Browser maker is reluctant to give up on the idea of sponsored content
Back in February of this year, Mozilla's VP of Content Services, Darren Herman, announced plans to sell advertising space in Firefox in the form of sponsored "Directory Tiles" on a new Tab page. These would consist of pre-packaged content for first-time Firefox users -- upon loading Firefox, they'd see a page with nine tiles in three rows of three, and some of the suggestions would be paid-for content, or ads. That idea didn't go over well with the web community, so Mozilla has decided to abandon sponsored tiles and will experiment with the tab page instead.
As vast as the internet can be, there comes a time in every web surfer’s life when there’s just nothing left to browse. Well, nothing interesting at least. After visiting your favourite online haunts, playing a few web games, chatting it up on Twitter or Google+ and seeking out behind-the-scenes dirt and spoilers for a few of your favorite films, it’s easy to run out of ideas as to what you should scope out next. In such a dire situation, you could take the quitter’s way out and head outside to enjoy everything that Mother Earth has to offer, or you can buckle in for a trip to the Museum of Online Museums, our Cool Site of the Week.
Uggghh. I should have known better, but there I was, staring at a bright-red screen in my Google Chrome tab that was trying to impress upon me—as much as a software browser could sans digital kick to the butt—that the popular tech news site I was about to visit was riddled with some kind of malware.
“Impossible,” I thought to myself. “There’s no way that this, a common site I frequent on a near-daily basis, could have anything to do with nefarious crap trying to install itself on my PC.”
Yes, the phrasing of my thoughts really does come out like that. So does my stubbornness. For rather than heed Google’s warning that the site I was about to visit was about to unleash a world of hurt on my system, I calmly told my browser that I was comfortable proceeding on my own (damnit).
I clicked the link, read my news and… was thrilled to find a new “Security Center” malware now popping up out of my taskbar about once every five minutes. Sigh. Before I could even turn to one of the many “get the heck off my system” tools that I keep installed for such measures, my entire screen went blue.
So, what do you use to clean your PC... aside from a baseball bat?
If you're a hardcore Web browsing fiend (no, not that kind of hardcore), then the kinds of add-ons that likely interest you are the ones that enable you surf as fast as humanly possible. But trawling site, after site, after site is often limited by both your connection speed and the speed of the site/server you're accessing, not to mention a few other little factors here and there.
I can't do much to help you with that via a simple Firefox add-on. However, I can assist you in finding information faster on the Web. Specifically, I can show you how to access previews for interesting links before you take the time (and resources) to open them up in a new tab, scan the page, and close them (or use them to continue about your way.) This might not sound like much of a benefit to one who's used to dumping a ton of new tabs based on links throughout a Web site. But hear me out--I've used CoolPreviews and it's a pretty sweet deal.
Oh, BarTab. I wish I had heard of you before I switched over to Google Chrome. As a frequent browser-but-not-bookmarker, I'd often load up my Mozilla Firefox browser with upwards of sixty tabs per new session. Yes, sixty. I'd use tabs instead of bookmarks to keep track of, "stuff you should check out later," only I wouldn't actually get around to clearing through this backlog of open links until days later. I'm a procrastinator for new content, what can I say.
You can just imagine the performance impacts this habit had on my typical browsing session. It didn't bother me that much, performance-wise, on my tricked-out desktop PC. You can bet that my poor laptop wanted to fall over and die at the thought of having to pull up a huge list of pages each time I clicked on the little Firefox icon in the corner of my screen. And regardless of whether my computer could handle the many, many tabs or not, there was still the issue of Firefox having to actually load the content of these pages before I could go about more browsing. Little is more frustrating than having to wait five minutes just to check out a link that a friend sent along because Firefox has to take care of 60 other pages first.
So how, then, does BarTab fix this issue? Why is it a must-have add-on for your Web browsing? Click the jump!
I'm sure many readers of Maximum PC--this one included--have jumped onboard the Google DNS ship, lured either by promises of increased speed versus one's own DNS server or a simple fascination at anything Google does. Fair, at least with the latter. Because it would be erroneous to just switch over to an alternate DNS server without any kind of assessment that what you're doing is actually the best-case scenario for your home or office setup.
That said, it's important to first give props to Google for delivering a DNS service that appears to be free of any kind of takeovers or unexpected redirects. Just try hand-pounding your keyboard after clicking on your browser's address board, then hit enter. If the resulting "fasdfljsajdf.com" isn't actually a Web site, you'll notice how... nothing happens, save for the standard "what are you doing?" error page (depending on your browser of choice). That's a bit different than OpenDNS, which routes you over to one of its own landing pages--oddly, a rebranded version of Yahoo! search--that's stacked with advertising related to whatever it is you mistyped. Weak.
