How to Set the Default Zoom Level in ANY Web Browser

zoom

I love my 13 inch Macbook Air to death.  I also feel as if I’m blind when I try to read on the damn thing.   

That’s why learning to set the zoom levels on a browser is so valuable.  Most browsers respond to Ctrl + and Ctrl – to zoom in and out of pages (Tip: Press Ctrl 0 to reset zoom to normal levels).  Most of the good ones like Chrome also remember the zoom setting for any particular web page – which is a great if you ever revisit the page again.

The thing is – many a time, you’ll end up on a web page where you’ve never visited before, and then you’ve got to do the zooming song and dance again. 

What a drag.

Now you might be thinking – yeah the text is small, but I can read it, so what’s the big deal? 

Well try zooming in on text just a little bit and you’ll suddenly find that everything’s so much easier to read.  Keep at it a while and you actually feel less tired and more productive. 

So how do you set a DEFAULT zoom level on your browser so that all web pages have a zoom factor already automatically applied to it when it loads?

1. How to set the default zoom level in Chrome

autozoom chrome

Autozoom is my weapon of choice on Chrome, and this free simple extension will allow you to quickly define how much zoom you want all your pages to have, tweaked right from a discrete button near the address bar. 

2. How to set the default zoom level in Internet Explorer

 IE zoom

Interestingly enough, unlike most things involving IE, setting the default zoom on that browser is incredibly simple.  Just find the magnifying glass icon on the bottom right of your browser and select the default zoom. 

3. How to set the default zoom level in Firefox

firefox zoom

Default FullZoom Level is probably the most powerful of all the extensions on this list.  Let me tell you why I love this add-on.  Yes, setting zoom levels can easily be set just like on all the other browsers, but here’s what sets it apart: One of the issues most people have when zooming web pages is that images have the potential look incredibly ugly and pixelated once blown up.  To address this, you can configure it to ONLY zoom text, so it leaves your pictures unzoomed.

It also has some nifty features like ˜fit-to-window’ which automatically selects the optimal zoom for that particular web page so you don’t have to bother experimenting.  This extension really gets two thumbs up for ease of use and power.

4. How to set the default zoom level in Opera

opera zoom

Just like IE, you configure the default zoom levels by selecting that same magnifying glass at the bottom right of your browser.  It is slightly more feature filled than IE though and has Fit-to-Width capability as well.

What should your default zoom level be?  This differs from person to person, and really depends on the sites you visit, but I typically set my default zoom at 130%.

Do you use browser zoom to read the web?  Tell us about it in the comments :)

Update: 18/6/2011: Check out this video response!

Why You May Want to Wait for the HP TouchPad Before Buying an iPad 2

 touchpad

So I got to see the HP TouchPad in action sometime back in February, and actually played with it for all of 30 seconds before the lady doing the demo realized that I had my grubby hands on it and politely pulled it away.  From my brief time with the device, and the very extensive controlled demos by the presenters – here are my initial thoughts on what I really liked about the TouchPad which HP has just announced will be launched in June

I have never been a big fan of the old Palm Pre phones.  Always felt that the phones were much too small, especially when trying to handle all the touch gestures the palm interface demanded in order to use the phone.  The new Pre 3 is a step in the right direction with decent 3.6 inch displaybut the TouchPad however – that’s a different ballgame all-together. 

So why on earth would you ever consider holding out for an iPad 2?   Here’s a few reasons why:

1. You want grouped multi-tasking

Because all smartphones these days handle multi-tasking pretty decently, but handling anything more than a few apps is often a clunky user experience.  
WebOS on the other hand, groups together related apps running in the background. 

How is this useful? 

On other platforms multi tasking is focused on helping you switch between apps quickly, not so much between tasks. 
Some tasks require you to switch between related apps, For example – to calculate expenses you may want to switch between a calculator, notepad, and email app.
On WebOS, because apps are grouped together, you can quickly switch between groups of related apps all at once without hunting around.

Here’s a video which shows you this feature or ˜stacks’ as Palm people call it (Tip: Forward to halfway through the video to see most of the action)

2. You want a wireless charging

touchstone

Because there’s no more plugging in wires.  Just place it on the dock, and it charges/syncs. 

