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Web Standards

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Web
  • Inrupt, Tim Berners-Lee's Solid, and Me

    All of this is a long-winded way of saying that I have joined a company called Inrupt that is working to bring Tim Berners-Lee's distributed data ownership model that is Solid into the mainstream. (I think of Inrupt basically as the Red Hat of Solid.) I joined the Inrupt team last summer as its Chief of Security Architecture, and have been in stealth mode until now.

    The idea behind Solid is both simple and extraordinarily powerful. Your data lives in a pod that is controlled by you. Data generated by your things -- your computer, your phone, your IoT whatever -- is written to your pod. You authorize granular access to that pod to whoever you want for whatever reason you want. Your data is no longer in a bazillion places on the Internet, controlled by you-have-no-idea-who. It's yours. If you want your insurance company to have access to your fitness data, you grant it through your pod. If you want your friends to have access to your vacation photos, you grant it through your pod. If you want your thermostat to share data with your air conditioner, you give both of them access through your pod.

  • World wide web founder scales up efforts to reshape internet
  • Sir Tim Berners-Lee's Inrupt is Redesigning the way the web is to Work and Apple is working with them on their Data Transfer Project

    Inrupt, the start-up company founded by Sir Tim Berners-Lee to redesign the way the web works, is expanding its operational team and launching pilot projects in its quest to develop a "massively scalable, production-quality technology platform."

  • Inconsistent user-experiences with native lazy-loading images

    The specification for web browser native support for lazy-loading images landed in the HTML Living Standard a week ago. This new feature lets web developers tell the browser to defer loading an image until it is scrolled into view, or it’s about to be scrolled into view.

    Images account for 49 % of the median webpage’s byte size, according to the HTTP Archive. Lazy image loading can help reduce these images’ impact on page load performance. It can also help lower data costs by clients that never scroll down to images far down on a page.

    Historically, lazy-loading was implemented by responding to changes in the scroll position and tracking the image element’s offset from the top of the page. This could degrade page-scrolling performance. Comparatively, the new native lazy loading for images is easier to implement and doesn’t degrade scrolling performance.

Greenpeace, greenwash, openwash

Filed under
Red Hat
OSS
Web
  • Greenpeace takes open-source approach to finish web transformation

    Greenpeace is working with open source software firm Red Hat to scale and revamp its grassroots engagement platform, Planet 4.

    The project marks a complete re-design of Greenpeace.org’s backend content management systems (CMS), which are now designed to put content on the web and provide a vehicle for driving grassroots environmental action.

  • Greenpeace turns to Red Hat to scale its “Planet 4” global engagement platform
  • Greenpeace turns to open source to finish its web transformation

    In 2016, Greenpeace International decided to try a new way of stimulating grass-level environmental activity via something it called ‘Planet 4’ - a global content management system (CMS) it defined as its new engagement platform. In its original mission statement, it also outlined its expectations for the tool: that it would foster more engagement “when we present ourselves to our supporters, and our potential supporters, through a clear representation of our values with a clear proposition for why we exist, how people can become change agents through our work, and what they can do with us right now”.

Mozilla/WWW: TenFourFox, Markdown, DOM, Firefox Spying ("Glean") and Apple Monopoly

Filed under
Moz/FF
Web
  • TenFourFox FPR20b1 available

    When using FPR20 you should notice ... absolutely nothing. Sites should just appear as they do; the only way you'd know anything changed in this version is if you pressed Command-I and looked at the Security tab to see that you're connected over TLS 1.3, the latest TLS security standard. In fact, the entirety of the debate was streamed over it, and to the best of my knowledge TenFourFox is the only browser that implements TLS 1.3 on Power Macs running Mac OS X. On regular Firefox your clue would be seeing occasional status messages about handshakes, but I've even disabled that for TenFourFox to avoid wholesale invalidating our langpacks which entirely lack those strings. Other than a couple trivial DOM updates I wrote up because they were easy, as before there are essentially no other changes other than the TLS enablement in this FPR to limit the regression range. If you find a site that does not work, verify first it does work in FPR19 or FPR18, because sites change more than we do, and see if setting security.tls.version.max to 3 (instead of 4) fixes it. You may need to restart the browser to make sure. If this does seem to reliably fix the problem, report it in the comments. A good test site is Google or Mozilla itself. The code we are using is largely the same as current Firefox's.

  • Moving to Markdown

    I'm writing this only for those who follows this blog via RSS feed and probably wonders why they had many notifications on their RSS reader. Sorry, this thing happen when upload a new version of my website. So, what's new on this new website? Not much, nothing changed visually... But everything changed under the hood!

