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from the L.A. Times

Category: Firefox

SOPA blackout: Who’s gone dark to protest anti-piracy bills? [Updated]


Wednesday, Jan. 18: the day of the SOPA "blackout" protest. As you may have seen from our coverage, major names in the online world such as Google, Wikipedia, Mozilla and Reddit are censoring their own websites with black bars and blacked-out pages in protest of SOPA and PIPA, two online anti-piracy bills currently under consideration on Capitol Hill.

Lawmakers who support the bills say the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect Intellectual Property Act will protect the intellectual property rights of music, movie and TV studios. But the websites and tech giants taking part in the Wednesday blackout argue that SOPA and PIPA would allow for a censoring of the Internet that would forever alter the Web and what we can do, say and publish online.

And it's not just Silicon Valley that's protesting SOPA and PIPA in the day-long blackout -- a few publications that cover the tech world are taking part as well, including Wired and ArsTechnica.

Here's a list of more than 30 websites (and screen shots of each) we've spotted that are protesting today in the form of full-on blackouts or even just making their anti-SOPA and anti-PIPA stances known publicly. If there are a few we've missed, feel free to let us know in the comments.

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Google's Chrome browser overtakes Internet Explorer 8

Google's Chrome browser entered the market in 2008.Did Google's Chrome browser just become the globe's most popular?

That's what StatCounter is reporting.

It says Chrome topped Internet Explorer 8 in the last week of November, when Chrome took 23.6% of the global market and IE8 took 23.5%.

Of course, if you combine all of the versions of Internet Explorer, it's still the browser champ. And in the United States, Internet Explorer is still on top, with 27% of the market.

So what's driving the growth? Aodhan Cullen, chief executive of StatCounter, says businesses as well as consumers are adopting Chrome.

Microsoft, which includes Internet Explorer with its Windows operating system, used to have a lock on the browser market. Google didn't even enter the market until 2008.

But Chrome recently surpassed Mozilla Foundation's Firefox browser, which it used to support. Firefox launched in 2004 and drove innovation in the market, which was dominated by Internet Explorer since IE overtook Netscape's browser in the late 1990s.

Google CEO Larry Page was always a proponent of Google's getting into the browser market. Google began to build a browser in 2006, concerned that existing browsers were not good enough to support its online services or might lead users away from its search engine. (Microsoft uses Internet Explorer to send users to its own Bing search engine.)


Mozilla releases Firefox 8 with built-in Twitter search

Google unveils tools to speed up Internet searches

Google says Chrome-powered laptops will be available in June

-- Jessica Guynn 

Photo: The logo for the Google Chrome Web browser is shown during a news conference at Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., in September 2008. Photo credit: Paul Sakuma / Associated Press. 

Black Friday? How about ‘update your parents' browser day’?

Dell from 1999, suring the World Wide Web

The Thanksgiving holiday, for many, is about digging into a turkey and sides with friends and family, celebrating and honoring what we have in this world we each have to be thankful for.

The day after, Black Friday, for another subset of us, is all about shopping (unless you're like me and you avoid the craziness at retail stores for the weekend).

But Alexis Madrigal, an editor and writer at The Atlantic magazine, has a fantastic idea that is catching on with the blogosphere -- "Update your parents' browser day."

Madrigal, in an article on The Atlantic's website, describes Thanksgiving as a "time when families gather together to share food, extend gratitude, and marvel at how Dad still uses Internet Explorer 6. No, seriously, Dad, how can you be using a browser developed during the Clinton administration? That was like 10 presidents ago."

To alleviate this problem and get the folks up to date with the latest in Web browsing technology, Madrigal suggests updating browsers in top secret, covert-ops style.

"If a parent catches you, don't tell them that you're changing their Web browser," he suggests. "Say instead that you're checking for viruses or installing new drivers or that you're 'freeing up space on their hard drive,' which parents always seem to worry about. (And though you're lying, if they do have viruses or are running out of hard drive space or need new drivers for some reason, be a good boy and do that stuff too.)"

While I'm wholly behind the world leaving outdated Web browsers behind, I'm going to have to advocate for being on the up-and-up about the move. Let your parents, or your grand pappy, your tio and tia, your girlfriend or whoever is behind the times know what you're doing and why -- security, speed, better websites, graphics, video and all that.

