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Archive for November, 2004

Major Browsers Affected by Java Script Flaw

November 30, 2004 Comments off

It’s not rare when a flaw disables Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE), but it is rare when the same flaw affects alternative browsers as well.

A new flaw was just disclosed on security mailing lists. The bug causes the browser to crash and could potentially form the basis of an exploit that would affect virtually all major browsers.

The bug has been called the Infinite Array Sort Denial Of Service Vulnerability and causes the affected browsers to execute an infinite JavaScript array sort. That operation in turn effectively causes a DoS on the browser in question and causes it to crash by exhausting stack memory.

The following example will cause the browser to crash:

< html >
< script > a = new Array(); while (1) { (a = new Array(a)).sort(); } </ script >
< script > a = new Array(); while (1) { (a = new Array(a)).sort(); } </ script >
</ html >

Opera has not released any patches as of the time of this posting.

Update: After posting the example flaw, my browser kept on crashing when I would login to my Blogger account, I couldn’t even edit the post. I had to disable Java Script, and then add spaces to the html tags so that the browser doesn’t think they are Java Script tags (I used the &gt; for the “>”).

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No Need for Horizontal Scrolling in Opera 7.60

November 23, 2004 1 comment

Opera has added to its desktop browser a new rendering technology said to eliminate horizontal scrolling, regardless of screen size.

Opera Software today announced that they have solved the problem of rendering and printing Web pages effectively regardless of screen or paper size. Opera’s new Extensible Rendering Architecture (ERA) means no more horizontal scrolling or cutting off the edges on print-outs. In combination with Opera’s Zoom function, ERA also presents a compelling accessibility feature with which users can magnify Web pages dramatically and still view them without having to scroll sideways.

The rendering challenge has been that most Web pages are designed with desktop or laptop users in mind, and are usually set to a fixed width of 800 pixels or more. Consequently, if your screen or window size is smaller than the minimum width of the Web page, you have to resort to horizontal scrolling. Furthermore, printing Web pages will often leave out parts because the Web page is wider than the paper. Opera’s ERA technology enables dynamic resizing to adapt Web page content to fit any paper size, browser window, or screen — from projectors to mobile phones, and everything in between.

Opera 7.60 is due to be released at the end of 2004.

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Microsoft Recognizes Other Browsers

November 19, 2004 3 comments

It appears that after the news about alternative browsers gaining on Internet Explorer, that Microsoft has finally noticed that not everyone uses Internet Explorer. Microsoft is starting to get serious about interoperability and open standards.

A senior developer working on the MSDN Subscriber Downloads site (codenamed Xena) wants to make it more compatible with Firefox and Opera. Here is a quote from his blog:

“As we started work on Xena 3.0 about a year ago, one of my priority 1 requirements was to make the site fully cross-browser compatible. Funnily enough, the operations team (who tend to be pretty focused) told me that losing Deeptree wasn’t required, because 99.5% of our client browsers were IE. I was able, however, to make the point that this could possibly be the case because we only support IE (after explaining that “support” is different from “can be accessed”) and so that might possibly be a factor. The net-net of this is that cross-browser compatibility for Firefox, Opera, and IE will be included in the update for all major site functions.”

That is a start for Microsoft. When will the Internet Explorer development team adopt this policy?

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Opera Browser Teams Up With QUALCOMM

November 18, 2004 Comments off

Opera and Qualcomm announced a deal that would put Qualcomm’s BREW platform on the Opera mobile browser. This will add contextual shopping capabilities to mobile users.

BREW is an application development platform created by Qualcomm for phones. Standing for Binary Runtime Environment for Wireless, it is software that can download and run small programs for playing games, sending messages, sharing photos, etc.

Opera’s contextual shopping capabilities allow operators to enhance their subscribers’ wireless Internet experience by providing them with a feature-rich shopping experience, via BREW-enabled handsets. This advanced shopping experience gives users the opportunity to purchase and download contextually relevant content such as applications, ring tones, wallpapers and skins. For example, if using the Opera mobile Web browser to search for an update on the latest basketball scores, a BREW-based contextual shopping experience would enable the user to click on a link and purchase a basketball game, or other basketball related mobile applications or features such as wallpaper, all directly from the browsing experience.

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The Fox is Everywhere! Where is Opera?

November 17, 2004 Comments off

By Håvard K. Moen

With the release of Firefox 1.0 (congratulations on that one!), the Internet is buzzing with talk about the new browser, and people are hoping that it will topple Microsoft’s browser monopoly. It receives a lot of press, both from the geek media, and from mainstream publications. But concerned voices from within the Opera community are asking where Opera is in all of this. Why isn’t Opera being mentioned? Why isn’t Opera Software out there with a major marketing push to let people know about Opera, too? Why is Opera left on the sideline?

The bad news is that Opera 7 is nearly two years old by now. What is the media supposed to report on?

