Firefox 12 Finally Adds Silent Updates, Mimics Chrome

\"FirefoxFirefox 12 Released

I just upgraded to Firefox 12, and just like that there is another update. I just blogged about Firefox 11 and I described there how Firefox\’s market share is shrinking due to Chrome. Chrome is popular and widely used because it is very easy to use. Once you get used to it, you will stick to it. I still remember reading posts how people find the tab placement of Chrome awkward while ditching the title bar altogether. Now look at the top 10 browsers in the market. Everyone followed the direction of Chrome. I don\’t think Firefox is blatantly copying Chrome. I think Chrome just innovated more and now it\’s one of the leading browsers. Everything is a remix but I just wish Firefox is really doing things better.

Improvements and Hidden Updates

There are several hidden updates here, like when you change the entry browser.newtabpage.enabled to true in about:config, then enter about:newtab you will get what seems like 3 x 3 tiles of your most visited websites. We will see the complete \”speed dial\”  or \”new tab page\” feature in Firefox 13.

You don\’t see much improvement as an end-user but under the hood, there are more than 85 improvements to built-in developer tools.

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Silent Updates

The most important update here is the removal of user account control dialog so this is probably the last time you will see the UAC pop-up after upgrading to Firefox 12. The goal is to simplify the upgrade process and push the updates to all users. Instead of using UAC in Windows, Firefox now uses a background service in Windows to update the program when there is an update available — pretty much what Chrome for a long time already. This feature is now planned in Mac and Linux on version 14.

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Why did Mozilla only implemented this now? I could only reason add-ons being the major cause of delay.

If you don\’t know, Firefox needed to switch to a new add-on SDK to allow developers to create add-ons with greater compatibility with future releases of Firefox. This way developers do not need to worry that their add-ons will be incompatible to future versions. Switching to the new add-on SDK required convincing the developers to completely switch to the new SDK and it took time. I don\’t know the exact numbers of developers who switched to the new SDK but since I used Firefox 4 I saw more and more add-ons not requiring immediate update every time I upgrade Firefox and since Firefox 10 I don\’t remember having problems with add-ons at all. And because there is no need to worry about add-ons now, Firefox can automatically update the program without the risk of making installed add-ons incompatible. We will see how effective it is when Mozilla rolls out the next security update or major release.

Switch to Date-based Versioning Already

Speaking of major releases, it seems pointless to talk about version numbers now with the case of Firefox and Chrome but for me Firefox is a special case. I am still wondering if the rapid release cycle actually helps Firefox gain more users and made it easier to use. Looking back, Mozilla could have just called the rapid release cycle, rapid updates cycle — delivering noteworthy updates while keeping the major release number and still use the 6-week iterations. What if they just also use a major development wave every 6 iterations to mark a major release milestone just so we don\’t get ridiculous high version number like Chrome? I think Mozilla can do be better than Chrome here. Seriously, just switch to the data-based versioning already. It makes more sense to have Firefox 2012.04.24. They can go the Ubuntu way as well, say Firefox 12.4 which means that the software was released on April 2012. Makes more sense right?

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Google Bar Back to Black, Still Not Customizable

Google bar, also known as \”sandbar\”, is the navigation bar that links Google services on top of most Google products. It has undergone several transformation for the last few months which supposed to give users better experience.

I have posted about Google black navigation bar before and how to customize it, as well as the Google menu that was supposed to replace the black Google bar. Then, few weeks ago, Google decided to update Google bar yet again and now it looks like a hybrid of the previous black Google bar and the defunct Google menu. If you didn\’t get the Google menu you probably won\’t notice the difference.

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What was retained from the Google menu design is the separate area for name, notification count, G+ share button and profile picture. In the old black bar design, these UI elements are fused with the black menu bar.

The new Google bar has more Google products listed but it is still not configurable, for the nth time.

Also, one of my favorite link  (Google Reader) is not listed. I think in general people don\’t really use it but for me it is essential. Why should I need to click More to access it? I\’m sure Google has data to identify which menu you are using and which ones you don\’t click at all.

What I can do at the moment is install this extension in Chrome so that Google Reader will appear on the top links.

I\’m not sure if the old extensions for the black Google bar still works. I think I learned how to live with the new Google bar.

Seriously, I am not sure why Google is still not offering some degree of customization on Google bar.

 

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Customize Google Menu Bar Using Google Menu Editor

New Google Menu Bar

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I\’m not sure if the new Google Menu bar is already rolled out to all countries. I just received the update last weekend and the update is not affecting all my browsers yet because I think it is cookie-based. My only complain is that you can\’t customize Google Menu Bar the way you like it. There is no preference at all.

