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Moz/FF

Mozilla: Servo and Making contribution work for Firefox tooling and data projects

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Moz/FF
  • This Week In Servo 119

    Our roadmap is available online, including the overall plans for 2018.

  • William Lachance: Making contribution work for Firefox tooling and data projects

    One of my favorite parts about Mozilla is mentoring and working alongside third party contributors. Somewhat surprisingly since I work on internal tools, I’ve had a fair amount of luck finding people to help work on projects within my purview: mozregression, perfherder, metrics graphics, and others have all benefited from the contributions of people outside of Mozilla.

    In most cases (a notable exception being metrics graphics), these have been internal-tooling projects used by others to debug, develop, or otherwise understand the behaviour of Firefox. On the face of it, none of the things I work on are exactly “high profile cutting edge stuff” in the way, say, Firefox or the Rust Programming Language are. So why do they bother?

Mozilla: Rust, Translate the Web, WebRender, EU Terrorist Content Regulation

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Moz/FF
  • This Week in Rust 261

    This week's crate is cargo-sweep, a cargo subcommand to clean cargo's various temporaries. Thanks to Viktor Holmgren for the suggestion!

  • Translate the Web

    With 100+ languages at the ready, Google Translate is the go-to translation tool for millions of people around the world. But for folks who need to make frequent translations on the web, it?s a hassle to copy text from a web page, navigate over to translate.google.com, paste it in, return to your page, etc. Fortunately there are a number of Firefox browser extensions that streamline the translation process, and in some cases even add new features. Here are two exceptional examples:

  • WebRender newsletter #31

    Greetings! I’ll introduce WebRender’s 31st newsletter with a few words about batching.

    Efficiently submitting work to GPUs isn’t as straightforward as one might think. It is not unusual for a CPU renderer to go through each graphic primitive (a blue filled circle, a purple stroked path, and image, etc.) in z-order to produce the final rendered image. While this isn’t the most efficient way, greater care needs to be taken in optimizing the inner loop of the algorithm that renders each individual object than in optimizing the overhead of alternating between various types of primitives. GPUs however, work quite differently, and the cost of submitting small workloads is often higher than the time spent executing them.

    I won’t go into the details of why GPUs work this way here, but the big takeaway is that it is best to not think of a GPU API draw call as a way to draw one thing, but rather as a way to submit as many items of the same type as possible. If we implement a shader to draw images, we get much better performance out of drawing many images in a single draw call than submitting a draw call for each image. I’ll call a “batch” any group of items that is rendered with a single drawing command.

  • The EU Terrorist Content Regulation – a threat to the ecosystem and our users’ rights

    In September the European Commission proposed a new regulation that seeks to tackle the spread of ‘terrorist’ content on the internet. As we’ve noted already, the Commission’s proposal would seriously undermine internet health in Europe, by forcing companies to aggressively suppress user speech with limited due process and user rights safeguards. Here we unpack the proposal’s shortfalls, and explain how we’ll be engaging on it to protect our users and the internet ecosystem.

    As we’ve highlighted before, illegal content is symptomatic of an unhealthy internet ecosystem, and addressing it is something that we care deeply about. To that end, we recently adopted an addendum to our Manifesto, in which we affirmed our commitment to an internet that promotes civil discourse, human dignity, and individual expression. The issue is also at the heart of our recently published Internet Health Report, through its dedicated section on digital inclusion.

    At the same time lawmakers in Europe have made online safety a major political priority, and the Terrorist Content regulation is the latest legislative initiative designed to tackle illegal and harmful content on the internet. Yet, while terrorist acts and terrorist content are serious issues, the response that the European Commission is putting forward with this legislative proposal is unfortunately ill-conceived, and will have many unintended consequences. Rather than creating a safer internet for European citizens and combating the serious threat of terrorism in all its guises, this proposal would undermine due process online; compel the use of ineffective content filters; strengthen the position of a few dominant platforms while hampering European competitors; and, ultimately, violate the EU’s commitment to protecting fundamental rights.

Mozilla and Home Assistant on Decentralisation and Privacy

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Moz/FF
  • Decentralizing Social Interactions with ActivityPub

    Hi, I’m Darius Kazemi. I’m a Mozilla Fellow and decentralized web enthusiast. In the last year I’ve become really excited about ActivityPub, a W3C standard protocol that describes ways for different social network sites (loosely defined) to talk to and interact with one another. You might remember the heyday of RSS, when a user could subscribe to almost any content feed in the world from any number of independently developed feed readers. ActivityPub aims to do for social network interactions what RSS did for content.

