Top 3 Opera Extensions to Enhance Your Google Plus Experience

The jury is still out on Google Plus; however, Google’s phenomenal reach coupled of a refreshing take on privacy has ensured that it is off to a promising start. If you are amongst the millions who have already jumped ship to Google Plus, here are three Opera extensions to enhance your Google Plus experience.

Google-Plus-Notification-Bar-Opera Google+ Injector: One of the best features of Google Plus is the notification bar, which allows you to track what’s happening on Google Plus and instantly respond to new events without leaving the current page. Unfortunately, Google was too lazy to develop a truly cross-browser solution, and the notification bar just doesn’t work in Opera. Fortunately, there is a simple extension called Google Plus Injector that adds the missing CSS, HTML, and JavaScript code into Google Plus to add the missing options to the web toolbar for Opera users.

Google-Plus-Notifications-Opera

The extension works as promised for Google Plus; however, it would have been even better, if it worked across different Google services (such as Google Search). Currently, even with this extension, notifications aren’t available on Google properties other than Google Plus.

DownloadSupport for Google+: Google Plus’ excellent media integration support has made it a popular platform to share images and videos. This extension enables one click download of images and videos from Google Plus. You can either use album and batch download for images, or selectively download images from your Google Plus stream. For YouTube videos shared on Google, one click download option is available.

Google+ Notif: This extension displays a snapshot of the latest Google Plus notifications on Opera’s speed dial. Google’s global web bar doesn’t function properly in Opera; however, this is a nice alternative to stay on top of activities in your Google Plus stream.

Google-Plus-Speed-Dial-Extension

If you are an Opera user who can’t stay away from Google Plus, these three extensions are must haves. However, there are a couple of more Google Plus extensions for Opera, including the Simple Google Plus Access extension that provides quick access to the social networking website through the toolbar. Feel free to explore Opera’s extension gallery to discover more handy extensions.

Opera 12 Alpha Introduces Hardware Acceleration and HTML5 Engine

Earlier this week, Opera Software released the first alpha of Opera 12. The first preview build of Opera 12 Рcodenamed Wahoo, was released in July. However, the Norwegian browser maker had been saving the goodies for October. As expected, and earlier predicted by me, Wahoo introduces support for hardware acceleration and WebGL. It also includes the Ragnar̦k HTML5 engine that Opera had been working on for a year.

Opera-12-Alpha

Opera is a late entrant as far as hardware acceleration and WebGL support are concerned. However, it laid the groundwork for hardware acceleration through its Vega graphics backend as far back as 2009. Vega enables Opera to use hardware acceleration for everything from displaying fonts and CSS animations to the user interface itself. Hardware acceleration on Opera should work on all modern hardware running Windows XP or newer, Mac, and Linux. Opera maintains a blacklist of old and buggy drivers that are known to cause trouble. In case, hardware acceleration doesn’t work, Opera will switch to the highly optimised Vega software acceleration mode. Open opera:gpu in Opera 12 to find out if it is using hardware acceleration. If the Vega backend is specified as software, then try updating your graphics drivers. Opera 12 also supports WebGL, which is based on a stripped down version of OpenGL. WebGL enables browsers to run graphics intensive 3D games and animations that redefine what browsers can do.

Like hardware acceleration, Ragnarök is also something that Opera had been working on for a long time. The biggest advantage of switching to a HTML5 parser is compatibility. “The HTML5 specification defines a set of parsing rules for all markup, whether valid or invalid,” explained Bruce Lawson in an earlier blogpost. “Once all browsers have HTML5 parsers, the same markup will produce the same DOM across all conforming browsers”.

Traditionally, Opera’s alpha builds introduce engine improvements, while the beta introduces the more user facing features. Wahoo maintains this tradition by updating Presto (Opera’s rendering engine) to 2.9.220 and adding support for CSS3 radial gradients, in addition to the features detailed above. There are only a couple of user-oriented new features. A new lightweight skinning system that is pretty much identical to Firefox Personas is now the preferred skinning technique for Opera, and the bookmark star found in Firefox and Chrome has found its way into Opera. Besides this, the interface has been tweaked slightly to make the Featherweight skin appear more native to the OS you are using.

You can download Opera 12 alpha from opera.com/next. As you might expect, the alpha build has some bugs, including a particularly annoying one that makes it incompatible with Aero Snap on Windows. However, since all preview builds belong to the Opera Next stream, installing Wahoo won’t overwrite your stable Opera installation.

Opera 11.51 Released with Security and Stability Fixes

OperaOpera Software has published a minor update to the Swordfish (Opera 11.5x) trunk. As suggested by the version number, Opera 11.51 is an extremely minor bug fix update that is intended to fix some of the major security and stability issues.

