Archive for the ‘Web Apps’ Category

File Under: Programming, Web Apps

WebRTC, Online Code Editor Team Up for Real-Time Coding

Collaborating with Codassium Image: codassium.com.

It’s still going to be some time before WebRTC technology starts to deliver cool apps, but even today developers are quickly moving from the realm of cool WebRTC experiments, like the Mozilla/Google phone call demo, to useful apps like Codassium.

WebRTC is a proposed standard — currently being refined by the W3C — with the goal of providing a web-based set of tools that any device can use to share audio, video and data in real time. It’s still in the early stages, but WebRTC has the potential to supplant Skype, Flash and many native apps with web-based alternatives that work on any device.

Codassium uses WebRTC to bring together WebRTC-based video chat and Mozilla’s Ace code editor. The result is what Wreally Studios, creators of Codassium, call “a better way to conduct remote interviews.” Of course Codassium could be used for more than just interviews — think code reviews, remote pair programming or even just discussing code with remote employees.

To use Codassium you’ll need to be using a web browser that supports WebRTC — recent versions of Firefox and Chrome will both work. Head on over to Codassium, click the Start button and allow the site to access your camera and microphone. Once the video chat and Ace editor load, just click the Invite button and send the resulting link to the person you’d like to work with.

File Under: Blog Publishing, Web Apps

Massive WordPress Attack Targets Weak Admin Passwords

Image: CloudFlare

If you’re using the popular open source blogging tool WordPress to power your website, you may be vulnerable to a new web-based attack.

If your WordPress admin pages suddenly become sluggish, unreachable or you’re unable to log in there’s a good chance your site is being attacked.

According to CloudFlare CEO Matthew Prince, the attack is using brute force against WordPress’ admin pages using the old default username “admin” and then trying thousands of passwords. There’s nothing new about that approach, but what makes this attack different, and particularly potent, is that the attackers have some 90,000 unique IP addresses at their disposal.

For its part CloudFlare has pushed out an update that “detects the signature of the attack and stops it.”

Popular WordPress Host HostGator reports that it too has “seen over 90,000 IP addresses involved in this attack.”

WordPress creator Matt Mullenweg has also weighed in, pointing out that it’s been over three years since WordPress used the username “admin” as the default for new installations.

However, there are no doubt a great many sites that still have — whether they use it or not — the “admin” user account hanging around in WordPress. It’s also worth noting that, while this attack appears limited to trying the “admin” username, a more sophisticated approach could do the same thing, but with unique usernames — for example, find the most frequently used account name on the public site, assume it’s an admin account and run the same attack against the admin pages. So far that hasn’t happened.

“Here’s what I would recommend,” writes Mullenweg on his blog, “if you still use “admin” as a username on your blog, change it, use a strong password, if you’re on WP.com turn on two-factor authentication, and of course make sure you’re up to date on the latest version of WordPress.”

Unfortunately, given the number of IP addresses that seem to be at the attackers’ disposal, other common security measures — like tools that limit logins by IP address — aren’t going to be terribly effective against this attack. Short of getting rid of the default “admin” account (if it still exists), there isn’t a whole lot you can do to stop the attacks (unless you want to use a web application firewall like CloudFlare or ModSecurity). Be sure to contact your hosting company if you think your site has come under attack.

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: Web Apps, Web Services

Gmail’s ‘Send and Archive’ Graduates From Gmail Labs

Google has graduated three popular Gmail Labs tools to proper Gmail features: reply to all, quote selected text and, the most useful of the bunch, the “Send and Archive” button.

Unlike some new features for Google Apps, these are available right now in Gmail, though all three remain off by default.

To enable the popular “Send and Archive,” which turns the Send button into a dual-function button that sends your reply and then archives the conversation, head to settings and look for the new “Show ‘Send & Archive’ button in reply” option. While you’re in Gmail’s settings you can also change the default reply mode to reply all, though frankly that seems like asking for trouble.

The quote selected text feature is not a setting, it’s just the new behavior for replying to messages. Select a block of text in an e-mail, click reply and only the selected text will be included in your reply.

File Under: Web Apps

Google Docs Now Available in Chrome Web Store

Image: Screenshot/Webmonkey

Google has renamed its Google Docs applications and made them available as apps in the Chrome Web Store.

To make things a bit clearer — and perhaps to differentiate them from other office suites — the apps formerly known as Google Documents, Spreadsheets, and Presentations are now called simply Docs, Sheets, and Slides and can be installed as shortcuts in Chrome.

If you’d like to install them, head over to the Chrome Web Store and grab the new Docs, Sheets, and Slides apps. Once they’re installed you’ll see the icon links every time you open a new tab in Chrome.

The change helps bring together the Chrome browser and Chrome OS, making both just another way to connect to Google Drive, the company’s cloud storage service that forms the basis of Google’s take on cloud computing.