Mozilla Will Support H.264 Codec For HTML5 Video, Grudgingly

Subject: General Tech | March 15, 2012 - 08:14 AM |
Tagged: webM, web browser, mozilla, html5, h.264, firefox

Mozilla executives working for the foundation behind the Firefox web browser today announced that they would be giving in to the H.264 codec as the open WebM VP8 codec has lost the war. The H.264 and VP8 (part of WebM) codecs are used to encode and decode video files, and are especially important on mobile devices as Flash support is less ubiquitous (or totally absent if you're using Apple products). In the absense of flash, the web turned to the HTML5 standard which provides <code><video></code> tags that allow direct embedding of videos into websites. Also important is that H.264  has wide support for being hardware accelerated on many mobile devices, enabling smart phones to smoothly playback high quality files that the low power CPU portion of ARM SoCs would otherwise struggle with. This situation is also available to desktop users, but is less of an issue as processing power is not as scarce and can, ah, accommodate Adobe's Flash plugin (heh).

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The downside, and where all the controversy arises from, is that the H.264 codec is not free and requires manufacturers or sites that stream H.264 videos for a fee to license it as well as users, though the actual cost for licensing is generally rolled into the cost of the OS, device, or other piece of purchased software. Further, because the HTML5 standard does not specifically define a set video codec, there is room for fragmentation. Adobe, Mozilla, and Google eventually would jump behind what is now known as the WebM standard, which is an open (and free) video codec (VP8) that would not require expensive licensing restrictions. On the other hand, Apple backed the H.264 standard. Mozilla would roll WebM into their browser but not H.264, meaning that users could view HTML5 videos using Firefox but not HTML5 videos encoded with the H.264 codec. Google, Apple, and Microsoft would support the H.264 codec for HTML5 videos, despite Google developing WebM (and the included VP8 video codec) and giving word of mouth support for WebM. This meant that Chrome users could view both WebM and H.264 based HTML5 video.

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According to the article, Google promised to drop support for H.264 and move solely to the WebM VP8 codec to entice websites to move to the open codec. Unfortunately, the company never came through with that promise, and has continued to offer dual support while Mozilla was left holding the open source support banner and causing their users to suffer as a result. The article references a study by MeFeedia that suggests that as of December 2011, H.264 based HTML5 video accounts for 80% of the market, implying that WebM has already lost the war. Brendan Eich, Mozilla's Chief Technology Officer noted that WebM needed support from a larger entity than Mozilla, and it needed that support in the beginning. Especially with Apple heralding H.264, for mobile site publishers, WebM really needed heavy backing to compete with Apple's market share and influential support of H.264 to have a chance. He further stated that:

"it might not have worked then, even with Google on-side. Now, with just Mozilla going it alone, all we do is kill our mobile initiatives in order to appear pure...That does not serve our mission or users."

Mozilla is now looking to support H.264, if a bit grudgingly. At this point, not supporting H.264 is only hurting their users and market share and not furthering their push for WebM. After all, if users are forced to look at other browsers just to play videos, it will not be WebM that is the only open source software forgotten (rather, the entire Mozilla web browser will wain).

Granted, Google is not the only company to blame for VP8 not catching on, Adobe also failed to properly push the codec. Also, Google is allegedly continuing to develop VP8 and WebM. Right now; however, losing Mozilla's support seems to be the final nail in the WebM coffin and the recognition that H.264 is the dominant format. More information is available here.

Source: CNET

MWC 12: LG gives Mozilla Marketplace a try to boot to Gecko?

Subject: General Tech, Mobile, Shows and Expos | February 24, 2012 - 04:29 PM |
Tagged: MWC 12, mozilla, B2G, LG

Mozilla will show off their marketplace for web apps at Mobile World Congress 2012. Mozilla Marketplace will support the upcoming Boot to Gecko (B2G) operating system for mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. It is rumored that they will announce LG as a partner to develop either a tablet or a phone for developers of the B2G platform.

