Give Chrome a time-saving tab switcher

Your browser has basically become your desktop. Here’s how to make it start acting like one.

When I’m working on a computer these days, I tend to think of Chrome as my desktop. And really, it’s no wonder: Regardless of whether I’m using Chrome OS or Windows, nearly everything I do now takes place in the browser — or some form of it.

And yet, by default, Chrome isn’t exactly designed to act like a desktop. It’s just missing too many pieces and overlooking too many efficiency-enhancing opportunities. That’s why, little by little, I’ve been looking for creative ways to fill in those gaps and turn my browser into a true desktop-caliber productivity tool.

Since I’ve already replaced Chrome’s mostly useless New Tab page with a far more effective “home screen” of sorts, I got to thinking about the next missing element in my makeshift desktop environment — and I realized it was an effective tab switcher.

I don’t know about you, but I use a task switcher constantly when I’m working. Hitting Alt-Tab is just such a fast and easy way to move from one app, window, or process to another, and I’ve always got at least a dozen different things open that I need to toggle between.

But when those things include browser windows with multiple tabs inside ’em, the traditional task switcher suddenly becomes a lot less useful. More often than not, I’m trying to get to some specific tab, somewhere, and end up having to rely on luck and/or memory to find the window where it resides.

The answer, then, is to supplement the standard operating system task switcher with a browser-specific tab switcher. And lemme tell ya: Gaining such a feature is a bit of a revelation, especially if you tend to keep tons of tabs open like I do.

Best of all? The whole thing takes about 20 seconds to set up.

20 seconds to smarter tab switching

The first and only real step to giving your browser its own effective tab switcher is to install the aptly named Tab Switcher extension into Chrome. It’s not the only extension of its sort, but after testing far too many similar pieces of software, I’ve found it to be the best — for its simplicity, its ease of use, its minimalist design, and also its emphasis on privacy and transparency: The extension doesn’t collect or store any sort of data, and you can even examine its code yourself to confirm that, as it’s open source and available for anyone to review.

Once you install the Tab Switcher extension, you’ll see a new icon to the right of your Chrome address bar — a rectangular box that looks kind of like a browser window, with a magnifying glass on top of it. But the smartest way to use your new tab switcher doesn’t actually involve interacting with that icon at all; instead, it’s all about embracing the extension’s keyboard shortcut: Ctrl-Shift-K (or Cmd-Shift-K, on a Mac).

Hit those three keys together — or change the sequence to something else, if you’d rather, by typing chrome:extensions/shortcuts into your address bar and finding the extension within the list on that page — and bam: You’ll be staring face to, erm, pixels with a pleasantly formatted list of all your open tabs and the windows they reside in.

Chrome Tab Switcher (2)JR

Here’s the real beauty of this setup, though: Once you’ve got Tab Switcher activated, all you have to do is start typing the name of the tab you want to find — any word within its title or address, in fact — and the software will narrow down its list with every letter you type. It typically takes just a letter or two, and you’ll see the tab you’re looking for at the top of the Tab Switcher window. And then, you can simply hit enter, and you’ll be zapped over to that tab faster than you can say “titillating tab trickery.”

Chrome Tab Switcher (2)JR

Tab Switcher has some other interesting (one might even say titillating) tricks up its sleeve, too. For instance, the software lets you quickly close tabs by clicking the “x” alongside ’em in the switcher. You can also drag and drop tabs between windows right within its interface, and they’ll switch positions instantly within your actual browser. You can even ask Tab Switcher to sort your tabs alphabetically by URL — in their actual positioning within your browser windows — by typing :sort into its search box. And you can “deduplicate” tabs by using the :dd command, which leaves you with only one actively open instance of any given site.

But it’s the basic tab switching that really makes this extension worth having — and makes your browser experience meaningfully more desktop-like, effective, and complete.

This Tesla owner broke his Model 3 drivetrain after turning it into a snow tank.

