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Mozilla offers $33 smartphone in bid to capture Indian market - The Globe and Mail

Nieuws verzameld via Google - ma, 25/08/2014 - 21:48

Mozilla offers $33 smartphone in bid to capture Indian market
The Globe and Mail
The Cloud FX phone will run Mozilla's Firefox operating system and offer games and other content through its applications store, Jane Hsu, the company's Taipei-based director of product marketing said at a New Delhi briefing yesterday. The device has ...

Google Nieuws
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Mozilla launches low-cost Firefox OS phone in India - CNET

Nieuws verzameld via Google - ma, 25/08/2014 - 21:27


Mozilla launches low-cost Firefox OS phone in India
intex-cloud-fxblack-1-600x424.jpg The Cloud FX, a joint project of India-based phone maker Intex and Mozilla, is a low-cost smartphone running Firefox OS. Mozilla hopes the phone will open up new markets by getting more people to use the Internet. Mozilla.
Mozilla Unveils A Firefox-Powered Mobile Phone For The Indian MarketInternational Business Times
Mozilla is launching its first Firefox OS smartphone in India this weekThe Next Web
Intex Cloud FX first impressions: Can Mozilla's Firefox OS flourish in an ...Firstpost
FierceWireless -Business Standard -Gizmodo India
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Mozilla Unveils A Firefox-Powered Mobile Phone For The Indian Market - International Business Times

Nieuws verzameld via Google - ma, 25/08/2014 - 18:54

PopHerald Technology News

Mozilla Unveils A Firefox-Powered Mobile Phone For The Indian Market
International Business Times
The mobile phone in many ways is controlled by the giant companies that produce the operating systems running them: Google's Android, Apple's iOS and Microsoft's Windows Phone, among others. Now Mozilla wants to do for mobile what it did for the web ...
Mozilla rivals Microsoft Corporation's Nokia 130, meet the Cloud FX PhonePopHerald Technology News

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A top net neutrality defender is trying to poke holes in Mozilla's plan for ... - Washington Post (blog)

Nieuws verzameld via Google - ma, 25/08/2014 - 18:48

A top net neutrality defender is trying to poke holes in Mozilla's plan for ...
Washington Post (blog)
Mozilla's proposal to federal regulators, in a nutshell, involves highlighting the relationship between Internet service providers (ISPs) and content companies like Amazon, YouTube and Xbox Live, and regulating that relationship more heavily than the ...

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Mozilla partners with Intex to bring $33 Firefox OS smartphone to India - FierceWireless

Nieuws verzameld via Google - ma, 25/08/2014 - 18:12

Mozilla partners with Intex to bring $33 Firefox OS smartphone to India
Mozilla's announcement that it would bring to market a smartphone costing around $25 running the Firefox OS is coming to fruition. Intex Technologies released the Cloud FX smartphone as the first Firefox OS smartphone available in India, costing 1,999 ...

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David Humphrey: Introducing MakeDrive

Mozilla planet - ma, 25/08/2014 - 18:11

I've been lax in my blogging for the past number of months (apologies). I've had my head down in a project that's required all of my attention. On Friday we reached a major milestone, and I gave a demo of the work on the weekly Webmaker call. Afterward David Ascher asked me to blog about it. I've wanted to do so for a while, so I put together a proper post with screencasts.

I've written previously about our idea of a web filesystem, and the initial work to make it possible. Since then we've greatly expanded the idea and implementation into MakeDrive, which I'll describe and show you now.

MakeDrive is a JavaScript library and server (node.js) that provides an offline-first, always available, syncing filesystem for the web. If you've used services like Dropbox or Google Drive, you already know what it does. MakeDrive allows users to work with files and folders locally, then sync that data to the cloud and other browsers or devices. However, unlike Dropbox or other similar services, MakeDrive is based purely on JavaScript and HTML5, and runs on the web. You don't install it; rather, a web application includes it as a script, and the filesystem gets created or loaded as part of the web page or app.

Because MakeDrive is a lower-level service, the best way to demonstrate it is by integrating it into a web app that relies on a full filesystem. To that end, I've made a series of short videos demonstrating aspects of MakeDrive integrated into a modified version of the Brackets code editor. I actually started this work because I want to make Brackets work in the browser, and one of the biggest pieces it is missing in browser is a full featured filesystem (side-note: Brackets can run in a browser just fine :). This post isn't specifically about Brackets, but I'll return to it in future posts to discuss how we plan to use it in Webmaker. MakeDrive started as a shim for Brackets-in-a-browser, but Simon Wex encouraged me to see that it could and should be a separate service, usable by many applications.

In the first video I demonstrate how MakeDrive provides a full "local," offline-first filesystem in the browser to a web app:

The code to provide a filesystem to the web page is as simple as var fs = MakeDrive.fs();. Applications can then use the same API as node.js' fs module. MakeDrive uses another of our projects, Filer, to provide the low-level filesystem API in the browser. Filer is a full POSIX filesystem (or wants to be, file bugs if you find them!), so you can read and write utf8 or binary data, work with files, directories, links, watches, and other fun things. Want to write a text file? it's done like so:

var data = '<html>...'; fs.writeFile('/path/to/index.html', data, function(err) { if(err) return handleError(); // data is now written to disk });

The docs for Filer are lovingly maintained, and will show you the rest, so I won't repeat it here.

