User Account Changes

Ok, we’re back after a little bit of downtime. We’re working on some user integration with Evolution 5. Hopefully, this will mean a single sign on through the whole of neonDragon.net. This will (hopefully) eventually mean you can use the same user account on the bug tracker, game, forums, etc because it’s all integrated into this script here. It’ll also allow me to discover any problems or difficulties in integrating with other scripts, features we need, etc.

The Evolution user database had somewhere around 9,000 members whilst this community had around 100 members, many of which already have Evolution accounts. For that reason, we decided to scrap all existing accounts on this blog and to import the Evolution 5 member database. Unfortunately this means if you signed up on this blog, you’ll have to register again. If you’ve got a user account at Evolution 5, you can log in with your Evolution e-mail address or ruler name. If you are unsure of your e-mail address and ruler name, a tool should come online soon which will allow you to find out what it is.

Sorry for the inconvenience.

Firefox: 90,000,000 downloads, 1.0.7, Opera 8.0 upgraders

Spread Firefox reports that Firefox has been downloaded 90,000,000 times. Firefox 1.0 was downloaded 1,000,000 on the day it was released and 10,000,000 that month following it’s release. Firefox 1.0 was released on the 9th November last year. It is likely Firefox 1.5 will be released November this year. It’d be really nice for Firefox 1.0 to hit 100,000,000 downloads before November when 1.5 is due to be released. Version 1.5 is shaping up really nicely and I can’t wait for deployment and to begin using canvas and SVG on my websites.

Version 1.0.7

Mozilla Firefox 1.0.7 was released today fixing several bugs and security holes in Firefox 1.0. A lot of people have been claiming recently Firefox isn’t more secure – there have been 7 security updates since the original release of Firefox 1.0. Like any software, Firefox is bound to have some bugs. With a market share approaching 10%, as far as I know there are still no widespread exploits of any Firefox security vulnerabilities and the Mozilla Foundation have been exceptionally fast to fix security vulnerabilities. Microsoft in contrast may take several months.

Normal users also experience safer surfing in that there are less popups and they are not prompted to install ActiveX controls all the time. Security shouldn’t be measured only by the number of security holes in the application, but also how the product is protecting you from those nasties on the web.

Upgrading from Opera 8.0?

Jesse Ruderman writes:

Opera users who liked the site-targeted Google ads
should not continue using Opera 8.0x because it contains known security
holes, but they are invited to switch to Firefox and install Adbar.

Opera 8.5: Opera goes free

So it seems like the rumours were actually right after all and not as wrong as I thought 🙂 It’s good that Opera has bought itself into line with all other major browsers by being free and ad-free. I strongly recommend anyone using Opera 8.0 upgrades to 8.5 as 8.0 can be considered adware (shows adverts) and spyware (sends Google the URL of every page you visit)

Opera 8.5 Changelog – seems like there isn’t much more than removal of adverts, security patches and the addition of a Greasemonkey-like feature. I presume it also identifies as Opera by default now.

Download it at the new Apple-esque Opera homepage.

Enterprise on Channel 4

Channel 4 started showing season 4 of Enterprise last night with the first part of the two-parter, Storm Front. I cannot believe how misinformed they can be about the cancellation of Enterprise. At the end of series 3, they said they had just shown the last ever episode of Enterprise. Last night they apologised for the mistake and said that Enterprise hadn’t be cancelled and would continue.

Enterprise is indeed cancelled but Channel 4 were just a series behind. Campaign to Save Enterprise. Anyway, rock on Atlantis 🙂

Firefox 1.5 canvas tag

Firefox 1.5 implements the HTML canvas tag as defined in HTML 5. Canvas is quite a cool tag.

Take a look at this demo. If your using Firefox 1.5, you can “draw” on the canvas (try writing “sucks” below the Internet Explorer logo or something). As you draw, another canvas is automatically updated. The other canvas is 100×100 pixels. Take a look at the source code.

You can use this page to play around with what canvas can do. This blog entry describes using canvas to render a web page to an image.