If you want to force the update to all your browsers to get the new Google menu you can use the cookie trick to enable it.

If you are still on the black strip menu bar and you wish to stick with it for the meantime, you can customize it too but eventually you will get the new Google Menu sooner or later.

Customize Google Menu Bar

At the moment, the only method I know to customize Google Menu Bar is only available in Chrome using the Google Menu Editor extension.

Using this extension you can drag and drop the order of the menu items.

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After getting the desired order, you have to close Chrome and when you go to Google.com or any Google site, you should be able to see the customized Google Menu Bar. See an example below.

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If you are unhappy with the settings you can go back and change the order or reset the menu to its original state.

So how would you customize Google Menu?

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Internet Explorer 6 Countdown – The Champions So Far

IE6 Countdown

Here are the countries where Internet Explorer 6 usage shares are already below 1%. All the data details for each country came from CIA World Factbook while the source of the month they country reached 1% is from Net Applications.

The Champions

Norway reached the goal on Oct. 2010; Finland on February 2011; Denmark and Sweden on May 2011; Poland on September 2011, Austria on October 2011 and just recently last December 2011 – Mexico, Ukraine, Philippines, Portugal, Czech Republic and the USA.

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It seems that there is a general trend here with European countries leading the move away from IE6. Norway is the first country to reach the goal. Not surprising as it is the country where Opera came from.

Countries with relatively high usage of Internet Explorer 6 are India, Vietnam, Japan, South Korea, and China.

I\’m proud to say that the Philippines is the first Asian country in the list of champions and hopefully our neighboring countries will follow soon.

\"Philippines

If you\’re reading my blog since the beginning I am part of a community who anticipates the demise of Internet Explorer 6 not only because it is ugly but also because many web developers and designers spend so much time tweaking CSS and mark-up languages to make it look okay in IE6 even if IE6 is the one that needs fixing. Microsoft appears to be excited do get rid of this Jurassic-age web browser, but they are too late. Microsoft should have taken the initiative to kill the old and grumpy IE6 long time ago. Perhaps if they have done a little more effort Internet Explorer shouldn\’t be on a big decline since the inception of popular alternative browsers like Firefox and Chrome.

Goodbye to Internet Explorer 6

I will do the unthinkable and recommend PC users to upgrade IE6 to the latest Internet Explorer version — but after you download the latest Internet Explorer browser please download either Chrome, Firefox or Opera and experience the difference of a true modern browser. If you are using Mac, good for you because you already have Safari.

The ultimate goal here of Microsoft is to get rid of Internet Explorer 6 and push the IE upgrades to IE 6 users but instead of upgrading, would it be better to let users choose and adopt a new browser for a greater good?

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The Best of MV Tech Blog: 2011 Edition

It\’s almost the end of another year and just like in the previous years this is the time for me to reflect on what happened in 2011 as we prepare to  move forward and welcome 2012.

I have written 79 articles this year; not my most active year in blogging but it is one of the most consistent one because I tried to write an article at least once a week to cover a great topic.

Based on stats, here are the top 10 favorites in MV Tech Blog in 2011:

10. Top 10 Business Models in 2010:  \”A compilation of successful business models in 2010.\” In this article the business models of successful startups such as Airbnb, Groupon and Spotify were revealed.

9. Does Texting Affect Your Spelling?:  \”When you use a lot of abbreviations or text speak, does texting really affect your ability in spelling? There are still debates whether this is true or not.\” I did a lot of research on this subject and I found out that it is still best to use proper spelling. I this article I showed my stand against improper abbreviation and spelling as a result of technology.

8. Run Android on PC with BlueStacks App Player and Cloud Connect: In this article I showed how easy it is to run Android on PC using BlueStacks App Player and sync Android apps from your mobile using Cloud Connect. Not all apps work out of the box because it is still in alpha.

7. Browser Wars Illustrated: \”So true and funny. This art is compelling beyond words.\” This is about an illustration depicting Firefox and Chrome fighting along with IE eating glue.

6. Facebook Japan Unique Feature: Blood Type: \”In Japan, users can post their blood type on their profile. Why can\’t we have this feature globally?\”

5. Free Facebook Mobile Access (Philippines Promo): \”You don\’t need to own a smartphone running iOS or Android to enjoy Facebook mobile. It is free for up to 90 days on Globe and Smart promo.\”

4. Google Black Navigation Bar: Remove, Disable or Change It:  \”Google Black Menu Bar (codename \’Sandbar\’) is a toolbar that attempts to unify all Google properties. Don\’t want the black bar? Remove, disable or change it.\”  Apparently many people wish to change its color.

