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Moz/FF

Mozilla: Firefox, Reps, Encryption and Testday Results

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  • Firefox Ups the Ante with Latest Test Pilot Experiment: Price Wise and Email Tabs

    Over the last few years, the Test Pilot team has developed innovative features for Firefox desktop and mobile, collaborating directly with Firefox users to improve the browser – from reminders to return to a tab on your desktop to a simple and secure way to keep track of your passwords.

    Today, just in time for the holiday shopping season, the Firefox Test Pilot team is introducing Price Wise and Email Tabs — the latest experimental features designed to give users more choice and transparency when shopping online. These game-changing desktop tools are sure to make shopping a breeze with more options to save, share, track and shop. We’ve also made a few updates to the Test Pilot program itself to make it even easier to become a part of the growing Firefox users testing new features.

  • Let Price Wise track prices for you this holiday shopping season

    The online shopping experience is really geared towards purchases that are made immediately. Countless hours have been spent to get you checked out as soon as possible. If you know what you want, and you’re happy with the price, this is great. On the other hand, sometimes you want to take your time, and wait for a deal. For those times, we have our new Test Pilot experiment, Price Wise.

  • Sharing links via email just got easier thanks to Email Tabs

    If your family is anything like ours, the moment the calendar flips to October, you’re getting texts and emails asking for holiday wish lists. Email remains one of the top ways people save and share online, so you likely do what we do: help make everyone’s life easier by diligently copy and pasting the URLs, titles and descriptions into a list. What if Firefox could make that process easier? Thanks to our new Test Pilot experiment Email Tabs, it can.

  • Mozilla Reps Community: Rep of the Month – October 2018

    Please join us in congratulating Tim Maks van den Broek, our Rep of the Month for October 2018!

    Tim is one of our most active members in the Dutch community. During his 15+ years as a Mozilla Volunteer he has touched many parts of the Project. More recently his focus is on user support and he is active in our Reps Onboarding team.

  • As far as I'm concerned, email signing/encryption is dead

    A while back, I used to communicate a lot with users of my popular open source project. So it made sense to sign emails and let people verify — it’s really me writing. It also gave people a way to encrypt their communication with me.

    The decision in favor of S/MIME rather than PGP wasn’t because of any technical advantage. The support for S/MIME is simply built into many email clients by default, so the chances that the other side would be able to recognize the signature were higher.

  • Firefox 64 Beta 8 Testday Results

    As you may already know, last Friday November 09th – we held a new Testday event, for Firefox 64 Beta 8.

    Thank you all for helping us make Mozilla a better place: Gabriela, gaby2300.

    From Bangladesh team: Maruf Rahman, Tanvir Rahman, Md. Raihan Ali, Sajedul Islam, Rizbanul Hasan, Mehedi Hasan, Md. Rahimul Islam, Shah Yashfique Bhuian.

Ghostery - The eye of the tracker is upon you

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Moz/FF
Web

Here's a mind-blowing but obvious realization: the Internet is one giant shopping litmus test lab, with billions of voluntary participants helping big corporations fine-tune their products and marketing strategies. This is done without the use of elaborate, interruptive questionnaires. All it takes is some Javascript running behind every visible Web page, and Bob's your uncle.

The most pervasive form of marketing is, you guessed right, online ads. Shown to you in all sorts of shapes and colors, they not only peddle wondrous solutions, they also directly and indirectly measure (i.e. track) the human response to the shown content, and this wealth of statistical data is used to make future products and future ads work even better for the selling party. On its own, this might not be bad, except people are greedy. What might have been just innocent marketing has become one giant data harvesting industry, going way beyond simple browsing habits. If you are not so keen on participating mind and soul, you are probably using an ad blocker tool of some sort. We talked about Noscript, we talked about UMatrix, we talked about Adblock Plus. Today, we will talk about Ghostery.

[...]

Ghostery is an interesting tool, with a pleasant interface, flexible and granular control of tracking elements, some odd quirks, and a questionable opt-in feature. It is indeed as I expected, a bridge between a plug-n-play ad blocker and a fully featured Javascript manager like Noscript. The good thing is, it works well in unison with either one of these, so you can mix. Shake 'n' bake. For example, intimidated by Noscript or UMatrix? You can use Adblock Plus plus [sic] Ghostery. The former for ads, the latter for extra trackers, no crippling of Javascript functionality. And then, the tool can block ads on its own, too.

I believe Ghostery works best in the complementary mode. It is also best suited for less skilled users who seek more control than just ad blocking, and the cross-platform availability sure makes it appealing. The one thing that remains outstanding is the use of the opt-in policy. Not sure how that fits into the larger scheme of things. That said, I believe it's worth testing and exploring. So far, I'm pleased with its mode of work, and the results from my escapade are promising. Now whether one should really care about these trackers and all that, well that's a separate story. Or as they say, all your ad are belong to us.

