Firefox versus Chrome; C++ versus JavaScript ... pouring salt on the browser war

Subject: General Tech | September 19, 2011 - 01:34 PM |
Tagged: native client, NaCl, javascript, firefox, chrome, c++, browser

The Browser War is about to heat up again as Google Chrome's native client is released at the same time that Intel is releasing updates to JavaScript to allow for parallel processing

Chrome's salty poke at browsers is to introduce a way to run C and C++ in a protected sandbox to allow a secure way to run the code on the web, similar to how Java and JavaScript are currently dealt with.  Using the segment registers on your CPU as a protected space Chrome will now accept and run C and C++ programs, hopefully creating a space in which code can run but not effect your system without your knowledge ... aka the drive-by attack familiar to Flash users.  This will give non-Java programmers the chance to program for the web in a way they have never done before as well as letting those who do not want to program in Java/JavaScript an alternative programming language.  It will take some time before we start to see anyone take advantage of this, let alone whether it will be able to compete with the current solutions already used on the web.

For the JavaScript fan there is good news coming out of the IDF, as Intel has been showing off River Trail and WebGL.  They have finally enabled JavaScript to take advantage of multi-core processors, the demonstration they provided had an eight core machine running a JavaScript app about 15 times faster than it performed with the non-updated code.  Even more interesting is what they plan to do with that performance increase; HTML5, Canvas, and WebGL are all compatible and can benefit from the true performance of multi-core processors.

Catch more on both of these stories and their history at The Register.

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"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."

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Source: The Register

Mozilla Hints At New Firefox Design, Closely Resembles Google Chrome

Subject: General Tech | August 2, 2011 - 11:43 AM |
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.

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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.

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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?

Source: Mozilla

Roll your own Chromium OS lappy

Subject: Mobile | May 16, 2011 - 01:06 PM |
Tagged: chrome, DIY, Chromium OS

If you can't wait for someone to release a mobile PC with the Chromium OS preinstalled, then why not pick up your own laptop and install Chromium yourself?  ExtremeTech walks you through the process, from finding or making a build to install and installing it on a bootable USB device to moving that installation onto an internal drive.  There are links to troubleshooting sites and they reveal that the default password seems to be facepunch.

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"On June 15, Samsung and Acer will release the first consumer-oriented Chrome OS laptops, or Chromebooks as Google likes to call them. Both hardware- and software-wise, these netbooks are nothing special: You can download Chrome OS's open source brother, Chromium OS, for free -- and at around $400 for a Chromebook, you would certainly expect some better hardware than what Samsung and Acer are offering.

In fact, for around $300 you can get a cheaper and more powerful netbook with Windows 7 pre-installed -- and it only takes about 30 minutes to wipe Windows and install Chrome OS yourself. You'll end up with a better and cheaper Chromebook -- and to top it off, you'll have a spare Windows 7 license that you can give to your mom."

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Source: ExtremeTech

Which browser should you use for the things you don't want people to know you did

Subject: General Tech | April 27, 2011 - 12:20 PM |
Tagged: flash. lso, firefox, extension, do not track, chrome

The new versions of IE, Firefox and even Opera have a do not track feature that is intended to block tracking cookies from landing on your system and letting advertisers and others get a feel for where you've been and what you've done online.  Arguing whether having a browsing experience without any targeted ads is a huge step in the name of privacy when there is far more information available from your Google and Facetwitter accounts seems pointless, but it is nice to know that you have that button.  Of course it doesn't work very well on the local shared objects on your machine, dumped there by Flash during your browsing experience, as evidenced very well by the online side scroller by the name of "You Only Live Once".  Google has yet to put a do not track button on their Chrome browser, for reasons obvious to many, but according to The Inquirer they have included tools to easily remove your local shared objects.  Exciting until you realize that Firefox has had an extension which can delete these 'super cookies' for quite a while now.

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"THE LATEST VERSION of Google's Chrome web browser has made it much easier to delete user behavioural information, but there's still word on whether it will provide a 'Do Not Track' feature like those already offered by Firefox and Internet Explorer."

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Source: The Inquirer