Geek News: Latest Technology, Product Reviews, Gadgets and Tech Podcast News for Geeks


Firefox adds new “health” feature

Posted by Alan at 10:07 AM on May 14, 2013

logoNo, Mozilla is not going to diagnose your sinus infection, but it plans to help with the health of your Firefox web browser. It is not currently in the stable build, but the company is testing this new feature for future builds.

The Firefox Health Report is a new system Mozilla has built to log basic health information about your browser (time to start up, total running time, number of crashes, etc.). The company claims “the initial report is pretty simple, but it will evolve and grow in the coming months. You’ll be able to use it as a window into many aspects of your browser’s performance and health, both in absolute terms, as well as in comparison to the global Firefox user base”.

The health report is enabled by default in Firefox but, if you don’t want your browser health information added to the pool then you can disable data sending either from the report itself, or from the Firefox preferences window.

The browser already blocks insecure and unstable plugins, restores tabs and content after crashes and detects phishing and malware sites before they can attack. This new feature just takes the service to the next level.

Firefox changes it’s status with Facebook, now “in a relationship”

Posted by Alan at 11:25 AM on December 3, 2012

Mozilla is becoming more social. Today the Firefox web browser maker announced full integration with Facebook Messenger. The app works much the same as any Firefox add-on, but it has been built on some brand new technology.

Messenger for Firefox utilizes the new Social API from Mozilla. Users will need to be running the latest version of Firefox, but seeing as the browser generally updates users automatically, that should not be a problem. The extension doesn’t come with the latest version though — you will still need to visit the above link to install it.

The add-on will allow you to chat with friends and view status updates from whatever web page you are on, so no more clicking back to that tab that you keep open while you are surfing. And, Mozilla promises that this is just the beginning.

“Today’s Facebook integration is just the start of making Firefox more social. We’ll soon add support for more features and multiple providers.”

Where will the browser maker go next? My best guess would be Twitter, but it’s likely the company will look at all social platforms in an effort to keep, and grow, market share.

Mozilla Pushes 16.01 Update for Firefox

Posted by Alan at 2:00 PM on October 11, 2012

Yesterday Mozilla took the unprecedented step of pulling down a version of Firefox and warning those who had already installed it to stop using the browser.  The move came after a rather bad security flaw was found in the software that would allow a malicious site to potentially be able to determine which websites users had visited and obtain access to the URL or URL parameters.

The company quickly pushed a fix for the Android version of the web browser, but took until today to issue a similar patch for the Windows version of Firefox.  Mozilla has now made Firefox version 16.01 available for download and those who have the browser installed should receive an automatic update upon the next launch.

While it was perhaps a bit of an embarrassing escapade, the company did work fast to fix the issue.  The flaw was less of an actual security threat and more of a privacy concern, but it was an issue that still needed to be addressed quickly.  You can head over to Mozilla to grab the update if you didn’t receive it automatically.

World Wide Web Turns 19 Today

Posted by Alan at 8:35 AM on April 30, 2012

Okay, that headline is a bit misleading because World Wide Web, or W3, is actually older than 19, but on April 30, 1993 it officially entered open-source.  That was probably the biggest open source project in history and it was instituted by the “father of the internet”, Tim Berners-Lee while working at CERN in Switzerland.

Berners-Lee, in 1989, wrote the original proposal to use hypertext to “link and access information of various kinds as a web of nodes in which the user can browse at will”.  When the project was released to the public domain on this day in 1993 the official document announcing it referred to it as “a global computer networked information system”  It went on to state that “CERN’s intention in this is to further compatibility, common practices, and standards in networking and computer supported collaboration”.

The original browser, simply called “World Wide Web” is still available for download today.  The file size is measured in kilobytes, as opposed to today’s browsers which are many times that size.

Adobe BrowserLab 1.6.4

Posted by Alan at 6:05 PM on October 7, 2011

Given the people who read this blog, as well as write for it, I doubt I am a minority when I say I have, and use, multiple web browsers on my computers.  At any given time you can find Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Chrome on my PC’s.  I haven’t yet succumbed to adding Safari or Opera, or any of the lesser-known flavors, but I am a regular on the big three.

Web developers are a whole different story.  They need to check and verify everything they do in every browser that has any type of user-base.  Not to mentions other applications like Flash.  There is an easier way than installing and updating all of these, though.

Today Adobe announced the latest version of BrowserLab – 1.6.4.  BrowserLab allows you to test web sites and web apps within the application against all of the major browsers, plus Flash.  The latest version of BrowserLab adds support for the following applications.

  • Chrome 14 was added (Windows), and Chrome 11 was removed
  • Firefox 7 was added (Mac OS X and Windows), and Firefox 4 was removed
  • Safari was updated to 5.1 (Mac OS X)
  • Flash Player was updated to 10.3.183.10 (Mac OS X and Windows)

They keep it up-to-date, but it’s generally a bit behind browser releases.  Plus, they are promising Flash 11 (already available) in the next version.  Still, it’s much easier than trying to manage all of this yourself.  If you develop apps and don’t know about this yet, then you will want to head over to Adobe BrowserLab to check it out.

Google Releases Chrome Beta 15

Posted by Alan at 5:56 PM on September 23, 2011

Google has released the latest beta version of their popular web browser, Chrome.  Number 15 (for those keeping count) has some real changes – much more than some new versions, which have been simply bug fixes.  This comes within days of Chrome 14 hitting the stable channel.

Of course, the changes have become fewer because the browser has matured.  Over time, though, we have seen it take shape as more of an operating system in a window, as opposed to just a web browser.  That makes sense because of the development of Chrome OS and the introduction of the first “Chromebook” computers.  And, if Android is an indicator, then we better watch out for when the Chrome OS really gets going.

