February 5, 2018

Google Chrome news - Major update will change the way you use the internet browser

Google Chrome users will be getting a major new update this month
users will be getting a big update soon that brings with it a game changing new feature.
Google Chrome is without a doubt the most popular internet browser in the world right now.
NetMarketShare stats for the whole of last year show Google Chrome as having a staggering 58.90 per cent chunk of the internet browser marketplace.
Its nearest rival, Mozilla’s FireFox, has a 13.29 per cent share while Internet Explorer is on 13 per cent.
Microsoft’s newer Edge browser, which is bundled in with Windows 10, lags behind with a 3.78 per cent market share.
These stats underline how Chrome’s crown as the world’s most popular internet browser is undisputed.
And fans of Google Chrome will be getting a highly anticipated new feature in an upcoming update.
On February 15 Google Chrome users will be able to download a new update which brings with it the long-awaited built-in ad blocking feature.

Here's how to get the most from your web browser
The upcoming Google Chrome feature won’t block every advert, but will block ones that are deemed unacceptable.
The group that decides this is known as the Coalition for Better Ads, which includes Google, Facebook, News Corp, and The Washington Post.
This includes things such as pop-up adverts, ads that expand on their own and adverts with autoplaying sound and video.
Describing the upcoming feature, Google said: “Chrome has always focused on giving you the best possible experience browsing the web.
“For example, it prevents pop-ups in new tabs based on the fact that they are annoying.
“In dialogue with the Coalition and other industry groups, we plan to have Chrome stop showing ads (including those owned or served by Google) on websites that are not compliant with the Better Ads Standards starting in early 2018.”

An introduction to Google Chrome

One set of websites that have been left fearing for their future in light of the upcoming Google Chrome ad-blocker is torrent sites.
Chrome is the world’s most popular browser, and the leading browser for many torrent websites.
The upcoming ad blocker is expected to have a big effect on torrent sites and the revenue they bring in.
The owner of one torrent site, who did not want to be named, previously told TorrentFreak that the Google Chrome ad blocker could signal the end of torrents.


January 5, 2018

What You Need to Do Because of Flaws in Computer Chips

Cade Metz and Brian X. Chen

On Wednesday, a group of security experts revealed two security flaws that affect nearly all microprocessors, the digital brains of the world’s computers. These flaws, called Meltdown and Spectre, could allow hackers to lift passwords, photos, documents and other data from smartphones, PCs and the cloud computing services that many businesses rely on.
Some of the world’s largest tech companies have been working on fixes for these problems. But the researchers who discovered the flaws said one of them, Spectre, is not completely fixable. “It is a fundamental flaw in the way processors have been built over the last decades,” said Paul Kocher, one of the researchers who discovered these flaws.
Here is a guide to what you need to know and what you should do.

Where exactly are these flaws?

Both are issues with the way computer chips are designed.
Meltdown affects most processors made by Intel, the company that supplies the chips for a majority of PCs and more than 90 percent of computer servers.
Spectre is far more difficult for hackers to exploit. But it is even more pervasive, affecting Intel chips, microprocessors from the longtime Intel rival AMD and the many chips that use designs from the British company ARM. Your smartphone most likely contains an ARM chip.

Why are they such a problem?

Both flaws provide hackers with a way of stealing data, including passwords and other sensitive information. If hackers manage to get software running on one of these chips, they can grab data from other software running on the same machine.
This is a particular issue on cloud computing services.

Why are cloud computing services so important?

Operated by companies like Amazon, Microsoft and Google, these are services where any business or individual can rent access to computing power over the internet. On a cloud service, each server is typically shared by many different customers. By exploiting the Meltdown flaw, a hacker can just load some software onto a cloud service and then grab data from anyone else who has loaded software onto the same server.

What about phones and PCs?

Phones and PCs are more difficult targets. Before they can exploit the chip flaws, hackers must find a way of getting their software onto your device. They could fool you into downloading an app from a smartphone app store. Or they could trick you into visiting a website that moves code onto your machine.

But companies are fixing these flaws?

They are trying. Meltdown can be fixed by installing a software “patch” on the machine. Microsoft has released a patch for PCs that use its Windows operating system. Apple said it had released software patches for iOS, Macs and the Apple TV that help mitigate the issue. Intel is also working on updates to help fix the problem.
The onus is now on consumers and businesses to install the fix on their machines.

What should I do as a consumer?

Keep your software up-to-date. That includes your operating system and apps like your web browser and antivirus software. Microsoft, Mozilla and Google have already released patches for Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome to help address the problem.
Installing an ad blocker on your web browser is also a safeguard, according to security experts. Even the largest websites do not have tight control over the ads that appear on their sites — sometimes malicious code can appear inside their ad networks. A popular ad blocker among security researchers is uBlock Origin.
“The real problem is ads are dangerous,” said Jeremiah Grossman, the head of security strategy for SentinelOne, a computer security company. “They’re fully functioning programs, and they carry malware.”

How do I update my software?

Your operating system and apps typically have a button you can click to check for software updates. For example, in Google’s Chrome browser on a computer, you can click on the three dots in the upper-right corner and click Update Google Chrome. To update Windows, click the Start button and click through these buttons: Settings, Update & security, Windows Update and Check for updates. To update the Mac system, open the App Store app and check the Updates tab for the latest software.
Don’t procrastinate. Last year, a piece of malware called WannaCry infected hundreds of thousands of Windows machines worldwide. Microsoft had released an update before the attack, but many machines were behind on downloading the latest security updates.

What about the cloud services?

Amazon, Google and Microsoft said that they had already patched most of the of servers that underpin their cloud computing services, and that largely addresses the problem. But Amazon and Google also said customers might need to make additional changes.
To share computing power with customers, cloud services offer “virtual machines.” These are computers that exist only in digital form. Customers use these virtual machines to run their own software. After Amazon, Google and Microsoft update their machines, customers may have to update the operating systems running on their own virtual machines to guard against some exploits.

If everybody updates his or her software, all is good?

