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MapsGL adds incredible new features to your browser – try it now

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Major upgrade to Google Maps

Google MapsGL uses technology called WebGL (Web-based Graphics Library) to give Google maps a major upgrade, bringing 3D graphics to your browser without having to install additional software, as opposed to other Google Maps upgrades that have required desktop downloads. Google says the new service allows them to “provide seamless transitions between various levels of imagery and different map views.” The new transitions and ease of use are a massive improvement over the standard Google Maps experience.

Features include:

  • 3D buildings in Map view mode and 45° aerial imagery
  • Smooth transitions between zoom levels and seamless 45° aerial view rotations
  • ‘Swoop’ quickly from the map view to Street View imagery
  • With MapsGL, you’ll be able to experience all of this in your browser without a plug-in.

To get Google MapsGL on your computer, you’ll need to have either the Google Chrome browser (version 14 or newer) or the Mozilla Firefox browser (version 8 or newer). Google MapsGL works on the Mac OS Snow Leapard operating system (version 10.6 or newer) and Lion (version 10.7 or newer) as well as Windows Vista or Windows 7 and even Linux.

Google MapsGL are tricky in that they do require a modern video card which comes standard in newer computers but may not work on units older than 2009. Google says that “some low-end integrated GPUs (like the Intel GMA 3100 and 3150) are not compatible” and that “some users have reported having issues with the Intel HD 3000 video card.” MapsGL can be opted out of at any time if you experience any problems.

To get started using Google MapsGL, visit https://maps.google.com/gl and you will see the following image on the left side bar of your Google Maps page. If you do not see this image, your browser, operating system or video card may not be compatible.

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius - she has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

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Browsers

Facebook Messenger for Firefox launched, browsing gets social

Facebook Messenger for Firefox is now live, and users can interact with Facebook while visiting any website or page that can be browsed in Firefox, saving steps and truly integrating social into browsing.

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facebook messenger for firefox

Facebook Messenger for Firefox users

As a means of integrating social into Firefox users’ experience, Facebook Messenger has launched as part of the browser, built on a new Social API for the web, and because roughly 20 percent of all time spent online is on social networks, Firefox has sought to organically make that a part of their browser. Users need to update to the latest Firefox, then click “Turn On” on the Facebook Messenger for Firefox Page, and Facebook chat and updates pop up right in the sidebar of Firefox.

Here’s how it works:
[pl_video type=”youtube” id=”pSGoS8VkOFE”]

Marrying social with browsing

As shown in the video above, when the feature is enabled, you’ll get a social sidebar which includes Facebook updates and chat, and you can like new comments, tag photos, and get notifications for messages, friend requests and more, turning Firefox into a little Facebooking machine.

The company says the integration is the beginning of making the browser more social, adding that more support for other features and multiple providers is on the way.

“Mozilla is a non-profit organization with a mission to promote openness, innovation and opportunity on the Web,” the company said in a statement, “and we can’t wait to see what cool Web experiences developers will build on our Social API. We want to build a social standard for the Web to give developers more opportunities and users more choice, much like we did with our work on OpenSearch. Imagine using the Firefox sidebar, toolbar buttons and even an AwesomeBar button for news, music, finances, email, group projects and more.”

When users do not wish to be available, Facebook Messenger can be disabled altogether, or simply “hide” the sidebar which will put it away and stop notifications so you can focus.

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Browsers

Google chrome keeps getting faster and faster

When people get frustrated with the speed of their internet, they often blame their service provider, but the culprit could be an outdated web browser. Google Chrome continues to get faster and faster over time, while others appear to be degrading.

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google chrome

Not all browsers are created equal

How do you decide which browser to use? Do you use Internet Explorer because it’s what you’ve always used? How about Firefox? Do you use it because it’s potentially the most common and your contacts have recommended it? Or, do you use Chrome because it’s new and fresh? There are other browsers, but these are some of the main ones. The truth is that all browsers are not created equal. Which browser you choose ultimately depends on what you want out of it.

Let’s take a quick look at Chrome, namely its speed. According to the Google Chrome Blog, one of Chrome’s core principles is speed. As such, Google tests and improves Chrome’s speed regularly. And regularly for Google means every six weeks. They liken it to a car mechanic who comes to replace your engine every six weeks. However, it seems as though Chrome is simply enhanced every six weeks, not completely replaced.

google chrome speed

How Chrome is increasing its speed

One way that Chrome continues to increase speed is to diminish and severely lessen wait times, including waiting for the browser to start up and waiting for a dialog box to completely open and load. Chrome has also enabled tests to automatically detect when there is a code issue that slows or may slow it down, both in the long term and in the short term.

Chrome measures speed and overall performance through Octane scores, which “is a JavaScript benchmark [they] designed to measure performance of real-world applications on the modern web.” Compared to last year, Chrome reports seeing a 26% increase from last year’s score. And they promise to continue increasing the speed and maintaining and improving stability, as both are key to Chrome’s success.

When it comes to browsers, you definitely have options. But, if you want speed and precision, it looks like Chrome might be a great option. They’ve already made great progress and improvements, but the best part is that they promise to continue making progress. Just because they are fast today doesn’t mean they aren’t striving to be even faster tomorrow, making Chrome a great browser for both your professional and personal lives.

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Browsers

Privacyfix: browser extension shows who’s tracking you, what to do about it

Everyone knows that by the mere act of using the web, we are all leaking information like a sieve, but Privacyfix shows you where the leaks are and how to fix them.

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privacyfix web privacy tool

privacyfix web privacy tool

Do you really know who is tracking you online?

Online privacy. It’s a major issue that can be confusing, frustrating, and very violating. You already know that you can adjust your privacy settings on sites like Google, Twitter, and Facebook, but do you know which changes will affect which information on your account? The more concerning question is do you know which sites are tracking you and storing your information? Well, there’s a free solution – Privacyfix, a Chrome and Firefox extension.

In order to keep yourself and your private information protected and secure and still be able to use your favorite sites, it’s crucial that you understand every site’s privacy settings. Just a few tweaks here and there can fortify your browsing experience and give you peace of mind. The truth is, most of the sites you probably visit track you one way or another. Some want to see what you’re searching for and which sites you’re visiting and others will use targeted ads based on content in your sent and received emails. These sites make ample money off of your information, and it’s time to take back the control.

Privacyfix goes one step further

Privacyfix will show you what information is being tracked and which site is doing the tracking. But Privacyfix takes it one step further. It will actually provide you with a detailed list of which privacy settings you need to update to protect certain types of information. Privacyfix gives you the information you need to make the right privacy changes. These sites shouldn’t be given access and permission to track you by default. But, unfortunately, that’s how it usually works. You can put an immediate stop to it by simply using this free extension for either Firefox or Chrome.

Our modern times have shown us that some people are unworried and completely open to sharing every detail of their private lives with a world of strangers. And, let’s be honest; this is incredibly dangerous, no matter if you’re using it for personal or professional purposes. Information is king, but there should be some separation between your professional life and your home life with your loved ones. Too much of your information out in the open can lead to more trouble than it’s worth.

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