You may or may not remember, but about a month ago we shared a video with you about a modified Tesla Model 3. It wasn’t your typical modification, but instead, the car was part snowmobile/tank and part car due to apparatuses attached to its rear end.

To be more clear, Tesla owner and YouTuber Michael (@lowlifeduramax) installed snowmobile-like parts on the rear of his rear-wheel-drive Standard Range Plus Model 3 to help it with traction in the snow. The setup was strange since the track extended so far outward from the car. We said it would likely place stress on the suspension of the vehicle.

Fast-forward to the present and Michael’s Model 3 is out of commission. After owning it for only three months, its drive units and rear axle are damaged. Interestingly, he tweeted “Tesla voided my warranty on a 3 month old 2020 Model 3 and jabbed me with a $4500 bill on a failed motor.” He made sure to include CEO Elon Musk and Tesla in the tweet. Needless to say, it got plenty of people’s attention. Sadly, we can’t see the tweet anymore because, for some strange reason, Michael locked his Twitter account. However, we do have a screenshot.

tesla model 3 snow tank 2

At any rate, Michael went on and on about how the Model 3 is “weak” and it should have been able to handle this. He mentioned that he’s done this to trucks before and they were able to handle it. Michael even went on to say that Tesla says its Model 3 is “built like a truck” and has a motor that will last one million miles. However, none of this really matters. According to the car’s warranty, Michael is out of luck.

While he locked his Twitter account, it seems he forgot about his YouTube channel and Instagram account. We’ve included the related video below, which we covered here about a month ago. He also used his Model 3 in a tug-of-war contest against some trucks, so that may explain some of the damage too. Check it all out and then leave us your comments.

Google Researchers Create AI-ception with an AI Chip That Speeds Up AI

Using a reinforcement-learning algorithm, the AI has learnt to optimize the placement of components on a computer chip.

Google Researchers Create AI-ception with an AI Chip That Speeds Up AI

Reinforcement learning algorithms may be the next best thing since sliced bread for engineers looking to improve chip placement.

Researchers from Google have created a new algorithm that has learned how to optimize the placement of the components in a computer chip, so as to make it more efficient and less power-hungry.

Artificial Intelligence

Typically, engineers can spend up to 30 hours configuring a single floor plan of chip placement, or chip floor planning. This complicated 3D design problem requires the configuration of hundreds, or even thousands, of components across a number of layers in a constrained area. Engineers will manually design configurations to minimize the number of wires used between components as a proxy for efficiency.


Because this is time-consuming, these chips are designed to only last between two and five years. However, as machine-learning algorithms keep improving year upon year, a need for new chip architectures has also arisen.


the algorithm automatically produced hundreds of thousands of new designs, mwithin a fraction of a second, and evaluated them using the reward function. Over time, it converged on a final strategy for placing chip components in an optimal way 

Google is using AI to design chips that will accelerate AI

A new reinforcement-learning algorithm has learned to optimize the placement of components on a computer chip to make it more efficient and less power-hungry.3D Tetris: Chip placement, also known as…

Facing these challenges, Google researchers Anna Goldie and Azalia Mirhoseini, have looked into reinforcement learning. These types of algorithms use positive and negative feedback in order to learn new and complicated tasks. Thus, the algorithm is either “rewarded” or “punished” depending on how well it learns a task. Following this, it then creates tens to hundreds of thousands of new designs. Ultimately, it creates an optimal strategy on how to place these chip components.

After their tests, the researchers checked their designs with the electronic design automation software and discovered that their method’s floor planning was much more effective than the ones human engineers designed. Moreover, the system was able to teach its human workers a new trick or two.

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Progress in AI has been largely interlinked with progress is computer chip design. The researchers’ hope is that their new algorithm will assist in speeding up the chip design process and pave the way for new and improved architectures, which would ultimately accelerate AI.

Mozilla begins bringing Fenix to Firefox Beta

Firefox logo on a grey, yellow, and orange background.

