How to downgrade Chrome from Beta or Dev to Stable on OS X without losing profile data

As the years go by, I find that I growingly have less and less patience for dealing with experimental or beta software, and have come to appreciate more and more the value of having stable, reliable, and consistent products that get their job done and keep out of the way. I find it hard to fathom that only a few short years ago, during the days of Longhorn beta, I would derive immense pleasure from formatting and reinstalling up to three or four times a day — these days, I find setting up a PC for use after a format to be a task I shy away from even once every two or three years.

When Chrome first came out, I was quick to switch to the beta channel and later, the dev/canary channels too. Now, I just want to go back to having a browser that I can actually expect to load pages correctly, keep my keyboard shortcuts intact, and not suddenly put my data at risk due to broken back button behavior.

Switching to a more unstable build with Chrome is ridiculously easy: just download the installer for either the beta, dev, or canary Chrome channel releases and it’ll automatically upgrade your profile to the latest version and pull updates on a more-frequent schedule, on Mac, Windows, and Linux alike.

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New Gmail Feature: Inline Action Popups

One of the few products at Google that doesn’t stagnate and is always seeing new features, improvements, and changes (sometimes so often that it gives the appearance of being change for the sake of change to the furor and anger of some extremely-vocal hard-core users) is Gmail.

Today, Google is apparently rolling out a new feature that we haven’t seen before, and are actually at a loss when it comes to giving it an appropriate name.

Gmail is now showing “inlined action popups” based on the content of the emails (esp. automated written-by-robot emails), not too unlike some of the context-derived links/summaries in the sidebar that have been around for years now, except you don’t have to open the emails to gain access to them, and they’re just a convenient mouse click away. Pictures after the jump.

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Apple finally locks down the USB port in iOS 7

One of the basic principles of computer security is that if someone has physical access to a machine, compromising it is simply a matter of time (yes, even technologies like whole-disk encryption via GPG/PGP, BitLocker, or TrueCrypt are often still susceptible to “Evil Maid” attacks). But while all devices are vulnerable to hands-on attacks, some devices are more vulnerable than others.

Innocuous-looking USB accessories for both PCs and smartphones have long been a preferred for attacks aiming to gain unauthorized access to a machine. Devices that look like USB sticks can easily direct a computer they’re plugged into to dump data to an external device or online file storage by mimicking a keyboard/mouse, an attack no antivirus or antimalware software can prevent. Smartphones have been susceptible to similar attacks, even from something as seemingly-innocent as a regular phone charger. These hardware-based attacks have been well-documented, and while a passcode on the device can mitigate such attempts, it’s no cure-all.

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FeedSnap: The FeedBurner Replacement

FeedSnap logo Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few months, you’ve certainly seen all the hullaballoo that took place when Google shut down Google Reader for good. Aside from being a damn good RSS web-based reader, it was very importantly, so popular that and backed by a company so huge that it basically killed off all its competitors without even trying. If you care about your blog, you’re probably looking for a FeedBurner replacement or a FeedBurner alternative just about now.

People have been panicking about the so-called “death of RSS” ever since. RSS has a special place in our hearts, we think the idea behind a simple, standardized, freely-accessible stream of updates for just any website is a confluence of awesomeness that only comes around once in a blue moon. In other words: if RSS dies today, it’s not because something equally awesome has replaced it. Anyone equating RSS with Twitter streams (where stuff is virtually designed to be lost in the madness) and Facebook “feeds” (accessible only to friends, at the mercy of Facebook Inc) has no clue what they are talking about.

The writing has been on the wall for months, and pretty much everyone has come to suspect the next shoe will soon drop and Google will kill FeedBurner (the equivalent of Google Reader for website publishers) in the next round of “spring cleaning.” Google purchased Chicago-based startup (yay Windy City!) FeedBurner from its founders back in 2007, and ever since has been disabling and dismembering it, one feature at a time. Today, FeedBurner is only a sorry reminder of it once was.

To that end, we are happy to introduce today FeedSnap.

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Google jokes about killing YouTube, but people aren’t laughing

A year ago, Google’s incredibly thorough April Fools’ 2013 prank would have easily won the title of awesomest April Fools’ prank ever. But today? Maybe not.

