Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Firefox 3.5 Released Today, Faster Browsing!

Earlier today, the long awaited Firefox 3.5 was released. If you are currently a Firefox user, upgrading to 3.5 is a must. If you do not currently have Firefox, it may be time for you to start.

Firefox 3.5 has had a lot of performance improvements. The new Tracemonkey javascript engine is a lot faster and more robust. In addition, DNS prefetching allows you to click from page to page with less latency. The new rendering engine renders pages more efficiently. Overall, Firefox 3.5 has a smaller memory footprint. For the non-techie user, this just all means faster than fast browsing!

In addition to the improvements in performance, the new release of Firefox includes a great deal of new features. Most notably, Firefox has adopted some of HTML5, including the new audio and video tags. This allows for the playing of movies and music without installing a third party plugin. Furthermore, a private browsing mode has been added. Similar to the 'incognito' mode of Google's Chrome browser, Firefox will not store any information while in this mode (dubbed the pr0n or porno mode by many). Native JSON and CSS3 support are also featured in this release.

Many changes have been made to existing Firefox 3 features. For example, location bar that automatically made suggestions based upon your bookmarks has been changed to allow it to search through history instead. Also, bookmarking is also a one-click ordeal (by clicking on the star in the location bar). Plus, the canvas elements have been changed to bring them up to web standards.

Upgrade to Firefox 3.5 today.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Dear FTC, stay the fuck out of my internet

Recently, I read a post at ARS Technica that really angered me. Apparently, the FTC wants to crack down on undisclosed sponsored blogging. The Federal Trade Commission wants to make bloggers "back up any claims made" and "disclose [any] compensation" that a blogger gets for a post.

Anyone that regularly visits blogs may sometimes come across material that seems like someone is promoting a product, service, etc. with way too much enthusiasm, suggesting it may be a sponsored post. I agree that these posts may be misleading, but these tactics are commonly used in print materials (which have been around alot longer than blogging). Why no FTC complaint there?

Also, the FTC have neglected to give any information about their proposal and how much 'disclosure' is required.
"If you walk into a department store, you know the (sales) clerk is a clerk," said Rich Cleland, assistant director in the FTC's division of advertising practices. "Online, if you think that somebody is providing you with independent advice and ... they have an economic motive for what they're saying, that's information a consumer should know."
A blogger and a sales clerk have much in common. Both share their opinions, and both can sometimes be biased and/or influenced by money or other goods. What if I put a disclaimer at the end of my blog saying that I accept incentive based posts? Is that enough disclosure? A sales clerk simply wears a nametag, he doesn't have to disclose the percentage of the sale he gets as commission, so why should I have to say what I get in return for my posts?

And to all of you who have been 'misled' by blogger posts, isn't it common knowledge that you should take everything on the internet with a grain of salt?

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Prototype (Game) Review

Today, I just finished playing Prototype, previously one of the most anticipated games this year. Prototype is an open world (also referred to as sandbox) action game that was released last week. Here is a quick review of the game.Graphics: The graphics in this game are not top of the line, but do get the job done. More work could have been done in the area of building design, however, the ground level looks amazing.

Controls: The controls have are quite easy to learn. They are simple enough that almost anyone familiar with a keyboard (or a controller, for console players) can get into the game quickly, yet leave room for complex maneuvers and combinations that more avid gamers will enjoy.

Multiplayer: Nonexistent.

Story/Plot: Prototype has a novel-worthy plot that is integrated into game play exceptionally well. Elements of the story are non-intrusive but do provide a great sense of immersion. Plenty of twists and turns in the plot keep you on the edge and wanting more and more.

Gameplay: Most of Prototype's storyline missions (unfortunately) have a similar feel to them. However, there are some unique twists and gameplay changes in each one, just enough so that you will not be bored. Aside from the main storyline, you can take 'breaks' in between missions and enter freeroam mode. In freeroam mode, you have several things to do. Many time based challenges exist which test your control and skill. Also, scattered throughout the city are 200 orbs which you can collect, as a sort of 'adventure challenge', which will help you appreciate the city. My favorite thing, interestingly enough, is the ability to go around on a killing spree. After completing the storyline missions, you have two choices. Play through the game again (with all unlocks) or continue running through the current city you are in, destroying military bases as well as 'hives' as well as experimenting.

Cons: Although this is probably one of the better games I have played recently, this game does have some spots that I thought were not as good as they should have been. The map in this game is huge, but after boasting about it for quite some time, it feels like the developers shortchanged me in regards to the size of the map. Also, for a sandbox-style game, you are not given many opportunities to customize the experience. Lastly and most importantly, for some reason the only vehicles that you can control are tanks and helicopters, leaving much to be desired.

Overall Rating: Go get the game. Nothing is perfect, but this game is sure close to it. One of the best $50 I have ever spent.