No. The researchers who discovered Meltdown said that patching systems would slow them down by as much as 30 percent in certain situations. That could be a problem for big cloud systems.
Independent software developers also ran tests on a patched version of Linux, the open-source operating system that now drives more than 30 percent of the world’s servers, and saw similar slowdowns.
“There are many cases where the performance impact is zero,” said Andres Frome, a software developer who has tested the new code. “But if you are running something like a payment system, where a lot of small changes are made to data, it looks like there will be a significant performance impact.”
Consumers are less likely to be affected, and Mr. Kocher said slowdowns could dissipate over time as companies refined their patches.

What about the Spectre flaw?

According to the researchers who discovered these flaws, including security experts at Google, the memory chip maker Rambus and various academic institutions, Spectre can’t be completely fixed. But patches can solve the problems in some situations. Intel and Microsoft and others said the same.

Spectre can’t be fixed?

No, according to the researchers. But Spectre is much more difficult than Meltdown for hackers to exploit.
Similar to Meltdown, Spectre can steal information from one application and share it with another. For example, an app you download from the web could steal information like passwords from other software on a computer.
On Wednesday, the Department of Homeland Security issued an alert that said the only solution to the threats posed by Meltdown and Spectre would be a full replacement of the chips. But that does not seem feasible, given how many machines are involved. “Spectre is going to be with us a lot longer,” Mr. Kocher said.
An Intel vice president, Donald Parker, is adamant that the company’s chips will not need to be replaced. He said that with software patches and “firmware updates” — a way of updating code on the chip itself — Intel and other companies could “mitigate the issues.”


Mozilla Firefox 57.0.4 released

Mozilla released Firefox 57.0.4 to the Stable browser channel on January 4, 2018. The new version of Firefox comes with two timing-based mitigations designed to protect Firefox users against Meltdown and Spectre attacks.

We talked about these vulnerabilities before here on Ghacks. I suggest you check out the initial article on Microsoft releasing updates for Windows to address the issues for an overview.

Only this much: what was thought to be an Intel-specific vulnerability at first turned out to be more widespread than that. Intel, AMD and ARM processors are affected, and so are operating systems such as Windows or Linux, and even individual programs such as web browsers.


December 27, 2017

What’s the Difference Between Chromium and Chrome?

Chromium is an open-source browser project that forms the basis for the Chrome web browser. But let’s take a little deeper look at what that means.
When Google first introduced Chrome back in 2008, they also released the Chromium source code on which Chrome was based as an open-source project. That open-source code is maintained by the Chromium Project, while Chrome itself is maintained by Google.
The biggest difference between the two browsers is that, while Chrome is based on Chromium, Google also adds a number of proprietary features to Chrome like automatic updates and support for additional video formats. Google also took a similar approach with the Chromium OS, which is an open-source project that forms the basis for their own Chrome OS—the operating system that runs on Chromebooks.

What Chrome Has That Chromium Doesn’t

Chrome is based on Chromium, but Google adds a number of proprietary, closed-source bits to their Chrome browser that Chromium lacks. Specifically, Google takes Chromium and then adds the following:
  • AAC, H.264, and MP3 Support. Chrome includes licensed codecs for these proprietary media formats, giving you acess to a wider variety of media content—particularly sites using HTML5 video to stream H.264 videos. Both browsers include the basic, free codecs: Opus, Theora, Vorbis, VP8, VP9, and WAV.
  • Adobe Flash (PPAPI). Chrome includes a sandboxed Pepper API (PPAPI) Flash plug-in that Google automatically updates along with Chrome. This is the only way to get the most modern version of Flash on Linux. Even on Windows and Mac, you’re better off with the sandboxed PPAPI Flash plugin from Chrome rather than the older NPAPI Flash plug-in available from Adobe’s website. (You can actually get a Pepper Flash plug-in from Chrome and then install it and use it in Chromium, if you like.)
  • Google Update. Windows and Mac users of Chrome get an extra background app that automatically keeps Chrome up-to-date. Linux users use their standard software management tools.
  • Extension Restrictions. For Chrome, Google disables extensions that are not hosted in the Chrome Web Store.
  • Crash and Error Reporting. User of Chrome can opt to send statistics on crashes and errors to Google for analysis.
  • Security Sandbox (?). Google also notes that some Linux distributions may disable Chromium’s security sandbox, so you’ll want to navigate to about:sandbox in Chromium to ensure the sandbox is enabled and functioning by default. This is one of Chromium (and Chrome’s) best features.

You should note that while it’s not Google-branded, Chromium is still very Google-centric. For example, Chromium contains the same sync features found in Chrome, allowing you to log in with a Google account and sync your data.

Getting Chromium

Getting Google Chrome on pretty much any platform just involves visiting the Google Chrome download page, so let’s just take a look at how you can get your hands on Chromium if you want it.
On Linux, you can often install Chromium directly from your Linux distribution’s software repositories. On Ubuntu Linux, for example, you can install it by opening the Ubuntu Software Center, searching for Chromium, and then clicking Install. Chromium gets updated with security updates through your Linux distribution’s software repositories.

On Windows and Mac, using Chromium is a little tougher. You can get official Chromium builds, but they’re bleeding-edge-only and won’t automatically update. The updater is a closed-source part of Google Chrome. You could get third-party builds from someone, but they wouldn’t automatically update either and you’d have to trust the third-party distributor. You could also compile Chromium from the source code yourself, but would you really want to do that every time an update is available? Probably not.

What About the “Spyware?” (It’s Not Actually Spyware)

Google Chrome includes crash reporting features not found in Chromium. If you choose to enable crash reporting in Chrome, information about crashes will be sent to Google. If you use Chromium, this crash reporter isn’t present and you’ll have to get a bug trace the old-fashioned way. Linux distributions may also modify Chromium’s code before giving it to you. If you’re trying to pin down some Chrome bug, you’re probably better off using Chrome instead of Chromium.
Chromium also lacks the usage-tracking or “user metrics” feature found in Chrome. This is an optional feature that sends information about how you use the different parts of the browser to Google, giving them data they can use to base decisions on. (This was the sort of data Microsoft claimed they used when they said they removed the Start menu because no one used it, so perhaps geeks should start leaving such features on.)
In the past, users were worried that each Chrome browser shipped with a unique “client ID” and noted that Chromium did not. Google stopped doing this back in 2010.
However, Chromium does include many features that depend on Google’s servers, and those features are enabled by default. You’ll see these features listed on the Chromium Settings page. They include a web service that helps fix mistyped web addresses, a prediction service, Google’s anti-phishing feature, and more.

