Last week you had the chance to ask ESR about books, guns, and open source software. Below you'll find his answers to those questions.
Check out SlashCloud for the latest in cloud computing.
mattydread23 writes with an opinion piece naming a few reasons Firefox OS is likely to succeed "It's geared toward low-powered hardware in a way that Google doesn't care as much about with Android, it's cheap enough for the pre-paid phones that are much more common than post-paid in developing countries, and most important, there are still 3.5 billion people in the world who have feature phones and for whom this will be an amazing upgrade." I'd push greater commitment to keeping the essential components of the system under FOSS licenses onto the head of that list.
jlp2097 writes "As reported by Heise, Mozilla has introduced a new JPEG encoder (German [Google-translated to English]) called mozjpeg. Mozjpeg promises to be a 'production-quality JPEG encoder that improves compression while maintaining compatibility with the vast majority of deployed decoders.' The Mozilla Research blog states that Mozjpeg is based on libjpeg-turbo with functionality added from jpgcrush. They claim an average of 2-6% of additional compression for files encoded with libjpeg and 10% additional compression for a sample of 1500 jpegs from Wikipedia — while maintaining the same image quality."
An anonymous reader writes "Dell is charging customers £16.25 ($27.18) to install Firefox on a newly purchased computer. We contacted Mozilla to find out more. The company told us it is investigating the issue and denied it has any such a deal in place. 'There is no agreement between Dell and Mozilla which allows Dell or anyone else to charge for installing Firefox using that brand name,' Mozilla's Vice President and General Counsel Denelle Dixon-Thayer told TNW. 'Our trademark policy makes clear that this is not permitted and we are investigating this specific report.' Dell has responded by saying that this practice is okay because the company is charging for the service and not the product."
Mozilla has announced a new initiative to show sponsored content within the Firefox browser. Currently, opening a new tab in Firefox will display a set of nine tiles showing your most commonly visited websites. When a user installs Firefox and opens it for the first time, they see these tiles, but eight of them are blank (one links to a Firefox tutorial). As the user browses the web, those tiles gradually fill in with visited sites. But Mozilla is going to fill out those blank eight tiles for new users. They say, "Some of these tile placements will be from the Mozilla ecosystem, some will be popular websites in a given geographic location, and some will be sponsored content from hand-picked partners to help support Mozilla’s pursuit of our mission. The sponsored tiles will be clearly labeled as such, while still leading to content we think users will enjoy." Existing users shouldn't see any difference, and the tiles will be replaced with commonly-visited sites like they do now.
This site's "Your Rights Online" section, sadly, has never suffered for material. The revelations we've seen over the last year-and-change, though, of widespread spying on U.S. citizens, government spying in the E.U. on international conferences, the UK's use of malware against citizens, and the use of modern technology to oppress government protesters in the middle east and elsewhere shows how persistent it is. It's been a banner year on that front, and the banner says "You are being spied on, online and off." A broad coalition of organizations is calling today "The Day We Fight Back" against the growing culture of heads-they-win, tails-you-lose surveillance, but all involved know this is not a one-day struggle. (Read more, below.)
An anonymous reader writes "Mozilla has officially launched the Gigabit Community Fund, an organization that seeks to 'advance the development, experimentation and implementation of learning and workforce opportunities enhanced by new, super powerful Internet technologies.' The intent is to provide funding around cities like Kansas City and Chattanooga (and more, as fiber networks spread) for people to build open source applications that take advantage of super-fast fiber connections. 'The new $300,000 fund aims to bring discoveries out of the lab and into the field to help move prototypes to Minimum Viable Pilots and get tools in the hands of users. In each city, two, 12-week pilot periods will run, with up to 10 projects receiving awards between $5,000 and $30,000.'"
Peter Eckersley writes "Over at EFF, we just released a version of our HTTPS Everywhere extension for Firefox for Android. HTTPS Everywhere upgrades your insecure web requests to HTTPS on many thousands of sites, and this means that Firefox on Android with HTTPS Everywhere is now by far the most secure browser against dragnet surveillance attacks like those performed by the NSA, GCHQ, and other intelligence agencies. Android users should install the Firefox app and then add HTTPS Everywhere to it. iPhone and iPad users will unfortunately have to switch to Android to get this level of security because Apple has locked Mozilla Firefox out of their platforms."
An anonymous reader writes: "It doesn't take a Columbo to figure out that the 'previous employer, a small browser vendor that decided to abandon its own rendering engine and browser stack' is referring to Opera in this comment answering the question 'Do you actually use the product you are working on?' It appears to originate from Andreas Tolfsen, a former Opera developer who is now part of the Mozilla project. From releasing a unified architecture browser including Linux support since 2001, Opera decided to put Linux development on indefinite hold, communicated through blog comments, and focus on Windows and Mac for their browser rewrite centered around the Blink engine that had its first beta release last spring. The promise to bring back the Linux version in due time was met with growing skepticism as the months went by, and clear answers have been avoided in the developer blog. The uncertainty has spawned user projects such as Otter browser in an attempt to recreate the Opera UI in a free application. Tolfsen's statement seem to be in line with what users have suspected all along: Opera for Linux is not something for the near future."
mikejuk writes "Google and Opera split from WebKit to create Blink, their own HTML rendering engine, and everyone was worried about the effect on standards. Now we have the first big example of a split in the form of CSS Regions support. Essentially Regions are used to provide the web equivalent of text flow, a concept very familiar to anyone who has used a desktop publishing program. The basic idea is that you define containers for a text stream which is then flowed from one container to another to provide a complex multicolumn layout. The W3C standard for Regions has mostly been created by Adobe — a long time DTP company. Now the Blink team has proposed removing Regions support to save 10,000 lines of code in 350,000 in the name of efficiency. If Google does remove the Regions code, which looks highly likely, this would leave Safari and IE 10/11 as the only two major browsers to support Regions. Both Apple and Microsoft have an interest in ensuring that their hardware can be used to create high quality magazine style layouts — Google and Opera aren't so concerned. I thought standards were there to implement not argue with." Although mikejuk thinks this is a bad thing, a lot of people think CSS Regions are awful. Mozilla has never intended to implement them, instead offering the CSS Fragmentation proposal as an alternative. One major flaw of CSS Regions is its reliance upon markup that is used solely for layout, violating the separation of content and style that CSS is intended to enforce.
First time accepted submitter neiras writes "Mozilla is building a map of publicly-observable cell tower and WiFi access points to compete with proprietary geolocation services like Google's. Coverage is a bit thin so far but is improving rapidly. Anyone with an Android phone can help by downloading the MozStumbler app and letting it run while walking or driving around. The application is also available on the F-Droid market." "Thin" is relative; it's quite a few data points since we first mentioned the pilot program a few months ago.
An anonymous reader writes "At CES 2014 in Las Vegas today, Mozilla announced its plans for Firefox OS this year. Having launched Firefox OS for smartphones in 2013, the company has now partnered with Panasonic to bring its operating system to TVs, and also detailed the progress that has been made around the tablet and desktop versions."
mikejuk writes "Google's Dart just reached version 1.0, but now it seems that it has aspirations to being an international standard. The question is will this make any difference to the language's future? Given that Google effectively owns Dart, what advantage does standardization bring? The answer to what Google thinks it brings is indicated in the Chromium blog: 'The new standardization process is an important step towards a future where Dart runs natively in web browsers.' and this seems reasonable. A standard is something that would be required before other browser makers decided to fall in line and support native Dart. It is probably a necessary but far from sufficient condition, however, with Microsoft, Apple and Mozilla having other interests to further. Last but not least, having the backing of a standard might just encourage possible users to believe that the language won't sink if Google gets distracted with other projects and decides that Dart is dispensable. However, a strong open source development community capable of supporting Dart without Google's input would be a better reassurance. If you want to help, Google would like you to join the committee. After all, it still doesn't have a Vice Chair. So can we expect to see ECMA CoffeeScript or TypeScript in the near future? Probably not."
An anonymous reader writes "Mozilla today officially launched Firefox 26 for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android. Additions include Click-to-Play turned on by default for all Java plugins, more seamless updates on Windows, and a new Home design for Android. Firefox 26 has been released over on Firefox.com and all existing users should be able to upgrade to it automatically. As always, the Android version is trickling out slowly on Google Play. Release notes are here: desktop and mobile."
sfcrazy writes "Mozilla, the organization behind Firefox browser and operating system, is organizing a contest for creating games. They have teamed up with Goo Technologies for Mozilla and Goo's Game Creator Challenge to engage 'budding' game creators. The game contest is aimed at showcasing powerful open source technologies developed with the help of Mozilla at the same time building a loyal gaming community around these technologies."
An anonymous reader writes "Mozilla today released its annual financial report for 2012, and while revenue is up quite substantially, the organization's reliance on Google continues to grow. In 2011, 85 percent of Mozilla's revenue came from Google. In 2012, the figure increased to 90 percent."