Firefox 11 Arrives with Add-on Sync, Google Chrome Migration and a Look at What 2012 Holds for Firefox

Today, Mozilla announced the release of Firefox 11, the next version of the popular web browser. The new version brings in quite a lot of new features for end users and web developers alike.

For the end user, Firefox 11 introduces add-on sync. Add-on sync uses Firefox’s built-in sync feature to ensure that all your Firefox installations are in sync with the installed Firefox add-ons, in addition to the bookmarks, open tabs, history and passwords.

Firefox sync

Add-on sync has been a much-requested feature and personally, I’ve been resisting from moving away from Chrome to Firefox for the sole reason that sync is such a seamless and painless experience in Chrome, as compared to Firefox. Another feature Mozilla’s brought in, no doubt targeting Chrome users, is the the ability to import browsing data – including Cookies, Bookmarks and Browsing History from Chrome. Till this release, such an import was possible only from Internet Explorer.

Firefox Importing Google Chrome Data


For web developers, Firefox 11 brings in a new Style Editor allowing for on-the-fly-editing of stylesheets. The Style Editor features a two-pane UI, with the file listing on the left and the plain-text editor on the right. The plain-text editor also features syntax highlighting to make it easier.

Firefox 11 also features a new 3D vizualization of the webpage’s DOM tree. Initially introduced as an add-on called Tilt, the 3d visualizer makes use of WebGL to build a multi-layer representation of the webapge’s DOM tree. While it looks gimmicky, it might help few people who’ve been trying to analyze and fix the annoying layout bugs.

Firefox Tilt

For Enterprise users, Mozilla will backport security fixes in the current version of Firefox to a separate point patch, as part of Mozilla’s Extended Support Release proposal.

What’s in the future?

The current version of Firefox brings in preliminary support for SPDY, Google’s alternative for the HTTP protocol. Future releases will undoubtedly improve upon SPDY support. Upcoming releases of Firefox will make addon compatibility less of a hassle. Previously, add-on authors would have to manually update their add-ons when a new version of Firefox was released. Mozilla’s proposal to move to a rapid release schedule caused a lot of anguish to developers and end users alike. Going forward, Mozilla will make all-ons compatible with Firefox 4 and higher, automatically enabled.

Firefox 13 is expected to bring in silent updates – all updates will be automatically & silently downloaded in background and will not be interrupted if the browser is shutdown.

From the Gecko platform point of view, Mozilla will bring in support for a whole lot of new web technologies, including

  • WebRTC for real time audio & video conferencing
  • Web Sockets will be completed to match the W3C specs. Incidentally, Mozilla has dropped prefixes for Websockets starting from this release of Firefox
  • SPDY, HTTP Pipe lining and HTTP Pre-connections
  • DASH and WebM support
  • Support for key input in fullscreen mode
  • Possible support for H.264 & MP3 decoding using codecs present on the OS

Download links

Firefox should automatically update your Firefox to the newest version soon. You can also download the latest version from Mozilla’s website.

Milestone Launches Few Sony PlayStation Vita Games In India

Close on the heels of the PlayStation Vita‘s India launch, Milestone India has announced the launch of few EA titles to ensure that you continue to have a blast on the PlayStation Vita. The games are priced between ₹2,199 to ₹2,799.

PS Vita

The games that were launched and their launch prices include:

While these are available right now, scheduled for mid March is Unit 13, a third-person shooter with support for the Vita’s dual Analog sticks.

Here’s hoping Milestone will bring in more Vita games for all the Vita gamers out there! Have you purchased any of the above games? Drop in a comment and let us know!