I don’t think I need to say more.

3. You want an adjustable sized keyboard

palm keyboard

Because not all fingers are the same size.  For me, the keyboard is perhaps the most important aspect of any smart device (aside from touchscreen sensitivity), and perhaps one of the most difficult for manufacturers to get right.  Making the on-screen keyboard adjustable really helps eliminate the compromise many keyboards make to get it to a one-size-fits all setup.

4. You don’t want to launch apps

just type

Because you want to just type and go.

A feature called ˜Just Type/Quick Actions’ in webOS 2.0 will allow you to do things in apps, without ever having to launch the app.  Doing things like search, compose email, set alarms, create calendar appointments, Facebook status updates, send text messages, update your blog etc.  from anywhere on your phone without having to open an app and wait for it to load.

How useful this turns out to be though, lies in the hands of developers who build need ˜Quick Actions’ plugins for this to take off.

5. You Want Decent Speakers

beats

Because the iPad 2 has mono speakers.  (Why Apple, why?)

while the TouchPad comes with HP Beats Audio and stereo speakers.  This setup possibly makes it the best audio system you will get for ANY tablet.

6. You want unobtrusive push notifications

push notificatios

Because while the rest of the smartphone world (Palm/Android/BlackBerry) has figured out how to do unobtrusive push notifications, iOS is using the worst push notification system in the world.  It’s in your face, forces you to look at everything, and forces you to unlock the phone to dismiss the notification.

WebOS notifications on the touchpad however are unobtrusive, easily dismissible if you don’t want to attend to it right away, and provides a useful preview to boot, and is very well thought through. 

What could be improved on the TouchPad

  1. Really wished it would come with a rear camera.  If you’ve ever used a tablet for annotation, or tried taking photos of text/maps for use on a tablet you’d realize how truly important this is.  Hopefully we’ll see this in the next iteration. 
  2. Also, the very obvious hole they have is their distinct lack of apps.  Their porting platform, the WebOS PDK has been around for about a year.  On one hand you’ve got nice testimonials of companies porting over 9 games in 5 weeks.  On the other hand, the reality of the matter is that they have REALLY struggled to get publishers on board, and even the very new Windows Phone 7 Platform which is still extremely raw, has gotten further ahead of the game.
  3. Things are moving really slow in terms of product development and launch.  Bear in mind the iPad 2 will take some steam away from the TouchPad launch, and if Apple really shifts their launch cycle for the iPad to ship in time for Christmas, the TouchPad could get swallowed up by iPad 3.

I did talk to Steven MacArthur who’s the SVP of Apps and Services in HP about how slow everything has been moving, but his response was that it was early days in this market and he could afford to go slowly for now saying it did not matter in the grand scheme of things and long term strategy – citing how Apple and Android beat up the smartphone incumbents within a short period of time.  

Truth be told, I disagree with him on this one.  The iPhone was a ridiculously revolutionary device when it launched.  Android bridged the gap and opened up solid smartphone capabilities to a whole other range of manufacturers.

Palm’s devices however are at best incrementally better than existing systems, still has its shortcomings, and they will not license out their OS.  In short – the market will be much less forgiving.  Given that the Pre and Pre 2 hasn’t done spectacularly well so far, this should already be a warning flag.  Also, the unofficial price point is touted to be at the USD$499 point for the 16GB Wifi version which makes it on par with iPad 2 pricing, so it does not look to have an advantage there either.  Meanwhile I’m crossing my fingers that a 3G version will follow quickly.

Hands-on video

Here’s a full hands-on which was demo’ed in Shanghai. It gives a great look at the new WebOS devices which were launched including the TouchPad.

Video courtesy of Lowyat.tv

Conclusion

All that aside.  The TouchPad did seem like a really snappy device.  Interface looked well designed and slick.  More than anything it has bucketloads of potential especially when WebOS starts being integrated into ALL new HP computers starting from next year.  The tablet future certainly looks interesting doesn’t it?

3 Things ANY Blogger Can Do To Help Japan Disaster Relief

The damage is beyond terrible.  The lives lost irreplaceable.  The impact on Japan and the rest of the world, simply indescribable. 

