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Google Music Beta limited release

Google Music Beta limited release

Recently we were sent an invite to test drive Google’s new Music Beta service. As more cloud music services are appearing, you can be sure there will be lots of competition for Amazon and Google’s respective services in days to come. Cloud music services allow users to access their personal music library across computers, cellphones, tablets, etc. Needless to say, we were quite excited to be invited to the beta of the Google Music service.

As I proceeded to upload music from my music library via their Music Manager application, I noticed I was able to upload FLAC files (alongside the typical MP3, AAC, and WMA formats). Impressed by this feature, I decided it was best to figure out if the service could actually play FLAC files before I went and knocked on all my neighbours’ doors to tell them the great news (maybe that’s not a great idea after all…). As I suspected, there was a catch. Yes, the Music Manager application supports FLAC…but all FLAC files are transcoded to 320 kbps MP3 prior to upload. While this was quite disappointing, we have to give Google props for allowing their users to upload FLAC (kinda…) files without having to transcode them to MP3 files themselves. Then again, as the service is only in their beta release, we can expect possible improvements when everything is finalized.

Music Manager application

The Music Manager application used for uploading your music

Google Music Beta service

The Google Music Beta service

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Opera 11.50 Beta featuring enhanced password security

Opera 11.50 Beta featuring enhanced password security

As you may already know, Firefox recently announced that they would introduce competitive release schedules to their popular browser, Mozilla. This was immediately followed by the release of Firefox 4 which claims to feature up to 6 times the performance of the previous v3.6.

After seeing Google Chrome and Firefox push for faster releases on their respective browsers, Opera has taken a stance – To release at the same speed (gotcha!). Nevertheless, they have managed to reach the 11.5 beta of the next major release which will probably bring joy to users who share bookmarks across computers with Opera Link. Along with the introduction of added support for HTML5 such as the dataset attribute, sessions history and navigation, the classList attribute, Opera is pushing for enhanced password security.

What this means is now Opera will allow Opera Link users to also synchronize passwords across computers as they are able to ensure such information will not be stolen.
This is achieved by using a randomly generated encryption key that is sent along with your password to Opera’s authentication service, where it is then retrieved onto your other computers and accessed by typing in your Opera Link password. When you input your password, it will check it against the encryption key created earlier, and if they match, you are provided access. This means not only are you protected by your Opera Link password, you are protected a second time by the encryption key which is matched against your password.

Aside from this amazing feature, they have also introduced the possibility of using extensions in your Speed Dial (yes, we know, more Opera jargon), allowing you to view weather, email, news as they update dynamically.

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Firefox 4 just released!

Firefox 4 just released!

So…about two hours ago, Mozilla announced the released of their newest major update to their popular web browser, Firefox.

What’s so special about this update?

  • This update is said to be 2~6 times faster than the previous version, 3.6, according to various results from different benchmarks.
  • Firefox Sync – The ability to be able to (securely) synchronize your Awesome Bar history, bookmarks, open tabs, passwords and form data across multiple computers and mobile devices.
  • (Again) Customization. Basically Firefox showing off the huge number of add-ons that have been created for Firefox. Nevertheless quite impressive.
  • The option to opt out of behavioural tracking advertisements while browsing
  • Further hardening of browsing security to prevent you from accidentally allowing malicious scripts to be run through your browser.
  • More features for web developers, especially with the developers making haste to implement sleek new HTML5 designs into their websites.
  • “Sandboxed” execution of Adobe Flash, Apple iTunes, and Microsoft Silverlight plugins. This feature prevents those annoying sudden browser crashes that occur when one of these plugins crash or freeze. Simply reload the page to get it working again!
  •  
    Minor modifications

  • Firefox button: All menu items are now accessible in one simple button (Similar to Opera).
  • Tabs on top: The ability to have your tabs beside the Firefox button aforementioned instead of below it. (Yes, we know it’s quite lame and trivial)
  • Reload/Stop load in one: Instead of having two separate buttons to reload and stop loading a page, the developers realized they could just make one button that changes functionality depending on the current operation! Groundbreaking! (Wait a sec, Opera has that too)
  • App Tabs: Firefox now gives you the option to have small icons for various webpages such as Twitter, Facebook, Hotmail, etc. Much like the icons in the Windows 7 taskbar.
  •  
    Where are the other features?!

    Simply put, we decided all the other new “features” Mozilla brought up in their Firefox 4 release were simply too insignificant to occupy the precious time of our readers.

    So we have spared you from having to read a  huge wall of text  then decide you’ve just wasted your time. If you still wish to see all the other minor “features” implemented in the new update, feel free to see them on the official Firefox website.

    I really could care less about the minor modifications…tell me about the speed increase!

    As we are well aware, one of the most important things when browsing the internet for most of us is the speed in which the page is displayed. The team at Technewsgalore is no different. So we’ll happily give you some significant numbers from the benchmarks comparing Firefox 3.6 and Firefox 4.

     

    Kraken – Difference: Almost 3.55x faster! (Lower value means faster performance)

    Firefox 3.6  –  14,293 milliseconds (ms)

    Firefox 4  –  5,072 ms

     

    Sunspider – Difference: 3.2x faster! (Lower value means faster performance)

    Firefox 3.6  –   620 ms

    Firefox 4  –  206 ms

     

    V8 – Difference: 7.08x better!  (Greater value, greater performance)

    Firefox 3.6  –  733 ms

    Firefox 4  –  5189 ms

    Yes those numbers are quite impressive. However, numbers mean nothing if you can not experience it yourself. So go ahead, try out Firefox 4 and tell us how you like it!

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