Swordfish introduced Opera’s speed dial extensions, Featherweight skin, and password synchronization, along with a host of under the hood changes. Check out our full review for a lowdown on Opera 11.50. According to the changelog, Opera 11.51 fixes several common crashes reported using the crash reporter along with some small usability issues and other bugs. Two security issues have also been fixed. Opera has refused to divulge the details of one of the low-severity issues, possibly because it also affects other browsers. The other vulnerability could have been exploited to make unsecured web content appear secure. Also new to Opera 11.51 is Lion fullscreen support for Mac users. The full changelog is available here.

Work is already underway on the next major release of Opera, codenamed Wahoo. Although, Opera is keeping its cards close to its chest, it has been releasing Opera Next builds of Wahoo. Opera 12 is widely expected to introduce support for cross-platform GPU Acceleration and WebGL. Opera’s Ragnarök HTML5 parser might also sneak through. What are the new features that you would like to see in Opera 12? Don’t forget to let us know.

[ Download Opera 11.51 ]

The Pitfalls of Firefox’s Rapid Release Cycle [Editorial]

If you have been following the recent Firefox releases, you are probably already aware that Mozilla is now following a rapid release cyclefor Firefox. Frustrated by the innumerable delays that plagued the release of Firefox 4, Mozilla decided to take a leaf out of Google’s book, and release a new version of Firefox every six weeks. Unfortunately, the new quick-fire release policy creates some major issues that Mozilla doesn’t seem to be willing to tackle.

Firefox-Rapid-Release

The first problem is that it makes version numbers redundant. A major version number bump normally indicates the introduction of major new features along with significant enhancements to existing features. However, the biggest new feature in Firefox 6 domain highlighting in the address bar, is something that wouldn’t excite even the most passionate Firefox user. Firefox 5 was even worse.

The biggest feature in Firefox 5 is that the Do Not Trackfeature, which we have discussed in a fair amount of detail in the past, is now more accessible. It is now available under the Privacytab, instead of being buried under Advancedoptions. Yep, the biggest user-perceivable change in Firefox 5 is a minor interface tweak.

Of course, this alone isn’t such a big problem. Undoubtedly, it’s annoying and stupid. However, Firefox’s auto-update does a good job at making the update process hassle free. Add-on compatibility was another issue that I was worried about. However, Mozilla seems to be doing something right in this area. All the add-ons I used were compatible with Firefox 6 at launch. At the time of writing, 99% of the top extensions, which constitute 95% of the total extension usage, are compatible with Firefox 6.

Unfortunately, there is one issue that Mozilla doesn’t seem to have a solution for. The rapid fire update policy means that every year we will be witnessing eight to nine major version trunks of Mozilla. However, Mozilla isn’t willing to support the older version trunks. If you are on version 4, which was released just a few months back, then tough luck. Mozilla won’t be providing any further updates to the 4.x trunk. Updating to newer versions might not be a big issue for home users, but it is a major undertaking for enterprises. Each major update has to be tested for regressions and other issues before it can be deployed. Mozilla’s reluctance to support older trunks mean that enterprises stand the risk of being left vulnerable to serious security vulnerabilities over extended periods.

Enterprises are notorious for their reluctance to switch to newer and better browsers. It’s only recently that some of them have begun to opt for Firefox. However, with the new rapid release cycle, Mozilla will almost certain succeed in making all of them revert to Microsoft Internet Explorer, since Google Chrome also follows the same quick-fire release cycle and Opera has too many website compatibility problems (often due to factors out of its control) to be considered seriously. In contrast to Mozilla, Microsoft will be supporting Internet Explorer 9 till January 2020.

Firefox 6 Released with Very Few Changes

Firefox 6 is not officially scheduled to ship until tomorrow, however the final build for all the platforms are now available for download from the official FTP channels. Much like the previous release, the changelog for Fx 6 is quite flimsy, and the new build doesn’t feature any major new user facing feature. This is of course the side-effect of following a rapid release cycle. While it makes it easier for Mozilla to stick to the schedule, it also makes version numbers insignificant and immaterial. GHacks reported yesterday that Mozilla is planning on hiding the version number from normal users by removing it from the About’ box. Of course, that would be an incredibly lame and stupid way to tackle the issue. The sensible thing for Mozilla would be to label these releases as minor version updates, and have one or two scheduled major updates per year that will actually deliver new features. Anyway, there is no point in blaming Mozilla alone. Google is the one who started this madness with their Chrome release cycle.

Firefox-6

Coming back to Firefox 6, the most significant change is that the address bar now highlights the domain of the website you are currently browsing. The site identity blocker has also received a minor facelift to make it sleeker than before. There are also a few behind the scenes improvements such as support for WebSockets, improved Scratchpad, a new Web Developer menu item, an improved Web Console, and reduced browser startup time when using Panaroma.

