Xmarks Bookmark Addon

Nice description and endorsement in The Scout Report (Vol 21 No 15) of Xmarks for managing and syncing your bookmarks.

Often considered the number one bookmarks add-on on the market, Xmarks is built to be compatible with Firefox, Safari, Google Chrome, and Internet Explorer. The program can be downloaded in seconds. From there readers may begin backing up and synchronizing bookmarks in an intuitive and friendly template. In addition, Xmarks will sync bookmarks across computers, and, if desired, across different web browsers. While Xmarks is free for personal computer use, a premium version ($1 per month) is necessary for readers who want to sync with their iPhones, Blackberries, and Androids. Xmarks is the most popular bookmark sync add-on for a reason: it’s easy to use and convenient. [CNH]

Privacy Check Tool

Here’s a quick check to do before clicking on “I agree”  to those long, dense user agreements. This tool converts the legalize  to understandable English.

PrivacyCheck Offers Free Tool to Analyze Privacy Policies, University of Texas (May 5)

The Center for Identity, a research organization at The University of Texas at Austin, today released PrivacyCheck, a free browser extension that scans privacy policies online and illustrates the risk of sharing personal data with any given company. Currently available for Chrome users, PrivacyCheck gives users a simple, fast way to make informed decisions about privacy.

Internet Explorer Browser News

No – it’s not April Fool’s. Microsoft has announced it will phase out its Internet Explorer browser. It’s desktop market share had fallen to 53%, and perhaps Microsoft saw this as writing on the wall. According to the Motley Fool, it will continue work on a new browser, code named Project Spartan to be used with Windows 10.

R.I.P. Internet Explorer: Microsoft Corporation Kills Off One of Its Signature Products, Eric Volkman, The Motley Fool (Apr 6)

Meantime, Microsoft is also removing from its browser the automatic “do not track” that prevented browsing data from going to advertisers: Users will have to find the option and turn it on themselves.

Microsoft Removes Do Not Track Default, Don’t Push The Button, & More… [Tech News Digest], Dave Barrack, Make Use Of (Mar 31)

Reader Mode for Chrome

The designers of the Chrome browser are experimenting with a reader-mode button that will make a web page more readable on both mobile and desktop. Hallelujah – an antidote to cluttered pages with crazy fonts, boxes, and ads.

Google is working on a Chrome reading mode, try it out, Jessica Condiit, EnGadget (Feb 25)

Posting has instructions on how to activate this using the DOM Distiller in Chrome.

There is also the Readability app.

A Spartan Browser

Microsoft is introducing a new browser called Spartan that is to be “lightweight, standards compliant, available on multiple platforms”.

Microsoft’s reported ‘Spartan’ browser will be lighter, more flexible than Internet Explorer, Mark Hackman, PC World (Dec 29, 2014)

“Mary Jo Foley of ZDNet reported Monday that Spartan could ship alongside Internet Explorer 11 in Windows 10, due sometime in the latter half of 2015. The purpose of Spartan is twofold, Foley reports: first, as a lightweight alternative to IE, but with the foundation for third-party extensions; and as a marketing “do-over” for Internet Explorer, to do away with Internet Explorer’s legacy once and for all.”

Most people resist changing browsers. Spartan is going to have to be very fast and flexible to get a following (IMO).

Stop AutoPlay

Here’s irony – a PC World article on How to stop autoplay videos (Jan 1, 2015) has an autoplay video that launches into how-to save videos. But no matter – it means you’re all the more motivated to follow the instructions for Chrome, Firefox or Internet Explorer. Basically – change browser settings so that you have to “click to play”. What a relief!

Firefox Search Bar

Startling news – Yahoo will be the default search engine in the Firefox browser for US users rather than Google (and one presumes the same will be true in Canada). This means getting search results from the Bing index. It is possible to adjust the search bar to default to whatever search engine you really want to use.

Yahoo to replace Google as Firefox’s default search engine in U.S., Michael Liedtke, AP via Globe and Mail (Nov 20)

The five-year alliance announced Wednesday will end a decade-old partnership in the U.S. between Google Inc. and the Mozilla Foundation, which oversees the Firefox browser. The tensions between Google and Mozilla had been rising since Google’s introduction of the Chrome browser in 2008 began to undercut Firefox.

Mozilla has this handy guide with screenshots and screencasts – Search bar – add, change and manage search engines on Firefox