The Best of MV Tech Blog: 2012 Edition

If you have WordPress Jetpack plugin installed you should have your 2012 Annual Report by now. Below is the summary.

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WordPress only reports the top 5 in the annual report so I used Google Analytics as well to get the top 10.

My top referring sites in 2012 are mostly social networks  – Twitter, Stumbleupon, Facebook, Youtube and  XDA Forums.

Also, according to WordPress some of my most popular posts were written before 2012 so my writing has staying power. Sounds awesome! Now, here\’s the list:

10. Windows 8 Consumer Preview VirtualBox Installation Step-by-Step: It seems that many people interested to test Windows 8 in virtual machine. VirtualBox is free so it\’s not surprising it is popular.

9. iGoogle Alternatives – Find a New Start Page Before Google Shutdowns iGoogle in 2013: After all, many people still use a start page. I\’m not sure if it was a good move for Google.

8. BlueStacks on Windows 8 to Run 400,000 Android Apps: BlueStacks is getting better and better and if they continue to make more Android apps run with 100% compatibility on Windows 8 it might become the best way to run Android on x86 machines.

7. Google Black Navigation Bar: Remove, Disable or Change It: People are still not stopping to make Google black navigation bar a facelift. Maybe Google should consider giving more options to people like how Microsoft gives more option to customize Windows start menu and Apple, OS X dock.

6. Windows 8 Release Preview VirtualBox Installation and Error Troubleshooting: This is a surprise because I have three Windows related blog posts in top 10.

5. 8 Blogging Lessons from Game of Thrones (Part 1): Game of Thrones is one of my favorite show this year and it will return on March 31, 2013 as  hinted in HBO teaser.

4. Browser Wars Illustrated: From #7, up to #4. I never thought browser wars is that popular.

3. Free Facebook Mobile Access (Philippines Promo): While the promo is not available anymore, some people are still looking for free Facebook access using their mobile phones. With the increasing availability of LTE phone I could see that it will stay on my top posts for quite a while.

2. Kindle Comparison Chart – Kindle Fire vs. Others: Same as last year, still in #2. I really think I should write more about gadgets.

1. How to Wisely Use DFA Passport Appointment System: Still my #1 post. I hope it still serves as a helpful guideline for many Filipinos who are confused on how to get the new Philippine e-passport.

I wrote a total of 83 posts this year and this is my most active year in blogging yet after my long hiatus in 2008.

I know I can do more next year so I am excited to start 2013 already. In just a few hours, it\’s already 2013. Happy New Year !

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Firefox 9 Released, Up to 30% Faster

Firefox 9

I just upgraded to Firefox 9 and according to Mozilla, Firefox 9 ships with a major JavaScript enhancements which makes Firefox 30% faster.

You can see the comparison of Firefox 9 against the earlier version.

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Firefox for Mac OS X Lion also ships with two-finger swipe gestures as well as improved theme integration giving Firefox a better look and feel in Mac OS X Lion.

Mozilla also added support for querying Do Not Track status via JavaScript and font-stretch. Support for text-overflow, HTML5, MathML, and CSS were also improved.

Firefox Add-on Compatibility

One of the major complains for die-hard fans and veterans like me is the add-on compatibility. Add-ons keeps on breaking one upgrade after another. I have switched to Chrome primarily because it feels faster and I don\’t have to worry about Chrome Extensions. I still use Firefox in parallel with Chrome and if you are using an extension that breaks after an upgrade, you may used the Add-on compatibility reporter to enable all plugins that are incompatible. If the add-on is not working or still broken, you can report them. Very handy add-on.

Firefox 9 for Android

As for mobile version of Firefox, Firefox 9 for Android is now optimized for tablets. Finally. I feel that it should have been optimized for tablets from the very first release but it\’s better late than never.

Firefox 9 for Android also has a faster start-up time and camera input support that developers can use.

I still prefer the native Android browser but it\’s good to have handy alternatives just like Firefox.

Last Release in 2011, More to Come Next Year!

I know it is less exciting to upgrade to a major release of Firefox nowadays because of the shorten release cycle.  If you look at Firefox Nightly you can see that Firefox 12 alpha (Aurora) is already available. At this rate there will be 8 releases next year with the 6-week release cycle.

I bet you can\’t even remember what\’s the difference among Firefox 5, 6, 7 and 8.

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Firefox 8 Download Celebrates 7 Years of Firefox Goodness

Firefox 7th Anniversary

Happy 7th  birthday to Firefox and  congratulations on making it this far. I can still recall my experience with Firefox 1.0, also about 7 years later, and it was awesome.

I\’m very glad that Mozilla foundation exists because without them we will not have one of the most popular open-source browser that started serious revolution in pushing Internet Explorer market share down and rethink what web browsers can do.

Firefox 8 Released

Firefox 8 is the latest version of Firefox and Firefox 8 download is available in the stable channel since yesterday.

For the first time, Firefox prompts user to enable or disable add-ons after installation. Add-ons installed by third-party programs were disabled by default but users may wish to enable them manually. Those add-ons installed by users were enabled by default. Historically, those add-ons installed by 3rd parties were problematic so Firefox 8 gives user the opportunity to fix 3rd party add-ons that might be causing poor performance on Firefox.

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Twitter Search is also added in the search bar for some languages. It brings Twitter search closer to anyone using Firefox but I don\’t see the benefit of  using it because I can just use Twitter search right when I\’m in Twitter website.

