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Firefox 2.0 Beta 1 And Flock Browser Reviews

In This Issue:

1. Editor's Note: Reviews: Firefox 2.0 Beta 1, And What The Flock Is Up With That New Browser?
2. Today's Top Story
     - Review: Firefox 2 Takes On IE7
     - Review: Flock Offers A Firefox For Bloggers
3. Breaking News
     - Microsoft Releases New Vista Beta 2 Build
     - Worm Hits MySpace
     - Health Care Providers The Latest To Ship IT Work To India
     - In Depth: Supercomputers Get A Speed Boost From Specialized Chips
     - Brief: Time Runs Out For Apple Blogging Appeal
     - Salesforce.com Upgrades On-Demand CRM
     - Desktop PC Ownership Stagnates, Poll Says
     - Attackers Let Loose More PowerPoint Exploit Code
     - Intel Set To Debut Powerful New Itanium Chip
     - Microsoft To Pull Encrypted Folder Under Pressure
     - HP Labs Touts Tiny Wireless Chip For Wide-Ranging Use
     - Yahoo Finance Revises Charts, Chat, Other Features
     - Top 10 Windows Vista Hits And Misses
4. Grab Bag
     - For CBS's Fall Lineup, Check Inside Your Refrigerator (NY Times - reg. required)
     - Top 10 Ways To Motivate Geeks (The Retrospector)
     - Meet Microsoft's Ultimate Beta Tester (BetaNews)
5. In Depth
     - Can You Ever Trust A Hacker? UBS Trial Puts It To A Test
     - In Depth: How Businesses Can Attract The Next-Generation Of IT Workers
     - In Depth: U.S. IT Unemployment Plunges To 2.2%. But There's More To This Story
     - The Next Data Breach Could Mean Your IT Job
6. Voice Of Authority
     - Down To Business: Offshore Infighting
7. White Papers
     - Closing The 64-Bit Windows Application Gap
8. Get More Out Of InformationWeek
9. Manage Your Newsletter Subscription

Quote Of The Day:
"A stupid person can make only certain, limited types of errors; the mistakes open to a clever fellow are far broader. But to the one who knows how smart he is compared to everyone else, the possibilities for true idiocy are boundless." — Steven Brust


1. Editor's Note: Reviews: Firefox 2.0 Beta 1, And What The Flock Is Up With That New Browser?

Today we have a review of Firefox 2.0 beta 1 that's sure to be a crowd-pleaser, as well as a good review of a new browser, based on Firefox, called Flock.

For months now, Firefox 2.0 has been getting a bum rap because there's really no significant new features in it. Critics say Firefox 2.0 really doesn't deserve to be called 2.0; it's really just an incremental upgrade from the current version.

All of that is true—but largely irrelevant to our review, which describes and praises the upgrades, minor though they are.

Firefox 2.0 will be a must-have for Firefox users. It'll have improved tabs, improved handling of RSS feed subscriptions, a built-in spell-checker (that'll be a favorite for people who do a lot of blogging and participate in online discussion forums), protection against phishing, and better handling of the browser history. None of this stuff will convert anybody from using another browser, but if you're already using Firefox and like it, well, looks like when 2.0 comes out, you'll like it even more.

I'm hoping that when Firefox 2.0 finally ships, we'll see some of Firefox 1.x's major bugs addressed. We wrote about major Firefox bugs 13 months ago, and since then the biggies haven't changed, most notably:

  • Firefox turns into a fat, slow resource hog when you have more than three or four tabs open, and sometimes for other reasons as well.
  • Sometimes when clicking on a link in another application, such as an e-mail message, Firefox will take forever to open the page, and during that time the originating application is frozen.

The authors of Flock bill it as a "social browser," which, as a marketing tagline, is just too, too cute. Even Flock designer Chris Messina doesn't seem entirely thrilled with that tagline; in an interview on the Inside the Net podcast, he said he'll believe a piece of software is social when it can buy you a beer.

