Search Amazon From Chrome Address Bar

The Google Chrome Omnibox is really useful for quick Google searches. It can also be easily customized to do quick searches for your most commonly used websites. I buy a lot of things from Amazon so I setup a quick Amazon search. Here is how to do it:

  1. In the upper right corner of Chrome click the icon that looks like three horizontal lines.
  2. Click the “Settings” menu item near the bottom of the menu.
  3. Click the “Manage Search Engines” button in the “Search” section.
  4. The “Search Engines” window pops up. Look at the lower box called “Other search engines”.
  5. There should be three boxes where you can enter your new Amazon search engine. Paste these values in each of the boxes:
    • Left Box: Amazon
    • Middle Box: a
    • Right Box: http://amazon.com/s/ref=as_li_ss_tl?field-keywords=%s&tag=lnkref1-20&linkCode=ur2
  6. Close out of all the dialogs.

Now from the Chrome browser click in the address bar and type the letter “a” followed by a space. The address bar should get a blue box on the left side that says “Search Amazon:”. Start typing your Amazon search query and hit the Enter button. You should now get sent directly to your Amazon search results page.

Now anytime you want to search for something on Amazon you can save a few steps by searching right from your Chrome address bar. A few seconds saved for each search will add up for frequent Amazon shoppers. Let me know in the comments if you have any problems getting this to work and I can help you out.

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Play Chess with HTML5 and Javascript

I couldn’t find any modern webpages that allowed the user to play chess against the computer. So as a learning experiment I decided to create a single page chess playing webpage using HTML5 and Javascript. The page runs entirely in the client browser, there is no server side code. I targeted the latest browsers Chrome, Firefox, and IE 9 and higher and found that they all have pretty good standards compliance now. I don’t have to make nearly as many browser hacks as were needed just a few years ago and I could use most modern HTML5 features. Here are some of the technologies I used to make the site:

  • Bootstrap – Basic page layout and navigation menu. This is a good starting point for all new web applications.
  • jQuery UI – Handles drag and drop and the modal dialogs.
  • SVG – The chess pieces images are SVG files. This makes the pieces able to scale to different sizes depending on the screen size and still look good. IE only supports this in version 9 and higher so the page doesn’t work in IE 8 or lower.
  • jQuery UI Touch Punch – This is needed to make jQuery UI events work on touch based devices. I’m not sure why this isn’t built into jQuery UI. Until it is just include this plugin and everything works great on phones and tables.
  • TypeScript – This makes serious Javascript development much easier with strong typing and real classes. It compiles down to Javascript so you still get 100% compatibility. Typescript is fully supported in Visual Studio 2013 Update 2.

So check out the site at quickchess.net. If you find any bugs or have any suggestions for improvement then let me know in the comments.

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AirPrint and Google Cloud Print Inkjet Printer

Recently my old HP Inkjet printer stopped working so I needed to purchase a new printer. I don’t print all that often and I rarely print photos so I have fairly basic requirements so I don’t want to spend too much. With smartphones and tablets being so popular I wanted one that would support both iOS and Android. Apple supports printing with AirPrint and Google supports printing via Cloud Print. It is actually kind of difficult to find a printer that supports both AirPrint and Cloud Print. Each printing technology lists supported printers, but the lists are not complete and not cross referenced with each other. So you can find a printer that supports AirPrint, but not Cloud Print.

Another feature that I wanted was cheap 3rd party cartridges. I’m tired of paying $50 to HP just for one set of black and color cartridges. One set of ink cartridges costs more than the entire printer. The printer manufacturers say don’t use 3rd party ink. But I’ve used it in the past and it worked fine for my use. Even if the 3rd party ink breaks your printer, you can just buy a new printer that includes new cartridges so you haven’t lost much.

Here is the list of requirements for the new printer:

  1. Inexpensive to buy the printer
  2. Supports Google Cloud Print
  3. Supports Apple AirPrint
  4. Inexpensive Ink Cartridges

After looking around it seems that the only printer company that supports all of these requirements is Brother. The other major manufacturers all were missing one feature. On many printers they only supported both AirPrint and Cloud Print on their more expensive printers. Or the printer supported both printing technologies but there were no inexpensive ink cartridges.

I ended up purchasing the Brother MFC-J435. Setting it up was easy. It has an LCD screen so I was able to select my wireless network on the screen and type in the passkey on the numeric keypad. To enable AirPrint and Cloud Print you just need to use a web browser on your computer and connect to the IP Address of the printer (find the IP Address in the Settings menu of the printer). The printer has a scanner and auto document feeder so you can put a bunch of papers in the feeder and they will all be scanned automatically. The printer also has a fax feature if you still need to use faxes.

Another useful feature is the Brother iPhone app. The app connects to the printer automatically and you can print and scan with it. I haven’t tried printing because AirPrint is supported natively by the iPhone. But the scanning feature is pretty cool, you can insert the documents that you want scanned and hit scan in the app. All the pages are scanned and then combined into a PDF which you can then email to yourself.

As for the ink it is very cheap. At Amazon you can get 10 cartridges for about $7 with free shipping. I haven’t personally used this ink yet because I’m still on the original cartridges, but the pack has a 4 star review on Amazon which is really good for 3rd party ink.

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