The website LifeHacker took Madrigal's idea and suggested even more shady activity, namely, if your parents use Microsoft's Internet Explorer, that you should replace it with Mozilla's Firefox or Google's Chrome (Opera is a good option too). The site even suggested going as far as changing the icon on the desktop to look like IE and downloading themes that will make other browsers look like the Microsoft app.

Of course, Microsoft doesn't advocate abandoning Internet Explorer. In fact, the tech giant suggested (unsurprisingly) to update your family to the latest version of IE -- in two separate company blog posts.

Regardless of your browser preference, many blogs and tech websites (such as Gizmodo, ReadWriteWeb, ArsTechnica, Computerworld, Neowin and TechCrunch) seem to agree that "Update your parents' browser day" is an idea we can all get behind.

"No more excuses," Madrigal wrote. "These browsers must be upgraded. Do it for the Web developers. Do it for the designers. Do it for your parents. On Friday, Nov. 25, every old Web browser must go."

Join Madrigal's call to action, won't you? I might even update the browsers of a co-worker or two Friday if I can.


Black Friday: Apple discounts iPad, iPods, Macs

Black Friday: Microsoft Stores offer deals on PCs, Xbox games

Black Friday: Verizon offering free Droid Incredible 2, $200 Xoom

-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Photo: A Dell computer from 1999, surfing the Web. Credit: Dell/Reuters

Mozilla releases Firefox 8 with built-in Twitter search

Mozilla Firefox 8 download page

Mozilla released Firefox 8, the latest version of its Web browser, with one feature that is sure to get notice by social media fans -- built-in Twitter search.

"Twitter is now included as a search option in Firefox for Windows, Mac and Linux," Mozilla said in a blog post Tuesday detailing updates found in Firefox 8, many of which are under the hood.

Firefox 8 users can search topics, hashtags and user names on Twitter from within the browser's search box (located just to the right of the URL box). The Twitter search feature is available in English, Japanese, Portuguese and Slovenian, and Mozilla is promising more languages to be added in the future.

With the update, Twitter joins Google, Yahoo, Bing,, eBay and Wikipedia as search options built-into Firefox.

Aside from Twitter search, Mozilla promises that Firefox 8 will be faster than previous versions with improved support for HTML5 and WebGL, "a new Web standard that allows websites and Web apps to display hardware-accelerated 3D graphics without third-party software."


Mozilla releases Firefox 4 app for Android

Mozilla fires up mobile OS for smartphones, Web

Mozilla and Microsoft launch 'Firefox with Bing' browser

-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Image: A screen shot of Mozilla's Firefox 8 download page. Credit: Mozilla

Amazon's Kindle Cloud reader now lets you read e-books via Firefox


If you forgot your Kindle, iPhone, Android smartphone, MacBook, iPad, Galaxy and Xoom tablets at home today not to worry, you'll can still get access to your Amazon e-books.

The company said Tuesday it would now let readers peruse their Kindle books through Firefox, the second-most popular Web browser. Using its Kindle Cloud service, Firefox readers can sign in to their Amazon accounts to get a virtual bookshelf of every Kindle book they've ever bought.

This is another step toward an e-books everywhere strategy Amazon has been cultivating for several years. The Kindle Cloud has been available through Google's Chrome browser and Apple's Safari browser, but Firefox will bring online Kindle access to a sizable contingent of Web users. Firefox is used by closed to 25% of the Web browsing public -- second to Internet Explorer at 38%, according to StatCounter numbers compiled on Wikipedia. Firefox's creator, Mozilla, says the browser has 450 million worldwide users.

Before Amazon brought its Kindle reader service to the browser, users had to download a standalone PC program to read the books offline. 


Amazon Prime launches Kindle Owners' Lending Library

Barnes & Noble Nook Simple Touch e-reader drops to $99

Kobo Vox tablet, $200, to take on Kindle Fire, Nook Color

-- David Sarno

Image: A screen shot of the Kindle Cloud reader in Firefox 8.0. 

Mozilla fires up mobile OS for smartphones, web

MozillaWiki Boot to Gecko, B2G, page

Mozilla, the nonprofit group that builds the hugely popular Firefox Web browser, has proposed a new operating system for smartphones called Boot to Gecko or B2G.

