New Gadgets for Holidays 2005

>>A new version of the Firefox browser will be ready today, according to a media alert issued by the Mozilla Foundation, and reports on Yahoo News.  Firefox 1.5 will be available for free this afternoon, U.S. Pacific Standard Time, at www.getfirefox.com and www.mozilla.com, according to the open-source group.

New features in Firefox 1.5 include a better system for updating software, faster navigation using the “Back” and “Forward” tabs, and a redesigned Options/Preferences window that increases the number of category icons and moves them from the left side of the window to the top.

Firefox 1.5 also includes new support for Web standards, adding support for Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG), JavaScript 1.6 and new versions of CSS (Cascading Style Sheets). SVG is a language based on XML (Extensible Markup Language) for writing sophisticated two-dimensional graphics, and JavaScript 1.6 is the latest version of the scripting language. CSS is a W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) standard for adding style elements, such as fonts, colors and spacing, to Web documents.

>>Also from Yahoo, Apple has released Broadband Tuner v1.0, a utility that tweaks the system parameters of Macs with very high speed Internet connections — 5 Mbps or faster. Broadband Tuner changes the default values for the size of the TCP send and receive buffers used by Mac OS X, according to Apple. “With larger buffers more data can be in transit at once,” said Apple. “A startup configuration file is also updated so that these changes will persist across restarts.”

An optional uninstaller can be used to restore the system settings that were in effect before the parameters were changed. System requirements call for Mac OS X v10.4 or later.

>>Nokia announced an updated version of its 9300 series enterprise smartphone, the 9300i, which the company says will support wireless Internet access. The phone will be out in the first quarter of next year.

>>Speaking of phones, Texas Instruments today introduces a high-speed wireless chip for use by a wider set of mobile handset makers, especially in advanced Asian markets.

The chip is based on W-CDMA, a technology that can support features such as mobile video and Web and is gaining ground in Europe and parts of Asia.

The chip has a dual role of controlling wireless communication and driving multimedia functions such as still and video camera recording and video chat, resulting in substantial cost cuts for handset makers, TI said.

"This will allow the manufacturers to get 3G phones to market with the same bang but less buck," Yankee Group analyst John Jackson said.

--David Rosenbaum

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