Archive for the ‘Open Source’ Category

Posted by //
Sean

Date //
Feb 26, 09 - 10:35 am

Categories //
Google
Open Source
Technology
Wireless

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Developers who paid $400.00 USD for the fully unlocked Android Dev 1 are being prevented from buying and downloading premium applications from the Android Market.

I can understand Google’s point of view on the matter. The Android Dev 1 — as it’s called in Android circles — is fully unlocked in the sense that its users can access the root file structure of everything on the device. This means any software and any application on the phone is totally exposed and vulnerable to being stolen.

By blocking the unlocked Android Dev 1 phones from accessing the premium applications, Google is protecting those companies that are offering products for sale from possible theft.

It should also be easy to understand the developers’ point a view. Here they are, the premium users of the Android platform, and they are blocked from some of the best applications available to the device.

Android Authority’s Michael Oryl writes:

“If I had gone out and paid $400 for this unlocked device, I know that I’d be pissed off about this limitation.”

No kidding Michael.

I have to wonder if Google attempted to find a happy medium before instituting this policy. Surely there could be a way to get the developers access to these applications with some sort of guarantee for the publishers of those apps that they won’t be ripped off.

Until a compromise of some sort is worked out, Android Dev 1 owners will get the short end of the stick.


Posted by //
Sean

Date //
Oct 30, 08 - 1:38 pm

Categories //
Google
Open Source
Software
Technology

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Google on Wednesday released a new version of its Chrome browser, the third Chrome beta release.

Chrome users can expect an automatic update soon.

Version 0.3.154.9 fixes a security issue that allowed address spoofing in pop-up windows:

“The window’s address bar could be manipulated to show a different address than the actual origin of the content,”

- Mark Larson
Google Chrome program manager
Source: blog post

Version 0.3.154.9 also enables laptop touchpad scrolling, improves plug-in and proxy performance and reliability, fixes a PDF crash generated by closing a tab, and eliminates the storage of data from secure sites.

The updated Chrome also has benefited from some housekeeping and interface changes. The menu commands “New incognito window” and “New window” now always open new windows, privacy protected and normal, respectively. The spell checker now works on text input fields and allows users to add words to the spell check dictionary, and file downloading has been changed to make it more secure.

Chrome is currently a distant fourth in terms of market share. According to Net Applications, the global browser market-share breakdown, as of October 30, is as follows:

  • Microsoft Internet Explorer (71.52%)
  • Mozilla Firefox (19.46%)
  • Apple Safari (6.65%)
  • Google Chrome (0.78%)
  • Opera (0.69%)

Chrome is currently available for Windows XP and Vista; Google plans to release a Mac version in the near future.


Posted by //
Sean

Date //
Sep 5, 08 - 6:09 am

Categories //
Apple
Open Source
Software
Technology

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Apple's iPhone Apps StoreApple’s iPhone Apps Store approval process clearly has some bugs to work out. Apps will be approved, and then pulled. Some bad apps remain in the store, while others aren’t approved at all.

The latest casualty is an application that, well, I probably shouldn’t publish what it does here in the first paragraph, but Beavis and Butt-head would have loved it.

The rejected application is called iFartz. I think you can figure out for yourself what the application does. The rejection letter was sent to the application’s developer by an Apple employee named Victor Wang.

According to The Unofficial Apple Weblog, Mr. Wang is “a near legend for his rejection letters, usually long, delayed, and for aesthetic reasons that leave developers blinking with surprise.”

But, really. Is anyone surprised that an application called iFartz, which has what Apple called “limited utility,” wasn’t approved? I’m not surprised. Much.

TUAW writer Erica Sadun calls iFartz “a simple, stupid joke app … but it’s the kind of simple, stupid joke app that a lot of people would download and use because people like simple, stupid joke apps.”

The author of iFartz has taken his case online. He set up a Web page begging (and scolding) Apple. On that page, he wrote:

“Sure, the App Store makes it nice and easy to find, purchase, and install iPhone applications, but is it worth the cost of a single authority telling us what they think adds utility? Ironically, if ‘limited utility’ was a factor by which we judged all software development, Mac OS probably would have died in the ’90s. At the very least, we can show Apple they’re wrong, that there’s a demand for Pull My Finger. Join this campaign pledging to spend up to $0.99 cents if PMF is accepted to the iTunes store.”

But Sadun says it better. She writes:

“Until Apple offers developers a firm set of guidelines, developers will continue to be ticked off by seemingly arbitrary rejections like this one. Apple needs to step forward, and do so soon, with a clear set of guidelines that explain to developers exactly what to expect when they press that ‘submit’ button for their new app. Developers shouldn’t be wasting Apple’s time with unpublishable software. Apple should not be wasting Developers’ time with a secretive and arbitrary review process.”

Until Apple does send out a usable set of guidelines for developers, we’ll have to abide by its sense of what’s good and what isn’t, rather than let us determine for ourselves.

Apple, can’t you let the free market decide?


Posted by //
Sean

Date //
Sep 1, 08 - 12:58 pm

Categories //
Google
Open Source
Software
Technology

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Google ChromeYes, you read that correctly. Google is taking a major swipe at its competitors with the imminent launch of Chrome, a new Web browser based on Webkit, thus marks the beginning of a new phase in the browser wars.

Kara Swisher at All Things Digital got perhaps one of the biggest scoops of the year. She spoke to some people familiar with some of the projects Google is working on.

Those sources say that Google is set to unveil a brand new Web browser that will be available to everyone as early as tomorrow (Tuesday).