MakeDrive is offline-first, so you can read/write data, close your browser or reload the page, and it will still be there. Obviously having access to your filesystem outside the current web page is also desirable. Our solution was to rework Filer so it could be used in both the browser and node.js, allowing us to mirror filesystems over the network using Web Sockets). We use a rolling-checksum and differential algorithm (i.e., only sending the bits of a file that have changed) inspired by rsync; Dropbox does the same.

In this video I demonstrate syncing the browser filesystem to the server:

Applications and users work with the local browser filesystem (i.e., you read and write data locally, always), and syncing happens in the background. That means you can always work with your data locally, and MakeDrive tries to sync it to/from the server automatically. MakeDrive also makes a user's mirrored filesystem available remotely via a number of authenticated HTTP end points on the server:

  • GET /p/path/into/filesystem - serve the path from the filesystem provided like a regular web server would
  • GET /j/path/into/filesystem - serve the path as JSON (for APIs to consume)
  • GET /z/path/into/filesystem - export the path as (e.g., zip and send user data)

This means that a user can work on files in one app, sync them, and then consume them in another app that requires URLs. For example: edit a web component in one app and include and use it in another. When I started web development in the 1990s, you worked on files locally, FTP'ed them to a server, then loaded them via your web server and browser. Today we use services like gh-pages and Both require manual steps. MakeDrive automates the same sort of process, and targets new developers and those learning web development, making it a seamless experience to work on web content: your files are always "on the web."

MakeDrive supports multiple, simultaneous connections for a user. I might have a laptop, desktop, and tablet all sharing the same filesystem via a web app. This app can be running in any HTML5 compatible browser, app, or device. In this video I demonstrate syncing changes between different HTML5 browsers (Chrome, Firefox, and Opera):

Like Dropbox, each client will have its own "local" version of the filesystem, with one authoritative copy on the server. The server manages syncing to/from this filesystem so that multiple clients don't try to sync different changes to the same data at once. After one client syncs new changes, the server informs other clients that they can sync as well, which eventually propagates the changes across all connected clients. Changes can include updates to a file's data blocks, but also any change to the filesystem nodes themselves: renames, deleting a file, making a new directory, etc.

The code to make this syncing happen is very simple. As long as there is network, a MakeDrive filesystem can be connected to the server and synced. This can be a one-time thing, or the connection can be left open and incremental syncs can take place over the lifetime of the app: offline first, always syncing, always available.

Because MakeDrive allows the same user to connect multiple apps/devices at once, we have to be careful not to corrupt data or accidentally overwrite data when syncing. MakeDrive implements something similar to Dropbox's Conflicted Copy mechanism: if two clients change the same data in different ways, MakeDrive syncs the server's authoritative version, but also creates a new file with the local changes, and lets the user decide how to proceed.

This video demonstrates the circumstances by which a conflicted copy would be created, and how to deal with it:

Internally, MakeDrive uses extended attributes on filesystem nodes to determine automatically what has and hasn't been synced, and what is in a conflicted state. Conflicted copies are not synced back to the server, but remain in the local filesystem. The user decides how to resolve conflicts by deleting or renaming the conflicted file (i.e., renaming clears the conflict attribute).

MakeDrive works today, but isn't ready for production quite yet. On Friday we reached the end of our summer work, where we tried hard to follow initial mockups are very cool. If you have a web-first filesystem, you can do some interesting things that might not make sense in a traditional filesystem (i.e., when the scope of your files is limited to web content).

  • Having a filesystem in a web page naturally got me wanting to host web pages from web pages. I wrote nohost to experiment with this idea, an httpd in browser that uses Blob URLs. It's really easy to load DOM elements from a web filesystem:
  • var img = document.createElement('img'); fs.readFile('/path/into/filesystem/image.png', function(err, data) { if(err) return handleError(); // Create a Blob and wrap in URL Object. var blob = new Blob([data], {type: 'image/png'}) var url = URL.createObjectURL(blob); img.src = url; });
    • Using this technique, we could create a small bootloader and store entire web apps in the filesystem. For example, all of Brackets loading from disk, with a tiny bootloader web page to get to the filesystem in appcache. This idea has been discussed elsewhere, and adding the filesystem makes it much more natural.
    • The current work on the W3C stream spec is really exciting, since we need a way to implement streaming data in and out of a filesystem, and therefore IndexedDB.
    • Having the ability to move IndexedDB to worker threads for background syncs (bug 701634), and into third-party iframes with postMessage to share a single filesystem instance across origins (bug 912202) would be amazing
    • Mobile! Being able to sync filesystems in and out of mobile web apps is really exciting. We're going to help get MakeDrive working in Mobile Appmaker this fall.

