November 19, 2017 brianradio2016

Firefox isn’t the most popular browser in the world — that honor now goes to Google Chrome — but it still has an ardent following. And after slipping in recent years, it has been on something of a rebound this year. On top of that, Mozilla made a big deal about the release of the latest version – Firefox Quantum – which the company says is twice as fast as the browser was earlier this year. (It’s available for download if you haven’t tried it yet, and want to.)

While Firefox is a well-rounded browser in its own right, its capabilities can be expanded by installing any of a wealth of extensions that can boost performance and improve users’ workflow. We scoured Firefox’s repository for add-ons and selected those with the most users and top reviews. These are 14 of the best Firefox add-ons you can use to turn Firefox into a powerhouse.

Productivity

iMacrosiMacros

The iMacros for Firefox add-on can be customized to fill out forms, initiate password requests and automate other online activities.

iMacros

The iMacros add-on automates many of the repetitive tasks users encounter online. If you’re tired of endless forms, password requests and other things that can bring browsing to a halt, iMacros can save you a lot of time and aggravation. Macros can be created for a variety of purposes to simplify browsing and speed users through otherwise mundane tasks. Some of the most popular uses of this free add-on include filling out personal forms, initiating logins, automating downloads and uploads, extracting data to a CSV file, testing site performance and social bookmark scripting.

November 19, 2017 brianradio2016

The Access Case 3 lies flat out as a piece of colored leather about 6-1/2 inches wide by about 6 inches tall. The inside of the case is black microfiber material to protect your iPhone X. There is one opening on the back for the dual rear camera.

There are no card slots on the Nodus Access Case 3, instead there is a long pocket that can hold up to three cards and some cash. The Nodus logo and name is stamped into the bottom of the leather on this pocket.

November 19, 2017 brianradio2016

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TigerDirect’s Black Friday ad

Longtime online tech retailer — and Newegg competitor — TigerDirect has had its modest three-page Black Friday ad leaked, adding even more HP PC deals to a lengthy list (including from the manufacturer itself).

In particular, TigerDirect has a pair of HP laptops and a desktop on sale, not including a couple of refurbished units it’s also advertising. (Newegg also puts refurbished products in its Black Friday ad.) The HP 17-x010nr notebook comes with an Intel Pentium N3710 processor, 4GB of RAM, 1TB hard drive, and a larger 17.3-inch screen; originally priced at $599.99, it’s cut to $349.99 for Black Friday, though it already appears to be available on that price on TigerDirect.com as of this writing.

The other HP laptop deal is for the ProBook 455 G4, which includes an AMD A10-9600P quad-core processor, 8 gigs of RAM, terabyte hard drive, and 15.6-inch display. TigerDirect’s ad lists the original price at $749.99, though it’s currently on the website at $479.99, making the Black Friday price of $449.99 a little less eye-popping. On the desktop side, there’s the HP ProDesk 600 G2 with Intel Core i7 CPU, 8GB of memory, and 1TB hard drive for $599.99.

TigerDirect has a couple of other non-HP systems in its ad. For gamers, there’s an MSI laptop with Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, 256GB solid-state drive, Nvidia GeForce 940MX graphics, and 17.3-inch display for $749.99. If you want a cheaper Microsoft Surface clone, the Huawei MateBook HZ-W19 Windows 10 tablet with Core M5-6Y54 chip, 8 gigs of RAM, 256GB SSD, and 12-inch 2,160×1,440 touchscreen is on sale for $399.99. Again, the ad says it’s a whopping $500 off the regular price, but you can already purchase it on TigerDirect’s site for the Black Friday price.

November 18, 2017 brianradio2016

It may not be a household name in the US, but many Americans have surely come under the gaze of a product made by the Chinese company Hikvision. As the Wall Street Journal reports, Hikvision is the No. 2 seller of surveillance equipment in the US and is No. 1…

November 18, 2017 brianradio2016

There are raised buttons for volume and the side button with openings for the camera, ringer switch, and Lightning port on the bottom. The back is covered with premium vegetable tanned Horween leather in rustic brown color. Horween leather is designed to develop a patina over time, which gives it some character to make it unique.

Wireless charging and Apple Pay both work fine when your iPhone X is in the case. The sides also rise above the display so your screen is protected when you place it down on a table.

November 18, 2017 brianradio2016

Star Trek got it right.

In the future, we’ll interact with computers mostly by talking.