The mobile OS, which ideally would make its way to tablets as well, is still years away from completion, if it's ever completed at all. But the concept -- which falls in line with Mozilla's ethos of an open-source Web built by many -- was laid out by a group of four Mozilla developers in a webpage on the group's MozillaWiki site.

"We propose a project we're calling Boot to Gecko (B2G) to pursue the goal of building a complete, standalone operating system for the open web," said the wiki entry.

The goal with B2G is to "find the gaps that keep web developers from being able to build apps that are -- in every way -- the equals of native apps built for the iPhone, Android, and WP7."

In order to build an operating system, essentially from scratch and running on Web-based apps (in the cloud), it'll "require work in a number of areas," the entry said.

Contributors to the project will have to build entirely new APIs (developer tools) that will allow B2G users to be able to (of course) make a phone call, send a text message, snap a photo, transfer data, connect to bluetooth devices and yes, even possibly purchase goods using near-field communications technology.

B2G would be entirely open-sourced, but would start with a few bits from another open sourced OS -- Google's Android, the wiki entry said. Android is not only the most popular mobile OS in the world right now, but it's also proven as a working and efficient OS, so this is probably a good place to start -- though B2G (as it's proposed) won't simply be a new Mozilla skin over the top of Android.

"We will do this work in the open, we will release the source in real-time, we will take all successful additions to an appropriate standards group, and we will track changes that come out of that process," Mozilla said. "We aren't trying to have these native-grade apps just run on Firefox, we're trying to have them run on the web.

"This project is in its infancy; some pieces of it are only captured in our heads today, others aren't fully explored. We're talking about it now because we want expertise from all over Mozilla -- and from people who aren't yet part of Mozilla -- to inform and build the project we're outlining here."

Ambitious? Yes.

Feasible? If it's going to be done fully open-source and community built, there may be no group more capable of pulling something like this off than Mozilla.

Firefox is one of the world's most widely used Web browsers and it's not beyond the many sharp minds who take part in building the nonprofit's free products to be able to create such an OS and improved tools for developers looking to make high-quality Web apps.

And its that idea -- that Web apps can be as good, if not better, than native apps, that is at the core of what B2G is about.

"Mozilla believes that the web can displace proprietary, single-vendor stacks for application development," the wiki entry said. "To make open web technologies a better basis for future applications on mobile and desktop alike, we need to keep pushing the envelope of the web to include --- and in places exceed --- the capabilities of the competing stacks in question."


Mozilla releases Firefox 4 app for Android

Mozilla to Apple, Microsoft and Google: 'Stop being evil'

Mozilla adds new Aurora development stage to update Firefox faster

-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Image: A screenshot of the MozillaWiki entry detailing the proposal for the Boot to Gecko mobile OS. Credit: Mozilla

Mozilla adds new Aurora development stage to update Firefox faster


Mozilla is speeding up releases of its popular Firefox Web browser and already offering testers a taste of Firefox 5.

The Aurora version of Firefox 5, which is available for download now, comes just a month after the final version of Firefox 4 was released. Aurora is the newest of three stages of development that new versions of Firefox will go through before release.

Mozilla has made Aurora publicly available but warns on its website that it offers "the newest innovations in an unstable environment that's not for the faint of heart."

The addition of the Aurora version will increase the rate at which Firefox gets new features, performance enhancements, security updates and stability improvements to users, Damon Sicore, Mozilla's senior director of platform engineering, said in a blog post.

It also gives users and open-source developers "more opportunities to participate in building Firefox," Sicore said.

The first Aurora release includes performance, security and stability improvements that need to be tested out, he said.

The move should also speed up Firefox's development, with versions of the browser moving from Aurora to Beta and from Beta to Final about every 6 weeks. It also mirrors the release patterns of Google's Chrome browser, which is updated with new builds about every 6 to 8 weeks.


Apple adds 'do not track' tool to Safari browser in Mac OS X Lion, report says

Mozilla to Apple, Microsoft and Google: 'Stop being evil'

Mozilla releases Firefox 4 app for Android

-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Image: Firefox's logos for different versions of the popular Web browser -- Nightly, Aurora and Beta. Credit: Mozilla

Mozilla releases Firefox 4 app for Android


Mozilla's Firefox 4, the latest release of one of the Web's most popular browsers, is now available as an Android app.