    If any of this interests you, please get in touch (@humphd) and help us. The next 6 months should be a lot of fun. I'll try to blog again before that, though ;)

    Categorieën: Mozilla-nl planet

    Mozilla Adding Granular App Permissions to Firefox OS - Threatpost

    Nieuws verzameld via Google - ma, 25/08/2014 - 17:10

    Mozilla Adding Granular App Permissions to Firefox OS
    Mozilla is set to add a feature to its mobile Firefox OS that will give users the ability to revoke any application's permissions on a granular basis. Firefox OS is the open source operating system that Mozilla built for smartphones. The software runs ...
    Mozilla Firefox: Marketplace Will Elevate Apps and Use Crowd-CurationJBG News

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    Mozilla Offers $33 Smartphone for India Market - (blog)

    Nieuws verzameld via Google - ma, 25/08/2014 - 16:47

    Mozilla Offers $33 Smartphone for India Market (blog)
    The Cloud FX phone will run Mozilla's Firefox operating system and offer games and other content through its applications store, Jane Hsu, the company's Taipei-based director of product marketing said at a New Delhi briefing today. The device has 128 ...
    Mozilla Makes Asia Debut With $33 Smartphone in IndiaBloomberg

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    Mozilla Makes Asia Debut With $33 Smartphone in India - Bloomberg

    Nieuws verzameld via Google - ma, 25/08/2014 - 13:33

    Mozilla Makes Asia Debut With $33 Smartphone in India
    Mozilla Corp. began offering its first low-cost smartphone in India today for 1,999 rupees ($33), in a bid to build market share for its open source software in the world's fastest growing market for such devices. The Cloud FX phone will run Mozilla's ...

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    Intex Cloud FX first impressions: Can Mozilla's Firefox OS flourish in an ... - Firstpost

    Nieuws verzameld via Google - ma, 25/08/2014 - 12:48


    Intex Cloud FX first impressions: Can Mozilla's Firefox OS flourish in an ...
    Mozilla's second Firefox-OS smartphone (after the Spice Fire One) is officially out in India, and this one is billed as India's cheapest smartphone. The Intex Cloud FX is priced at Rs 1,990 and will be exclusively available on Snapdeal. Intex has also ...
    Mozilla is launching its first Firefox OS smartphone in India this weekThe Next Web
    To kill 3 birds with one stone: Mozilla ready to win the game with its new ...Daily Bhaskar
    Mozilla Firefox OS Smartphone Headed To India This WeekGeeky gadgets
    iamWire -The American Bazaar -Tech2
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    Mozilla is launching its first Firefox OS smartphone in India this week - The Next Web

    Nieuws verzameld via Google - ma, 25/08/2014 - 10:58

    Geeky gadgets

    Mozilla is launching its first Firefox OS smartphone in India this week
    The Next Web
    Slowly but surely, Mozilla is pushing its Firefox OS mobile operating system into new markets. Although the nonprofit had already discussed its approach for India, today it announced it will be launching its first smartphone in the region this week ...
    To kill 3 birds with one stone: Mozilla ready to win the game with its new ...Daily Bhaskar
    Mozilla Firefox OS Smartphone Headed To India This WeekGeeky gadgets
    Spice Fire One MI-FX1: first low-cost Firefox smartphone in IndiaThe American Bazaar
    Firstpost -Tech2 -IBNLive
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    To kill 3 birds with one stone: Mozilla ready to win the game with its new ... - Daily Bhaskar

    Nieuws verzameld via Google - ma, 25/08/2014 - 10:34


    To kill 3 birds with one stone: Mozilla ready to win the game with its new ...
    Daily Bhaskar
    Mozilla has launched its all new Firefox operating system (OS) phone in India via Spice Mobiles at a very low price tag of INR 2299. We need not say that the battle has already been kickstarted, and Mozilla is aiming major players with its new Firefox ...
    Spice Fire One MI-FX1: first low-cost Firefox smartphone in IndiaThe American Bazaar
    Spice Fire One: India's first Firefox phone to take on Android's budget dominanceFirstpost
    Spice Fire One is India's first Firefox OS phone: Available from August 29 for ...Tech2
    IBNLive -IntoMobile (blog) -TelecomTiger
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    First Firefox OS Smartphones Available in India this Week

    Mozilla Blog - ma, 25/08/2014 - 10:04
    We are happy to announce that Intex Technologies just introduced the Cloud FX as the first Firefox OS smartphone available in India. Intex will offer the Cloud FX exclusively on to give their customers a powerful and customizable smartphone … Continue reading
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    Daniel Stenberg: My home setup

    Mozilla planet - ma, 25/08/2014 - 08:57

    I work in my home office which is upstairs in my house, perhaps 20 steps from my kitchen and the coffee refill. I have a largish desk with room for a number of computers. The photo below shows the three meter beauty. My two kids have their two machines on the left side while I use the right side of it for my desktop and laptop.

    Daniel's home office

    Many computers

    The kids use my old desktop computer with a 20″ Dell screen and my old 15.6″ dual-core Asus laptop. My wife has her laptop downstairs and we have a permanent computer installed underneath the TV for media (an Asus VivoPC).

