First Final Version of Vivaldi Web Browser Released

The Vivaldi Web Browser is considered by many to be the true successor to the popular Opera browser of yesteryear, before, in many people’s eyes, it lost its way. After months in development, ex-Opera CEO Jon von Tetzchner has finally released the first full version of Vivaldi to the general public, which is packed with features that will enable power users to browse the web in a more efficient and customized way than before.

Some of the features that are crammed into Vivaldi include a number of popular Opera staples such as Speed Dial, which shows popular and favourited sites on new tabs, but also contains a number of brand new powerful options. Tab stacks, tiling, mouse gestures, sessions and browser panels are just some of the new tools that von Tetzchner and his team have developed for Vivaldi in order to make it a great choice for power users. If that wasn’t enough, due to being based on the Chromium project, Vivaldi supports Chrome extensions, so you can truly make it the browser you need.

Vivaldi 1.0 is available for Windows, Mac OSX, and Linux right now and although it is still early days to see whether the browser lives up to its feature list in practice, it is nice to see a browser willing to add more features instead of being stripped down and relying on extensions.

ASUSTOR Enhances Core Functions With New ADM 2.6 Beta

It has been about three years since ASUSTOR introduced the ADM operating system, now they’re ready with the public beta on the newest version, ADM 2.6. The new ADM version enhances a lot of core functions in the operating system and it is one well worth checking out for ASUSTOR NAS owners. Among the improvements in ADM 2. beta, we find an even better MyArchive function, advanced iSCSI LUn snapshot configuration, and a more flexible cloud storage system as well as an improved Portal experience.

One of ADM’s strongest points and one of the features that I love most on the ASUSTOR NAS is the MyArchive feature. It allows you to use internal drives in a more flexible way that allows drive ejection at basically any time. This allows you to use drives in the same way you would optical drives, only with a lot more storage capacity and the abilities that come from HDDs. That feature is better than even with ADM 2. beta as it now allows for N-1 drive bays to be assigned as MyArchive drives which mean that you can use all but the main drive for it. Further, you can now format the MyArchive drives as NTFS and HFS+ on top of EXT4 to allow for easy connection to Windows and Mac OS systems when not in use in the NAS’. Also, you can self-define tags for each disk for easier management and identification, each MyArchive drive can be configured to automatically mount on up to 20 trusted NAS devices, supports AES 256-bit encryption by password, electronic key, or physical USB device. As an ASUSTOR NAS user myself, I can say that I love every one of these new features.

MyArchive isn’t the only place that got improvements. Account management also got easier with the new ADM beta version and now includes batch-creation of user accounts, including import function from text and CSV files with integrity check. You can also create scheduled iSCSI LUN snapshots now to take regular snapshots based on specific time periods.

Along with the ADM 2.6 beta enhancements, ASUSTOR 31, 50, 51, 61, 62 and 7 series users can also upgrade to the ASUSTOR Portal beta and URL-Pack, allowing them to stream from even more popular media sites. There’s a newly added hardware accelerated Chromium browser next to Crome, you get smooth streaming of YouTube 1080p videos, and can stream from sites such as Iqiyi, Sohu, Tudou, Youku, Vimeo, MetaCafe, US Stream, Crunchyroll, and Vudu directly on your TV.

You can find all the detailed information about the ADM 2.6 Beta program on the official minisite or just go ahead and upgrade your NAS right away. Keep in mind tho, this is a beta version, so there could be possible bugs.

ADM 2.6 beta Update Highlights

  • Upgrades the GNU C library from eglibc 2.13 to glibc 2.22
  • Upgrades the Linux kernel for AS50/51/70 devices to the latest 4.1 long-term support version
  • Increases supported MyArchive bay number to N-1
  • Adds NTFS, HFS+ support for MyArchive disks
  • Supports AES-256-bit encryption for MyArchive disks (in EXT4 format only)
  • Supports batch creation and importation of ADM accounts
  • Supports scheduled iSCSI LUN snapshots
  • Supports intermediate certificate importation
  • Supports hardware accelerated Chromium for optimized YouTube performance
  • Adds URL-pack app to offer more popular streaming video websites

Vivaldi Browser is the True Successor to Opera

Many internet users, myself included, were disappointed by the death of the Opera browser. It was my primary browser for nearly a decade, as it was for many other smart internet users, but it only ever held around 5% of the browser market share.

While, admittedly, I found the latter iterations of the browser to be bloated, sluggish, and prone to memory leaks, at its peak, Opera was the fastest, safest, and most customisable browser available. Sadly, in an effort to become more commercially viable, Opera dropped its innovative Presto engine, opting instead for Google’s Blink rendering engine, effectively making the browser a stripped-down version of Chrome. The Opera logo remained, yes, but the browser we knew was now dead.

Thankfully, Opera co-founder and former CEO Jon Stephenson von Tetzchner, in partnership with fellow former Opera employee Tatsuki Tomita, has picked up the baton his former company dropped to launch Vivaldi, a high-end browser designed to appeal to heavy internet users and former Opera fans and one which intends to form strong bonds with its community.

While Vivaldi, like modern Opera, utilises the Chromium engine rather than its own custom engine, it manages to have its cake and eat it, too: it is as though Vivaldi has taken the modern Opera and included the rich features of the old Presto version, effectively telling its predecessor, ‘this is how you do it.’

As Von Tetzchner told Ivan Minic last year, “When it comes to drafting a completely new engine, there is a very good reason why no one has done it in the last 15 years. It is an extremely difficult and complicated process, and it takes extreme amounts of work in order to be compatible with all other standards.”

