Vivaldi introduces Tracking blocker functionality in latest build

Vivaldi Technologies released a new snapshot of the next version of the web browser to the public today. Builds or snapshots are created regularly by the company to test new features and provide interested users with options to test these before they make their way into the stable version of the browser.

Most snapshots are unspectacular when it comes to new functionality but the latest release is an exception to that. Vivaldi introduced Tracking blocker functionality in the browser. Powered by a list maintained by search engine DuckDuckGo, the Vivaldi browser is capable of blocking trackers without installation of an extension that integrates the functionality.

The list that Vivaldi uses is the same that DuckDuckGo uses in its Privacy Essentials browser extensions. It blocks “most of the known trackers out there and should not break websites” according to Vivaldi.

The initial version is disabled by default. Vivaldi takes the cautious approach and wants to test the functionality before enabling functionality that could impact functionality on some sites. Interested users that use Vivaldi may enable full blocking however or block content on select sites.

vivaldi tracking blocker

The tracking blocker options are available in the Settings. Select Menu > Settings > Privacy and scroll down to the Content Blocker section to manage the blocking functionality. If you want Vivaldi to use the full DuckDuckGo blocking list, switch the Tracking Blocker setting from “Block Trackers on ‘Always Block’ List Only to “Block Trackers on All Sites”.

You may also add sites to the “never block” and “always block” listing right there.

Vivaldi supports a second option that is accessible when you are on a site. A click on the shield icon to the left of the site URL displays an option to block trackers on that particular site. Just toggle the option to block trackers on that site from that moment on. The site is reloaded automatically when you change the state.

vivaldi block trackers

Note that this means that you are exposed to the trackers loaded on the site as these will get loaded by default if you don’t configure Vivaldi to block all trackers on all sites.

The toggle works as a whitelist if you have configured Vivaldi to block all trackers.

Closing Words

Vivaldi Technologies uses the same method that Mozilla implemented in the organization’s Firefox browser some time ago. Instead of implementing native ad-blocking, like Opera does, blocking is limited to known trackers to limit tracking.

Now You: Do you think that tracker blocking is a viable option?

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How to install Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) in the new Microsoft Edge

Microsoft’s new Chromium-based web browser Microsoft Edge supports progressive web apps (PWAs) that users can install in the browser.

A Progressive Web Application more or less offers features of native applications and web applications. The apps are designed to work on any platform provided that these platforms or programs that run on these platform support PWAs.

Progressive Web Applications may support a number of extra features such as offline capabilities or better performance when compared to standard web services.

Whenever the new Microsoft Edge detects the availability of a Progressive Web Application, it displays an install icon in the browser’s address bar next to the favorites icon.

microsoft edge-progressive web applications install

If you visit the Twitter website, you will get the install icon and may activate it to install the Twitter PWA on the system. Just click on the install icon to display the installation prompt.

Options to install the application or to cancel the operation are provided.

install app

Another option to install a PWA is to click on Menu > Apps > Install this site as an application. Doing so displays a slightly different prompt to install the application or cancel the process.

install site as app

Installation of a Progressive Web Application is usually very fast. The new Progressive Web Application is launched in its own window after installation; ready for use.

One of the core features of PWAs is that they run in their own windows and not as a tab in the browser (even if you only have one tab open it is still loaded in a tab in a browser window).

twitter pwa

PRogressive Web Applications come without browser chrome. While they do have a titlebar, they lack other interface elements such as tabs, an address bar, or other controls such as bookmarks.

They do have a simple menu attached to the window controls that you may activate to control some functionality; among the options are to open the site in the browser and to uninstall the application.

progressive web app uninstall

Options to print, search, zoom, copy the URL, and cast are also available. Progressive Web Applications are added to the list of installed programs on the operating system just like any other program that is installed natively on the system.

How to launch the apps?

launch pwa

Multiple options are available to launch installed Progressive Web Applications. You find the installed listed on the “manage apps” page of the Edge browser that you may load using the edge://apps/ URL. Edge lists them under Menu > Apps as well so that you may launch these directly from there.

Last but not least, any installed PWA is also added to the operating system’s Start menu from where they may be launched just like any other program.

How to uninstall PWAs?

remove pwa

Uninstallation is straightforward. You may open the edge://apps/ page and click on the x-icon next to any installed application to remove it from the system.

Edge displays a verification prompt; select remove to uninstall the application. You may check the “also clear data from Microsoft Edge” option to clear data associated with the PWA.

PWAs may also be uninstalled from the operating system’s Settings application or application management interface.

Now You: What is your take on Progressive Web Apps?

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The Microsoft Edge extension store is finally getting some traction

microsoft edge add-ons

Microsoft released the new Chromium-based web browser on January 15, 2020 officially. With the new browser came a new add-ons store for it that Microsoft launched as a beta. While still in beta, it appears that the new store is much more successful than the old as the extension count crossed the 1000 mark recently while the old store never managed to come even close to that number.

Microsoft launched the new Microsoft Edge Addons store with about 100 extensions. Now, with the Chromium-based Microsoft Edge browser available for about 2 months as a stable version, that number increased to well over 1000 extensions.

Note: Microsoft lists wallpaper add-ons for the new tab page of the browser among extensions. These make up a sizable number.

microsoft edge add-ons

The increase in extensions should not come as a surprise considering that the new Edge browser is based on Chromium which means that porting extensions is a simple process. Edge had only a few unique extensions when Microsoft launched the Store and the situation has not changed much.