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I ~ <3 Paypal... I guess.

Mozilla Marketplace will be a store where developers can distribute and sell their applications based upon HTML 5, Javascript, and CSS. The marketplace will support both free and paid apps with a variety of terms. Developers can have their users paid for the app up front, within the app for microtransactions, within the app for demo unlock, on a subscription basis (not yet implemented), or by donations.

Paypal has been announced as the payment processor for the Mozilla Marketplace. Paypal is not universally adored although we can understand why Mozilla would need to use an existing package. Prices are locked to one of 30 tiers so pricing is not entirely flexible but does run the gamut from 99-cents to $50 as well as of course free.

Hopefully we will get more details about Boot to Gecko or the Mozilla-powered LG phone at MWC in the coming days.

Source: Extremetech

FirefoxX: Coming soon to a TF2 user handle near you!

Subject: General Tech | February 1, 2012 - 05:55 PM |
Tagged: mozilla, firefox

Firefox is my default browser. I often complement Firefox with Google Chrome due to habits introduced in the dark ages where Flash and crash were more ironic rhymes for Firefox users, but I stuck with it. I watched as it grew from a suite and innocent Mozilla build into the standalone browser it is today. Could Firefox be ten already? It seems like it was just yesteryear -- it was just four and we were out in the textfield try{}ing to play catch(){}.

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Yeah that got creepier as I went on, I apologize.
It’s easier to try{} and ask forgiveness than debug permissions.
… I prefer to recycle my jokes rather than rely on garbage collection.

 

If you are a developer -- and if you are still reading then you probably are -- this version of Firefox has a lot to offer you. While a lot of the features touted as new are not, they are certainly much upgraded from what we are used to. Allow me to put it like this: you may be able to finally uninstall Firebug. You may infer what you like from that statement. Some highlights of the developer features include a built-in page inspector, a web console interface, and scratchpad.

The page inspector allows developers to examine their own websites as well as study the websites of others in a much friendlier interface than Firebug. For quick tweaks, you can edit the CSS from within page inspector and turn whole properties on and off and immediately see its effect.

The web console interface allows you to edit your site as it is temporarily rendered from a command-line interface. This appears to be mostly useful for smaller Javascript tweaks and additions if you have a small change that you would like to iterate upon quickly. The web console also allows you to see network requests which should help greatly with optimizing load times.

Scratchpad is a new developer feature for Javascript which is just too complicated to test upon with the console interface. Scratchpad is somewhere between Notepad and Notepad++ and is used to quickly experiment with full Javascript scripts on the website you currently have loaded.

Don't just take my word for it, see it!

More general enhancements were, of course, also made with this version: WebGL is now antialiased; security, performance, and stability fixes were introduced; and add-on compatibility is much less annoying. The experience feels much more responsive and clean than it has recently, continuing on the advancements started with Firefox 7.

What do you think? Looking forward to new WebGL content now that it will not be as jaggy? Excited about the developer tools or performance enhancements? Let us know!

Source: Mozilla

Mozilla Considers Extended Support for Firefox: a Whole Year

Subject: General Tech | January 12, 2012 - 02:40 AM |
Tagged: mozilla, firefox

Just seven months after taking their firm stance against supporting back versions Mozilla is considering following a model similar to Ubuntu: every few major versions, flag one as being supported much longer than the rest and support it while innovating on your main versions. I still believe that supporting many enterprise customers is wasteful for a company like Mozila, but now that they have substantially more revenue as of their recent deal with Google I suppose it could help advertise Firefox outside of work as well.

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Firefox installments versus long running media franchise installments.

Yeah I was VERY conservative with Final Fantasy... I know.

John O’Duinn, current director of Release Engineering at Mozilla, wrote about the proposal in his personal blog last October and discussed attempts to compromise between long-term support and Mozilla’s current release plan. It is still quite early to tell what they will ultimately come up with and whether it will mend relations with their enterprise customers, but it looks as though Mozilla will not follow their original decision to focus on the present and future at the expense of those reliant on the past.