So, Which Should You Use?

Chromium is nice because it allows Linux distributions that require open-source software to package up a web browser that’s almost identical to Chrome and ship it to their users. Such Linux distributions could even use Chromium as their default web browser instead of Firefox—and some do. If you’re into open-source software and try to avoid any closed-source bits, Chromium is a good option for you.
However, many Linux users who aren’t so passionate about open-source software might want to install Chrome rather than Chromium. Installing Chrome gets you a better Flash player if you’re using Flash and unlocks a larger amount of media content online. For example, Google Chrome on Linux can now stream Netflix videos. This requires H.264 support for HTML5 video, something Chromium doesn’t include.

So, Chrome or Chromium? If you’re using Windows and Mac, the choice is pretty clear. Chromium is just too finicky to actually use—mostly because you can’t get official stable builds that will update automatically. The real choice here is should be made by Linux users.
Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Twitter.


December 21, 2017

How to get curved tabs in Firefox 57

You can change Firefox 57 Quantum to look like the old Firefox with curved tabs by using the developer style sheets.

Photon Australis: Bringing sexy curves back to Firefox Photon.

How do I get this sexy thing? 😍

Since Firefox 57+, the only way to customize your browser UI is through userChrome.css. Learn more here.
Rough instructions:
  1. Go to your Firefox browser, type about:profiles in your url bar.
  2. Under the profile that is in use, open the Root Directory folder.
  3. If that folder does not have a chrome folder, create a folder, name it chrome.
  4. In the chrome folder, create a file named userChrome.css
  5. Copy and paste the code that matches your Firefox theme. Dark, Default, Light
  6. Restart Firefox and enjoy some sexy curves :D


Google Chrome’s native ad-blocking begins on February 15, 2018

Webmasters whose sites don't adhere to the Coalition for Better Ads standards for display advertisement will have advertisement blocked on affected sites in Google Chrome beginning February 15, 2018.
An email by the Google Web Tools Team is sent out to webmasters currently that informs them about the change provided that the site is registered on Google Search Console (formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools).
Chrome will stop showing ads on SITENAME on Feb 15, 2018. Violating ad experiences detected on mobile.
Google systems have detected ad experiences on your site that may be highly annoying, misleading, or harmful to users. To protect your site’s visitors, on Feb 15, 2018 Google Chrome will stop showing all ads on mobile unless the issues are fixed.
Google announced plans to integrate an ad-blocker in Chrome in June 2017. The company designed the ad-blocker to block ads on sites that violate standards the coalition agreed on. What this means is that it will only block ads on sites that are in violation, and that it will block all ads on these sites. In turn, it won't block ads on sites that are not in violation.

ad density

Tip: The ad-blocking is already an option in development builds of Chrome.
The ad-blocking is Google's solution to content blocking that threatens the company's main source of revenue. The main idea is to block most of the annoyances to limit the impact that annoying ads have on a user's decision to install ad-blocking solutions.
The following ad types or formats are in violation, and sites that use at least one of the types or formats will have their ads disabled in Chrome on mobile: pop-up ads, prestitial ads, pages with ad-density higher than 30%, flashing animated ads, auto-playing video ads with sound, postitial ads with countdown, full-screen scrollover ads, large sticky ads.
Webmasters who added their sites to the Search Console can open the Ad Experience Report on it to see screenshots and videos of violations that Google found on the site. Webmasters may request a review after they have altered ad serving on affected sites to get the issue overturned and avoid having ads disabled on affected sites in Chrome.
Google gets more control over the ad industry thanks to the dominating position of the company's Chrome web browser. Other advertising companies need to comply, or have their ads disabled by the majority of Internet users.

Closing Words

As a user, I think it is long overdue that advertisement companies stop supporting annoying ad formats and types. Google, the largest advertisement company in the world, tries to address the threat to its very existence by implementing ad-blocking into Chrome.
The new system may slow down the rise of ad-blocking software and systems, but it does not go far enough in my opinion.
For instance, while video with sound is on the list of unwanted formats, video without sound is not. The latter may not be as annoying but it still is annoying and sucks up lots of bandwidth and CPU.
Google does not address other issues for using content blocking at all on top of that. There is the abuse of advertisement to distribute malware, and the tracking of users. Both of these valid reasons for using content-blocking are not addressed at all.
There is still not a single solution out there that offers "ethical" ad serving.


December 11, 2017

Firefox Quantum vs. Chrome: Which Is Faster?

Accompanying every new web browser version release is a flood of claims that it’s faster than anything else on the internet. And why not? In a cramped market, where name value matters and personal preferences reign, anything that can shift attention for a few minutes is welcome. So with this week's drop of Firefox Quantum, the latest incarnation of Mozilla's stalwart browser, the company's boast about its new version being speedier than Google Chrome was pronounced more quickly than, well, you can open a new tab.

Chrome Firefox Comparison 675403

Mozilla insists that Firefox Quantum's "crazy powerful browser engine" makes the process of loading pages twice as fast as it is on Google's flagship browser. It also claims that it's 30 percent lighter in terms of memory usage. But is any of it true?
To slash through all the bragging and unearth some facts, I fired up a series of benchmark tests and did some real-world investigation to get a better idea of the performance of both browsers under typical usage. All tests on Firefox Quantum 57 and Google Chrome 61.0.3163.100 were performed on the same Windows 10 machine, a Dell XPS 13 laptop with a 2.5GHz Intel Core i7-7660U processor and 16GB of RAM.

Synthetic Benchmark Tests


First up in the regimen of synthetic benchmark tests was WebXPRT 2015, a test that is made up of six HTML5- and JavaScript-based workloads that cover a range of basic, everyday tasks. Firefox Quantum was the winner here, with a score of 491 (from an average of five runs, with the highest and lowest results tossed out) to Chrome's 460 — but that wasn't quite the whole story. Whereas Firefox performed noticeably better on the Organize Album and Explore DNA Sequencing workloads, Chrome proved more adept at Photo Enhancement and Local Notes, demonstrating that the two browsers have different strengths.

