Google Chrome is a remarkably powerful web browser. When running on Mac OS it’s also an incredible power and memory hog. At least once a week it bloats so badly that it makes my desktop unusable. Starting today I’m going to take a trial run of living life without Chrome.

Since it’s Mac native, I’ve given Safari the honor of being the first test platform. Although today’s tests have been limited, it’s held up admirably – and more importantly hasn’t slowed the machine down to an infuriating place. As it turns out the threshold for victory in these real life tests isn’t going to be all that high. Anything that lets me get through a week without crashing the computer will likely get a pass as a better option than continuing on with Chrome.

There was a time I’d want to go out and try all the obscure browsers hoping to turn up something with wow factor to spare. These days, I’m mostly about simplicity in use rather than wow. I don’t care so much how the machine runs just so long as it does. I’m not going to spend a lot of time wanting to tinker around under the hood until it behaves “just so.”

I’d love to place all the blame squarely on Google here, but if I’m fair, I’m currently running a slightly more than 4 year old machine that was a touch under powered when it came out of the box. The ever increasing demand for raw processing power in a computer hasn’t been kind to my Mini. Truth is, switching browsers is probably the last ditch effort to coax a bit more life out of the machine before bringing a replacement online. If I were smart, I’d go ahead and make that purchase now instead of when something finally fails on me… but then needing to buy a computer right-the-hell-now after the old one has crapped out is pretty much one of my oldest continuously observed traditions.

Ditching Chrome won’t solve all that ails computing here, but it could well alleviate the most obnoxious symptom of aging equipment. For today, that would be more than good enough.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Customer service chats. I like the customer service chat functions available through most major businesses. They save me from calling an 800 number and sitting on hold for half an hour. They save me from sending an email that “will be answered in 2 business days.” It’s instant enough gratification that I can call up a chat from my desk at work and get on with my day while resolving whatever issue I happen to have. I’m always surprised when I’m doing business with a large commercial entity that doesn’t offer this convenience… and it always makes me want to deal with them a little bit less.

2. Boxes. I forgot how incredibly awful living eyeball deep in cardboard boxes really is. Now that we’ve reached the stage of the process when just about everything that’s not tied down is living in a box, running into a moment of “oh, I can’t do that because X is packed already” is becoming situation normal. Although the situation will theoretically resolve itself in short order, I’ll be a far more content human being when there’s more stuff coming out of boxes than there is going into them.

3. Staff work. Some weeks there’s more work than three people could do washing across my desk. Other weeks it’s a challenge to keep the cobwebs from taking over. This week has been a case of the latter. The nature of the work doesn’t exactly lend itself to a nice constant flow, but damn it would be nice if it did.

To blog or not to blog…

I was asked this morning for some insight into the mechanics of starting a blog. I wouldn’t say any of this is definitive, but if anyone out there is thinking about taking a stab at becoming an unpaid and overworked writer, here are some initial bits to ponder.

The first real decision you’re going to face is picking your platform. There are a million of them, but the two biggest are and I’ve used both and they both have their strengths and weaknesses. For pure ease of use, I’d recommend starting out with Blogger. It’s easy to use and doesn’t have too many bells and whistles to make things confusing at the start. If you decide you want to go at it in a big way, you can always export your work there to another platform. Usually the web address for a Blogger blog is something like Again, if you really get into it and want to manage the minutia of your site, you can purchase your own domain later. For instance, my blog started out on MySpace (God forbid), migrated to Blogger, migrated to WordPress, and finally now lives at The important thing though, is the writing at first, so in my opinion it’s better to focus on that and let the tech people focus on doing all the behind the scenes stuff.

As far as anonymity goes, is anything really private on the internet? The easiest way to preserve some semblance of privacy, of course, is to set up an email account with Google under a pen name and then register your Blogger blog using that name and email address. There are still ways you can be found out, but it’s a nice basic level of discretion for most purposes. As you move into hosting your own domain name, there are more sophisticated methods of safeguarding your identity. You’ll find though, that the real issue with security to the average blogger is self policing what you write. Stay away from events that can be traced back to only a small number of people and if you must write about those, change enough of the details, names, etc. to make it a bit more general. The bottom line with security is that once it’s on the internet, there is always the possibility of someone finding out that it’s you regardless of how many layers of security you put in place, so write with that in mind.

Choosing a name can be a madding experience, if you think of something smart and witty, there’s a fair chance someone beat you to it. Not that there’s necessarily anything wrong with that. At the entry level, the chance of your two groups of readers ever intersecting is pretty slim. A good rule of thumb when it comes to branding is that easy is better – you want to pick something that people will remember. There are a laundry list of sites out there that have great advice about website and blog branding and the good news is that it’s something you can change over time if you find you aren’t thrilled with the name you started out with. Bounce ideas off people you trust to give you a sense of whether the names you like make sense to a broader audience.

I’m no authority on any of this and lord knows there are many, many blogs that are put together better than this one, but for the casual writer, this should help get you started. Reading a lot of other blogs, taking copious notes, and writing more than you ever thought you would are what will keep you fresh and open your eyes to new ideas.