IE Security Flaw – Again

OK, I’m not going to talk about that security flaw in IE here – I’ll leave that to others, such as The Register in ‘Critical’ IE bug threatens PC users. What I’ll mention briefly here is the wording I’ve seen elsewhere, too:

The other option is to choose an alternative browser, such as Firefox or Opera. However, even these browsers are not as safe from attack as they were once considered.

Firefox has been subject to a number of flaws over the past year, including one that could leave its users more vulnerable to phishing scams. Meanwhile, a report published in September by Symantec rated Internet Explorer as safer than Firefox. The report found some 25 flaws in Mozilla’s Firefox internet browser, almost double the number it discovered in IE.

Vulnerabilities in Opera is not mentioned – not here, not elsewhere – and I wonder: Why not? There are vulnerabilities to mention, right? Since it’s mentioned that it’s not as safe from attacks as once considered, I mean. Wouldn’t it be natural to mention at least one, serious vulnerability, like with Firefox?

Just wondered…

Opera – still for sale?

I have some searches going for Opera, and am updated regulary by web feeds (RSS/Atom) and by mail, from search engines and blog searches. The results are very mixed, and quite a bit of it is without interest.However, there are a few things that appear from time to time – one of those things are about paying for Opera.

True, you used to have to pay for a registered version of Opera to remove the ads, or to continue using it after the trial period before that. Obviously, there will be many search results that show this, but I’m not talking about that. What I have in mind, are new articles and reviews, that are written well after the browser went free.

In many such articles, reviews and browser comparisions, you read about how you have to pay for the registered version, how some features (kiosk mode) is available only in the registered version, how you have to put up with ads or get the registered version… How come people are still stuck in the past?

I can – in part – understand those who write general articles, as they may just rely on their memory of a browser they tried several months ago – a browser that did have ads, or needed to be registered for a fee. Understand – but still think it’s bad workmanship, not to check the current situation. After all, browser development happens fast.

Then there are those who have checked a bit. They do get the current browser version correct, but still manage to miss one important fact: That Opera is free. Gratis. I’ve even seen reviews of the browser, including the technical preview of Opera 9, where the reviewer manage to mention the ads, or the “registered version”. Hello? How did you do the review? I mean, just installing and trying the browser should tell you that there are no ads there. They’re gone. There are no registered and ad supported versions – there’s just one, free version.

I’ve tried to correct a few of these, but there are a couple of thoughts swirling around in my mind: Why doesn’t people check things more, to be sure they are correct? Especially reviewers. What are their motives? And if they can’t get such basic facts right – how can I trust their article? Are they negligent only when it comes to Opera, or is this how they treat all they write about?

It should be so easy to do things right in the first place – instead, I’m left with a bit distrust due to sloppy work.

Opera not in accordance with W3C standards

Well – not according to MSN, that is. At least, not enough.

There is a competition at MSN, where you can win MP3 players or an XBox 360 Core. It could be fun to try, I thought, and browsed over to the website to check it out. it looked nice – except for one box, where the technical specifications for being able to participate were listed up:

  1. Javascript – checked
  2. Flash 7 – checked
  3. Compatible browser *– failed
  4. Screen resolution 1024×768 – checked

The browser failed? Is Active-X required then? But no, the definition of a compatible browser was listed below: “You need a browser that are in accordance with W3C, for example Internet Explorer 5 or higher, Netscape 6.1 or higher, Firefox or Safari.”

Now – I’m really curious of where exactly Opera is not in accordance with W3C – because MSN doesn’t block Opera needlessly on purpose, do they? Though, it wouldn’t be the first time…

Opera 9: Technical Preview 2 to be released soon – and the final in June?

A technical preview of Opera 9 has been available for download for a while now, teasing us with some of what we can expect. Many have downloaded it,and use it as their primary browser (despite warnings from Opera that it’s an unfinished product, and as such do contain bugs.) But remember: This is a preview. A taste of what we can expect – not all of it. So, what more will we get?

Operawatch broke the news that widgets will be included – small browser windows that display information taken from the Internet on a user’s desktop. Much like the Dashboard in OS X on the Mac. To get it started, around 10 widgets will be provided by Opera, according to CNET, but anyone can make new ones.

Also new will be thumbnails of the pages. These will appear when you hover over the tabs, for easy recognition of what it is. This is similar to what IE7 will provide.

We also will see the return of bittorrent in Opera 9. This was a much loved feature in an earlier technical preview, so this will be welcome news for many. In addition, Opera will provide access to the bittorrent search engine through the browser interface.

But when can we expect to get our hands on it? According to the just released pressrelease from Opera ASA about bittorrent inclusion, technical preview 2 will be released soon (tomorrow at Tuesday, it sems, and according to the CNET article the final release will be at the end of June.)

Want a good offer on music? Use Opera!

While Opera users sometimes find sites that discriminates them due to bad browser sniffers, the music site eMusic seems to make its own twist on the situation: According to this article on, eMusic presents different offers depending on which browser you use, and which OS. Opera users get the best offer, and Firefox users the least.

How long will this situation last, now that it’s brought forward in the news? No idea. Maybe I should go and have a look? With Opera, of course.

Hmmm – just had a look. I didn’t get such a good offer as the article writes about, so it may be changed already – but I haven’t tested with other browsers.

UPDATE: It seems to be completely random after all, not dependent on which browser you have. I just saw the same thing mentioned on Opera Watch, and the comments there show very different results.

New browser versions means new information – or?

New versions and updates of the good browsers seem to appear regulary. This may mean aded features, bigs been ironed out, smoother operation – in short, better browsers. Ideally, these changes should be reflected in at least reviews of the different browsers, which in turn may be a part in forming opinions. The question is then: How up to date are the reviewers?

