Subject: General Tech | December 26, 2012 - 04:34 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: mozilla, firefox, browser, Internet, 64-bit
A month ago Mozilla announced that it would no longer release 64-bit versions of its popular Firefox web browser due to a lack of resources. While the stable versions for Windows were 32-bit, nightly builds were available to enthusiasts that were 64-bit and could take advantage of more than 4GB of memory.
Mozilla developer Benjamin Smedberg stated that there was significant negative feedback from the community over the decision to axe 64-bit nightlies. While Mozilla has reaffirmed that they do not have the resources to support 64-bit builds, the developers are proposing a compromise that they hope will assuage users. In short, the Release Engineering team will continue to build 64-bit versions of the Firefox browser, but Mozilla will consider it a teir 3 build and the support is left up to the community.
Currently, the plan regarding 64-bit versions of Firefox involves a forced migration of existing 64-bit users to 32-bit versions via the automatic browser updates. Then, after the migration date, users that want the 64-bit version will need to go and download it again. Once installed, users will be informed that it is not officially supported software and they are to use it at their own risk. Click-to-play plugins will be enabled in the 64-bit builds while the crash reporter will be disabled. Win64 tests and on-checkin builds of the browser will be discontinued.
Interestingly, all browser testing by Mozilla will be done on the 64-bit edition of Windows 8. Yet they are only testing and supporting 32-bit versions of Firefox. The current situation is less than ideal as the x64 Firefox browsers will not be supported by Mozilla, but at least the software will still be available for those that need it. For now, Waterfox is an option for those that need to install a 64-bit browser based on Firefox.
Does Mozilla’s decision to stop supporting the 64-bit Firefox browser affect you? What do you think of the offered compromise?
Subject: General Tech | August 6, 2012 - 05:55 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: windows, webkit, security, safari for windows, safari, browser, apple
The Apple-developed Safari is one of the least popular webkit-based browsers on Windows. Even so, it still commands 5% marketshare (across all platforms), and that is a problem. You see, many sites are reporting that Apple has dropped support for Safari on Windows. Windows users will not get the update to Safari 6–the new version available to Mac OS X 10.6 and 10.7 Mountain Lion users. As well, it seems that Apple has removed just about every reference to ever having a Windows version of any Safari browser from its website.
Image Credit: MacLife
The issue is that the final version that Windows users are stuck with–version 5.1.7–has a number of documented security vulnerabilities that are never going to get patched by Apple. According to Maximum PC, there are at least 121 known security holes listed in Apple’s own documentation. And as time goes by, it is extremely likely that the number of unpatched security holes will increase. Running an outdated browser is not good security practice, and running a browser that is EOL and has known vulnerabilities is just asking for trouble.
While the number of PC Perspective readers running Safari for Windows is likely extremely small, I would advise that you be on the lookout next time you are doing tech support for your friends and relatives, and if they managed to get roped into using Safari thanks to Apple’s Itunes software updater convince them to move to a (dare I say better) more secure browser like Google’s Chrome, Opera, or Firefox. At least those are still getting updates, and some are even automatically done in the background.
Have you ever used Apple’s Safari for Windows browser? What would you recommend as the best alternative? Let us know in the comments below.
Subject: General Tech | December 30, 2011 - 11:42 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: mozilla, firefox, donations, browser
Mozilla, the company behind the popular open source Firefox web browser recently struck a quite lucrative deal with Google for providing the big G with a default search box and google search start page. Apparently, 900 million (over three years) is not enough for the company; however, as they have started asking for user donations of at least $10.
According to their new story page, "We believe the Web is a place where anyone can come to build their dreams." The non profit states in the accompanying video that they are more than just a web browser, they are a global community fighting to keep the web a good, innovative place. And that, they argue is why they need your support; to make the web a "force for good by making a donation today."
Personally, this feels like a cross between late night PBS broadcasts as a kid and Wikipedia's pleas for donations. Sure, if you are a big fan of Firefox it couldn't hurt to support them; however, I don't think they are going anywhere any time soon. What are your thoughts on this as a user?
Subject: General Tech | October 29, 2011 - 05:56 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: software, pdf, open source, mozilla, firefox, browser
One of the most useful features in Google’s Chrome web browser is the built in PDF reader. It is a feature that I use almost every day, and although I keep an install of Firefox’s Aurora browser as a backup I have yet to return to using Firefox as my main browser since first checking out Chrome.
For now though, the team has released PDF.js as a browser extension for the open source browser. In addition to the extension download, the source code is available on GitHub for anyone to view and edit.
