8/29/08

Flock 2.0 beta 2

Flock, the social Web browser built using Mozilla's implementation of XUL, is based on one principle: More of what you want the Web for, connecting with people and services, should be built into and aggregated by the browser. I used Flock 2.0 beta 2 for several days and found a lot to like and a few shortcomings. Overall, however, Flock achieves its goal. The changes in Flock 2 from the previous version don't seem to me sufficiently major to merit a full version-number bump, though perhaps moving to the underlying Firefox 3 foundation justifies it, bringing all the goodness from that new release, including its lauded Awesome Bar.


As with Firefox, Flock has installers for Linux, Mac OS, and Windows. Installation is routine, but paranoid users should beware: The "Allow gathering of anonymous usage statistics" check box is selected by default. The option that makes the app your default browser is also checked. On the other hand, the installer does ask before importing bookmarks and settings from your existing Firefox or Internet Explorer setup.

Flock's interface is a bit more fun than Firefox's or Internet Explorer's, and tabs are somewhat clearer than those in Firefox. A My World button loads a Web page combining all your Feed, Friend, and Media activity. Flock's side panel lets you view and interact with Friends from your social networks, and there's a Media bar for viewing image and video feeds. A built-in Blog Editor, Web clipboard, and Photo Uploader also set Flock apart from other browsers.

Several small buttons right next to the address bar let you interact with the page you're visiting. The most unique and useful are just to the left of the address bar, signaling pages with media streams, feeds, and search. The buttons make it easy to incorporate the page's content and services right into the browser. To the right of the address, two options—the first for Digg and the second for e-mail—make it easy to share the current page with others

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FireFox 3

Three years in development, over 15,000 bug fixes and feature improvements, a new page rendering engine, remarkable performance gains, multiple OS integration—you could say the several hundred engineers working on Firefox have been busy. And their work has paid off. Speedy performance, thrifty memory usage, and, in particular, the address bar that now predicts where you want to go when you start typing (what Mozilla insiders refer to as the Awesome Bar) firmly plant Firefox at the top of the Web browser hill, flying the flag of our Editors' Choice for browsers.


When you install Firefox 3, you don't have to worry about losing anything from Firefox 2—history, bookmarks, start page, search engine preference, and even downloads performed in the earlier browser version—all will be there to greet you like old friends. The installer for Firefox 3 is available in 46 languages, from Afrikaans to Ukrainian. The US English version weighs in at a 7.1MB for Windows, 17 for Mac OS X, and 8.6 for Linux. Installation is as painless as it gets—it took me about 20 seconds on a far-from-new XP system.

Firefox 3 looks barely different than its predecessor, but it's undergone a minor face-lift—in particular, the Forward and Back buttons, in combination, look like a sideways keyhole. The browser buttons and window frames have also been redesigned to conform with the look of whichever OS you're running—Windows XP, Vista, Macintosh, or Linux.

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8/9/08

Comodo Firewall Pro 3.0

The Comodo Firewall Pro 3.0 (CFP) it’s not a free software for noncommercial use—it's free to all, period. According to Comodo CEO Melih Abdulhayoglu, it will remain free indefinitely. A well-thought-out set of protection levels lets it conform to the needs of any user, from novice to ├╝ber-geek.


This new version has a refined-looking user interface without the separate Comodo Launch Pad used by version 2.0: Future add-ins will plug directly into CFP. Its main screen shows overall system status, much as many security suites do. It also includes Comodo news, a tip of the day, and links to configure program features. Most suites display a red warning if you turn off a significant security element, but CFP figures that if you turned it off you must have meant it. CFP shows a red X only if there's something actively wrong with the configuration, in which case it offers a link to a built-in diagnostic that could fix the problem.

Comodo's press materials mention a significant reduction in memory footprint despite the new features. I happened to have an installation of version 2.0 handy, so I took a quick look using Task Manager. Indeed, version 2.0 tied up over 22MB of memory, while version 3.0 used less than 7MB it’s Reduced by two thirds

NEXT --- Flexible Features of Comodo Firewall Pro 3.0
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