June 2009 Archives
In Firefox do this: Help -> Check for Updates...
Or, head over to mozilla.com and get your Firefox 3.5 the old fashioned way.
Deanna and I spent another weekend moving and we're mostly done.
Here's a couple of photos of the new place.
The house is not only nestled in among the beautiful Coast Redwoods (also called California Sequoia, properly Sequoia Sempervirens) but it was constructed from the same back in 1928.
We're very excited about this move :-)
I'm guessing that without mobility, they won't be able to get Spirit angled well for winter solar energy gathering and so Spirit probably won't survive this winter. Opportunity, unless something unforseen happens, should survive the winter and reach Endeavour crator in a little more than a year from now.
The engineering team that designed and built these robots really are to be congratulated. In an environment as hostile as Mars these two rovers have defied all the odds and delivered more science than anyone would have dared imagine.
If they are coming to their ends, it will absolutely be in triumph.
Still, I get a bit misty thinking about it.
He and the cat get along quite well, occasionally playing chase (Munch is the chaser and Ptolemy is the chasee.) Once we've finished moving into our new home, the family is going to expand again, possibly dramatically. Hopefully it will go as smoothly as it did when we added Munch.
It's more than a month old, but this report is really encouraging.
Long ago, the Korean government mandated an ActiveX encryption scheme for all Korean secure transactions. This essentially locked out all not-IE browsers.
Because this requirement came early in Korea's adoption of the Internet, Korea has never had the multiple-browser culture that, in the West, persisted even after Netscape had been crushed by Microsoft. So, despite having an amazing infrastructure with 95% of the population connected via broadband and top of the line government and private sector services online, it's been an IE-only country with no other browser, not even Firefox, able to achieve any measurable share.
When I visited Korea a few years ago, I was surprised to learn how bad the problem was. I'd always assumed it was just a more extreme version of the "IE's got 95% of the market so everyone codes to it" problem we were all familiar with. It hadn't occurred to me that you simply couldn't do any online transactions if you weren't using IE. For all the brokenness of the Web in the years before Firefox, SSL was supported across browsers and platforms and while sites might have had display problems, and a few even blocking users, the technology didn't explicitly exclude Mozilla or other browsers.
There's just no where else in the world where things are this broken. I'm hopeful that with the Korean government taking the lead like this, and with Korea's top Web service providers like Daum committing to Web standards and cross-browser support, that things will start to turn around.
It's been about 6 months since we purchased the totally amazing Panasonic Viera TH-42PZ85U Plasma HDTV.
We really couldn't be any more pleased with this TV. Blu-ray movies from our PlayStation 3, TiVO HD, and both standard def and high def live television are just gorgeous.
As part of our move, we're looking for a small television for the kitchen. We expect to be watching television, and occasionally plugging the laptops in for Web browsing. The space is just perfect for a 26" television and even though I see some better deals in 32" TVs, I don't think we can squeeze in anything that large. We're also going to be viewing from pretty oblique angles at least some of the time so one of the newer IPS or S-PVA panels with the 170+° viewing angle would be good.
It doesn't look like you can get 1080p panels at this size unless you go to pretty expensive image and video professional LCD computer monitors (or maybe the LG 26LU55 that I can't find anywhere, perhaps not released yet?) so even though we're going to be up close and personal with this screen on occasion, it looks like we have to settle for 720p. It shouldn't be a problem with this small of a screen and a 4-5 foot viewing distance for most TV watching.
Our requirements, then, are 26", good off-angle viewing, D-sub PC input, 2 or more HDMI inputs, and maybe a swivel stand.
So, as with the previous purchase, I've read up at a lot of the online review sites, I've done my price watching, and I've narrowed it down to four that look pretty good.
The first TV we're looking at is the Panasonic VIERA TC-L26X1 26" LCD TV. This Panny has the right inputs but no swivel stand. One negative is that the side inputs are analog only and don't include one of the TV's two HDMI inputs. It does have an iPod dock and on-screen iPod controls, though I have no idea if we'd use that. I haven't seen this display in person, and while Panasonic doesn't list the wide viewing angle at their website, (and identifies the panel as VA,) several sites selling the TV do report a 178° viewing angle and even claim the IPS or IPS Alpha panel. I'm assuming that the retail sites are wrong and Panasonic's site is right. I'll have to confirm that in person. It sure would be nice if it did look good from oblique angles. I'm guessing it doesn't.