  • Semantic markup, browsers, and identity in the DOM

    HTML was initially designed as a semantic markup language, with elements having semantics (meaning) describing general roles within a document. These semantic elements have been added to over time. Markup as it is used on the web is often criticized for not following the semantics, but rather being a soup of divs and spans, the most generic sorts of elements. The Web has also evolved over the last 25 years from a web of documents to a web where many of the most visited pages are really applications rather than documents. The HTML markup used on the Web is a representation of a tree structure, and the user interface of these web applications is often based on dynamic changes made through the DOM, which is what we call both the live representation of that tree structure and the API through which that representation is accessed.

    Browsers exist as tools for users to browse the Web; they strike a balance between showing the content as its author intended versus adapting that content to the device it is being displayed on and the preferences or needs of the user.

    Given the unreliable use of semantics on the Web, most of the ways browsers adapt content to the user rarely depend deeply on semantics, although some of them (such as reader mode) do have significant dependencies. However, browser adaptations of content or interventions that browsers make on behalf of the user very frequently depend on the persistent object identity in the DOM. That is, nodes in the DOM tree (such as sections of the page, or paragraphs) have an identity over the lifetime of the page, and many things that browsers do depend on that identity being consistent over time. For example, exposing the page to a screen reader, scroll anchoring, and I think some aspects of ad blocking all depend on the idea that there are elements in the web page that the browser understands the identity of over time.

  • Chris H-C: This Week in Glean: A Distributed Team Echoes Distributed Workflow

    I was recently struck by a realization that the position of our data org’s team members around the globe mimics the path that data flows through the Glean Ecosystem.

  • Apple May Soon Let You Set Third-Party Mail, Browser Apps as Default on iOS: Report

    Apple has always had its own apps set as defaults in cases like the music player and the browser, Apple Music and Safari respectively. But, this might change soon. Reportedly, Apple is considering allowing third party apps to be set as defaults on iOS. Apple is also debating whether to allow third-party music apps on the HomePod speaker, something would mean allowing users to stream music via Spotify, which is one of Apple Music's rivals. No decision has been made by the company as of now.

Gopher: When Adversarial Interoperability Burrowed Under the Gatekeepers' Fortresses

Filed under
Web

In the early 1990s, personal computers did not arrive in an "Internet-ready" state. Before students could connect their systems to UMN's network, they needed to install basic networking software that allowed their computers to communicate over TCP/IP, as well as dial-up software for protocols like PPP or SLIP. Some computers needed network cards or modems, and their associated drivers.

That was just for starters. Once the students' systems were ready to connect to the Internet, they still needed the basic tools for accessing distant servers: FTP software, a Usenet reader, a terminal emulator, and an email client, all crammed onto a floppy disk (or two). The task of marshalling, distributing, and supporting these tools fell to the university's Microcomputer Center.

For the university, the need to get students these basic tools was a blessing and a curse. It was labor-intensive work, sure, but it also meant that the Microcomputer Center could ensure that the students' newly Internet-ready computers were also configured to access the campus network and its resources, saving the Microcomputer Center thousands of hours talking students through the configuration process. It also meant that the Microcomputer Center could act like a mini App Store, starting students out on their online journeys with a curated collection of up-to-date, reliable tools.

That's where Gopher comes in. While the campus mainframe administrators had plans to selectively connect their systems to the Internet through specialized software, the Microcomputer Center had different ideas. Years before the public had heard of the World Wide Web, the Gopher team sought to fill the same niche, by connecting disparate systems to the Internet and making them available to those with little-to-no technical expertise—with or without the cooperation of the systems they were connecting.

Gopher used text-based menus to navigate "Gopherspace" (all the world's public Gopher servers). The Microcomputer Center team created Gopher clients that ran on Macs, DOS, and in Unix-based terminals. The original Gopher servers were a motley assortment of used Macintosh IIci systems running A/UX, Apple's flavor of Unix. The team also had access to several NeXT workstations.

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Also: The Things Industries Launches Global Join Server for Secure LoRaWAN

Meet Ephemeral: The Always-Incognito Web Browser For Linux

Filed under
Linux
Web

Popping up of the ads based on your browsing data has become a common issue that most people face nowadays. Hence, it’s obvious that people are turning toward the more privacy focussed search engine and web browser.

Keeping the private browsing in mind, Cassidy James Blaede, co-founder & CXO at elementary, developed an open-source and always-incognito web browser, Ephemeral.

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Rclone Browser (Fork) 1.8.0 Gets Proxy Support, Option To Create Public Link

Filed under
Software
Web

Rclone Browser (fork), a Qt5 GUI for Rclone, was updated to version 1.8.0, getting proxy support, an option to display the complete directory tree for a remote, and the ability to create a public link to easily share files, among others.

