Jun 26

Firefox for Android 14.0 arrives with new UI, improved performance

After teasing “Something BIG” late last week, Mozilla has now launchedversion 14.0 of Firefox for Android, a major update to the open source mobile web browser. Described as “a snappy and dynamic upgrade” by its developers, the new release improves the browser’s overall performance while also updating its user interface (UI) and adding features.

One of the first things existing users will notice in 14.0 is a completely redesigned UI with a new “Awesome Screen“. Unlike previous versions of Firefox for Android, the browser now uses Android’s native UI elements to provide “a fresh, streamlined look”; past releases have used XUL, an XML-based language that is interpreted by the Gecko rendering engine.

The Awesome Screen replicates the functionality of the “Awesome Bar” from the desktop version and supports Firefox Sync, allowing users to synchronise their browsing history, bookmarks, passwords and form data from other Firefox instances to their Android device. The personalised start page includes a user’s most visited sites and the open tabs from the last time they used the browser. When searching using Google, all queries are now sent in encrypted form by default using the HTTPS protocol; this means that all traffic between the web site and the browser is secured using SSL encryption.

In Mozilla’s tests, Firefox for Android 14.0 ran more than twice as fast as the stock Android browser and Chrome for Android Source: Mozilla Under the hood improvements result in reduced start-up times and faster page loads. According to Mozilla’s benchmarks, Firefox for Android 14.0 performs more than twice as fast as the default Android browser and Chrome for Android in canvas rendering performance. To improve touch responsiveness, a new panning/zooming architecture has been implemented. Other changes include support for Adobe Flash content, better text readability through font size inflation, and enabling tap-to-play by default for plugins.

Changes aimed at developers include the addition of a new API to prevent the display from sleeping and the implementation of the Pointer Lock API, as well as fixes for the text-transform and font-variant CSS properties to better handle Turkic languages and Greek characters.

More details about the major release, including a full list of changes, can be found in the announcement blog post and in the release notes. Firefox 14.0 is available to download from the Google Play store for devices running Android 2.2 or later. Existing Firefox for Android users will have to manually update as the new version requests additional permissions to prevent the phone from sleeping and to “Modify global system settings, write sync settings”.

The current stable release of the desktop version of Firefox is 13.0.1 from earlier this month; according to the Releases wiki, Firefox 14 for desktops isn’t expected to graduate from beta until 17 July. Like its desktop counterpart, Firefox for Android sources and binaries are released under the MPL 2.0.

Permanent link to this article: http://pccorzo.com/myblog/index.php/2012/06/firefox-for-android-14-0-arrives-with-new-ui-improved-performance/

Jun 26

Lost+Found: Revelations about scammers and malware


Lost+Found iconToo short for news, too good to lose; Lost+Found is a round up of useful security news. Today: Microsoft answers the question why Nigerian scammers are still from Nigeria, talkative malware authors, and cross-site scripting Google’s bug bounty page. 

  • Microsoft has published a reportPDF that aims to explain why Nigerian scammers still claim to be from Nigeria. As it turns out, their rationale is that someone undiscerning enough to react to such an obvious ploy as a 419 scam, is also likely to actually send them the money they are after.

  • Security researchers working for AVG and researching what they presumed was a Diablo III keylogging trojan suddenly found themselves chatting with the creator of the malware. The hacker wanted to know who was looking into his code: “What are you doing? Why are you researching my Trojan? What do you want from it?” The virus specialists discovered that the malware wasn’t looking for video game account information at all but was looking to steal dial-up credentials. To this end, the trojan not only included messaging functionality but could also capture the victim’s screen and webcam feed.

  • Another security researcher details how he used cross-site scripting (XSS) to exploit Google’s security bug bounty program to pay him the $3,133.70 bounty without doing any legitimate work. Even though the trick only worked “temporarily”, it still makes for interesting reading.

Permanent link to this article: http://pccorzo.com/myblog/index.php/2012/06/lostfound-revelations-about-scammers-and-malware/

Jun 25

Update for Windows Update has teething troubles

Microsoft has released an unscheduled, non-patch day update for Windows to update the Windows Update function itself. However, according to reports from readers, the Windows Update Agent update does not always run smoothly; The H’s associates at heise Security also ran into problems on their test systems.

A staggered dissemination of the update has been taking place over the past three to four days. Users who run Windows Update are confronted with a message which says that an update for Windows Update needs to be installed before the system can check for other updates.

Before installing any other updates, users first need to install the Windows Update Agent update On some computers, clicking the “Install Updates” button results in a failed installation with error code 80070057 or 8007041B. On heise Security’s test Windows 7 computer, repeatedly attempting the update (click on “Check for updates” on the left) did eventually result in the update being

The update in question upgrades the Windows Update Agent from version 7.4.7600.226 to 7.6.7600.256; it is not, as some readers have feared, a virus. After upgrading, the Windows Update Agent is automatically restarted; users do not need to reboot Windows

Permanent link to this article: http://pccorzo.com/myblog/index.php/2012/06/update-for-windows-update-has-teething-troubles/

Jun 25

Debian 7.0 “Wheezy” about to be frozen


Debian logoThe Debian release team has announced that on 30 June, the Debian project will stop the automatic migration of packages from unstable to testing; with this move, the development of Debian 7.0 (Wheezy), which is currently being prepared in testing, will be frozen.

During the freeze phase, no further major changes will be integrated into the Linux distribution and work will instead focus mainly on bug fixes. As during the completion of the current version, Debian 6.0 (Squeeze), the freeze process will be gradual; if developers still need to update packages, the release team has said that it will adopt a liberal acceptance policy in the early stages. Details on this procedure are to follow.

Debian 7 is roughly scheduled to arrive in early 2013 and is planned to be based on version 3.2 of the Linux kernel. In mid May, the Debian developers released the first alpha of their installer, which uses Ext4 as its default filesystem and offers ARM support.

Permanent link to this article: http://pccorzo.com/myblog/index.php/2012/06/debian-7-0-wheezy-about-to-be-frozen/

Jun 24

Google updates Android developer site ahead of Google I/O


Google has redesigned the Android Developers site, ahead of next week’s Google I/O conference Zoom
In the run up to the Google I/O developer conference, Google has rolled out an updated and redesignedAndroid Developers site. The company has also given application developers the ability to respond to reviews of their applications on the Google Play store. But, not all the news has come through official announcements as it appears an accidental leak has disclosed that the next version of Android, dubbed “Jelly Bean”, will be version 4.1.

Google’s redesigned Android Developers site now employs the same font and design principles as the operating system itself. The site’s content, beyond the Apache 2.0 Android Open Source Project documentation, is now licensed for reuse under a Creative Commons licence (CC BY 2.5). The site will most likely be updated with more information after Google has made its announcements at the Google I/O conference starting on 27 June in San Francisco.

One of those announcements is expected to be the next version of Android. The new name and version number will not be a surprise after a developer who was browsing prices for a Galaxy Nexus found a listing for the device which referred to “The latest smartphone from Google, soon the first phone with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean.”

Google has also updated the developer interface of its Play store to enable developers to reply directly and publicly to reviews of their applications. The user who left the review in the first place will be informed by email that the developer has responded. The feature is only available to “Top Developers” at present but Google expects to roll it out to all Android developers “in the future.”

Meanwhile, Amazon has announced that it will soon launch its own Appstore in the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain. Currently, developers are being asked to submit their applications so that they will be ready when the Appstore goes live. According to Amazon, the launch will happen “this summer”.

Permanent link to this article: http://pccorzo.com/myblog/index.php/2012/06/google-updates-android-developer-site-ahead-of-google-io/

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