After ages of discussions and rumors, Mozilla has at long last launched the first mobile version of the Firefox Web browser for mobile phones.

Mozilla has announced that the first version of Firfox for mobile phones is ready to launch.  So far the browser is only available for Nokia phones running the Maemo platform, specifically the N900, but more phones are planned for this year.  (don’t get your hopes up for iPhones folks, because there is no way it’s going to happen.)

One of the most interesting aspects of this version is that even on a browser screen of this size, Mozilla found a way to retain tabbed browsing.  The tabs are kept on a slide-out screen on the side, so they are hidden when not in use, and you only bring them out when you ned to see them.

Firefox is well0known for its multitude of extensions that allow it to do a multitude of things it isn’t built to do originally.  How many you can install depends on the amount of memory of your phone, and how well they will run on limited memory remains to be seen.

At long last, a true use for Mozilla Weave has been included.  Save a browsing session on your computer, and thanks to Weave you can reopen it on your cell phone.  Looked up information on a theater you want to go to?  Now you can bring that information with you easily.

Here is a video explaining some of the features in more detail.


Categories: Cell Phones, Web Browsing   
 

In what is turning into a seemingly never ending war between Web sites and the Internet Explorer 6 Web browser, Google has just struck a major blow that may help hasten its death.

Google has announced that as of March 1, 2010, portions of the Google empire such as Google Docs will no longer be supported for Internet Explorer 6 (IE6).  As this comes from the Google Enterprise Blog, this is squarely directed at all of those IT departments that have simply refused to upgrade their companies browsing options out of laziness.  Yes, they will tell you it’s all about security, but honestly, that’s total malarkey.

The minimum required versions of browsers that Google will now support include:

If you are unfamiliar with the problems with IE6, it was released in 2001 and uses old Web standards.  The Internet has now been held hostage for nine years by this browser due its proliferation amongst corporations.  Sites have to be designed in such a way that they remain compatible with this antiquated piece of software.

Last July, popular social media site Digg even asked its users why they continued to use the browser.  While there were some who said they preferred the browser (while no proof was ever given, we do believe those people were visiting from an insane asylum), the majority said they can’t upgrade or were told they couldn’t.  The IE6 No More movement has also formed around sites that are pledging to no longer support the browser.

Web browsers are free, there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t change from IE6 if you have the option.  And if you are in a corporation where the IT department says it can’t be done, go above their heads and complain.  This browser must die if the Internet is to thrive.

Categories: Google, Web Browsing   
 

The stable release of Google Chrome 4.0 has been released, and it has brought with it several major enhancements.

The Google Chrome Blog today announced that the stable release of Google Chrome 4.0 is now available for download.  This is a major release, and brings at least two major new features that everyone should be excited about.

Extensions

At long last, Chrome now supports extensions!  For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, extensions enable your browser to do extra little jobs like the Google Voice extension we described the other day.  Currently Google is offering over 1,500 extensions in its extension gallery, but we do highly recommend you limit how many you install because the more you add, the slower your browser may run.  That being said, there are some really useful ones out there, so you should at least give them a look and see if any of them will ease your online life.

Bookmark Synching

Chrome now comes with a built-in ability to synchronize your bookmarks across all of your computers running Chrome.  So if you have a laptop and a desktop in your life, set up the sync and your bookmarks will be the same on both machines.  It can be done on as many machines as you have, so the headaches this will relieve for people with multiple computers in their lives will truly be welcome.

Here is a video explaining more of the features

If you’ve resisted trying out Google Chrome, now would be the time, we think you’ll be pleased.

Categories: Google, Web Browsing   
 

The newest version of Firefox has just been released, and it looks to be quite an improvement over previous versions.

You can head to the Get Firefox site to download it right now, and from my little time using it thus far, it looks to be worth it.  The browser seems to be considerably smoother in rendering pages, and just feels a bit quicker in a lot of its activities.  The true test will come with time of course, but it seems to be a marked improvement over previous versions.