Mozilla has begun work on migrating Firefox Beta on Android to Fenix, a whole new Firefox experience on Android. According to the Are We Fenix Yet? status page, progress to migrating Firefox Beta to Fenix is at 2.1%. Porting to Firefox Beta is the final stage before it arrives on the release channel, ready to consume by the average Firefox user.

To figure out how long it will be before the Release channel is migrated, you can look at how long ago the Nightly version was ported. At the end of January, Mozilla gave the green light for the Nightly channel to migrate, therefore, at the end of May, we could see the firm begin migration on the Release channel ready for the update to arrive in June or July.

Mozilla has been working on Fenix, better known as Firefox Preview, for about a year now. It has been working hard to introduce features already present in the existing Firefox atop the new, faster, browser engine. Earlier this month, it released Firefox Preview 4 which included better login management, top sites, and initial add-on support.

While it adds the finishing touches to make its new browser ready for public consumption, the Firefox Release channel on Android has been stuck on Firefox 68 with point updates being released instead of fully-fledged upgrades. With today’s news, those running Firefox Beta should prepare for their browser to get a radical new look.

Maybe we shouldn’t use Zoom after all


Image Credits: Bryce Durbin/TechCrunch

Now that we’re all stuck at home thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, video calls have gone from a novelty to a necessity. Zoom, the popular videoconferencing service, seems to be doing better than most and has quickly become one of, if not the most, popular option going.

But should it be?

Zoom’s  recent popularity has also shone a spotlight on the company’s security protections and privacy promises. Just today, The Intercept reported that Zoom video calls are not end-to-end encrypted, despite the company’s claims that they are.

And Motherboard reports that Zoom is leaking the email addresses of “at least a few thousand” people because personal addresses are treated as if they belong to the same company.

It’s the latest examples of the company having to spend the last year mopping up after a barrage of headlines examining the company’s practices and misleading marketing. To wit:

  • Apple was forced to step in to secure millions of Macs after a security researcher found Zoom failed to disclose that it installed a secret web server on users’ Macs, which Zoom failed to remove when the client was uninstalled. The researcher, Jonathan Leitschuh, said the web server meant any malicious website could activate Mac webcam with Zoom installed without the user’s permission. The researcher declined a bug bounty payout because Zoom wanted Leitschuh to sign a non-disclosure agreement, which would have prevented him from disclosing details of the bug.
  • Zoom was quietly sending data to Facebook about a user’s Zoom habits — even when the user does not have a Facebook account. Motherboard reported that the iOS app was notifying Facebook when they opened the app, the device model, which phone carrier they opened the app, and more. Zoom removed the code in response, but not fast enough to prevent a class action lawsuit or New York’s attorney general from launching an investigation.
  • Zoom came under fire again for its “attendee tracking” feature, which, when enabled, lets a host check if participants are clicking away from the main Zoom window during a call.
  • A security researcher found that the Zoom uses a “shady” technique to install its Mac app without user interaction. “The same tricks that are being used by macOS malware,” the researcher said.
  • On the bright side and to some users’ relief, we reported that it is in fact possible to join a Zoom video call without having to download or use the app. But Zoom’s “dark patterns” doesn’t make it easy to start a video call using just your browser.
  • Zoom has faced questions over its lack of transparency on law enforcement requests it receives. Access Now, a privacy and rights group, called on Zoom to release the number of requests it receives, just as Amazon, Google, Microsoft and many more tech giants report on a semi-annual basis.
  • Then there’s Zoombombing, where trolls take advantage of open or unprotected meetings and poor default settings to take over screen-sharing and broadcast porn or other explicit material. The FBI this week warned users to adjust their settings to avoid trolls hijacking video calls.
  • And Zoom tightened its privacy policy this week after it was criticized for allowing Zoom to collect information about users’ meetings — like videos, transcripts and shared notes — for advertising.

There are many more privacy-focused alternatives to Zoom. Three are several options, but they all have their pitfalls. FaceTime and WhatsApp are end-to-end encrypted, but FaceTime works only on Apple devices and WhatsApp is limited to just four video callers at a time. A lesser known video calling platform, Jitsi, is not end-to-end encrypted but it’s open source — so you can look at the code to make sure there are no backdoors — and it works across all devices and browsers. You can run Jitsi on a server you control for greater privacy.