    My desktop computer

    I’m primarily developing C and C++ code and I’m frequently compiling rather large projects – repeatedly. I use a desktop machine for my ordinary development, equipped with a fairly powerful 3.5GHz quad-core Core-I7 CPU, I have my OS, my home dir and all source code put on an SSD. I have a larger HDD for larger and slower content. With ccache and friends, this baby can build Firefox really fast. I put my machine together from parts myself as I couldn’t find a suitable one focused on horse power but yet a “normal” 2D graphics card that works Fractal Designfine with Linux. I use a Radeon HD 5450 based ASUS card, which works fine with fully open source drivers.

    I have two basic 24 inch LCD monitors (Benq and Dell) both using 1920×1200 resolution. I like having lots of windows up, nothing runs full-screen. I use KDE as desktop and I edit everything in Emacs. Firefox is my primary browser. I don’t shut down this machine, it runs a few simple servers for private purposes.

    My machines (and my kids’) all run Debian Linux, typically of the unstable flavor allowing me to get new code reasonably fast.

    Func KB-460 keyboardMy desktop keyboard is a Func KB-460, mechanical keyboard with some funky extra candy such as red backlight and two USB ports. Both my keyboard and my mouse are wired, not wireless, to take away the need for batteries or recharging etc in this environment. My mouse is a basic and old Logitech MX 310.

    I have a crufty old USB headset with a mic, that works fine for hangouts and listening to music when the rest of the family is home. I have Logitech webcam thing sitting on the screen too, but I hardly ever use it for anything.

    When on the move

    I need to sometimes move around and work from other places. Going to conferences or even our regular Mozilla work weeks. Hence I also have a laptop that is powerful enough to build Firefox is a sane amount of time. I have Lenovo Thinkpad w540a Lenovo Thinkpad W540 with a 2.7GHz quad-core Core-I7, 16GB of RAM and 512GB of SSD. It has the most annoying touch pad on it. I don’t’ like that it doesn’t have the explicit buttons so for example both-clicking (to simulate a middle-click) like when pasting text in X11 is virtually impossible.

    On this machine I also run a VM with win7 installed and associated development environment so I can build and debug Firefox for Windows on it.

    I have a second portable. A small and lightweight netbook, an Eeepc S101, 10.1″ that I’ve been using when I go and just do presentations at places but recently I’ve started to simply use my primary laptop even for those occasions – primarily because it is too slow to do anything else on.

    I do video conferences a couple of times a week and we use Vidyo for that. Its Linux client is shaky to say the least, so I tend to use my Nexus 7 tablet for it since the Vidyo app at least works decently on that. It also allows me to quite easily change location when it turns necessary, which it sometimes does since my meetings tend to occur in the evenings and then there’s also varying amounts of “family activities” going on!


    For backup, I have a Synology NAS equipped with 2TB of disk in a RAIDSynology DS211j stashed downstairs, on the wired in-house gigabit ethernet. I run an rsync job every night that syncs the important stuff to the NAS and I run a second rsync that also mirrors relevant data over to a friends house just in case something terribly bad would go down. My NAS backup has already saved me really good at least once.


    HP Officejet 8500ANext to the NAS downstairs is the house printer, also attached to the gigabit even if it has a wifi interface of its own. I just like increasing reliability to have the “fixed services” in the house on wired network.

    The printer also has scanning capability which actually has come handy several times. The thing works nicely from my Linux machines as well as my wife’s windows laptop.


    fiber cableI have fiber going directly into my house. It is still “just” a 100/100 connection in the other end of the fiber since at the time I installed this they didn’t yet have equipment to deliver beyond 100 megabit in my area. I’m sure I’ll upgrade this to something more impressive in the future but this is a pretty snappy connection already. I also have just a few milliseconds latency to my primary servers.

    Having the fast uplink is perfect for doing good remote backups.

    Router  and wifi

    dlink DIR 635I have a lowly D-Link DIR 635 router and wifi access point providing wifi for the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands and gigabit speed on the wired side. It was dead cheap it just works. It NATs my traffic and port forwards some ports through to my desktop machine.

    The router itself can also update the dyndns info which ultimately allows me to use a fixed name to my home machine even without a fixed ip.

    Frequent Wifi users in the household include my wife’s laptop, the TV computer and all our phones and tablets.


    Ping Communication Voice Catcher 201EWhen I installed the fiber I gave up the copper connection to my home and since then I use IP telephony for the “land line”. Basically a little box that translates IP to old phone tech and I keep using my old DECT phone. We basically only have our parents that still call this number and it has been useful to have the kids use this for outgoing calls up until they’ve gotten their own mobile phones to use.

    It doesn’t cost very much, but the usage is dropping over time so I guess we’ll just give it up one of these days.

    Mobile phones and tablets

    I have a Nexus 5 as my daily phone. I also have a Nexus 7 and Nexus 10 that tend to be used by the kids mostly.

