Till Zier

My Top 10 Google Chrome Extensions -or- How to put your browser on steroids

Till Zier » My Top 10 Google Chrome Extensions

Google Chrome has become the most popular and arguably best browser on the web. But your browsing experience may become even more powerful when you add certain Chrome extensions. Here are the ten best extensions I don’t want to miss in my Chrome anymore. The best part: they’re all free.

1. uBlock Origin – No ads, no malware, more privacy

I’m stunned over and over again when friends of mine notice that there are no ads on my computer. That is when I realize that for most people it is not common at all to use an ad blocker. Fair enough – many websites make their money through advertisement – but I don’t care for those ads. They don’t entice me to buy new products. They simply annoy and distract me. So, in my opinion I am not hurting the companies paying to advertise, anyway.

Privacy is an issue, too. I don’t want to be retargeted with stupid amazon banners on any other website just because I was searching for a product on amazon.com a couple of days ago. There is no “targeted” targeting, yet and maybe there never will be. But even if you don’t want to block ads or don’t care about those trackers, you should use an ad blocker, because it blocks malicious domains and scripts. Still not convinced, click here.

The most popular ad blockers are AdBlock and AdBlock Plus. You should not follow the crowd. Far more superior is uBlock Origin, it has the fastest page load time and uses less memory and CPU for rendering, cf. source 1 and source 2.

Chrome ad blocker combined scores

How do various ad blockers perform?
Source: https://www.raymond.cc/blog/10-ad-blocking-extensions-tested-for-best-performance/3/

2. SearchPreview – Google search with images

This extension is very simple but effective. SearchPreview shows preview images (thumbnails) of web sites within Google’s search result pages. So you see a preview image of every search result before you click.

I love this because I am able to scan and process an image’s information much faster than text. Since I search on Google a lot this is pretty convenient and saves me a lot of time, too.

SearchPreview search results example

What your Google search will look like

3. Exposure New Tab – A beautiful image in every new tab

Since I’m a keyboard power user, I have no use for Chrome’s default new tab page, where you are supposed to click with the mouse on thumbnails of your most visited sites. That’s why I use the Exposure New Tab extension. Once installed, you’ll see a beautiful photo every time you open a new tab.

There are several quite similar extension, e.g. Earth View from Google EarthGoogle Art ProjectFlickr Tab and 500px Photo New Tab but Earth View and Google Art get boring after some time and the photos from Flickr and 500px can’t catch up with the high quality of Exposure.

Exposure new tab example

Opening a new tab will never be the same again 🙂

4. Imagus – Enlarge images on mouse over

How often have you seen an image on the internet which was too small so you had to click on it to look at it properly? As a product guy who has a keen interest in usability and user guidance, I just don’t like to do so if there are better possibilities.

That’s why you should use Imagus. You lazily hover with your mouse cursor above the image and you see an enlarged version of it. Awesome!

5. Clipular – Next level screenshotting

So you want to take a screenshot and send it to a friend real quick, Clipular is the weapon of your choice. You hit the hotkey to capture your screen and the permalink to the screenshot is auto-copied to your clipboard. Easy as that.

There are many crappy screenshot extensions out there, and many many users have them installed. Don’t ask me why.

These features make Clipular the best screenshot capture extension out there:

  • Annotations
  • Screenshot history
  • Auto-snap to edges
  • Full page screenshots
  • Permalinks for sharing
  • Searchable images
  • Google Drive integration

6. Papier – Simple note taking

Do you need a simple, clean, and distraction-free way to take notes or make a to-do list? With Papier all you have to do is to open a new tab and write down your thoughts or rearrange your former records.

Watch this short video to see what I am talking about:

7. RemoveCookiesForSite – Delete cookies with one click

When you click on the icon of the RemoveCookiesForSite extension, all cookies for the current site and this is very important for me – only – for the current site will be deleted. If you do a lot of testing this comes in pretty handy.

8. Clear Cache – Delete your cache with one click

With Clear Cache you can quickly clear all cache and browsing data with a single click of a button without any confirmation dialogs, pop-ups or other annoyances. Again, this is a great help for web development and testing.

9. Buffer – Easy social media sharing

I want to share links, pictures and videos to my LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook as easily as possible. With the Buffer extension, I can fill up my posting queue for all networks at once. Buffer takes care of everything else, e.g. optimizing my posting schedule based on the number of times I chose to post per day or making sure my posts are sent out even when I’m asleep.