Apache HTTP Server 2.4.1 Released

Apache Software Foundation announced the release of 2.4.1 version of the Apache HTTP server. This release brings in several new enhancements, features and bug fixes. Apache is known to be the most popular web server, powering about 58% of the web’s active sites. Some of the new features in 2.4 release include:

  • Loadable Multi-Processing Modules(MPM) allows for modules to be configured as loadable modules at compile time
  • Event MPM is no longer an experimental module
  • Better async support
  • Per-module and per-directory LogLevel configuration allows for more in-depth log capture and analysis
  • KeepAlive timeouts can now be configured in milliseconds
  • Reduced memory footprint

The 2.4 release also comes with some new modules, including

  • mod_proxy_fcgi which is a FastCGI Protocol backend for mod_proxy
  • mod_proxy_scgi which is a SCGI Protocol backend for mod_proxy
  • mod_proxy_html which supports fixing of HTML links in a reverse proxy situation
  • mod_auth_form allows for form-based authentication
  • mod_lua allows for embedding Lua into httpd

Some of the existing modules have been enhanced, including mod_ssl, mod_proxy, mod_rewrite amongst others. For developers, a full listing of API changes in 2.4 is available over here. A summary of vulnerabilities that have been fixed is available over here. While Apache Software Foundation encourages users of prior versions to upgrade, they do mention that modules written for Apache 2.2 may require recompilation and/or minimal source code changes. The announcement has an advisory mentioning that Apache 2.4.1 might not be suitable for all Windows servers, due to interoperability issues with mod_ssl and the server’s AcceptFilter feature. As of now, there is no binary package of Apache available and it should be made available as soon as the dependent components graduate out of their current beta state. For the rest, the release can be downloaded from here.

How to Install VLC 2.0 in Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot

The VideoLAN Project released version 2 of their popular media player, VLC,  couple of days ago. And for most operating systems, the updated version is already available. The Ubuntu Store, however, is yet to feature the updated package. If you can’t wait for VLC to be updated, you can get the latest version easily by following the below steps.

First, open the terminal by summoning Unity dash. You can do that by clicking on the Ubuntu icon on the top-left corner of your screen. For the keyboard inclined, pressing Super(aka the Windows key) should summon Unity dash.

Unity Dash

Now, type in Terminal and click on the Terminal to launch it

Unity terminal

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:videolan/stable-daily

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get install vlc

The first command creates an apt repo pointing to VLC’s stable builds. The second commands instructs apt-get to fetch the latest set of packages. The last command will install VLC. If all goes well, you should be seeing VLC under Media Apps in Unity.

VLC Entry in Unity Dash

Do drop a comment if you need some help in installing VLC in Ubuntu.

VLC Gets Updated to 2.0

VideoLan Project’s very popular media player, VLC, just received a major release. The new version, VLC 2.0, comes with loads of new features, bug fixes and support for pretty much any OS – Windows, Mac OS X, Android & iOS. Heck, the 2.0 release even features a OS/2 video output renderer. VLC is known to play anything that you throw at it, kitchen sink included.

Codenamed “Twoflower”, some of the features of the 2.0 release include

  • Faster decoding on multi-core, GPU, and mobile hardware
  • Ability to open more formats, notably professional, HD and 10bits codecs
  • New rendering pipeline for video, with higher quality subtitles, and new video filters to enhance the videos.
  • Experimental BluRay Disc support
  • Completely reworked Mac and Web interfaces
  • Several hundreds of bug fixes spanning over 7000 commits from 160 volunteers.

The Windows version of VLC gets some subtle UI changes.

VLC Windows UI

And the Mac version has got a complete redesign as well. Some of the things that I don’t like about the new version:

  • VLC still cannot remember the last playback position.
  • VLC’s got support for Lua extensions. However, there isn’t a push for these extensions. With the 2.0 even the sample extensions have been removed
Having said that, VLC’s still a great player. You can download the latest version using the below links:
For Linux users, the package managers should have the updated versions in the respective repos soon.

Mass Effect 3 Demo Available for Download

Mass Effect 3 LogoIt’s been a long wait for Mass Effect fans and the wait is over. At least, for the demo version, that is. BioWare just announced that the demo of Mass Effect 3 is now available for download.

Mass Effect 3 is the final chapter in the Mass Effect series of games which marks Commander Shepard’s fight against against the Reapers. Mass Effect has easily been one of the most anticipated games of the year. Initially slated to be released towards the end of 2011, the game was delayed to “tweak things”.