    I have two Firefox OS devices for development/work.

    Categorieën: Mozilla-nl planet

    Kaustav Das Modak: Dear smartphone user, it is time to unlearn

    Mozilla planet - ma, 25/08/2014 - 07:23
    Dear smartphone user, You have been used to sophisticated features and cluttered interfaces for a long time. Remember those days when you had used a smartphone for the first time? Do you recollect that extra cognitive overload you had to face to figure out what each gesture does? Why were there so many round and […]
    Categorieën: Mozilla-nl planet

    Zack Weinberg: The literary merit of right-wing SF

    Mozilla planet - ma, 25/08/2014 - 05:44

    The results are in for the 2014 Hugo Awards. I’m pleased with the results in the fiction categories—a little sad that “The Waiting Stars” didn’t win its category, but it is the sort of thing that would not be to everyone’s taste.

    Now that it’s all over, people are chewing over the politics of this year’s shortlist, particularly the infamous “sad puppy” slate, over on John Scalzi’s blog, and this was going to be a comment there, but I don’t seem to be able to post comments there, so y’all get the expanded version here instead. I’m responding particularly to this sentiment, which I believe accurately characterizes the motivation behind Larry Correia’s original posting of his slate, and the motivations of those who might have voted for it:

    I too am someone who likes, and dislikes, works from both groups of authors. However, only one group ever gets awards. The issue is not that you cannot like both groups, but that good works from the PC crowd get rewarded and while those from authors that have been labeled “unacceptable” are shunned, and that this happens so regularly, and with such predictability that it is obviously not just quality being rewarded.

    ― “BrowncoatJeff

    I cannot speak to the track record, not having followed genre awards closely in the past. But as to this year’s Hugo shortlist, it is my considered opinion that all the works I voted below No Award (except The Wheel of Time, whose position on my ballot expresses an objection to the eligibility rules) suffer from concrete, objective flaws on the level of basic storytelling craft, severe enough that they did not deserve a nomination. This happens to include Correia’s own novels, and all the other works of fiction from his slate that made the shortlist. Below the fold, I shall elaborate.

    (If you’re not on board with the premise that there is such a thing as objective (observer-independent) quality in a work of art, and that observers can evaluate that independently from whether a work suits their own taste or agrees with their own politics, you should probably stop reading now. Note that this is not the same as saying that I think all Hugo voters should vote according to a work’s objective quality. I am perfectly fine with, for instance, the people who voted “Opera Vita Aeterna” below No Award without even cracking it open—those people are saying “Vox Day is such a despicable person that no matter what his literary skills are, he should not receive an award for them” and that is a legitimate critical stance. It is simply not the critical stance I am taking right now.)

    Let me first show you the basic principles of storytelling craft that I found lacking. I did not invent them; similar sentiments can be found in, for instance, “Fenimore Cooper’s Literary Offenses,” the Turkey City Lexicon, Ursula LeGuin’s Steering the Craft, Robert Schroeck’s A Fanfic Writer’s Guide To Writing, and Aristotle’s Poetics. This formulation, however, is my own.

    1. Above all, a story must not be boring. The reader should care, both about “what happens to these people,” and about the ultimate resolution to the plot.
    2. Stories should not confuse their readers, and should enable readers to anticipate—but not perfectly predict—the consequences of each event.
    3. The description, speech, and actions of each character in a story should draw a clear, consistent picture of that character’s personality and motivations, sufficient for the reader to anticipate their behavior in response to the plot.
    4. Much like music, stories should exhibit dynamic range in their pacing, dramatic tension, emotional color, and so forth; not for nothing is “monotony” a synonym for “tedium.”
    5. Style, language, and diction should be consistent with the tone and content of the story.
    6. Rules 2–5 can be broken in the name of Art, but doing so demands additional effort and trust from the reader, who should, by the end of the story, believe that it was worth it.

    With that in hand, I shall now re-review the works that didn’t deserve (IMNSHO) to make the shortlist, in order from most to least execrable.

    Opera Vita Aeterna

    This is textbook bad writing. The most obvious problem is the padded, purple, monotonously purple prose, which obviously fails point 4, and less obviously fails point 5 because the content isn’t sufficiently sophisticated to warrant the style. The superficial flaws of writing are so severe that it’s hard to see past them, but if you do, you discover that it fails all the other points as well, simply because there wasn’t enough room, underneath all of those purple words, for an actual plot. It’s as if you tried to build a building entirely out of elaborate surface decorations, without first putting up any sort of structural skeleton.

    The Butcher of Khardov and Meathouse Man

    These are both character studies, which is a difficult mode: if you’re going to spend all of your time exploring one character’s personality, you’d better make that one character interesting, and ideally also fun to be around. In these cases, the authors were trying for tragically flawed antiheroes and overdid the anti-, producing characters who are nothing but flaw. Their failures are predictable; their manpain, tedious; their ultimate fates, banal. It does not help that they are, in many ways, the same extruded antihero product that Hollywood and the comic books have been foisting on us for going on two decades now, just taken up to 11.

