Tag Archives: Mozilla

Collusion – Internet Trackers Are All In It Together

imageLook – every business organization has the right to generate income and make a profit – and, in the real world, most organizations generate that income and make that profit aboveboard, and in clear view. But, that’s not necessarily the process on the Internet. In far too many cases, companies generate revenue by staying far below a user’s horizon – in an underhanded and sneaky fashion.

The tool of choice – a tool, which by its very nature is sneaky and underhanded, is the appropriately named Tracking Cookie. A tool, which not only tracks a user’s footprints across the Web but, the data generated is then used to analyze the user’s online behavior.

It’s this behavior analysis (analyzing links I click on, the content I view, searches I make ….) where I draw the line. I find it disturbing that I have little or no say, in the manner in which I’m tracked as I surf the Internet. And, equally as important – how that information is used.

It’s fair to say, that many users do not object to being tracked. I wonder though, that if these same unconcerned users were aware of just how insidious and overwhelming tracking has become – if, they’d continue to be unconcerned.

Should an unconcerned user run the recently released Collusion Firefox add-0n – an add-on which graphs in real-time the “following behavior” of tracking cookies, they might feel less confident that their “I don’t care” perspective is the correct one.

Mozilla CEO Gary Kovacs, in describing Collusion at the recent Technology, Entertainment, and Design conference pointed out, that Collusion “allows you to see all the third parties that are tracking your movements across the Web. It will show, in real time, how that data creates a spider-web of interaction between companies and other trackers.”

Kovacs went on to say that “Collusion will allow us to pull back the curtain and provide users with more information about the growing role of third parties, how data drives most Web experiences, and ultimately how little control we have over that experience and our loss of data.”

I’ve been tinkering with Collusion for the past several days, and I must admit to a new level of unease with this “behind the scenes” look at the nature of tracking now been practiced.

Here’s a screen shot of a spider-web of interaction between companies and trackers, from a short hop around the Internet which I made this morning.

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I think you’ll agree, that the connection between and amongst trackers and tracking companies, might be more insidious than you had previously considered.

The graphic below (captured from the Collusion site),  briefly explains the  connections illustrated.

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The Collusion add-on is available for download at Mozilla.

Back to the previous graphic for a moment – you’ll notice that you can export the graph. Should you do so, you’ll end up with data which will look something like the following. What you see is a very small portion of the exported data from today’s test.

javascript”],”news.com”:[2855341,”image/png”]},”visited”:false},”adtechus.com”:{“referrers”:{“techrepublic.com”:[1070986,”application/x-javascript”],”cnet.com”:[2853754,”application/x-javascript”],”thestar.com”:[5351704,”application/x-javascript”]},”visited”:false},”adnxs.com”:{“referrers”:{“techrepublic.com”:[1071838,”text/javascript”,”image/jpeg”],”baselinemag.com”:[2084558,null],”cnet.com”:[2853938,”text/javascript”,”image/jpeg”,”image/gif”],”thestar.com”:[5352178,”text/javascript”,”image/jpeg”,”application/x-shockwave-flash”]},”visited”:false},”techrepublic.com”:{“referrers”:{“twitter.com”:[1077104,”text/html;charset=utf-8″]},”visited”:true},”stumbleupon.com”:{“referrers”:{“techrepublic.com”:[1073845,”text/html;charset=utf-8″],”pcmag.com”:[1466423,”text/html;charset=utf-8″],”webopedia.com

And yes, there are a truckload of free tools which, to some extent, can impact and reduce the effectiveness of tracking – but, the downside in running with these tools is often a less than enjoyable Internet experience.

18 Comments

Filed under downloads, Firefox Add-ons, Opinion, Privacy

Not Using Google Shortcuts? Here’s What You’re Missing

The following article was originally posted September 6, 2010.

Comments from readers:

I have to say that is such a great plugin. It is so customizable and puts all the Google services at one place. I can even remove the separate plugins I have for Gmail and reader.

Great find, Bill. I’m going to be putting this to good use!

