Google Chrome v39 is for Avatars!
Google Chrome v39 is for Avatars!

Google Chrome v39 is for Avatars!

Version 39.0.2171.99 m

I recently upgraded from Google Chrome v38 to v39, and with it came improvements to Chrome’s already great support for multiple identities.


Ever since they fired their Chief Witch Hunter and Google+ Product Manager Vic Gundotra in April ’14, Google Inc. has become a lot more friendly toward our kind (avatars, pseudonymous identities).

After firing Gundotra Google didn’t quite apologize for creating the Nymwars and waging 3 years of destructive war against their users, but they did say of their former “Real Names Policy,”

Never mind.

Not quite an apology, still, a way to move forward. And at this point, a lot more inclusive, tolerant, and diversity celebrating than F******k.

Facilitating Transmedia Identities

Last year, Isabella Medici wrote a great post about Facilitating Alternate Identities for transmedia projects like Christa Forster’s 1850 Charla project. One of her key ideas was that if you have 2 or more identities to “support,” say “Vanessa Blaylock” and “Sporty Avatar,” then using multiple web browsers is an easy, but powerful way to keep all the webs you’re weaving organized.

With a single browser, your multiple identities would have to be logging in and out of Flickr, Twitter, WordPress, etc. Crazy! But if Vanessa uses, eg, Firefox, then why not download a copy of Opera for Sporty to use. There are lots of different web browsers available! This way Vanessa can be logged in to LinkedIn or Gmail on Firefox, and Sporty can be logged in to her own Gmail account without anyone having to log out.

Isabella noted that in addition to downloading lots of different browsers, like Comodo Dragon or Pale Moon, that Sea Monkey and Google Chrome were both quite nice for facilitating multiple identities right in the one browser. Sea Monkey handles this very nicely, but it does require you to quit the browser, and relaunch into the new, or alternate identity’s “partition.” What’s cool about Google Chrome is that you can have multiple identities running in their own instances of the browser at the same time. The way this worked in Google Chrome v38 was pretty cool. Now in v39 it’s even better… behold:

Simultaneous Instances Of (identities with) Google Chrome v39

Google Chrome v39 screen cap
In the upper-right of Chrome 39 you’ll notice a new box with your name in it. Clicking gives you the option to “Switch Person”
screen cap of Google Chrome v39
The Google Chrome v39 “Switch Person / Add Person” window
screen cap of Google Chrome v39
Login with gmail. In spite of Google+’s mean-spirited & destructive Nymwars, at this point Google products are excellent for facilitating alternate, pseudonymous, historical, and other identities. A gmail address is not only the key to Twitter, WordPress, and other accounts you might want, but it’s now the key to a separate “partition” of Chrome, where you can run a different identity and be logged into Facbook, LinkedIn, or whatever other sites you like, without having to log out of them from other “partitions” and identities.
screen cap of Google Chrome v39
Now in my “alternate identity” I can “switch person” back to the 1st, or add others. Note that both “partitions” are “active” at the same time. “Vanessa” could have 10 different tabs open in her Chrome… and “Sporty” could have her own 10 tabs open, and you wouldn’t have to log in or out of any of them. You could even tile the 2 partitions side-by-side on your screen and use them both at the same time.
screen cap of Google Chrome v39
If you ever want to “Log Out” of an Identity, you can “Remove This Person.” The browser setup will still exist somewhere in Googlespace, so if you relogin later, you seem to get some things back: bookmarks returned, but I was logged out of everything, in many but not all cases Chrome seemed to remember the passwords, etc.
screen cap of Google Chrome v39
You’ll get a big warning about “Deleting Data” (and it’s probably a good idea to double check that you actually know what your passwords are) but to me it’s really more like “Log Out” than “Delete.” If you’re on a shared computer, that identity won’t be accessible till you Log back in.
screen cap of Google Chrome v39
That’s it! You’ve now got easy access to 2 or more identities without having to log in and out of anything. You can stay logged in to your WordPress, Twitter, Google+, etc. Look in the upper-right of these 2 windows and you’ll see that both identities are up in their own browser “partitions” at the same time. And each could open as many tabs as you liked.
screencap of Google Chrome v39
I love the Admin Toolbar Menus WordPress plugin by Benbodhi Mantra. It’s the black stripe you see right under the Google Chrome bookmarks. When I’m logged into the “Vanessa” instance of Chrome and WordPress, which is pretty much always, I have those 2 handy rows for most of the things I want to access.

Chrome’s “Guest Mode” vs “Incognito”

From the perspective of someone who might have a fleshvatar and one or more avatar identities to support, the real power of Chrome 39 is in the super-convenient “Switch Person” feature. But in addition to established identities, Chrome also offers Guest Mode and Incognito for short term access.

If I understand them correctly, Incognito is when You want to go online, but want to be less tracked. Guest Mode is when someone else wants to use your computer.

Both Guest mode and Incognito mode are temporary browsing modes, but there are some basic differences between them.

Guest mode: A user in Guest mode does not leave any browsing history or cookies on the computer. In addition, they can’t see or modify the computer owner’s Chrome profile.

Incognito mode: You don’t leave browsing history and cookies on your computer, but you can still see your existing history, bookmarks, passwords, Autofill data, and other Chrome settings.

Important: Neither Incognito mode nor Guest mode makes you invisible on the web. Websites you visit, your employer, or your service provider can still see your browsing activity.

Just In Case: Google Update Group Policy settings

This probably won’t happen to you, but just in case…

ScreenCap showing Google Chrome update failure due to Google Update Group Policy
Update failed (error: 7)An error occurred while checking for updates: Google Chrome cannot be updated due to inconsistent Google Update Group Policy settings. Use the Group Policy Editor to set the update policy override for the Google Chrome Binaries application and try again; see for details.

As far as I know, Google Chrome on my Win7 desktop has been auto-updating since forever. But it wouldn’t auto, or manually, update from Chrome v38 to v39. I got the error message:

Update failed (error: 7)An error occurred while checking for updates: Google Chrome cannot be updated due to inconsistent Google Update Group Policy settings. Use the Group Policy Editor to set the update policy override for the Google Chrome Binaries application and try again; see for details.

Apparently Win7 has over 2,500 “Group Policies” which can be rewritten with the Group Policy Editor (gpedit.msc). But some Windows 7 editions (Home Premium, Home Basic and Starter) don’t come with Group Policy Editor. Only Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise and Ultimate editions come with Group Policy Editor installed.

My Win7 laptop auto-updated from Google Chrome v38 to v39 just fine, which is how I discovered the new Multiple Identity features. IDK what’s different on my Win7 desktop. Editing my Group Policies seemed a little over my head, and IDK what damage patching system files can do, but I didn’t really want to find out. For now I settled for uninstalling Chrome v38 and then installing v39.

This probably won’t happen to you. But just in case it does, there it is. And if you happen to know about fixing my Google Update Group Policy, please do leave a comment below.

Go Forth & Multiple Identify!

That’s it! I can’t guarantee that with multiple instances of Google Chrome v39, or with multiple different browsers, like Opera & Torch, you’ll never accidentally type a comment somewhere from the “wrong” identity – haha, that seems almost inevitable! 😛 But it should cut those mistakes down. And it should make the day-to-day facilitating of your favorite Avatars, Transmedia Characters, Historical Figures, and others, a whole lot easier to manage.

Do you manage more than 1 identity on your computer? How do you manage it? Could Google Chrome v39 help?

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