Browser speed tests

(via OSNews)

If you’ve ever wondered where your preferred browser falls on the performance curve, this article at howtocreate.co.uk has lots of details.  The short result is if you just want the fastest browser, you are almost certain to be best served by Opera.  The gecko-based browsers (Mozilla, Konqueror, Galeon) do OK, but don’t beat Opera on anything but start time.

Ok, ok. Firefox and Mozilla are clearly optimised for Linux, and Opera is clearly optimised for Windows. These optimisations are mostly obvious with the loading times, although there is also a little difference in the cache handling on the different operating systems. However, Opera seems to perform admirably well on most tasks, on any platform. When it comes to page rendering (tables, CSS or images), most of the major browsers perform very fast, with very little to distinguish between them. When it comes to scripts, Opera clearly holds its head above the others, nearly twice as fast as the others. The only one that comes close is Safari 2.0, but that is tied to the Tiger release of Mac OS (currently in preview).

Opera also is a clear winner using history. In fact, on Linux it is faster than Mozilla and Firefox for all except starting time. On Mac and Windows, Opera is faster than Mozilla and Firefox for all tasks. Surprisingly, Mozilla is now faster at most tasks than Firefox (please don’t send me any more emails about this line, I am well aware of why it is faster). Internet Explorer on Windows was either as fast as – or faster than Mozilla and Firefox for most tasks, with the exception of scripts, where it took over twice as long.

There is a lot more to the article than this snippet.  Please head over and read the full article for all the details.

[tags]Browser test, browser speed[/tags]

Portable video players

I nave no reason to get one of these. I can’t afford such a silly expenditure. But man, I wish I could buy any of the recently displayed portable media players I’ve seen over at TechEBlog. Here are just a few of the recent PMPs I wish I could get.

And there are more posted several times a week, it seems. Mostly, they are released in Korea with no announced US release date. So I’ll probably never get one of these, but I really think they are sexy.

[tags]Portable Media Players,PMP[/tags]

Sandboxie for protected surfing and application installation

(via FreewareWiki)

When you run a program on your computer, data flows from the hard disk to the program via read operations. The data is then processed and displayed, and finally flows back from the progam to the hard disk via write operations.

. . .

For example, if you run the Freecell program to play a game, it starts by reading the previously recorded statistics, displaying and altering them as you play the game, and finally writing them back to disk for future reference.

Sandboxie changes the rules such that write operations do not make it back to your hard disk.

. . .

If you run Freecell inside the Sandboxie environment, Sandboxie reads the statistics data from the hard disk into the sandbox, to satisfy the read requested by Freecell. When the game later writes the statistics, Sandboxie intercepts this operation and directs the data to the sandbox.

If you then run Freecell without the aid of Sandboxie, the read operation would bypass the sandbox altogether, and the statistics would be retrieved from the hard disk.

A run for anything sandbox to contain your programs and limit what they can do to your system.  Sandboxie is free, and looks very, very useful.  It’s going on my system for sure.

[tags]Sandbox, Sandboxie, Virtualization[/tags]

Man sues Compaq for false advertising

(via Bruce Schneier’s security blog)
As the headling says, a suit has been filed against Compaq (now HP) for false advertising.  Michael Crooker is suing Compaq for advertising a feature called DriveLock, purported to make the hard drive unreadable without the proper password.  After Mr. Crooker had his apartment searched by the bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF), his laptop was taken.  Later, data from the hard drive was used in a later search of his e-mail account.

He bought it in September 2002, expressly because it had a feature called DriveLock, which freezes up the hard drive if you don´t have the proper password.

The computer´s manual claims that ¨if one were to lose his Master Password and his User Password, then the hard drive is useless and the data cannot be resurrected even by Compaq´s headquarters staff,¨ Crooker wrote in the suit.

. . .

The FBI had broken through DriveLock and accessed his e-mails (both deleted and not) as well as lists of websites he´d visited and other information. The only files they couldn´t read were ones he´d encrypted using Wexcrypt, a software program freely available on the Internet.

I’ll let you make your own decision about whether or not normal people should have access to security software of this type.  I will say I view personal access to cryptography software to be as important as personal access to firearms.  You, of course, don’t have to share my view, but if you don’t, I’d be interested in hearing why in the comments.

[tags]DriveLock, Cryptography[/tags]