[Update Nov 15 2011] : Chrome Nanny is now Nanny for Google Chrome. It also has a new home. The link to Google Chrome extension gallery ishttps://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/cljcgchbnolheggdgaeclffeagnnmhno . Please spread the word !
Leech Block is one of my favorite Firefox extensions. When I made the switch to Google Chrome, the lack of Leech Block like Chrome extension was annoying. In one of my old blog post Two Chrome Extensions I wish Chrome had !! , I had mentioned that the two extensions I miss were Leech Block and one which can track my browsing habits.
I waited for quite some time for some one to make a Chrome extension and then decided to write it myself. Google has a good API documentation and tutorial – so coding was not that hard. In the process, I learned lot of interesting stuff – and my admiration for Chrome has only increased.
What Is Chrome Nanny
Chrome Nanny is a Leech Block like extension for Chrome. It allows you to say don’t allow me to go to a particular site during the time you specify. You can also limit the maximum time that you spend on a site. This means, that you can say you do not want to be allowed to go to facebook.com from 9-5. Even better, you can say don’t allow me to spend more than 1 hour during the time facebook is not blocked (12 AM -9AM, 5 PM – 12 AM). This is probably , the most common way Chrome Nanny will be used. Also you will also not be allowed to edit or delete a blocked URL during the time it is blocked.
If you want to check out the extension, please try it out at Chrome Nanny‘s Google extension gallery. If you want to read the instructions and its features, check out Instructions at Chrome Nanny – A Leech Block like extension for Chrome.
If you try to access a site during the time when it is blocked or after your daily quota is over, you will not be allowed to visit it. By default, Chrome Nanny will close the tab. If you like, you can also redirect the tab to go to some motivational site. For eg, I make my Chrome Nanny redirect to ocw.mit.edu. Whenever I see that ocean of knowledge, I get a guilty feeling and start to work again😉
I also added a feature to track the time I spend on some sites I commonly visit – digg, nytimes, hacker news etc. These are the sites, which I do not want to block , but I want to know how much time I spend on them. In Chrome Nanny, these sites are called White Listed Sites. You can add a site and the system will silently start tracking the time you spent on those sites.
Tags are another of my favorite feature. You can create tags to group URLs. For eg facebook and myspace may be in social networks, google reader and technorati in blogs etc. A tag contain multiple URLs and a URL can have multiple tags. Tags are most useful when you chart the time spent on each broad activity (like blogs, news, work etc ).
Chrome Nanny also has a basic charting system. It can provide three charts : Blocked Urls, White Listed Urls and Tags. Each of these can be drawn as a bar or pie chart.
Chrome does not have any easy way to determine if the Chrome tab/window is minimized. This means that it is hard to know that the user is not at the desk. For that, I have an maximum inactive time in General Options. For eg , if it is set to 5 minutes , and there is no activity in Chrome for 5 minutes, then Chrome Nanny stops tracking. In fact , it even gives back the 5 minutes !
If you want to know how much time left in your quota , you can always click on the Chrome Nanny’s icon to see the URLs blocked and allowed now. If an URL is allowed , then it also shows how much time left today too !
Comparison with Stay Focusd and Rescue Time
I noticed that there are two extensions that have functionality similar to Chrome Nanny. One is Stay Focusd and other is Rescue Time. Both are fine extensions. You may want to select the most appropriate extension based on your needs.
Stay Focusd has a single block time for a whole day and all the blocked URLs share this limit. In Chrome Nanny , each blocked URL has individual block time and max limits. In Leech Block parlance, all the Stay Focusd URLs form a single block set while in Chrome Nanny each URL is its own block set.
Chrome Nanny can do the job of Rescue Time partly too ! If you add the urls you want to track in White Listed URLs, then Chrome Nanny will count how much time you spent on each of them. Rescue Time on the other hand tries to track and analyze any url that you visit.
Also a special shout out to Suresh, Lokesh, Ashok (who also suggested the name !), Kripa, Divya and Arvi who helped me to test the extension and gave useful suggestions. Thanks a lot guys !
Do check out Chrome Nanny and tell me your opinion !
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