Internet Archive

Chrome to start blocking Flash later this year

Later this year we plan to change how Chromium hints to websites about the presence of Flash Player, by changing the default response of Navigator.plugins and Navigator.mimeTypes. If a site offers an HTML5 experience, this change will make that the primary experience. We will continue to ship Flash Player with Chrome, and if a site truly requires Flash, a prompt will appear at the top of the page when the user first visits that site, giving them the option of allowing it to run for that site

And so the slow march of death of Flash continues, ever onward, never looking back, into the abyss, a neverending blackness, cold and deep, nevermore to return.

Vivaldi closes in on the cure for the common browser

If you miss the old Opera, the Opera of the Opera 12-era, then Vivaldi is for you. And if the current crop of browsers leaves you wanting more or you end up installing a dozen extensions to get things the way you like them, Vivaldi is well worth a look. But even if you never use this new browser directly, Vivaldi looks to have enough innovative new features that it's very likely some will end up in whatever browser you do use.

Vivaldi has certainly piqued my interest - especially since I'm having major issues with browsers on OS X. I prefer Chrome on Windows, but Chrome on OS X is far too resource-intensive and sucks tons of battery. Safari for OS X is very buggy for me (nine out of ten times it will refuse to load pages after waking from sleep, forcing you to restart the browser) and I'm experiencing a ton of bugs with YouTube in Safari.

So, I'm looking for a browser that I like on both Windows and OS X, and reading all the positive reports about Vivaldi, it's definitely worth a look.

The web is Doom

Recall that Doom is a multi-level first person shooter that ships with an advanced 3D rendering engine and multiple levels, each comprised of maps, sprites and sound effects. By comparison, 2016's web struggles to deliver a page of web content in the same size. If that doesn't give you pause you're missing something. So where does this leave us?

It leaves us with a web that is horrible to use.

Vivaldi browser officially launched

We are all absolutely unique and we want different things. Vivaldi web browser lets you do things your way by adapting to you and not the other way around. You prefer the browser tabs placed at the bottom or on the side of the window? - You prefer a different address bar location? Go ahead and customize your preferences be it your keyboard shortcuts, mouse gestures, appearance and so on.

It's supposed to scratch that Opera itch, but I know just how demanding Opera users are. I am really curious to see if Vivaldi will ever be able to walk in those footsteps.

Twitter kills TweetDeck, Facebook stops BlackBerry development

Two high-profile companies are shutting down development for two platforms this week. First, Facebook has announced it is ceasing development of the Facebook and WhatsApp applications for BlackBerry OS.

The app landscape continues to evolve, and in ways that are not always within our control. Recently, Facebook made the decision to discontinue support of their essential APIs for BlackBerry and WhatsApp announced they would end support for BlackBerry 10 and BBOS at the end of 2016.

In addition, Twitter announced it is ceasing development of its only application for desktop Windows, TweetDeck.

To better focus on enhancing your TweetDeck experience, we'll no longer support a standalone Windows app. If you use Windows, you'll still be able to visit TweetDeck on the web - nothing is changing about TweetDeck itself, just where you access it from. This change will take effect on April 15th.

TweetDeck was the only desktop Twitter client the company ever supported (it bought TweetDeck several years ago), and while it is far from perfect, it's the only desktop Twitter client that was halfway decent. Twitter never created a proper Win32 client, and neither did anyone else. They do have a Metro client developed by a third party, but it's pretty terrible and a horrible user experience on a desktop machine.

Unlikely as it is, I'm still stubbornly holding out hope somebody creates a nice and elegant Win32 Twitter client, because with the shutdown of TweetDeck, I don't have any options for using Twitter on the computing platform I use the most (i.e., Windows).

Linux Distros Don’t Keep Up with WebKit Updates

Major desktop browsers push automatic security updates directly to users on a regular basis, so most users don't have to worry about security updates. But Linux users are dependent on their distributions to release updates. Apple fixed over 100 vulnerabilities in WebKit last year, so getting updates out to users is critical.

This is the story of how that process has gone wrong for WebKit.

