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Dress up your Firefox

Mozilla has now devised a Web application called “Fashion your Firefox” that allows Firefox users to dress up the web browser with their favorite add-ons.

It is a tool meant to customize the Firefox browser based on users’ interests and online activities. Fashion Your Firefox simplifies this by allowing users to select add-ons that they need with just one click.

Mozilla defines the ‘fashioning’ the Firefox bit in the following way:

Fashion Your Firefox refers to the application’s ability to customize, tailor, and “fashion” your Firefox to best suit your daily activities online.

Mozilla currently has 9 sets of interestingly named Firefox extensions with their description below them. Some of them are: Social Butterfly (for social networks), Shutterbug (for viewing and sharing images and videos online), Rock Star (for music), and so on.

To add multiple add-ons to your Firefox, users can select add-ons in categories that are interesting to them. Click the “I want this add-on!” button and select the adjacent “Click here to install them” link. Users will then be prompted to confirm their choices, and your browser will restart with the selections added to your Firefox, without having to add them individually.

Fashion your Firefox is currently available in English, only for Firefox 3. Start dressing up your Firefox here.

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November 19, 2008 Posted by | Browser, OpenSource, Technology | , , , | 2 Comments

What are Webslices?

A webslice is a part of a webpage that updates and can be subscribed to for example, a weather forecast.
Internet Explorer (IE) 8, a beta from Microsoft includes WebSlices as one of its features.

WebSlice just works as RSS Feeds works, where user can subscribe and get updates without visiting individual WebPages.

But a Webslice is different that a syndication feed (RSS) because:
1. It’s part of a webpage, rather than an independent feed (though it can have an independent feed also)
2. It’s a single thing that updates, as opposed to a pipe that new things (such as blog posts) are coming down one after the other

This is how Microsoft describes WebSlices, a feature allowing Web sites to connect to their users by subscribing to content directly within a Web page
“Developers can mark parts of webpages as ‘WebSlices’ and enable users to monitor information they rely on as they move about the web. With a click in the Favorites bar, users see rich ‘WebSlice’ visuals and developers establish a valuable, persistent end-user connection.”

Article on KillerSites
“In a nutshell, webslices are an IE8 specific feature that allows the web designer to tag part of a webpage as a ‘webslice’. By tagging sections of a web page, users of IE8 can then subscribe to it, much in the same way that they can subscribe to an RSS feed.” Read full article here.

More reading available on: TechRepublic
If you are interested in creating WebSlices, read WebSlices – By Microsoft.pdf on how to do so and begin developing them today. Download the document from Box.Net widget available in the right side of this page.

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September 17, 2008 Posted by | Browser, Internet, Microsoft, Technology, Web 2.0 | , , , , , | Leave a comment

IE8 – So What’s new?

Windows Internet Explorer 8 (commonly abbreviated IE8) is the next version of  Microsoft’s Windows Internet Explorer web browser, succeeding Internet Explorer 7. Beta 1, targeted for web designers and developers, was released to the general public on March 5, 2008. Microsoft released Beta 2, targeted for all consumers, on August 27, 2008. The final version is scheduled to be released soon.

According to Microsoft, security, ease of use, and improvements in RSS, CSS, and Ajax support compared to IE7, are its priorities for IE8.

Internet Explorer 8 beta is intended to enable developers, web developers and IT pros to begin to test the new browser for compatibility with their applications and Web sites. End-user improvements include two new features: Activities and Web Slices. Activities are contextual services that allow easy access to Internet services from any Web page. WebSlices is a new feature for Web sites to connect to their users by subscribing to content directly within a Web page. WebSlices behave just like feeds where clients can subscribe to get updates and notify the user of changes.

Beta 2 is the second public pre-release of Internet Explorer 8 and adds Accelerators–which let you complete your everyday browsing activities more quickly and discover new services; InPrivate Browsing, search suggestions, and other new features.

