Category Archives: Firefox

Firefox 18 beta launches, faster JavaScript and Retina support



Mozilla may be suffering a bit lately thanks to the growth of the Chrome web browser, but they are still a popular choice for many computer users. They have also begun updating the browser at a much faster pace in order to keep pace with the competition. Those frequent updates don’t always result in cool new features, but the release today of the version 18 beta does bring some welcome new features.

Whenever a company updates their software I always tend to go first to the changelog so I can find out exactly what I am looking for. In this case I was surprised to find a couple of nice updates.

The first was a major inprovement to JavaScript by implementing the much anticipated IonMonkey engine. This should improve the display of web apps, games, and other JavaScript-heavy sites and services. The second was new support for Apple’s Retina displays. Beyond these two important changes, there are several other things that are notable.

Changelog

  • CHANGED: Performance improvements around tab switching.
  • DEVELOPER: CSS3 Flexbox implemented.
  • DEVELOPER: Support for new DOM property window.devicePixelRatio.
  • DEVELOPER: Support for @supports added.
  • DEVELOPER: Improvement in startup time through smart handling of signed extension certificates.
  • HTML5: Support for W3C touch events impemented, taking the place of MozTouch events.
  • FIXED: Disable insecure content loading on HTTPS pages (62178).
  • FIXED: Improved responsiveness for users on proxies (769764).

If you are already using the beta version of Firefox then you should receive this update automatically. If not, then head over to the Mozilla Beta Channel to make the switch. The final version will be released in January.


Mozilla Pushes 16.01 Update for Firefox



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.


Firefox OS Launching on ZTE Handsets Soon



Mozilla has been hard at work on a Firefox operating system that will power mobile devices, mostly of the lower-end variety.  The OS has been rumored to be launching first in Brazil in early 2013.  Now, hardware maker ZTE is rumored to be the first to get devices on the market, and they are expected very soon.

ZTE has several Android phones on the market currently, and the move to partner with Mozilla came as a bit of a surprise.  “We are trying to increase our efforts in coming up with our own operating system, while introducing products based on Android,” said ZTE spokesman David Dai Shu.”It’s all part of our wider plans to create a better balance of products using various operating systems. We won’t just rely on Android or Windows.”

With Android and iOS leading the market, and Windows Phone slowly making up ground, it will be extremely tough for Mozilla get any foothold, especially given that they are several months away from launch.  However, their attempt to aim at the low end of the market, potentially picking up those who currently use feature phones, may find a niche.


Firefox 4’s First 48 Hours



Firefox 4 was released a few days ago after what seemed like the most Beta versions a product has ever had (12 + the RC I think it was).  It had a lot to live up to since Firefox 3 is the record holder for the software with the most downloads in the first 24 hours – 8,002,530.  Plus, a week earlier, Microsoft released Internet Explorer 9 and did some strutting about their more-than-just-respectable 2.35 million.

The Mozilla blog just posted an interesting graphic depicting the numbers surrounding Firefox 4’s first 48 hours of life.  Among the numbers was the surprising fact that the high, but not record, download rate on day one (7.1 million) was surpassed on day 2 (8.75 million).  They also put some perspective on those numbers by pointing out such facts as the 48 hour average was 5,503 downloads per minute and the peak was 10,200 per minute.

If you haven’t yet installed it, then you can visit the Firefox download page and perhaps become part of the next Mozilla graphic.  I think they can rest easy that Ed Bott’s dire prediction can be written off for now – both Firefox 4 and IE9 are solid browsers that have a big place in the market.


First Look At Firefox 4.0 Beta 7



firefox logoIf you are using the  Firefox 4 Beta edition then you may have noticed a couple days ago that Beta 7 became available.  You may even have received it automatically.  If you didn’t then go ahead and download it.  I have been using it for a couple of days and I like what I have found so far.

The first thing you will notice is the speed.  It’s faster than any previous version of Firefox.  This is relative of course – all modern browsers are pretty quick.  Chrome is generally considered the fastest at the moment, but I think Beta 7 can, at least, match it.  According to Mozilla this is due to new graphics acceleration and the compiler, JagerMonkey.

There also seems to better support of Add-ons, which has always lacked in past Beta versions.  I only use a handful of add-ons, but all of them now work except Evernote Web Clipper.

As for graphical changes, I have only noticed one.  It’s minor, but I will mention it anyway.  And honestly I think it does provide a better look than Beta 6.  It’s the “loading” signal in the tabs.  I can’t really describe the prior animation, but here’s what the new one looks like.

But, I saved the best part for last.  and I need to temper it by pointing out that this version has only been available, and in use by me, for two days.  However, if you were using Beta 6 and experienced occasional problems with Flash crashing and web sites freezing then, at this moment, I can say those issues appear to have been resolved.  The problem wasn’t rampant either.  An occasional web page would show the Lego blocks in place of Flash and every once in a while, usually in Google Reader, the browser would freeze and I would have to open Task Manger to close it and then restart it.  For the past two days I have had neither of these problems though.

