SmartAboutThings (1951032) writes "While we are still waiting for the official Windows 8.1 touch-enabled apps to get launched on the Windows Store, Microsoft went and decided that it's time to finally bring the Office online apps to the Chrome Web Store, instead. Thus, Microsoft is making the Web versions of its Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote apps available to users through the Chrome Web Store and also improving all of them with new features, along with several bug fixes and performance improvements." More on the Microsoft front: an anonymous reader wrote in with a link to Ars Technica's review of the upcoming Windows Phone 8.1 release: "It is a major platform update even if it is just a .1 release. Updates include the debut of Cortana, using the same kernel as Windows 8.1 and the Xbox One, a notebook reminder app, inner circle friend management, IE 11, Nokia's camera app by default, lock screen and background customizations, a much improved email client with calendar support, more general Windows 8.1 API inclusion for better portability, and a notification center. Ars rated it more of a Windows Phone 9 release than .1 update."
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Phil Shapiro often loans his Chromebook to patrons of the public library where he works. He says people he loans it to are happily suprised at how fast it is. He wrote an article earlier this month titled Teachers unite to influence computer manufacturing that was a call to action; he says that if 20,000 teachers demand a simple, low-cost Chromebook appliance -- something like a Chrome-powered Mac mini with a small SSD instead of a hard drive, and of course without the high Mac mini price -- some computer manufacturer will bite on the idea. Monitors? There are plenty of used ones available. Ditto speakers and keyboards, not that they cost much new. The bottom line is that Phil believes Chromebooks, both in their current form factor and in a simpler one, could be "the" computer for schools and students. Maybe so, not that Android tablets are expensive or hard to use. And wait! Isn't there already a Chromebox? And even a Chromebase all-in-one Chrome-based desktop? In any case, Chrome-based computers look pretty good for schools and libraries, especially if and when prices for the simplest members of the family get down to where Phil thinks they should be. (Alternate video link)
First time accepted submitter AllTheTinfoilHats (3612007) writes "A security flaw in Google Chrome allows any website you visit with the browser to listen in on nearby conversations. It doesn't allow sites to access your microphone's audio, but provides them with a transcript of the browser's speech-to-text transcriptions of anything in range. It was found by a programmer in Israel, who says Google issued a low-priority label to the bug when he reported it, until he wrote about it on his blog and the post started picking up steam on social media. The website has to keep you clicking for eight seconds to keep the microphone on, and Google says it has no timeline for a fix." However, as discoverer Guy Aharonovsky is quoted, "It seems like they started to look for a way to quickly mitigate this flaw."
An anonymous reader writes "Google today released Chrome version 34 for Windows, Mac, and Linux. The new version includes support for responsive images, an unprefixed version of the Web Audio API, and importing supervised users. You can update to the latest release now using the browser's built-in silent updater, or download it directly from google.com/chrome."
girlmad writes: "Google has scored a major win on the back of Microsoft's Windows XP support cut-off. The London Borough of Barking and Dagenham has begun moving all its employees over to Samsung Chromebooks and Chromeboxes ahead of the 8 April deadline. The council was previously running 3,500 Windows XP desktops and 800 XP laptops, and is currently in the process of retiring these in favour of around 2,000 Chromebooks and 300 Chromeboxes. It estimates the savings at around £400,000 compared to upgrading to newer Windows machines — no small change."
An anonymous reader writes "Google today announced Google Now is coming to the Chrome stable channel for Windows and Mac 'starting today and rolling out over the next few weeks.' This means Google Now notifications will finally be available to desktop and laptop Chrome users, in addition to Android and iOS users. To turn the feature on, all you need to do is sign in to Chrome with the same Google Account you're using for Google Now on mobile. If you use Google Now on multiple devices, you will need to manage your location settings for each device independently (change Location Reporting on Android and iOS)."
An anonymous reader writes "Following the release of Firefox 28 just two days ago, Mozilla today updated its Firefox Beta channel to version 29 for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android. This is a massive release: Firefox Sync has been revamped and is now powered by Firefox Accounts, there's a new customization mode, and the major user interface overhaul Australis has finally arrived. Release notes are here: Desktop and Android." Of interest to developers: Firefox 29 will feature the first implementation of CSS3 variables. Yes, variables for CSS (15 years later).
darthcamaro writes "Though IE, Chrome and Safari were all attacked and all were exploited, no single web browser was exploited at this year's Pwn2own hacking challenge as Mozilla Firefox. A fully patched version of Firefox was exploited four different times by attackers, each revealing new zero-day vulnerabilities in the open-source web browser. When asked why Mozilla was attacked so much this year, Sid Stamm, senior engineering manager of security and privacy said, 'Pwn2Own offers very large financial incentives to researchers to expose vulnerabilities, and that may have contributed in part to the researchers' decision to wait until now to share their work and help protect Firefox users.' The Pwn2own event paid researchers $50,000 for each Firefox vulnerability. Mozilla now pays researcher only $3,000 per vulnerability."