Microsoft maintains a handful of exclusive extensions and there is a handful (or two) non-Microsoft extensions as well that are exclusive at the time of writing. The vast majority of extensions however are cross-browser extensions such as uBlock Origin, Reddit Enhancement Suite, Adblock Plus, Evernote Web Clipper, Dashlane Password Manager, or Norton Safe Web.

Microsoft integrated functionality to install Chrome extensions into Edge. Google added a notification to the company’s Chrome Web Store that informs Edge users that it is more secure to use Chrome with the hosted extensions. Google’s store hosts a multitude more add-ons than Microsoft’s store.

If you compare both stores, you may notice a few differences. The Microsoft Edge Addons store lacks user reviews and comments, ratings, or the list of related extensions. Compared to Mozilla’s Firefox add-ons Store, both stores are lacking. Firefox users get the list of permissions, developer information, release notes, and other information on top of everything that the Chrome Web Store has to offer.

Closing Words

It is clear that the Chromium-based Microsoft Edge browser is doing better than the classic version. The rise of add-ons for the browser is just one indicator of that. Microsoft plans to push it via Windows Update in the coming months to recent versions of Windows 10 which should give it another boot when it comes to the number of users.

Now You: What is your take on the new Edge browser (Via Techdows)

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Microsoft improves Easter Egg Surf game in new Microsoft Edge browser

Did you know that Microsoft’s new Chromium-based Microsoft Edge browser has an Easter Egg? If you follow certain instructions to the letter, you will unlock a Surf game that is integrated in the browser.

The game is only available in Development and Canary versions of Microsoft Edge. As is the case for most Easter Eggs, it requires that you perform a number of actions in sequence before it becomes available.

Microsoft Edge Surf game

Here is how you enable the Surf game in Microsoft Edge (Chromium):

  1. Open any website in the browser.
  2. Click on the Collections button and select “Start new Collection”. Name it Microsoft Edge.
  3. Now add the active site to the Collection. Right-click on it and change the name to S.
  4. Repeat step 3 three times and rename the sites to U, then R, then F to end up with four sites in the collection spelling out SURF.
  5. For the last step, drag the F site and drop it after U so that you get SUFR. Once done, drag back the F to the last position so that SURF is again spelled correctly.
  6. Restart Microsoft Edge.

If you have done that correctly, a new entry should have been added to the Collection. This is the SURF game that you may launch with a click on the item. You may also load edge://surf to start the game right away.

edge surf game

Once you are in, you may use the left and right arrow keys and the Enter-key for selection to pick a surfer. Before you do that, you may want to open the menu of the game as it provides you with options to switch the game mode from the default “let’s surf” to time trial or zig zag, and to enable “high visibility mode” and “reduced speed mode”.

There is also a handy how to play link and an option to start a new game. You control the surfer with the left and right arrow keys and avoid most of the obstacles the game places randomly on the screen.

surf game

The default mode is an endless runner-like game mode in which you try to come as far as possible. You have three hearts and energy to start with; it is game over when your hearts reach zero.

Closing Words

Surf is a rather simplistic game that Microsoft added to its new browser. While you may have a bit of fun playing it, it is similar to other built-in browser games in that it is too simplistic to be entertaining for longer.

Why did Microsoft add the Surf game to Edge? The company does not tell but the most likely explanation is to create buzz.

Now You: What is your take on Easter Eggs in browsers?

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Brave gets option to restore webpages that are broken or deleted

Webpages come and go; sometimes, it is a temporary thing that prevents you from accessing a webpage, at other times, it may be because a page has been deleted, redirected, or edited.

It is quite frustrating to follow a link only to find out that the resource is no longer available at all or has changed in the meantime; this happens to text-only pages but also file downloads, image galleries, and any other type of content.

Tip: find out why you cannot access a site or service.

One of the better options that users have in the case of deleted or changed resources is to check the Wayback Machine for cached copies. Extensions like Wayback Machine for Google Chrome or the 2010 Firefox extension WaybackFox (no longer available) aim to improve the process through automatic lookups. Some browser developers have tested integration of the functionality in their browsers. Mozilla ran a Test Pilot experiment in 2016 called No More 404s which provided a quick link to the Wayback Machine to search for archived copies. The feature never made it into the Firefox browser though.

Brave Browser, a Chromium-based browser that a researcher found to be the most private out-of-the-box browser recently. has now integrated such a feature natively.

The browser displays a prompt at the top when certain page errors such as 404 not found are detected. Wayne over at Betanews notes that the errors 404, 408, 410, 451, 500, 502, 503, 504, 509, 520, 521, 523, 524, 525, and 526 are covered by Brave. Check out HTTP Status Codes to look these up.

The message “Sorry, that page is missing. Do you want to check if a saved version is available on the Wayback Machine?” provides users with an option to check for copies on the Wayback Machine website.

brave page not found restore

A click on the “check for saved version” returns whether a cached copy was found. Brave either loads the cached copy right away if it has been found or returns that no cached copy was found without loading anything.

The Wayback Machine has archived over 900 Billion URLs over the years and there is a good chance that it has a copy in its archive if the page was at least somewhat popular in the past.

Closing Words

The Wayback Machine is an excellent resource to restore downloads from sites that are no longer available. I used it numerous times in the past to download a program that was nowhere available anymore on the Internet.

Native integration in the Brave browser improves usability when a user encounters dead webpages.

Now You: Do you make use the Wayback Machine?

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