Looks fabulous Bill. I removed the Google Toolbar from Firefox as it refused to untick some checkboxes, so this could be a great substitute.

imageDespite my personal view that Google trashes personal privacy rights, I continue to use a fairly large number of Google services, including Gmail, Google Reader, Maps, Calendar, and so on.

Until now, I’ve used my Bookmarks menu in Firefox to access these services, since this method is very convenient. But, when I came across the Google Shortcuts extension for Firefox, all that changed.

An  add-on that can display over 160 Google services as buttons next to the address bar, or in a one-click popup menu, is a sure fire winner with me. And Google Shortcuts for Firefox, or Chrome, can do that – and more.

Adding this extension to either Firefox, or Chrome, is accomplished in the usual manner that most of us are familiar with (you’ll find the download links at the end of this article).

Following installation, I jumped right in – setting up the extension to best serve my particular needs.

You can place your most commonly used Google services as buttons beside the address bar in Firefox, as the following screen capture indicates. This seems like an awkward way to display – eats up a lot of screen real estate.

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The option of using a dropdown menu option instead, as I’ve done here, is a better alternative – at least for me.

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The number of services available is really astonishing. In fact, there are services listed here that I was completely unaware of. Hopefully, G+ will be added shortly.

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Additional control options are available on the advanced options setting screen.

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Requirements: Firefox 2.0 – 6.*, or Chrome

Download at: Mozilla or Google Chrome Extensions

For super convenience, this is one of the better Firefox add-ons I’ve come across – I highly recommend it.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

6 Comments

Filed under Browser add-ons, Chrome, Chrome Add-ons, Cloud Computing Applications, downloads, Firefox, Firefox Add-ons, Freeware, Google, Google Chrome, Google Software, Interconnectivity, Software, Windows Tips and Tools

Tile Tabs 4.9 – Firefox Tabbed Horizontally, Vertically Or In A Grid

This past week, I’ve reviewed Dexpot – an application which, in the freeware version, will allow you to work with up to twenty separate and distinct virtual Desktops, as well as Slickscreen – an Internet Browser which takes advantage of high resolution displays by dividing the screen into separate windows.

In keeping with this theme, regular reader Michael Fisher recently introduced me to Tile Tabs, a very cool Firefox browser add-on which gives a user the ability to arrange tabs in a tile format – horizontally, vertically or in a grid. Additional tile control features include – re-sizing by dragging splitter bars – dragging links from one tile to another  to open in the selected tile (I found this feature very useful).

Following installation, you’ll notice a new menu has been added to the Firefox Menu Bar.

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Additionally, you have the option of  adding a Tile Tabs button to the Toolbar by right-clicking the Toolbar and choosing “Customize”.

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More important, at least from my perspective (as a context menu fanatic), are the new commands added to the “right click” context menu.

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Setting your specific preferences is easy using the options menu – available through the Add-ons Manager.

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The focused tab (currently selected tile), is bracketed by a colored border. The border color is selectable.

Tile Tabs Options

Here’s a view of Tile Tabs in action showing four opened tabs.

Click on graphic to expand to original.

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System requirements: Firefox 3.6 – 6.

Download at: Mozilla

You might not need this add-on every time you surf the Net. Still, just having it available for those times when it could come in handy, seems like a smart move.

I must admit, I’ve found it very useful, these last few nights, as I watched the Stanley Cup Finals hockey games (streaming live), in a tiled tab – as I continued with my regular work on the Net. Thank you Michael!

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

3 Comments

Filed under Browser add-ons, Browsers, downloads, Firefox, Firefox Add-ons, Freeware, Software, Windows Tips and Tools

Add Some Color To Firefox With Colorful Tabs

When I installed Firefox 4, certain add-ons were not yet compatible (some, including VTzilla and Xpnd.it, are still not compatible). The non-compatible add-on I missed the most – which really surprised me – was Colorful Tabs.

Without Colorful Tabs running, I was back to the same old flat, uninspiring, and unfocused Firefox.

Running without Colorful Tabs  – boring! Click on graphic to expand to original.

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Running with Colorful Tabs, which adds a different color to each tab, not only adds a little oomph to Firefox’s GUI, but helps me sort out loaded Tabs quickly.