The Firefox 4 app hit Google's Android Market on Tuesday and includes a few features designed to connect desktop or laptop browsing to smartphones and tablets.

Start-page-screen Users can sync their browsing history, bookmarks, tabs and passwords on every computer, smartphone and tablet they have -- as long as they have Firefox installed.

The Firefox 4 app can even launch websites on an Android device right where a user left off on the Firefox 4 browser at home. This feature, for example, could be used to find directions on a website on a home or work computer, then pull up the same site and information on an Android phone.

In typical Firefox fashion, Mozilla has added plug-in "personas" that allow users to change the colors and even add images to the toolbars in the browser.

Firefox 4 for Android (versions 2.0 and newer) also features an "Awesome Screen" that enables one-tap access to bookmarks, history and a user-curated list of search engines.

Twitter integration, tabbed browsing, search for text on a Web page and saving images from websites to a PDF format are other included features.

And Firefox 4 for Android is also available in more than 10 languages as of launch day.

Mozilla, being the open-source and nonprofit community of programmers both paid and volunteer that it is, also released a Firefox app for Maemo on Tuesday. Maemo is a Linux-based open-source operating system for Nokia devices.


RIM says PlayBook tablet will run Android apps

Mozilla to Apple, Microsoft and Google: 'Stop being evil'

HTML5 logo unveiled by the World Wide Web Consortium

-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Images, top: Tabbed browsing in Firefox 4 for Android. Middle: Firefox 4 for Android's start page. Credit: Mozilla

Video: Mozilla shows off features in its Firefox 4 for Android app. Credit: Mozilla via YouTube

Mozilla's Firefox 4 to be released next week

Mozilla's Firefox 4, the latest iteration of its popular Web browser, is scheduled to be officially released Tuesday, and developers are already planning to launch three more versions later this year in an ambitious gambit to build on popularity for the open-source browser, according to a road map released by Mozilla.


The goal is to regularly update the browser without disrupting longer term projects, Mozilla said.

In July, Mozilla released a beta version of Firefox 4 and later pushed back its official release date from fall 2010 to this year. The new browser features an improved user interface with tabs on top of the URL bar (Mozilla deems this the "Awesome Bar") and additional features such as Switch to Tab, which makes it easier to locate open tabs when pecking out URLs.


Mozilla releases new Firefox 4 beta, link-sharing extension

Google's Chrome 10 Beta is faster, boasts Chrome OS-like settings interface

Android vs. iPhone: which has the faster web browser? Two studies disagree

-- Shan Li


'Do Not Track Me Online' privacy bill introduced by California Rep. Jackie Speier


The first "do not track" legislation was introduced in Congress on Friday, raising the possibility that Web users will be able to prevent advertisers from recording their online behavior for marketing purposes, similar to the Do Not Call Registry created in 2003.

The bill, called the "Do Not Track Me Online Act of 2011," would give the Federal Trade Commission the right to create regulations that would force online marketers to respect the wishes of users who did not want to be tracked.

"Failure to do so would be considered an unfair or deceptive act punishable by law," noted a statement from the office of Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), who is sponsoring the bill.

Speier also introduced a second bill that would enable consumers to better control financial information collected about them by banks and other institutions. That bill includes a provision that would prevent companies from sharing consumer financial information without explicit pre-approval from the consumer, a process known as opting in.

“These two bills send a clear message — privacy over profit,” Speier said in a statement. “Consumers have a right to determine what if any of their information is shared with big corporations, and the federal government must have the authority and tools to enforce reasonable protections.”

In recent weeks, several browser-makers have said they will add mechanisms that make it more difficult for advertisers to track user behavior.

Google’s Chrome, Firefox and Microsoft’s newer Internet Explorer 9 will have some protections built in, but critics say those features are not always easy for the average user to operate, nor do they block every type of tracking.

In December, the FTC released a report urging for stronger online privacy controls, including a Do Not Track mechanism. The Commerce Department also recommended stronger controls, but stopped short of recommending legislation.


Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox announce tools to block Web tracking by advertisers

Federal regulators call for Do Not Track option for consumers as part of a long-awaited online privacy report

'Do not track' bill to protect online privacy worries some lawmakers

-- David Sarno [follow]

Photo credit: Anemoneprojectors / Flickr


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