Browse Month: September 2008

Chrome worries

I, like many others, have been playing around with the Chrome browser for a couple of days now and I feel there is one element of the browser that needs to be addressed to avoid possible future issues.

For those that haven't used the browser yet, there is a feature in Chrome that allows you to add shortcuts to your Desktop/start menu/quick launch bar. It's a nice way to add links to applications and favourite websites into your operating system desktop.

It all sound rather good and looks great when you click these shortcuts it pops up a Chrome browser window and displays your stored favourite. The only problem is the window that appears is stripped of all interface tools including the URL “omni” bar.

Not a problem you may think, but considering that continual phishing attempts occur on a frequent basis, is this shortcut a path to dangerous destinations?
The Chrome browse will highlight the main website of a url when used in full mode, but this feature isn't even visable if opened from a shortcut, plus there appears to be no way to force it to appear.

Now the shortcuts that are added are effectively only application shortcuts that open a browser window:

Example:
“chrome.exe” –app=http://www.mybank.com/

With increasingly more creative cyber-villains around at the moment, is there a chance that a nasty virus could alter this shortcut, pointing it at a lovely bank clone website?
Or even worse call home for a continually changing phishing website URL making them harder to track, block and blacklist.

To further add to the problem there is no indicator on these shortcut browser windows to show you are on a website that is encrypted!

The lack of a url (omni) bar and an encryption indicator means there is no way of telling if you are infact pointing at a real or fake website.

Hopefully these issues will be squashed as the Beta moves forward, but it's certainly one to ensure gets fixed.

Shiny Shiny Google Chrome

Well considering that most of the interweb was buzzing with talk of Google browser today I thought I would just on that bandwagon and throw in my 2 cents worth. Before I start there is one thing to consider when reviewing this software, it's still in Beta which means anything can change before it's released fully.

Downloading
After repeated attempts to get the browser from one location that appeared to be not starting the download. I finally obtained the correct location and download the setup program. The install and download took around 20 minutes to complete, which wasn't too bad considering that I didn't have Gears installed previously.
Importing
The browser prompted me with the option to import favourites/bookmarks, search engines, saved passwords and browsing history from Firefox, which it managed quite nicely and they all seem to be present.
Start up
For us more windows based users the first thing I really noticed was that the title bar is there but isn't. It took me a second or two before i remembered that the blue header area is the titlebar.
Settings
There aren't many options in the application, I sadly couldn't stop the 'speed dial' type page from loading when I open a new tab, which is kind of annoying.
Usability
There isn't functionlity in the Webkit to handle the Zoom functions correctly, so if you attempt it on a page containing images they don't scale with the text. This isn't a massive problem but considering that the lastest Firefox and IE browsers manage this now, i would have expected it to be included. But then this is only beta.
For web developers there is a built in code inspector, which has some nice features, additionally there is a javascript debugger for those annoying scripts. Combined with the rather nice looking Task manager and 'Nerd'options
For those that are into tabs, Chrome gives functionality that allows you to close tabs that have been opened from an existing tab, along with a duplicate tab option. Added into this menu are the options 'close all other tabs' and 'close tabs to the right', the functionality of which I really can't see the point of, for now at least.
Find on page is rather nice, it highlights all matching words, displays a count and allows you to next/previous to each one, altering the highlight on each as it goes.
The functionality I used frequently without noticing until a browse i'm using lacks them, are as follows:
  • Middle mouse button on tab to close it
  • I wish the “undo close tab” was available on the tab context (right-click) menu, sadly it's on the 'speed dial' page, similar to the new IE8 feature.
Well that about wraps up my review for now, I'll keep trying out the browser and see what else is added in the future.
Oh and I nearly forgot to say text-area boxes are expandable!

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