    Khardov also fails on point 2, being told out of order for no apparent reason, causing the ending to make no sense. Specifically, I have no idea whether the wild-man-in-the-forest scenes are supposed to occur before or after the climactic confrontation with the queen, and the resolution is completely different depending on which way you read it.

    Meathouse Man was not on Correia’s slate. It’s a graphic novel adaptation of a story written in the 1970s, and it makes a nice example of point 6. When it was originally written, a story with a completely unlikable protagonist, who takes exactly the wrong lessons from the school of hard knocks and thus develops from a moderate loser into a complete asshole, would perhaps have been … not a breath of fresh air, but a cold glass of water in the face, perhaps. Now, however, it is nothing we haven’t seen done ten billion times, and we are no longer entertained.

    The Chaplain’s Legacy and The Exchange Officers

    These are told competently, with appropriate use of language, credible series of events, and so on. The plots, however, are formula, the characters are flat, the ideas are not original, and two months after I read them, I’m hard pressed to remember enough about them to criticize!

    I may be being more harsh on Torgerson than the median voter, because I have read Enemy Mine and so I recognize The Chaplain’s Legacy as a retread. (DOES NO ONE READ THE CLASSICS?!) Similarly, The Exchange Officers is prefigured by hundreds of works featuring the Space Marines. I don’t recall seeing remotely piloted mecha before, but mecha themselves are cliché, and the “remotely piloted” part sucks most of the suspense out of the battle scenes, which is probably why it hasn’t been done.

    The Grimnoir Chronicles

    Correia’s own work, this falls just short of good, but in a way that is more disappointing than if it had been dull and clichéd. Correia clearly knows how to write a story that satisfies all of the basic storytelling principles I listed. He is never dull. He comes up with interesting plots and gets the reader invested in their outcome. He’s good at set pieces; I can still clearly envision the giant monster terrorizing Washington DC. He manages dramatic tension effectively, and has an appropriate balance between gripping suspense and calm quiet moments. And he is capable of writing three-dimensional, nuanced, plausibly motivated, sympathetic characters.

    It’s just that the only such character in these novels is the principal villain.

    This is not to say that all of the other characters are flat or uninteresting; Sullivan, Faye, and Francis are all credible, and most of the other characters have their moments. Still, it’s the Chairman, and only the Chairman, who is developed to the point where the reader feels fully able to appreciate his motivations and choices. I do not say sympathize; the man is the leader of Imperial Japan circa 1937, and Correia does not paper over the atrocities of that period—but he does provide more justification for them than anyone had in real life. There really is a cosmic horror incoming, and the Chairman really does think this is the only way to stop it. And that makes for the best sort of villain, provided you give the heroes the same depth of characterization. Instead, as I said last time, the other characters are all by habit unpleasant, petty, self-absorbed, and incapable of empathizing with people who don’t share their circumstances. One winds up hoping for enough reverses to take them down a peg. (Which does not happen.)


    Looking back, does any of that have anything to do with any of the authors’ political stances, either in the real world, or as expressed in their fiction? Not directly, but I do see a common thread which can be interpreted to shed some light on why “works from the PC crowd” may appear to be winning a disproportionate number of awards, if you are the sort of person who uses the term “PC” unironically. It’s most obvious in the Correia, being the principal flaw in that work, but it’s present in all the above.

    See, I don’t think Correia realized he’d written all of his Good Guys as unpleasant, petty, and self-absorbed. I think he unconsciously assumed they didn’t need the same depth of character as the villain did, because of course the audience is on the side of the Good Guys, and you can tell who the Good Guys are from their costumes (figuratively speaking). It didn’t register on him, for instance, that a captain of industry who’s personally unaffected by the Great Depression is maybe going to come off as greedy, not to mention oblivious, for disliking Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his policies, even if the specific policy FDR was espousing on stage was a genuinely bad idea because of its plot consequences. In fact, that particular subplot felt like the author had his thumb on the scale to make FDR look bad—but the exact same subplot could have been run without giving any such impression, if the characterization had been more thorough. So if you care about characterization, you’re not likely to care for Correia’s work or anything like it. Certainly not enough to shortlist it for an award honoring the very best the genre has to offer.

    Now, from out here on my perch safely beyond the Overton window, “politically correct,” to the extent it isn’t a vacuous pejorative, means “something which jars the speaker out of his daydream of the lily-white suburban 1950s of America (possibly translated to outer space), where everything was pleasant.” (And I do mean his.) Thing is, that suburban daydream is, still, 60 years later, in many ways the default setting for fiction written originally in English. Thanks to a reasonably well-understood bug in human cognition, it takes more effort to write fiction which avoids that default. It requires constant attention to ensure that presuppositions and details from that default are not slipping back in. And most of that extra effort goes into—characterization. It takes only a couple sentences to state that your story is set in the distant future Imperium of Man, in which women and men alike may serve in any position in the military and are considered completely equal; it takes constant vigilance over the course of the entire novel to make sure that you don’t have the men in the Imperial Marines taking extra risks to protect from enemy fire those of their fellow grunts who happen to be women. Here’s another, longer example illustrating how much work can be involved.