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Mozilla: TenFourFox Turns 8, Extensions in Firefox 64 and Happy BMO Push Day

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Mozilla: Rust, WebRender, AV1

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  • Splash 2018 Mid-Week Report

    I really enjoyed this talk by Felienne Hermans entitled “Explicit Direct Instruction in Programming Education”. The basic gist of the talk was that, when we teach programming, we often phrase it in terms of “exploration” and “self-expression”, but that this winds up leaving a lot of folks in the cold and may be at least partly responsible for the lack of diversity in computer science today. She argued that this is like telling kids that they should just be able to play a guitar and create awesome songs without first practicing their chords1 – it kind of sets them up to fail.

    The thing that really got me excited about this was that it seemed very connected to mentoring and open source. If you watched the Rust Conf keynote this year, you’ll remember Aaron talking about “OSS by Serendipity” – this idea that we should just expect people to come and produce PRs. This is in contrast to the “OSS by Design” that we’ve been trying to practice and preach, where there are explicit in-roads for people to get involved in the project through mentoring, as well as explicit priorities and goals (created, of course, through open processes like the roadmap and so forth). It seems to me that the things like working groups, intro bugs, quest issues, etc, are all ways for people to “practice the basics” of a project before they dive into creating major new features.

  • WebRender newsletter #29

    To introduce this week’s newsletter I’ll write about culling. Culling refers to discarding invisible content and is performed at several stages of the rendering pipeline. During frame building on the CPU we go through all primitives and discard the ones that are off-screen by computing simple rectangle intersections. As a result we avoid transferring a lot of data to the GPU and we can skip processing them as well.

    Unfortunately this isn’t enough. Web page are typically built upon layers and layers of elements stacked on top of one another. The traditional way to render web pages is to draw each element in back-to-front order, which means that for a given pixel on the screen we may have rendered many primitives. This is frustrating because there are a lot of opaque primitives that completely cover the work we did on that pixel for element beneath it, so there is a lot of shading work and memory bandwidth that goes to waste, and memory bandwidth is a very common bottleneck, even on high end hardware.

    Drawing on the same pixels multiple times is called overdraw, and overdraw is not our friend, so a lot effort goes into reducing it.
    In its early days, to mitigate overdraw WebRender divided the screen in tiles and all primitives were assigned to the tiles they covered (primitives that overlap several tiles would be split into a primitive for each tile), and when an opaque primitive covered an entire tile we could simply discard everything that was below it. This tiling approach was good at reducing overdraw with large occluders and also made the batching blended primitives easier (I’ll talk about batching in another episode). It worked quite well for axis-aligned rectangles which is the vast majority of what web pages are made of, but it was hard to split transformed primitives.

  • Into the Depths: The Technical Details Behind AV1

    Since AOMedia officially cemented the AV1 v1.0.0 specification earlier this year, we’ve seen increasing interest from the broadcasting industry. Starting with the NAB Show (National Association of Broadcasters) in Las Vegas earlier this year, and gaining momentum through IBC (International Broadcasting Convention) in Amsterdam, and more recently the NAB East Show in New York, AV1 keeps picking up steam. Each of these industry events attract over 100,000 media professionals. Mozilla attended these shows to demonstrate AV1 playback in Firefox, and showed that AV1 is well on its way to being broadly adopted in web browsers.

Mozilla News and Developments

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  • Happy BMO Push Day!
  • Lessons Learned while Designing for the Immersive Web

    It’s not necessarily more difficult – all the same design principles still apply – but it is quite different. One of the things that you have to account for is how the user perceives space in a headset – it seems huge. So instead of designing for a rectangular window inside a rectangular display, you’re suspending a window in what looks to be a very large room. The difficulty there is that people want to fill that room with a dozen browser windows, and maybe have a YouTube video, baseball game or stock ticker running in the background. But in reality, we only have these 2-inch screens to work with, one for each eye, and the pixels of just half a cell phone screen. But the perception is it’s 1,000 times bigger than a desktop. They think they’re in a movie theater.

  • Cross-language Performance Profile Exploration with speedscope

    The goal of speedscope is to provide a 60fps way of interactively exploring large performance profiles from a variety of profilers for a variety of programming languages. It runs totally in-browser, and does not send any profiling data to any servers. Because it runs totally in-browser, it should work in Firefox and Chrome on Mac, Windows, and Linux. It can be downloaded to run offline, either from npm, or just as a totally standalone zip file.