Firefox 8 also added preference to load tabs on demand, improving start-up time when windows are restored, CORS support for cross-domain textures in WebGL, support for HTML5 context menus and insertAdjacentHTML.

It also improved performance and memory handling when using <audio> and <video> elements, CSS hyphen for many languages and websocket. Of course, there goes the usual stability and security issues.

Imagine a world without Firefox. We might still be using Internet Explorer 6. Let\’s hope that for future releases there will be more visible changes and improved user-experience. These are all needed to get more support from average users and get some lost market share from other web browsers like Chrome.

So go ahead and download Mozilla Firefox 8 for your computer and let\’s celebrate Firefox\’s 7th birthday!

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Google Chrome 15 Comes with Redesigned New Tab Page

Google Chrome 15

Last week Google Chrome 15 was  released in the stable channel and after my upgrade I immediately noticed the prominent change on the New Tab Page.

The layout of Google New Tab Page  was changed so that you can have more thumbnails on web apps. Surprisingly, we are still stuck to 10 thumbnails on Most Visited web pages because Chrome will not support more thumbnails according to discussions from here and here.

When you hover at the side of Google New Tab Page, you can click the right arrow or the left arrow icons to move from Most Visited to Apps and vice versa. Also, when you drag any app below the sections, you can organize apps in groups just like how you could organize apps in Android home screen using drag and drop.

Dragging the icon to \”Remove from Chrome\” will uninstall the app and  you can also rename the section labels by double-clicking them. \"Chrome15

Some people hate the redesigned New Tabs Page because it is a departure from what the New Tabs Page used to be in many earlier versions of Google Chrome.

It is not so bad in my opinion. In fact, I like it better than the earlier versions just because you can organize the apps into groups unlike before. What Google should do is to let users disable Most Visited web pages or let users set the default section label. I like to make Apps the  default section instead of Most Visited web pages.

Speaking of the Most Visited web pages, did you notice the subtle color shade at the bottom of each thumbnail? The color comes from the major color from the favicon.

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I also noticed that Google Chrome 15 has a new place for extension management. It is now located with other Chrome settings.

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Google is priming up Chrome for tablets — there is no mistake about it and the redesigned New Tab Page is one step closer for Chrome to come to Android even it missed getting in Ice Cream Sandwich. For more detailed guide on how to use the New Tab Page, click here.

Enjoy the video demonstrating how to use the redesigned NTP on Google Chrome 15.

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Firefox 7 Performance and Memory Handling Is So Much Better

\"FirefoxFinally, after many years of poor memory handling, Firefox 7 introduced the best feature added in Firefox recently – improved memory handling.

Firefox 7 Performance

Mozilla claims that the improvement is often 20% to 30% less memory usage but users can observe up to 50% less memory consumption with Firefox 7. To prove that, Lifehacker tested browser speeds.  The contenders were Firefox 7, Chrome 14, Internet Explorer 9 and Opera 11. At the end of the test, Opera came out on the top place overall, followed by Firefox, Internet Explorer and lastly, Google Chrome.

Below is one of the benchmark results for memory usage using 5 extensions. It shows that Chrome 14 is the poorest web browser with extensions in memory handling. This is a big win for Firefox because it seems that Google Chrome is adding more bloat in every iteration.\"memory

I did my own tests. I opened more than 10 tabs with JavaScript-intensive websites like Gmail, Google+, Twitter, Facebook, and my WordPress admin panel. I also watched several YouTube videos without updating Flash to the latest version. Take note that I also have a dozen add-ons installed.

At the start of my test, Firefox is consuming about 350 MB and it slowly climbed 600 MB after I opened more tabs. I let the tabs open for several minutes and closed the tabs one by one. I monitored the memory consumption and  I\’m impressed that the memory consumption is depleting. I let one tab open and the memory consumption hovered 380 MB only. Before upgrading to Firefox 7, Firefox memory consumption will never go down below 500 MB if I do the same test.

So, it is true! Firefox 7 uses much less memory than Firefox 3, 4, 5 and 6.

Other New Features

To continuously improve future versions, Mozilla added an opt-in system (telemetry) to send performance data. This is helpful to make future Firefox releases leaner and faster.

Just in case you did not allow Firefox to collect anonymous data the first time, you can enable it here by going to…

Options -> Advanced -> General (tab)-> Check the \"Submit performance data\" checkbox.

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Apart from improved memory handling, Firefox Sync is also improved. It now syncs almost instantly.

Firefox 7 added a new rending back-end that speeds up Canvas operations on Windows. Also added are support for  text-overflow: ellipsis, Web Timing specification and improved support for MathML.

For the complete release notes of Firefox 7 desktop version, check this out. We can expect 2 more major releases from Firefox this year. Up next, Firefox 8.

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IE8 Pass the Acid2 test

\"Acid2\"I thought hell is already freezing when I read this news. Internet Explorer 8 reached a very unexpected milestone — IE8 passed the Acid2 test!

In order to pass this test, the browser has to be compliant on standards of HTML and CSS rendering. Safari, Opera and beta version of Firefox 3.0 pass the Acid2 test. IE8 somehow surprised me because Microsoft used to be too arrogant in creating their own \”standards\”. I thought they didn\’t care but now they are trying to be standard compliant… for real? I still can\’t believe I\’m blogging about this.

For related information here are some good articles:

IE8 goes on an Acid2 trip; beta due in first half of 2008

Internet Explorer 8 and Acid2: A Milestone

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