WebXPRT 2015 Performance

Things were tighter still on BrowserBench's JetStream 1.1. Described as "a JavaScript benchmark suite focused on the most advanced web applications," JetStream 1.1 uses more than three dozen tests to measure browser latency and throughput, and to provide a geometric mean of the scores (which is what we're reporting). Firefox Quantum was faster here, too, with a score of 183.1 to Google Chrome's 178.4.


You might think that Octane 2.0, which started out as a Google Developers project, would favor Chrome — and you'd be (slightly) right. This JavaScript benchmark runs 21 individual tests (over such functions as core language features, bit and math operations, strings and arrays, and more) and combines the results into a single score. Chrome's was 35,622 to Firefox's 35,148 — a win, if only a minuscule one.

Octane 2.0


Browser Start Time

Although you may frequently think about the boot time of your computer (especially if it's older!), the start time of individual programs tends to be overlooked more often. When you click on an icon, you want it to open, and if it lags, you notice. (We're looking at you, Photoshop — but you do a ton of stuff, so it's okay.) Given how simple a web browser is, it doesn't seem too much to ask that it open immediately.
The good news is that you essentially get that with both Firefox Quantum and Google Chrome. I used PassMark AppTimer to measure the timing of opening and closing 50 windows of each program, and I rebooted the computer before switching between them. With an average time of 0.287 seconds, Firefox again won. But since Chrome averaged 0.302 seconds, you don't have to worry either way.


Memory Usage

If there's a natural enemy of web-browser performance, it's RAM usage. More or less since their advent, web browsers have tended to gobble up memory resources and compound the problem with each new tab or window you open. But although the gradual uptick of RAM amounts in most computers has mitigated this problem somewhat, it is still a problem — and something you want to be aware of.
In order to determine which browser (if either) was less of a mud-wallowing memory hog, I gathered together a list of 10 popular websites, including our own Tom's Guide and Laptop; CNN and ESPN; Facebook and Twitter; and others. I then opened them all in individual tabs within one browser window (with the YouTube tab playing a video), and used the Windows Task Manager to monitor the memory usage after 5 minutes. (As I did previously, I rebooted the computer before switching to the other browser.)


Again, the results were close. Yes, Chrome used marginally less memory just running its main app (an average of 126.3MB versus 145.3MB for Firefox), and it averaged a lower amount of memory across all the background processes it started when it ran (1,362.4MB across 13 or 14 processes, as compared to Firefox's 1,400.5MB across a consistent six). It's worth noting, though, that in two of our three tests, Firefox did finish leaner, but in no case did it live up to Mozilla's claim that Quantum consumes "roughly 30 percent less RAM than Chrome."
The news changed a bit when more tabs were involved. With 30 tabs open, Firefox Quantum averaged 3,883MB of RAM from six processes and Chrome averaged 4,151.3MB from 34. As Mozilla touts Quantum's facility with multiple tabs, this is good to know, though Firefox was more sluggish keeping up with multiple simultaneous YouTube video streams. (Both browsers flipped through and closed tabs snappily.)

Chrome Firefox Comparison 675403


Is Firefox Quantum Faster Than Chrome?

Firefox Quantum delivers on the spirit of Mozilla's promises. It did demonstrate speed increases, albeit ones that were generally modest and intermittent, and memory savings that were primarily noticeable only with loads of active tabs. What this proves, though, is that no matter which browser you choose, you're getting one that's decently fast and capable when both handle all of the content you're likely to encounter during your regular surfing sessions. And that, more than performance that's a tad better here or there, is what matters most.

Credit: Laptop Mag


November 28, 2017

12 Useful Web Tools You Didn't Know About

Google isn’t the only company creating useful apps for the web. There are plenty of great online resources not made in Mountain view, provided you know where to look. Here are 12 of our favorite online apps and websites that are worth collecting in your browser’s bookmarks, ready to go at a moment’s notice, to convert files, enhance photos, make GIFs, pick colors, transfer documents and more besides.

1) Improve low-res photos

Let’s Enhance is a slick and free site for improving your low-res photography. Blocky noise is automatically removed and some neural network smarts are applied to imagine missing parts of the picture and enlarge it in a smoother way. You need to create an account to see the end results, and then you get a choice of high-res enhanced variations to choose from.

2) Convert files between formats

November 20, 2017

Why Firefox Had to Kill Your Favorite Extension

Firefox 57, or Quantum, is here, and it’s a huge improvement. Firefox has finally caught up with Chrome in terms of speed, the interface is a lot cleaner, and there are some great new features to boot. There’s not a lot to complain about here.
Just kidding. On the internet, there is always something to complain about.
With Firefox Quantum, the complaint de jour is that certain extensions do not work anymore. Numerous high profile extensions, including DownThemAll and Greasemonkey, don’t currently work with Quantum. Others, including Firebug and ScrapBook, will likely never work again.
This is frustrating if you’re a user of one of these services, and you might think it’s somewhat arbitrary. It isn’t. Like it or not, Mozilla felt they didn’t have a choice but to abandon what it calls “legacy” add-ons in order to move forward. Here’s why.

How Legacy Firefox Extensions Worked

Traditional Firefox extensions were generally written in XML User Interface Language (XUL). This is the language Firefox’s user interface is built with, and XUL-based extensions could modify that interface directly. These add-ons also had near full access to XPCOM, the powerful component object model used by Firefox.
If that went over your head, just know this: Firefox extensions had a more-or-less total ability to change your browser, and they made those changes directly. This is why those extensions were so powerful: there wasn’t a prescribed set of things they could and couldn’t change. It’s also why these extensions tended to break with new Firefox releases.
Extensions for Chrome or Safari don’t work this way. Those browsers offer extension developers specific APIs they can use, meaning there’s a set list of things extensions can and can’t control. For two years now, Firefox has offered a similar API called WebExtensions, which it has encouraged developers to adopt.

