Monthly Archives: February 2012

As found on the web (February 29th)

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Mobile browsers: Opera Mobile 12 shines in html5test

Look at Opera Mobile 12 stealing Chrome Mobile’s & Firefox Mobile’s thunder:

And while there’s more to browsers then just HTML5-support, Opera Mobile 12 also seems to offer greater support for modern web technology features than IE9.

To be honest, Opera Mobile 12 doesn’t shine in the JavaScript performance benchmarks (2843,6ms for Sunspider, 463 on the Google V8 test, both of  which at least Firefox Mobile does a better job at), but with the upcoming Firefox Mobile 12 and the (Android 4-only) Chrome Mobile beta the mobile browser “wars” have certainly shifted into a -much- higher gear. Let’s hope Microsoft (and Apple, but Safari Mobile isn’t too far behind yet) follows suit.

Firefox preferences for greater privacy

Although browser addons such as NoScript and Ghostery (which is cross-browser with some limitations) provide great protection against tracking, some people prefer not to have to install plugins. Firefox does have configuration options to somewhat limit what trackers can do. You can follow the knowledge base article here to learn how to disable 3rd party cookies (the default setting in Safari, which Google was caught circumventing).

If you’re up to it, you also simply open up the almighty “about:config” and tinker with the following settings (some of which aren’t available in the browser UI):

  • network.cookie.cookieBehavior with values:
    • “0”: allow all cookies (default)
    • “1”: don’t allow 3rd party cookies
    • “2”: don’t allow any cookies
  • network.cookie.thirdparty.lifetimePolicy with values:
    • “0”: keep cookies for as long as the server asks
    • “1”: ask the user on each and every cookie set (try it out if only for fun, you’d be surprise how much cookies are set)
    • “2”: cookie gets deleted when you close your browser (i.e. at the end of the session)
    • “3”: cookies have a lifetime as defined in the “network.cookie.lifetime.days ” preference
  • network.cookie.thirdparty.sessionOnly: set to “true” or “false”
  • privacy.donottrackheader.enabled: set to “false” (default) or “true”, which gently asks sites not to track you

Setting “network.cookie.thirdparty.sessionOnly” to “true” is a low-impact change which should stop tracking-companies (think Media6degrees or Quantcast) from following you around the web.

If you want to stop Facebook, Google & Co to stop tracking you around the web as well, the above setting will not suffice. You should either log out of their sites as soon as you’ve done your business there or set “network.cookie.cookieBehavior” to “1” (which will break their “social widgets”). Or you can install Ghostery or NoScript, off course.

As found on the web (February 22nd)

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If it looks like a duck; ditching Google Search (again)

Let’s apply the duck-test to Google;

  1. They’re changing their privacy policy without offering users a true opt-out
  2. They severely limited access for Scroogle, the Google-scraper for privacy-nuts, to the point where it is effectively out of service (although apparently Google isn’t the only one to blame)
  3. They have been caught with their hands in your cookie jar, not only bypassing user’s cookie preferences in Safari but also in Internet Explorer

So if Google looks, swims and quacks like it doesn’t care about user privacy, it must be that it … doesn’t care about user privacy.

I on the other hand do care about my privacy, so I decided to put even less eggs in Google’s basket: I’ve switched my search-engine to startpage.com, which is operated by a Dutch company (i.e. one which has to comply with stricter European privacy laws) and which guarantees privacy while being powered by Google.

Startpage’s only downside: they are blocked by our company internet-filter because they provide proxy-services, so as an alternative I also use the less powerful DuckDuckGo (I changed keyword.url in Firefox’ about:config to “https://duckduckgo.com/?q=”). And a nice bonus; DuckDuckGo also has a nice Android-app, which I have installed to replace Google Search on my Sammy SII as well.

While waiting for Firefox Mobile 11

I’m on the beta-release channel for both my desktop and mobile Firefox and my desktop has been running version 11 (with SPDY) for over a week now, but there hasn’t been an update for Firefox Mobile Beta in the Android Market yet. Apparently the Mozillians are working hard to finish the complete overhaul of the front-end, which integrates with Android UI (instead of using Mozilla’s own XUL) and services (synchronization in particular).

As I’m an impatient guy, I installed the Aurora version of Firefox Mobile, which is already at version 12 and that runs surprisingly well. Firefox Mobile already had the best HTML5-support and superior JavaScript-performance, but the new version (be it 11 or 12) adds a lower memory footprint and (much) faster start-up-time to that (and it has Flash, which I don’t care for really).

Mozilla is doing a great job in the mobile space, with the browser, but also with WebAPI and B2G. No, I don’t think I’ll switch to Chrome Mobile any time soon.

As found on the web (February 15th)

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