MojoKid writes "The Asus Chromebox is a tiny palm-sized machine similar in form and footprint to Intel's line of NUC (Next Unit of Computing) mini PCs. One of the higher-end Asus Chromebox variants coming to market employs Intel's 4th generation Haswell Core series processor architecture with Integrated HD 4400 graphics. The machine is packed with fair number of connectivity options including four USB 3.0 SuperSpeed ports, HDMI and DisplayPort output, a microSD Flash card slot, 802.11n dual-band WiFi, and Bluetooth 4.0. It also sports a 1.7GHz dual-core Core i3-4010U processor with Hyper-Threading for four logical processing threads and 4GB of DDR3 1600MHz memory. Finally, the onboard 16GB SSD storage might be appear a bit meager, but it's backed up by 100GB of Google Drive cloud storage for 2 years. In testing, the device proved to be capable in some quick and dirty browser-based benchmarks. For the class of device and use case that the Chromebox caters to, Google has covered most of what folks look for with the Chrome OS. There's basic office productivity apps, video and media streaming apps, and even a few games that you might care to fire up. The Asus Chromebox handles all of these usage types with ease and it's also barely audible while consuming only about 18 Watts under load."
sfcrazy writes "Google's Chromium team is working on an alternative of Gtk+ for the browser, called Aura. Elliot Glaysher, a Google developer explains, 'We aim to launch the Aura graphics stack on Linux in M35. Aura is a cross-platform graphics system, and the Aura frontend will replace the current GTK+ frontend.' The Free Software community is debating: is Google trying to do Canonical? Couldn't Google just switch to Qt, which is becoming an industry standard?"
Bennett Haselton writes with a bit of online detective work done with a little help from some (internet-distributed) friends: "A website that was temporarily inaccessible on my Comcast Internet connection (but accessible to my friends on other providers) led me to investigate further. Using a perl script, I found a sampling of websites that were inaccessible on Comcast (hostnames not resolving on DNS) but were working on other networks. Then I used Amazon Mechanical Turk to pay volunteers 25 cents apiece to check if they could access the website, and confirmed that (most) Comcast users were blocked from accessing it while users on other providers were not. The number of individual websites similarly inaccessible on Comcast could potentially be in the millions." Read on for the details.
An anonymous reader writes "Citing 'code we consider to be permanently "experimental" or "beta,"' Google Chrome engineers have no plans on enabling video acceleration in the Chrome/Chromium web browser. Code has been written but is permanently disabled by default because 'supporting GPU features on Linux is a nightmare' due to the reported sub-par quality of Linux GPU drivers and many different Linux distributions. Even coming up with a Linux GPU video acceleration white-list has been shot down over fear of the Linux video acceleration code causing stability issues and problems for Chrome developers. What have been your recent experiences with Linux GPU drivers?"
theodp writes "A conversation with an angry young developer prompts Microsoft Program Manager Scott Hanselman to blog about 'Microsoft Haters: The Next Generation.' 'The ones I find the most interesting,' says Hanselman, are the 'Microsoft killed my Pappy' people, angry with generational anger. My elders hated Microsoft so I hate them. Why? Because, you wronged me.' The U.S. and Japan managed to get over the whole World War II thing, Hanselman notes, so why can't people manage to get past the Microsoft antitrust thing, which was initiated in 1998 for actions in 1994? 'At some point you let go,' he suggests, 'and you start again with fresh eyes.' Despite the overall good-humored, why-can't-we-get-along tone of his post, Hanselman can't resist one dig that seems aimed at putting things into perspective for those who would still Slashdot like it's 1999: 'I wonder if I can swap out Chrome from Chrome OS or Mobile Safari in iOS.'"
An anonymous reader writes "On Friday, Chrome 33 was shipped out the everyone on the stable channel. Among other things, it removes the developer flag to disable the "Instant Extended API", which powers an updated New Tab page. The new New Tab page receieved a large amount of backlash from users, particularly due to strange behavior when Google wasn't set as the default search engine. It also moves the apps section to a separate page and puts the button to reopen recently closed tabs in the Chrome menu. With the option to disable this change removed, there has been tremendous backlash on Google Chrome's official forum. The official suggestion from Google as well as OMG! Chrome is to try some New Tab page changing extensions, such as Replace New Tab, Modern New Tab Page, or iChrome."
MojoKid writes "Asus stepped out this morning with something new for the Chrome OS powered hardware crowd, called a "Chromebox" small form factor PC. Just as Google has been evangelizing with its Chromebook notebook initiative, the pitch for these Chromebox systems is that they're capable of doing everything you need to do in today's connected world. While not everyone will totally agree with that marketing pitch — gaming, 3D modeling, and a host of specialized tasks are better suited for a PC with higher specs — there's certainly a market for these types of devices. They're low cost, fairly well equipped, and able to handle a wide variety of daily computing chores. There are two SKUs being released in the U.S. The first starts at $179 and sports an Intel Celeron 2955U processor, and the second features an Intel Core i3 4010U CPU (no mention of price just yet), both of which are based on Intel's 4th generation Haswell CPU architecture. Beyond the processor, these fan-less boxes come with two SO-DIMM memory slots with 2GB or 4GB of DDR3-1600 RAM, a 16GB SSD, a GbE LAN port, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, 2-in-1 memory card reader, four USB 3.0 ports, HDMI output, a DisplayPort, an audio jack, and a Kensington Lock. ASUS also includes a VESA mount kit with each Chromebox, and Google tosses in 100GB of Google Drive space free for two years."
darthcamaro writes "The annual Pwn2own hacking competition has always made short work of all browser vendors' security, shredding perception of safety by hacking IE, Firefox, Safari and Chrome in minutes. This year the competition is adding a twist — for IE on Windows 8.1, hackers will also have to bypass Microsoft EMET, which is a seemingly bulletproof type of sandbox. The competition is calling this the 'Unicorn Exploit' and the first researcher to successful exploit it will pocket $150,000."