All posts tagged ‘Browsers’

File Under: Browsers, Web Services

Xmarks Mulls Switch to Premium Service

XmarksXmarks has had a change of heart.

The free bookmark syncing service had previously announced it was shutting down, but according to a new post on the company’s blog, there’s a chance Xmarks may soon be reborn as a paid service.

It was an outpouring of support from users that flipped the script. Xmarks has a small army of faithful fans, many of whom said they’d be willing to pay for the service after hearing Tuesday’s shutdown announcement. Based on the amount of interest, the company it decided it may be able to make a subscription model work as a sustainable business.

For now, Xmarks is asking users who would be willing to $10 a year for Xmarks to register their support on a new Pledgebank page. If you’d be willing to give Xmarks a few dollars to keep the service alive, you pledge your $10 over at Pledgebank (no credit card required).

There’s no guarantee that a premium version of Xmarks will happen. In fact, Xmarks CEO James Joaquin says company would need at least 100,000 pledges — five percent of their 2-million-strong user base — before Xmarks would consider a premium service. Even if all those pledges turned into real cash that would still only amount to half the $2 million Xmarks says it needs to break even each year. And as Joaquin points out, the conversion rate from free to premium users is typically more like 1 to 3 percent.

That’s a long way from Xmarks stated goals, but stranger things have certainly happened in the world of web startups.

Xmarks started as a Firefox extension for syncing bookmarks between your various Firefox installations, but soon expanded to work with Google Chrome, IE and Safari, keeping your bookmarks in perfect sync across all those browsers.

Unfortunately, despite an incredibly useful set of features and a 2-million-strong user base, Xmarks never found a way to make money. After failing to find a buyer and facing increasing costs with little or no way to recoup them, Xmarks announced that it would shut its doors in January, 2011. Over the following two days, Xmarks was inundated with users begging for a reprieve in the form of a paid version.

Now it seems the company is testing the waters to see how many of its enthusiastic users will actually put their money where their mouths are.

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File Under: Browsers, JavaScript

‘Kick Ass’ Bookmarklet Turns the Web Into Asteroids

Thanks to his presence as a background image, W.T. Monkey is immune to ass kicking.

Sometimes you just want to kick the web’s ass. Destroy it with tiny dots blasted from your Asteroids-style space ship floating above all the paragraphs and images and semantically meaningless wrapper divs.

Or maybe that’s just me. But if you find yourself feeling the same way, well, you too can kick the web’s ass.

Kick Ass is a JavaScript bookmarklet created by Erik Andersson that turns the entire web into a game of Asteroids. Just head over to the site, drag the bookmarklet into your tool bar and start destroying stuff.

Kick Ass will add a triangular spaceship to any page. Use the arrow keys to steer and the space bar to shoot. And remember, like the site says, “it’s cooler if you make your own sound effects.”

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File Under: Browsers, Web Services

Popular Bookmark Syncing Tool XMarks to Shut Down

xmarks tab syncThe free, cross-browser, cross-platform bookmarking sync service XMarks is shutting its doors. Despite some 2 million users, the company has never found a way to make money and can no longer afford to continue.

XMarks will continue to function for another three months — until January 10, 2011 — after which the service will pull the plug, the company says in a blog post. There is no real replacement for XMarks, though the company has set a up page to help users migrate away from from XMarks which lists a few suggestions, like Evernote and Sugarsync.

XMarks started as a Firefox extension for syncing bookmarks between your various Firefox installations. The company then expanded to work with Google Chrome, IE and Safari, keeping all of those browsers in perfect sync.

Earlier this year the company added another very useful feature that syncs your open tabs between browsers (and even your phone, thanks to the web-based interface).

Unfortunately, despite an incredibly useful set of features, XMarks never found a way to make money. Todd Agulnick, co-founder and CTO, writes on the company’s blog that XMarks was always “predicated on the hypothesis that a business model would emerge to support the free service.”

Agulnick recounts several of XMarks attempts to make a profit, including a smart search tool based on anonymized data from the over 100 million bookmarks stored on its servers. While the search tool “turned out amazing results” writes Agulnick, it only worked well for certain types of queries and was “terrible at finding facts.”

Sadly, a business model for XMarks never emerged and, faced with rising hosting costs and expenses, XMarks has decided to shut down.

Perhaps part of the reason for XMarks demise is that Firefox and Chrome have both added their own bookmark syncing systems to the browser itself, eliminating the need for an add-on. Mozilla has built its Sync service directly into the latest versions of Firefox (including the nascent mobile version) and Google Chrome can now sync your settings to any installation of Chrome using your Google account. Safari’s syncing is handled by MobileMe.

Now, if XMarks were to try charging for its services, it would be competing against free tools that don’t require any effort on the users part.

Of course, no browser vendor makes a syncing tool that syncs data between web browsers like XMarks did. That’s a feature, for those of us that used it heavily, that will be sorely missed.

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File Under: Browsers

Firefox 4 Update Fixes Mac, Windows Bugs

Firefox 4 beta

Mozilla has released Firefox 4 beta 6, but it isn’t the beta 6 you were expecting. The latest release is a very small update with just a few bug fixes. The build originally planned as beta 6 has been pushed back to beta 7.

You can grab Firefox 4 beta 6 from the Mozilla beta downloads page.

The only two changes of note in this release are stability fix for Windows and some rendering and keyboard and mouse focus problems in Mac OS X. If you experienced the Mac bug where white overlays would hide portions of the page, beta 6 takes care of the problem. The other bug fix stops a crashing bug and should make Firefox 4 more stable on Windows.

According to Mozilla’s beta road map the newly renamed beta 7 will arrive October 1st and Firefox 4 will likely reach the feature-freeze stage shortly after that. Although no final release date has been set, judging by the road map, it seems likely Firefox 4 will be ready before the end of 2010.

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File Under: Browsers, Mobile

Get to Know Your New User Agent Strings

With the two most-popular web browsers ready to drop new versions within the next couple of months, you’re going to have to adjust a few twiddly bits on your website if you’re sniffing user agent strings. Of course, you should be sniffing for capabilities and not blocking browsers, but nonetheless, it’s helpful to see what the new strings look like.

Internet Explorer 9

Microsoft’s new browser, due in September, has a new UA string. Details are on the IE blog, but here it is:

Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; MSIE 9.0; Windows NT 6.1; Trident/5.0)

Firefox 4

Likewise, the new version of Firefox — version 4 is due October-ish — will have an updated UA string. Unlike IE, Firefox runs on several platforms, so there are a few:

Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 6.1; rv:2.0.1) Gecko/yyyymmdd Firefox/4.0.1
Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; Intel Mac OS X 10.6; rv:2.0.1) Gecko/yyyymmdd Firefox/4.0.1
Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux i686; rv:2.0.1) Gecko/yyyymmdd Firefox/4.0.1

Easy enough to decipher. The “year month date” part is where the Gecko build id will show up. This build id will be different for each platform. Mozilla developer Daniel Witte covers the changes in depth on his blog. There’s also a more complete reference on the Moz Dev Center wiki.

Mobile browsers

Both Mozilla and Microsoft have new mobile browsers in development. Firefox Mobile was once known by the codename Fennec, so the mobile UA string is the same as desktop Firefox, but it has Fennec/fennecversion appended at the end.

The new IE mobile UA string is:

Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 7.0; Windows Phone OS 7.0; Trident/3.1; IEMobile/7.0; <DeviceManufacturer>;<DeviceModel>)

There are more details on the Windows Phone IE blog.

All this talk of strings gives me the itch to hear a little “Foggy Mountain Breakdown.”


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