  • DSP-Boosted Neural Speech Synthesis

    LPCNet is a new project out of Mozilla’s Emerging Technologies group — an efficient neural speech synthesiser with reduced complexity over some of its predecessors. Neural speech synthesis models like WaveNet have already demonstrated impressive speech synthesis quality, but their computational complexity has made them hard to use in real-time, especially on phones. In a similar fashion to the RNNoise project, our solution with LPCNet is to use a combination of deep learning and digital signal processing (DSP) techniques.

  • Mozilla files comments on NTIA’s proposed American privacy framework

    Countries around the world are considering how to protect their citizens’ data – but there continues to be a lack of comprehensive privacy protections for American internet users. But that could change. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) recently proposed an outcome-based framework to consumer data privacy, reflecting internationally accepted principles for privacy and data protection. Mozilla believes that the NTIA framework represents a good start to address many of these challenges, and we offered our thoughts to help Americans realize the same protections enjoyed by users in other countries around the world (you can see all the comments that were received at the NTIA’s website).

  • Home Assistant: The Python Approach to Home Automation

    A number of home automation platforms support Python as an extension, but if you’re a real Python fiend, you’ll probably want Home Assistant, which places the programming language front and center. Paulus Schoutsen created Home Assistant in 2013 “as a simple script to turn on the lights when the sun was setting,” as he told attendees of his recent Embedded Linux Conference and Open IoT conference presentation. (You can watch the complete video below.)

    Schoutsen, who works as a senior software engineer for AppFolio in San Diego, has attracted 20 active contributors to the project. Home Assistant is now fairly mature, with updates every two weeks and support for more than 240 different smart devices and services. The open source (MIT license) software runs on anything that can run Python 3, from desktop PCs to a Raspberry Pi, and counts thousands of users around the world.

    Like most automation systems, Home Assistant offers mobile and desktop browser clients to control smart home devices from afar. It differs from most commercial offerings, however, in that it has no hub appliance, which means there are no built-in radios. You can add the precisely those radios you want, however, using USB sticks. There’s also no cloud component, but Schoutsen argues that any functionality you might sacrifice because of this is more than matched by better security, privacy, and resiliency.

    “There is no dependency on a cloud provider,” said Schoutsen. “Even when the Internet goes down, the home doesn’t shut down, and your very private data stays in your home.”

    Schoutsen did not offer much of a promo in his presentation, but quickly set to work explaining how the platform works. Since Home Assistant is not radically different from other IoT frameworks -- one reason why it interfaces easily with platforms ranging from Nest to Arduino to Kodi -- the presentation is a useful introduction to IoT concepts.

    To get a better sense of Home Assistant’s strengths, I recently asked Schoutsen for his elevator pitch. He highlighted the free, open source nature of the software, as well as the privacy and security of a local solution. He also noted the ease of setup and discovery, and the strength of the underlying Python language.

Lars Wirzenius Retiring from Debian, Ubuntu 18.04 Retiring in 2028, and Daniel Stenberg (Curl) Leaving Mozilla

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Moz/FF
Debian
Ubuntu
  • Lars Wirzenius: Retiring from Debian

    I've started the process of retiring from Debian. Again. This will be my third time. It'll take a little while I take care of things to do this cleanly: uploading packages to set Maintainer to QA, removing myself from Plant Debian, sending the retirement email to -private, etc.

    I've had a rough year, and Debian has also stopped being fun for me. There's a number of Debian people saying and doing things that I find disagreeable, and the process of developing Debian is not nearly as nice as it could be. There's way too much friction pretty much everywhere.

    For example, when a package maintainer uploads a package, the package goes into an upload queue. The upload queue gets processed every few minutes, and the packages get moved into an incoming queue. The incoming queue gets processed every fifteen minutes, and packages get imported into the master archive. Changes to the master archive get pushed to main mirrors every six hours. Websites like lintian.debian.org, the package tracker, and the Ultimate Debian Database get updated at time. (Or their updates get triggered, but it might take longer for the update to actually happen. Who knows. There's almost no transparency.)

    The developer gets notified, by email, when the upload queue gets processed, and when the incoming queue gets processed. If they want to see current status on the websites (to see if the upload fixed a problem, for example), they may have to wait for many more hours, possibly even a couple of days.

  • Linux: Ubuntu 18.04 LTS will be supported for a full decade

    Mark Shuttleworth has announced that Ubuntu 18.04 will be supported for ten years. Long Term Support releases of Ubuntu usually enjoy just five years of support, so this doubling is highly significant.