Click on graphic to expand to original.

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You’ll notice that the currently active Tab has a slight 3D look – making it easy to stay focused.

Options menu:

Colorful Tabs can be optimized to meet your personal specifications.

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System requirements: Firefox 3.7 – 4.0.

Download at: Mozilla

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

8 Comments

Filed under Browser add-ons, downloads, Firefox, Firefox Add-ons, Freeware, Software, Windows Tips and Tools

Spice Up Your Blog And Forum Comments With BBCodeXtra Firefox Add-on

imageI must admit – I love to pore over readers’ comments following articles I’m checking out on other sites. Courteous comments (which by their nature, raise the level of intellectual persuasion), will often elevate a mundane article above the crowd of similar articles. The article may be the main meal, but reader comments are, in many instances, the spices that give it the oomph, the zest and the zing…….

If you’re the type of Internet user who likes to express your point of view, or share your wisdom and your insight by commenting on forums, on Blogs, or on any site which engages with its readers by supporting comments – then you’ll find BBCodeXtra (which adds Bbcode, HTML, and XHTML context menu commands to Firefox), very useful.

With BBCodeXtra installed you can markup your comments to display bold, italic, or underlined text, and more. As well, additional submenus increase functionality substantially.

Here’s an example in which I’ve selected “cool application” for italicizing, “just one more” for underlining, “you” to reference a URL, “much more closely”, for a block quote, and finally, “Always good to see your comments), for bolding.

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The BBCodeXtra context menu commands makes it very easy to add emphasis to your comments – without the need to learn coding.

BBCode

Settings menu

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You can create a custom tag to insert a fixed plain text or symbols like ©, ® e ™ (both HTML entity or UTF characters).

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System requirements: Firefox, Seamonkey.

Download at: Mozilla

Note: A comment tip from regular reader Michael F. pointed the way to this terrific add-on. Thank you Michael.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

8 Comments

Filed under Blogging Tools, Browser add-ons, downloads, Firefox Add-ons, Freeware, Geek Software and Tools, Software, Windows Tips and Tools, Writing

Firefox Update (3.6.12) Fixes Zero Day Vulnerability

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Yesterday, we reported on a critical zero day vulnerability in both Firefox 3.5, and Firefox 3.6., which could have allowed remote code execution in the Browser.

Mozilla jumped on this issue immediately, and has provided a fix by releasing Firefox version 3.6.12. Firefox 3.5 users, can ensure protection is in place against this vulnerability by updating to version 3.5.15.

If you haven’t updated your version of Firefox yet, then go to Help – Check for updates. Not all users allow automatic updates and installation – I’m one, as the following graphic illustrates. However, I do allow the update to download.

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For an overview of Browser security add-ons you should consider installing, read – An IT Professional’s Must Have Firefox and Chrome Add-ons, here on this site.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

8 Comments

Filed under Application Vulnerabilities, Browsers, cybercrime, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Firefox, Freeware, Malware Advisories, Online Safety, Software, Windows Tips and Tools

October 27 – Firefox Zero Day Vulnerability

imageMozilla confirmed yesterday, that a critical vulnerability exists in both Firefox 3.5, and Firefox 3.6. Sources confirm, that the vulnerability is currently being exploited by cyber criminals.

According to Mozilla, the Nobel Peace Prize site is/was, carrying a Trojan which could have effected visitors to that site. However, if Mozilla is correct, this malware could be live on other sites.

Mozilla is actively addressing the issue and are working on a fix which will be released following testing to ensure its reliability. In the meantime, users are cautioned to disable JavaScript, and to install the NoScript Add-on – something we have long recommended on this site.

For an overview of additional Browser security add-ons you should consider installing, read – An IT Professional’s Must Have Firefox and Chrome Add-ons, here on this site.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

4 Comments

Filed under Application Vulnerabilities, Browser add-ons, Browsers, cybercrime, Don't Get Hacked, Firefox, Firefox Add-ons, Internet Security Alerts, Malware Advisories, trojans

Google Shortcuts – Access Google Services With One Click From Firefox and Chrome

Despite my personal view that Google trashes personal privacy rights, I continue to use a fairly large number of Google services, including Gmail, Google Reader, Maps, Calendar, and so on.