Canvas is going to be huge. Firefox, Mozilla and Safari are already implementing it and I wouldn’t be surprised if Opera also implements it soon. It’s already been described as “revolutionary” and rich web application developers are already saying canvas is going to make their life a lot easier. Of course, it’s going to be limited in appeal until Internet Explorer supports it but it’s still cool.

Internet Explorer Developer Toolbar Review

I just downloaded the Internet Explorer Developer Toolbar Beta (322kb download). I’ve been using Firefox’s Web Developer Toolbar for a long time and I love it. It was one of the reasons I switched to Firefox. I really disliked returning to IE to test pages because of the lack of development tools. If something is not positioned correctly, the outline element tool is very useful. I was hoping that the Internet Explorer toolbar could replicate the Firefox one.

The installation is relatively simple – standard installer with cheap clip art icon. The installer added a new BHO (Browser Helper Object), toolbar and explorer bar to my browser. It asked me to restart on Windows XP although it seems to work without a restart.

When I opened up Internet Explorer, I needed to manually right click the toolbar and enable the new toolbar. Maybe I’m used to the ease of installing Firefox toolbars 🙂

Screenshot

The toolbar looked a bit unpolished to me. There are no icons, some of the buttons on the icons open menus whilst others open a tool and it’s not indicated which. The DOM Viewer didn’t work for me.

Ruler

The ruler tool is cool. It’s a movable, resizable, repositional, rotatable ruler. It can tell you how wide something is. I guess it has it’s uses although I can’t think of many practical uses I would have for it whilst developing web pages. I also don’t know why anyone would want a ruler measurement in a direction other than horizontal and vertical. Still, the X/Y axis snap makes it easy to measure in a vertical or horizontal direction. There is also a snap to element which makes it really easy to measure the size of an individual element on the page.

It’s obvious that the IE toolbar was inspired by the Firefox Web Developer Toolbar. Coming from the Firefox toolbar, I was quite disappointed at the features in the IE toolbar.

Disable Menu

The Disable menu doesn’t have as many options as the Firefox menu but it has all the essentials. It would have been nice to disable individual styles, browser styles, and referrer sending.

View Menu

Again, with the bare minimum and probably inspired by the Firefox toolbar once again. One thing I really didn’t like is the information boxes appearing over the elements. When you choose to “Show Link Paths”, the green box appearing showing the link path appears above the link. If the link text only consists of a few characters, you only see part of the link URL.

View Link URL

The outline menu works just as it does in Firefox. It works well, and the ‘outline positioned items’ menu is good. You can also outline custom tags.

Validate Menu

The toolbar provides quick n’ easy validation of HTML, CSS, Feeds, Accessibility. The HTML, CSS and link checkers are provided by the W3C. Results open in a new window. The feed validator is a bit silly – it doesn’t support autodiscovery so you actually need to open the RSS feed in your browser and then click on ‘Validate Feed’. This is not always easy, if you send mimetypes (example). Auto-discovery would be really useful and save a lot of time. On standard HTML pages, this should be grayed out.

Images

Again, information appears above the image. On small icons, you won’t see the full information. Also don’t try to ‘View Alt Text’ and then ‘Show Images Size’. It doesn’t work!

Misc Web Links

Quick access to W3C specs. Apparently, the Web Developer Firefox Toolbar is removing these. I’ve never found the W3C documents great reference of good for learning HTML. When I clicked on ‘View Cookie Information’, IE opened up a new window at C:\Documents and Settings\Khlo\Local Settings\Temp\CookieInfo-756558.xml and gave me an error saying that it restricted access to that file because of active content. Sigh. Allowing the content to run produced a blank page.

The Internet Explorer Developer Toolbar is overall a useful tool for any web developers working on Internet Explorer. It’s still unpolished and buggy in many places but it is beta software so that is to be expected. It needs work to fix the various annoyances and it won’t make anyone switch from Firefox back to Internet Explorer.

Overall Rating: 3/5

Major Opera UI overhaul

According to Opera Watch:

Opera is planning on a major overhaul for its desktop browser.