This year’s prank is a video talking about how today, 8 years from the launch of YouTube, YouTube will no longer be accepting videos:

Short and long of it:

  • It’s been 8 years with an average of 70 hours of video uploaded each minute (~560 years of footage in all, for those wondering)
  • YouTube is/was one big contest to find the best video ever
  • Tonight at midnight (April 1st, 2013) YouTube will accept videos no more
  • Site will be back online in 2023 showing only the one, winning video

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Happy Pi Day 2013!

As everyone knows, today’s the year’s most awesome holiday: Pi Day. Happy Pi Day 2013 to one and all, please don’t forget to enjoy yourself whilst engaging in the geekiest activities you can think of. And, above all, remember to to eat pie!

Happy Pi Day!

Download EFI and UEFI repair CDs for Windows

Welcome to the future. Ever since 2000, EFI (Extensible Firmware Interface) has struggled to replace the decades-old BIOS, and now, some 13 years later, it’s finally really here. More than ever before, new computers, laptops, notebooks, and other computing devices are being shipped that use an entirely new and very much different technology as the foundation that powers the actual hardware, sitting between your motherboard/CPU and the operating system.

EFI is pretty nifty and very powerful, and opens a lot of new and exciting possibilities for your computer. It lets Windows theoretically boot faster than ever before, and can protect your computer against malware and viruses thanks to enhanced security features like signed bootloaders. And for Windows users, EFI means GPT (GUID Partition Table) instead of MBR (Master Boot Record). Abbreviations got you confused? Don’t worry – it just means that your computer now supports hard disks that are bigger than ever before (more than 2TiB in size!).

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AutoFormat for Windows

A few years ago while working on another boot-related project, I had need of a scripted method of formatting a drive, silently and without user intervention (don’t ask).

After mucking around with the various IOCTL in the disk and volume management WIN32 APIs, I realized there was a much easier method. Windows has always shipped with a command-line format utility (aptly named “format”) that could technically be coerced err convinced to do the job.

The only problem with is its (understandable) reluctance to actually wipe a disk without the user explicitly OKing it. At the same time, there are quite a few developers out there doing low-level work that does not involve viruses or other malicious intent that are in need of a scripted format run. And, of course, the expectation is that the developer will obtain the user’s permission beforehand.

However when all is said and done, there’s no clean way of formatting a disk behind the scenes. Enter AutoFormat for Windows.

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Star Trek DS9 and the Color Kindle

I’ve been watching Star Trek reruns (thank you, Netflix!) for a while now, and something that caught my eye once I finished TNG and moved on to DS9 was the prevalence of “eBook readers” that have an uncanny resemblance to Amazon’s Kindle.

The devices in DS9 appear to undergo both heavy and subtle changes each time they make an appearance, but one edition of the eBook reader in Star Trek DS9: Profit and Loss bore an incredible resemblance to the (previous gen) Kindle Touch, down to the same gray polymer material, rounded edges, almost exactly the same thickness and dimensions – with the exception of being in color.

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Windows Server 2008 and 2012 Recovery Discs Download

This article shows you how to create a recovery disk for Windows Server 2003, Server 2008 and Server 2012 or where to download our disk – Easy Recovery Essentials.

Download recovery disk for Windows Server

If you’re not able to create a recovery disk for your Windows Server edition (2003, 2008 or 2012), you can download our recovery and repair disk, Easy Recovery Essentials, to repair your Windows Server edition.

Download Easy Recovery Essentials

Features of Easy Recovery Essentials include:

  • Automatically find and fix boot errors
  • Works even when you can’t get into Windows
  • Recover from virus infections
  • Restore your PC to a working state
  • Access and backup your important data
  • Advanced tools for IT experts

Easy Recovery Essentials is an ISO download image ready to be burned directly to a CD, DVD or a USB flash drive.

Easy Recovery Essentials Screenshot

It’s compatible with newer versions of Windows, up to Windows 8.1:

It’s also compatible with Windows XP:

Create recovery disk for Windows Server 2003

To recover a Windows Recovery 2003 system you’ll need to boot into the Recovery Console (similar to Windows XP steps).

