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Category: Browsers

So long, old friend.

After 10 years, I am quitting Firefox and moving to Chrome. This is a big change for me. I’ve used Firefox since it was called Phoenix. I’ve written magazine articles about how much I loved it. I’ve rubbed elbows with its developers and championed its cause.

But I gotta move. Chrome has evolved and has surpassed my old friend. I do not feel great about having to depart from my allegiance with the browser that began the death of Internet Explorer, but I really can’t justify clinging onto it anymore.

Since becoming a full-time Mac user last year, I’ve noticed the flaws of Firefox. The locking up, the memory leaks, the slowness. It has become quite annoying.

Now that I’m a full-time user of Google Apps at work and at home, it just makes sense.

Now that my favorite plugins for Firefox are all available for Chrome, and even some new ones that are awesome, it just makes sense.

So after I gave Chrome a decent trial this week (something I’ve done in the past just for kicks), I have decided it is time.

Practical Security : Using Email on Public Wifi

In my revised capacity at my current job, I’ve been handling a lot of
security issues: hardening of systems, software, and processes. I’ve
also been studying for the Security+ certification, so needless to say,
security has been at the top of my mind the last 5 months, and I wish it
would be at least a little closer to the tops of the general public’s
mind.

I’m going to start a new series of blog posts here called Practical
Security in which I will pass on some of the more relevant best
practices relating to the typical internet user, in hopes of helping to
raise awareness amongst anyone who happens to read this blog. (Yes, all
4 of you).

Using Email on Public Wifi (and the high level of risks
therein)

Question:
How often do you stop at a coffee shop to check your email with your
laptop, or leech that open ‘linksys’ network while sitting at a traffic
light with your PDA to shoot off a quick note to your boss? OK, maybe
I’m the only one who does that at traffic lights, but you get my point.

If you have a portable device that can access the Internet, my guess is
that your answer is “quite often”.

Question:
How many of you have configured your email to use some sort of
encryption? (Cue the crickets chirping).

As this excellent StopDesign
article explains:

What you may not realize is how easy these low security settings
allow someone else on the same network to spy on the data passing around
on that network. Just because you’re the only person who can see your
laptop screen, doesn’t necessarily mean you’re the only one who can see
the email message you just got from a friend. Just as easily as someone
could sit near you in a quiet cafe or library and overhear your entire
verbal conversation with another person, so could they “listen in” on
all the usernames, passwords, and messages passing to and from your
computer. (And everyone else’s computer for that matter.)

Kinda scary, huh? If you think about it, once they have your email
account password, it’s not too hard to go to your bank and generate a
“lost password” request, which will get sent to your email address,
which they now have control of. Or they might simply decide to send a
breakup letter to your boyfriend on your behalf if they are not feeling
so malicious. Or maybe they thought it would be funny to email your
boss and tell him how good he looks when he gets out of the shower.

By default, email is not secure!

Yes, this includes you, Mac user. Yes, this includes you,
Gmail/Yahoo/Hotmail/AOL user.

Make sure your email is on a secure connection!

The Lowdown
If you use a webmail service such as Hotmail, Yahoo Mail, Gmail, or the
like, make sure your web browser (Internet Explorer, Safari, Firefox,
etc) is in “secure” mode by looking for the lock icon. Alternately (or
additionally), look at the address bar of your web browser to make sure
the address showing starts with https and not just http.

If you use Outlook, Outlook Express, Thunderbird, Mac Mail, or any other
‘program’ on your computer to manage your email, there are ways to set
up these applications to run only on secure connections using SSL, TLS,
SSH, and other methods. You may need to consult your local IT guru or
read the rest of the StopDesign
article, or this well-written article entitled “5 Steps to Make Your Email Secure“.

Whatever you do, stop checking your email at Starbucks unless you know
it is secure!

Links and News

According to W3Counter, which maintains a pretty good cross sampling of web site users (from what I’ve hear, anyway), the use of Firefox for web surfing has risen to an impressive 25%. That is so great to hear, as Internet Explorer is and continues to be the bane of web developers and designers everywhere. Good riddence, another 10% of IE users!

I have long been a scavenger for the best deals on items I am seeking to purchase. I was pleased to find one tool that encompasses many of the bargain-hunter sites I am used to visiting. Before you buy anything online, be sure to stop at Dealighted.com!

I discovered an excellent streaming radio station at pigradio.com. They play a delectible sampling of alternative and indie music. If you are into that sort of thing, then check it out.

More to come…

Calling Firefox Extensions Developers

A common task I always find myself doing in Firefox is searching through my boatloads of bookmarks (1100+) for something I remember the look of, but not the name or URL of. I tend to remember things visually, so this is a common problem I run into.

I’ve looked around for a Firefox extension that would do the following, but haven’t found anything. Does anyone know of a bookmark extension that would provide the following functionality?

  • Take a screenshot of a web page when it is bookmarked. (This could be optional somehow).
  • Show the screenshot when hovering over bookmarks in the Bookmarks menu.
  • Retroactively take screenshots of web sites already in your Bookmarks.
  • Be compatible with Foxmarks.

Yeah, so that’s probably asking quite a lot…but hey! This would be a killer extension if it did half of what I listed.

Any takers?

Firefox 2.0

You probably know Internet Explorer 7 came out last week. Woohoo. Hoorah.

But did you know Firefox 2.0 comes out tomorrow??? Yeeehawww!!!

As a special treat for you dear readers of this blog, here is a secret link to grab Firefox 2.0. It’s sitting there waiting to be announced, but you can get it now!

Enjoy.