Traditional Extensions Made Improving Firefox Difficult

Firefox Quantam isn’t the first update to break an extension: this has been an ongoing problem for years. Because Firefox extensions could affect Firefox so directly, it was possible for even minor changes to Firefox itself to break add-ons completely, or just introduce performance-sapping bugs.
Firefox users, not knowing the extensions were causing the problem, would assume the new Firefox version is buggy, and from their perspective it was. The Firefox team would do their best to ensure popular extensions were working before pushing a new version, but it’s easy to imagine all of this slowing down development.
The WebExtensions API makes all of this easier by specifically defining what extensions can do and how they can do it. This means developers only need to ensure that the API is functioning properly, and not worry that a performance tweak or UI change will break particular extensions. The result should be fewer extensions breaking in the long run, but to make this possible, Mozilla needed to abandon the old extension ecosystem.
The change also makes some of Quantam’s best features possible. The multi process capability, for example, is a big part of Firefox Quantam’s speed boost. Four separate processes handle Firefox’s interface and tabs, meaning Firefox can use all four cores of your processor instead of just one. This is a reality that the traditional extension ecosystem simply was not built for, and it’s hard to imagine making it work without a lot of layers of abstraction that would inevitably slow things down. Many upcoming changes to Firefox were similarly being held back by legacy add-ons, meaning the ecosystem had to change in order for Firefox to evolve.

Cross Platform Compatibility Was a Problem

Once upon a time, add-ons gave people a compelling reason to use Firefox over Chrome. These days, Chrome is by far the leader in terms of add-ons, while Firefox can feel like a graveyard of unmaintained extensions from years gone by.
Sure, there are a few Firefox extensions that you can’t get in Chrome, but Chrome has the bigger ecosystem by far. The new WebExtensions API won’t fix this overnight, but it does make it a lot easier for Chrome extensions to be ported over to Firefox because the language used to write extensions is similar enough to make porting superficial. In many cases, only a few tweaks are needed for a Chrome extension to run in Firefox, meaning there’s no reason your favorite Chrome extensions can’t come to Firefox now if you ask the developer nicely enough. This should lead to a flood of new extensions in an ecosystem that could frankly use it.

Firefox Was Already Losing Users

Some may argue that Firefox will lose users because of broken extensions, but it’s worth noting that Firefox was already losing users to Chrome at an alarming rate, and has been for years. Comparative speed and a lack of certain add-ons were not helping on that front, and Firefox Quantum aims to fix both those problems.
Is there a chance this will backfire? Sure. Some people will jump ship to Chrome, and others might seek out ancient forks that maintain the old extension ecosystem. But it’s not like things were going well before. Firefox needed to evolve to stay relevant, and this is how they decided to do it.

Developers Had Time to Switch to the New API

Some users won’t notice this switch has even happened, because the extensions they work with already use the WebExtension API. Other extensions haven’t switched.
This could be because the developer abandoned the extension a long time ago, or doesn’t feel like re-writing it to use the API. In some cases, the API doesn’t offer enough control to re-create the original extension, so developers are abandoning their projects. And in many cases, the conversion simply isn’t done yet.
Whatever the case, the extensions aren’t breaking because Mozilla changed something all of the sudden. WebExtensions has been part of Firefox for two years, and the deadline for updating extensions was announced a year ago:
By the end of 2017, and with the release of Firefox 57, we’ll move to WebExtensions exclusively, and will stop loading any other extension types on desktop.
Still missing an extension you depend on? This Google document is tracking several popular extensions, and provides alternatives to several common ones. This list is also useful.


October 9, 2017

AIM Shutdown: AOL Instant Messenger alternatives

AOL announced yesterday that it will shut down the company's messaging service AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) on December 15th, 2017.
AOL Instant Messenger was initially part of AOL Desktop before it was released as a standalone software program for Windows in 1997.
It became a popular messaging client in a crowded market, as it competed with programs like Yahoo Messenger, ICQ or MSN Messenger for market share.
The popularity of messaging client waned with the rise of new services and smartphones. AOL stopped development of the client back in 2012 but kept services online.

AIM Shutdown facts

aol instant messenger aim shutdown
Here are the most important information in regards to the discontinuation of AIM:
  • AIM will be shut down on December 15, 2017, and users won't be able to sign in to the service anymore, or use it.
  • Services will function normally until that date, downloads links will be removed prior however.
  • Data associated with AIM will be deleted.
  • The change won't affect email addresses.
  • Users can save images and files, and the chat history. Note that the option to do so will stop on December 15, 2017.

How to save the AIM chat history

Some AIM clients and the AIM website offer options to save the chat history. Note that this works only if you have not disabled the option to save a copy of your chats, and only for chats not set to "go off the record".
One of the easier options to access the chat history is to find it on the local hard drive. AOL suggests that you run a search for AIM Logs to find the location.
On Windows, the default location for logs is c:\users\username\Documents\AIM Logs\.

How to save AIM images and files

The chat log does not include images and files. To save those, do the following:
  1. Sign in to the AIM client.
  2. Open the chat history with a buddy, and scroll though the listing.
  3. Click on the image or file, it will open in a browser tab or window.
  4. Right-click on it to save it.
This is not a very elegant solution, especially if you want to save all images and files. Imagine having used the client for years with multiple contacts. You might spend days saving all images and files manually.

AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) alternatives

Here is a short list of alternatives that are still under development. The focus is on desktop programs, or services that include a desktop program:
  • Facebook Messenger -- Available for mobile and desktop systems.
  • Jitsi -- Open source audio/video and chat communication with end to end encryption and support for various protocols.
  • Pidgin -- Pidgin is a multi-protocol chat client that supports several services and protocols include ICQ, XMPP, or IRC.
  • Signal Messenger -- Available for Android, iOS and Desktop operating systems. Supports group, text, voice and video chat, document and picture sending, encryption, and more.
  • Telegram Messenger -- Available for Android, iOS, Mac OS X, PC, Linux, and as a web version. Supports encryption, file sending, groups, message destruction, synchronization, and more.
  • Trillian -- Instant messaging service for desktop and mobile operating systems. Not free.


October 4, 2017

Top (REALLY FREE) VPN Services 2018

Free VPNs are great, but there's a reason they don't cost anything. We gathered the best free VPNs, and even divulge how to get a premium service for free.
Who doesn’t love free stuff? I’m a sucker for free things, and I won’t pay for something if I don’t have to. But free stuff usually come with a catch; that free subscription to Buffer doesn’t have as many features as their paid one, and that free mobile game gets annoying after the 74th ad. The same applies to VPNs. Free VPNs are great, but there’s a reason they don’t cost anything.
There are many free VPNs out there, but unless you go with a select few, you run the risk of exposing yourself to all sorts of malware. Many VPNs sell their user data to third parties, which means targeted ads for you. Other free VPNs provide outdated data encryption, which can easily be hacked. With a free VPN, you tend to get stuck waiting until a server opens. There’s also a good chance you’ll wind up with lots of ads. We all know that VPNs slow down an Internet connection, but it’s even more so with a free VPN. With all of that in mind, we’ve rounded up the best free VPNs, so you can still get great service without paying for it.