How to blow up your PR: the John Legere master class

There are several acknowledged rules on the Internet. Rule Zero, translated into more appropriate language,of course, is don't commit violence against a cat. Rule One ought to be don't mess with the EFF.

The EFF is one of those few organisations you can just always trust to have your best interests at heart. Their track record is impeccable, and their causes always just.

Don't mess with the EFF.

The website obesity crisis

Let me start by saying that beautiful websites come in all sizes and page weights. I love big websites packed with images. I love high-resolution video. I love sprawling Javascript experiments or well-designed web apps.

This talk isn't about any of those. It's about mostly-text sites that, for unfathomable reasons, are growing bigger with every passing year.

While I'll be using examples to keep the talk from getting too abstract, I'm not here to shame anyone, except some companies (Medium) that should know better and are intentionally breaking the web.

This is an amazing and hilarious read we can all agree with it. I doubt there's going to be any pointless bickering over this one.

Can web standards make mobile apps obsolete?

Currently, standards are advancing rapidly in the area of mobile Web applications as part of the emerging HTML5 platform. The goal, backed strongly by Google and Mozilla, is for websites to be able to do anything that native apps can. If this happens, native apps may no longer be necessary or desirable - right? Would the considerable advantages of the mobile Web (its near-zero footprint, updates performed on the server, and support for all platforms) convince developers and users to target the Web instead of the iPhone and Android? And would Apple allow this to happen?

This utopian dream has existed in one form or another for at least two decades now, and I wonder if we'll ever get there. It'd be nice to be freed from the clutches of Google Play and the App Store, but it's a long way off, still.

Internet freedom is actively dissolving in America

It's the end of 2015, and one fact about the internet is quickly becoming clear this year: Americans' freedom to access the open internet is rapidly dissolving.

Broadband access is declining, data caps are becoming commonplace, surveillance is increasing, and encryption is under attack.

This is not merely my opinion. The evidence is everywhere; the walls are closing in from all sides. The net neutrality victory of early this year has rapidly been tempered by the fact that net neutrality doesn't matter if you don't have solid access to said 'net.

A lot is going to depend on whatever president the American public elects next year. All Republicans are obviously off the table when it comes to an open and free internet, and Clinton, too, considers encryption a problem that needs to be addressed (i.e., broken, users be damned).

I don't want to do any endorsements, but I think y'all can do the math. Make it happen, America.

“Can’t sign in to Google calendar on my Samsung refrigerator”

I have a Samsung RF4289HARS refrigerator. The Google calendar app on it has been working perfectly since I purchased the refrigerator August 2012. However, with the latest changes in Google Calendar API, I can no longer sign in to my calendar . I receive a message stating "Please check your email in Google Calendar website". I can sign in fine on my home PC and have no problem seeing the calendar on my phone. Perhaps this is a Samsung issue, but I thought I would try here first. Has anyone else experienced this problem and what was the solution?

Pretty sure this is in the Book of Revelation somewhere.

Tech giants say Verizon’s unlicensed spectrum use breaks Wi-Fi

Verizon is pushing for phones to be equipped with technology to make use of unlicensed spectrum to speed up the internet and clear congestion, but not everybody's happy.

That sounds great, say Google, Microsoft, Comcast, and others, except for one thing. The proposed system, called LTE in Unlicensed Spectrum or LTE-U, which relies on a combination of new, small cell towers and home wireless routers, risks disrupting the existing Wi-Fi access most people enjoy. For several months, the three companies have been among a group lobbying the Federal Communications Commission to delay LTE-U's adoption pending further tests. All three declined to comment for this story, referring instead to an Oct. 23 FCC filing they joined that claims LTE-U "has avoided the long-proven standards-setting process and would substantially degrade consumer Wi-Fi service across the country."

Let me put it like this: since the intricacies and specifics of wireless technology and its possible interactions are far beyond my own personal comprehension, I'll just make the safe bet and side with whomever is opposing the carriers, which in this case are Microsoft and Google, and Comcast.

...oh.