The second TV we're considering is the Samsung LN26B460 26" LCD TV. It has the HDMI and VGA inputs but no swivel stand. This TV gets solid reviews online -- especially high praise for it's color and excellent contrast in direct viewing, but it also appears to use the less good for off-angle viewing PVA panel rather than Samsung's S-PVA panel which is available in the larger screens. Once again, the 26" seems to get the short shaft. The side inputs and the "touch of color" are both nice and would work quite well in our kitchen.
Next up is the Sony BRAVIA KDL-26L5000 26" LCD TV. It's got the necessary inputs including a convenient side HDMI input but an inconvenient no-swivel stand. Sony doesn't disclose panel type, but given the advertised 176° viewing angle, I think this one is probably S-PVA. The aesthetics of this TV, though, are pretty bad. How anyone can call it stylish is beyond me. I'll have to take a look at this in person to see if the off-angle viewing really is that solid and to decide if I can live with a chunky ThinkPad-like design. A bonus feature with the Sony is PC picture in picture mode so you can surf the Web an watch TV at the same time. Might be cool.
The last TV on our list is the LG 26LH20 26" LCD TV. Like the others, it's got the inputs we need, but not the convenience of HDMI side input. LG claims 178° viewing angle on this one, and a pretty amazing contrast ratio so I think it's one of their newest S-IPS panels. It's also got something the others don't, a swivel stand. Solid off-angle viewing and a not too horrible looking bezel and stand, might just be enough for us.
So, the Sony and the LG will probably lead and unless we hear something really great about the Sammy or the Panny from one of you all, those probably won't make the cut.
Finally, maybe we'll just wait it out until someone starts shipping the LG 26LU55 which has a swivel stand, side inputs, great contrast, 1920x1080 resolution, and a fairly attractive design.
Chris Jones has a demo video up showing some of the early progress that he, Ben Smedberg, Ben Turner, Boris Zbarsky, and Joe Drew are making on multi-process Firefox.
Firefox 3.5 dominates in memory efficiency. Average usage in this benchmark puts Firefox at more than 3x better than Chrome and about 2x more efficient than both Safari and Opera.
It's good to see that all that work we put in to improving memory usage during the 3.0 development cycle continues to pay dividends.
If you blog or write articles about Firefox and your blog or publication usually includes a Firefox logo with those stories, please take a moment to head over to the Mozilla Firefox Logos page and get updated artwork.
The Firefox logos and wordmark are available in in various sizes, with and without the shadow. Please help spread the word that with the release of Firefox 3.5, the previous two logos are deprecated and these new logos are available.
One of the really exciting features coming up in Firefox 3.5 is Open Video. Open Video is a couple of things. First, it's the HTML 5 <video> tag which makes video a first-class citizen of the web -- an HTML element that works like other HTML elements and interacts with the DOM in Web-normal ways. The second part of Open Video is the open source and unencumbered video (and audio) codecs and containers.
Both of those are really important for the Open Web and while there's really strong agreement among the modern browser vendors, Mozilla, Apple, Google, and Opera, about the HTML <video> element and how it works, there's not yet agreement on the second part, the codecs and containers.
(To make this easier to understand, think of the HTML <IMG> element. It's what you use to put an image on a page. It's stylable and DOM-manipulatable, etc. Then there's the different image types you can use, like JPEG, GIF, PNG. Right now, we all agree that we want an <IMG> element and we agree on how it ought to behave as part of HTML, we don't, however, agree on which image formats should be used.)
Obviously Mozilla is going with the open source and patent unencumbered codecs and container format. That's Theora+Vorbis in an Ogg container. Apple favors using QuickTime and its various codecs. Google is embracing both open and not-open, with support for Theora and Vorbis in Ogg as well as H.264+AAC in an mp4 container. Opera, I'd understood from an Opera Labs build that Opera was going to support Theora+Vorbis in Ogg.
So, that's what I thought was the state of things.
Well, I just downloaded the latest Opera 10 test build, ID 6510, and there's no video support.
What gives, Opera? I've been bragging you up to the press and across all of my recent world travels saying that all of the "modern browsers" (Opera, Mozilla, Safari, and Chrome) were going to support HTML 5 video in their current or next release.
Now it looks like Opera's getting really close to a release and no sign of video. What gives? Don't make me a liar ;-)
Seriously, though. Is this gonna happen for Opera 10 or not? If not, why not? Does Opera not think that a unified front on this issue would be good for the Open Web? Has Opera changed its mind about video on the Web? Is it too "desktop" for a mobile-focused company? What's the deal, Opera?
You knew it was coming ;-)
I think that Chris is pretty much right here and where he's not is mostly unimportant.
I'll just add that my only wish for this project was that it was featured as a mobile-first effort where I think it would make a lot more sense to a lot more people. It's what they're best at, so I'm surprised that's not where the focus was.