But stripped of the Web 2.0 marketing baloney, there's some intriguing and promising technology in Flock. It includes a blogging tool to enable you to compose blog posts from within your browser and upload them to blogs on the most popular blogging platforms. Flock also includes tools to integrate with photo-sharing services Flickr and Photobucket.

This whole business of "social browsing" comes down to this: Flock isn't just a tool for reading the Web. It's also a tool for publishing on the Web.

My colleague Barbara Krasnoff did a nice job on her review, but she does give short shrift to a feature I find most interesting about Flock: the way it handles bookmarks. For years now, I've been frustrated by the bookmarking and favorites tools available in Firefox and Internet Explorer. The only way to organize your bookmarks is by folder, and you can only assign a bookmark to a single folder.

Flock offers tools for organizing your favorites by user-assigned keywords, called "tags," and grouping favorites into collections called (naturally enough) "collections." You can search for favorites that share common tags and assign a single favorite to multiple collections. You can also share your favorites using the Shadows and del.icio.us community-bookmarking services.

It's a promising approach, but so far the implementation is pretty poor. Flock is currently in its pre-Version 1.0 beta, and I hope it gets its Favorites management cleaned up by the time it ships.

This whole business of bookmarking and favorites is a pet peeve of mine. Neither Firefox nor Internet Explorer handles bookmarks particularly well—the technology hasn't really changed since 1994, and it's not adequate for the task of helping us stay on top of sites we've visited once and would like to visit again. The rest of the Web has changed almost beyond recognition since then, but bookmarking is stuck in the era when Forrest Gump first said life is like a box of chocolates.

How do you keep track of favorite Web pages on the Internet? Do you use any third-party tools? Del.icio.us? Plain text lists or Word documents? Or are Internet Explorer Favorites and Firefox Bookmarks good enough for you? Let me know at my blog entry.

Mitch Wagner
mwagner@cmp.com


2. Today's Top Story

Review: Firefox 2 Takes On IE7
The beta of Firefox's next version doesn't have any radical changes, but it does include a few nifty tweaks. Can it continue to challenge IE?

Review: Flock Offers A Firefox For Bloggers
Flock, a browser based on Mozilla's popular Firefox, adds a variety of features designed to appeal to the social networking crowd.


3. Breaking News

Microsoft Releases New Vista Beta 2 Build
The focus this time is on fixing some device driver incompatibilities and performance issues.

Worm Hits MySpace
The payload redirects users to another site and is not malicious. But in light of the social networking site's rapidly rising popularity, some security watchers are wondering if a malicious worm is the next step.

Health Care Providers The Latest To Ship IT Work To India
"We cannot increase our rates, yet health care costs are rising," one CIO says. "So if you're dealing with those two things, you are constantly battling your administrative costs to find better ways to do business."

In Depth: Supercomputers Get A Speed Boost From Specialized Chips
Computer engineers are increasingly using hardware accelerators to break through the limitations of all-purpose microprocessors.

Brief: Time Runs Out For Apple Blogging Appeal
The upshot: A May 2006 legal decision handed down in favor of bloggers and the Electronic Frontier Foundation will stand.

Salesforce.com Upgrades On-Demand CRM
The improved software provides a better view of each customer by integrating more data from sales, marketing, services, and support, according to the vendor.

Desktop PC Ownership Stagnates, Poll Says
But laptop and notebook sales are doing just fine, being driven by low-cost, high-speed, and wireless Internet service, according to a new study.

Attackers Let Loose More PowerPoint Exploit Code
Symantec researchers aren't sure, though, whether the three exploits are distinct, or even if they attack new vulnerabilities compared to the code that's already being detected by Microsoft.

Intel Set To Debut Powerful New Itanium Chip
The latest dual-core addition to Intel's Itanium processor family has 1.7 billion transistors—triple that of its predecessor. It's meant to spur more widespread adoption of Itanium.