Source: Mozilla Wiki

Mozilla Starts Asking For Donations from Users

Subject: General Tech | December 30, 2011 - 11:42 AM |
Tagged: mozilla, firefox, donations, browser

Mozilla, the company behind the popular open source Firefox web browser recently struck a quite lucrative deal with Google for providing the big G with a default search box and google search start page.  Apparently, 900 million (over three years) is not enough for the company; however, as they have started asking for user donations of at least $10.

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According to their new story page, "We believe the Web is a place where anyone can come to build their dreams."  The non profit states in the accompanying video that they are more than just a web browser, they are a global community fighting to keep the web a good, innovative place.  And that, they argue is why they need your support; to make the web a "force for good by making a donation today."

Personally, this feels like a cross between late night PBS broadcasts as a kid and Wikipedia's pleas for donations.  Sure, if you are a big fan of Firefox it couldn't hurt to support them; however, I don't think they are going anywhere any time soon.  What are your thoughts on this as a user?

Source: Mozilla

Mozilla Renews Firefox Search Box Deal With Google

Subject: General Tech | December 21, 2011 - 04:53 AM |
Tagged: search, mozilla, google, firefox

Mozilla, the company behind the popular open source Firefox web browser receives a great deal of revenue from it's deal with Google wherein they make Google the default search engine and prominent placement in the search box. The deal between the two companies was set to end this year, and there was talk around the web that Google was set to not renew the deal now that its own web browser, Chrome, was gaining market share. Needless to say, such a deal ending would be very bad for Mozilla and the continued development of the Firefox browser.

 

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Fortunately, according to Tom's Hardware, Mozilla has managed to renew the Firefox Google search deal for an additional three years. While the exact amount of money Mozilla is paid by Google for the search box deal, the deal's extension speaks well to Mozilla's financial stability, and should give them time to build up their browser and explore additional revenue opportunities. Firefox currently holds about a quarter of the browser market, and its continued development is important to keeping the competition on its toes and prodding IE into being standards compliant.  The site quoted Mozilla's CEO Gary Kovacs in stating "this new agreement extends our long term search relationship with Google for at least three additional years," and that the deal between Mozilla and Google was "significant and mutually beneficial."

Are you glad that Firefox is going to stick around? The comment form is always open.

Firefox PDF Reader Nearing Completion, Optional Extension Available Now

Subject: General Tech | October 29, 2011 - 05:56 AM |
Tagged: software, pdf, open source, mozilla, firefox, browser

One of the most useful features in Google’s Chrome web browser is the built in PDF reader. It is a feature that I use almost every day, and although I keep an install of Firefox’s Aurora browser as a backup I have yet to return to using Firefox as my main browser since first checking out Chrome.

I’ve been wanting an integrated PDF reader in Firefox for some time now, and if this story is correct, Mozilla may be one step closer to delivering just that. According to the article, Mozilla has been developing a PDF viewer built using HTML 5 and Javascript technologies. Currently the open source project is called PDF.js, and the development team is working on integrating it into Firefox.

For now though, the team has released PDF.js as a browser extension for the open source browser. In addition to the extension download, the source code is available on GitHub for anyone to view and edit.

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PDF.js displaying a Dell service manual in PDF format.

As it is now, the PDF.js add-on rather basic, but is definitely off to a good start. You are able to navigate by sections or page thumbnails accessible by a mouse-over pop-up menu on the left of the window. Along the top are buttons for previous and next page, navigating to a specific page, zooming in and out, downloading, printing, and searching the PDF document.

During some informal testing using a 94 page Dell service manual in PDF form, scrolling was smooth enough until hitting a new page upon which there was a bit of lag. Navigating to specific pages was rather quick, however.