PDF.js displaying a Dell service manual in PDF format.
As it is now, the PDF.js add-on rather basic, but is definitely off to a good start. You are able to navigate by sections or page thumbnails accessible by a mouse-over pop-up menu on the left of the window. Along the top are buttons for previous and next page, navigating to a specific page, zooming in and out, downloading, printing, and searching the PDF document.
During some informal testing using a 94 page Dell service manual in PDF form, scrolling was smooth enough until hitting a new page upon which there was a bit of lag. Navigating to specific pages was rather quick, however.
The PDF reader is off to a good start and I may have one more reason to switch back to Mozilla’s browser soon enough. What do you guys and gals think about built in PDF support, is it something you find useful during your daily browsing? If you're interested in checking it out for yourself, the extension is available for download here. Simply download this "pdf.js.xpi" file and install it (choose the Firefox or Aurora executable for installation if Windows does not assign the .xpi extension to Firefox automatically) using Firefox. Now navigate to a PDF file on any webpage to have it automatically open using PDF.js.
Subject: General Tech | October 27, 2011 - 12:33 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Internet, google, chrome, browser
Google has been playing around with the "new tab" page in the beta and development builds of Chrome to streamline the interface, and the company has recently rolled one such update into the latest stable release of the popular browser.
The new tab page is the page that you are presented with when first firing up Chrome or hitting the new tab button(s). The new interface is much more streamlined than the old one, and has rearranged several items. The old interface showed everything all on one canvas; however, the updated new tab page has separated the most visited tabs from the Chrome Apps which now have their own page. Users are able to navigate between the most visited tabs page and applications page by clicking on the tabs at the bottom of the screen or moving the mouse to the side of the browser window and using the arrows that appear upon mouse-over.
Further, where the recently visited/closed web pages horizontal list resided below the most visited tabs on the old interface, in the new interface Google has decided to hide the recently used list. It can now be accessed by clicking on a menu item in the bottom right corner of the browser window.
Google has also made it a bit easier to organize applications. You can now click and drag applications around to organize them. When clicking and holding an application, a new recycle bin option appears in the lower right corner of the window that will allow you to remove applications. Removing is now a matter of clicking and dragging items into the "Remove from Chrome" area. This remove / uninstall feature is also available when clicking and holding on the most visited tabs on the tabs page. Finally, the various icons have been given a slight makeover and now are presented with a shiny mouse-over effect.
Google has provided a quick video overview of the interface changes.
Personally, after playing around with the new interface for a few hours now I prefer it to the old way of doing things as it allows for larger "most visited" icons due to having a greater percentage of the Chrome window area available to it (as opposed to the old interface where it was a bit crowded and things tended to fight to attention). Further, I rarely use the applications, so having them hidden away in their own section is okay with me. It definitely seems to have been (at least slightly) by tablets and touch interfaces; however, unlike Netflix's recent tablet inspired redesign i actually like the improvements Google has made. What are your thoughts on the improvements?
Subject: General Tech | September 19, 2011 - 01:34 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Catch more on both of these stories and their history at The Register.
"Google has officially launched Native Client – a means of securely running C and C++ code inside a browser – as part of a new stable version of its Chrome browser that activates this rather controversial sandboxing technology.
Mountain View turned on Native Client, aka NaCl, in the Chrome beta last month, and on Friday, it debuted in the new Chrome 14, a stable release that also includes Google's new Web Audio API."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- M-Lab (Thanks DigitalKitty)
- Intel extends its influence beyond the CPU realm @ The Register
- Rambus shows off how to sniff crypto keys @ SemiAccurate
- Windows 8 and the marginalization of geeks @ The Tech Report
- UNIVAC: the troubled life of America's first computer @ Ars Technica
- Essential Open Source Tools For Windows Admins @ Slashdot
- This Is What Started AMD's Open-Source Strategy @ Phoronix
- Testing EXT4 & Btrfs On A Serial ATA 3.0 SSD @ Phoronix
- Gamefest 2011 Rundown @ XSReviews
- From iQ2011: HTC Flyer 10.1 Hands-on @ t-break
- From iQ 2011: A Tsunami of Data @ t-break
- IDF 2011 Recap and Announcing Pipeline @ AnandTech
- From iQ 2011: AllJoyn connects devices easily @ t-break
- Contest For Three NZXT Havik 140 CPU Coolers @ Legit Reviews
- New Quiz: Cooling @ Hardware Secrets
- The TR Podcast 96: IDF and inside the second
- Computing on Demand: C.O.D. Giveaway: Sentey Burton GS-6500B
Subject: General Tech | August 26, 2011 - 01:33 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: mozilla, browser, firefox
We reported earlier that Mozilla would be removing the version number from the About page due to a posting by Asa on the bugzilla page; however, designer Alex Faaborg has come forth to clear up the issue with the statement that “there are no plans to adjust the version number. It will remain in its current place in the about window, and we are going to continue with the current numbering scheme.”
