Xmarks' announcement that it would be shutting down in the near future is turning into a topsy-turvy saga. Now the Xmarks team has decided to reconsider offering a premium service in order to keep the product alive, thanks to an outcry from Xmarks fans. Here's the pitch: if you love Xmarks, pledge $10-20 to say you'd commit to a premium service. Your pledge doesn't require a credit card number, it's just a way of saying "I'd pay for this if you launched it."
If 100,000 people express interest, Xmarks may get a fresh start with a new company. The freemium model wasn't something Xmarks had ever considered before, because it now has to compete with free solutions like the ones built into Firefox and Chrome. None of those browser-based alternatives offer cross-browser syncing, though, so Xmarks can stay in the game if enough people are willing to pay for it.
Also worth noting: only 0.001% of the people who downloaded the Xmarks Firefox add-on actually clicked the donate button on the add-on page, and most of those were from Europe. That doesn't bode well for the pledge campaign, but we're rooting for Xmarks!
As I write this, they're up to nearly 1500 of the 100,000-pledge goal.
So, you go to a new website, and you want to leave a comment. Maybe you want to open an account, but just to check the service out. Of course, they want your email, ... but should you give them your real email? Perhaps you should head over to Mailinator and take a moment to create a temporary inbox.
On the one hand, going to Mailinator will take you a moment, and you might want that inbox in the future. On the other hand, you don't know the site all that well, and perhaps giving them your real email address isn't such a great idea. Decisions, decisions!
Firefox has long been the go-to web browser among power users for its impressive feature set, extensibility, and openness. But Google's nimble, light, also extensible and open browser, Chrome, has won over Firefox's core user base. Here's why: More »
Domain name notwithstanding, the add-on feels pretty solid (and has been tested by Mozilla). It adds a set of buttons to Firefox, which let you open the current page in any other browser that you've got installed.
In terms of UI, it's very flexible; you can add entries to the View menu, the main context menu, the main context menu for links, the tab context menu, or the tab bar (like in the screenshot).
Interestingly, on my own system, it wouldn't add Chrome to the list by default (even though I have two Chrome versions installed - Canary and the Dev build). However, it did add Microsoft Pivot, which I had completely forgotten about.
You can manually add browsers to the list, but you can't remove them -- which is a downer. It means I'm stuck with a Microsoft Pivot entry on my list, and that is enough to make me remove this add-on. That's too bad, because this is actually something I need; I often open the current page in other browsers.
Still, if you don't have an experimental browser that you never use this can be a nice solution. It would be even better, though, if the developer added a feature to allow for the removal of browsers.
Have you ever wanted to change the item listed in the context menu in Firefox and find that there are no ways for you to change it in the Preferences section? The Firefox browser comes with a list of preset items for your context menu and is supposed to be the most useful options during browsing. Since we all have different browsing habit, won’t it be great if we can rearrange the items in the context menu and add/remove items to enhance our efficiency?
Firefox does not comes with such option for you to change the context menu, so we have to rely on the menu editor extension to get the thing. With this extension, you can now edit your context menu (and any other menus), rearrange the options, hide the unnecessary and even add entry from other menus.
Install the menu editor addon from here. Alternatively, you can search for it in the Firefox Addon section.
Another day, another CSS3 playground. Are you excited yet? Wait for it - this one has wood paneling for a background! (That's classy!) Even though it's not exactly the first tool of its kind (or the second, ... or the tenth), CSS 3.0 Maker is pretty handy and comprehensive, so I decided it was worth covering. Let me quickly sum it up:
On Monday, Google made a big splash with a customized Arcade Fire video page that showed off all the cool things HTML5 can do, from video, animations and 3D rendering to gorgeous fonts and choreographed windows. It’s all cutting edge stuff as far as what is possible with a Web browser goes, but there is one very big problem. It doesn’t work so great in all browsers, even browsers that supposedly support HTML5. If you go to the landing page that launches the video in Firefox or even the forthcoming IE9 (which isn’t out yet, but is very HTML5-friendly), it detects your browser and suggests you use Chrome instead. I received the following message on Firefox:
This site was designed with Google Chrome in mind and is unable to render properly in your browser. For the best viewing experience, we recommend downloading Google Chrome and trying this site again.
As we pointed out earlier, today is Google Chrome’s second birthday. Since it launched in beta on September 2, 2008, it has come a long way (it’s already 6 versions deep). Back then, it was Windows-only, with official Mac and Linux support only coming late last year. But now it’s on the verge of another milestone: becoming the top browser coming to this site.
I’ve checked out our logs over the past few years to see how well Chrome has been doing compared to its rival browsers. The numbers are shockingly strong for such a new entry — particularly in the past year. Obviously, TechCrunch has a tech-centric audience, but I don’t think it’s off-base to say that you’re also a leading audience of early adopters that often point to where the general public will be in the future.
The numbers are clear: Firefox is in trouble. It has been the top browser since we began using Google Analytics to record stats back in 2007. By 2008, it was nearly 25 percentage points ahead of the next closest rival, Internet Explorer. As of yesterday, it stood just 3 percentage points ahead of the next closest rival, Chrome.