If you want to try it out for yourself, you can download it from Microsoft. You can run it on XP and on both the 32- and 64-bit editions of Vista, Server 2003, and Server 2008. There are different downloads for each OS, so be sure you get the appropriate one.

10 Reasons to love (and hate)
#1: Faster is better
#2: Like a rock
#3: Crash recovery
#4: Browsing in private
#5: Tab grouping
#6: Accelerators and Web Slices
#7: Getting suggestive with search
#8: Security, security, security
#9: Where did those toolbars go?
#10: Standards break some sites
Visit TechRepublic’s Blog for full analysis. Also view Picture Gallery

Apart from above, there are some more features/integrations in IE8
These are:
Facebook Integration – Yes, seriously! With a Flock-like feature as an unexpected surprise, Microsoft capitalized on their partnership with the popular social networking site, Facebook, to allow IE8 users the ability to get status updates from Facebook right from their browser toolbar.

eBay Integration – Like Facebook, this feature also uses IE8’s new technology, called “WebSlices“, which introduces a new way to get updates from other sites via the browser itself, without having to visit the web site. With WebSlices, IE8 beta users can subscribe to portions of a page that update dynamically, in order to receive updates from that page as content changes. EBay will offer webslices, too, letting you track your auctions from the browser toolbar. Basically, WebSlices look like Favorites on your Links toolbar but they have a little arrow next to them – clicking on this arrow will show you a small window of live web content.

Live Maps Integration – Another WebSlice was integration with Live Maps. It appeared that you could even highlight text on a page, like an address, and then right-click and choose Live Maps from the context menu to get a WebSlice preview of that location on a map in a small pop-up window. How convenient!

Integration with Me.diumMe.dium integration will be supported in IE8 via WebSlices. Me.dium will now help web surfers discover and view WebSlices directly from the sidebar. The Me.dium sidebar will alert users to the presence of WebSlices on any page – and even allows users to read each WebSlice, without leaving the Sidebar. In addition, Me.dium will make real-time recommendations for other WebSlices on other relevant web pages and provides direct links to them based on the real time activity of other Me.dium users.

Effective working with AJAX pages – IE8 will offer better functionality when it comes to AJAX web pages. The example showed a page where you could zoom in using AJAX technology. Previously, hit the IE “Back” button would take you back to the last page you were on. Now, “Back” will zoom you out.

Download Internet Explorer 8 (Beta) from Microsoft

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September 17, 2008 Posted by | Browser, Internet, Microsoft, Technology, Web 2.0 | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Surprise! Here Comes Google Browser – Chrome

In an unexpected announcement, Google has launched Chrome – it’s very own browser. A direct take on the likes of the Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox and Opera, this new announcement is bound to intensify the already red-hot browser war. While it was rumored that Google was working on a project like this, no one expected a release anytime in the near future. However, it is now clear that Google did spend a substantial amount of time and resources to develop this. And what’s more? Google roped in two engineers working on Firefox as well to help them make the Chrome!

An open source browser, the Chrome is all set to be released later today in over 100 countries! It is interesting to note how the chain of events started off. A cartoon strip was sent by Google to the owners of Google Blogoscoped – which described the features of “an upcoming” browser from Google. Barely hours after the details were posted, Google made the announcement official with a blog post on the Google blog.

Apart from being Open source, the Chrome as expected, would be based on the existing Webkit rendering engine and will support tabbed browsing. For starters, Webkit is used by Safari and will power the upcoming Android platform as well.

Here is a run down of the features that the Chrome is likely to sport. In any case, by the end of the day we should have all the details we need. Here they go.

