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Firefox Friday Five: Mozilla Labs in overdrive and some lovely Firefox wallpapers

A happy, sweaty Friday to you all! This week we were meant to see the final release of 3.6.4, the minor release that 'crash proofs' Firefox. Instead, we have a release candidate -- the final release will probably come later in the month (along with the first beta of Firefox 4.0!)

Early testing from Mozilla suggests that 3.6.4's Crash Protection may significantly reduce crashes, so even if you are running a 3.7 beta version, make sure your friends and family grab 3.6.4 as soon as possible. My mother hates it when FarmVille crashes her entire browser.

All the while, Mozilla Labs has been working its ass off. Not only has Jetpack 0.4 been released, but there are also some very cool add-ons emerging that utilize it. On top of that we have a new design challenge (what if your browser had your complete contact list?) and a new experiment called 'sudosocial.me' that creates profile pages from OpenID.

Let's tuck in -- oh, and just after the break I have a furry Firefox anime/hentai wallpaper for you!

1. 64-bit Firefox is COMING!

Don't worry, you're not alone: no one at Download Squad really appreciates the significance of this little factoid either. All we know is that Mozilla has started to churn out 64-bit versions of Firefox. Yes, this means Firefox could now, in theory, manage more than 4GB of RAM and won't have to run in a compatibility layer... cool...

Anyway, almost no add-ons will work on 64-bit Firefox, and the only 'major' plug-in available is Java. There's actually an unofficial wiki for 64-bit versions of Firefox -- and until Mozilla says something officially about its 64-bit builds, the wiki's your best bet!

If you prefer official sources, you can grab a 64-bit version of Firefox for Windows, Linux or Mac from the nightly trunk.

And now for the scantily-clad anime Firefox...

2. How about some crazy, sexy, cool Firefox wallpapers for your desktop?

I would link you directly, but the site happens to be one of those 'cool' Web 2.0 sites that doesn't expose its URLs. So, visit http://wallbase.net/search and type in 'Firefox'. Feast your eyes upon a truly vast array of high-resolution, high-quality wallpapers!

A surprisingly large number of the results seem to include anime or hentai characters. I'd never have guessed that Firefox is the weeaboo (second definition) browser of choice... but you learn something new every day, eh?

My personal favourite (other than the hot, scantily-clad nubile animals) is this nebulartastic starscape -- beautiful, but the source isn't given! If you know the artist, let me know.

3. Jetpack SDK 0.4 released, creeping ever closer to public consumption

Another week, another point release! For developers there's a bunch of new high-level APIs, but for end-users there's a very exciting prospect indeed: restartless add-ons! (I think we need to come up with a new, sexier-sounding term for that.) Add-ons that have been created with Jetpack 0.4 can be installed in Firefox 3.7a5 without restarting!

Now, I don't think Jetpack will quite be ready for prime-time by the time Firefox 4.0 is released, but there'll definitely be some exciting add-ons for bleeding-edge enthusiasts to play with. Speaking of which...

4. MailPing shows off the power and slick appearance of Jetpack add-ons

I bet you want try out the restartless add-ons in Firefox 3.7, eh? Grab the latest 3.7/4.0 nightly build for Mac, Windows or Linux, and then install the MailPing add-on. Ignore the warning about it not being compatible -- and look! It's now installed and visible in the bottom left corner of your screen!

Only problem is... it doesn't seem to work, at least under 3.6.3 or 3.7a5. It's meant to show your unread email count at Yahoo or Google, but it doesn't. Still, it's interesting to see what the menu and add-on UI will look like in Firefox 4.0 -- MailPing uses Jetpack's Widget API, which will be probably be used by every add-on in the future.

5. Mozilla Labs continues to look at how Firefox can enhance our online relationships: Sudosocial.me, and an in-the-browser contact manager

I can almost picture Aza Raskin now: "ask not what you can do for your browser - ask what your browser can do for you!" Or perhaps a more succinctly, 'if you build it, he will come'. Either way, Mozilla Labs is really hammering away at the idea of online identities and what you can do with them.

Sudosocial.me is a logical extension of OpenID. It lets you create a profile page that's fully under your control -- essentially, it's just a hand-picked collation of RSS feeds from Flickr, Facebook, Twitter... or anything, really. You have the ability to set custom CSS and JavaScript, so your profile page's appearance can be as crazy or conservative as you wish. It's still early days, but it has potential! Watch the video on the Sudosocial Concept Series page and then give it a go yourself! It's actually being pitched as the 'QBasic of the iPad generation', which is an interesting -- and noble -- angle to take. Go Mozilla!

Now, the in-the-browser contact manager. Wouldn't it be cool if your browser kept track of your online connections? If you could send a link to a friend from inside the browser? The obvious advantage is that you never expose your contacts to other websites (it always makes me a bit anxious when I connect my Google or Facebook account to a random site). Again, there's a video introducing Contacts -- watch it. Then, if you feel like giving the experimental add-on a go, install it!

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Bonus feature: here's one more Firefox wallpaper that caught my eye. Have a nice weekend.
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Tags: 64-bit, add-on, anime, contacts manager, ContactsManager, firefox, jetpack, mozilla labs, MozillaLabs, nightly, openid, plug-in, sudosocial.me, wallpaper

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