Some of you may have seen some of this on Slashdot or elsewhere online, but I'll bet that many haven't and I think it's pretty important as we get ready to unleash <video> and our unencumbered audio and video codecs and the Ogg container format onto the Web.
Let me preface the links by noting that yes, there's still a long way to go before we can say that Open Video will succeed, but the pieces are coming together and at least some of the chicken-and-egg problems are starting to be solved.
I've been working with Mozilla's Open Video technologies (including the Ogg container format, Theora video encoding, Vorbis audio, and the HTML 5 <video> and <audio> tags and their respective DOM APIs) for about 10 months and I've watched not only Firefox's implementations improve, but also the tools and the codecs themselves making great progress.
Firefox now has a pretty nice set of audio and video controls that are certainly ready for an initial launch. The DOM APIs, while not complete, are good enough that we built our browser controls using them and people are able to do some pretty cool demos and even final implementations with them. The Xiph QT Component, a tool that brings Ogg/Theora+Vorbis to QuickTime-capable apps has just had another release that brings it up to speed with the Theora 1.0 release and fixes some key bugs. (And another release is expected soon.) Theora 1.1 alpha 2 has made some really big gains for video encoding quality.
And, we're about to ship these capabilities to 300 million Internet users.
So, what about quality. First, it's important to note that when we talk about video on the Web, quality has to be paired with size. So, what kind of quality can you get from Theora in a comparable file size to H.264 -- the latest and greatest of the not-Open video codecs.
In recent days, Greg Maxwell and Maik Merten have both put up some real-world comparisons that go beyond the geeky sort of synthetic and objective benchmarks that made the rounds last month.
Greg's comparison is here and I think it makes a pretty good case that Theora+Vorbis is solidly ahead of YouTube's H.263(Sorensen Spark)+MP3 and quite competitive with YouTube's high quality H.264+AAC at resolutions of 400x226 and 480x270 respectively.
I'm a stickler for audio and video quality and even have some formal background in both and I can certainly see some differences.
I think that Theora+Vorbis absolutely trounces H.263+MP3 and I don't think there's even a question of which kind of artifacts you prefer. Theora+Vorbis is just plain better than the majority of what YouTube and many other Flash video sites have been serving to users for years.
When it comes to the H.264+AAC comparison, I think things are a lot closer and I personally prefer the H.264 video. (I couldn't pick a winner in audio but perhaps if I had a better pair of headphones...) The H.264 video isn't miles ahead though and I'd wager that most people, and this is supported by a few folks I've asked to look at it, either won't see a difference or if they do see a slight difference aren't bothered by it.
Not satisfied with those two rather low resolution video comparisons, Maik just posted a comparison at 1280x720 and the results are also quite positive for Theora+Vorbis.
Watching these two videos it really does seem to me like I'm asked to pick which kind of artifacts are least bad. Both videos have issues that bother me and the Theora version doesn't have quite the color saturation and contrast balance of the H.264 version but they're really not that far apart. Overall, I think I again prefer the H.264 version but only barely and the truth is I pay a lot more attention to the subtle differences than most Web users and even many content producers.
Oh, and one final closing thought. The Theora encoder is getting better every day and by the time we've rolled out Open Video to 300-400 million Web users (say, end of the year-ish when most of the Firefox user base will have completed the upgrade to 3.5) I think we're going to have a Theora encoder that will match H.264 for Web content in the eyes of 99.9% of the Web population.
If you're an add-on developer, or you're interested in becoming one, this is a great opportunity to get involved. Fame, fortune, and 300 million Firefox users await you!
Lots of things change really fast on the Web. The phrase "Internet time" has often been used to describe the way things actually do move faster on the Internet.
I remember how quickly Google displaced MetaCrawler as my go-to search service. I remember MySpace just blowing Friendster out of the water. TechCrunch obsoleted c|net almost overnight.
On the Internet, we'd like to believe, if a better product comes out, people move to it quickly.
But some things we associate with the Internet don't change fast. One of those things is browsers. Why is that? What's making it so difficult for superior products to leap frog each other the way so many other Internet products do.
Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser accounted for ~95% of the global browser usage in 2004 when Firefox first burst onto the scene. In the five years that Firefox has been taking share from IE, it's only managed to siphon off about 22 points of share from IE. For the first two of those years, without any effort at all from Microsoft. That's 4-5 points of share per year.
That's not the rate of change that I think people think of when they talk about Internet time.
Another example is Apple's Safari browser on Macintosh. Apple's bundling of Safari caused it to very quickly become the dominant Mac browser. In the four and a half years since we shipped Firefox 1.0 for Mac, we've managed to siphon off about 27 points of share from Safari, but Safari still sits with a comfortable 72% of Mac browser usage.