*Editor’s Choice: ExpressVPN
Although ExpressVPN isn’t entirely free, their 30-day money back guarantee is the best deal. You get a premium quality service that’s easy to download, user-friendly, has a no logs policy, and won’t slow down your Internet speed. If you really want to see how a VPN works – or even if you just want to bypass Netflix’s VPN block – ExpressVPN is the way to go. It’s also the perfect option if you’re traveling and need a VPN for a few weeks.

1. TunnelBear

TunnelBear is likely the most user-friendly and easy to use free VPN available, with simple apps for MacOS, Windows, and all mobile devices. They also stand at the top of the “transparent” VPN list after they recently published an internal 3rd party analysis that examined they, indeed, do not keep logs. (vpnMentor called the head of research at Cure53 who examined them and verified the findings.)
Tunnelbear also has a wide range of servers across the world to ensure seamless routing of traffic data everywhere from Norway to Hong Kong, but its India and Australia nodes are limited in the best free VPN version. TunnelBear promises no traffic logging and high-quality encryption. Nevertheless, you are limited to 500MB per month. This means it will be reasonably useless to use it if you want the location-spoofing benefits of watching geographically restricted video.




2. GooseVPN

While the actual GooseVPN service costs money, they have an excellent 30-day free trial that we recommend you try. With a friendly user platform, no logs policy, and increasing servers in various locations, Goose is slowly climbing to the top of our list. If you want to get a taste of a serious VPN without paying the price, then their 30-day trial is the perfect way to go. However, please note that they do automatically start your subscription after 30 days and will charge you if you don’t cancel it.




3. Betternet

Betternet VPN is a strong option for those who need a powerful VPN on a small budget. Betternet is also insanely simple to use, which is why it is one of the best free VPNs. They also do not charge standard users for downloading and using their product, instead you have to watch an advertisement before you can connect to your free VPN. Like many other VPNs Betternet doesn’t log your activities, but according to a recent report, it is one of the 10 worst services when it comes to intercepting malware, which is why we can’t fully recommend it.




4. Windscribe

The next best free VPN that you should use when you absolutely need to is Windscribe. It has reasonably good speeds, and it is also quite reliable in general. In order to ensure that it is free, data usage is capped. However, users get a sizeable 10GB every month, which is a pretty decent amount for browsing and watching geo-restricted videos. Besides capping data usage, Windscribe does not allow free users access to all the servers. This can be a major disadvantage if the server you want is only meant for paying users. Nevertheless, the available free server locations still offer some good speeds.





5. ProtonVPN

ProtonVPN is a relatively new VPN service that offers both free and paid packages. The free package can connect to three countries on one device. However, they deliberately make the internet connection speed significantly slower than their paid package. They do value privacy, though, and are known for their no logs policy. For that alone, we put ProtonVPN in the top six.



6. Hide Me

Hide Me is also one of the best free VPN tools that you can use today. Based in Malaysia, this service provider has 28 servers spread across 22 countries. Security is guaranteed with the OpenVPN encryption, and the connection speed is also decent. There is a 2GB data usage limit per month for the free service. It will definitely be enough when you just need to unblock some websites or get some privacy when using a public hotspot.


Nowadays, more people are using VPNs due to the anonymity and privacy they offer. The best free VPN tools listed above are great for the casual web user. This is because free services are known for their slower connection speeds, speed caps, and even security limitations, especially through data logging. Additionally, most of the free VPNs earn money from selling their user’s browsing data. Ultimately, not even the best free VPN can give you the security and high connection speeds that you get with a paid VPN. If you want the peace of mind that your data will not be compromised due to high encryption standards and also fast connection speeds, then it is better to pay for a full-featured VPN. The best thing is about paid VPNs is that you will not have to break the bank since they have become more affordable nowadays due to the increased competition. These are the top VPNs that are affordable:


October 3, 2017

5 Best Free VPN Services in 2017

What is a Free VPN?

A Free VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a cost-effective online service that provides digital privacy, security, and the ability to unblock and download website content from all over the world at no cost at all.
Running a complementary VPN service isn’t easy. That’s why the best providers charge subscribers for their services. However, we feel strongly that everybody should be able to access a VPN for free when they need one. That is why we have hunted far and wide for the five best free VPNs of 2017. In addition, to make your life easier, this article will explain everything you need to know about free services.
VPN services have quickly risen to fame in the last few years. VPN software gives people the ability to protect themselves and their data from online surveillance by Internet Service Providers (ISPs), governments, advertisers, and even hackers.
VPNs also allow people to unblock website content by allowing them to pretend to be in a different country. This makes them perfect for people who are going on holiday and want to access services from back home. They are also ideal for people who want to access foreign TV streams (or sports competitions). Furthermore, VPNs are excellent for people living under strong government censorship.

In 2017, what’s the best COSTLESS VPN service the online world has to offer?

The providers in this article are the best complementary VPN services of 2017. However, for a full blisteringly fast and fully featured service (perfect for those that want to download a lot of data), please look at these premium VPNs. Remember, unlike most free options, the VPNs in this guide are reliable, secure, and highly efficient. They have all been thoroughly tested by our experts.
BestVPN Editor's Choice Award
TunnelBear Homepage
  • Simple setup, incredibly easy to use
  • Excellent encryption
  • Can connect up to 5 devices
  • 500MB of free data every month
  • No peer-to-peer (P2P)
  • Few advanced settings
  • Usage capped
Our review found TunnelBear to be a fantastic free VPN that many people like because of its amusing style. However, this VPN is more than just fun.