There are as many as 1,300 changes in Firefox 6. However, almost all of them are bug fixes. When it comes to delivering new features, Firefox disappoints once again. If you have used Firefox 5, or even Firefox 4, you already know what to expect. If you liked either of those two releases, you will like Firefox 6. If you didn’t, then Firefox 6 will not change your opinion.

[ Download Firefox 6 for Windows | Mac | Linux ]

Happy Birthday WWW!

Twenty years ago today, the World Wide Web, also known as “the web”, was born at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research. This event should not be confused with the Internet’s birth. According to the World Wide Web Consortium’s website, the World Wide Web is “an internet-based hypermedia initiative for global information sharing”. Tim Berners-Lee is credited with the invention of the web, along with scientist  Robert Cailliau.

Berners-Lee envisioned the concept of using hypertext to help researchers share information over the internet. According to Wikipedia, he proposed ”  to build a hypertext  project” called “WorldWideWeb” (one word, also “W3″) as a ‘web’ of ‘hypertext documents’ to be viewed by browsers,  using a  clientserver  architecture.” Berners-Lee used a computer called NeXT as the world’s first web server. On August 6, 1991, “the web” made its public debut.

Today, the World Wide Web Consortium, or W3C, as it is often called, sets the standards for “web” development. Tim Berners-Lee is still very active in the development of “the web” and is the Director of W3C. He was Knighted in 2004 by Queen Elizabeth. He also directs the Web Science Trust and The World Wide Web Foundation.

“The web” has transformed into a medium for the endless sharing of ideas, entertainment, and commerce. Could the men who set this idea in motion ever have envisioned the powerful influence it has become today? So today, when you check up on friends half-way around the globe on Facebook, or catch the latest gossip on some news website, take a moment to wish “the web” a very happy twentieth birthday!

Internet Explorer Popular Among People with Low IQ, Study Suggests

Aptiquant, a Vancouver based Psychometric Consulting company, which specializes in helping organizations objectively assess applicants and employees, has released the results of its study in which it correlated the IQ (Intelligent Quotients) of users with the browser they were using. The results aren’t all that surprising.

On an average, Internet Explorer users were found to have the least IQ, while Opera users had the highest. Camino users and Internet Explorer users with Chrome Frame plugin were also found to have higher than average IQ. The results are pretty much what you would expect. The dominance of Internet Explorer has long been attributed to its bundling with Windows. A sizeable portion of users tend to just use what Windows ships with instead of looking for alternatives. Heck, many people don’t even know what is a web browser. On the other hand Opera, which has remained the niche browser, is often dubbed as the browser for geeks and power users.

Browser-User-IQ

In order to collect the data Aptiquant relied on the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (IV) test, which is available on its website. The gender, geographic location, and browser of netizens taking the test were recorded along with their test results. The scores of more than 101,326 individuals were analyzed.

Aptiquant also compared their recent dataset with the data they had collected in 2006. The older dataset paints a significantly different picture. The mean IQ of Opera users drops significantly, and Internet Explorer (6 and 7) gets a significant boost. Clearly, over the last five years, Internet Explorer has lost its share of intelligent users, as power users have migrated elsewhere.

Aptiquant also divided the users into IQ groups based on their percentile ranks. Once again, Internet Explorer users dominated the lower percentile groups, while Firefox, Opera, Chrome and Safari users dominated the higher percentile groups.

Aptiquant’s study reinforces that stereotype that Internet Explorer is a dumb user’s browser. It also demonstrates that Microsoft has simply not been able to stay abreast with its competitors. Even though Internet Explorer 7 and 8 users have a higher IQ score than Internet Explorer 6 users, Microsoft has failed to stop the flow of power users to third-party alternatives. Internet Explorer still has a healthy market share. However, masses often follow the early adopters and power users. Microsoft will need to come up with something pretty brilliant if it hopes to reverse Internet Explorer’s fortunes.

Hat tip: @Opera

Google Chrome the Most Used Browser on Techie Buzz

There is something about which I have not seen in any other browser. It is one of the fastest growing browsers across the world and currently has around 20% usage world wide.

Google Chrome Market Share Techie Buzz

Many tech related websites around the world are seeing that Google Chrome has been overtaking . Last year both TechCrunch and Techmeme reported that Chrome was the most users on their site which prompted me to write the article; Why is Chrome Winning and Firefox Losing Market Share?. Back then, Chrome’s market share was around 10% was constantly growing on our site too.

Recently, I wrote an article on How Chrome is Growing in India and Hurting Microsoft and Mozilla. In that article, I delved upon how Chrome has been dominating Indian markets even though the internet usage there is around 15% of the population. This definitely showed how much impact Chrome has had on the browser market.

