Mozilla Summit 2013, Day 2: APCs and Servos in a Flash

Subject: General Tech, Mobile, Shows and Expos | October 6, 2013 - 01:14 PM |
Tagged: mozilla, Mozilla Summit 2013

The second day of Mozilla Summit 2013 kicked off with three more keynote speeches, a technology fair, and two blocks of panels. After two days and about two dozen demos, several extremely experimental, I am surprised to only see one legitimate demo fail attempting to connect two 3D browser games in multiplayer over WebRTC… and that seemed to be the fault of a stray automatic Windows Update on the host PC.

Okay technically another demo “failed” because an audience member asked, from the crowd, to browse a Mozilla Labs browser prototype, Servo, to an arbitrary website which required HTTPS and causing the engine to nope. I do not count that one.

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Speaking of Servo, the HTML rendering engine ended the “Near Term Strategy and the Products we Build” keynote with an announcement of its full score to ACID1. The engine, developed in Mozilla’s own RUST language, is a sandbox for crazy ideas such as, “What would happen if you allow Javascript to execute in its own thread when it would normally be blocked by Gecko?” Basically any promising task to parallelize is being explored (they openly solicit community insights) in making the web browser better suited for the current and upcoming multi- and many-core devices out there. Samsung is also involved on the project, which makes sense for their mobile products.

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Also discussed is Shumway, a Javascript rendering engine for Flash content. Candy Crush Saga was presented as an example of a game, entirely reliant on Flash, playing without the plugin installed in a similar way to how WINE allows Windows applications within Linux. Shumway has been known for a while but is becoming quite effective in its performance. What happens to content after Flash becomes deprecated (be it 3 years, 10 years, or 100 years) has been a concern of mine with videos such as HomestarRunner holding cultural relevance despite not updating in almost 3 years.

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Lastly, we saw a demo of the APC Paper which is expected to lead Firefox OS into the desktop market. It is actually a little smaller than I expected from the pictures.

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One more day before everyone heads home. So far not much has happened but I will keep you updated as things occur.

Source: Mozilla
October 6, 2013 | 02:26 PM - Posted by Goofus Maximus (not verified)

Okay, I'm an idiot. I know that when you say "APC", you are not referring to "Armored Personnel Carrier", but I don't know what "APC" means in this article.

So, what does "APC" stand for, in the article above?

October 6, 2013 | 09:55 PM - Posted by Scott Michaud

APC is a... sort-of sub-company... made by VIA which makes really small ARM-based PCs. They're not really all that powerful (I mean, the GPU cannot support anything above 720p) nor as cheap as a Raspberry Pi, but they have other benefits (ARM debug GPIO headers, source code including the bootloader if I remember correct, etc.).

October 6, 2013 | 04:22 PM - Posted by dreamer77dd

Thanks for keeping us informed.
Flash would take awhile but you would think developers would end developing in Flash.
Are their effort that they have shown have given you a sense that the future looks bright for FireFox?
What they done with RUST is simpler, easier and takes advantage of hardware people have. Thats what I am hearing and more developers, the bigger the community and volinteers to develop it.
Would you agree?
What would you want them to show and develop that would be something that would make you happy?

October 6, 2013 | 10:00 PM - Posted by Scott Michaud

Their effort, and this is mostly confirmed from a panel I had today (will probably add it tomorrow) is they want the web to preserve old code. They actually had a Strongbad Email Flash file playing in Javascript today that I was too slow to snap a picture of... not that it mattered because the projector screen was not the best contrast to take a picture of with a camera phone. Art preservation, in itself, makes me very happy... Flash was one of the earliest "democratized" cartoon platforms and a lot of good content came out of that rush (95% is still crap... but that 5% is worth the effort).

... but that's Day 3.

As for keeping you informed... I really doubt you'll see much press coverage of this event besides us. No-one else I met identified them as press and the main reason why I'm here is because I don't mind writing documentation (I am an actual, legitimate, volunteer). Thanks for the kind comments!

October 6, 2013 | 05:05 PM - Posted by Robert892375298 (not verified)

VIA's name for Android PC (APC) they made the design.

I'm definitely going to snag one of these, Can't pass it up for the price, fun little browser box.

"The original Neo-ITX form-factor APC (Android PC) single board computer (SBC) was announced in May 2012 by long-time x86 — and increasingly ARM — chip vendor Via Technologies. The APC shipped in mid-2012 for $49. Designed to be competitive with hacker boards like the BeagleBone and Raspberry Pi, the open source APC board, which is now sold as the APC 8750, has nourished a small community of hackers, many of them in education."

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