You need to have your original Windows Server 2003 installation CD to access Recovery Console, if you don’t have it installed on your computer.

If you’re not able to access Recovery Console, go to Download recovery disk for Windows Server.

Follow these steps to access the Recovery Console:

  1. Insert the CD in the optical drive
  2. Restart your computer
  3. At the Welcome to Setup screen, press R to load Recovery Console
  4. Select the Windows installation you want to access with Recovery console
  5. You’ll need to log in as an Administrator or with any user that has administrative rights to the system. Do so and enter the password.
  6. Press Enter
  7. The Recovery Console should now be available

In Recovery Console, you can now run the bootcfg or chkdsk commands.

Create recovery disk for Windows Server 2008

Your original Windows Server 2008 installation CD can be used a recovery disk.

If you already created a bare metal restore image using the Windows Server backup utility, you can restore your computer from that image.

Restoring Windows Server 2008 from a bare metal image will delete all personal files and replace your system with the backup image.

If you haven’t created a bare metal image (required to restore your computer) and can’t boot into Windows to do so, go to Download recovery disk for Windows Server.

Follow these steps to create a bare metal restore image that you can restore later using the installation CD:

  1. Boot into your Windows Server 2008
  2. Click Start
  3. Click Administrative Tools
  4. Click Windows Server Backup
  5. Select Backup once…
  6. Select Different options at the Backup options screen
  7. Click Next
  8. Select Custom
  9. Click Next
  10. Click Add Items
  11. Select Bare metal recovery
  12. Click OK
  13. Click Next
  14. Select Local drives from the Specify Destination Type screen

    Windows Server 2008 - Local Drives

  15. Click Next
  16. Select your backup destination from the Backup destination field
  17. Click Next
  18. At the Confirmation screen, click Backup
  19. Wait for the backup process to finish
  20. At the Backup Progress screen, you should see the Status: Completed text

In order to restore your Windows Server 2008 from this created bare metal image, follow these steps.

You need your original installation CD for the steps below. If you don’t have it, go to Download recovery disk for Windows Server.

  1. Insert the Windows Server 2008 CD in the disc tray
  2. Boot your computer
  3. Boot from the CD
  4. At the Install Windows screen, select a language, time and keyboard
  5. Click Next
  6. Click Repair your computer

    Windows Server 2008 - Repair your computer

  7. At the System Recovery Options screen, select Restore your computer using a system image that you created earlier

    Windows Server 2008 - Select system image backup

  8. Click Next
  9. At the Select a system image backup, select Select a system image
  10. Click Next
  11. At the Choose additional restore options screen, you can choose to format and repartition the disks
  12. Click Next
  13. Click Finish
  14. Click Yes at the warning message

    Windows Server 2008 - Warning Message

  15. Wait for the process to finish

Create recovery disk for Windows Server 2012

Windows Server 2012 uses the Windows Server Backup utility, just as Windows Server 2008 does, which lets you create a bare metal image that you can use later to restore from.

Restoring from a bare metal image will delete all personal files and will be replaced with the image you are restoring from.

If you haven’t created a bare metal image (required to restore your computer) and can’t boot into Windows to do so, go to Download recovery disk for Windows Server.

Follow these steps to create a bare metal restore image:

  1. Boot into your Windows Server 2012
  2. Click Start or search for the Windows Server Backup software
  3. Load Windows Server Backup
  4. Select Backup once…
  5. Continue with the wizard instructions until you can select the Bare metal recovery option
  6. Click Next
  7. Continue with the wizard instructions to create the image

Once you’ve created the bare metal image, you can restore it using your original Windows Server 2012 installation DVD:

  1. Insert the DVD in the optical drive
  2. Boot from the DVD
  3. At the Windows Setup screen, click Repair your computer
  4. Select Troubleshoot
  5. Select System Image Recovery
  6. Select the Windows system, e.g. Windows Server 2012
  7. At the Re-image your computer screen, you can begin to select what image to restore from
  8. Click Next and follow the instructions to continue with the process

More Information

Linked Entries

Support Links

Applicable Systems

This article applies to the following operating systems:

  • Windows Server 2003
  • Windows Server 2008
  • Windows Server 2012