In fairness, Zoom is not inherently bad and there are many reasons why Zoom is so popular. It’s easy to use, reliable and for the vast majority it’s incredibly convenient.

But Zoom’s misleading claims give users a false sense of security and privacy. Whether it’s hosting a virtual happy hour or a yoga class, or using Zoom for therapy or government cabinet meetings, everyone deserves privacy.

Now more than ever Zoom has a responsibility to its users. For now, Zoom at your own risk.

Study: Cognitive ability is a whole-brain phenomenon

Intelligence is buoyed by a network of efficient neural pathways weaving throughout the entirety of the brain, according to a new study. Photo by Flickr/A Health Blog/CC

Intelligence is buoyed by a network of efficient neural pathways weaving throughout the entirety of the brain, according to a new study. Photo by Flickr/A Health Blog/CC
March 27 (UPI) — New research suggests intelligence, or general cognitive ability, can’t be traced to a single region of the brain. According to an international team of neuroscientists, cognitive intelligence is a whole-brain phenomenon.

For the study, researchers used diffusion tensor imaging to study whether small variations in the the neural wiring systems of test subjects could account for differences in IQ. The international survey involved the brain scans and IQ tests of 1,717 participants from all over the world, including healthy subjects and patients with schizophrenia.

Scientists at the National University of Ireland Galway used novel statistical methods to synchronize and analyze the data collected by participating researchers.

“To date, this is the largest meta-analysis study of brain structure and cognitive function in schizophrenia,” lead researcher Laurena Holleran, psychology lecturer at NUI Galway, said in a news release. “Understanding the neural basis of cognitive function is essential so that effective therapies that address difficulties associated with disorders like schizophrenia, which aren’t targeted by current treatments. This is important because cognitive deficits associated with the disorder strongly predict social and functional outcomes, such as employment or social relationships.”

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Scientists in search of the neural origins of intelligence have previously pinpointed specific areas of grey matter in the brain, including portions of the temporal, parietal and frontal regions. But the latest findings — published this week in The American Journal of Psychiatry — suggest intelligence is powered by a whole-brain network of efficient neural pathways.

“These results advance our knowledge in a number of ways,” said senior study author Gary Donohoe, psychology professor at NUI Galway. “Firstly, we have demonstrated that the relationship between brain structure and intelligence not only involves grey matter, but also white matter — the brain’s wiring system.”

“Secondly, it’s not just one part of this wiring system that is important for intelligence, but rather the wiring system as a whole,” Donohoe said. “And finally, the relationship between intelligence and the brain’s wiring system is basically the same in patients with schizophrenia and healthy people, in that the lack of pattern explains their cognitive abilities. This suggests that cognitive function in patients is the same as the general population, at least as far as white matter is concerned.”

Canada Post asks for help during pandemic

Canada Post mail boxes

Bet you have never considered your mailbox as a vector for disease.

The Canadian Postal Workers Union is asking Canadians to wash and disinfect their mailbox daily. That, along with handrails and doorknobs.

The union is asking for help during the pandemic to keep their mail carriers safe from COVID-19.

status report on the union’s website said it had demanded health and safety measures, including personal protective equipment, as the confirmed cases of the virus continue to grow across the country.

“Postal workers touch a lot more surfaces and objects in a workday than most people,” it read. “We must, therefore, continue to push for better access to personal protective equipment to mitigate the risk.”

Canada Post is also asking people to maintain social distancing.

“During delivery to your home: please keep the door closed when our employees are delivering mail and parcels, and avoid personally greeting them,” read a statement on its website.

Dog owners are asked not to allow their pets to approach carriers.

“The number of interactions between our employees and dogs has been increasing. This makes it difficult to adhere to physical distancing when owners need to retrieve their dogs,” it said.