While Vivaldi is desktop-only at present – “we started with a desktop version because it was a starting point from Opera,” Von Tetzchner said – there are plans afoot for a mobile version for tablets and smartphones.

Von Tetzchner sold his shares in Opera back in 2014 – three years after leaving the company over its new strategy – to launch Vivaldi, and the move looks to have paid off. I’ve been using the Beta 2 build of Vivaldi – which launched on 17th December, 2015 – for the last couple of weeks, and it is everything I could have hoped for, delivering the Opera I knew back in 2009 in the form of a decidedly modern, beautiful browser interface.

Vivaldi Beta 2 for Windows, Mac, and Linux can be downloaded from the Vivaldi website.

Firefox Set to Become More Like Chrome

Mozilla is set to implement a number of changes to its Firefox internet browser that will make it more like Google Chrome. Though the revisions will make Firefox more secure and stable, as well as making Chrome apps, extensions, and add-ons available for the browser, it will strip away many of the customisable features and increase its memory demands, no doubt infuriating long-term Firefox users in the process.

According to a Mozilla blog post today, Firefox will adopt the WebExtensions API, which will make it easier for developers to create apps that are compatible with Firefox, Chrome, and Opera, while also integrating Electrolysis to handle background content processing and the Rust-coded Servo technology.

Regarding the scope of the changes, Mozilla writes:

The strategy announced here necessarily involves a lot of trade-offs. Developers who already support Chrome extensions will benefit since they will have one codebase to support instead of two. Developers of Firefox-only add-ons will have to make changes. Those changes may require considerable development effort up-front, but we feel the end result will be worth that effort for both Firefox’s users and developers.

Firefox isn’t the first browser to lose its identity. The Opera browser, though far from popular, was well-respected for its speed and advanced user features. In 2013, however, Opera ditched its Presto engine in favour of Chromium, becoming little more than a stripped-down Chrome clone in the process.

A preview release of WebExtensions is included with Firefox 42, with a full roll-out set to occur in the near future.

Thank you Mozilla for providing us with this information.

Google’s Covert Snooping Tool Installed Without User Consent

Google’s reputation with privacy advocates is pretty abysmal and the latest revelation that audio footage has been monitored on PCs without permission will do little to improve matters. Open source developers noticed a peculiar line of code via the Chromium browser which analyzes background noise. In theory, this technology is implemented to offer rudimentary voice commands when the end user proclaims, “OK Google”. While this might add convenience to slower typists or people with impaired eyesight, it is designed to be an optional extra. In a developer blog post, a Google representative clarified, “First and foremost, while we do download the hotword module on startup, we *do not* activate it unless you opt into hotwording. If you go into “chrome://settings”, you will see a checkbox “Enable “Ok Google” to start a voice search”. This should be unchecked by default, and if you do not check it, the hotword module will not be started”.

There has been some contrasting evidence from irate developers who claim the software is enabled without user permission and contravenes the Chromium’s Open source ethos. Ofer Zelig is a vocal example and shared his personal experience:

“Google says the module is there so the browser could respond to “OK Google”. But what if I don’t want it at all? why injecting such a privacy-sensitive module in the first place instead of asking me whether I deliberately want this feature?”

Thankfully, under growing pressure from developers and privacy commentators, Google has now removed the speech module from Chromium recognizing that the inclusion couldn’t be classified as a piece of Open source code. It’s difficult to deduce if the automatic monitoring behavior was intentional or Google simply underestimated the widespread privacy concerns. Clearly, Google isn’t a trustworthy company when it comes to data sharing and it will take a miracle for industry peers and consumers to begin sharing information at ease.

Stored Passwords Now Secured In Google Chrome

Google takes security a step forward and finally adds a security feature in order to access the stored password inside the Google Chrome browser.

Up until now, the user stored passwords could be viewed by everybody whu had access to the computer at hand. That wouldn’t be very nice if your friend would like to steal your Facebook password and browse freely through your personal information, would it? Even worse if somebody stole your PayPal or other bank account information.

To access your saved passwords, a popup box now appears and prompts you with the password to authenticate before getting access to the stored passwords. This means the user needs to re-authenticate in order to access the part of the browser holding private user information, something that should have been added from the very start. To mention here is that the browser will keep the user authenticated for about 1 minute before prompting back with the popup box to re-authenticate.

Take note though, the feature is only available for Mac OS X at the moment, but a Windows version should be available in the newer Google Chrome builds.

Thank you NextPowerUp for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of NextPowerUp

New Opera 15 Available And It Is Based on Chromium

Opera has been coming under increasing pressure in recent times and despite having around 300 million users it is easily dwarfed by bigger browsers like Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer. Yet the traditional saying goes “if you can’t beat them, join them”. Opera are doing exactly that and with Opera 15 they are using Google’s open source Chromium code to form their new browser. This essentially means it will be based off the same engine as Google’s Chrome browser as Opera ditch their previous “Presto” rendering engine in favourite of the WebKit supported Chromium solution.

Opera 15 does have a fair few features such as:

  • A newly designed UI
  • Discover feature – latest news/articles on categories/topics of your choosing
  • Revamped Speed Dial
  • Stash feature – store things to come back to
  • Off-Road mode – compressed web-surfing for low bandwidth conditions
  • Combined address and search bar
  • A new download manager

If you are a Opera user or feel like having a go at using Opera now it is essentially a Chrome alternative, then you can get the latest downloads here or you can visit here to learn more about Opera 15.

Images courtesy of Opera