According to a source, Opera will release a new version of its desktop browser, which will contain major modifications to the browser’s User Interface (UI). The new version will sport a simpler look.

The next release will be Opera 8.5 and will sport a new, faster rendering engine along with the UI overhaul (does this mean an updated version of Presto or a totally new rendering engine?). The new version should be released by the end of next week.

Following in the footsteps of Firefox? 😉

More on Google's Blog Search

There has been quite a lot of talk about Google’s Blog Search over the past day including speculation and further rumours.

Google to remove blogs from main index?

Beyond PR asks if Google Blog Search means the end of blogger’s influence. The entry cites an article from The Register:

CEO Eric Schmidt made the announcement on Monday, at the JP Morgan Technology and Telecom conference. ‘Soon the company will also offer a service for searching Web logs, known as “blogs,”‘ reported Reuters.

It isn’t clear if weblogs will be removed from the main search results, but precedent suggests they will be. After Google acquired Usenet groups from Deja.com, it developed a unique user interface and a refined search engine, and removed the groups from the main index. After a sticky start, Usenet veterans welcomed the new interface. Google recently acquired Blogger, and sources suggest this is the most likely option.

I guess this might be a good thing, but blogs are also often used for useful information. I’ve actually found when searching for a solution to a web development problem, most of the time a blog has the solution. It would be interesting to see how this proceeds.

Redirects

Quite a lot of people have been complaining about the links to http://www.google.com/url?sa=D&q=http://www.example.com in the search results. Blogger Buzz responds:

“After clicking on a result in Blog Search, I’m being passed through a redirect. Why?”

Sadly, this wasn’t part of an overly clever click-harvesting scheme. We had the redirects in place during testing to prevent referrer-leaking and simply didn’t remove them prior to launch. But they should be gone in the next 24 hours … which will have the advantage of improving click-through time.

Feedfetcher

Google has a page on Feedfetcher, it’s RSS/Atom fetcher. This is used on the Google Personalized Homepage and I would presume on the Blog Search.

Yahoo! Instant Search

Yahoo! Search blog announces the addition of Yahoo! Instant Search to Yahoo! Next, Yahoo’s showcase of cool new projects and developing technologies.

Instant Search Screenshot

As you type your search into the Instant Search box, it checks to see if there is a single, relevant answer for your query. If there is, that single result instantly appears on the page, just below the search box in a kind of “speech bubble”. You don’t even have to hit the Search button or the Enter key, and you don’t have to sort through pages of results (though of course that option is still available to you).

I’m not a big fan of Instant Search. It’s not really instant; it suffers from a problem many other XmlHttpRequest-enhanced pages also have – latency. You don’t get your instant result straight away. In addition, it’s nothing like the XmlHttpRequest “live searches” seen on some sites. It gives you one single result and only when it decides to do so.

If you type in ‘Google’ it’ll give you a link to Google’s homepage. If you want a stock quote for Google, you could type in ‘Goog’. Sure enough, the stock quote appears as an instant result but you’ll be waiting about a second for the quick search result to even appear.

Yahoo’s Search Blog says, “For example, in the past I would typically hit Enter as soon as I finished typing in my search, but after using Instant Search I now find myself pausing to look for the ‘bubble’.” And I think it’s true – this slows down the user. The user is waiting there for a couple of seconds wondering whether there was no “instant search result”, or whether the request is still being processed. There is no visual feedback to what is happening.

It takes about the same amount of time to press return after typing the search query. And as a bonus, you get more than one result. Still, it’s a nice concept.

Hearing your password

Via Forever Geek, computer scientists at the University of California at Berkeley have managed to crack passwords simply by listening.

Off-the-shelf microphones are used to listen to the sound of your password being typed in. The program then does a bit of processing to attempt to work our your password. 96% of the characters are eventually correct.

The article says: “Tygar said that when assigned to crack a 10-digit password, the software replies with 75 possibilities. ”This means we can break into one of every 75 people’s accounts, on the first try,” he said.”

Forever Geek also points to a 2003 article regarding security of wireless keyboards.