    In doing performance work across many language environments at Figma, I noticed that every community tends to create its own tools for visualizing performance issues. With speedscope, I hoped to de-duplicate those efforts. To meet this goal, speedscope supports import of profiles from a growing list of profilers:

  • How do people decide where or not to get a browser extension?

    The Firefox Add-ons Team works to make sure people have all of the information they need to decide which browser extensions are right for them. Past research conducted by Bill Selman and the Add-ons Team taught us a lot about how people discover extensions, but there was more to learn. Our primary research question was: “How do people decide whether or not to get a specific browser extension?”

  • These Weeks in Firefox: Issue 49
  • Friend of Add-ons: Jyotsna Gupta

    Our newest Friend of Add-ons is Jyotsna Gupta! Jyotsna first became involved with Mozilla in 2015 when she became a Firefox Student Ambassador and started a Firefox club at her college. She has contributed to several projects at Mozilla, including localization, SuMo, and WebMaker, and began exploring Firefox OS app development after attending a WoMoz community meetup in her area.

    In 2017, a friend introduced Jyotsna to browser extension development. Always curious and interested in trying new things, she created PrivateX, an extension that protects user privacy by opening websites that ask for critical user information in a private browsing window and removing Google Analytics tracking tokens. With her newfound experience developing extensions, Jyotsna began mentoring new extension developers in her local community, and joined the Featured Extensions Advisory Board.

  • This Week in Rust 259

    Hello and welcome to another issue of This Week in Rust! Rust is a systems language pursuing the trifecta: safety, concurrency, and speed.

  • Mozilla Reaffirms Commitment to Transgender Equality

Mozilla: NLL, Socorro, Servo, Virtual and Augmented Reality, Localisation and More

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  • After NLL: Interprocedural conflicts

    In my previous post on the status of NLL, I promised to talk about “What is next?” for ownership and borrowing in Rust. I want to lay out the various limitations of Rust’s ownership and borrowing system that I see, as well as – where applicable – current workarounds. I’m curious to get feedback on which problems affect folks the most.

    The first limitation I wanted to focus on is interprocedural conflicts. In fact, I’ve covered a special case of this before – where a closure conflicts with its creator function – in my post on Precise Closure Capture Clauses. But the problem is more general.

  • How to speed up the Rust compiler in 2018: NLL edition

    Niko Matsakis recently blogged about the Rust compiler’s new borrow checker, which implements non-lexical lifetimes (NLL). The new borrow checker is a really nice improvement to Rust, because it accepts many sound programs that the old borrow checker rejected.

  • Socorro: October 2018 happenings

    Socorro is the crash ingestion pipeline for Mozilla's products like Firefox. When Firefox crashes, the Breakpad crash reporter asks the user if the user would like to send a crash report. If the user answers "yes!", then the Breakpad crash reporter collects data related to the crash, generates a crash report, and submits that crash report as an HTTP POST to Socorro. Socorro saves the crash report, processes it, and provides an interface for aggregating, searching, and looking at crash reports.

  • This Week In Servo 118

    In the past week, we merged 75 PRs in the Servo organization’s repositories.

  • QMO: Firefox 64 Beta 8 Testday, November 9th
  • Principles of Mixed Reality Permissions

    Virtual and Augmented Reality (VR and AR) — known together as Mixed Reality (MR) — introduce a new dimension of physicality to current web security and privacy concerns. Problems that are already difficult on the 2D web, like permissions and clickjacking, become even more complex when users are immersed in a 3D experience. This is especially true on head-worn displays, where there is no analogous concept to the 2D “window,” and everything a user sees might be rendered by the web application. Compounding the difficulty of obtaining permission is the more intimate nature of the data collected by the additional sensors required to enable AR and VR experiences.

    To enable immersive MR experiences, devices have sensors that not only capture information about the physical world around the user (far beyond the sensors common on mobile phones), but also capture personal details about the user and (possibly) bystanders. For example, these sensors could create detailed 3D maps of the physical world (either by using underlying platform capabilities like the ability to intersect 3D rays with a model of world around the user, or by direct camera access), infer biometric data like height and gait, and potentially find and recognize nearby faces in the numerous cameras typically present on these devices. The infrared sensor that detects when a head-mounted device is worn could eventually disclose more detailed biometrics like perspiration and pulse rate, and some devices already incorporate eye-tracking.