On both Windows and Mac, the OS vendor bundles a browser and taking browser usage share from those is very difficult. No one, other than Mozilla, has been able to put a substantial dent in the share of those two bundled browsers.
(What's also really interesting to me is that Firefox has done better on Mac where it has had a much more capable competitor in Safari.)
One of the reasons that no one is able to seriously dent Microsoft and Apple's browser share is that those two OS vendors ship their OS and their bundled browser on about 300 million new PCs every year.
By my estimates, about 100 million of those are new computer users (and new browser users) and the other 200 million of those are upgrades.
For the 100 million or so people getting PCs and going on line for the first time each year, the OS vendors have first crack. They are the default and the initial experience. If it's "good enough" then inertia wins and the OS vendor gets that browser growth essentially for free, piggybacking on the overall growth of PCs.
That's how I explain, because I can't think of any better explanation, Microsoft adding ~300 million IE users to its roster between the release of IE 6 in August of 2001 when development on IE was ended and the release of IE 7 in October of 2006.
(How many other products that we think of as Internet products can go 5 years without significant improvement and still add 300 million new users.)
Sure, there wasn't a lot of competition from 2002 to 2004, but even if you just look at the years 2004 through 2007, when there was substantial competition and nothing at all new from Microsoft, they still gained more than 100 million new IE users.
And I think it's actually worse than that. If you look at the 200 million new PCs sold each year that are upgrades, they all come with the the OS vendor's Web browser as the default browser regardless of what browser the user had on her previous machine.
That gives the OS vendor the opportunity to re-convert any Firefox (or other not-the-vendor browsers) users at zero cost.
So, even if Mozilla or Google or Opera managed to get a PC user to switch there's a very good chance that in the not too distant future Microsoft or Apple will at least temporarily regain that user's default browser status and another shot at being just "good enough" for inertia to work for them again -- all this without having to do anything to actually make their browser better.
(I'm not saying they don't improve their browsers, though there was that long IE dry spell there...)
This is a huge advantage for OS bundled browsers and something that is very different from most of the rest of the Internet. It's also something that I don't think many people think about when they think about browsers and competition between browsers.
I'm asserting that OS vendors can and do highly leverage the OEM channel for their browsers, both for new users coming online and for seasoned users upgrading, is the single biggest reason that Web browsers aren't evolving and replacing each other on "Internet time".
What do you think?
Today, while adding some albums to my music collection I ran across an album that wasn't available to US customers of the iTunes store (no idea why) so I headed over to Amazon.com to check out their service and see if they had the album.
I was in luck. Amazon had the album and they even had a decent little helper app that gives download progress and automatically adds new music to the users's iTunes library. Nice stuff.
How did they let that ship with those horrible button images? It's really not that hard to anti-alias your artwork against the toolbar background color before plugging it into an app. Even better, use an alpha PNG image.
I know it's not a major issue, and it didn't impede my getting the music, but I was having such a nice experience with purchasing music at Amazon for the first time and now I think "these guys are sloppy or just don't care." That's not the impression you want to leave with a new customer.
If there's someone at Amazon reading who knows where to send this complaint, please do. Hell, I'll even clean up the images for you. It's not rocket science.
In the last couple of weeks I've had at least three people surprised to learn that Firefox's page zoom feature will happily zoom video content (yes, even Flash video). If you're n a page with a video and you'd like the video to be larger but not so large as full-screen, then just hit
+ on your keyboard to zoom in on things. To return to the default zoom level, hit
0. (If you're on a Mac, use
command rather than
Got any tips that you've been surprised to learn your friends or colleagues hadn't already learned? Share them here.
As I mentioned yesterday, Apple's PR team announced that Safari 4 had been downloaded 11 million times!!! just three days after the release. Even more exciting, they suggested, 6 million !!! of those downloads came from Windows users.
I'm not the first to suggest that most of those downloads probably were not actually users seeking out Safari 4 but rather were users receiving and accepting the automatic update from Mac or from the Apple Update Service on Windows. (This service is installed on every Window machine where users have installed either iTunes or QuickTime.)
Still, 11 million total downloads in three days and 6 million downloads on Windows sounds really quite impressive. But what does it actually mean? That's hard to say unless you know whether or not the downloads are 1) unique, 2) new downloaders, 3) updates from beta, or 4) updates from previous major releases.
Since Apple isn't disclosing any of that, I thought I'd do some investigation and see what can be learned from looking at the last few days of browser usage stats.
