Archive for the ‘Browsers’ Category

File Under: Browsers

Microsoft’s Revamped ‘Modern.IE’ Offers Free Windows Virtual Machines

Image: Screenshot/Webmonkey

Microsoft has updated its modern.IE website with some new tools for testing sites in IE 10 and earlier versions of Internet Explorer.

Launched earlier this year, modern.IE aims to simplify the sometimes arduous process of getting websites to work in older versions of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer web browser. The site also serves to promote web standards and help developers avoid mistakes like only supporting WebKit browsers — roughly the modern equivalent of the regrettable “works best in IE6″ websites of 2001.

Today’s updates for modern.IE address the most common user suggestions and include some new virtual machines for testing IE10 on Windows 7 and IE8 on Windows XP, better results from the site scanner (which now handles URLs behind a firewall) and some more translations.

The big news for Mac developers though is that Microsoft is offering a limited number of “Windows QuickStart kits” for Mac — which consist of Parallels Desktop 8 and Windows 8 on a USB stick — in exchange for a $25 donation to charity (plus $8 shipping). That’s a pretty awesome deal and as of this writing the site has slowed to a crawl, presumably under the heavy load of interested developers.

Microsoft has also announced a new partnership with the Webby Awards to create the new Webby Award Winners Gallery and Archive. The site showcases Webby nominees and winners all the way back to 1997. The design is responsive and takes advantage of some IE 10-only features, like touch events, but it works in all modern browsers as well.

File Under: Browsers, JavaScript, Web Apps

Mozilla, Epic Bring Unreal 3 Gaming Engine to the Web

Unreal 3 engine in Firefox.
Screenshot: Webmonkey.

Mozilla has partnered with Epic Games to bring the Unreal 3 gaming engine to the web. The result is a high-end gaming engine that could change the way you think of web-based games.

The Unreal 3 engine has previously been ported to Flash, but this is the first time a plugin-free (and therefore mobile-friendly) version has been built for the web.

Mozilla is hoping this project will help turn the web into a more serious gaming platform capable of running top-tier console titles.

Combining WebGL, Emscripten, a tool for compiling C++ apps into JavaScript, and the brand new asm.js, Unreal 3 for the web can, according to Mozilla, “rival native performance.”

While the Unreal 3 port is incredibly cool, there are still some stumbling blocks on the path to the web as a top-tier gaming platform, not the least of which is that load times for most games would be massive. Think hours, not minutes, to stream the complex graphics from a server to your mobile device — probably not something anyone particularly wants to sit through.

In other words, while Mozilla and Epic have made some impressive progress bringing Unreal 3 to JavaScript, it’s still going to be a while before you’re playing your favorite console games on the web.

However, Mozilla says it is “working with premium game publishers such as Disney, EA and ZeptoLab who are using the same technology to bring performance optimizations to their top-rated games.” The company is also hoping other browsers will make it possible to run the Unreal engine in their own JavaScript engines. The Chromium project is already discussing just how to do it.

For more on the project and to catch a glimpse of Unreal 3 running in the browser, check out the video below.

File Under: Browsers

Latest Chrome Tries to Rid the Web of Misspellings

Google has updated the stable release of its Chrome web browser, adding a much-improved native spell check and word suggestion features.

The new versions are live for Windows, Linux and Chrome OS. Google says it is “still working on Mac support” (Chrome for Mac has been updated to v26, but it does not yet contain the new spell checker).

To use the new spell checking feature, turn on the new “Ask Google for suggestions” option which you’ll see when you right click any highlighted misspelling. The new spell check also does some grammar checking and recognizes proper nouns (especially people’s names, handy for composing email) and homonyms.

Chrome 26 also sports a new personal dictionary. If the spell-checker keeps underlining a word you want it to ignore, just right-click the word and select “Add to dictionary.” If you’re signed in and syncing your data through your Google account your dictionary additions will go with you.

File Under: Browsers, search, Web Basics

Google Discontinues Site-Blocking Service

Image: THOR/Flickr

The hits just keep getting killed off. Google is shutting down yet another service — the company’s domain blocking tool, which allowed logged-in users to block unwanted domains from Google’s search results.

Google’s site-blocking tool was originally aimed at “content farm spam,” but Google hasn’t done much with it of late, and it even stopped working for a while, despite being available via a link from your profile.

Now the service is officially gone, replaced by a Chrome add-on that does nearly the same thing. Unfortunately that means the ability to ban sites from Google’s search results is now limited to those using Google’s Chrome web browser. For more on the Chrome add-on see our earlier review.

The bad news about the Chrome extension is that it’s client-side filtering, not server-side. That means that if Google returns results from domains you’ve blocked those results are simply hidden (sometimes there’s even a brief flash of the blocked results).

That means you’ll end up with fewer search results than you would with the server-side solution, which filtered out your blocked domains before the results were sent. For example, if there are ten results on the first page and three are from domains you’ve blocked, using the add-on method you’ll only see seven results, whereas the server-side method would have fetched the next three results to show a total of ten.

If you used the account-based version of the blocking tool, you can head over to your account and grab the list of sites you had blocked. Just add those sites to the Chrome extension and you’ll be back up and running in no time, with not an Experts-Exchange, Quora or W3Schools link to be seen (or whatever you consider search results spam).

Home Page Photo: Carlos Luna / Flickr

File Under: Browsers, privacy

New Adblock Plus Doesn’t Need No Stinking Google Play Store

It may have been kicked out of the Google Play Store, but you can still get your Adblock Plus for Android.

In fact, even if you already have Adblock Plus installed on your Android phone you should install this latest release direct from the source since the older, Play Store-based versions will no longer be receiving updates.

To install Adblock Plus manually you’ll need to make sure that you’ve enabled your phone to install software from “unknown sources” (you can enable this in Settings under either Applications or Security, depending on which version of Android you have). Then just head over to the Adblock Plus site and hit the download link.

A number of people in the comments on the Adblock Plus site have reported installation problems with various Android phones, but I had no issues installing Adblock Plus on a Galaxy Nexus using the latest beta of Opera Mobile.

Among the notable changes in this release are the automatic updates — which no longer require the Google Play version — a new user interface theme and a fix for a bug that would sometimes cause blank pages in Chrome for Android. For the full details on everything that’s new, be sure to check out the release notes.