Aaaah, the Fifties.  When people knew right from wrong, when men were men, when cars were built solid and had plenty of chrome on them . . .

Of course, there’s the other side to that whole picture.  The Cold War, the total lack of the internet or anything like a personal computer, the lack of seat belts in cars . . .

Okay, we’ll call it a toss-up.  There was good and there was, umm, less than good.  But today we have it much better.  Or much worse.  Depends on who you talk to.  Personally, I’m happy to have a computer connected to the internet, and contact lenses, and laparoscopic gallbladder surgery.  I have benefitted from each of those.

And chrome didn’t go away.  Now, though, instead of being a part on a car (and why do they think that shiny plastic can replace a serious hunk of metal?), Chrome is also a web browser from Google.  I have been using it on my Win7 machine, almost exclusively for the past 9 months.  And I like it.

Chrome does basic web browsing things – it goes to web sites.  That’s a given in a web browser – baked in to the functionality.  The differences between Chrome and other browsers like Firefox or Internet Explorer are mainly two: it’s sleek, and it’s fast.  The sleekness comes from Google’s decision to go minimal.  Where other browsers have multiple rows of stuff to choose from, Chrome has just two: the tabs you have opened, and a place to type the URL.

The fast part comes from internal jockeying with the rendering engine.  Take a look at the video here for a fun version of speed tests.  (The comments debate how real or faked the testing was, based on the files coming from a hard drive or the internet.  To me, that’s not fakery.  Optimization, perhaps, but not faking it.)  As the browser continues to be updated, it stays ahead of other browsers in speeds – competition is good.

One place where Chrome falls behind Firefox is its extensions – the add-ons that make life a little (or a lot) easier.  Firefox has thousands of extensions, Chrome has hundreds.  And when you’re looking for the perfect extension. something better than “good enough”, the choice matters.  Nevertheless, there are a good many useful extensions available for Chrome.  Here are some that I use.

AdBlock is great for removing annoying ads and images from web pages.

FlashBlock wonderfully stops me from seeing animated junk that adds nothing to my browsing experience.

The Google Mail Checker, so I don’t run out to GMail wondering if there’s anything new.

gPDF will open PDF documents on Google’s servers and show you what they look like.  Fast, and avoids all the yuckiness of PDF viruses.

Xmarks – well, see last week.  I have signed a petition saying I’ll pay at least ten bucks if a hundred thousand other people will, too.  Gives the company a million bucks.  Might work.

Then there’s HoverZoom, which will show you a full-sized image of the thumbnail you’re seeing.  Very helpful for knowing if a pic will work for a PowerPoint background at church.

And finally ezLinkPreview.  This guy will pop a preview of the link that you float over.  First the EZ button

and then the opened link when you sit on the EZ button.  You can even nest EZ windows inside other EZ windows.

You have the option of closing the EZ windows by clicking on the original window, or you can peg the new windows as a new tab, and probably other methods I don’t know about.  Nifty tool, especially when you’re just grazing.  I have wanted it on other browsers, but haven’t investigated its availability.

Chrome.  It’s not just for bumpers anymore.