Rclone Browser is a cross-platform (Windows, macOS and Linux) Qt5 GUI for Rclone, a command line tool to synchronize (and mount) files from remote cloud storage services like Google Drive, OneDrive, Nextcloud, Dropbox, Amazon Drive and S3, Mega, and others.

This GUI can be used to simplify operations like copying a file from one cloud storage to another or to the local drive, mount cloud storages on your system with a click, and browsing the contents of various cloud storage remotes in a tabbed interface.

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Brave Browser and DRM With 'Open' Veneer

Filed under
OSS
Web
  • Data Doctors: Is the Brave browser safe to use?

    If you’re like most users, you spend more time using a browser than any other program on your computer or smartphone.

    You probably don’t think about what browser you’re using; the focus is on getting to a website, not what got you there.

    Google Chrome is by far the most popular browser, but because it’s a Google product integrated with all their tracking and advertising networks, a lot of people are looking for an alternative.

  • Here’s how to know if the Brave browser is safe to use

    A: If you’re like most users, you spend more time using a browser than any other program on your computer or smartphone.

    You probably don’t think about what browser you’re using as the focus is on getting to a website and not what got you there.

    Google’s Chrome is by far the most popular browser, but because it’s a Google product integrated with all their tracking and advertising networks, a lot of people are looking for an alternative.

  • Netflix Now Exploring AVIF For Image Compression

    Following Netflix's AV1 adoption with collaborating with Intel on the SVT-AV1 encoder, now using AV1 streaming for Android users, and others around this advanced royalty-free video codec, Netflix is now exploring AVIF as their next-gen image format.

    [...]

    Netflix acknowledges the significant need for next-gen image coding that has better compression efficiency and more features than JPEG. Netflix believes AVIF has the potential albeit they aren't yet ready to transition to AVIF today.

    In their testing they are finding good results out of AVIF compared to JPEG and other image formats. For those wanting to go through a long and interesting technical read, on the Netflix Tech Blog they have example screenshots and results comparing their AVIF results to other formats.

  • Netflix begins streaming AV1 content on its Android mobile app

    Netflix today announced that it is beginning to stream videos compressed using the AV1 codec, on its Android mobile app. AV1 is a next-generation, royalty-free video codec that provides compression efficiency that is improved by 20%. This codec, developed to replace VP9, was built by the Alliance for Open Media, of which Netflix, Google, Amazon Prime Video, and more big-name content providers are a part of.

Openwashing of 5G

Filed under
OSS
Web

Detailed tests of search engines: Google, Startpage, Bing, DuckDuckGo, metaGer, Ecosia, Swisscows, Searx, Qwant, Yandex, and Mojeek

Filed under
Google
Reviews
Web

Since my last in-depth comparison review of alternative search engines in 2014, a lot has changed, and a lot has stayed the same. Google is appearing as a loan-verb in more and more languages due to its continued dominance in the search engine market. But at the same time, Google is being increasingly demonized by privacy focused users. An even more more interesting development is the trend of complaints that Google’s algorithm is producing results that are less relevant and more indicative of artificial stupidity than artificial intelligence. I belong in this latter camp, as I am more of a pragmatist than a privacy pundit. I simply want the best search results with minimal effort and no nonsense. Back in my 2014 article, I was hopeful that DuckDuckGo was quickly becoming a viable and attractive alternative to Google. While DuckDuckGo continues to be the darling of privacy conscious users and is enjoying more popularity than ever, I am concerned that its core search infrastructure and algorithms have largely stagnated. Since my last article, many other alternatives have cropped up, bringing some very interesting features and concepts, but it still remains to be seen if they offer acceptable results in the fundamentally important area of relevant search results. This comparison sets out to analyze and compare the current batch of alternatives in 2020.

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Browsers and Privacy

Filed under
OSS
Web
  • Browsers, web sites, and user tracking

    Browser tracking across different sites is certainly a major privacy concern and one that is more acute when the boundaries between sites and browsers blur—or disappear altogether. That seems to be the underlying tension in a "discussion" of an only tangentially related proposal being made by Google to the W3C Technical Architecture Group (TAG). The proposal would change the handling of the User-Agent headers sent by browsers, but the discussion turned to the unrelated X-Client-Data header that Chrome sends to Google-owned sites. The connection is that in both cases some feel that the web-search giant is misusing its position to the detriment of its users and its competitors in the web ecosystem.

  • Data detox: Four things you can do today to protect your computer

    From the abacus to the iPad, computers have been a part of the human experience for longer than we think. So much so that we forget the vast amounts of personal data we share with our devices on a daily basis. On any given day we could be tackling sensitive work emails, planning our next vacation, or just booking some good ole doctor’s appointments. No big deal right? Well, in the wrong hands it can become a huge deal.

    Thankfully, it’s pretty easy to tighten your device security. Read on for four easy things you can do today to protect your personal info along with your devices.

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