Standalone installer for Google Chrome 4

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 rather than the latest all-singing, all-dancing, extension-supporting version

You can of course update to 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 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. for version 5.0.322.2.

Ninite: download and install your favourite apps

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.

Comprehensive catalogue of open source software

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

Enhance Windows file copying

TeraCopy speeds up Windows file copy operations as well as adding a few much-needed features such as smart error recovery and a pause button. It integrates with the Windows shell completely so you don’t need to run a separate program to reap the benefits. It’s a free download for home users; the Pro version is $19.95 (about £10). Highly recommended!

Recover Windows product key from remote installations

There are a number of product key recovery utilities for Windows – Magical Jellybean Keyfinder is the first one that comes to mind, possibly because of the name – but ProduKey is the first I’ve seen that will recover keys from other installations, for example via a local area network or from slave hard drives. It also recovers keys for Office and SQL Server, and at a diminutive 31KB, deserves a place on any technician’s USB drive. It is one of a number of freeware utilities available from the NirSoft website.

Edit: Actually the new version of Magical Jelly Bean has similar functionality, although it’s still in beta at the moment.