Other points of interest as indicated by the official blog:

  • Personas: Personalize the look of your Firefox by selecting new themes called Personas in a single click and without a restart
  • Plugin Updater: To keep you safe from potential security vulnerabilities, Firefox will now detect out of date plugins
  • Stability improvements: Firefox 3.6 significantly decreased crashes caused by third party software – all without sacrificing our extensibility in any way
  • Form Complete: When filling out an online form, Firefox suggests information for fields based on your common answers in similar field
  • Performance: Improved JavaScript performance, overall browser responsiveness, and startup time
  • Open Video and Audio: With the world’s best implementation of HTML 5 audio and video support, now video can be displayed full screen and supports poster frames

If you’re a Firefox user, this looks like a “must have” update to be sure.

Categories: Web Browsing   
 

Apparently a goodly number of people aren’t quite sure how you use a Web browser to navigate to a Web site without first going through a search engine.

Hitwise has released its annual list of the top 10 searched on terms for the year, and somehow people still seem to think they need to go through a search engine to even get to Web sites they already know the address for.

As you can see in the graph below from Hitwise comparing 2008 to 2009, many things haven’t changed much in the past year beyond the top social network changing from MySpace in 2008 to Facebook in 2009.  Seeing as Facebook was #10 in 2008, that’s fairly impressive.

What I find interesting is when people search for a domain name with its extension, i.e. MySpace.com.  All one needs to do is go to the address bar of their browser and enter the Web address to get there, but for some reason a considerable number of users out there insist on going to a search engine first.  Why, I doubt anyone knows, but we’re here to tell you that you can save a step if you want.

Categories: Web Browsing   
 

google chromeIndicators are pointing to the final piece of the Google chrome puzzle coming next week: Extensions.

Many people have said that the only reason that they haven’t changed to Chrome as their main Web browser is because it lacks support for extensions, those little tools that allow your browser to do extra little jobs.  extensions have long been a major component of the Firefox community, and so people have been missing them during their use of Chrome.

According to TechCrunch, Google will be announcing its Extension support some time this week, and it makes perfect sense as Google is a Gold sponsor of Add-on-Con 09, a developer conference dedicated to extensions.

The only problem with extensions is the more you add to a program, the slower it will go as it is just that much more code for it to deal with.  To date, one of the biggest selling points of Chrome has been its speed, if it starts losing that advantage in lieu of extensions, it may be a Catch-22 for Google.  If people start overloading their copy of Chrome with extensions and it slows to a crawl, something they have done to themselves, they will confuse it with the fault of Google.

In short, enjoy the extensions (if they do in deed come out this week), but be careful with how many you add.

Categories: Google, Web Browsing   
 

credit cardEver had a charge show up on your credit card from a web site you forgot to join? Don’t worry, it isn’t just you this happens to.

Many subscription based web sites use a tactic called “opt-out” to their auto-renweing subscriptions to confuse consumers.  What this means is that the site automatically sets your account to automatically renew each time your subscription expires.  To stop it, you must go and change the setting yourself, which is known as “opt-out”.

Sadly I just went through something like this with Classmates.com, and I have no one to blame but myself at the end of the day, but that doesn’t mean it stings any less.  You should always go to your account settings immediately after joining a site, look at your billing information and make sure there isn’t a checkmark next to something that says something like “this account will automatically renew at the end of your subscription.”  Wording can vary quite a bit, so be careful, and read everything multiple times.

It would be nice to see every site adopt an “opt-in” policy, but that seems unlikely.  Under that system you have to tell the site that you wish it to auto-renew as opposed to telling it you don’t want it to.  It would be the friendlier thing for consumers, hence why it seems unlikely to ever happen.

Categories: Security, Shopping, Web Browsing   
 

1 billion firefox downloadsIs there anything sadder than when a giant corporation has to be a sour puss over another business doing well?