The demo will feature both single-player and multiplayer options – with some portions of the multiplayer being initially locked.

The single player section features the opening level featuring the Reaper attack on Earth, and a level further into the game where Shepard travels to an alien home world to seek their assistance in the war effort, while the co-op multiplayer section will include 2 maps: Slum and Noveria. This section will be open to players who have qualified for the early multiplayer access as of February 14, and will then open up to all players on February 17.


Demo System Requirements

Minimum Spec:

  • OS – Windows XP SP3/Vista SP1, Win 7
  •  *Supported chipsets: NVIDIA 7900 or better; ATI X1800 or better.  Please note that NVIDIA GeForce 9300, 8500, 8400, and 8300 are below minimum system requirements, as are AMD/ATI Radeon HD3200, HD3300, and HD4350.   Updates to your video and sound card drivers may be required.
  •  CPU – 1.8 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo (equivalent AMD CPU)
  •  RAM – 1GB for XP / 2GB RAM for Vista/Win 7
  •  Disc Drive – 1x speed
  •  Hard Drive – 2.5 GB of free space
  •  Video – 256 MB* (with Pixel Shader 3.0 support)
  •  Sound – DirectX 9.0c compatible
  •  DirectX – DirectX 9.0c August 2009 (included)
Recommended Spec:
  •  OS – Windows XP SP3/Vista SP1, Win 7
  •  CPU – 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo (equivalent AMD CPU)
  •  RAM – 2GB for XP / 4GB RAM for Vista/Win 7
  •  Disc Drive – 1x speed
  •  Hard Drive – 2.5 GB of free space
  •  Video – AMD/ATI Radeon HD 4850 512 MB or greater, NVidia GeForce 9800 GT/ GTX 550Ti 512 MB or greater
  •  Sound – DirectX 9.0c compatible

You can download the demo from this link.

Now while you’re waiting for the demo download to finish, you might want to check out how the demo looks like with this 40-minute playthrough video of it.


Sony ditches PlayStationNetwork Branding, PSN to be known as Sony Entertainment Network

Perhaps part of Sony’s strategy for integrating their services, or maybe to distance itself from the bad reputation gained due to the continuous string of PSN break-ins – whatever may be the reasons, Sony has announced that they will be rebranding their online gaming & digital delivery service, the PlayStation Network or PSN.Sony PSN

PSN will be known as Sony Entertainment Network as of Feb 7, 2012. Curiously, the announcement was revealed as part of a Terms of Service & Privacy Policy update. Typically, you’d expect the general public to not read privacy policies & take them for granted – but Sony chose this method to make it known that PSN accounts will now be known as Sony Entertainment Network accounts.

Sony makes it clear that this will be only a name change & the existing usernames & passwords will not be affected. A firmware update in the near future will ensure that the Sony Entertainment Network branding will be applied to the PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita – but not the PlayStation Portable.

Here’s the full email listing:

On February 7, 2012, Sony Network Entertainment International LLC (“SNEI”) will update its Terms of Service and User Agreement and its Privacy Policy. As a part of this update, your “PlayStation®Network account” will be renamed a “Sony Entertainment Network account” The first time you sign in to your Sony Entertainment Network account on or after February 7, 2012, you will be asked to agree to the new Terms of Service and User Agreement and Privacy Policy with SNEI if you wish to continue using your Sony Entertainment Network account. Please review all changes to the Terms of Service and User Agreement and Privacy Policy carefully before indicating your agreement. In particular, these are some of the additions and changes we have to these agreements:

  • New terms for parents of minor, subaccount holders regarding the limitations of chat parental controls. Your reacceptance of the Terms of Service and User Agreement and Privacy Policy affirms your consent to the sharing of your child’s data that may occur if your child utilizes certain communication functionalities on PlayStation devices such as PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita systems.
  • New terms that explain the location-based services offered through the PlayStation Vita system. For parents of minor, subaccount holders your reacceptance of the Terms of Service and User Agreement and Privacy Policy affirms your consent to your subaccount holder’s user of these services on the PlayStation Vita system.
  • A description of our “What’s New” section, which provides topical information about our services and advertisements.
  • Information about pre-ordering content.
  • The name of your “PlayStation Network account” is changing to a “Sony Entertainment Network account.”

