Chrome 21 Debuts with New Video and Audio API, 26 Bug Fixes

Google on Tuesday released version 21 of its popular Chrome browser, complete with several new features and a raft of security fixes.

chrome
Perhaps most notable among the browser's new features is an API for high-quality video and audio communication.

Known as the getUserMedia API, the new technology “lets you grant Web apps access to your camera and microphone without a plug-in,” explained Shijing Xian, a Google software engineer, in a Tuesday post on the Google Chrome Blog.

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Firefox Add-Ons: More Than 3 Billion Downloaded So Far

It's no secret that Firefox add-ons are a big part of the browser's enduring popularity, but this week Mozilla unveiled some new data underscoring just how widely used they really are.

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In fact, this week saw downloads of Firefox add-ons cross the 3 billion mark, according to a Thursday post on the Mozilla Blog.

“That’s almost half of the world’s population and more than the number of people on the Internet today,” wrote Mozilla's Erica Jostedt. “This amazing milestone was made possible by the hundreds of millions of Firefox users and more than 25,000 Firefox add-ons developers around the globe.”

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Women in IT: 'The System Is Broken,' Author Warns

As the first American woman to enter space, astronaut Sally Ride was nothing if not an inspiration to girls and women around the globe. Her death this week has provoked not just a deep sadness that she's gone, but also considerable reflection on the challenges and opportunities facing women in science and technology today, some 30 years after her first mission.

women in IT
I had a chance recently to speak with Karen Purcell, author of the forthcoming book Unlocking Your Brilliance: Smart Strategies for Women to Thrive in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, about some of the challenges facing women in these fields.

Purcell's book is due out on Aug. 1. As a professional engineer and founder of award-winning engineering firm PK Electrical, she has both professional and personal insight on the topic.

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Too Busy for that Software Update? Survey Says: Join the Club

There may be no time like the present for getting important jobs done, but when it comes to software updates, that's not exactly the rule most people live by.

software update
“No time like the future” may be a more apt description, in fact, according to a recent survey conducted for Skype, Symantec, and TomTom as part of the International Technology Upgrade Week (ITUW) initiative launched by the three companies on Monday.

A full 40 percent of adults don't always update software on their computers when initially prompted to do so, the survey found. More than half said they typically need to see an update prompt between two and five times before downloading and installing the new software.

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DocSync Tackles Document Scatter

Let's see, where's that Word document, PDF, spreadsheet or PowerPoint preso? Did you leave it on Google Drive? Save it to DropBox? Maybe it's somewhere on your computer or iPad?

The proliferation of cloud services and mobile devices gives you lots of options for storing and sharing documents, but keeping track of them can be difficult. For iPad users, DocSync offers a remedy: An app that lets you browse, search for and organize files in popular business formats regardless of whether they are on your computer, the iPad, or a couple of leading cloud services. But what you can do with the files is somewhat limited.

I tried out version 1.2, which supports DropBox and Google Docs. You simply set up a DocSync account and authorize the app to access your DropBox and Google Docs account to get going. To also view documents on a Mac or PC, you must first download and install the DocSync VM software, specify the document folder you'll want to access remotely, and log in using the credentials you created on the iPad. By default, the software will run in the background, and you'll be able to access documents as long as the computer is online. DocSync VM also tracks your document upload history.

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Prezi: The 3D Alternative to PowerPoint

A Prezi 3D presentation is a single very large image with small elements you move around and zoom in and out of.
Prezi is having the biggest impact on business presentation tools since Microsoft’s PowerPoint took us from transparencies to computer monitors. The three-year-old company made a splash in 2009 with its Prezi software, and now the company has introduced a new version of its cloud-based software that has an even cooler feature set.

Prezi’s original claim to fame was the way in which it allowed a presenter to pan and zoom around a contiguous presentation, versus the serial one-slide-at-a-time productions that conventional programs such a PowerPoint allow. The latest version of Prezi adds two new features: 3D backgrounds and fade-in animations.

In a Prezi presentation such as this, you'll first see only the area inside the green circle. Click in that area, and the slide will zoom out reveal the entire scene.
When you use a 3D background for your presentation, Prezi creates a parallax motion for the image. Now when you pan around and zoom into the presentation, the background image adjusts accordingly, as though your text and other presentation elements were floating inside the background. With fade-in animations, you can reveal elements in your presentation slowly by having them fade into the frame, instead of showing the frame with all the elements already in it.

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Download Firefox 14.0.1 for Extra Browsing Security

Six weeks to the day after the release of Firefox 13, Mozilla on Tuesday unleashed the next iteration of its popular browser.

firefox
Rather than Firefox 14, however, it's actually Firefox 14.0.1 that was released yesterday--named that way apparently to avoid the confusion that might otherwise arise from the fact that Firefox 14 for Android was launched a few weeks ago.

So, on Tuesday version 14.0.1 of both Firefox and Firefox for Android was released, synchronizing once again the two versions of the open source browser.

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