Tabs
Just when you thought tabbed browsing could not become any better – or could add more features, Google comes up with this. The Chrome, unlike other browsers comes with a task manager of its own to check which sites eat up more memory. All of the sites open at a time can be monitored individually. What this means is that in case one of sites in the tabs decides not to respond, you will find the option to close that tab using the task manager and eventually prevent the whole browser from crashing. This is good news especially for those who hate to see the “Restore Session” button 10 times a day. That said, the placement of the tabs too has changed – with Chrome, the tabs would be seen at the top of the Window and not at the usual place. Though they did not choose to go radical on the lines of the Avant browser which gives you the option to place tabs at the bottom of the page.

JavaScript
Chrome comes with support for JavaScript engine V8, which again is an open source initiative to boost JavaScript heavy applications. Although we will need to wait till we can comment on the actual boost in performance, it does sound promising. On a different note, the new V8 engine (we’re not talking about cars here!) would be available for other browsers as well – thanks to its open source ancestry.

Address Bar
Nothing special in here- apart from Google’s auto-complete feature called the Omnibox. Omnibox reportedly will offer a multitude of unobtrusive suggestions, which may include sites you had visited in the past, popular sites and displays the search engine of your choice as well. Another feature is its ability to detect what site-specific search engines you had used. For example, if you used the Techtree search for finding a specific topic, you can simply type in “T” followed by your keywords.

Speed Dial: The Google way!
A speed dial like start-up is also available where you can see your most visited websites. The 9-screen layout is similar to Opera’s speed dial. On the sides, you will also see options and quick links to recently added bookmarks and recently closed tabs.

Incognito
Incognito is the Google term for the now famous “porn mode” which enables discreet browsing with no traces of your online activity – on that computer that is. Internet explorer calls it the Inprivate. Not much of a difference here – except that this is one feature that the other two biggies, Opera and Firefox chose to ignore.

Security
On the security front, the Chrome is supposedly said to update its database of rouge websites so that it can prevent you from exposing your computer to risks involved by visiting these sites. Additionally, since all tabs are sandboxed (a security mechanism for running programs safely) the risks involved are greatly minimized.

Well, that sums it up. This was just a brief preview into what could turn out to be one of the best alternative browsers out there. If you are the impatient type and want a quick peek, have a look at some screenshots from a video grab here. It remains to be seen if the web community accepts Chrome wholeheartedly -and just because it’s from Google, it need not necessarily be the best!
More Screen shots are available at TechCrunch.

Currently only available for Windows XP & Vista.
Download Google Chrome
Portable version: http://twurl.nl/swk4cl (Updated on Sept 5th,08)
Alternate Link for Portable version: http://twurl.nl/g31qwl (Updated on Sept 10th,08)
More links to Portable version:
Version 2.0.162.0: http://tinyurl.com/bwx7ke
Version 3.0.182.3: http://tinyurl.com/lzqgqn

No release available for Mac. But you can Sign up to get news about development for Mac.
Update on Mac & Linux users: Read here (Updated on June 11th, 2009)

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September 2, 2008 Posted by | Browser, Internet, OpenSource, Technology, Web 2.0 | , , , , , | 6 Comments

What is AJAX? A not so technical answer

Ajax‘ is thrown around a lot, but there’s still a lot of confusion about exactly what it is, especially in non technical circles. So here is a quick run through for those of you who aren’t deep in weeds technically.

Ajax stands for Asynchronous Javascript and XML, but what it really means is a way for web pages to query the server without reloading the entire page. Without Ajax, submitting information back to the server involves submitting the entire page back to the server and refreshing the entire page in the browser. But with Ajax, the entire page doesnt need to be submitted. In javascript the browser can make a request in the background to the server. The Asynchronous comes from the fact that the request happens in the background while the user is looking at the page. When the javascript web request finishes it returns data to the browser, sometimes as XML. Its not always XML, a lot of times its JSON or text, but XML was first and that was how it was named. The browser then manipulates the data returned and uses DHTML to display it.

For an example of AJAX put your mouse over here AJAX

In short: Ajax is a way for a web page to communicate with the server without having to reload the entire page.

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August 28, 2008 Posted by | Browser, Internet, Technology | , , , , | 1 Comment