    Therefore, it seems to me that the particular type of bad characterization I disliked in the above works—writing characters who, for concrete in-universe reasons, are unlikable people, and then expecting the audience to cheer them on anyway because they’ve been dressed up in These Are The Heroes costumes—is less likely to occur in writing that would get labeled “works from the PC crowd.” The authors of such works are already putting extra effort into the characterization, and are therefore less likely to neglect to write heroes who are, on the whole, likable people whom the reader wishes to see succeed.

    Categorieën: Mozilla-nl planet

    Arun K. Ranganathan: FAQtechism

    Mozilla planet - ma, 25/08/2014 - 05:37

    What is this?

    Questions and answers, because my friends and I have been doing a lot of asking and answering, in unequal measure, with more asking than answering. Because I’ve been distraught by the incessant stream of reductionist observations about Mozilla, each one like being punched in the heart with the hard fists of righteousness and conviction. Because questions and answers once brought me peace, when I was much younger.

    Who are you?

    A man with no titles. Formerly, one of the first technology evangelists for Mozilla, when it was still a Netscape project. A Mozillian.

    Who is Brendan Eich?

    A man with a title titles. An inventor. A unifier. A divider. A Mozillian. A friend.

    What has Mozilla done?

    From humble and unlikely beginnings, Mozilla entered a battle seemingly already decided against it, and gradually unseated the entrenched incumbent, user by user by user, through campaigns that were traditional and innovative, and increased consciousness about the open web. It became a beloved brand, standing firmly for open source and the open web, championing the Internet, sometimes advocating politically for these convictions. It relied, and continues to rely, on a community of contributors from all over the world.

    What has Brendan done?

    Many things intrinsic to the open web; he helped shape technologies used by countless numbers of users, including to write and read this very post. Also, a hurtful and divisive thing based on a conviction now at odds with the law of the land, and at odds with my own conviction: in 2008, he donated $1000 to California Proposition 8, which put on a statewide ballot a proposition to define marriage as strictly between a man and a woman in the state, thus eliminating gay marriage, and calling into question pre-existing gay marriages. The amount donated was enough to oblige him to list his employer — Mozilla — for legal reasons.

    What are my convictions?

    That any two people in love should be able to marry, regardless of their genders; that the marriage of two such people affords all legal protections intrinsic to the institution of marriage including immigration considerations, estate planning considerations, and visitation rights. That this is in fact a civil right. That matters of civil rights should not be put before a population to vote on as a statewide proposition; in short, that exceptions to the Equal Protection Clause cannot be decided by any majority, since it is there to protect minorities from majorities (cf.Justice Moreno).

    How do such convictions become law?

    Often, by fiat. Sometimes, even when the battle is already seemingly decided (with the entrenched weight of history behind it, an incumbent), one state at a time. State by State by State (by States), using campaigns that are traditional and innovative, to increase consciousness about this as a civil right.

    How should people with different convictions disagree?

    Bitterly, holding fast to conviction, so that two individuals quarrel ceaselessly till one yields to the other, or till one retreats from the other, unable to engage any longer.

    For real?

    Amicably, by setting aside those convictions that are unnecessary to the pursuit of common convictions I share with other Mozillians, like the open web. Brendan embodied the Mozilla project; he would have made a promising CEO. My conviction can be governed by reason, and set aside, especially since the issue is decided by courts, of both law and public opinion. His view, only guessable by me, seems antediluvian. Times have changed. I can ask myself to be governed by reason. We need never touch this question.

    But I can do this because my conviction about the law, stated before, has never been tested personally by the specter of suicide or the malevolence of bullying; marriage equality is the ultimate recognition, destigmatizing lifestyles, perhaps helping with suicide and bullying. And, my inability to marry has never disrupted my life or my business. I cannot ask others to lay aside convictions, without recognizing the sources of pain, and calling them out. (Here, Brendan made commitments, and Mozilla did too).

    What will the future hold?

    Brendan has said his non serviam but calls out a mission which I think is the right one: privacy, also a civil right, especially privacy from governments; continued user advocacy; data liberation; a check on walled gardens (and an end to digital sharecropping); the web as mobile platform, even though it is under threat in the mobile arena, the battle seemingly decided, the entrenched incumbent slightly less obvious. This latter — mobile — is reminiscent of the desktop world in 1998. It’s the same story, with smaller machines. Perhaps the same story will have to be told again. I’d like Mozilla to be a major player in that story, just as it always has been a major player on the web. And I’ll be looking forward to seeing what Brendan does next. I’ll miss him as part of Mozilla. This has been crushing.

    Coda: what have wise ones said?

    “I don’t know why we’re talking about tolerance to begin with. We should be at acceptance and love. What’s this tolerance business? What are you tolerating, backpain? ‘I’ve been tolerating backpain, and the gay guy at work?’” — Hari Kondabalu (watch him on Letterman). And blog posts: Mozilla is not Chick-Fil-A; Thinking about Mozilla; The Hounding of a Heretic (Andrew Sullivan); a few others, discussing what a CEO should do, and what qualities a CEO should possess, which are out there for you to discover.