This VPN doesn’t keep any logs, which makes it great for security. In addition, the company’s privacy policy is outstanding, making this a reliable free VPN to use for online privacy and security. Another positive aspect of this free VPN is that it gives users access to all of the VPN servers on the network. In addition, those servers are excellently placed. Unfortunately, you can’t use the free option for any more than 500MB worth of web browsing per month. When the data limit kicks in, however, you can earn more data by doing some social sharing!
Try the Best VPN Service Today!
Visit TunnelBear »30 day moneyback guarantee

#2 Free VPN in 2017: hide.Me

hide.Me Homepage
  • Strong encryption
  • Servers in 22 countries
  • Zero logs
  • Superb privacy policy
  • Highly experienced customer care
  • Limited to 2GB per month is a VPN provider from Malaysia that offers a free VPN plan. Subscribers can select from 28 servers in 22 countries. Connection speeds are solid and security is taken care of thanks to OpenVPN encryption. Get a whopping 2GB per month – quite a lot of data, and certainly enough to get you some privacy when you really need it (and to unblock websites that are unavailable). It is also compatible with all devices.

As with all the free VPNs on our list, this VPN has limitations. If you use the internet a lot, then you should probably choose a non-data capped VPN. With that said, we really like – it is one of the best all-around free VPNs available in 2017.

#3 Free VPN in 2017: SurfEasy

SurfEasy Homepage
  • Easy setup
  • P2P allowed
  • Owned by Opera
  • Easy to use apps
  • Servers across the globe
  • Minor logging
  • 2GB limit on Starter Plan
SurfEasy is a Canadian free VPN provider that is very similar to TunnelBear.

The SurfEasy apps are easy to use, provide you with strong security and solid protection, and are pretty fast. The free version provides you with 500MB of data transfer, and you can increase your data by recommending the service to friends and family. Servers are reliable and the VPN is trusted. However, their paid plan is quite a lot better, and pricing starts at just $6.49/month.

#4 Free VPN in 2017: CyberGhost

CyberGhost Homepage
  • No bandwidth limits
  • Solid speeds
  • Free iOs and Android apps
  • Automatic internet kill switch
  • Transparent privacy policy
  • Limited locations
  • Advertisements
Subscribing to CyberGhost free VPN is a superb way to introduce yourself to the world of VPNs. There is no bandwidth limit, encryption is similar to that on a premium VPN, and setting up the service is easy. CyberGhost’s user-friendly desktop app makes connecting to the VPN nice and simple - with plenty of servers.

While CyberGhost Free is superb, there are some drawbacks to consider. CyberGhost Free users have in-app advertisements, queues to connect (during peak hours), and limited server locations.

Check out CyberGhost Free for yourself using the link below!

#5 Free VPN in 2017: Windscribe

Windscribe Homepage
  • Strong encryption
  • Great privacy policy
  • Easy to use
  • Perfect for beginners
  • High transparency
  • Limited support options
  • Usage capped
Windscribe is a free VPN that packs a real punch. The free plan allows people to use 10 GB per month, which is a really decent allowance. Security is excellent, because not only does Windscribe provide strong encryption but it has a really admirable privacy policy that protects its users.

The free windscribe plan can only be used on one device, and free users of the service don’t get access to all the servers. However, as this VPN is available for free, this is not a surprise and the servers that users do get access to are located in useful places. Furthermore, Windscribe provides great speeds – which is a real bonus. All in all a superb free VPN that is well worth a try.

What Can a VPN Do?

A free Virtual Private Network (VPN) is an online service that allows people to pretend to be in a different country. In addition, VPN subscribers get digital privacy and online security. Trusted VPNs protect subscriber data both at home and on public WiFi (to protect from hackers) by providing strong encryption.
Once connected to a VPN, subscribers can securely pretend to be overseas to access and download any content.  In addition, a VPN bypasses government blocks placed by landlords, workplaces, and other network administrators.

Is It Safe to Use a VPN that is free?

If you find the right free VPN, then yes, it is safe to use. Sadly, however, there are many free services around that we simply can’t recommend. With VPNs, you really do get what you pay for. Many free services make money by selling user data to third parties. This is a highly insecure practice. After all, a VPN is meant to keep your browsing habits private – not sell the data to the highest bidder.
Many free VPNs have poor privacy policies, outdated encryption, and generally, provide unreliable connections. The good news, however, is that this is not always the case.
Some free services are secure and only place bandwidth and usage limits in order to provide the service for free. In this article, we have included the five best free VPNs of this kind.
These changeless services have been selected because they are safe to use. However, you should remember that they are all restrictive compared to a premium VPN service. Paid services have more and better choices of servers, and provide faster connection speeds for streaming, as well as stronger security.

Finding a VPN that you can trust

There are many hundreds of VPNs on the market. This can make choosing a provider quite daunting. Furthermore, trustworthy and reliable free services are incredibly hard to find.
In this article, we will explain everything you need to know about getting a free service, what a free VPN is, and how it differs from a paid VPN. We will also describe what a free VPN can be used for.
What makes one VPN free and another one a paid service? Why is it important to avoid some free VPNs? By the end of this article, you will have all the knowledge you need about free VPNs.

Can I Get a Free, Unlimited VPN?

The honest answer to this is tricky. There are free VPNs out there that do allow you to use them without usage limits. Unfortunately, those services make revenue by collecting data about their consumers to sell to third parties. We consider this to be the exact opposite of what a VPN should do. Thus it’s impossible for us to recommend these risky VPN services.
Beyond that, it is true that you will find some free VPNs on this list that don’t have a usage limit and instead throttle the bandwidth (speed) of the VPN. This means you can use it all month. However, the speed throttling will make it very hard to enjoy streaming in HD, for instance.

How Do You Use a VPN?

A VPN works by encrypting all data coming and going from a subscriber’s device. Encrypted data is securely scrambled so that nobody can access it. The outcome is that anyone snooping on your data – be it your ISP, the government, or a hacker on public WiFi – can’t see the web browsing data. This protects vital information such as logins, credentials, passwords, and credit card details.
Furthermore, when connected to a VPN the websites that you visit believe that you are in the location of the VPN servers instead of where you really are. This allows users to access the internet as if they were in a foreign country, which is perfect for people living in a country with lots of censorship.