The PDF reader is off to a good start and I may have one more reason to switch back to Mozilla’s browser soon enough. What do you guys and gals think about built in PDF support, is it something you find useful during your daily browsing?  If you're interested in checking it out for yourself, the extension is available for download here.  Simply download this "pdf.js.xpi" file and install it (choose the Firefox or Aurora executable for installation if Windows does not assign the .xpi extension to Firefox automatically) using Firefox.  Now navigate to a PDF file on any webpage to have it automatically open using PDF.js.

Source: Geek.com

Mozilla Issues Do Not Track Field Guide To Advertisers

Subject: General Tech | September 8, 2011 - 09:05 PM |
Tagged: mozilla, do not track, adblock

Popular open source browser maker Mozilla recently released a field guide aimed at advertisers that outlines Do Not Track functionality. The guide is reported by Computer World as including tutorials, case studies, guidelines, and sample code to “inspire developers, publishers, and advertisers to adopt DNT.”

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Mozilla's Firefox browser supports the popular Do Not Track add-on.

Mozilla indicated that approximately 22,500,000 users are currently employing the Do Not Track add-on. Further, there are currently more users who use Do Not Track than there are people using AdBlock Plus.

While the field guide is a good start, the real issue for consumers lies in whether or not advertisers will take notice and allow consumers to opt out of their tracking mechanisms. In the end, advertisers will need to implement some form of opt-out procedure (or better yet, an opt-in mechanism) lest they lose any revenue because users completely block out their advertisements. Currently; however, there is a cultural battle between advertisers and consumer privacy advocates, and it remains to be seen which will win out. Where do you stand on the issue; should advertisers be allowed to collect tracking data?

Firefox Designer Says Mozilla Will Be Keeping Version Numbers

Subject: General Tech | August 26, 2011 - 01:33 PM |
Tagged: mozilla, browser, firefox

We reported earlier that Mozilla would be removing the version number from the About page due to a posting by Asa on the bugzilla page; however, designer Alex Faaborg has come forth to clear up the issue with the statement that “there are no plans to adjust the version number. It will remain in its current place in the about window, and we are going to continue with the current numbering scheme.”

firefoxversion.png

That statement was in the mozilla.dev.usability group, which you can read here. Further in the thread, Alex notes that the confusion began from within the Mozilla UX design group, and Asa defended the design team with his posting on what he thought the final decision was. If the UX team had been playing a joke on Asa, it would have been perfectly executed, says Alex “that’s what I mean when I say significant confusion.”

With development that is done in public, some confusion is to be expected seems to be the sentiment of the thread. All said and done, are you happy to hear that the versioning will remain the same (as of now), or did you want to see them removed from the about screen?

Source: Mozilla

Mozilla Removing Version Numbers from Firefox's About Page

Subject: General Tech | August 16, 2011 - 05:05 AM |
Tagged: software, mozilla, firefox, browser

A new bug report on Mozilla's Bugzilla website indicates that the versioning of the popular web browser will be hidden from the users in future builds.  Specifically, bug 678775 was posted late last week by Asa Dotzler, and addresses the version number on Firefox's About page.  The bug report recommends removing the specific version number in favor of a more general phrase such as "Firefox checked for updates 20 minutes ago, you are running the latest release," according to Asa.  Firefox would then, ideally, check for an update whenever the About window was opened, to keep the update message current and the user running the latest build.

aurora_update.png

The current Firefox About page where version numbers are still listed.

While the specific version number will be removed from the About page, users would still be able to dig into the browser's less well known areas, such as the about:support configuration page, to see it.

On one hand, Firefox's new rapid-release schedule will make versioning a less efficient method of, well, versioning; however, the About page of an application has traditionally been the spot to find the version number, and removing the version number from what is essentially a version number information page seems counter productive.  Firefox will likely be on version 7 before the end of the year, and considering version 5 was just released in June, the argument that version numbers are getting out of hand has some merit.  With that said, a simplified message to users that they are, in fact, running the latest version is a good thing to implement, but does it necessitate no longer displaying the version number?

Personally, I enjoy knowing the specific version number of the applications I run, but I'm curious what you guys think; should the version number be buried?

Source: Mozilla