    Shuttleworth -- the founder of Canonical and Ubuntu -- made the announcement at the OpenStack Summit in Berlin, and the change is a tactical maneuver that will help Ubuntu better compete against the likes of Red Hat/IBM. It is also an acknowledgement that many industries are working on projects that will not see the light of day for many years, and they need the reassurance of ongoing support from their Linux distro. Ubuntu can now offer this.

  • Daniel Stenberg: I’m leaving Mozilla

    It's been five great years, but now it is time for me to move on and try something else.

    During these five years I've met and interacted with a large number of awesome people at Mozilla, lots of new friends! I got the chance to work from home and yet work with a global team on a widely used product, all done with open source. I have worked on internet protocols during work-hours (in addition to my regular spare-time working with them) and its been great! Heck, lots of the HTTP/2 development and the publication of that was made while I was employed by Mozilla and I fondly participated in that. I shall forever have this time ingrained in my memory as a very good period of my life.

    [...]

    I had worked on curl for a very long time already before joining Mozilla and I expect to keep doing curl and other open source things even going forward. I don't think my choice of future employer should have to affect that negatively too much, except of course in periods.

    With me leaving Mozilla, we're also losing Mozilla as a primary sponsor of the curl project, since that was made up of them allowing me to spend some of my work days on curl and that's now over.

    Short-term at least, this move might increase my curl activities since I don't have any new job yet and I need to fill my days with something...

Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome: Net Neutrality Stance, Mozilla, a VR Work, Firefox Monitor and 5 Best Chrome Extensions For Productivity

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Google
Moz/FF
OSS
Web
  • Mozilla Fights On For Net Neutrality

    Mozilla took the next step today in the fight to defend the web and consumers from the FCC’s attack on an open internet. Together with other petitioners, Mozilla filed our reply brief in our case challenging the FCC’s elimination of critical net neutrality protections that require internet providers to treat all online traffic equally.

    The fight for net neutrality, while not a new one, is an important one. We filed this case because we believe that the internet works best when people control for themselves what they see and do online.

    The FCC’s removal of net neutrality rules is not only bad for consumers, it is also unlawful. The protections in place were the product of years of deliberation and careful fact-finding that proved the need to protect consumers, who often have little or no choice of internet provider. The FCC is simply not permitted to arbitrarily change its mind about those protections based on little or no evidence. It is also not permitted to ignore its duty to promote competition and protect the public interest. And yet, the FCC’s dismantling of the net neutrality rules unlawfully removes long standing rules that have ensured the internet provides a voice for everyone.

    Meanwhile, the FCC’s defenses of its actions and the supporting arguments of large cable and telco company ISPs, who have come to the FCC’s aid, are misguided at best. They mischaracterize the internet’s technical structure as well as the FCC’s mandate to advance internet access, and they ignore clear evidence that there is little competition among ISPs. They repeatedly contradict themselves and have even introduced new justifications not outlined in the FCC’s original decision to repeal net neutrality protections.

  • Virtual meeting rooms don’t have to be boring. We challenge you to design better ones!

    Mozilla’s mission is to make the Internet a global public resource, open and accessible to all, including innovators, content creators, and builders on the web. VR is changing the very future of web interaction, so advancing it is crucial to Mozilla’s mission. That was the initial idea behind Hubs by Mozilla, a VR interaction platform launched in April 2018 that lets you meet and talk to your friends, colleagues, partners, and customers in a shared 360-environment using just a browser, on any device from head-mounted displays like HTC Vive to 2D devices like laptops and mobile phones.

    Since then, the Mozilla VR team has kept integrating new and exciting features to the Hubs experience: the ability bring videos, images, documents, and even 3D models into Hubs by simply pasting a link. In early October, two more useful features were added: drawing and photo uploads.

  • New Raspbian Update, Qt Creator 4.8 Beta2 Released, Firefox Monitor Now Available in More Than 26 Languages, Chrome OS Linux Soon Will Have Access to Downloads Folder and Canonical Extends Ubuntu 18.04 Long-Term Support

    Firefox Monitor, the free services that tells you whether your email has been part of a security breach, is now available in more than 26 languages: "Albanian, Traditional and Simplified Chinese, Czech, Dutch, English (Canadian), French, Frisian, German, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Malay, Portuguese (Brazil), Portuguese (Portugal), Russian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish (Argentina, Mexico, and Spain), Swedish, Turkish, Ukranian and Welsh." Along with this, Mozilla also announced that it has added "a notification to our Firefox Quantum browser that alerts desktop users when they visit a site that has had a recently reported data breach". See the Mozilla blog for details.