You may click here to review the changes to the Terms of Service and User Agreement and you may click here to review the changes to the Privacy Policy. The rebranding of PlayStation Network accounts to Sony Entertainment Network accounts is a change in name only. Your username or password will not change, nor are we asking you to change them. On Sony Computer Entertainment’s PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita systems, this rebranding will occur in connection with software updates for these devices. (Note, this change will not be applied to the PSP® (PlayStation®Portable) system at this time.) This transition is based on Sony’s goal to enhance its unique digital entertainment offering. As a series of these activities Sony started last September, PlayStation Network will be aligned with “Sony Entertainment Network.” This helps us get closer to our goal of establishing a global comprehensive network platform of services across games, movies, music and more, all accessible from one convenient account. The Sony Entertainment Network account also enables use of Sony’s compelling non-game services such as Music Unlimited, Video Unlimited and PlayMemories Online (currently called Personal Space) across a variety of network-connected devices. If you do not agree with the new Terms of Service and User Agreement or Privacy Policy, you may decline to accept them, and you will no longer be able to access your account. If you wish to close your account or request a refund of your wallet balance, or have any questions, please contact Customer Service by clicking here. For more information, please click here. Thank you very much for being a customer! vulnerability allows for locked screen to be bypassed by pressing key combination

An enterprising user has reported to mailing list a very easy way to bypass a screen locked by a user – by merely hitting few keystrokes.

The user, going by pseudonym Gu1, has reported that by pressing Control + Alt + * (the asterisk key on the numpad) instantly kills most lock screen programs including gnome-screensaver, kscreenlocker, slock and slimlock, amongst others. Further discussion on the mailing list confirms the vulnerability and has been given a CVE id of CVE-2012-0064 by the Red Hat security team.

Further digging from the git sources indicates that all server versions upwards of seem to be affected. To test whether or not you’re affected, just lock your screen and press Ctrl + Alt + * (note: you’ll have to hit the * key on the Numeric keypad, not on numbers on top of the QWERTY row.)

If you’re on Ubuntu Oneric Ocelot, i.e, Ubuntu 11.10, then this won’t affect you since Ubuntu 11.10 runs on version 1.10.4.

As a temporary workaround, commenting

interpret XF86_Ungrab {
action = Private(type=0x86, data=”Ungrab”);
interpret XF86_ClearGrab {
action = Private(type=0x86, data=”ClsGrb”);

lines from your xfree86 file ( typically found in /usr/share/X11/xkb/compat/ directory) and then running

setxkbmap $(setxkbmap -query | grep layout | awk '{print$2}')

should fix this for now.

Lava S12 Review

Over the past couple of years, Android has been quite a revolution in the smartphone market. Android’s increasing popularity has meant that manufacturers have been churning out Android-based mobile phones at all possible price ranges.

Lava Mobiles, well known for their low-cost handsets, introduced their first Android based smartphone, the Lava S12 recently. Over the past 2 weeks, I’ve been using the Lava S12 as my primary phone and this gave me a chance to evaluate the phone. Let’s see how the phone fares.



Being targeted at the low-end segment, the Lava S12 is powered by a 600MHz Qualcomm MSM7227 processor running on Android 2.2. The screen is a 262k color, 3.2HVGA LCD screen with 320×480 resolution and unlike most low-end phones, comes with a capacitive touchscreen.

The phone features a 5megapixel camera and comes with the regular connectivity options including WiFi(802.1 a/b/g) and Bluetooth on the wireless side and a microUSB port on the wired side. The internal phone memory is a paltry 120MB , but can be expanded with the help of a microSD card.


The Lava S12 comes with a pretty impressive bundle & packaging.

lava-bundle Besides the phone, the bundled box comes with a microUSB cable, a stereo earphone headset, charging plug-point, a User’s guide, a leaflet highlighting the phone’s features, a leather pouch and a 2GB microSD card. The leather pouch is a pretty nice addition & feels good to hold.