Yet, you can make a choice.  Sit idly by, shake your head, and feel sorry for Japanor do something about it, and drive people to do more about it.  These are a few things I’ve put together which should help you do the latter as a blogger. 

1. Give and get others to give

tsunami

Just feeling terrible about the situation won’t really change much.  Put your money where your heart is and give.  Friedbeef’s Tech is going to be MATCHING whatever is given by YOU our readers until a USD500 limit. 

All you need to do is:

  1. Donate to any organization which is providing relief for the Japan earthquake and tsunami.
  2. Send in proof of the said donation to jamesyeang [at] gmail.com . 

All MY matched funds will will be going into Groupon Malaysia’s Red Crescent/Red Cross relief fund which in turn will be REMATCHED again.   So any funds you donate will be multiplied at least 3x.  So follow your heart and give!  *See update below*

Your local area should have their own fund, but you may also donate directly to the Red Cross via Google’s Crisis Relief page

After you’ve done it, blog about it, and use whatever influence you have as a blogger – big or small, to drive your readers to give more.

2. Embed a hellobar on your site

hellobar

A hellobar is a thin horizontal bar which comes up at the top of your blog and provides readers with a simple message.  In this case, we’re adapting it to support Japan relief.  It’s eye-catching, yet does not disrupt your theme, and it’s for a good cause.  That’s all the reasons you’ll ever need to install one. 

Mashable has an excellent set of simple instructions on how to do this in under 5 minutes.

3. Embed a simple tool to help others find and provide information about potential missing Japanese people

Basic communications are down, so Google has put together a Person Finder tool where anyone worried about the their loved ones can look them up by name, and others can submit information as well.  In short, it’s an adhoc database to connect people.  You’re also able able to embed the tool like what I’ve done for this post.

Hope some of these tools help you get started.  Even if you don’t have a blog, please do drive people facebook/twitter account to help so at least the people you know can be drawn to action, not just watch in horror as events continue to unfold.

Update 20/3/2011:

Campaign has ended, in conjunction with Groupon Malaysia reaching their matching limit of RM25,000. We have matched a grand total of USD$242 towards this cause. All proof matching has been sent to individual donors. Please continue to donate directly to Japanese disaster relief.

How to Turn ANY Website into a Wireframe Mockup INSTANTLY : A Tutorial

wireframing

The everyday problem:

You really like the layout of a web page.  You want to build a wireframe mockup based on it, and it takes too long. 

Why not just screencapture the page?  Mainly because images and text distract your vision when you’re trying to figure out the best layout possible.  You may also want to compare different layouts and having everything mocked up on wireframe instead of screencaptured may provide a more unbiased view of things.

The simple solution:

Wirify is a cross-browser bookmarklet which instantly turns full blown web pages into wireframe mockups with a single click.

wirify

Step 1: Visit the Wirify webpage

Step 2: If you’re using Chrome or Firefox, just drag and drop the bookmarket onto your browser bookmark bar.  (If you’re using Internet Explorer switch now for a better experience)

wirify bookmarklet

Step 3: Click on the bookmarket whenever you want to turn the website into a wireframe mockup.

That’s it!  So simple :)

Check out the YouTube video below for a step-through Wirify

Facebook Project : Kiva Christmas Charity Drive

christmas

Hi everyone,

Since it’s 10 days to Christmas, we’ve decided to do something special for the holidays! 

kiva_logo

We’ve talked about Kiva on this website before, but for anyone who doesn’t know, Kiva helps 3rd world entrepreneurs through microloans.  It’s our charitable favorite movement here at Friedbeef’s Tech, so we’re setting aside one US dollar (with a limit of 300USD) for every new user who ˜likes’ our facebook page from now until December 25th to help out this great cause. 

Here’s a rough idea how Kiva works, and if you need more info, their ˜about’ page is much more comprehensive.

 

kiva

 

Anyhowas I write this, the count of people ˜liking’ the facebook page currently stands at 2,552 fans.  So if you haven’t joined us on facebook yet, there’s never been a better time to do so. You can even ‘like’ the page directly in the box below

Update: Project has finished with 209 new fans and USD210 USD set aside for Kiva :)

Finally, if you’re on twitter or facebook, please help me spread this project within your social circle :)