Until now, I’ve used my Bookmarks menu in Firefox to access these services, since this method is very convenient. But, when I came across the Google Shortcuts extension for Firefox, all that changed.

An  add-on that can display over 100 Google services as buttons next to the address bar, or in a one-click popup menu, is a sure fire winner with me. And Google Shortcuts for Firefox, or Chrome, can do that – and more.

Adding this extension to either Firefox, or Chrome, is accomplished in the usual manner that most of us are familiar with (you’ll find the download links at the end of this article).

Following installation, I jumped right in – setting up the extension to best serve my particular needs.

For the moment, I’ve placed my most commonly used Google services as buttons beside the address bar in Firefox, as the following screen capture indicates.

image

Alternatively, I had the option of using a dropdown menu instead, as I’ve done here, for illustrative purposes.

image

The number of services available is really astonishing. In fact, there are services listed here that I was completely unaware of.

image

Additional control options are available on the advanced options setting screen.

image

Requirements: Firefox 2.0a1 – 4.0b4, or Chrome

Download at: Mozilla or Google Chrome Extensions

For super convenience, this is one of the better Firefox add-ons I’ve come across – I highly recommend it.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

6 Comments

Filed under Browser add-ons, Browser Plug-ins, Chrome Add-ons, downloads, Firefox Add-ons, Freeware, Google Chrome, Software, Windows Tips and Tools

FireFox 3.0.2 Released – 11 Bugs Fixed – Update Today!

The latest update of FireFox version 3.0.2 now available for download includes patches for 11 security deficiencies, many of them rated as critical by Mozilla Corporation.

If you are still using FireFox version 2, then you need to update this version as well, since the latest release of this version includes 14 patches. A number of patches in version 2 are exclusive to this specific version.

Frankly, if you are still using version 2 you need to take the plunge and update to version 3 now. There is no guarantee that Mozilla will continue to offer support for version 2.

A number of the vulnerabilities in version 3 were serious, and included stability issues related to graphics rendering, layout and JavaScript engines. Each has the potential to cause browser crashes could potentially leave the user open to exploitation by malicious code.

The latest FireFox security advisory lists the following vulnerabilities as having been patched.

MFSA 2008-42: Critical

Titled “Crashes with evidence of memory corruption (rv:1.9.0.2/1.8.1.17)”–Mozilla says under certain circumstances memory corruption could be exploited to run arbitrary code.

MFSA 2008-41: Critical

Titled “Privilege escalation via XPCnativeWrapper pollution”–Mozilla says this fix includes “a series of vulnerabilities which can pollute XPCNativeWrappers and allow arbitrary code run with chrome privileges.”

MFSA 2008-39: Critical

Titled “Privilege escalation using feed preview page and XSS flaw”–Mozilla says this fixes “a series of vulnerabilities in feedWriter which allow scripts from page content to run with chrome privileges.”

MFSA 2008-37: Critical

Titled “UTF-8 URL stack buffer overflow”–Mozilla says “a specially crafted UTF-8 URL in a hyperlink…could overflow a stack buffer and allow an attacker to execute arbitrary code.

MFSA 2008-38: High

Titled “nsXMLDocument::OnChannelRedirect() same-origin violation”–Mozilla says the same-origin check in nsXMLDocument::OnChannelRedirect() could be bypassed and could be used to execute JavaScript in the context of a different Web site.

MFSA 2008-43: Moderate

Titled “BOM characters stripped from JavaScript before execution”–Mozilla says certain BOM characters are stripped from JavaScript code before it is executed and could lead to code being executed.

MFSA 2008-44: Moderate

Titled “resource: traversal vulnerabilities”–Mozilla says the restrictions imposed on local HTML files could be bypassed using the resource: protocol, allowing an attacker to read information about the system and prompt the victim to save the information in a file.

