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?
Subject: Editorial, General Tech | July 19, 2011 - 11:59 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: mozilla, firefox
One side-effect of splitting a program up into multiple processes is that instructions do not inherently have a specific order. One of the most evident places for that to occur is during a videogame. I am sure most gamers have played a game where the controls just felt sluggish and muddy for some inexplicable reason. While there could be a few problems, one likely cause is that your input is not evaluated for a perceivably large amount of time. Chris Blizzard of Mozilla took on this and other issues with multithreaded applications and wrapped it around the concept of Firefox past, present, and future.
Firefox is getting Beta all the time.
One common misconception is that your input is recognized between each frame, which is untrue: many frames could go by before input affects the events on screen. John Carmack in a recent E3 interview discussed about iD measuring up to 100ms worth of frames occurring before a frame occurred which recognized the user’s command. This is often more permissible for games with slower-paced game design where agility is less relevant; if your character would lose to a Yak in a foot race, turns about as quick as one, and takes a hundred bullets to die: you will not notice that you started to dodge a few milliseconds earlier as you would expect to die in either case. In a web browser it is much less dramatic though the same principle is true: the browser is busy doing its many tasks and cannot waste too much time checking if the user has requested something yet. This aspect of performance, along with random hanging, is considered “responsiveness”. Mozilla targets 50 milliseconds (one-twentieth of a second) as the maximum time before Firefox rechecks its state for changes.
Chris Blizzard goes on to discuss how hardware is mostly advancing on the front of increases in parallelism rather than clock speed and other per-thread advancements. GPGPU was not a topic in the blog post leaving the question for the distant future centered on what a multithreaded DOM would look like – valuing the classical multicore over the still budding many-core architectures. Memory usage and crashing were also addressed though this likely was more to dispel the Firefox stereotype of being a memory hog starting later in the Firefox 2 era.
The GPGPU trail is not Mozilla's roadmap.
The last topic discussed was Sandboxing for security. One advantage of branching off your multiple threads into multiple discrete processes is that you could request that the operating system assign limited rights to individual processes. The concept of limited rights is to prevent one application from exploiting too much permissions for the purpose of forcing your computer to do something undesirable. If you are accepting external data, such as a random website on the internet, you need to make sure that if it can exploit vulnerability in your web browser that it gains as little permission as possible. While it is not a guarantee that external data will be executed with dangerous permission levels: the harder you can make it, the better.
What does our readers think? (Registration not required to comment.)
Subject: General Tech | July 13, 2011 - 02:39 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: firefox, bumpday
This week Mozilla released Firefox 7 into the Aurora channels and probably about twenty other versions elsewhere as well. Firefox has come under fire (heh heh) lately for its ridiculously rapid release schedule particularly for those interested in deploying Internet Explorer alternatives in the enterprise market. With the recent release of Firefox 5 it is only reasonable that Firefox 7 be nearing its prime too. The major advancement for this version is the concentration on performance, in particular: memory leakage. Mozilla grew a slight reputation lately for not being the quickest and most responsive browser. That title was once held by Internet Explorer compared to the much faster Firebird. I guess it is time to bump it up in our memory.
Despite Mozilla being strict with their logo… rule 34. Let’s leave it at that.
In early 2004, Firefox came to life out of the ashes of a Firebird. It was not yet in the canonical “version 1” form at that time, numbers forced to follow in a line behind a point, but for many it was their browser of choice. There is a little debate whether the name is of choice but that debate was silenced with a request for a screenshot. For a moment. Before the other inevitable. And lastly, regardless of your platform on technical support, Firefox for President.
Subject: General Tech | July 8, 2011 - 06:02 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: memory leak, firefox, bug fix, aurora
With the recent change in Firefox's browser release schedule, they have been able to accelerate the release of bug fixes and new features. One bug that has plagued a number of Firefox users for a long time is a memory leak bug that could see Firefox eating up a good chunk of memory that is much more than it is supposed to be using.
In addition to mitigating the memory issues, the new build promises a faster start-up time on Mac OS X, Windows, and Linux, Firefox Sync, and enhanced font rendering.
Subject: General Tech | April 27, 2011 - 12:20 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
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.
"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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- Upgrading HP WHS MediaSmart EX495 to Windows Home Server 2011 Blog @MissingRemote
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