  • Mozilla Localization (L10N): L10n Report: November edition
  • Mozilla GFX: WebRender newsletter #28
  • Mozilla Addons Blog: November’s Featured Extensions
  • Understanding users’ wants and needs for linking Cloud Storage providers

    For our Cloud Storage experiment we sampled a small portion of Firefox users to gauge interest in saving downloads directly to their existing cloud storage, allowing the downloads to be accessible from all their devices. We used the Shield platform for this study.
    Using learnings from the previous study, the Phase 2 study rolled out the Cloud Storage extension with a simpler and less disruptive interface by moving the option to save downloads into the Download Panel.

  • TenFourFox FPR11b1 available

    TenFourFox Feature Parity 11 beta 1 is now available (downloads, hashes, release notes). As mentioned, FPR11 and FPR12 will be smaller in scope due to less low-hanging fruit to work on and other competing projects such as the POWER9 JIT, but there are still new features and improvements.

    The most notable one is my second attempt to get unique origin for data: URIs to stick (issue 525). This ran aground in FPR10 and had to be turned off because of compatibility issues with the Firefox 45 version of uBlock Origin, which would be too major an add-on for me to ignore breaking. FPR11 now has a shim in it to allow the old behaviour for data URL access initiated by the internal system principal (including add-ons) but use the new behaviour for web content, and seems to properly reject the same test cases while allowing uBlock to run normally. As before, we really need this in the browser to defend against XSS attacks, so please test thoroughly. Once again, if you experience unusual behaviour in this version, please flip security.data_uri.unique_opaque_origin to false and restart the browser. If the behaviour changes, then this was the cause and you should report it in the comments.

Firefox: The Internet’s Knight in Shining Armor

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Here’s why Mozilla Firefox should be your choice in the effort to protect your privacy and in keeping the internet healthy and an open place.

Browser choice is a very personal thing. I notice that people have a sort of, love towards the browser that they have been using for a long enough time. What I mean by “love” is that it is quite difficult to make someone change their default browser. Ask Microsoft, they have tried.

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12 Firefox Add-ons for Developers & Designers

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Development
Moz/FF
Web

Just recently, we released a post on the 12 Google Chrome Extensions for Developers & Designers and while some of those extensions are available on Firefox, I wouldn’t repeat any here.

In the same way, some of the extensions listed below are available on Chrome so consider such apps as bonuses for the respective browsers.

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Also: Daniel Lange: Firefox asking to be made the default browser again and again

Mozilla: Firefox 64, VR and Tor

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  • Firefox 64 to Add Enterprise Policy Support for macOS, New Tab Handling Features

    With the Firefox 63 release out the door, Mozilla is now working hard on the next release in the Quantum series, Firefox 64, which is expected to arrive in mid-December with various improvements and enhancements.
    Since the first beta releases of the upcoming Firefox 64 web browser already hit the testing channels, we thought to let you know about what to expect from the next major Firefox release. First and foremost, Firefox 64 will introduce new tab handling features to allow users to select multiple tabs from the tab bar.

  • Mozilla VR Blog: How to Run a UX XR Study

    This article is part four of the series that reviews the user testing conducted on Hubs by Mozilla, a social XR platform. Previous posts in this series have covered insights related to accessibility, user experience, and environmental design. The objective of this final post is to give an overview of how the Extended Mind and Mozilla collaborated to execute this study and make recommendations for best practices in user research on cross platform (2D and XR) devices.

  • Tor part 3: Tor Browser

    The Tor Browser is an official Tor project. It is a modified Firefox, including some defaults settings changes and some extensions. The default changes are all related to privacy and anonymity. It has been made to be easy to browse the Internet through Tor without leaving behing any information which could help identify you, because there are much more informations than your public IP address which could be used against you.

Mozilla: This Week in Rust 258, Mozilla B-Team and Laptop Decorated With Mozilla Stickers

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  • This Week in Rust 258
  • Mozilla B-Team: happy bmo push day!
  • New Laptop Setup: Stickers

    As I mentioned before, I underwent a hardware refresh and set up a laptop. However, I failed to mention the most important consideration: laptops come with blank canvases waiting for stickers. So let’s dive into what it means to have an empty laptop lid and a drawer full of stickers.

    On :bwinton’s recommendation I acquired a blank Gelaskin. This will in the future allow me to remove and retain all of the stickers when I retire the laptop, or when I just decide to start afresh.

    I was surprised twice by the ‘skin. Firstly, I was expecting it to be clear. Luckily, a white top on the black laptop makes a strong statement that I like so I’m a little glad. Also a surprise: the curved edges. There is a very clear type of laptop this is for (macbooks) and mine is not of that type. These were just minor things. A little trimming of the long edge later, and I was in business.

    With the canvas thus prepared the question became how to fill it. I imagine there are as many schools of thought in this as there are people with laptops, but this is my approach when I have a blank laptop and quite a few stickers stockpiled:

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