The bottom line is, if you’re using the latest stable release of Firefox 3 then upgrade if you are adventurous and a little bit tech savvy.  If you are using Beta 6 then upgrade ASAP.


5 Firefox Add-ons You Must Have



If you use Firefox as your primary browser then you’re probably familiar with extensions (or add-ons).  There are an almost endless number of them available, but here are five that I find indispensable and I add whenever I set up a new PC.

Xmarks

Xmarks is, by far, my number one Firefox extension.  It’s simple, works across all platforms, and all browsers (not just Firefox).  It backs up your bookmarks and saved passwords and allows you to easily add them to a new browser or PC.  It also supports multiple profiles – for instance I have a set of bookmarks for my desktop and laptop, but a separate set for my HTPC.

Evernote

Evernote is another of my favorites.  It’s great for taking notes – either by picture, text or verbally.  It’s compatible across multiple platforms and browsers, including all mobile operating system’s.  Save a note of any kind and it will sync online and be available anywhere else where you want to access it.

Download Helper

Download Helper is, per their web site:

DownloadHelper is also a free Firefox extension for downloading and converting videos from many sites with minimum effort.

It works very well for snagging  videos from multiple sites and it’s compatible with Windows, OS-X, and Linux.  It puts a simple icon in your Firefox toolbar and you can go from there.  I love browsing YouTube videos, saving them and then watching them via my HTPC on the big screen.

Web of Trust

Web of Trust is a great add-on that protects you from questionable links (yes, GNC has a perfect rating).  It puts an icon next to each result from your search as well as links on whatever wen site you are on.  Click the little icon and you will see the ratings for the particular site.  You can also add your own rating.  It gives a pretty darn good reference of what you are clicking on and how safe it is.

NoScript

NoScript will cause all sorts of problems when you start using it!  Sorry, but that needed to be said first.  You need to be prepared to have your favorite sites broken.  And, by favorite, I mean pretty much everywhere you go on the web.  But, you can add the sites you trust and make them fully operable again.  Simply right-click anywhere on the page and you’ll see an option for NoScript.


Firefox 4 Beta 4



Recently Mozilla released the Beta 4 version of Firefox 4.0.  Like all Firefox Betas in the past it will break your add-ons, but it also adds some REALLY cool new eye-candy.  The biggest additions are Panorama and Sync, but there’s also a slick new interface.

The first thing you’ll notice is the interface – specifically the toolbars.  It’s not vastly different and you won’t be lost, but it’s definitely different.  It’s cleaner and more modern and the tabs are in a different place.  It has a very “Windows 7-ish” type of interface.  I found the tabs being moved to a different location to be the toughest part to get used to.  At the far right of the tabs bar you will will find options to group your tabs and also to list all of your tabs.  If you work with lots of tabs, like I do, this is a great new feature.  The other toolbars are all there, just as you know them, but the icons are different and fewer.  That part will not slow anyone down and it really does look better.

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The next thing you will notice is what Mozilla is calling “Panorama”.  It’s essentially a Window’s 7 type view that shows all of your opens tabs when you hover over the Firefox icon in your Window’s toolbar.  It sounds simple, and it is, but it is also very useful.  Once you hover over the icon then you will have to choose which tab you want to click on.

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The last big feature in version 4 is called Sync.  You can actually download a Sync add-on for Firefox 3.5 and 3.6 here.  It allows you to encrypt and save your settings, bookmarks, passwords, and other cuntomizations so that you can not only restore them if you change computers, but also keep them the same across multiple PC’s and mobile devices.  You can set it up by clicking Tools and then Set Up Sync.

And that brings me to the add-ons.  As I said, Firefox betas frequently break these, but they are normally fixed quickly.  Sync is an obvious swipe at my favorite Firefox add-on, Xmarks, which has done all of this (except customizations) for a while now.  I set it up, but for now I consider it a backup solution in case Xmarks has a problem.  Until it’s been tested and retested I don’t want to trust my settings to it.  It’s an interesting feature though, and building it in to the browser puts Mozilla at the forefront, once again, in the browser battle.

As of this writing the Firefox add-on, Xmarks, has been updated to be compatible with 4.0, but most are still not there.

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Despite the lack of support for add-ons, which, as I said, is common in Firefox betas, this latest version is worth checking out.  And, add-ons are coming quickly.  The interface, with its aero-glass look, plays nicely in Windows 7.  Sync is cool and Panorama makes it especially worth the download.  You may not want to put it on your production machine quite yet – not because of stability issues because there aren’t any that I can see – but, because of the add-ons that you may need.  If you don’t rely on those, though, then go for it.

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