Make browser-based calls via Skype using a new plugin
If for whatever reason you don't want to download and install Skype to your PC but are still interested in making calls through the service, you now can (or soon will be able to). Microsoft today introduced Skype for Web, a beta plugin that allows you to make Skype calls from your browser without having the download and install the full software package. You can also use it to send and receive chat messages.
For years, we’ve been touting the virtues of KeePass Password Safe, a free open-source program for storing all your website passwords and associated notes behind a single master password. And to synch KeePass across multiple machines, we’ve been recommending that readers store the encrypted database on Dropbox. However, we got to wondering whether the popular browser-based password manager LastPass was a superior, one-stop solution. So this month, we invited the two free password trappers to duke it out for bragging rights.
Note: This article originally appeared in the August 2013 issue of the magazine.
The Java browser plugin is notorious for being wildly popular among malware authors. The ubiquity of Java is not the only reason for this. Rather, the problem seems to lie more in the fact that a sizable chunk of its installed base consists of outdated versions, something that is often attributed to low awareness among users about Java itself and the threat posed by Java vulnerabilities. But according to F-Secure’s Mikko Hypponen, the only thing users need to know about Java is that they don’t need it. Hit the jump for more.
Even though it too hankers after a plugin-free web like everyone and their mother these days, it seems that Microsoft isn’t averse to the odd “free plug-in” in the meantime. The Redmond-based software company released the latest version of its Silverlight plugin this past Friday. This is the fifth release of the plugin and comes more than two years after the release of Silverlight 4.
Skype may have eventually gone to Microsoft, but that would have never happened had Redmond’s cloud-obsessed rival Google not dropped the idea of acquiring the popular VoIP service in 2009. The Internet behemoth came very close to making a bid but backed out at the last moment.
According to Wesley Chan, an investment partner at Google Ventures, the data-intensive nature of Skype’s underlying peer-to-peer technology turned out to be the deal breaker. Needless to say, the Big G has absolutely no regrets about not acquiring Skype’s “old technology” as its own efforts seem to be coming along nicely. It has now announced plans to add Skype-like real-time communication (RTC) features into Chrome using its open-source WebRTC initiative.
Outdated browser plugins pose a considerable security threat. According to a report published earlier this year by security and compliance management company Qualys, 80 percent of all browser vulnerabilities stem from outdated plugins. The company behind the browser security analysis tool BrowserCheck, Qualys has just ranked different browser plugins based on their affinity for remaining outdated.
Adobe has announced the release of Flash Player 10.3 for Android, Linux, MacOS, and Windows. The latest stable release of Adobe’s ubiquitous plugin packs a bunch of new features and security enhancements. But its most notable user-facing feature is the ability to clear hitherto hard-to-delete Flash cookies, or local shared objects (LSOs) as they are formally known, from the comfort of the web browser’s privacy settings. Hit the jump for more.
The story of Xmarks is like a David and Goliath kind of a tale—only, instead of slinging rocks, users of the (seemingly) popular service all pledged to donate untold amounts of money to keep the cross-browser bookmark synchronization tool alive.
Well, I hope you didn’t throw yourself off a duomo at the sad September news that Xmarks was considering shutting its services, because it’s not. In a bit of news from the we-expected-this-would-happen-but-were-still-slightly-concerned department, the pledge slash publicity drive worked and Xmarks is back in business. Huzzah.
Here's my question though: Why haven't any of the "big three" browser makers thought about providing a cross-browser synchronization tool? And here's the real kicker: If Xmarks wasn't already going under, would you have really paid 'em a dime?
Unless you have some super-fancy configuration set up, odds are good that you--like most--default to Windows Media Player as your multimedia software of choice for playing just about anything that comes across your system. There's no shame in that. While a number of freeware tools support more codecs and/or file formats, and come bundled with other fun features and extensive customizations, it's alright to admit that you use Windows' built-in tool for the job.
In fact, you might very well have found yourself quite fond of your operating system's default media player. That's alright too. I'm not about to show or suggest third-party tools that might add confusion to your routine. Instead, you might want to check out a little chunk of software called Windows Media Player Plus! This app--really, a series of plugins--isn't a replacement for Windows Media Player. It simply builds free enhancements into Windows Media Player to give you even more options to tinker with and features to enjoy.
It's hard to deny the power of Google Docs, especially if you don't have the cash (or the wherewithal) to shell out for Microsoft Office. Sure, you could grab OpenOffice.org, but you would trade away the ability to edit your documents from any Internet-equipped location-one of Google Doc's important, Cloud-based features... as well as its ability to allow multiple users to simultaneously edit a document. You just can't get this kind of stuff in an offline word processor!
Of course, that's not to say that you can't use Google Docs offline. Nor are applications like Microsoft Word completely removed from the Internet-there's Microsoft Office Live for that, if you're so inclined.
Anyway, the point of this Freeware Files is not to confuse you in feature-lists or semantics. I'm here to show you just how easy it is to set up your system to use both offline and online word processing tools. Provided you're ready to jump into the wide world of Google Docs, all of the freeware and open-source applications listed below will do much to help integrate online editing and storage into your traditional offline type-type-typing.