Google Chrome Market Share Graph Techie Buzz

Today when I was checking the browser market share for Techie Buzz I saw that Chrome has overtaken Firefox as the most used browser. Last month, Chrome was behind Firefox by 2%, so the month over month growth is pretty impressive. This means that almost 1+ million out of the 3.5+ million users on the site were using Google Chrome to visit Techie Buzz.

One of the reasons for Google Chrome’s growth is the heavy advertising Google is doing for it. I see many ads which pitch users to play Angry Birds on Google Chrome and I can swear that those have converted many users to switch to Chrome including my own brother who is a big fan.

Google is also landing some punches on rival browsers like Firefox and Internet Explorer by stopping development on certain products while providing plugins for them too. Recently, Google has decided to stop development of Google Toolbar for Firefox 5. This has sent Mozilla in a frenzy because lot of users are not upgrading to Firefox 5 from because of the incompatibility of the .

Google also provides Internet Explorer users with something called as Google Chrome Frame to bring Google Chrome’s technology to Internet Explorer. As you can see from our browser stats, we have around 0.13% IE users who have installed the Google Chrome Frame.

Additionally, Google has also been blocking several features in their products on . Our in-house Opera guru Pallab has always been finding problems using Google’s features on Opera including the recently introduced .

So is Google intentionally doing all these things to switch users to their own browser? It could very well be possible, however, they are also backing that up with an excellent browser and I for one have been using Google Chrome as my primary browser since it launched and yes some of the new features in it including the Multiple Chrome Profiles are definitely good.

What do you think about Chrome’s dominance? Is it good or bad? Do you use Google Chrome as your primary browser? If not which one do you prefer to use? Please let me know through your comments.

Google Chrome Profiles Get Cheekier – Add Icons and More Functionality

A few months ago, I had spoken about few new features in . One of the new feature was Multiple Profiles in Chrome. The Google Chrome Profile switcher allowed users to create multiple profiles using different Google accounts. While that feature was in it’s infancy earlier on, it has grown to a full fledged profile manager in the latest development and canary builds of Google Chrome.

Google Chrome Profiles

One of the new additions to Google Chrome profile manager is the ability to choose different icons for different profiles you create as seen in the screenshot above. This is similar to what you would see in an operating system like , Ubuntu, Mac OS X and now too.

The newer profile switcher now resides in the left-hand corner of the browser and provides options to switch icons for your profile, customize it, delete it and also create new Google Chrome profiles.

Google Chrome Profiles Canary

However, this is not just it. Both the Development and Canary versions of Google Chrome now contain a better profile which allows you to easily create new profiles. The Canary build also contains newer icons which are not seen in the development build. This is similar to what I have seen in and Windows 7. However, I would also like to see an option to specify custom images for different profiles in the upcoming builds.

create_new_chrome_profile

As I told you earlier, Google Chrome dev and canary versions also have a revamped version for the profile manager which looks and feels like a regular operating system. However, one thing I found problematic with the new profile creator is that users have to use the "Customize your profile" option to add a Google account for synching data manually. It would have been better if Google implemented a wizard where they would allow users to create as well as customize the entire Google Chrome profile in one go.

Another good thing about the new feature is that switching between multiple profiles is instant and very fast. This can be very helpful when you want to quickly switch between your home and work profiles without delay. Think of it as a "Boss Key" Winking smile.

Overall, I found that the new Google Chrome profiles are cheekier than before and have been simplified. There is still more work to be done. I will wait and watch how it eventually pans out.

GoogleMinus Tells You Who Removed You From Google Plus Circles

We are all human beings and definitely love to have friends. However, unlike friends we meet in real life, Social networks like , and allow us to get in touch with people we have never met (or may never meet) in our lives.

That said, initially people do accept your friendship but as time goes some of them may unfollow you or unfriend you. There have been ways to find out who unfollows you on Twitter or who unfriends you on Facebook, but what about Google+? Well, thanks to a new extension called GoogleMinus, you will be able to find out when someone removes you from a Google Plus circle through a notification. As Read Write Web points out, GoogleMinus is an unfriend tracker for Google+.

Google Plus Unfriend Tracker

The extension works in , and Safari. However, you will have to install another extension called Kynetx before you can start using GoogleMinus because it is built on that platform. Kynetx is a browser platform which allows developers to build browser apps that run on multiple browsers without having to write separate extensions for each of them.

One annoying thing I found with Kynetx is that you will have to first create an account there before you can install any extension. You will have to do it only once and can then use the extension on any browser. However, you will have to install the Kynetx extension on all the browsers you choose to use this extension on.

If you decide to run through all these hoops, you will get a notification as shown in the screenshot above whenever someone decides to aha remove or block you from their circles. Find it useful? Then go ahead and install the GoogleMinus extension.