The biggest change in Chrome 15 is the New Tab page.  It’s been completely redesigned to better allow users to optimize their tabs and launch multiple pages.  According to the official Google announcement, “Your apps, bookmarks, and most visited sites now appear in three different sections on the page. You can flip between these different sections by clicking the section labels at the bottom of the page or the arrows at the side of the page. Chrome will remember the last section you flipped to and return to it when you open a new tab.”

The second big change will probably benefit users the most.  Previously, when a new version of an app was available for installation, it would direct the user back to the Chrome Web App Store to download and install it.  Now, “trusted partners” can allow users to install updates on-the-fly with no redirects.

These changes could be tempting for many users, and many potential Chromebook buyers.  They are certainly making my eye wonder from my trusty Firefox browser.  I have Chrome installed, but I can’t tear myself away from Firefox just yet…  However, that Asus Chromebook I have been eying is looking a little bit more tempting today…

You can get the Chrome 15 Beta here.

BBC Beta Homepage for the Post-PC Era

Posted by Andrew at 7:40 AM on September 21, 2011

The BBC is embracing the post-PC world with a reworked homepage at beta.bbc.co.uk. Here’s what it looks like on my TouchPad.

The black arrows on either side slide the screen through three other views. It’s a little bit reminiscent of how the BBC’s iPlayer displays programmes on my Bluray player, which isn’t entirely unsurprising. Some of the other features, such as setting your location, aren’t yet working but will be fixed before this version becomes the standard interface.

Compare this with the current mobile version of the site and you’ll see the change.

The BBC’s homepage was probably due for a refresh anyway, but I think it’s fairly telling that the new page is going to look the way it does. One can only assume that the BBC has stats on the web browsers being used to visit their site and they show the trend towards tablets and mobile devices. Is this the post-PC era with touch now driving the user interface, rather than keyboard and mouse?

Carbyn – An HTML5 OS

Posted by Andrew at 2:19 PM on September 20, 2011

There’s been a great deal of speculation in the blogosphere regarding a new entrant into the apps-that-run-anywhere competition. Called Carbyn, it seems to be an HTML5-based OS and app store. If you are struggling to see how this is a good thing, most modern browsers support HTML5, so you can setup and use Carbyn from almost any computer or tablet that has an Internet connection. No worrying about Windows, OS X, Linux…you just get on and do what you want to do.

The London, Ontario-based company is holding its cards fairly close to its chest and is using social media to spread the word. TechCrunch managed to get a sneak peak and point out that while comparisons with Google’s Chrome app store are inevitable, it’s different in that Carbyn is an OS. Chrome apps run within the browser, Carbyn HTML5 apps run within the Carbyn desktop which runs within the browser.  Facebook is also expected to get in the HTML5 app action with its Project Spartan, so it’s an interesting space to watch.

Carbyn is using social media and word-of-mouth to good advantage. While you can sign up for an invite to join Carbyn on their website, you’ll get your invite faster, if you get your friends to also sign up for an invite. So if you are interested, please use this Carbyn link to boost my standing. I’m shameless and I’ve fallen for their cheap trick…

And yes, Carbyn appears to have Angry Birds….

Smashing Magazine’s 5th Birthday

Posted by Andrew at 8:12 AM on September 13, 2011

Smashing Magazine is celebrating its fifth birthday and as a wee treat, has prepared a “Best of Smashing Magazine” ebook and is giving it away free. The articles are all about web design, Photoshop, typography and user interfaces (or the user experience as it seems to be called now).

It’s no lightweight either - there are 409 pages of beautifully prepared material packed with information and examples. The first article, “30 Usability Issues”, makes interesting reading even if you aren’t a web designer. By being more educated about design, as a consumer you can be more aware and critical of websites and other media. Did you know that the Macintosh logo is an example of the Law of Pragnanz? No, neither did I but you’ll have to read the article to find out what it means.

Other articles include, “Setting Up Photoshop for Web and iPhone Development”, “What Font Should I Use?” and “10 Principles of Effective Web Design”. There’s the occasional overlap between the articles but it’s never repetition for the sake of it.

The ebook is available from iTunes or for .pdf, .mobi and .epub formats, direct from Smashing Magazine. Warning – it’s 55 MB download as it contains all three versions of the ebook.

Microsoft Wants to Kill Off Internet Explorer

Posted by Andrew at 5:10 PM on March 14, 2011

Internet Explorer 6, that is. In 2011, IE6 will be 10 years old and to celebrate, Microsoft has decided to kill it off.  Not before time frankly.

Surprisingly, IE6 still has a worldwide market share of 12%, though this fell in the last year from 21%, so Microsoft’s target is to get IE6′s share down to 1% or less. And to publicise this, Microsoft has setup  an Internet Explorer 6 Countdown website which monitors use and provides some interesting facts and figures about the use of IE6 round the world.

For example, the IE6′s share of the browser market in China is 34.5% with South Korea at 24.8%. China’s use represents nearly half (5.9%) of the global use on its own. At the other end, usage in Finland and Norway is down to 0.9% and 0.7% respectively, which is where Microsoft wants it to be. The USA and UK are at 2.9% and 3.5%. Looking back at the peak of its popularity in 2002 and 2003, IE6 accounted for 90% of the browser market.

Microsoft is encouraging organisations to put a banner on their website that’s only visible to IE6 users and to stop supporting the browser. There are few big names on the list such as msn and CNET.

If you know anyone who is still using IE6, encourage them to upgrade to something more modern. Both they and the web will thank you for it.