Here are the numbers. In August 2010 (the month that just ended):
- Firefox: 33.98%
- Chrome: 26.22%
- Safari: 18.40%
- IE: 13.23%
- Mozilla Compatible Agent: 5.46%
One year ago, in August 2009 (right before Chrome’s first birthday), the numbers looked like this:
- Firefox: 45.91%
- IE: 20.61%
- Safari: 18.85%
- Chrome: 10.09%
- Mozilla Compatible Anent: 1.83%
Two years ago, in August 2008 (right before Chrome launched), the numbers looked like this:
- Firefox: 55.63%
- IE: 31.21%
- Safari 9.76%
- Opera: 2.23%
- Mozilla: 0.62%
By September 2008, the month Chrome launched in beta, it had an immediate impact. But remember, it was Windows-only at the time:
- Firefox: 52.36%
- IE: 28.55%
- Safari: 9.18%
- Chrome: 6.58%
- Opera: 2.05%
And just for fun, let’s go back three full years, to August 2007.
- Firefox: 48.81%
- IE: 40.61%
- Safari: 6.59%
- Opera: 2.29%
- Mozilla: 0.72%
Chrome has clearly taken a bite out of Firefox, IE, and even Opera’s already small share. Safari is up big over the past couple of years as well, but its growth has seemingly stalled over the past year — despite iPad browser usage (in terms of visits to TechCrunch) exploding.
Of course, overall traffic to TechCrunch is also way up over these past few years. It just appears that more and more people who are visiting are now doing so via Chrome.
Let’s look at the numbers from yesterday:
- Firefox: 34.68%
- Chrome: 31.09%
- Safari: 15.65%
- IE: 12.77%
- Mozilla Compatible Agent: 3.48%
Yes, it’s just a matter of time before Chrome is on top.
As a humorous aside, IE with Chrome Frame, the plug-in Google made to make IE behave like Chrome, is now a bigger source of traffic to TechCrunch than Opera Mini or BlackBerry. While still tiny, it too is growing.
We all know that Firefox 4 comes with plenty of interesting and useful features. However, there is one feature that really annoy me out of hell – the tab preview feature (only available for Windows 7).
Here’s what happen: Let’s assume that your Firefox browser is opened with plenty of tabs, but it is not currently your active application (you might be doing some work in Ms. Office). When you hover your mouse above the Firefox icon in the taskbar, it will show a preview of all the opened tabs. This is good and fine as I can now pick the tab that I want to go to. The bad part is, I don’t want to manually select the tab everytime. When I click on the Firefox icon, I would expect it to switch to the browser immediately and load my last active tab, not to make me select the tab.
As Google Chrome 7 (dev) now includes hardware acceleration, guys from DownloadSquad decided to test it along with Internet Explorer 9 (developers preview) and Firefox 4 (beta).
What are the results?
Google Chrome 7 utilized the most of the hardware resources, delivering better FPS (frames per second) than Internet Explorer 9 or Firefox 4, which took the last place.
However, as those are not the final builds, don’t draw your conclusions yet, things might change in the future.
Thanks to geek for the news tip.
3-way hardware-accelerated browser shoot-out: Chrome on top, IE9 just behind and Firefox brings up the rear (video)
After yesterday's announcement that Chrome 7 is now hardware accelerated, I instantly wanted to get the major browsers back into the ring for another screencasted deathmatch. Back when I did the 4-way speed test, only Firefox and Internet Explorer 9 featured hardware acceleration, and as a result Opera and Chrome were many orders of magnitude slower. If you watch the video, however, you'll see that's definitely no longer the case: Chrome is now the fastest of the three major browsers.
That speed comes at a price! As I discuss in the video, Chrome might be faster, but it uses significantly more resources than either IE9 or Firefox 4. Firefox is some 30% slower, but at the same time seems to use less CPU and GPU time. IE9 seems to utilize the same amount of CPU time as Chrome, but a little less of the GPU -- and it's marginally slower as a result.
What I don't know is whether this is by design or not. You'll notice that the GPU never went far above 50% -- why, with three browsers open, does it not get closer to 100%? The resources are there to be used -- why not use them?! Likewise, my CPU is still only half-used even when all three browsers are drawing 1000 frantic fishes at the same time. If you're curious, the other IE9 test drive samples all provided similar results. I wanted to try Google's 'HTML5 rocks' sample gallery, but they intentionally used elements of CSS and HTML5 that aren't yet supported in Internet Explorer 9 or Firefox 4.
In the name of science, here's some more information about my process: the screen capture does slow down each browser by a few frames per second, but relatively the figures are still accurate. I saw a small deviation in FPS when I was only running one browser at a time (probably because my CPU has multiple cores). There are a few unknown variables too, like whether the CPU core usage is defined by the app, or by the operating system (but with Chrome using more resources than IE9, you can only assume that Windows isn't unfairly biasing its own-brand browser).
If you'd like to recreate my test, you'll need to enable hardware acceleration in Firefox 4 and Chrome -- IE9 has it turned on by default:
- Firefox 4 -- grab a nightly build, navigate to about:config and add gfx.font_rendering.directwrite.enabled -- set it to 'true'
- Chrome 7 -- grab a nightly build and add the following flags to the shortcut before opening it: --enable-accelerated-compositing --enable-gpu-plugin --enable-gpu-rendering --enable-accelerated-2d-canvas