But for those computers to be available for instant interaction, they’ll have to be attached to our physical persons. I’m talking about virtual assistants on wearable devices.

Technologists are ambivalent about both virtual assistants and wearables. Some love and rely upon them. Others are indifferent.

November 18, 2017 brianradio2016

A recent survey of US adults found 68% weren’t comfortable giving delivery drivers access to their homes to leave packages inside, as happens with Amazon’s new service, the Seattle Times reports. That number may soon go up even further. A security research firm tells CBS News a “really simple” hack…

November 17, 2017 brianradio2016

Microsoft’s Common Language Runtime, the virtual machine that anchors the .Net Framework, is due for a makeover, with the company announcing plans to make the CLR more efficient and scalable.

Key to this modernization will be improvements to the intermediate language underlying the CLR, called IL, which has not been upgraded in ten years, said Mads Torgersen, lead designer for C# at Microsoft. The company wants to improve the IL and make the CLR a richer target for programming languages. 

The goal of the CLR is to run .Net programs efficiently. Currently the biggest problem with .Net is the inherent limits of scalability of the runtime itself, said Ben Watson, Microsoft principal software engineer. The CLR is being pushed beyond its original intention and design. Watson explained that when multiple gigabytes of code are being loaded, algorithms built into the CLR start breaking down. 

One imminent improvement involves Span<T>, pronounced “span of tee,” a new type that will offer language and framework features for achieving safer, more-performant, low-level code. The “t” in Span<T> means type parameter. Span<T> will be used by C# and other languages to create more efficient code that does not need to copy large amounts of data or pause for garbage collection, Torgersen said. New versions of the CLR will have “inside knowledge” about Span<T> to improve speed. Span<T> will be rolled out over the next few releases of the .Net Framework. 

November 17, 2017 brianradio2016

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Which Qi charging pad to use? (Image: Jason Perlow)

If you’re a new iPhone 8 or iPhone X owner, you probably know one of the advertised features of each device is their ability to wirelessly charge.

There are many charging pads on the market, but picking one that is optimized for your phone is not easy. We’ve narrowed it down to three to simplify this process for you.

If you’re going to take advantage of wireless charging on the new iPhone devices, the three we can recommend at this time are the Mophie wireless charging base ($59.95), the Bezalel Futura X ($49.95), and the Belkin BOOST↑UP Wireless Charging Pad ($59.95).

(Ed: We haven’t been able to confirm that the version of the Futura X currently on the market supports Apple’s native 7.5W standard because the company is touting it as supporting higher speeds for Samsung devices and two versions of the device were introduced prior to the iPhone 8/X launch event. Stay tuned.)

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Boost-Up for iPhone by Belkin.

Why choose one over the other? How are they different? Let’s first talk about why you don’t want just any Qi pad on the market.

The new 7.5W Apple Qi Charging Standard

When Apple released the new phones, the company deviated from the Wireless Power Consortium Qi 1.2.X standard, which has the ability to charge at the original 5W, a higher-level 9W, or the newest 15W used by Samsung on the Galaxy S8, Galaxy S8+, and Galaxy Note 8.

Apple chose 7.5W for its Qi implementation (which is supported in the current iOS 11.2 beta — not with the shipping iOS with the new iPhones) rather than go with 9W or 15W. There is no apparent reason why it chose to do this, and it hasn’t said anything about it, but my guess is it may have something to do with heat.

That means that while many inexpensive Qi chargers you can buy on the internet advertise “Fast Charge,” if you use them with your new iPhone, the best they are going to do is the lowest common denominator, which is 5W.

But 5W charging isn’t horrible — it will work fine for overnight use. It’s as good as you are going to get with the supplied OEM Apple lightning cable and the included charger, but it’s a far cry from 7.5W or even the native fast charge speeds using the Apple OEM USB-C to Lightning cable and a USB-C fast charger.

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Bezalel Futura X, shown in Black.

While we did not put it on our iPhone shortlist, if you want a Qi charger that has excellent build quality and will work with all of your Qi devices, the Samsung version of the Belkin BOOST-UP (available in black) would be our choice.

Although the iPhone X and iPhone 8 can only charge with it at 5W, if you live in a household or work in an office environment with Android phones, especially Samsung ones, this is your best all-around Qi pad.

We are unaware of any product currently on the market that supports both Samsung’s 9W/15W Qi and Apple’s 7.5W Qi. If you know about one, please use the author feedback form on my bio page or in the comments section and tell us.