    Categorieën: Mozilla-nl planet

    Will Kahn-Greene: Dennis v0.5 released! New lint rules, new template linter, bunch of fixes, and now a service!

    Mozilla planet - ma, 25/08/2014 - 00:22
    What is it?

    Dennis is a Python command line utility (and library) for working with localization. It includes:

    • a linter for finding problems in strings in .po files like invalid Python variable syntax which leads to exceptions
    • a template linter for finding problems in strings in .pot files that make translator's lives difficult
    • a statuser for seeing the high-level translation/error status of your .po files
    • a translator for strings in your .po files to make development easier
    v0.5 released!

    Since the last release announcement, there have been a handful of new lint rules added:

    • W301: Translation consists of just white space
    • W302: The translation is the same as the original string
    • W303: There are descrepancies in the HTML between the original string and the translated string

    Additionally, there's a new template linter for your .pot files which can catch things like:

    • W500: Strings with variable names like o, O, 0, l, 1 which can be hard to read and are often replaced with a similar looking letter by the translator.
    • W501: One-character variable names which don't give translators enough context about what's being translated.
    • W502: Multiple unnamed variables which can't be reordered because the order the variables are expanded is specified outside of the string.
    Dennis in action

    Want to see Dennis in action, but don't want to install Dennis? I threw it up as a service, though it's configured for SUMO:


    I may change the URL and I might create a SUMO-agnostic version. If you're interested, let me know.

    Where to go for more

    For more specifics on this release, see here:

    Documentation and quickstart here:

    Source code and issue tracker here:

    Source code and issue tracker for Denise (Dennis-as-a-service):

    3 out of 5 summer interns use Dennis to improve their posture while pranking their mentors.

    Categorieën: Mozilla-nl planet

    Marco Zehe: Maintenance complete

    Mozilla planet - zo, 24/08/2014 - 18:30

    A day later than originally announced, I undertook the much needed maintenance. The site should be much faster now, having moved it to a more performant web hoster. I also consolidated all my blogs into a multi-site WordPress installation, which should make it much easier for me in the future to create little blogs for side projects, so I don’t have to use 3rd party services. You know, for the class and such. ;)

    I also use a more modern theme now, using the excellent accessible and responsive Simone theme. This should make it much more reader-friendly. And it, of course, works great with screen readers, too!

    So, enjoy! And I will have more news to share about Mozilla and web accessibility related stuff as always!

    Categorieën: Mozilla-nl planet

    Andy McKay: Private School

    Mozilla planet - zo, 24/08/2014 - 16:10

    I've been a bit out of touch recently with holidays, so I'm catching up on the BC teachers situation and what looks like an attempt by the BC Government to destroy public education.

    This week the Minister launched a website giving "some of the options available to you". So what are my options? No public school system? Let's try private school. Here's a preliminary search.

    My daughters are aged 8 and 10 and enjoy an excellent education in the public school system in French Immersion in North Vancouver, despite the Government. I also consider the school an excellent part of the local community.

    Any schooling would ideally be in French and must definitely be non-religious in nature. In North and West Vancouver there are the following private schools and costs to us:

    • Lions Gate Christian Academy: "Moral & Spiritual Development from a Christian Perspective". Cost: $8,720. Distance: 3.8km. French Immersion: No.
    • Brockton School: "a rigorous academic education is balanced by arts and athletics in an environment where merit rather than materialism is the core value". Cost: $29,700. Distance: 10.8km. French Immersion: No.
    • Collingwood School: "Preparing people to thrive in meaningful lives". Cost: Not stated. Distance: 19.2km. French Immersion: No.
    • Mulgrave School: "a caring and supportive school community with high expectations and high levels of achievement". Cost: $35,940. Distance: 20.3km. French Immersion: No.
    • Ecole Francaise Internationale de Vancouver: "where critical thought processes and inter-cultural communication are the determining factors". Cost: $28,500. Distance: 10.4km. French Immersion: Yes.
    • The Vancouver Waldorf School: "educating hearts and minds". Cost: $28,240. Distance: 9.3km. French Immersion: No.

    The highly questionable (if not laughable) Fraser Institute ranking ranks only a couple of these schools. Sherwood Park being just below the average and the West Vancouver schools Mulgrave and Collingwood well above the average.

    Note that although I searched for schools on the North Shore, none of these are "local" and we would suffer a disconnect from our local community. Only one provides French Immersion. Lions Gate Christian Academy is definitely not going to happen.

    Supposing I can get my children into one of these schools, it would drain my families resources by somewhere from $28k to $36k at the minimum. The median total income before tax in BC is $71k (source), after tax of 40%, let's say $43k. One of those private schools would consume 65% to 83% of the average after tax income.

    As an extra kicker, since my wife is a teacher in the public school system, we have less money this year.

    Do you have some realistic options for my family?

    Categorieën: Mozilla-nl planet