  • 5 Best Chrome Extensions For Productivity That You Should Use In 2019

    Google is the most popular browser around and supports a vast number of extensions as well. Since there are a lot of Chrome addons available in the Chrome Web Store, picking the best Google Chrome extension can be quite a task.

    Also, it is quite easy to get distracted on the web and lose track of time. Thankfully, several good extensions for productivity are available that can help you focus on your tasks, save time by prioritizing them and skillfully manage your to-do list. So here is a list of excellent Google Chrome extensions for productivity for the year 2019 that will assist you in your work in.

Thunderbird version 60.3.1 now Available, Includes Fixes for Cookie Removal and Encoding Issues

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Moz/FF

Thunderbird happens to be one of the most famous Email client. It is free and an open source one which was developed by the Mozilla Foundation back in 2003, fifteen years ago. From a very basic interface, it has come a long way to be what it is today in 2018. With these updates, a recent one into the 60.x series from the 52.x series was a significant one.

While the 60.x (60.3.0) update started rolling out, Mozilla was keen to push out 60.3.1. This new version of Thunderbird had a few bugs and kinks here and there which needed to be addressed which Mozilla did, most of them at least.

Read more

Firefox Monitor Launches in 26 Languages and Adds New Desktop Browser Feature

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Moz/FF

Since the launch of Firefox Monitor, a free service that notifies you when your email has been part of a breach, hundreds of thousands of people have signed up.

In response to the excitement from our global audience, Firefox Monitor is now being made available in more than 26 languages. We’re excited to bring Firefox Monitor to users in their native languages and make it easier for people to learn about data breaches and take action to protect themselves.

When your personal information is possibly at risk in a data breach, reading news and information in the language you understand best helps you to feel more in control. Now, Firefox Monitor will be available in Albanian, Traditional and Simplified Chinese, Czech, Dutch, English (Canadian), French, Frisian, German, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Malay, Portuguese (Brazil), Portuguese (Portugal), Russian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish (Argentina, Mexico, and Spain), Swedish, Turkish, Ukranian and Welsh.

We couldn’t have accomplished this feat without our awesome Mozilla community of volunteers who worked together to make this happen. We’re so grateful for their support in making Firefox Monitor available to more than 2.5 billion non-English speakers.

Read more

Mozilla: Thunderbird Hires, Firefox 64 Beta 12 Testday, Firefox DevTools

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Moz/FF
  • The Thunderbird project is hiring: Software Engineers

    We need your help to improve and maintain Thunderbird. Moving Thunderbird forward includes replacing/rewriting components to be based primarily on web technologies, reducing the reliance on Mozilla-internal interfaces. It also includes boosting the user experience of the product.

    Maintenance involves fixing bugs and regressions, as well as addressing technical debt and enhancing performance. Most tasks have a component of both maintenance and improvement, and any new component needs careful integration with the existing system.

    We have compiled a high level list of tasks here; the work assigned to you will include a subset of these items. Let us know in your cover letter where you believe you can make most impact and how.

  • Firefox 64 Beta 12 Testday, November 23th

    We are happy to let you know that Friday, November 23th, we are organizing Firefox 64 Beta 12 Testday. We’ll be focusing our testing on: Multi-Select Tabs and Widevine CDM.

  • New & Experimental Web Design Tools: Feedback Requested

    A year ago, the Firefox DevTools team formed a subgroup to focus on new tools for working in web design, CSS, and HTML. Motivated by the success of the Grid Inspector, and with help from the Developer Outreach, Gecko Platform, and Accessibility teams, we launched the Variable Fonts Editor and the Shape Path Editor, added an Accessibility Inspector, and revamped our Responsive Design Mode.

    [...]

    We’re just getting started, and now we want to learn more about you. Tell us about your biggest CSS and web design issues in the first-ever Design Tools survey!

Mozilla: Rust and Privacy

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Moz/FF
  • This Week in Rust 260

    This week's crate is cargo-nono, a cargo subcommand to check a crate's dependencies for no-std compatibility. Thanks to Hobofan for the suggestion!

  • Your Privacy Focused Holiday Shopping Guide

    The lyrics to “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town” detail an omniscient Saint Nicholas. But in 2018 — in an era of always-listening products and apps — the lyrics might as well be detailing the latest connected device.

    This holiday season, Mozilla is helping consumers identify which connected products are secure and trustworthy — and which aren’t. The goal: help consumers shop for gifts based on how well they protect the privacy and security of their friends and family, in addition to traditional factors like a product’s price and performance.