This graph charts the daily usage changes for the Windows versions of Safari. You can see the fluctuation from weekdays to weekends in both the individual version trends and in the combined trend.
note: This does not represent increased usage of Safari on weekends. The number of users and amount of usage of all browsers falls on weekends. IE 6 falls dramatically more on weekends than any other browser and so the relative share of all the not-IE 6 browsers goes up on weekends.
I've added a trendline for the combined version plot so you can see the overall direction that WIndows Safari is headed. What you can see from the chart is that Windows Safari usage is mostly flat at just under half of one percent of total Web usage. (More precisely, 0.45%)
Windows Safari 4.0 beta usage had already slightly surpassed Windows Safari 3.2 usage but with the release of Windows Safari 4.0 final, you can see a hefty drop in Windows Safari 3.2 and an equal rise in Windows Safari 4.0 usage.
Still, the top line is damn flat given Apple's claims which seem intended to suggest that millions of new Windows users are flocking to Windows Safari with the release of version 4.0.
(data from Net Applications)
I just read that Apple is reporting 11 million Safari 4 downloads in just three days. That's pretty amazing.
I'd like to follow up that report with one of my own.
Firefox 3.0.11 was downloaded about 150 million times in the last 24 hours.
There's some great stuff happening in the Firefox add-ons world. You can read about it at the add-ons blog.
Congratulations to everyone that put so much into making this latest release happen. It's very exciting for millions of Firefox users and sets a new bar for the other browser vendors desperately trying to get something going with add-ons.
If you want to help us out and you want a taste of what's coming in Firefox 3.5, head over to Dev News and read about and download Firefox 3.5 Preview.
This is the final build before we enter the Release Candidate stage so it's hopefully the last chance for you to tell us if you see something broken that needs fixing.
This weekend, for the first time, IE 8 usage surpassed IE 6 usage in the Net Applications usage share daily trend reports.
Now, IE 6 always drops off dramatically during the weekends while most other browsers are fairly stable from weekdays to weekends, so this isn't the "real" milestone but we're probably only about a week away from the average weekly share of IE 8 beating the average weekly share of IE 6.
IE 6's share has been falling at a pretty consistent rate for more than a year now and while I don't think IE 8 has had any appreciable impact on that rate of falling, it's still nice to know that within a very short time, it will be more critical to general Web development to test in IE 8 than in IE 6 and that's good news.
This data is already a couple of weeks old, but you can definitely see the historical trends. IE 6's slide continues. IE 8 is taking share from IE 7 pretty much the same way IE 7 cannibalized IE 6 two and a half years ago.
We're moving :-)
but there's no Comcast at the new home so we're going to have to move to satellite (and away from our beloved TiVo HDs.) Our big concerns with the switch over are a strong HD channel line-up, and a decent HD DVR solution.
Do any of you all have experience with either DISH Network or DIRECTV? Especially useful if you've come from a good cable and TiVo system and you want to tell us how much it's going to suck :-)
I'm really pleased at the quality of interns that arrive at Mozilla each summer. I'd almost forgotten, until I discovered this blog how lucky we are to have such a compelling program with so many talented and dedicated young folks.
Shipping a really cool feature to 300 million Firefox users, for example, sure beats this :-)
Since I happen to have the data handy, I thought I'd update the historical chart. This is chart represents the monthly trends as recorded by Net Applications over the last 56 months.
What's pretty clear from the chart is that the long-term trends are very linear.
Safari's growth, which is really just a proxy for Mac growth (Safari is not gaining any appreciable share on Windows) works out to about 7 points over these 56 months. Firefox's growth clocks in at about 20 points over the 56 months. And IE's loss has been a little more than 26 points in that timeframe.
What's really kind of sad is that while IE has lost 26 points of share since October of 2004, IE has actually grown its user base by about 100 million users.
So, for all the talk of browser competition, a clearly inferior browser has managed to add a huge number of new users over the last few years. There's the big advantage of being the default browser for virtually every new PC that ships.
The last year has been very exciting for browser vendors, Web developers, and users going online. With the release of Google Chrome, Firefox 3, and Internet Explorer 8, the Web is getting better for everyone.
The most dramatic movement in the browser market, however, has belonged to Internet Explorer.
Data from Market Share by Net Applications
Internet Explorer 6 continues its long downward trend, dropping about 10 points in the last year and IE 8 has been cannibalizing IE 7 users at a strong pace for the last 3 months.
I expect that the next month will see IE 6 finally fall under 15% (and hopefully trending to fall under 10% by the end of this year.) That's good news for everyone.
We should also see IE 8 meeting IE 7 and crossing at about 25% each in the next couple of months.
What does this mean for you as a Web developer? As a user? As a browser maker?