Build Quality & Hardware

The Lava S12 has a pretty nice feel to it. The phone has a curved front and back shape and feels very good to hold. Though the phone still has a plasticky-feel to it, it doesn’t look bad. The back cover has a pseudo-leather look and this helps in improving the look   feel of the phone. The sides of the phone have a very nice brushed-aluminum finish. Unfortunately the microSD & microUSB slots are covered with a rather flimsy plastic cover and gives the sensation that it might break anytime.



As mentioned above, the phone features a 3.2HVGA capacitive touchscreen. The top-left corner features the lock/power off button and volume control buttons. The right side of the phone features the headphone jack, the microSD &   microUSB slots. Rounding off the side was a dedicated button for activating the camera.

The capacitive touchscreen was fairly responsive, however, at times the phone failed to register my input. Though the phone has a dedicated camera button, more often than not, pressing the button would result in no action and I had to open the camera by launching the Camera app, rather than holding the button.

The phone features four dedicated buttons at the bottom of the screen the back button, the app launcher button, the home button and the search button. The home button is programmed to bring up the 3D UI, while the rest work as expected.

Software & Performance

The S12 runs on Android 2.2 Froyowith a custom spinning 3D UI that Lava touts heavily as it’s distinguishing feature. Hitting the home button brings up the 3D UI. The 3D UI feels like quite a novelty at first. However, with increased usage, the novelty factor wears off and the 3D UI feels gimmicky and isn’t really usable. To make things worse, the 3D UI is quite slow & navigating though the UI becomes a chore.


The S12 apparently comes with quite a few bundled applications including SlideIT keyboard(a keyboard replacement quite like Swype), a Lava service center app which will bring up a list of all Lava service centers that you can filter based on the city you’re in. The service centre app however doesn’t make use of the GPS to retrieve your location. Addition of this would have been a nice touch.

The bundled booklet mentions that phone also comes with Advanced Task Killer, Saavn, Facebook, Twitter, Times of India, Adobe PDF Reader, Hungama MyPlay, ngPay, Nimbuzz, Zenga TV and more. These apps were absent in my review unit and I couldn’t evaluate these. The Lava S12 also comes with Android Market app. However, my attempts to install some of my favorite apps such as twicca, facebook, GoSMS(amongst others) wasn’t  fruitful the market app refused to show these apps and trying to install the via the Market web UI resulted in a cryptic This item is not compatible with your deviceerror.

Performance-wise, I found the device to be quite average. Some of the basic functionality like going through the contacts(I have over 800 contacts in my address book), sending an SMS was alright, the device’s response in the Camera app was horrendous. The S12 took about 5 seconds to capture the image after pressing the button.

To test out something a little more stressful, I installed & played Fruit Ninja(oddly, I didn’t face the item not compatibleerror). Fruit Ninja hummed along just fine, with some occasional stuttering. Overall, the S12 works fine barring the occasional stutter.

Camera & Multimedia playback

The S12 comes with 5megapixel fixed focus camera with up to 2x digital zoom. The camera performance was rather average, nothing outstanding. At proper light levels, camera captures are fine, although they seem to have a little bit of a green tint. At low-light conditions however, the performance is rather poor & the pictures are quite noisy. The absence of a flash means that low-light photography is a no-no.



S12_IMG_20111208_102009The S12 features stock Android media players and has a FM radio app as well.The bundled earphones are supposedly Dolby SRS compliant. However, SRS logo doesn’t do any justice to the earphones the sound quality on the earphones was rather bad. It was almost like the sounds were being drowned underwater.

The bass & highs were nonexistent, the mids were muddy and had a strange echo-feeling the same feeling that you get when you try to put some decent earphones across some really bad software filters. At high volume levels, the earphones jarred excessively. I tried the earphones on my iPhone & my HP Envy laptop and on both, the audio quality was really, really abysmal. I’d strongly urge to dump the bundled earphones for a different set.