That statement was in the mozilla.dev.usability group, which you can read here. Further in the thread, Alex notes that the confusion began from within the Mozilla UX design group, and Asa defended the design team with his posting on what he thought the final decision was. If the UX team had been playing a joke on Asa, it would have been perfectly executed, says Alex “that’s what I mean when I say significant confusion.”
With development that is done in public, some confusion is to be expected seems to be the sentiment of the thread. All said and done, are you happy to hear that the versioning will remain the same (as of now), or did you want to see them removed from the about screen?
Subject: General Tech | August 16, 2011 - 05:05 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: software, mozilla, firefox, browser
A new bug report on Mozilla's Bugzilla website indicates that the versioning of the popular web browser will be hidden from the users in future builds. Specifically, bug 678775 was posted late last week by Asa Dotzler, and addresses the version number on Firefox's About page. The bug report recommends removing the specific version number in favor of a more general phrase such as "Firefox checked for updates 20 minutes ago, you are running the latest release," according to Asa. Firefox would then, ideally, check for an update whenever the About window was opened, to keep the update message current and the user running the latest build.
The current Firefox About page where version numbers are still listed.
While the specific version number will be removed from the About page, users would still be able to dig into the browser's less well known areas, such as the about:support configuration page, to see it.
On one hand, Firefox's new rapid-release schedule will make versioning a less efficient method of, well, versioning; however, the About page of an application has traditionally been the spot to find the version number, and removing the version number from what is essentially a version number information page seems counter productive. Firefox will likely be on version 7 before the end of the year, and considering version 5 was just released in June, the argument that version numbers are getting out of hand has some merit. With that said, a simplified message to users that they are, in fact, running the latest version is a good thing to implement, but does it necessitate no longer displaying the version number?
Personally, I enjoy knowing the specific version number of the applications I run, but I'm curious what you guys think; should the version number be buried?
Subject: General Tech | August 2, 2011 - 11:43 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: firefox, chrome, browser
The Firefox UX development team recently posted a presentation showing off some of the latest design and UI (user interface) improvements for the popular Firefox web browser by Mozilla. While not all of the design choices shown in the presentation will make it into the Aurora or other beta builds, they do indicate that Mozilla is at least considering mixing up their traditional interface for upcoming releases. The image below is one of the screenshots included in the presentation, and at first glance it may be mistaken for Google's Chrome browser. However, upon closer inspection it becomes clear that Mozilla have not simply copied Chrome's minimalist design but they have gone with a similar tab design, continued with the transparency that is already present in certain builds and sprinkled some Mozilla flair on top to create one possible look for a future Firefox browser.
Some other proposed changes of the design include a new menu that is icon based versus word lists and is located on the right side of the window as well as an improved full screen experience that seeks to give web apps the screen real estate they need. A new home tab and add-on manager interface are also proposed changes. As shown in the screenshot above, tabs that are not in focus, have their backgrounds become fully transparent so that only the text is visible. This definitely helps the main tab stand out and may help in reducing the amount of distraction users face when having multiple tabs open.
While these are only proposed changes, it is apparent that Mozilla are planning some kind of major UI overhaul if they can get the users to accept it, and the next major release may well see a slightly more chrome-esque appearance with that special Firefox flair. What are your thoughts on the proposed designs, do they seem likely? If you are still using Firefox, what features of other browsers would you like to see Firefox emulate?
With Google reporting daily Android device activations upward of 550,000 devices a day, the rapid growth and ubiqutity of the platform cannot be denied. As the platform has grown, we here at PC Perspective have constantly kept our eye out for ways to assess and compare the performance of different devices running the same mobile operating systems. In the past we have done performance testing with applications such as Quadrant and Linpack, and GPU testing with NenaMark and Qualcomm's NeoCore product.
Today we are taking a look at a new mobile benchmark from Qualcomm, named Vellamo. Qualcomm has seen the need for an agnostic browser benchmark on Android, and so came Vellamo. A video introduction from Qualcomm's Director of Product Management, Sy Choudhury, is below.