Microsoft To Pull Encrypted Folder Under Pressure
The "My Private Folder" in Windows was slammed by critics, particularly enterprise IT administrators who didn't like the idea of Microsoft distributing software that lets workers hide files.

HP Labs Touts Tiny Wireless Chip For Wide-Ranging Use
The chip is about the size of the head of a match and could potentially store a patient's medical chart on a hospital band, among many other uses. But commercialization is still some time away.

Yahoo Finance Revises Charts, Chat, Other Features
The company also plans to allow other Web sites to embed stock charts, quotes, and financial news headlines from Yahoo, free of charge, by using just a small amount of code.

Top 10 Windows Vista Hits And Misses
In this countdown of where Microsoft has scored and stumbled with Vista, our opinionated writer says yes to the Aero interface and Sidebar Gadgets, no to beefed-up graphics hardware requirements and a tough installation process.

All Our Latest News

Watch The News Show

In the current episode:

John Soat With 'Newsflight'
Three-quarters of companies plan to increase IT spending, the FCC is set to offer licenses for advanced wireless services, and more.

Eric Chabrow With 'IT Jobs Are Up!'
IT employment is at an all-time high.

----- The latest research, polls, and tools -----

Download PDFs Of InformationWeek's Top Stories
Visit InformationWeek Downloads to get all of InformationWeek's biggest and best articles all in one place. Presented in an easy-to-read PDF format, they'll help you analyze and make purchasing decisions for today's technology solutions.

A Personal Approach To The Web
InformationWeek's newest service is MyInformationWeek, a personalization engine that responds to your stated preferences and also uses your click behavior to refine your profile and serve you the most relevant information on every visit. Sign up now.

-----------------------------------------

4. Grab Bag

For CBS's Fall Lineup, Check Inside Your Refrigerator (NY Times - reg. required)
CBS will place laser imprints of its trademark eye insignia, as well as logos for some of its shows, on some 35 million eggs.

Top 10 Ways To Motivate Geeks (The Retrospector)
"Being a geek myself, I think this is a subject I think needs to penetrate all levels of management in every company that values their geeks. By no means is this a rant, but for the last 10 years I've seen what motivates us and what doesn't. I've seen the managers that just don't get it. I've seen those that understand completely and react accordingly. So, I thought I'd share my observations and see what everyone has to add as well."

Meet Microsoft's Ultimate Beta Tester (BetaNews)
BetaNews recently sat down with Microsoft Chief Information Officer Ron Markezich, often referred to as "Microsoft's ultimate beta tester," to get an in-depth look at how dog-fooding helps shape the software that hundreds of millions of people use each day.


5. In Depth

Can You Ever Trust A Hacker? UBS Trial Puts It To A Test
The defense cast doubt on the role that a one-time famous hacker played in the investigation.

In Depth: How Businesses Can Attract The Next-Generation Of IT Workers
Internships aren't enough. IT-dependent businesses need to take the talent pipeline as seriously as they do other critical industry risks.

In Depth: U.S. IT Unemployment Plunges To 2.2%. But There's More To This Story
IT employment hits an all-time high. But there's more going on than meets the eye.

The Next Data Breach Could Mean Your IT Job
From the VA to Ohio University, IT pros have lost their jobs over lost data. Businesses, meanwhile, refuse to take security training seriously.


6. Voice Of Authority

Down To Business: Offshore Infighting
Rob Preston says: Is the U.S. services economy doomed, or just adjusting to the times? The answer isn't black and white.


7. White Papers

Closing The 64-Bit Windows Application Gap
A market move toward broader adoption of 64-bit computing is well under way. But these platforms need significantly more applications if they're to compete head-on with the incumbent leaders in the 64-bit marketplace: Unix/RISC and Unix/Itanium. MKS offers a variety of tools for organizations entering into the 64-bit computing world.


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