"And in other news, the Opera browser is still at version 7…"

Not exactly enough to make a smashing headline. ("Opera seeing record losses" seems to be popular right now, though.)

The bottom line is that the release of Firefox 1.0 is a major milestone, and it came at the best possible time. US-CERT’s recommendation to use non-IE browsers got major press coverage, and people started looking for alternatives. Firefox 1.0 is introduced, and with a major PR campaign to spread the word, "everyone" is talking about it. The major milestone, combined with increasing awareness around Internet Explorer’s security problems, means that the timing is just perfect.

The good news is that this benefits Opera!

More people than ever before are made aware of the problems with Internet Explorer, and start looking for other browsers. When you see an article about the release of Firefox 1.0, you will often, if not usually, see that other alternatives are mentioned as well. It is obvious that different people have different needs, and while Firefox is a great browser in its own right, it is not necessarily the answer to everyone’s needs. Firefox offers a basic browser which can then be added to with extensions. Opera, on the other hand, offers a complete Internet package. Rather than having to "build your own browser", so to speak, Opera offers the convenience of an integrated package, full of useful features.

The fact is that people now know that they have a choice, and many actually choose Opera. If they try Firefox and find that it doesn’t really work for them, they may remember hearing about Opera too, and will try it out. In fact, in a Norwegian IT publication a while ago, a spokesperson for Opera explained that we saw increasing download numbers from opera.com.

What people also seem to forget is that Opera has already been in major publications around the world, such as BBC and CNN. It is not like Firefox is the first to be mentioned there. Just because Opera 7 isn’t the latest news, and just because Firefox is getting coverage today, that doesn’t mean that Opera hasn’t had coverage before. And as I mentioned, when they mention Firefox, they usually mention Opera and Safari as well.

There’s more good news. While Opera 7 is not exactly new, Opera 7.60 is on the way with many significant improvements, such as voice browsing, and a new "fit to width" feature which is useful for people with lower resolution screens. There are also plans for something which might have a serious impact in parts of the market, but the details on that will have to remain a secret for now.

Opera’s user base is growing, and the fact that Firefox is now available as a stable release does not mean that Opera is going to disappear. Opera has been around for nearly a decade, and free alternatives have existed for all these years. While Firefox is what’s hot today, we shouldn’t forget that Opera has been around the world already, and there hasn’t really been much to report lately. Still, Opera gets a "free ride" because of the timing of the Firefox 1.0 release.

The fox is everywhere, and so is Opera.

Håvard K. Moen is a Senior Technical Service Consultant for Opera Software. The opinions stated herein do not necessarily represent those of my employer. (This article was originally published on Håvard’s Journal)

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Opera Wins Technology Fast 50 Award

November 17, 2004 Comments off

Opera Software ranked 14th on the Norwegian Deloitte Technology Fast 50 annual list. It had a growth rate of 993% between 1999 and 2003. The Deloitte – Technology Fast50 annually recognizes the fifty fastest growing technology companies in Norway, based on percentage revenue growth between the years 1999 and 2003. Winners of this award vary from size to sector; they include large and small, public and private companies, from all technology industry segments including software, hardware, communications, wireless, and life sciences.

The winners of the Norwegian Deloitte Fast 50 will go on to compete in the Deloitte European Fast 500.

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Microsoft Exec.: Browser Innovation Hurts Backwards Compatibility

November 17, 2004 Comments off

BetaNews has an interview with Gary Schare, Director of Windows Product Management at Microsoft, discussing Internet Explorer and how it has been affected by the recent release of firefox.

“We could change the CSS support and many other standards elements within the browser rendering platform. But in doing so, we would also potentially break a lot of things. The challenge there, as we have been kind of public on our blogs when discussing with Web developers, is backward compatibility. And that is actually an interesting discussion in and of itself, with respect to some of the other browser competitors, who haven’t had enough browser share in the past to have to worry about those things. Once you start to get enough browsers out there, and people start to build sites that work with them, then you’re kind of restricted and hamstrung in terms of how you make changes.”

Why didn’t Microsoft use this approach when it rolled out Windows XP? So many applications had to be trashed with XP. If Microsoft were to truly only follow Internet/HTML/Java Script standards it would solve a lot of the backward compatibility issues.

“For architectural reasons, it turns out you can’t just add tabs via an add-on into the IE app itself. We’ve looked at whether you can add tabs through a browser helper object or some other way of extending IE, and it turns out you can’t.”

Why? All other major and non-major browsers are able to add tabbed browsing to their browsers. Is it because Internet Explorer is so tied in with the Windows operating system?

“Frankly a lot of work we do will probably help the Mozilla guys too.”

How? What kind of leadership role is Microsoft taking with browser technology. It hasn’t made any major feature changes in years.

“We think [at] the end of the day IE is the better choice, from the topics we’ve talked about around security and around innovation.”

What an outrages comment to make in light of all the security issues IE has faced recently. It is sad that the Microsoft people just don’t see the light when it’s shining right in their faces.

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