In an interview with The Guardian, Amy Barzdukas, a general manager at Microsoft in charge of the company’s Internet Explorer browser, said that the recent announcement that Firefox has reached a billion downloads was “interesting math”.  She went on to say:

As with any marketing statement, I’d encourage people to be somewhat sceptical about large number claims.  It’s an interesting number and I have not seen the math [but] how many Internet connected users are there? 1.1 billion, 1.5 billion, something in that area.

Of course the implication here is that Mozilla is lying, but as I even said in my original post on this subject:

The number obviously represents total downloads and not unique users.  Heck, I alone have probably downloaded 30 or more copies of those one billion.

Do I really need to explain this any further? The one billion downloads is quite plausible, Mozilla never said it represented the number of users.

Of course, Ms. Barzdukus had some things to say about the company continuing to support Internet Explorer 6:

Asked if IE6 provided a good experience for web browsing, Barzdukas said that “I don’t think anybody would argue that”.

Oh, really?  So, the IE 6 No More movement is a figment of my imagination?  Even I have said the browser must die, but apparently I would say using IE 6 is “a good experience”.  All that said, she said that Microsoft planned to support the product through 2014.

Excuse me while I go cry in a corner.

Categories: Internet, Web Browsing   
 

Internet Explorer logoIt seems I’m not the only person calling for the death of Internet Explorer 6, now there’s a whole movement!

Last month I wrote a post about Internet Explorer 6 Just Won’t Die, and how as much as it is a horrible browser, people continue to cling to it for some unknown reason.  Well, as of late the hatred for IE 6 has grown to such proportions that there is now an organization of websites that is taking aim at killing off the browser once and for all.

IE6 No More is a loose coalition of web sites that are encouraging people to place a snippet of code in to their sites that will encourage visitors to change their browsers to IE 8, Firefox, Chrome or another browser of their choice.  So far the list of sites joining the movement numbers over 70 and includes such sites as Reddit.tv, Disqus, Justin.tv and many more.

One aspect of the IE 6 problem is corporate users that have no control over what browser they use at work, but the group has a message for those people explaining what they can do.

What about the corporate users?

It’s a pretty common question: “What about corporate users who don’t have control over their choice of web browsers? Aren’t a large majority of IE 6 users in that group?”

We don’t really know. It seems like the best data available as to what percentage of IE 6 users are forced by their company to use the browser is the Digg survey, which shows that 70% of IE 6 users are in this boat: http://blog.digg.com/?p=878. However, there’s no indication how representative that is of the web as a whole — it’s very possible those results only apply to Digg.

Either way, this initiative is targeted straight at those users. We’ve heard from several sources that many corporate IT departments don’t feel any need or urgency to upgrade, and receive very few complaints. We see this as a start — the more complaints the IT department gets (especially from the top), the more pressure they’ll feel to upgrade. Even if they can’t upgrade IE 6 due to legacy applications, they could always install a version of Firefox side-by-side and only use IE 6 for the legacy apps.

For the other subset of IE 6 users, this will be a great notice to let them know that their web experience is seriously degraded, and that they should strongly consider upgrading their web browser.

While we try to keep our code simple at StarterTech, we won’t be adding the code for now, but believe me that we fully support this movement and hope that you will give some serious thought to upgrading when and where you can.

Categories: Internet, Web Browsing   
 

1 billion firefox downloadsAccording to Mozilla, Firefox is about to cross the one billion downloads mark.

Launched in 2002, Mozilla’s browsers went through a few different names, and finally becaome Firefox oficially in 2005.  The number obviously represents total downloads and not unique users.  Heck, I alone have probably downloaded 30 or more copies of those one billion.

If you want to watch this milestone happen you can follow TwitterCounter on Twitter to watch the number grow.  After they pass the number you can head to OneBillionPlusYou.com for a retrospective of the browser ans other information.

While this number may be small compared to Internet Explorer, you have to remember that you have to choose to download Firefox, so this is one billion download decisions.  Kudos to them on this amazing achievement.

Categories: Web Browsing   
 
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