Google offer a standalone installer for the Windows build of Google Chrome, as opposed to the standard download which is actually just a small stub application that connects to Google’s servers to download and install the actual browser.
The offline installer is handy if you have a number of machines on which to install or update Chrome, but unfortunately Google haven’t updated it recently, so you end up with version 22.214.171.124 rather than the latest all-singing, all-dancing, extension-supporting version 126.96.36.199.
You can of course update to 188.8.131.52 from the About screen, but this defeats the purpose of using the standalone installer in the first place, and you may be unlucky enough to be on a corporate network which breaks the in-browser upgrade functionality.
By using Fiddler2 to monitor the activity of the stub installer, I was able to establish that it connects to the following google.com URL to download the latest build:
This is your standalone/offline installer, which can be used to install new instances of Chrome or upgrade existing ones (in which case the installer will upgrade your browser silently).
Google release new builds fairly frequently, so keep an eye on the Google Chrome Releases blog and substitute 249.89 with the build number of the latest stable (or development, if you’re feeling brave) build, e.g. http://cache.pack.google.com/edgedl/chrome/install/322.2/chrome_installer.exe for version 5.0.322.2.
Ninite is a free (for personal use) service which allows you to download and install several popular pieces of Windows software in bulk from a single installer – great when building a new PC or reinstalling an OS on an existing machine.
When you visit the site, you are presented with a list of well-known free and trial applications. Just select the ones you’re interested in, click Download and you’re presented with a small (~200K) stub installer which, when launched, downloads and installs each chosen application without user intervention.
I’ve just tried it on a new machine I’m setting up, and although it takes a while to download and install everything (I had selected quite a few apps), this part of the process is completely automated so you’re free to do something else while you wait.
This list of Lifehacker readers’ most recommended free apps contains some real gems, including some of my favourites (Google Chrome, Dropbox, uTorrent, Gmail, Winamp etc.)
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!
Open Source Living provides an index of software that is not only free, but also has all the benefits of open source. It’s well worth checking out if you’re looking for a quality piece of software to do a particular job, but don’t want to break the bank.
Some of my favourite pieces of open source software listed on the site are:
- 7-Zip – archiving utility that supports ZIP and RAR as well as its own 7Z format
- Audacity – great for quick audio recording and editing jobs
- MediaWiki – powers the biggest and most well-known wiki in the world, Wikipedia
- Mozilla Firefox – my favourite Web browser
- Mozilla Thunderbird – well-regarded desktop email client, although I’ve now switched to Gmail
- nVu – Mozilla-based WYSIWYG HTML editor
- OpenOffice – a very capable alternative to Microsoft Office, without the price tag
- phpBB – one of the most popular and easy-to-use forum packages
- WinSCP and FileZilla – full-featured FTP/SFTP clients
- WordPress – the blogging platform that powers this very site
- Zen Cart – a highly-customisable online shopping platform
If you have a recent (T610 or newer) Sony Ericsson phone, floAt’s Mobile Agent is a great tool for your PC. It allows you to manage your phone’s contacts and messages and do other nifty things such as allow you to pick up and dial calls from your PC. It’s great with Bluetooth but most features also work with USB or serial cables. And, like the best things in life, it’s free!
Free Firefox extension FlashBlock replaces all embedded Flash objects with a placeholder that can be clicked to reveal the blocked element. This can improve performance and reduce memory usage. The extension also has a whitelist feature which enables you to define sites on which you don’t want the block to apply, for example YouTube.
JkDefrag is an open-source disk optimisation utility (or “defragger”) for Windows operating systems. As well as the standard GUI, it also comes with a command line version for scripting and scheduling, and there’s even a screensaver version installed for defragmenting your disks while your machine is idle.
MozBackup is a free utility for backing up your Mozilla, Firefox and Thunderbird profiles. Mozilla haven’t yet released an official backup tool, and while it’s possible to achieve the same effect by manually copying folders, MozBackup makes the process much simpler.
Indev’s FlashMute is a handy tool which allows you to mute either all Flash movies or your entire browser, which is useful when you’re listening to music on your PC while browsing. It supports most popular browsers.