Google Chrome now supports extensions

The beta version of Google Chrome has supported extensions for many months, but Google today released a stable Windows version of Chrome 4.0 which supports extensions together with a handful of other features and improvements. Both The Official Google Blog and the Google Chrome blog have full details.

To get the update, click the About Google Chrome menu option (viathe spanner icon) and click Check for Updates.

I’ll keep this post short and sweet as I’m now off to the extensions gallery to pick up some new enhancements for my favourite browser!

Google’s clever image preloading technique

I noticed today that the Google logo shown at the top of all search results is actually a composite image, sliced up through clever use of CSS positioning:

Google nav logo

At first, I thought of this as nothing more than a neat trick, but then I began to think about why Google might have decided to use this technique to their advantage.

Whenever a client browser requests a page, it will also make a request for each of the images (and other media) embedded into the page. Once an image has been displayed once, it is usually cached client-side to conserve bandwidth and improve performance for subsequent loads. For example, the RSS logo at the top of my blog will be downloaded from my server on your first visit, but as you move through the site, future references to the file will be fulfilled from your browser’s cache.

Google isn’t particularly image-heavy, but a typical results page could contain five or more ‘sprites’ or graphical elements. By squeezing them into a single file, user’s Web browsers need only make two requests (one for the page itself and one for the composite image) instead of six or more.

This might sound trivial, but considering that Google serve billions of result pages to millions of different visitors every day, the cumulative saving in bandwidth and server resources is likely to add up to quite a figure.

If you operate a moderately high-traffic site, it might be worth considering using similar tactics. The only other site that I’ve noticed that has used CSS image slicing in this way is the now-defunct Cdiscount UK site, for its pricing images.

Hollyoaks music playlists

I’m not a big fan of the soaps, but I’ve been known to catch the odd episode of Hollyoaks, and I often enjoy the music used on the show.

Channel 4 kindly provide weekly playlists on the official Hollyoaks website, which is handy if you want to hear more of a track featured on the programme.

They could potentially make this more useful (and profitable) by linking to iTunes or Amazon for song previews and purchases, as well as storing more than a few weeks of historical information, but as it is, it’s still a very useful resource.

How to fix “Google Update installation failed with error 0x8004071c”

I just tried to install Google Chrome on my Windows 7 machine and was faced with this obscure error message.

I found the answer on the Chrome support site – it’s caused by the following registry key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\
CurrentVersion\Setup\State\ImageState

Mine was set to IMAGE_STATE_UNDEPLOYABLE. Removing this value enabled the Google Chrome installer to proceed as normal.

Silverlight 4 beta works on Google Chrome

I’m currently testing out Google Chrome to see if it can replace Firefox as my main day-to-day browser, and have so far been quite impressed. However I hit a stumbling block when I tried to watch some tutorial videos on Microsoft’s site and was prompted to install Silverlight 3, which is unfortunately not supported on Chrome.

The easy thing to do at this point would have been to drop into Firefox or IE and install Silverlight from there, but where’s the fun in that?

Luckily the Silverlight 4 Beta seems to work fine in Chrome – all you need is the Windows Runtime component.