Mozilla: How AV1 and Firefox Sync Were Made

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Moz/FF
  • Mozilla shares how AV1, the new the open source royalty-free video codec, works

    Last month, Nathan Egge, a Senior Research Engineer at Mozilla explained technical details behind AV1 in depth at the Mile High Video Workshop in Denver. AV1 is a new open source royalty-free video codec that promises to help companies and individuals transmit high-quality video over the internet efficiently.

    AV1 is developed by the Alliance for Open Media (AOMedia), an association of firms from the semiconductor industry, video on demand providers, and web browser developers, founded in 2015. Mozilla joined AOMedia as a founding member.

    AV1 was created for a broad set of industry use cases such as video on demand/streaming, video conferencing, screen sharing, video game streaming, and broadcast. It is widely supported and adopted and gives at least 30% better than current generation video codecs.

  • Private by Design: How we built Firefox Sync

    Firefox Sync lets you share your bookmarks, browsing history, passwords and other browser data between different devices, and send tabs from one device to another. It’s a feature that millions of our users take advantage of to streamline their lives and how they interact with the web.

    But on an Internet where sharing your data with a provider is the norm, we think it’s important to highlight the privacy aspects of Firefox Sync.

    Firefox Sync by default protects all your synced data so Mozilla can’t read it. We built Sync this way because we put user privacy first. In this post, we take a closer look at some of the technical design choices we made and why.

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Get started with HomeBank, an open source personal finance app

There seems to be a mad rush at the beginning of every year to find ways to be more productive. New Year's resolutions, the itch to start the year off right, and of course, an "out with the old, in with the new" attitude all contribute to this. And the usual round of recommendations is heavily biased towards closed source and proprietary software. It doesn't have to be that way. Here's the eighth of my picks for 19 new (or new-to-you) open source tools to help you be more productive in 2019. Read more

Today in Techrights

Security: Bo Weaver, New Scares, Clones With Malware

  • Bo Weaver on Cloud security, skills gap, and software development in 2019
    Bo Weaver, a Kali Linux expert shares his thoughts on the security landscape in the cloud. He also talks about the skills gap in the current industry and why hiring is a tedious process. He explains the pitfalls in software development and where the tech is heading currently. Bo, along with another Kali Linux expert Wolf Halton were also interviewed on why Kali Linux is the premier platform for testing and maintaining Windows security. They talked about advantages and disadvantages for using Kali Linux for pentesting. We also asked them about what they think about pentesting in cybersecurity, in general. They have also talked about their stance about the role of pentesting in cybersecurity in their interview titled, “Security experts, Wolf Halton and Bo Weaver, discuss pentesting and cybersecurity” [...] I laugh and cry at this term. I have a sticker on my laptop that says “There is no Cloud…. Only other people’s computers.” Your data is sitting on someone else’s system along with other people’s data. These other people also have access to this system. Sure security controls are in place but the security of “physical access” has been bypassed. You’re “in the box”. One layer of security is now gone. Also, your vendor has “FULL ACCESS” to your data in some cases. How can you be sure what is going on with your data when it is in an unknown box in an unknown data center? The first rule of security is “Trust No One”. Do you really trust Microsoft, Amazon, or Google? I sure don’t!!! Having your data physically out of your company’s control is not a good idea. Yes, it is cheaper but what are your company and its digital property worth? [...] In software development, I see a dumbing down of user interfaces. This may be good for my 6-year-old grandson, but someone like me may want more access to the system. I see developers change things just for the reason of “change”. Take Microsoft’s Ribbon in Office. Even after all these years, I find the ribbon confusing and hard to use. At least, with Libre Office, they give you a choice between a ribbon and an old school menu bar. The changes in Gnome 3 from Gnome 2. This dumbing down and attempting to make a desktop usable for a tablet and a mouse totally destroyed the usability of their desktop. What used to take 1 click now takes 4 clicks to do.
  • Security experts, Wolf Halton and Bo Weaver, discuss pentesting and cybersecurity [Interview]
  • Cloud security products uninstalled by mutating malware [Ed: Affects already-compromised servers]
    Linux is more prevalent than one might think, Microsoft Azure is now predominantly run on Linux servers - it's not just the Chinese cloud environments being hosted via Linux, it's likely that your business is running at least one cloud service on a Linux server too.
  • Google Play still has a clone problem in 2019 with no end in sight
    A fake app tries to clone another app in name, looks, and functionality, often also adding something like malware. Despite Google’s best efforts, both types of apps were fairly common in 2018.