09 Nov

Mozilla Popcorn – Making video work like the web

Popcorn makes video work like the web. We create tools and programs to help developers and authors create interactive pages that supplement video and audio with rich web content, allowing your creations to live and grow online.

via Mozilla Popcorn – Making video work like the web. The video at the link makes it a little bit clearer. The concept is basically at points in the video you can load in data from the web about the video or what’s shown in the video from Twitter, Wikipedia, Google Maps and other stuff.

02 Nov

ExtremeTech – Mozilla puts Firefox on a memory diet

Firefox’s single largest consumer of RAM, its JavaScript engine SpiderMonkey, is going on the mother of all diets. At any one time, SpiderMonkey’s memory footprint can be over 50% of Firefox’s total usage — the JavaScript on the ExtremeTech homepage, for example, uses no less than 115MB of memory — and slipstreaming SpiderMonkey is by far the best change that Mozilla can make to keep Firefox on the desktop svelte and competitive with Chrome and IE, and Firefox on Android less sluggish.

If you’re not a programmer, you should probably skip this paragraph. Basically, almost every fundamental part of SpiderMonkey is being torn apart, turned over in the hands of Mozilla’s finest engineers, and rejigged to use less memory. JSObject is being cut in half, and thus JSFunction will also be slimmed down. Slots arrays will have the option of being 32-bit, rather than being forcibly being constructed of 64-bit “fatvals.” Shapes, one of SpiderMonkey’s most important data structures, are going to be almost halved in size. Mozilla is currently looking into whether scripts can be “lazily loaded,” too — as much as 70-80% of all downloaded JavaScript is never executed, and so it makes no sense to load it into memory; lazy loading, where scripts are loaded as-needed, would significantly reduce memory usage.

via ExtremeTech – Mozilla puts Firefox on a memory diet. I still use Firefox as my main browser but this is a needed improvement. Hopefully, Mozilla is successful with their improvement.

29 Sep

Computerworld – Chrome poised to take No. 2 browser spot from Firefox

Google’s Chrome is on the brink of replacing Firefox as the second-most-popular browser, according to one Web statistics firm.

Data provided by StatCounter, an Irish company that tracks browser usage using the free analytics tools it offers websites, shows that Chrome will pass Firefox to take the No. 2 spot behind Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE) no later than December.

As of Wednesday, Chrome’s global average user share for September was 23.6%, while Firefox’s stood at 26.8%. IE, meanwhile, was at 41.7%.

The climb of Chrome during 2011 has been astonishing: It has gained eight percentage point since January 2011, representing a 50% increase.

via Computerworld – Chrome poised to take No. 2 browser spot from Firefox. Can’t say I’m that shocked Google has been doing really awesome work with Chrome.

12 Sep

Read Write Web – How’s Mozilla Doing with Do Not Track? Not So Good

Get the picture? Don’t get me wrong – I love the idea behind DNT, but the implementation is wholly ineffective. So much so that Firefox ought to include a big warning in its privacy preferences lest users be lulled into a sense of complacency. Another suggestion for Mozilla and other browser vendors that support DNT? Include a big warning for Web sites that don’t honor DNT settings.

via Read Write Web – How’s Mozilla Doing with Do Not Track? Not So Good. Do Not Track, is a nice idea but not much more than that.

17 Jul

Identity at Mozilla – How BrowserID differs from OpenID

We launched Mozilla Labs’ online identity experiment, BrowserID, only 24 hours ago, and the feedback has been incredibly useful already. At Mozilla, we believe in empowering individuals to shape their online experience. Our work on a decentralized identity solution for the Web matches that mission well. Also, because we believe that transparent community-based processes promote participation, accountability, and trust, we will be posting technical explanations, points of debate, and roadmaps on this blog.

One important question we immediately received from early adopters is how BrowserID compares to OpenID. Both projects have three important common goals:

(a) make it easier and safer for users to log in to web sites by reducing the number of passwords they have to remember,

(b) make it easier for web sites to add authentication features, and

(c) accomplish all of this in existing modern browsers.

Beyond these similarities, we think Mozilla Labs’ BrowserID project provides a few key advantages over OpenID. Lloyd Hilaiel has written an excellent technical primer on BrowserID, which highlights our key design goals. These have led us to three key differences.

via Identity at Mozilla – How BrowserID differs from OpenID. Some really impressive work from the team at Mozilla, defiantly simpler to get started and using than OpenID and eliminates the which OpenID provider did I use for this site.

10 Mar

PhobosLab – The State of HTML5 Audio

When I started to work on my JavaScript Game Engine back in October 2009, the biggest problems I encountered were with the new HTML5 Audio Element. The Canvas Element already worked nicely in all browsers that supported it at the time, albeit some were a little slow.

Now, in 2011, the rendering performance for Canvas has been improved dramatically, audio however is still broken in large parts. I think it is time for a change in tone. Be warned, there’s some profanity ahead because HTML5 Audio is still that fucked up.

via PhobosLab – The State of HTML5 Audio. I especially enjoy the specific complaints directed at Apple and Microsoft for only supporting MP3.

02 Sep

ongoing – A Story of O

“You don’t get it. The central relationship between Oracle and its customers is a business relationship, between an Oracle business expert and a customer business leader. The issues that come up in their conversations are business issues.

“The concerns of developers are just not material at the level of that conversation; in fact, they’re apt to be dangerous distractions. ‘Developer mindshare’… what’s that, and why would Oracle care?”

via ongoing – A Story of O. Who needs to influence the developers implementing your solutions instead just use get the managers in charge to force a decision. Why make the people on the front lines of your product happy? Because it wins may more accolades and a greater push from the developer community for that solution and that changes the industry as a whole over time. Think of Google, Apple and Mozilla, even Microsoft on occasion. Overall Google and Mozilla win my by miles at winning the “hearts and minds” of developers and they are richly rewarded in-return.

29 Aug

Mozilla Labs – Sync in Firefox 4 Beta

Sync took a different tack, and started off with “what if we didn’t want the data? What if even having that data was a failure state?” That led us to cryptography. Sync uses strong crypto to encode your data before it is uploaded. The secret phrase is the key to this encryption, and we never send that anywhere to keep your data secure. This really means that Mozilla can’t see your data, giving you full control. (Which is great, because we really don’t want it!)

via Mozilla Labs – Sync in Firefox 4 Beta. I love systems that take this sort of approach to data, we don’t know it and we can’t know it.

21 Mar

Firefox vs. Chrome

PC World yesterday ran a piece on Chrome and Firefox, comparing the two and essentially Firefox was dead and Chrome was going to win the latest browser battle.

Run Chrome and Firefox side-by-side, and Firefox is embarrassingly slow. It’s not even in the same league. It’s an old man on the running track trying to compete against a sprightly 20-year-old.

I think Firefox has lost the plot.

Personally I think the latest release of both Chrome and Firefox are good and solid releases that build upon what both of the browsers do really well. Chrome has a focus on three main things, speed, security, and getting out of the way. Firefox on the other hand, reliability, speed and extensibility. While both are in my personal and unscientific testing fast, neither is so fast as to make a huge difference towards using one over the other.

Chrome has one limiting thing that keeps me from using it, a lack of extensions. Granted in the some of the latest developer editions, which I am running, there is now support for extensions. However these extensions limit something that I enjoy so much in Firefox, the extensions are currently limited to JavaScript files that are tacked onto each of the pages that you visit. While JavaScript can certainly do a lot of things inside of the browser and such, it can’t make Chrome look different, or interact outside of a particular browser window. That provides a limitation that Firefox extensions don’t have.

At the same time, to quote Dave Winer: “Firefox hasn’t shipped a feature that I care about in a long time.” Indeed what new feature did Firefox ship with lately that I cared about? Nothing, I still and will always recommend Firefox to people and to switch away from IE and even Safari (don’t get me wrong Safari is a good browser, I just don’t like some stuff that it does), but I’m not passionate about either Chrome or Firefox. Granted right when Chrome came out it was really, really fast, and a browser made by Google with Google Gears built in sign me up. Then Firefox released their new JavaScript engine and Chrome and Firefox essentially became the same speed and now, meh.

They are both good browsers, but both have become simply a part of something that I use for hours on end and essentially use to do pretty much everything I do, from my job, to my finances, to heck finding an apartment and buying insurance is done through the web. The only applications I have open in my normal day to day life is Firefox, Chrome, Postbox, iTunes, Pidgin and Twhirl. Notice everything is built for and revolves around the web ultimately in that set, except for iTunes, mainly because music over the web is still a poor experience compared to playing my music.

I want a browser that adheres to standards and is fast and reliable. Both Chrome and Firefox and even Safari provide that, what else does the average person need in a browser?

Someone go and rethink that question for a few months and then I might start caring again.

08 Sep

Firefox Code Base Analysis

Mozilla Firefox is an open-source web browser, that has gathered just over 11% of the internet browser market, an impressive movement for a browser that has to be physically downloaded onto a person’s computer and is not known outside of tech/geek circles. Few people install it themselves outside of these circles unless they know someone who has set up their computer and installed Firefox for them. (Side Note – I use Opera, another excellent open-source browser priopertary but free to use browser that has plenty of built in security features, one of the main reasons to switch to Firefox.)

An open-source program is a software program that is developed not by a commercial company such as Microsoft or Adobe or Apple, but rather is one that is developed, coded, and maintained by a community of users. All of these users develop the code, report on errors and work to fix the errors and constantly improve the program. Mozilla is a non-profit corporation, so it makes no profit from Firefox being used, and the majority of the developers are people outside of the company. This does several things generally to open-source programs, one is that it makes them quicker to respond to changes in the market, as the people who write the code are already at the forefront of any technology waves, they quickly make sure that the browser is compatible for all new technologies. Also it generally provides a more secure and resilient program, which seems like backwards logic – Wouldn’t a program whose source code is viewable actually be more open to attack.

In fact, in theory and in practice that the opposite is actually true. This based on a fundamental idea behind many Web 2.0 apps and the open-source movement and to some extent democracy – the wisdom of the crowds. This theory says that when you get a ton of people all looking at the same thing and all examining it the bad stuff, whatever it may be from a bad code to a bad news article in the case of Digg, is removed. Think about it, how many times have you just needed one other person to check over your work to be see what you are doing, writers do it, engineers do it, accountants do it, everybody does it. Now imagine that you have at least a dozen (on the smallest open-source projects) to several hundred (on the largest open-source projects) examining what you put into the program. All of sudden, all those careless mistakes that you make are eliminated, because not is it you and maybe one or two other people checking your work but instead tons of people are checking your work for you as you check their work. This is the inherent power of the open source movement.

However as we have found far too often no system is perfect, and Firefox is also prone to errors in it’s source code. G2zero.com examined the source code of the Firefox browser and found that there were 655 defects and 71 potential security vulnerabilities in the source code. Now that may seem like a lot to those of you who do not code programs, but for a program of this scale and magnitude that is a great number. No program will ever get rid of errors or security issues, think about even Mac OSX which routinely touts the operating system’s inherent security. Apple releases patches and security bulletins for OSX too, the same as Microsoft issues patches for Windows every 2nd Tuesday of the month, what is known as Security Tuesday.

The question here is whether or not automatic software tools that examine code and look for errors are worth deploying. There are a great many who say, yes, because it helps you to find the errors and a computer won’t skip over things that a human would ignore. Whereas another great many say, no because a computer sees things that just don’t matter a human knows the code and knows whether or not an error actually matters in the code or can just be ignored. I have to take the middle road on this, you should test and error proof the code yourself, a computer program can give you a place to start but it does not understand the whole code the same way a human does. The best thing is to do unit tests on your code and determine that the code works even when given invalid data. A security hole will always exist, an error can always be found, but does the program work reliably and efficiently is possibly the better question to ask. The general public doesn’t care how many security holes a program has, they just want it to work. This is not to say they programmers should leave their code open to attack, rather the emphasis should be on producing quality code that in the words of Apple “just works”. When quality code is produced that “just works” the security comes hand in hand.

Edit – Sept. 16, 2006 10:22 pm, Fixed a mistake in my posting regarding the nature of the Opera web browser.