Buffer extension overlay

An example of the overlay that opens when you click the Buffer button

10. Start a Fire – Show a badge on curated content

Start A Fire lets you add recommended content to any external link from your browser. I use it to show a backlink to my blog within the curated content I share on social media. There is an automatic integration with Buffer for all queued posts, too.

In the beginning, I got an incredible CTR of somewhat below 20%. Nowadays the CTR is dropping below 14%, maybe because my followers got used to it or more and more people are using this service? But who cares, 14% is still a fantastic value, isn’t it?

Start A Fire example

This badge pops up when somebody clicks on one of my curated posts


Wisdom of the Crowd: Wikipedia’s hoax hunters strike back after more than ten years

Till Zier » Wisdom of the Crowd: Wikipedia's hoax hunters strike back after more than ten years

I still remember when I used to study in college that our profs didn’t allow us to use Wikipedia as a scientific source. I guess nowadays this is no problem anymore?

Anyway, the argument was that because of the user-generated content anyone could manipulate articles on Wikipedia. Of course, there have been several studies about the accuracy of Wikipedia and comparisons between its former rival Encyclopædia Britannica, but those are pretty boring reads IMHO. Just for the sake of completeness you can dig deeper into this here and here.

But is it really that simple to change an article on Wikipedia? Anybody who ever tried to change an article for fun has experienced that the change didn’t last long. But those are clumsy attempts from amateurs. How well do the editors hunt down sophisticated attacks by people who really try hard to infiltrate false information into Wikipedia?

That’s what I asked myself when I stumbled upon this article by Kim Renfro and Gus Lubin which gives an excellent in-depth look into the stunning work of Wikipedia’s hoax hunters. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did. For the complete list of all busted hoaxes click here.

BTW: What actually does concern me are not the hoaxes on Wikipedia but the hoaxes I see every day on my Facebook timeline, shared by people who do not know how to check and evaluate the reliability of a source/link. Sadly, this is getting worse every day. Have you experienced this phenomenon, too?


Mobile SEO: Ranking #1 is 3x more valuable than position #2

Till Zier » Mobile SEO: Ranking #1 is 3x more valuable than position #2

Ryan Heuser from the SEO agency seoClarity analyzed the differences between CTRs on mobile and desktop devices. This impressive study is one of its kind compared to the sheer amount of data and so far the only one on mobile CTR, too.

What did seoClarity do? They took over 2 billion impressions with over 2.68 million clicks on over 2.2 million unique keywords from their Google Webmaster Tools data to extract significant insights.

The results stunned me. Everybody knows the emerging importance of mobile, but I would have never thought that there is such a huge difference between desktop and mobile devices. Have a look at the charts below to see what I mean. You can read the full study here, too.

Chart: CTR desktop

Source: http://www.seoclarity.net/mobile-desktop-ctr-study-11302/

Chart: CTR mobile

Source: http://www.seoclarity.net/mobile-desktop-ctr-study-11302/

What does this mean for your SEO?

  • First, ranking on position 1 is key and with mobile traffic increasing every year, will become more and more crucial for your CTR.
  • Second, you should choose your keywords wisely and maybe consider to shift your focus to long tail keywords with less competition to get a higher ranking.


Growth Hacking for Wisdom: How to learn from Twitter direct messages

Till Zier » Growth Hacking for Wisdom: How to learn from Twitter direct messages

Here at Social Trademark we are still a small startup, there is no marketing team. It’s basically just me and my growth hacking pal Marc Lilienthal. A couple of weeks ago we were experimenting on our Twitter accounts with direct messages that we might want to setup for some of our clients in the near future.

Most Twitter users who methodically (and often automatically) welcome their new followers with a direct thank you message are aiming for a lead.

This results in spammy and irritating messages such as

Hello {first_name}, Thank you for following!

or something like

I am a {subject_area} consultant, check out my homepage {website_url} and chat me up!

I gave it some thought and said to myself – you can do better! So I have been approaching my new Twitter followers with this direct message:

 Hey {first_name}, thx for the follow 🙂

I was wondering – what are your goals for 2016?

Since I think a lot of my personal and professional goals, I was plain curious what other people’s goals might be. Of course, I wanted to get some traction with my new followers, too.

These were the best answers to my question:

To chew bubblegum and kick ass. And as of now, I am almost out of bubblegum.

Can’t tell you, just signed an NDA.

To unfollow you after that stupid message.

My goal is to fund $1M. I’m not sure how, but I’ve gotten this far with no team.

Goals? Just one: I am writing a book.

