Tabbed browsing : Smart Bro vs FireFox

November 4th, 2006

 

Hi Guys,

 

  Today I’m going to talk about the tabbed interface for both Smart Bro (our browser) and FireFox. I wanted to take a closer look at it in order to come up with the best of both (if any). The comparison is being made between Smart Bro v2.5.0011 and FireFox v1.5.0.7.

 

  Well, at the first glance, you’ll notice that Smart Bro has a blue icon (mark) on every tab and the text to the right of it. In FF, you’ll see an icon of an empty document instead. When you try to load a website on a specific tab, Smart Bro will show an empty blue icon and start filling that icon until it’s complete which denotes that loading the website is completed. In FF, this is replaced with a progress icon that doesn’t show the progress. The icon itself is very cool, but it doesn’t provide much info.

 

  I noticed that Smart Bro is missing a feature that is available in FF. When a website has a special icon, FF will show that icon, while Smart Bro will not do that. I’m not sure if this is useful, but I think it may come handy sometimes.

 

  When a website, in an inactive tab, is loaded in Smart Bro and completed, it will flash to drag your attention that the website (which you’re not currently looking at) is loaded completely. I found this feature is missing in FireFox. I think this is a nice feature that helps users with a slow connection who are trying to work on multiple sites at the same time.

 

Now for the interaction…

  Smart Bro allows the user to customize what actions should be done for specific events. Left-Click tab, Right-Click tab, Double-Click tab, Shift+Left-Click tab and Shift+Right-Click tab. By default, Smart Bro:

 

Left-Click: Activates the tab.

Right-Click: Closes the tab.

Shift+Left-Click: Reloads the tab.

Shift+Right-Click: Shows the tab menu.

Double Click: Toggles shrinking on/off.

 

  What I think is the best in Smart Bro tabbed interface is the closing event (right-clicking the tab) which is very fast and easy. FireFox on the other hand Activates a tab by left-clicking the tab and shows the tab menu by right-clicking the tab. This doesn’t offer much flexibility in my opinion. I recall seeing a close button on every tab in FireFox, but I’m not 100% sure what was that, but in my version it’s not there.

 

  Both browsers has a close button at the right-most of the tabs area by which you can close the selected tab.

 

  When loading many websites, both Smart Bro and FireFox keep all the tabs in one line, which is a little bit hard when you’re working on more than 15 websites. I think this is not an important issue, but it should be mentioned.

 

  Smart Bro offers options to minimize, restore, close, tile horizontally, cascade and close all the currently open tabs using the top-right control box. FireFox doesn’t offer any of these options unfortunately.

 

  This concludes the tabbed interface comparison. I hope it will be useful to you guys and if you think, I missed a point or two, please leave a comment and I will be more than happy to add them.

 

Mean while…

Browse the web smarter … use Smart Bro.

 

Best regards,

Tony Sticks,

Mind Vision Software (MVS).

Tips and tricks for internet explorer

October 31st, 2006

 

 

Hello again guys,

 

I read this article and I found it great as it offers many tips on how to keep your information private and to help you browse the web in a more secure way. The article talks about Internet Explorer but you certainly can apply these tips while using Smart Bro as well.

 

»

 

Greetings,

 

Most people use Internet Explorer to browse the net. It loads up fast because parts of it is loaded by Windows as the latter boots up. Using the feedback from its huge user base, Microsoft has made numerous improvements, which you can use to your advantage.

  • Disable the Links toolbar and save space. Remove the Explorer view for the same reason.

Tip: Smart Bro automatically applies this fact by adding the “Links” button to the browse toolbar. This way you can remove the sites toolbar without loosing its handy links.

  • Customize the toolbar via View » Toolbars » Customize.

  • Blank home page: Set your home page to a blank one so that it loads up faster. This is done via Tools » Internet Options » General » Use Blank.

Tip: In Smart Bro use can set this from the View->Options->User sites->Use blank option.

  • Offline browsing: You do not have to connect to the Internet to revisit a page. You can access it from the cache. This is done via Tools » Internet Options » Temporary Internet Folders » Settings » Check newer versions of stored pages: » Never. After setting up IE like this, you can browse offline by, click on the History button. This will open up the History folder in a left pane. Browse through this to access the pages that you have visited earlier. You check the latest version on the net however by clicking on the Refresh button.

  • Computer Security: Some websites have ads that tell you that your computer could be transmitting vital/private information about you, which could be targeted by hackers and viruses. They will tell you to download a security software. Considering the fact that they are using wrong tactics to sell their product, it is quite possible that their software could be doing more harm than good. No matter which software you use, it is not possible to completely hide your computer on the net. People who have always-on Internet connections like broadband or cable should instead use firewalls like the trusty ZoneAlarm or Tiny.

There are other websites that will ask visitors to install ActiveX controls like Gator or Bonzi. These are spyware and Internet users should avoid them.
Neither should you install programs like MP3 Dancer. These are spyware. Even if you uninstall them, they will still remain on your computer without your knowledge.

  • Tip 1: IE’s autocomplete feature may throw up some web addresses at the address bar, which you may not want others to see. So, clear the history. This is done by Internet Options » Clear History. If otherwise you want to selectively remove history items, then delete the appropriate folders inside the History folder. In Windows 9x/Me, the History folder is inside the Windows folder. In Windows 2000/XP, it will be inside the Documents and Settings\«User name»\Local Settings\ folder.

  • Tip 2: Deleting the files in the Temporary Internet Files folder can remove only part of your tracks. Cookies stored by websites usually remain in this folder with their full web address. So, that is a security violation. To remove them, choose Internet Options » Temporary Internet Folder » Delete Cookies.

  • Tip 3: All evidence is still not removed. There is a file inside the Temporary Internet Files folder called index.dat, which has some evidence of your browsing history. Delete this file too. IE will regenerate another index.dat later.

Tip: Use the auto-clean history feature in Smart Bro to allow cleaning history automatically for you.

  • Paranoia 4: When the Autocomplete feature is enabled, all your personal information including passwords are stored on the computer, which is available for others to misuse. So, when you are done with browsing at your office or an Internet cafe, follow the above three steps and clear the saved data by choosing Internet Options » Content » AutoComplete » Clear Forms and Clear Passwords. Sometimes, the Internet Options menu option might be disabled in your office or web cafe. So, delete the HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\IntelliForms key from the registry. If you want to steal or backup passwords, export this key and import it on a different machine or installation. You will also have to copy the {username}.pwl file and cookies to the new machine/installation. Sometimes, there are ActiveX programs that sit silently recording everything. You can check them out at Internet Options » Temporary Internet Files » Settings » View Objects. This will open the Downloaded Program Files folder in the windows folder. By right-clicking the contents, you can either remove them or check out their properties.

  • Tip 5: In certain Internet cafes, silent keyboard loggers are installed by certain people to collect userids and passwords, and send them to their email addresses. Remove these programs from memory and only then browse. Also disable form fillers such as Gator in Internet cafes.

  • Downloading recalcitrant files: Most people use a downloaded manager to download huge files. But, sometimes they run into problems when the download manager is not able to catch the correct url of the file. In such cases, open the source of the page via View » Source and do a search for the download file. Usually, the full url of the file will be found here. Copy this and paste it in the download manager. If some website prevents you from right-clicking to save an image on it, just look inside the Temporary Internet Files folder for it.

  • IE Toolbars : Add the Google toolbar to IE. With this toolbar, you will get to the results without having to visit Google’s home page first.

  • ESCAPE: Many people do not know this. If a page is being downloaded and you want to stop it, then pressing the Escape key will do that. Also, pressing Backspace key will take you to the previous page.

  • Saving web pages: Beginning with Version 5, IE allows saving a web page in a single file including its images and other embedded content. To do this, choose Save As from the File menu. Here in the Save as type, choose Web Archive, single file (*.mht). Sometimes, MHT files may not show anything even though its thumbnail does show something. If you disable Javascript, you will be able to see the whatever something you saw in the thumbnail.

 

I hope you enjoyed this article and find it useful. Take care.

 

Browse the web smarter … use Smart Bro

 

best regards,

Tony Sticks,

Mind Vision Software (MVS)

Advertising on Smart Bro website

October 27th, 2006

 

 

We’ve just added advertising areas to our website. If you are interested in advertising your website (business) on ours, please contact our sales dept. or you can simply click on the advertising area where you want your link to be added. Order the ad space from there and we will be more than happy to make this happen.

 

If you’re interested and want to learn more about our website, please contact us and we will provide you with the required information.

 

Please have a nice day

 

Browse the web smarter … use Smart Bro

 

Tony Sticks,

Mind Vision Software (MVS)

Very Good rating from SoftPedia.com

October 20th, 2006

 

SoftPedia.com made a review for Smart Bro and they gave it a very good rating. To read this rating please visit this page. The reviewer also checked Smart Bro for spyware, adware and viruses and he found it clean.

 

We want to thank SoftPedia.com for the objective review.

 

Ratings:
User Interface 3/5
Features 4/5
Ease of use 5/5
Price/Value 5/5
Overall 4/5

 

Be a Smart Web Surfer … use Smart Bro.

 

Tony Sticks,

Mind Vision Software (MVS)
 

Smart Bro v2.5.0.0011 is released!

October 9th, 2006

 

 

Build 11 of Smart Bro v2.5 is released. The new build contains 2 updates:

 

1. Enhancement to Smart Bro so it works better with the keyboard: We noticed that Smart Bro has some problems working with keyboard that in some situations, it was a lot easier to use instead of using the mouse. We fixed that.

 

2. A new links button has been added to the browse toolbar: The new button will take the place of the sites toolbar which usually takes some of the screen space. In this new build, you can depend on the links button to hold all your links instead of the sites toolbar, which helps you enjoy a larger area of the webpage. For those who may not like this new update… we made sure they will not loose anything. You can simply turn off this update by right-clicking on the Browse toolbar and select not to “Show links button”.

 

We hope you like this update and please remember to drop us a line.

 

Take care now and how a nice day!.

 

Browse the web smarter … use Smart Bro

 

Tony Sticks,

Mind Vision Software (MVS)

5 tips for better browser security

October 3rd, 2006

 

 

I read this article about secure browsing by Brent Huston. I thought it deserves sharing, so here it’s.

 

Note: this article talks to network administrators, but I think it can provide the end-user with a great deal of information about how to protect himself/herself from web attacks.

 

 

>>

My intent in this week’s column is to review the top ways to harden a web-browsing environment, and not cover the entire breadth of browser security. Moreover, I’m sidestepping the argument about what browser is more secure by suggesting that you look more programmatically at what we can do to protect users regardless of browser choice. So here goes …

 

#1. Enable only the browser technologies you need. If you don’t need Active X, Java or the like, configure the browser or web gateways to turn them off. If someone must go to WhizBangActiveXsite.com, they can either do so on their own systems at home; you could build a few web-browsing kiosks on a separate network segment, or use something like a Live CD environment for them. Then, users can visit the web sites that they “need” without endangering the organization. However, be careful with doing this for key technologies like Javascript as it may break things that you really need.

 

Tony: Please notice that you can easily stop Java, Javascript and ActiveX very easily in Smart Bro by unchecking the required items from the “Content” menu.

 

#2. Install up-to-date anti-virus and anti-spyware on every system (servers too). I know this is about browser security, but these components are the critical additional layers of defense against browser attacks. Put them on servers, because administrators have been known to browse from a server in “urgent situations”. This might be forbidden by policy, but trust me, during penetration tests, we have compromised more than a few servers by the admins surfing to a client exploit site. It happens, so guard against it.

 

#3. Prevent users from loading arbitrary browser plugins and enhancements. Each new plugin and enhancement brings some form of risk. It could be malware code disguised as a plugin, or it could be a plugin technology that later turns out to be exploitable. I know this seems to minimize the user experience, but minimization is required to secure their working environment. If they want, or “need”, to use some plugin – make the decision carefully. Lab test them before you agree to let them in the enterprise.

 

#4. Keep browsers up to date. Just like the OS, you must keep them patched. Users should be taught how to do this, or it should be automatic. Make sure this happens often enough to really be useful in protecting against threats. Once a month is likely not often enough. Once a week or so, may be more likely to be truly helpful. Test browser versions occasionally and spot check them by log reviewing your web gateways. Help the offenders understand the risk and bring them back into the fold by reinforcing to them how and why their browsers must be up to date. Be vigilant.

 

#5. Teach your users to make better web-browsing choices. Hold lunch and learns and explain the threats, the common solutions and how to better secure and use a web-browser. They can apply these skills at work, and at home. Both will pay off for them and your organization since they will better protect your data – no matter it is used. Don’t just do the training once, try and have an ongoing program of awareness that reinforces security concepts and focuses on things like browser security and client-side attacks. The smarter they get about security, the better.

 

That’s the top five. There are certainly more technical things you can do, but it would take a book to explain all of the options. Check out the browser vendor sites for more tips. Each browser vendor has tips for hardening their browser and increasing web-browser security. Familiarize yourself with them and then help users apply the changes you deem useable. In the meantime, patch against the current issues and pay attention to the alert mechanisms you follow. Browser vulnerabilities are coming fast and furious these days, and it looks like the issue is here to stay.

 

<<

 

I hope you enjoyed this valuable article. Thanks for your time and please have a nice day.

Browse the web Smarter … use Smart Bro

 

Tony Sticks,

Mind Vision Software (MVS)

New Skins for Smart Bro

September 29th, 2006

 

We added new skins to the Smart Bro collection to make sure you enjoy Smart Bro to the maximum. To download new skins, go to Smart Bro Skins.

 

If you have any comments or suggestions, please let us know

 

Browse the web smarter … use Smart Bro

 

Tony Sticks,

Mind Vision Software (MVS)

Anonymous Web-browsing!!

September 25th, 2006

 

I read this article about anonymous browsing and I thought it deserves sharing with you.

 

>>

I found some pretty good websites for keeping your privacy up high. Of course, the best way to browse securely is through the Tor network, but if you don’t like the slow speeds, then check these guys out.

The first site I will highlight, because it looks like they have their act together, is browseatwork.com. Although would rather not recommend them because going to their website may raise flags at the office for the obvious reasons, they still look pretty leet. If you want to browse at work then check out this example.
 

Next up, Anonymouse.org is a very simple website, and, at the time of this writing, is a free service. Many mice surf the web under the illusion that their actions are private and anonymous. Unfortunately, it isn’t so. Every time you visit a site for a piece of cheese, you leave a calling card that reveals where you’re coming from, what kind of computer you have, and other details. And many cats keep logs of all your visits, so that they can catch you! This service allows you to surf the web without revealing any personal information.
<<

 

Have a nice day!

 

Browse the web smarter … use Smart Bro

 

Tony Sticks,

Mind Vision Software (MVS)

FireFox is potentially more vulnerable to attack than Internet Explorer!

September 22nd, 2006

 

Mozilla Web browsers are potentially more vulnerable to attack than Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, according to a Symantec report.

But the report, released Monday, also found that hackers are still focusing their efforts on IE.

The open-source Mozilla Foundation browsers, such as the popular FireFox, have typically been seen as more secure than IE, which has suffered many security problems in the past. Mitchell Baker, president of the foundation, said earlier this year that its browsers were fundamentally more secure than IE. She also predicted that Mozilla Foundation browsers would not face as many problems as IE, even as their market share grows.

Symantec’s Internet Security Threat Report Volume VIII contains data for the first six months of this year that may contradict this perception.

According to the report, 25 vendor-confirmed vulnerabilities were disclosed for the Mozilla browsers during the first half of 2005, “the most of any browser studied,” the report’s authors stated. Eighteen of these flaws were classified as high severity.

“During the same period, 13 vendor-confirmed vulnerabilities were disclosed for IE, eight of which were high severity,” the report noted.

The average severity rating of the vulnerabilities associated with both IE and Mozilla browsers in this period was classified as “high”, which Symantec defined as “resulting in a compromise of the entire system if exploited.”

The Mozilla Foundation did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
 

This proves my theory about FireFox and its ability to take the heat from hackers. Sooo… 🙂

 

Browse the web smarter … use Smart Bro

 

Tony Sticks,

Mind Vision Software (MVS)

Fourteen Signs That You’re getting Old…

September 19th, 2006



1. You sit down to breakfast and hear “Snap, Crackle, and Pop”.. and you haven’t even poured milk on your cereal yet.

2. You get up to change the TV channel and decide as long as you’re up, you might as well go to bed.

3. You start complaining that “They’re building car seats too darn low!”

4. Your ears perk up when a LAXATIVE COMMERCIAL comes on TV.

5. You call the place you keep leftovers the “ICEBOX”.

6. No matter where you sit, no matter where you are, THERE’S ALWAYS A DRAFT ON YOU!

7. You complain that the cleaners has started shrinking your clothes.

8. You wonder why everyone else is starting to MUMBLE.

9. Lawn care has become a pretty BIG part of your life.

 

10. Your underwear starts creeping up on you..AND YOU ENJOY IT!

11. You start videotaping DAYTIME game shows.

12. When you do the HOKEY POKEY and you “put your left hip out” …IT STAYS OUT!

13. One of the throw pillows on your bed is a HOT WATER BOTTLE.

14. You think of a “quickie” as napping at a traffic light.

have a nice day! 🙂

 

Browse the web smarter … use Smart Bro.

Tony Sticks,

Mind Vision Software (MVS)