Redirects aside, it's important to know exactly what you're getting into when you start fussing around with going a step beyond your ISP's default DNS servers. Like a tangible product review, you should really assess what you're gaining and losing through the use of either OpenDNS or Google DNS from both a performance and features standpoint.
After the jump, I'll share my own personal results with using both Google DNS and OpenDNS, and show you exactly how you can figure out the best-case scenario for your own browsing needs!
In this week's security-themed freeware roundup, I called out Mozilla Firefox for not being that secure of a web browser as compared to the virtualization-friendly Google Chrome. And that's still true. Unpleasant web sites can inject and exploit all sorts of nastiness in Firefox--not as badly as, say, the security lapses of Internet Explorer, but Firefox still contains the potential to open a door to your system's innermost workings. If this happens because of some hosted exploit or less-than-friendly extension you've downloaded, you're in for a world of hurt. Google Chrome, on the other hand, requires a separate exploit to somehow break its virtualization in tandem with malware that attacks the browser as a whole. The latter is doable, but the former is much more difficult to accomplish via web-based tricks.
So how, then, do you make for the most secure browsing experience possible if you're a die-hard Firefox user? Three words: web of Trust. This popular Firefox add-on uses the power of a five-million-user community, as well as a host of recommendations by site listings and phishing alerts, to rate the security of the web sites you want to visit. If you're about to step into a trap, you get a big, fancy alert window telling you that the site you're about to click on might not be the best choice from a security standpoint. In short, this is one of the most preventative techniques you can use to protect yourself against unknown web threats!
Just last week, I showed you a batch of add-ons for, er, a Firefox add-on called Jetpack. With these, you'd be able to tap into the raw power of HTML and CSS-based extensions to add new functionality to your browser without needing a reboot whatsoever--just one of the many features provided by this new class of add-ons.
Well, in case that wasn't for you, I've gone out and searched for a way to duplicate the effects of some of these Jetpack add-ons using normal Firefox extensions. And this is an important point. Although nice to install and configure, many of said Jetpack extensions just felt a touch incomplete, slow, or otherwise non-functioning depending on the circumstances. And that's expected. Jetpack, after all, is a relatively new tool to the Firefox arsenal. Developers surely have a few bugs and eccentricities to work out.
That said, one of the more useful Jetpack applications granted a user the ability to load browser tabs into a live sidebar, giving you the opportunity to see the exact contents of what you wanted to click on prior to doing so. Tab Sidebar is the simple Firefox extension that duplicates this process sans Jetpack, and it's worth your while to install.
According to a recent study by Mozilla, the number one reason for users not upgrading from Firefox 2 to Firefox 3 was the new location bar, and the fact that it went deep into people’s bookmarks to suggest sites as they typed. More than 25 percent cited this as their reason for keeping the last generation of Firefox as their browser of choice.
“When we expanded the capabilities of the location bar to search against all history and bookmarks in Firefox 3, a lot of people contacted us to say that they had certain bookmarks they didn’t really want to have displayed,” said Firefox’s principal designer, Alex Faaborg. “In some cases users had intentionally hidden these bookmarks in deep hierarchies of folders, somewhat similar to how one might hide a physical object. Having something from your previous browsing displayed to someone else who is using your computer (or even worse) to a large audience of people as you are giving a presentation, is really one of the most embarrassing things that Firefox can do to you.”
On a related note, Mozilla has introduced a private browsing mode in Firefox 3.5. So, you know, if this is the sort of thing you need to have – it’s safe to upgrade now.
Starting later this year, AT&T will begin upgrading its 3G network to High Speed Packet Access (HSPA) 7.2 technology, the company announced this week.
"AT&T's network infrastructure gives us a tremendous advantage in that we're able to deliver upgrades in mobile broadband speed and performance with out existing technology platform," said Ralph de la Vega, president and CEO, AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets. "With the array of smartphones, laptops, and emerging devices taking advantage of AT&T's 3G network today, e know that customers are excited to experience higher mobile broadband speeds, and we are deploying the right technologies at the right times to help them get the most from that experience."
Once the upgrade is complete, AT&T says its network could theoretically peak at 7.2Mbps, however its quick to clarify that real-world downstream and upstream speeds will be less than the theoretical ceiling, dependent upon location, device, network traffic, and other factors.