MFSA 2008-40: Low

Titled “Forced mouse drag”–Mozilla says the vulnerability allows an attacker to move the content window while the mouse is being clicked, causing an item to be dragged rather than clicked-on possibly forcing a user to download a file or perform other drag-and-drop actions.

MFSA 2008-45: Low

Titled “XBM image uninitialized memory reading”–Mozilla says a bug in the XBM decoder allowed random small chunks of uninitialized memory to be read.

It is highly recommended that you update immediately on the Mozilla site, or by clicking on Help – Check for Updates in FireFox.

1 Comment

Filed under Browsers, Firefox, Freeware, Geek Software and Tools, Interconnectivity, Internet Safety, Internet Safety Tools, Online Safety, Software, Windows Tips and Tools

Free Easy Web Authoring for Non-Technical Users with KompoZer

From: kompozer.net

(Edited by Bill Mullins)

There’s no need to pay a small fortune for a program to create and edit great-looking web pages, with powerful and easy to use CSS capabilities. Kompozer is an alternative version of the NVU web-editing software that makes several changes which makes KompoZer a terrific WYSIWYG web page creation program.

KompoZer is a complete Web Authoring System that combines web file management with easy-to-use WYSIWYG web page editing capabilities like those found in Microsoft FrontPage, Adobe DreamWeaver and other high end programs.

KompoZer is designed to be extremely easy to use, making it ideal for non-technical computer users who want to create an attractive, professional-looking web site without the need to know HTML or web coding.

Reliable technology inside

KompoZer is based on Gecko, the layout engine inside Mozilla; it’s a super-fast, very reliable, standards conformant engine maintained on a daily basis by a wide community of developers.

KompoZer is a stand-alone tool; hence its small size and fast speed

Key features and capabilities

  • WYSIWYG editing of pages, making web creation as easy as typing a letter with your word processor.
  • Integrated file management via FTP. Simply logon to your web site and navigate through your files, editing web pages on the fly, directly from your site.
  • Reliable HTML code creation that works with all of today’s most popular browsers.
  • Jump between WYSIWYG Editing Mode and HTML using tabs.
  • Tabbed editing to make working on multiple pages a snap.
  • Powerful support for forms, tables, and templates.

Additional features and capabilities

FTP site manager

With KompoZer, all the sites you have specified in your Publishing Settings are browse able in a sidebar. You can get a tree view of a site, just like Explorer’s folders pane, or a one-dir-only view. It is also possible to filter files and show all files, or only HTML documents or image files.

A new color picker

KompoZer has a new extended color picker, more conformant to what most users are used to. Set a color from its red blue and green components, or its hue saturation and brightness. Or just use your mouse to pick up the color you want.

Tabs

One of Mozilla Firefox’s killer features is now available in KompoZer! Have one window only on your screen and edit several documents at once, each document having its own Undo/Redo stack! Just glance at the tabs to know if a document needs to be saved or not!

CSS editor

Create stylesheets easily and manage the styles attached to your documents. You can see your style settings applied ‘”live” to the document you’re editing.

A dash of style(s)

With KompoZer, right-click on any element in the hierarchical toolbar at the bottom of the window and directly set its style properties.

Customizable toolbars

Customize your toolbar to show only the buttons you want/need.

Forms

Take advantage of a XUL-based UI to edit all your forms, and form elements.

Cleaner markup

KompoZer makes it easy to get rid of most of those annoying
. Combined with the ability to call W3C’s HTML validator from within KompoZer you’ll make valid, clean documents.

Visible marks

In a complex page layout, you often need to see visible carriage returns and block borders. KompoZer can now do that for you. Everything is controlled by a CSS stylesheet so you can customize those marks and replace them with your own.

Table/Cell resizing rulers

Convenient table resizing rulers which will help you easily adjust the size of rows and columns in any table in your web page.

Automated Spellchecker

The integrated in-line spellchecker will underline all misspelled words as you type to ensure correct spelling throughout the entire web page.

Platform: Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Mac OS 9, Mac OS X

Download at: http://www.download.com/KompoZer/

For a review of the freeware Web Design Software, PersonalWebKit, on this Blog:

Click Here

6 Comments

Filed under Freeware, Software, Web Development