How to Download & Set Up a VPN that Costs Nothing

Setting up a free VPN is incredibly easy. Just follow this simple walkthrough:
  1. Choose a VPN service and click the link to its website.
  2. Subscribe and get the free VPN download that you require.
  3. Follow the installation instructions to get the free VPN software onto your device.
  4. Run the app and select the encryption option you prefer. We recommend OpenVPN as it is the strongest, but anything other than Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP) will be fine.
  5. Choose a VPN server where you would like to pretend to be and click “Connect.”
  6. Once the VPN connection has been established, the software will tell you. From that point on, you can access geo-restricted content securely.

Can I Use a Costless VPN with My Mobile Phone?

If you want to use a free VPN on your phone, any of the services in this guide will work fine. It is worth bearing in mind, however, that Android is usually covered more than iOS by VPN providers. However, at least some of the services in this guide do provide free VPN for iPhone software.
In fact, no matter whether you are looking for a free VPN for Windows, or Mac, there is an option on this list that has you covered! No matter which platform you run, you will be able to access free VPN servers with our recommendations.

What Makes One VPN Free and Another One Paid?

The free VPNs in this guide provide the service as a loss leader in order to entice people into purchasing a premium subscription. That’s why the free services are restricted.
Using a VPN for free can leave some people feeling cold. The experience can be slow and highly limited. Most of the time you will likely get cut off when you are streaming with a free VPN because you reach your usage limit.
With a paid VPN, subscribers get unlimited use of the servers and no bandwidth limits. This means that the VPN is fast and can be used to do even the most data-intensive tasks.
Other free VPNs may be less restrictive in terms of use, but the payoff comes in the form of worse encryption and a insecure privacy policy. Because a VPN is supposed to protect user data, we consider these types of services to be too risky to recommend.

Which Is the Best Free Service?

Generally speaking, the best free VPN service is one that doesn’t put user data at risk in order to provide the service for nothing. That’s why the best free services tend to restrict the service a little. VPNs are costly to run and thus at their very best they do cost a subscription fee.
Remember, many free VPNs are there to collect their subscribers’ web browsing histories in order to sell them to third parties (which is highly insecure). For this reason, if you need free VPN access we urge you to stick to a trusted VPN from this guide.

Free VPNs: Considerations

When you are choosing a free VPN, there are a few key considerations that you need to keep in mind:
a) What do plan to use your free VPN for?
b) How much use do you intend to get out of your free VPN?
Free VPN Considerations
The most important consideration is connection speeds. Slower connection speeds make it very hard to enjoy streaming with your free service. A free VPN that isn’t speed-capped usually has usage limits, so you may not get much opportunity to stream shows with a faster free VPN.
At the end of the day, if you plan to use a VPN all the time to watch geo-restricted streams in HD, or play gaming servers that are geo-restricted, you will likely need to opt for a paid service with a money-back guarantee. That way you can get a feel for a premium service without actually having to spend any money.

A VPN Free Trial?

Some VPNs offer a free trial. These services give you the opportunity to trial a full-blown premium service for anything between three days and a week.
Another option is to pay for a 30-day trial of a VPN and simply ask for your money back if you don’t like it. ExpressVPN has a 30-day money-back guarantee that it always honors – it is also the best VPN service in the world.
As such, using the free VPNs in this guide is only one option for getting the use of a free VPN. If you decide that you like using a VPN, it is definitely well worth using the free trials and money-back guarantees that the best VPNs provide.

A Free service for Netflix or Kodi

Netflix actively blocks VPNs and it is almost impossible to get a free service for Netflix. However, both Kodi users and Netflix subscribers can unblock streaming content for free using one of many VPNs’ free trials or money-back guarantees. This will allow you to stream as much content as you like for free for around 30 days – and then get your money back. We understand better than anyone just how many people want to find a VPN for Kodi that is free, and for those Kodi users, these VPNs are just the ticket. As for Netflix, a full premium package is going to be the only real way to get the job done, so a 30-day money back guarantee may be the best option for those who want to try a VPN for nothing.

A Free Service for iOS 11 or Android

For people looking for a costless VPN for iOS, the VPNs in this guide are all a great option and will work perfectly on any iOS device. The same goes for Android users: these services are ideal for use on all mobile devices.

A Warning About Free Services

The vast majority of free services are a privacy and security nightmare. Free VPNs often handle data insecurely, provide outdated OpenVPN encryption that can be hacked, and sell user data to the highest bidder. Thus we urge you to think twice before using untrusted free services – the risks truly are massive!
Virtual Private Networks are amazing and even the very best are not too expensive. For that reason, we strongly advise in favor of a fully featured VPN service that will protect users properly. There are plenty of superb cheap services around, and the level of freedom and security you get with a premium service is incomparable to what users get for free.

Free VPNs for Torrenting

When it comes to torrenting you will need a VPN that provides plenty of data usage and good speeds. The services in this guide will certainly get you on your way and will allow you to torrent securely for free. However, it is worth bearing in mind that for those people that want to do a lot of downloading using P2P, a paid service is probably going to be needed in the long run.

Free Virtual Private Network Services: Conclusion

Over the last few years, there has been a massive explosion in awareness about Virtual Private Networks. Due to this increase in knowledge people are looking for recommendations about which service to get in order to protect themselves.
There are well over 850 commercial VPNs on the market and that number is growing all the time. Many of those VPN services lie about the level of service that they provide. They are only there to make a quick buck from unsuspecting consumers.
This article is designed to help people who want to try out a VPN for free to have the opportunity to do so safely. The free VPN services in this article are by far the best options available. They do not skimp on security or sell their users’ data.
In the end, a free VPN will only get you so far. For people who become interested, we strongly recommend upgrading to a paid service such as ExpressVPN or NordVPN. There are plenty of cheap options, and even the most expensive VPNs on the market really don’t cost much per year. The difference in the level of service that you get with a paid service, however, is vast.
Finally, we would like to remind you that you are far better off using one or a combination of the free VPNs in this article than you are using one of the many untrusted free services on the market that we have purposefully left off this list. Our recommendations are the best free VPNs on the market, so please stick to these if you value your privacy and security.

Best Free VPN Providers Recap

Ray Walsh
I am a freelance journalist and blogger from England. I am highly interested in politics and in particular the subject of IR. I am an advocate for freedom of speech, equality, and personal privacy. On a more personal level I like to stay active, love snowboarding, swimming and cycling, enjoy seafood, and love to listen to trap music.