Not only is Google going announcing a new browser, but it is making the announcement with a comic book. That’s hot.

Google has talked the browser talk for years. The last time I heard anything formal about it from the Google camp was nearly a year ago. Looks like Google is ready to walk the browser walk with Chrome.

Here are some details about what makes Chrome so great, as relayed by Blogoscoped.

Chrome is an open source browse based on Webkit. It will include aspects of Google’s Gears. It will include a JavaScript Virtual Machine that is being dubbed “V8″. This virtual machine, built by a bunch of coders in Denmark, can be embedded within another browser. It will also help render pages faster.

Google is taking some features from Firefox, such as the tabs, and adding its own spin, placing them above the address bar rather than below it. The address bar will have an auto-complete feature, much like that of Firefox. The Chrome browser home page will offer a speed-dial feature, similar to the one seen on Opera’s desktop browser.

My favorite feature is that Chrome will have a “privacy” mode. Surfing with the privacy setting enabled will create a new browsing window and allow you to browse with no history of what occurs in that window being stored on the computer. In other words, you can browse sites and no one will be able to track down where you’ve been on that machines.

A few other things include the ability to launch Web applications in their own browser window, absent the address bar, and tools to help fight malware and phishing.

This all sounds amazing so far. Google appears to be taking some of the great features of Firefox and Opera, merging them, and setting it up as an open source project.

Microsoft’s Internet Explorer still has the lion’s share of the market. Firefox and, to a lesser extent, Opera, have put a dent in that marketshare. Neither, however, has matched Microsoft.

How will Chrome compare? Can it stand up to such weathered competition? Will it really take marketshare away from Microsoft, or will it bleed users away from Firefox and Opera?

Only time will answer those questions. Until then, I am looking forward to taking Chrome for a test spin.


Posted by //
Sean

Date //
Aug 23, 08 - 1:13 pm

Categories //
Open Source
Software
Technology
Web

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Mozilla Labs announced the winners in their contest for the best Firefox 3 add-ons. The Extend Firefox contest received over 100 entries. Tags and bookmarks ruled the winners. See if you can find one or two new extensions to try out.

Best New Add-on

Pencil is a user interface prototyping tool. Not your ordinary extension and it could be useful, too.

Tagmarks is tagging in a click. Rather than use words to describe a bookmark, click icons.

HandyTag uses text tags, but doesn’t make you create them yourself (though you still can). Grabs common tags from del.icio.us and other sources.

Best Updated Add-on

Read It Later has almost hit 1.0. This extension makes it easy to create a “to read” list without the clutter of using standard bookmarks.

TagSifter provides several different ways to browse through the tags you’ve already created. Advanced users can use some fancy logic syntax to find just what they want (i.e., tagged with movie and comedy, but not jackblack).

Bookmarks Preview brings coverflow to bookmarks. Scroll through thumbnails of the pages before deciding where to go.

In addition to these six, the judges also chose some excellent honorable mentions (Close and Forget is a neat idea, if not a little paranoid).

Also, probably in honor of sponsor Last.fm, the judges named Fire.fm the best music add-on.


Posted by //
Sean

Date //
Aug 22, 08 - 2:48 pm

Categories //
Open Source
Software
Technology

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Mozilla FirefoxIn a move to make Firefox more competitive with desktop applications and proprietary graphics technology like Microsoft Silverlight and Adobe Flash, Mozilla on this afternoon released TraceMonkey.

TraceMonkey is a project that adds native code compilation to SpiderMonkey, Mozilla’s JavaScript engine.

Mozilla has included TraceMonkey in an alpha version of Firefox 3.1, the next major release of the open-source Firefox Web browser.

TraceMonkey is off by default, because it’s not entirely bug-free but when it’s more stable and enabled, Firefox’s JavaScript should get faster “by an order of magnitude or more,” as Mozilla CTO Brendan Eich put it in a blog post:

“If you’re doing something like image processing, we can demonstrate six to seven times speed-ups and we can probably double those,” said Eich in a phone interview. “If you’re doing a tight [programming] loop that’s just manipulating bits, you can go 20 to 40 times faster.”

Trace Monkey was built with the help of UC Irvine research scientist Andreas Gal, using a technique called “trace trees.”

Mike Schroepfer, VP of engineering at Mozilla (soon to leave for Facebook), has posted a screencast demo that shows how TraceMonkey makes image editing done through Firefox competitive with dedicated image editing applications, at least in terms of the responsiveness of the user interface.

“What we’re trying to do is extend the capability of the browser,” said Eich, adding that graphics applications and games in particular stand to benefit from improved JavaScript performance. “Not everyone wants to get a plug in,” he said.

Improving browser performance is necessary to provide an open-source alternative to proprietary rendering technologies. “If browsers are only doing JavaScript and doing it slowly, we worry that content will migrate to closed platforms like Silverlight,” said Eich.

Mozilla’s support for the canvas graphic rendering element in the HTML 5 specification and the Ogg video format also reflects this goal.

If Mozilla is successful in its efforts, the rationale for developing rich Internet applications (RIAs) will become increasingly questionable. As Eich sees it, RIAs are already at risk. “Those platforms that are not a browser are an increasingly thin value-add to what the browser can do,” he said.

Eich said that when Google launched Google Maps and found that it was done without plug-ins, they were stunned. He expects that ongoing browser performance improvements will usher in similarly surprising applications.

Firefox 3.1 should be ready before the end of the year, Eich said.