3. Bluetooth Problems with Ovi Suite on Windows 7: \”Dear Nokia, screwing up your software will seriously discourage more people to buy any Nokia phone in the future.\” I hardly used any Nokia phones nowadays but this article is popular.

2. Kindle Comparison Chart – Kindle Fire vs. Others:  \”Kindle comparison chart comparing all Kindle versions, and Kindle Fire against iPad 2 and Nook.\” This is not a surprise. Kindle Fire is the only significantly successful Android tablet that came out this year.

1. How to Wisely Use DFA Passport Appointment System: \”For first time Philippine passport applicants and for those who are renewing their passport, here are my tips from my experience on DFA appointment system.\” This article turned out to be very helpful.

Well, as I reflect on these articles I noticed that there is no Apple headline at all. I\’m not sure why but I did cover Apple.

I wish I have the luxury of time to collate the best tweets and retweets that I received this year but I can\’t.

To all the readers and online buddies, thank you very much for being part of this wonderful year.

So long 2011. Let\’s welcome 2012!

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Tweetdeck for Chrome: 7 Features That Disappeared

Tweetdeck for Chrome

First of all, this is not a comparison of Tweetdeck for desktop Air vs. HTML5 versions. If I\’ll do that comparison, I can innumerate more than 10 missing features but this post is not about that.

This is a comparison of the new Tweetdeck for Chrome vs.  old Tweetdeck for Chrome.

1. Horizontal scroll bars

Instead of  horizontal scroll bars what we have are these rolling columns that hides some streams if there is not enough room on your browser. The navigation provided to move to the hidden columns are these nasty looking \”next page\” arrow.

\"Tweetdeck

What\’s more disappointing is leaving behind the \”previous page\”. You are now forced to use the little column navigation on top to move to the previous columns because there\’s nothing to click on the left edge of the browser.

\"Tweetdeck

If Tweetdeck retained the horizontal scroll bars this won\’t be an issue in user experience.

2. RT (old-school Retweet)

Previously you can retweet the tweet internally or click edit your retweet to use RT. Now you are only given an option to quote tweets.

\"Tweetdeck

Quoting gives you curly quotes enclosing the original Tweet.

You can remove them manually but it\’s tedious to remove them one by one on each retweets. Why can\’t Twitter just embrace the old RT convention like it used to be?

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3. Merged / combined columns

I don\’t know if anyone noticed but the merged columns for \”me\” and \”inbox\” seems to be missing and there is no immediate option or setting to create such column.

However, if you were using the old Tweetdeck for Chrome, there is a chance that the old merged columns are still working… or maybe not. The point is, it\’s not there anymore.

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4. Translate

You can instantly translate a foreign language right in Tweetdeck for Chrome before. Now, that feature is totally gone. I wish they\’ll put it back soon.

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5. Shortened link preview

This is one of the most common complain from Tweetdeck for Chrome users. Before, you can instantly get the shortened link preview even if you have not sent the tweet you have composed. Now, you have to send the tweet first before you\’ll get a shortened link.

The character count will not count the length of the long link but instead use the length of the shortened link. It is a bit misleading for first-time users because they will think that Tweetdeck is still counting the characters of the long links but it works just fine — you just don\’t get the preview of the shortened link.

If it works so well before why change it?

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6. In-line picture preview

Before you\’ll get a small thumbnail in your timeline and get a preview of whatever picture or video is attached on a tweet. Now you have to click on the body of the tweet to get the preview. Clicking the link will lunch a new tab or window for the picture hosting or the actual picture itself.

\"Tweetdeck

\"Tweetdeck

7. Foursquare (and defunct Google Buzz)

Well, obviously Google Buzz is a no-go but Foursquare is missing. Maybe Twitter will add it later or sooner but right now, it\’s missing.

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Small fixes rolling out

Since last week, there some small features that Tweetdeck team fixed or changed like the context menu– it\’s already back:

\"Tweetdeck

There are minor tweaks like how the username will appear when retweeted. Before it gives you an option to choose between the full name or the Ttwitter  username but now it shows both to avoid confusion.

Trends only show Worldwide trends. I hope that local trends will be back soon.

I\’ve seen some improvement since the new Tweetdeck was first release so this is not the final version of Tweetdeck for Chrome or the HTML5 client for desktop.

Let\’s just hope that Tweetdeck will address the concerns I\’ve mentioned here as soon as possible.

 

 

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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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