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HTMLfixIT Archive for January, 2005




Wednesday, January 26th, 2005 by Franki

It is very unusual to see main steam IT press do really insightful reports on Open Source success stories, however this article from Wired has me thinking that perhaps that situation is changing. In the story, they detail some of the reasons why people are swapping to Firefox, the people that had the idea for Firefox, the thoughts behind the decision to create it, and the astounding success that Firefox is having in changing the course of the Internet at large. (Mostly because now that Microsoft has serious competition in the browser market, it will not be able to disregard the W3c standards in favour of their own proprietary versions due to be included in their Longhorn release in 2006/2007.)

It’s a fascinating read, full of interesting details. Did you know for example, that one of Firefox’s top programmers now works at Apple working on their Safari web browser? And a more recent hiring has seen another of their top programmers now working for Google (paid to spend half his time working on Firefox). With Firefox 1.0 downloads now exceeding 20 million in less then 80 days since it’s release, it’s good to get an idea of the people behind Firefox, including the couple of dozen programmers paid for by IBM and Sun. The thing that stands out to me most from reading this, is that having a university degree will eventually get you a good job, but showing you have talent and vision when working on a well known OSS application will apparently bring you to the attention of those employers more quickly. Besides, getting a degree in computer science only proves that you know the rules, it doesn’t prove you have either vision or talent. The Firefox explosion.

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Wednesday, January 26th, 2005 by Don

This is an interesting article, not because of the main content, but because of the fact it cites: webmail accounts for 80 percent of all email. Now that gets me to thinking, if 80 percent of the mail on the web is via web mail and 70 percent or more of email is spam (I read that figure somewhere the other day), what would happen if we eliminated webmail and only allowed people to use their isp generated email? I wonder if spam wouldn’t dry up. What do you think? Leave a comment with your thoughts.

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Tuesday, January 25th, 2005 by Franki

Vienna’s Municipal Authority has joined Munich in its plans to swap to Open Source software. Vienna plans to offer 7,500 staff the option of swapping to a version of Debian Linux called Wienux on their workstations. In early 2003, Munich announced a plan to swap 14,000 of their desktop and notebook machines to Linux. These two are just the tip of the iceberg, pretty much every government in the EU (as well as countries including but not limited to China, Japan, the USA, Australia and India) are all either running Linux in parts of their infrastructure, or they are evaluating it for that purpose. Linux is not a geek only operating system any more.

The reasons for the change is not as simple as you’d think. It isn’t just for pricing, and it isn’t just for the extra security. Those two are probably additional benefits, but most of the reason seems to be to avoid being locked into a single provider (usually Microsoft) with their data. The idea of open standards and interoperability haven’t really been well accepted at Redmond, so they have made no efforts to help OSS like Linux and their own software to work together unless ordered to do so. That is going to hurt them in the long run. A few of the Municipalities that have made significant moves to OSS software include: Bergen (Norway’s second-largest city), the German Federal Finance Office, the French Ministry of Equipment (1500 Windows servers swapped to Linux), Paris city authority (17,000 desktops), Rome City Council (filesharing, email and web portal servers) , The German Federal Finance Office (replacing old servers with Linux mainframe) in fact the German Federal government have given Linux and open source it’s approval and backing, so OSS usage should spread much faster over there now.

There are a ton of big business’s also swapping to, or already running Linux, a few of the bigger ones include DaimlerChrysler, Autozone, the Allied Irish Banks. Linux now runs on a huge array of devices, some of which you may already have, devices including TIVO’s, Linksys and Netgear routers, Motorola, NEC and Panasonic mobile phones, car computers (both engine and entertainment), cash registers, PDA’s and more. If you have one of these items, and you didn’t know it was running Linux, then it was obviously doing it’s job pretty well. Also, Linux appears to be the choice of operating systems for super computers, apparently over half of the world’s top 500 supercomputers run the upstart OS (in fact 4 of the top 5 super computers in the world are running Linux). Viva the revolution! 🙂

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Tuesday, January 25th, 2005 by Franki

A partner of Paypal had a small sample of Paypal’s user e-mail addresses stolen from their database. The addresses were for use in surveys and there is concern that this may lead to future phishing attacks. That’s the problem with relationships, be they business or otherwise. When you trust someone, you find yourself in the unenviable position of having to trust everyone that they do. Read more about the stolen e-mails at Eweek.

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Tuesday, January 25th, 2005 by Franki

Google has apparently hired one of Firefox’s top programmers. He will apparently keep working on Firefox for Google. Google have also registered gbrowser.com and have sponsored Mozilla dev conferences and allowed Mozilla to have their own custom Google Firefox homepage. Does this mean we will soon be seeing a Google web browser? Time will tell, but if we do, it will most likely be similar to what Netscape does with the full Mozilla suite, change the logo, add some links, and AOL stuff and send it out as “Netscape”. In Google’s case, we will probably see a Firefox version of the Google toolbar and possibly their desktop search software. This is probably good news, having Google’s name attached can only be a good thing for boosting Firefox usage, and for Google they get to be the default homepage and search engine in a web browser. (just like MSN is in Internet Explorer). Learn more at CNET.
Update:
It has just come out that Google have employed another of Firefox’s programming guns. Darin Fischer recently announced his new employment in his blog here. Like Ben, he will continuing his involvement with Firefox.

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Monday, January 24th, 2005 by Don

Here at htmlfixit.com we follow many sites using RSS. It allows us to follow and track things without needing to navigate numerous sites in a day in our effort to stay abreast (random link spurred by that word) of the news. Counting hits generated by RSS syndication is a tricky thing. Many sites have taken to using a query string in the url to try to track hits generated from RSS followers, for example this one: http://www.wired.com/news/culture/0,1284,66374,00.html?tw=rss.TOP. Notice the tail end of that … “tw-rss.TOP”. The URL works the same with or without that string. The problem with that type of query string tracking is that it alters the actual URL, so if I copy the URL, press it to my blog-roll, or forward it to a friend, you will get all of these secondary hits shown as coming from the RSS. Of course that is what originated the hit, but it is not what caused the hit. It may cause you to figure more people are following RSS than are really doing so.

(more…)

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Monday, January 24th, 2005 by Franki

Wired have an article here which details recent polling to suggest that although many adults consider themselves competent web browsers, they more often then not cannot tell the difference between paid inclusion ads and free content in search engines. Apparently only 38% of people were able to distinguish between paid and free listings. Information worth remembering if you are ever considering trying paid results. It would seem that not that many people notice when a result is a different colour to the rest and has “sponsored site” along the top. Makes you wonder why we bother making catchy looking sites.

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