Too many 😀

Hi thank you too ?, my goals ,well to write ,learn French and just get by . Thank you so much for the follow too and I hope you’re having a lovely day ?

I will only tell you about side goals. And this is why: https://www.ted.com/talks/derek_sivers_keep_your_goals_to_yourself

To plan 2017 ?

My goal is to still be alive at the end of it, Till. ?

To leave peace and happiness were ever I go

Find the prince charming and get 3 kids! ?

Goals: ask better questions in all situations and get better at being a husband, father and sales leader.

Goals for 2016? What a great query. Simply put: inform, challenge, be challenged, and grow. Why do you ask?

My goal for 2016 is to inspire

Goals? Do everything better than last year!

Right now, to wrap up today, and get to #ViralChat in about 3 minutes. Are you going?

What do you want to ask your new Twitter followers and, more importantly, what are your goals for 2016?



Update from 06/13/2016

First: Thank you very much for sharing this post on social media and all the positive replies and feedback I got. It seems as if many of you got inspired by my post – and that is the greatest accomplishment for me. I am so happy about that. Thx!!

Second: Since many of you asked me if those were really the best answers and if there weren’t any more complex or detailed replies to my direct message – of course, there were but since they were all private messages and the composer had no idea that I might use them for my blog post and I didn’t want to intrude on someone’s thoughts or privacy, I only published those answers which were the wittiest, cheeky or funny and could draw no conclusion to their composer.

Slack’s valuation measured per user is ridiculous

Till Zier » Slack's valuation measured per user is ridiculous

Slack is the fastest-growing corporate messaging app right now and with a valuation of whopping $2.8 billion a legit member of the elite Unicorn Club.

Quartz columnist Alice Truong broke down this valuation on a per user basis and figured out that each of Slack’s users is worth $2,545. No other tech company has such a high per user valuation. LinkedIn is the runner-up but far behind with a valuation of $282 per user. For further details click here.

The Art of Smiling: Learn to use the most powerful gesture in the world

Till Zier » The Art of Smiling: Learn to use the most powerful gesture in the world

For quite some time I’m trying to condition myself to smile more often. The positive effects have been scientifically proven. As a matter of fact it is not easy to adopt new behavioral patterns and perform them unconsciously, but with time I made some progress and it really helped me to become a happier person. Maybe you should try it out, too?!

You can read further details on the power of smiling in these two posts:

And you should definitely watch Ron Rutman‘s 7-minute TED Talk on this topic:


To get a job at Facebook you need to answer these tough interview questions

Till Zier » To get a job at Facebook you need to answer these tough interview questions

Maya Kosoff from Business Insider UK has compiled a top list of the most difficult interview questions recent candidates had to answer to get a job at Facebook.

Besides some really tough discipline-specific questions there are quite a few smart and creative ones. Have a look at the entire 29 questions here.

I would’ve been keen on the answers to these questions:

“I was asked what I was least proud of on my resume.”
– Media Solutions Specialist candidate –

“If you were an animal what kind would you be and why?”
– User Operations Analyst candidate –

“How would you design a simpler TV remote control?”
– Product Designer candidate –

“If you were going to redesign an ATM machine, how would you do it?”
– Product Designer candidate –

“How would you build Facebook for blind people?”
– Product Manager candidate –

“Should Facebook continue to add features or rely on 3rd party apps?”
– Product Designer candidate –

Source: http://uk.businessinsider.com/facebook-interview-questions-2015-10


Eric Schmidt tells his inside story about his years as Google CEO

Till Zier » Eric Schmidt tells his inside story about his years as Google CEO

In an entertaining talk at Stanford University, Eric Schmidt gave an in-depth look behind the scenes of his term of office at Google. Besides funny anecdotes about mere chance, technical and organizational obstacles, HR strategies and Google’s future as Alphabet he tells several more details about his legacy and the history of one of the most influential companies in our digital age.

Chris Yeah was so kind to write down a summary of the interview. These paragraphs caught my attention:

“Great products happen when people build a product for themselves.”

“In all my issues at Google, I knew I had no idea what to do, but I knew that I had the best team ever assembled to figure out what to do.”

“The people that you hire make your culture. We’d hire people who were special in some way.”

“So we came up with a new rule — if someone is really, really smart, hire them anyway.”

“We never stop hiring engineers; properly deployed, they can always generate enormous returns above their salary.”

Source: https://medium.com/cs183c-blitzscaling-class-collection/cs183c-session-8-eric-schmidt-56c29b247998#.a23p0oyac

You can watch the full 1h 22min interview on YouTube: