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More Mozilla Spying and Management Shuffle

Filed under
Moz/FF
Web
  • William Lachance: Learning about Psychological Safety at the Recurse Center

    Some context: I’m currently working as a software engineer at Mozilla, building out our data pipeline and analysis tooling. I’ve been at my current position for more than 10 years (my “anniversary” actually passed while I was out). I started out as a senior engineer in 2011, and was promoted to staff engineer in 2016. In tech-land, this is a really long tenure at a company. I felt like it was time to take a break from my day-to-day, explore some new ideas and concepts, and hopefully expose myself to a broader group of people in my field.

    My original thinking was that I would mostly be spending this time building out an interactive computation environment I’ve been working on called Irydium. And I did quite a bit of that. However, I think the main thing I took away from this experience was some insight on what makes a remote environment for knowledge work really “click”. In particular, what makes somewhere feel psychologically safe, and how this feeling allows us to innovate and do our best work.

    While the Recurse Center obviously has different goals than an organization that builds and delivers consumer software, I do think there are some things that it does that could be applied to Mozilla (and, likely, many other tech workplaces).

  • [Older] Firefox Now Sends Your Address Bar Keystrokes to Mozilla

    Firefox now sends more data than you might think to Mozilla. To power Firefox Suggest, Firefox sends the keystrokes you type into your address bar, your location information, and more to Mozilla’s servers. Here’s exactly what Firefox is sharing and how to control it.

  • Support.Mozilla.Org: What’s up with SUMO – October 2021

    As we enter October, I hope you’re all pumped up to welcome the last quarter of the year and, basically, wrapping up projects that we have for the remainder of the year. With that spirit, let’s start by welcoming the following folks into our community.

    [...]

    Thanks for Jefferson Scher for straightening the Firefox Suggest confusion on Reddit. That definitely help people to understand the feature better.

  • Welcome Imo Udom, Mozilla’s new Senior Vice President, Innovation Ecosystems

    I am delighted to share that Imo Udom has joined Mozilla as Senior Vice President, Innovation Ecosystems. Imo brings a unique combination of strategy, technical and product expertise and an entrepreneurial spirit to Mozilla and our work to design, develop and deliver new products and services.

Proprietary Web and Vista 11 Performance Catastrophe

Filed under
Microsoft
Web
  • Client-side content scanning as an unworkable, insecure disaster for democracy • The Register

    Fourteen of the world's leading computer security and cryptography experts have released a paper arguing against the use of client-side scanning because it creates security and privacy risks.

    Client-side scanning (CSS, not to be confused with Cascading Style Sheets) involves analyzing data on a mobile device or personal computer prior to the application of encryption for secure network transit or remote storage. CSS in theory provides a way to look for unlawful content while also allowing data to be protected off-device.

    Apple in August proposed a CSS system by which it would analyze photos destined for iCloud backup on customers' devices to look for child sexual abuse material (CSAM), only to backtrack in the face of objections from the security community and many advocacy organizations.

    The paper [PDF], "Bugs in our Pockets: The Risks of Client-Side Scanning," elaborates on the concerns raised immediately following Apple's CSAM scanning announcement with an extensive analysis of the technology.

  • Vivaldi Adblock is mostly Adblock Plus and ublock-origin.

    The Vivaldi browser has a built-in ad blocker.

    However, the company hasn’t been extremely forthcoming about how it works.

    However, it seems to accept any list in adblock plus format, and Vivaldi seems to have implemented Webkit Content Blockers as well.

    Vivaldi includes a list called “DuckDuckGo Tracker Radar”, which leads to what seems to be a Webkit Content Blocker format list mirrored by Vivaldi.

    In my testing, the DuckDuckGo Tracker Radar seems to largely duplicate what Fanboy’s Ultimate List already had in it.

    While Fanboy’s Ultimate List is not in Vivaldi by default, you can add it by going to Vivaldi Menu/Settings/Privacy, and then select “Block Trackers and Ads”, and then I would suggest de-selecting everything in both columns that Vivaldi defaults to having on, then clicking + under Ad Blocking Sources, then adding https://www.fanboy.co.nz/r/fanboy-ultimate.txt and then Import. It should tell you it brought in a bunch of ad blocking rules.

  • This week's Windows 11 patch didn't fix AMD performance woes • The Register

    Windows 11 received its first bundle of fixes this week, but AMD users hoping for respite from performance issues that have dogged their PCs were to be disappointed. In fact, for some, performance might have actually got a bit worse.

    It wasn't the news AMD fangirls and fanboys were hoping for. After AMD noted performance issues with Microsoft's latest operating system, a fix had been expected to drop during October. Alas, that fix didn't turn up in this week's first Cumulative Update for the GA code. In fact, according to hardware site TechPowerUp, things might have even deteriorated.

  • Microsoft’s first Windows “11” update addresses AMD CPU scheduling problems. Ends up making them worse. – BaronHK's Rants

    Microsoft released their first “Windows 11” update.

    It was deployed to try to correct the AMD CPU problems that Windows “11” created on Ryzen, which tripled L3 CPU cache latency and slowed the processor down by an average of 15%.

    The update ended up making the problem worse. Doubling the cache latency from where it already was at launch.

    “Early adopters” of Microsoft’s latest broken operating system are seeing much worse performance than they were on Windows 10, even on the Intel side, as Microsoft’s “virtualization based security” was already wreaking havoc on video game performance.

  • The "What If" Performance Cost To Kernel Page Table Isolation On AMD CPUs - Phoronix

    Made public this week by CPU security researchers at Graz University of Technology and CISPA Helmholtz Center for Information Security was the research paper published "AMD Prefetch Attacks through Power and Time". The paper points to AMD CPUs suffering from a side-channel leakage vulnerability through timing and power variations of the PREFETCH instruction. The paper argues that AMD CPUs should activate stronger page table isolation by default. AMD has now published their security response where they are not recommending any mitigation changes at this time. But what if Kernel Page Table Isolation (KPTI/PTI) proves necessary for AMD CPUs? Here are some initial benchmarks showing what that performance impact could look like.

Un-Googled Chromium and PDF Editor for Google Chrome

Filed under
Google
Web
  • Un-Googled Chromium update for Slackware 14.2 and -current | Alien Pastures

    After nearly two weeks of pulling my hair out I finally was able to build the newest Chromium in its un-Googled variant. You can find packages for Slackware 14.2 and -current in my repository on slackware.nl.

    It’s a jump from the 92 to the 94 release (94.0.4606.81 to be precise) but I simply did not have the opportunity to build a 93 release. In part because the un-googled repository maintained by Eloston did not offer release tarballs for a while. Extended leave of absence of the maintainer seems to be the issue which by now has been resolved by giving more people commit access to that repository.

    The un-Googled version of Chromium is incapable of “phoning home” to Google, by altering the source code and stripping/mangling all occurrences where that might happen. This is basically what Eloston’s project does.

  • Adobe Gives a Free PDF Editor for Google Chrome and Edge Users

    Adobe announced via a blog post that Acrobat extension for Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge now have basic PDF editing features, right inside the browser.

Competitive Compatibility: Let's Fix the Internet, Not the Tech Giants

Filed under
Web

Tech's market concentration—summed up brilliantly by Tom Eastman, a New Zealand software developer, as the transformation of the Internet into "a group of five websites, each consisting of screenshots of text from the other four"—has aroused concern from regulators around the world.

In China tech giants have been explicitly co-opted an arm of the state. In Europe regulators hope to discipline the conduct of U.S.-based "Big Tech" firms by passing strict rules about privacy, copyright, and terrorist content and then slapping the companies with titanic fines when they fail to abide by them. At the same time, European leaders talk about cultivating "national champions"—monopolistically dominant firms with firm national allegiance to their local governments.

U.S. lawmakers are no more coherent: on the one hand, Congress recently held the most aggressive antitrust hearings since the era of Ronald Reagan, threatening to weaken the power of the giants by any means necessary. On the other hand, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle want to deputize Big Tech as part of law enforcement, charged with duties as varied as preventing human trafficking, policing copyright infringement, imposing neutrality on public discourse, blocking disinformation, and ending harassment and hate speech. If any of these duties can be performed (and some of them are sheer wishful thinking), they can only be performed by the very largest of companies, monopolists who extract monopoly rents and use them to fund these auxiliary duties.

Tech has experienced waves of concentration before and resolved them with minimal state action. Instead, tech's giants were often felled by interoperability, which allows new market entrants to seize the "network effect" advantages of incumbents to turn them to their own use. Without interoperability, AT&T ruled the nation. With interoperability, the ubiquity of the Bell System merely meant that anyone who could make an answering machine, radio bridge, or modem that could plug into an RJ-11 jack could sell into every house and business in America.

Everyone in the tech world claims to love interoperability—the technical ability to plug one product or service into another product or service—but interoperability covers a lot of territory, and depending on what's meant by interoperability, it can do a lot, a little, or nothing at all to protect users, innovation and fairness.

Let's start with a taxonomy of interoperability.

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Brython 3.10 Release, Python Implementation for Web Browsers

Filed under
Development
Web

Submitted by A release of the project Brython 3.10 (Browser Python) with a web browser-side implementation of the Python 3 programming language, allowing you to use Python instead of JavaScript to develop scripts for the Web. The project code is written in Python and is distributed under the BSD license.

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How to Enable Dark Mode in Web Browser

Filed under
Linux
Web

This guide is about guiding you how to enable dark mode in popular web browsers such as Firefox, Google Chrome, Chromium and Microsoft Edge.
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Web Browsers and Standards

Filed under
Web
  • Opera Browser » PCLinuxOS

    Opera Browser has been updated to 80.0.4170.16 and shipped to the software repository.

  • Vivaldi Browser » PCLinuxOS

    Vivaldi Browser has been updated to version 4.3.2439.39 and shipped to the software repository.

  • 10 Useful Features of Brave You Didn't Know Existed - Make Tech Easier

    The Brave browser has been gaining in both popularity and userbase for some time now and for good reason. The privacy-centric browser is full of nifty features that make it a top contender against Google Chrome. Let’s find out what these useful features are that make Brave a good alternative.

  • Implementing form filling and accessibility in the Firefox PDF viewer - Mozilla Hacks - the Web developer blog

    Last year, during lockdown, many discovered the importance of PDF forms when having to deal remotely with administrations and large organizations like banks. Firefox supported displaying PDF forms, but it didn’t support filling them: users had to print them, fill them by hand, and scan them back to digital form. We decided it was time to reinvest in the PDF viewer (PDF.js) and support filling PDF forms within Firefox to make our users’ lives easier.

    While we invested more time in the PDF viewer, we also went through the backlog of work and prioritized improving the accessibility of our PDF reader for users of assistive technologies. Below we’ll describe how we implemented the form support, improved accessibility, and made sure we had no regressions along the way.

  • A fork for the time-zone database?

    A controversy about the handling of the Time Zone Database (tzdb) has been brewing since May, but has come to a head in recent weeks. Changes that were proposed to simplify the main database file have some consequences in terms of time-zone history and changes to the representation of some zones. Those changes have upset a number of users of the database—to the point where some have called for a fork. A September 25 release of tzdb with some, but not all, of the changes seems unlikely to resolve the conflict.

    The time-zone database is meant to track time-zone information worldwide for time periods starting at the Unix epoch of January 1, 1970. But, over the years, it has accumulated a lot of data on time zones and policies (e.g. daylight savings time) going back many years before the epoch. As with anything that governments and politicians get involved with, which time zone a country (or part of a larger country) is in, whether it participates in daylight savings time (DST), and when the DST switches are made, are arbitrary and subject to change, seemingly at whim. Tzdb has been keeping up with these changes so that computer programs can handle time correctly since 1986 or so, when it was often called the "Olson database" after its founder, Arthur David Olson.

Chromium/Chrome Leftovers

Filed under
Google
Web
  • Google Trumpets The Success Of Their Chrome "RenderingNG" Performance Initiative - Phoronix

    For the better part of the past decade Google has been pursuing performance improvements to their Chrome/Chromium web browser as the "RenderingNG" initiative to provide faster web page performance, lower memory consumption, and better battery life. This current work is finally wrapping up in 2021 to great success.

    In a new blog post on Wednesday, Google is talking up "150% or more faster graphics rendering" compared to older versions of Chrome along with a "6x reduction in GPU driver crashes on problematic hardware". Or even with the new Chrome 93 to 94 transition alone they are proclaiming up to 8% more responsive web pages, up to 1400 years of CPU time per day saved, and up to 0.5% improved battery life.

  • DIY compile chromium

    The saga has been going on for a couple of weeks. I am compiling chromium in EasyOS. Each build takes 13 hours, running on a Lenovo PC with Intel 8th gen. i3 CPU, 32GB RAM, swap partition on internal SSD, the source on an external USB3 SSD.

    [...]

    I don't recommend installing in a container, as video playing is choppy, with audio out of sync. I think that the other chromium SFS, the official build, does play OK in a container -- from memory -- but as it runs with the "--no-sandbox" option you get that warning message.
    Note to pup and *dog users. SFSs in EasyOS are a bit different, the SFS won't work for you, as-is. EasyOS has glibc 2.33, and if your pup has an older glibc then it probably won't work. Also, you would need to open it up and modify /usr/bin/chromium script so that it runs as 'spot'. There is folder '.control' that you won't need.
    Very ambivalent about compiling chromium. So many issues, so many patches. Think maybe should just use the official build from Google. I read some comments, some other distro maintainers are thinking the same thing, mostly because of the API keys problem.

  • DMA-BUF Support In WebRTC

    It will be almost three years since we landed initial support for screensharing on Wayland with the use of PipeWire in the WebRTC project. This enabled screensharing support in both major Linux browsers. Last year I implemented support for window sharing, added support for PipeWire 0.3 and added support for DMA-BUF and MemFD buffer types. Problem was, as it turned out, the DMA-BUF support was not implemented in a correct way.

    The original implementation was using mmap() to get the buffer content. This worked correctly for current Intel GPUs, but was terrifically slow on e.g. AMD GPUs. Proper solution is to use OpenGL context to get the content from buffer. However, there were many implementations using mmap() already, including WebRTC and we needed a way how to properly communicate between the server and the client that when the client advertises DMA-BUF support, it means it doesn’t use mmap() and goes through OpenGL context instead.

  • Chrome 96 To Feature Improved WebRTC Code, Better Wayland Screensharing

    Jan Grulich has been working on a new DMA-BUF implementation within the WebRTC code as the original DMA-BUF buffer sharing code was found to be inadequate. In particular, the original DMA-BUF mmap-based approach was found to perform very slow with the AMD Radeon Linux graphics driver and instead this new implementation allows using an OpenGL context to get the context from the buffer. Long story short, after a lot of work that new WebRTC DMA-BUF code is now good to go.

CommaFeed, Read Your Favorite News In One Place Everywhere

Filed under
Software
Web

CommaFeed is an RSS feed reader accessible via web browser and can be used easily everywhere. In short, it is an alternative to Google News. It looks very simple and lightweight, and works fast! User can just subscribe news from websites they like and read them anywhere they go. Registration is free and the software behind is free as in freedom. This simple tutorial explains how to use CommaFeed for first timers. Let's start reading!

[...]

For server admins, CommaFeed allows selfhosting and has ability to work with multiple other RSS clients.

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Web Browsers Monopolisation

Filed under
Google
Microsoft
Moz/FF
Web
  • Brave and Firefox to intercept links that force-open in Microsoft Edge

    Microsoft has inadvertently re-heated the web browser wars with the company’s anti-competitive changes to Windows 11. It made it more difficult to change the default web browser and has expanded the use of links that force-opens Edge instead of the default browser.

    The latter issue is something I addressed in 2017 with the release of EdgeDeflector. Instead of using regular https: links, Microsoft began switching out links in the Windows shell and its apps with microsoft-edge: links. Only its Edge browser recognized these links, so it would open regardless of your default browser setting. I created EdgeDeflector to also recognizes them and rewrites them to regular https: links that would then open in your default web browser.

  • What if Chrome broke features of the web and Google forgot to tell anyone? Oh wait, that's exactly what happened

    "Browser monoculture" is often bemoaned as a threat to the web. According to Statscounter, which tracks browser use, over 70 per cent of the market is made up of people using Google Chrome or another browser based on the underlying Chromium project.

    What web advocates worry about when they say this is bad is that Google can effectively determine the future of the web by determining which features to support and which not to. That's a lot of power for a single company that also has an effective monopoly on search and advertising.

    What would happen if Chrome decided to break fundamental features of the web and didn't even feel the need to tell anyone?

    Well, we can answer that question because that's what Chrome did.

    Earlier this year Chrome developers decided that the browser should no longer support JavaScript dialogs and alert windows when they're called by third-party iframes.

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