Lava Android Manager

Buried within Lava’s website is a download link to the sync software for the Lava S12, dubbed the Android Manager. The Android Manager is nifty little utility which handles the S12’s sync capabilities. The Android Manager looks very much like an iTunes clone and works as bad as iTunes.


The biggest problem with the sync tool is that it supports only WiFi sync, not wired sync. Why is it that Lava chose to implement only WiFi sync I’ll never know. WiFi-only sync would have been nice, if the sync software could manage to retain the connection long enough for you to choose the files to sync. However, trying to sync anything other than contacts was an absolute disaster. Half the time  the software would lose contact with the phone. Trying to select any music or videos would cause the sync tool to break the connection. To make things worse, this was often followed by a spike in CPU utilization and memory leaks. With these issues, it’s now clear why Lava has the Android Sync Manager hidden.

Battery Life & Conclusion

The Lava S12 comes with a 1300mAh Li-Ion battery with a rated standby time of 590 Hours(GSM)/650 Hours(UMTS) and talk time of 650 minutes(GSM)/485 minutes(UMTS). Practically, with my usage of couple of phone calls, some light web browsing, Mail, Calendar sync enabled and with Plume running and with 3G on, the phone lasted about 14 hours before needing a recharge, which isn’t too bad. The charging however took a long time well in excess of 6 hours to recharge it back to 100%. With the SIM removed and only WiFi enabled, the phone lasted about a day and half.

Lava’s first foray into the smartphone segment isn’t too shabby. The phone feels good, looks good and has rather okay-ish performance. The phone however has some glaring drawbacks from the pathetic Sync Tool to the laggy camera response time. If these could have been looked into,   the S12 could have been a lot better. Officially, the S12 retails at about Rs. 9,999. At this price rate it’s hard to recommend this phone since there are other better phones at this price range.

However, as of now, the phone is available for about Rs 8450 on Flipkart which isn’t too bad of a deal, especially if you’re looking for a low-budget smartphone.

Steam Suffers Intrusion, User Database and Other Personal Information Gets Stolen

Couple of days ago Steam Forums, Valve’s digital distribution store discussion board had been broken into and defaced. Today, Gabe Newell, Valve CEO & founder confirmed that the breach goes beyond the forums.


Gabe has confirmed that the hackers also gained access to the main Steam database in addition to the Steam Forum database. This database contained “information including user names, hashed and salted passwords, game purchases, email addresses, billing addresses and encrypted credit card information”. Gabe clarifies that as of now, there is no evidence that encrypted credit card numbers or other personally identifying information were taken by the intruders, or that the protection on credit card numbers or passwords was cracked.

Although only few forum members’ accounts were compromised, Steam is forcing site-wide password reset for all forum members to be on the safer side. Gabe also makes it clear that no Steam accounts were compromised as of now. However, it goes without saying – if you’re using the same password for the Steam and the Forum account, it’s imperative that you change your password immediately.

Here’s what Gabe had to say about the intrusion:

Dear Steam Users and Steam Forum Users:

Our Steam forums were defaced on the evening of Sunday, November 6. We began investigating and found that the intrusion goes beyond the Steam forums.

We learned that intruders obtained access to a Steam database in addition to the forums. This database contained information including user names, hashed and salted passwords, game purchases, email addresses, billing addresses and encrypted credit card information. We do not have evidence that encrypted credit card numbers or personally identifying information were taken by the intruders, or that the protection on credit card numbers or passwords was cracked. We are still investigating.

We don’t have evidence of credit card misuse at this time. Nonetheless you should watch your credit card activity and statements closely.

While we only know of a few forum accounts that have been compromised, all forum users will be required to change their passwords the next time they login. If you have used your Steam forum password on other accounts you should change those passwords as well.

We do not know of any compromised Steam accounts, so we are not planning to force a change of Steam account passwords (which are separate from forum passwords). However, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to change that as well, especially if it is the same as your Steam forum account password.

We will reopen the forums as soon as we can.

I am truly sorry this happened, and I apologize for the inconvenience.