Rich Frangiamore

Systems Admin

Testing Tools: Free IE tools from Microsoft

modernie

Great news for developers and testers everywhere. Recently, on Microsoft’s Modern.IE site (which houses tools and resources for IE devs), the company released free, pre-built, fully functional virtual machines (VMs) specifically built for testing Internet Explorer.

You can download several different VMs, each with various versions of Windows OS (from Vista to 8) and various versions of IE (from 7 to 10). These are fully functional installations of Windows (not emulators) and are optimized for speed. One caveat, each instance is restricted with a time limit (within a single session).

There are versions prepared for Windows, OSX, and Linux, via VMware Player, VMware Fusion, and VirtualBox, respectively.

What testing resources do you love?

Kevin Tomko

Associate Director

Making Life Easier with Extensions

Extensions and plugins can make life so much easier. Those of us who use Chrome now have more options when it comes to Gmail.

This article in PC World Magazine explores several nifty extensions, including KeyRocket, Markdown Here, Right Inbox for GmailChecker Plus, and Gmail Offline. keys on a computer keyboard

They all look pretty exciting to me. They make things easier for the user and are free. What more could you ask?

Have you used these extensions? Are there others you prefer?

Rich Frangiamore

Systems Admin

Life is all about the little extensions: a great bookmark sorter for Chrome

Sometimes the most insignificant things make my day.

Recently, I converted from an avid Firefox devotee to a Chrome enthusiast. In the past, there were many little quirks which kept me from switching over, such as the missing spell-check context menu when I hit the menu key on a misspelled word (which works now), the third-party search dropdown (which works now from the omnibar), and the very clunky bookmark manager.

After I switched to Chrome last year, I bemoaned the lack of “Sort by name” when I right click on a folder of bookmarks. Instead, I must open the Bookmark Manager, navigate to a folder in the right hand side (not the left!), click Organize, and then Sort. And I had to do this for every folder I want to sort. My bookmark sync extension, Xmarks, couldn’t help me here either.

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Liz Norton

Programmer

Essential Chrome Web Dev Extensions

Everyone has different preferences for preferred browsers and plug-ins when working.  My current favorite set-up is Google Chrome with the following extensions installed.  
Here’s what I use and why:
  • Adblock Plus – My favorite ad blocking program/plug-in.  I’ve used this across multiple browsers and platforms.  It’s easy to use and helps cut down on ads competing for my attention when I am searching for solutions and examples on the interwebs.
  • Firebug Lite – A great code inspection tool that I like to use in conjunction with Chrome’s built-in inspector.  Chrome’s inspector has more functionality than Firebug Lite, but I still prefer Firebug Lite’s method of inspecting individual page elements.
  • JSONView – Ever tried reading a block of non-formatted JSON?  It’s not pretty.  Fellow developer Craig saved my life (or at least my eyesight) one day when he told me to go install the JSONView extension by gildas.  Now reading JSON is 1000% better.
  • LastPass – A fantastic password manager integrated into your browser of choice.  It allows me to easily pre-populate log ins and forms when I am working on a project in a secure manner.  I have to log in with my credentials before the extension will retrieve username and password information  and once I log out, no one else can get  to my stored log ins.
  • Web Developer – Select colors from the screen.  Measure page elements.  Display form elements and values.  Outline tables and divs and spans. Display print styles.  The list of things amazingly useful things that the Web Developer extension can do goes on and on.  If I could have only one extension for Chrome, it would be Web Developer.  Hands down.

What extensions do you find essential?

Rich Frangiamore

Systems Admin

Tracking the Trackers

It’s old news that most websites track your surfing habits.  Advertising providers, online marketers, and other behavioral tracking elements are spread quite wide across many of the sites that we visit every day.  These elements could hide inside of a hidden frame, or even a single pixel.  Fortunately, these days, there are many new tools available to look behind the curtain and see exactly who is tracking you.

One of my favorite new browser plugins is Ghostery, a handy tool for Ghostery.com screenshotrevealing all of the tracking elements on any web page.  It installs in seconds and is cross-platform, cross-browser.  Once installed, the friendly blue ghost icon will alert you, with a small bubble, the number of tracking elements on the current page.  From there, you may elect to block any of these scripts from tracking you on any other site.

Read more about it at www.ghostery.com, download the extension for your favorite browser, and then go exploring!  You’ll be amazed at how many tracking elements Ghostery will alert you to on sites you visit every day.

What tools do you use to avoid being tracked, or do you think that tracking is a necessary part of website data collection?