be in Access 2007 or higher format (ACCDB) as SQL Server does not recognize it! So if you have a 2007 to 2016 Access database, first convert it to the 2002-2003 Database format (MDB) by going to File – Save As.
Go ahead and click Next to choose the destination. Since you right-clicked on the database you wanted to import the data into, it should already be picked in the list. If not, select SQL Native Client from the Destination drop down. You should see the database instance under Server Name and then be able to choose the specific database at the bottom once you pick your method of authentication.
database destination
Click Next and then specify how you want to transfer the data from Access to SQL by choosing either Copy the data from one or more tables or Write a query to specify the data to transfer.
how to copy data
If you want to copy all the tables or just some of the tables from the Access database without any data manipulation, choose the first option. If you need to copy only certain rows and columns of data from a table, then choose the second option and write a SQL query.
By default, all the tables should be selected and if you click the Edit Mappings button, you can configure how the fields map between the two tables. If you created a new database for the import, then it’ll be an exact copy.
tables and views
Here I have only one table in my Access database. Click Next and you’ll see the Run Packagescreen where Run Immediately should be checked.
run task sql
Click Next and then click Finish. You’ll then see the progress of the data transfer as it occurs. After it is completed, you’ll see the number of rows transferred for each table in the Message column.
data transferred
Click Close and you’re done. You can now go ahead and run a SELECT on your tables to make sure all the data got imported. Now you can enjoy the power of SQL Server for managing your database.
select data from table
Any problems importing your data from Access to SQL Server? If so, post a comment and I’ll try to help. Enjoy!
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