In the online edition of the Indianapolis Star, I read an article dated yesterday about different alternatives to IE, and how it could be nice to try them and make the switch away from IE. A nice, well-informed article that doesn’t try to claim that a browser switch is the end to all problems. However, there were one little detail about one browser, that stated something wrong.

The browser is Opera, the statement was about the banner ads in the free version, and that to get rid f them you’d have to pay $40. This used to be true, but Opera has been completely free without any banner ads for some time now, so an article dated January 22, 2006 should reflect that. On the positive side, those banners were the only negative things said about the browser, so as they’re gone…

Anyway, I mailed the author a friendly (I hope) little correction, but it made me think a bit more about this: How many people base their opinions of the current version of Opera, based on what they know of a previous version, maybe even a much older version? When we see what people write on discussion forums and in comments on blogs, it may be quite a few. This is why I think it should be important that those who write reviews and articles and such are careful not to get anything wrong – there may be a “the newspaper said it, so it must be correct”-effect.

Maybe it will be easier when Opera 9 is released?

Browserstats – reliable?

I got to think a bit about this topic after yet another debate about browser statistics, and how Opera may be under represented or not, and how good the statistics programs are at measuring actual use. Well, the one thing that is certain, is that the statistics collected says something about the traffic to those sites, and may give an indication about the traffic to other sites – but what sites are the numbers collected from?

I don’t know what sites are used as basis. I don’t know the location of them either – they could be spread evenly around the world, or mainly in one part of the world. Does it matter? It may.

It’s said that wile Opera doesn’t have that many users in USA, it’s popular in Europe, Russia and Japan. If the web sites that the statistics are collected from are evenly spread around the world, this doesn’t mean anything. However, if the majority of the sites are based in USA, with mainly visitors from USA, then the numbers are skewed.

I set up a small, easy case, completely at random:
There are two areas, A and B, with 100.000 users (of browsers) each.
There are 100 websites, each with 10.000 visits: 10 in area A, 90 in area B.
People visit only the sites in the area where they’re based.
There are 3 browsers: Speeder, Skimmer and Stumbler.
The percentage of users of the various browsers differ by the areas.

I set up a table:

Area: A Area: B Total
Users 100.000 100.000 200.000
Speeder 10,0% 1,0% 5,5%
Skimmer 15,0% 10,0% 12,5%
Stumbler 75,0% 89,0% 82,0%
Web sites 10 90 100
Number of visits
Speeder 10.000 (10,0%) 9.000 (1,0%) 19.000 (1,9%)
Skimmer 15.000 (15,0%) 90.000 (10,0%) 105.000 (10,5%)
Stumbler 75.000 (75,0%) 801.000 (89,0%) 876.000 (87,6%)

Now, we see that the statistics collected from the sites show a different percentage of users on the browsers than the actual numbers. Thus, we see it would be necessary to know more than just that number to tell what the statistics actually says.

Had the number of websites used to collect the statistics been evenly spread, with 50 in each area, the statistics would have shown the real usage.

Back in the real world, the interesting question isn’t whether Opera is under counted for some reason, or Firefox over counted, or something like that. The interesting questions are: What sites are used to collect the data for the statistics? Where are they based, and where are their visitors based? Are users from certain areas more likely to use certain browsers than visitors from other areas?

It’s a lot of questions, but necessary to see whether the figures are skewed or not.

Opera’s New Year Celebration: Wow!

New Year in Times SquareWow. Just… Wow! we knew that Opera planned a surprise for the new year – a big surprise – but I guess the surprise is bigger than most of us could think. One user in the Opera community will, together with a guest, spend New Year in New York, and tickets to the ABC New Year’s Eve party. And not only that: Said Opera user will have his/her face shown on the ABC SuperSign in Times Square!

Old and new members of the Opera community have the chance of being picked, so hurry up. If you haven’t converted to Opera yet, go download it (and use it, of course ;)) become a member in the community, and upload your picture and hope to be picked. (Or beg, or try to convince everyone in some way that you are the one that deserve this.) You have 9 days.

Blocking Opera and Firefox: Yet another silly webmaster

There are webmasters out there who don’t like that the ads they’re showing on their web pages can be blocked. Which is understandable, of course – ads give them a revenue so that they can keep on doing what they do. How webmasters react to this possibility however, vary, as I learned from an article by Pallab. Here poses as an example of a silly way to react and “solve” the problem.

The web master seems to believe that Opera and Firefox includes adblocking as part of the browser – and thus he blocks those browsers. Well – as long as they identify themselves as what they are. Also, he does it in a silly way. If you visit the link above with Opera or Firefox, you’re being redirected to a different site, No explaination, and if you’re not observant enough, you may thing that it’s the same site, just with two different URIs. It’s silly.

Back when Environmantalchemistry blocked Opera, you were at least told that you were blocked, and after some consideration given full access to the pages that told you why. Then you could take appropriate action, if you wanted access. Not so here, at least if you happen upon the index-page. If you’re an Opera or Firefox user looking forward to spending some money at the smileygenerator, the web master may have lost some sales outright.

According to a thread on the forum there, it seems that it is possible for anyone, no matter what browser they use, to browse the paid content. But – how will Opera and Firefox users learn that, when they’re sent away before they’re told this?

But that’s just one part of it, the reactions towards two browsers due to not knowing much about them. Neither of them includes ad blocking as part of the browser. You have to go to a third party to achieve that – and if you go to a third party, there’s also lot tho choose from for IE, too. There may be more people blocking ads in IE than ther are users of Opera/Firefox together, for all I know. This of course makes the whole business of blocking the two browsers even more silly.

An example of reacting before thinking.