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The Mophie Wireless Charging Base for iPhone.

Which of the three pads is right for my iPhone 8 or iPhone X?

All three pads are quality, well-engineered designs, and you really cannot go wrong with any of them as an iPhone user. However, some considerations:

  • The Mophie and the Belkin come with their own charging block. The Mophie is permanently wired to its charger, and the Belkin uses a special keyed barrel connector. So, if you want a more portable solution to bring with you, I would suggest the Bezalel Futura X instead, because it has a standard USB Micro-B connector and thus would work well with a standard portable charging battery with fast charge output (2.4A) or a USB-A multi-charger like the Anker. Unlike the other two, the Futura X does not come with its own charging brick.
  • The Bezalel Futura X is available in either black or white if the aesthetic matters. The Futura X is also significantly thinner/flatter than either the Mophie or the Belkin.
  • The Belkin is the widest of the three and seems to require the least “futzing” with charging coil alignment. All of them lock on pretty fast, however, and we tested all three with OtterBox Defender and Pursuit cases for iPhone X, which are on the thicker end of the case spectrum.
  • The Belkin also has the best illuminated charging indicator, a green LED. The Mophie doesn’t have a light, and the Futura X has a white light inside the casing, but it turns off a few seconds after placing the phone on it. I found that for bedroom nighttime use, the Mophie and the Futura were the least distracting.

Can I retrofit my old iPhone/Android?

what’s hot on zdnet

You can buy any number of charging sleeves or receivers to retrofit an older iPhone or an Android that does not have built-in wireless charging, such as the new Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. I’ve seen them as cheap as $5 and all the way up to $15, such as the Cloele, which I’ve had some good success with using my wife’s iPhone 7+ and an OtterBox Defender case and inserting it between the rubber backing and the plastic.

However, be aware the best you are going to be able to do is around 800mAh to 1,000mAh, and because your phone has not been designed for this, you may experience heat issues — particularly because the distance between the coils and the charger base will not be the same as a phone that has this built-in, so alignment will not be ideal.

Every case has different thickness and heat exchange characteristics, and not all receiver coils behave the same, so your mileage is going to vary. You might want to look into cases with integrated receivers, such as the Bezalel.

How have your Qi charging adventures gone with your new iPhone or your Samsung device? Talk Back and Let Me Know.

Previous and related coverage

Apple iPhone X review: This is as good as it gets

Face ID, an impressive display, new interaction methods, and solid performance put the iPhone X on top.

10 best smartphones: iPhone X bumps Galaxy Note 8 from top spot

Now that all of the flagship phones have been announced for 2017, a new model has moved into the top spot.

November 17, 2017 brianradio2016

Apple has been oddly quiet when it comes to iPhone 8 and iPhone X sales. But there’s plenty of third-party data that we can use to try to fill that vacuum.

Must read: Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on your iPhone is going to get more cumbersome and overly complicated

Let’s take a look at a couple of data points. First, mobile engagement platform Localytics sent ZDNet information on the iPhone X market share after two weeks. The company’s data shows the iPhone X market share to be at 1.42 percent. To put that into some context, after two weeks the iPhone 7 hit 2.7 percent. However, remember that the iPhone X is competing against iPhone 8 sales, so this skews the market.

It’s also worth noting that the iPhone market has grown substantially since the iPhone 7 was released, distorting the figures a bit in the favor of the iPhone X.

How's the iPhone X been selling over the past two weeks? Localytics

Another data source we have is collated by Mixpanel, which shows iPhone X adoption rapidly catching up with iPhone 8, which have adoption figures of 1.75 percent and 1.95 percent respectively, but lagging behind iPhone 8 plus adoption, which according to Mixpanel is at 2.49 percent.

How's the iPhone X been selling over the past two weeks?

How's the iPhone X been selling over the past two weeks?

Mixpanel

While it’s hard to draw concrete conclusions from third-party data, the tentative conclusions I’m coming to is that the combination of iPhone 8/8Plus and iPhone X are selling well, but what’s hard to tell is how well they are selling compared to previous launches.

The fact that we’ve not had an Apple PR blitz telling us how awesome fast they are flying off the shelves suggest that the data may not be as good as Apple hoped it would be, and that the company is going wait until end of the quarter earnings to announce sales (by then it’s likely that any supply shortages will have mostly worked themselves out).

See also: