A few Slimjet users has expressed concerns over the privacy issue when the voice search based on hot word detection is enabled in Chrome. Such issue doesn’t affect Slimjet.
A few Slimjet users has expressed concerns over the privacy issue when the voice search based on hot word detection is enabled in Chrome. They would like to know if such issue applies to Slimjet as well. We will explain what is going on with the voice search feature, what we think of it and how it affects Slimjet.
When the voice search feature is enabled in Chrome, it lets user activate voice search by speaking the hot word “Ok, Google”. The voice search is only enabled in the New Tab page and when you are visiting google.com website. To achieve this goal, the browser would have to constantly monitor what the user is saying in order to detect the hot word. Because Google’s voice recognition engine is cloud-based, that means whatever you say will be transmitted to Google’s server for analysis even if you are not really using the voice search feature. That does get a little creepy in my opinion. Users might not even be aware of the fact their entire speech is constantly being transferred to Google’s server when they have a new tab page or Google.com page open in their Chrome browser. We can’t be 100% sure what Google does exactly about those speech data, or if the government will want to tap those data to monitor the general public in some day.
If you are using the Nexus 5 phone, the hot word detection is enabled by default. But it clearly makes more sense in a mobile phone where voice search is much more convenient than clicking on the tiny keyword with your index finger. And it is only enabled when the home screen is visible. Therefore, its impact is much more limited. On a desktop computer, voice-search is not really a better way to input the keywords compared with your regular keyboard, considering the fact that voice recognition is still far from perfect nowadays. We believe it makes more sense to leave voice search as a manually activated feature with a mouse click.
In Slimjet, there is currently no support of hot word detection. You can only activate voice search in the New Tab page by clicking on the blue microphone icon at the right end of the search box as shown below,
Therefore, in Slimjet, your speech won’t be transferred to Google’s voice recognition server unless you have manually activated voice search.
If you have any more concerns, please feel free to comment. The Slimjet team here is always committed to maximizing the privacy protection for our users.
Side bookmarks bar is added in Slimjet 18.104.22.168 so that users can have more bookmarks visible at the same time for one-click access.
We have added support to show the bookmarks bar on the side of the web browser window in Slimjet 22.214.171.124. To activate the side bookmarks bar, select “Bookmarks->Show bookmarks bar->Show on side” from the main menu. You can also access it from the context menu when you right click on the bookmarks bar.
Here is a screenshot of it:
You might ask why we are adding this feature since we already have the tree-based side bookmarks panel. Well, we think the tree-based side bookmark panel is not convenient enough. If you want to access the bookmarks within a subfolder, you need click the + sign on the left side of the folder to expand it first. In comparison, the side bookmarks bar acts just like the top bookmarks bar, using the same popup menu to access bookmarks within folders and subfolders. You only have to move the mouse to navigate into subfolders without any additional clicking. Compared with the top bookmarks bar, the side bookmarks bar can show about twice as many bookmarks at the same time, making them available within one-click access.
There are people who might argue that the side bookmarks bar take more space from your screen. The truth is, nowadays most monitors have wide 16:9 ratio. When you view a web page, you usually have more than enough screen width you can use. On the height side, every little space is more precious. Therefore, it actually makes more sense for most people to use a vertical bookmarks bar on the side than a horizontal bookmarks bar on the top. However, we do understand the power of tradition and habits. We still keep the top bookmarks bar as the default layout and leave side bookmarks as an option for advanced users who want to have more bookmarks within one-click access.
There are a lot users who also requested for the top bookmarks bar to support multiple row so that it can show more bookmarks. We say side bookmarks bar is a better solution to the problem.
Feel free to share your comments.
In Slimjet, you can easily disable WebRTC to prevent leakage of your IP address which is a problem in any other WebRTC-enabled browsers.
Security issue caused by the WebRTC feature
In addition to that, the WebRTC Media Device Enumeration API also enables the website owner to obtain a unique media device id from the user, which can be used to uniquely identify the visitor.
While Firefox provides an option to turn off the WebRTC feature, there is no such option available in Chrome, which isn’t completely surprising considering the fact that Chrome isn’t known fore being generous with options. There are people who mention this block WebRTC plugin. But in reality, this plugin can be easily bypassed and fails to work in all cases.
How to disable WebRTC in Slimjet
To address this security issue, we have provided a built-in option in Slimjet to easily disable WebRTC. If you have never used Slimjet before, Slimjet is based on the Chromium project while offers many more features and options to boost productivity and customizability. To disable WebRTC in Slimjet, select Settings from the menu, locate the option “Enable WebRTC” under the Security section as shown below,
After uncheck the optoin “Enable WebRTC”, you will need close and reopen the tab for the setting to take effect.
How to verify the IP leackage issue is fixed
Here are three websites which can let you detect if your browser is liable to the IP leakage issue caused by WebRTC:
In Slimjet, users are given the option to disable reading from HTML canvas which will prevent any attempts to track users via canvas fingerprinting.
What is canvas fingerprinting?
Canvas fingerprinting is one of a number of browser fingerprinting techniques of tracking online users that allow websites to uniquely identify and track visitors using HTML5 canvas element instead of browser cookies or other similar means.
Canvas fingerprinting works by exploiting the HTML5 canvas element. When a user visits a website with canvas fingerprinting, their browser is instructed to “draw” a hidden line of text or 3D graphic that is then converted to a digital token. Variations in which GPU is installed or the graphics driver cause the variations in the rendered digital token. The token can be stored and shared with advertising partners to identify users when they visit affiliated websites. A profile can be created from the user’s browsing activity allowing advertisers to target advertising to the user’s inferred demographics and preferences.
How to prevent canvas fingerprinting in Slimjet or Chrome
Since canvas fingerprinting relies on reading data from the canvas element, we can effectively prevent any canvas fingerprinting by disabling such data reading. Fortunately, Chrome provides a hidden switch “–disable-reading-from-canvas“ for this purpose. But hey, who wants to type a long command line switch just to flip an option?
To make things more convenient for users, we have added an option in Slimjet to easily prevent /stop any canvas fingerprinting attempt. Just select ”Settings” from the menu and scroll down to the “Security” section. Then, turn on the option “Disable reading from HTML5 canvas” as shown in the following screenshot:
After that, you need reload all existing tabs from the settings to take effect.
Slimjet includes two features, “Capture screenshot of selected area” and “Upload clipboard image” which can let you quickly shared a screenshot on Facebook.
Slimjet includes two features which, when combined, can let you quickly shared a screenshot on Facebook or other web sites. The first feature is “Capture screenshot of selected area” of the web page. The second feature is “Upload Clipboard Image“.
Let’s say you are viewing a web page which has some interesting content that you want to share. Sharing a link sometimes won’t cut it since some of the link might not be publicly accessible. So let’s capture a screenshot of it by selecting “Capture Screenshot of Selected Area” from the main menu. The captured screenshot will be copied into clipboard. After that, go to your facebook home page, click the link “Upload Photo/Video” to bring up the open file dialog. At the bottom of the dialog, you should see a button “Upload Clipboard Image”. Click that button and the image stored in the clipboard will be automatically uploaded to facebook.
If you do it in other browsers, you would have to manually save the screenshot image to a file first and upload the file manually.
Did you know Slimjet supports a bookmarks side panel/bar that is not available in Chrome and most other Chromium-based browsers?
Select Bookmarks->Show bookmarks side panel from the main menu to show the bookmarks side panel as shown below,
The advantage of a side panel is that it should show many more bookmarks that the horizontal bookmark bar. Many people has asked for a multiple-row bookmarks bar in order to have quick access to more bookmarks. The side panel is a great alternative way to solve the problem. You can show about 50 bookmarks/folders if you have a monitor with a vertical resolution of 1200. Nowadays, most monitors have more enough width that typically needed for most web pages. So, it actually makes more sense to let the bookmarks side panel to fill up the extra width than let the previous vertical space taken away by the horizontal bookmarks bar.
Slimjet 64-bit experimental build is now available for download.
Regular installer: http://www.slimjet.com/release/sjtsetup_x64.exe
Portable version: http://www.slimjet.com/release/sjt7z_x64.exe
Chrome also introduced both 32-bit and 64-bit since V37. However, if you install the 64-bit version, it will directly overwrite the 32-bit version. You can’t have both version installed. For people who want to keep 32-bit and 64-bit version side by side, that’s inconvenient and awkward.
We have made tweaks in the Slimjet project so that the 32-bit and 64-bit version can sit side by side on the same system. They share the same profile folder unless you are using the portable version.
According to the Chromium blog, the 64-bit version of the Chromium has the following three major advantages:
- Speed: 64-bit allows us to take advantage of the latest processor and compiler optimizations, a more modern instruction set, and a calling convention that allows more function parameters to be passed quickly by registers. As a result, speed is improved, especially in graphics and multimedia content, where we see an average 25% improvement in performance.
- Security: With Chrome able to take advantage of the latest OS features such as High Entropy ASLR on Windows 8, security is improved on 64-bit platforms as well. Those extra bits also help us better defend against exploitation techniques such as JIT spraying, and improve the effectiveness of our existing security defense features like heap partitioning.
- Stability: Finally, we’ve observed a marked increase in stability for 64-bit Chrome over 32-bit Chrome. In particular, crash rates for the the renderer process (i.e. web content process) are almost half that of 32-bit Chrome.
However, we doubt any average user is able to feel significant performance improvement during daily browsing activities. And it’s also worthwhile to mention the catches with 64-bit version
- It won’t be compatible with 32-bit plugins. If you often visit sites with 32-bit NPAPI plugins, we’d advise you to stay with the 32-bit version for now.
- 64-bit version uses more memory due to its wide word width.
The 64-bit version hasn’t gone through extensive testing yet. Be prepared for bugs and issues. If you find any problems, please report to us via the online feedback menu under Help center.
Slimjet 1.2.0 (based on Chromium 37) has officially introduced the feature of using DirectWrite to render the text in the web pages. The option is enabled by default.
DirectWrite uses sub-pixeling positioning and anti-aliasing. It does make the strokes of the text look smooth and more natural. But on the other hand, it makes the text look a little blurry, just like the text you see in a PDF file. Not everyone likes the smoothing effect. There are plenty of people who always like to see clear pixels with sharp boundaries. If you are one of those people, you can easily turn off DirectWrite by typing slimjet://flags in the omnibox and turning on the option “Disable DirectWrite“.
Feel free to reply to this post and let us know if you like DirectWrite or not.
Support for automatic memory optimization is added in Slimjet 1.2.0. The option “Automatically optimize memory usage” is located in the misc section of the settings page. The option is on by default and the default optimization period is set to 10 minutes. This can help minimize the memory usage of Slimjet. Theoretically speaking, this memory saving comes at the price of some performance degradation. However, based on our testing result, we can’t barely notice any slowdown at the default setting. And it can save the memory usage by 30% on an average system.
You might further reduce the period or even set to the zero to do more aggressive memory optimization. However, that might increase the chance of performance degradation depending on your system configuration. If you experience significant slowdown after enabling this option or reducing the optimization period, consider increasing the period or disable this setting completely.
Chrome introduced the feature of desktop notification center around m35. While it might be useful for some users, it is not really useful for most of us, at least not useful enough to take an icon’s position from the premium real-estate on the system tray. What makes it even more annoying is that it is very hard to be completely disabled. Chrome added an icon in the system tray already to allow Chrome to run it background. Why not let users manage the notifications from the existing icon, instead of adding another one? This feature does feel like another aggressive-yet-doomed-to-fail attempt to push the Google+ social networking service into people’s life.
Disable desktop notifications in Chrome is a confusing task for most people. There used to be a simple switch in Chrome://settings you can flip to turn it off. But somehow the Google developers decided to take it away in the latest version, obviously for some business reasons not exactly aligned with user’s interests.
We have made it VERY easy for Slimjet users to fully disable the desktop notifications. Whenever you see the white (or grey) bell icon showing up in the system tray area, right click on it and select “Disable desktop notification” from the context menu. After that, the icon is removed and no more notification popups will come out again.
If you somehow miss the desktop notification again after disabling it, go to chrome://settings and scroll down to the Privacy section. Turn on the option “Enable desktop notifications”.