Dark clouds over the internet

If the global Internet is going to be warped to suit governments' interests, we must ensure that it isn't broken up into cantonized national networks with less privacy, less efficiency, less commerce and less speech. That means making it easier for foreign governments to get data when that access is justified and harder when it is not.

International agreements are one solution, and America and Britain are rumored to be negotiating such a deal. In the meantime, American technology companies should be free to comply directly with foreign government requests for data, as long as that access is warranted and meets international standards of due process and human rights. If America fails to allow such access, it will happen anyway in a brute and extralegal manner - and the result will be a less secure, less efficient Internet.

Hand over data, with all the privacy risks that involves, or the internet breaks up. Really? That's the best we can? Those are the outcomes we have to settle for?

What a deception.

A two-miles-per-hour world

The following series of maps depicts the speed at which news traveled to Venice, fron 1500 to 1765. The isochronic lines represent one week, and give a broad indication of the time required for letters to reach their destination. All three maps describe the speed of letters traveling toward Venice.

Today, thanks to telephony and internet, this is all instantaneous. Kind of amazing how we went from weeks and weeks for news to get around, to mere seconds, in a matter of just several centuries. The moment I press 'publish' on this news item, it's there in your browser, hitting the RSS feeds, going on Twitter.

US, UK abusing Paris victims to push for more surveillance

How unsurprising:

At a Center for Strategic & International Studies talk today, CIA Director John Brennan renewed one of the government's favorite lies about spying: that mass surveillance has been successful in stopping a bunch of mysterious threats while it is simultaneously too ineffective to stop real attacks, because of privacy advocates and whistleblowers.

Meanwhile, in the UK, Cameron is using the Paris attacks to further his totalitarian agenda of mass state surveillance in the UK:

Some politicians in the UK are calling for the government to hurry new surveillance laws into power following deadly terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday. Lord Carlile, a former independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, said that the Investigatory Powers Bill - which was unveiled in draft form two weeks ago - should be "expedited" and put into action "as soon as possible," rather than by the end of 2016.

The UK prime minister David Cameron expressed similar concerns on BBC radio this morning, saying that the government should "look at the timetable" of the legislation. He also announced that the UK would hire 1,900 new security and intelligence staff at MI5, MI6, and GCHQ (an increase of 15 percent) in order to "respond to the increasing international terrorist threat." Cameron added that the attacks in France, which killed 129 people and wounded more than 300, "could happen here."

France already has these draconian mass surveillance laws. Sadly, they didn't prevent the attack.

The EU is preparing a frontal attack on the hyperlink

According to a draft communication on copyright reform leaked yesterday (via IPKat), the Commission is considering putting the simple act of linking to content under copyright protection. This idea flies in the face of both existing interpretation and spirit of the law as well as common sense. Each weblink would become a legal landmine and would allow press publishers to hold every single actor on the Internet liable.

The stupidity of the unelected bureaucrats in Brussels/Strasbourg never ceases to amaze me. Fresh from royally doing terrible things to the poohc regarding net neutrality, out comes this insane plan.

And then people wonder why the EU has such a bad reputation.

UK to ban encryption

British re-elected prime-minister Cameron is continuing his life's mission of invading the British people's privacy and severely restricting their freedoms.

Internet and social media companies will be banned from putting customer communications beyond their own reach under new laws to be unveiled on Wednesday.

Companies such as Apple, Google and others will no longer be able to offer encryption so advanced that even they cannot decipher it when asked to, the Daily Telegraph can disclose.

Measures in the Investigatory Powers Bill will place in law a requirement on tech firms and service providers to be able to provide unencrypted communications to the police or spy agencies if requested through a warrant.

How on earth did you Brits manage to not only elect this dangerous man, but also re-elect him?

Conde Nast to further merge content and advertising

Last month, I wrote:

The second method by which publishers and ad brokers will combat ad-blocking is by making ads harder to detect. We've already seen a huge increase in "advertorials", ads written to look like regular editorial content. Right now, there will be tags or other markers to separate advertorial content from regular editorial content, but in the near future you can expect these borders to become ever more vague, until eventually, they'll vanish altogether.

Today, Condé Nast, parent company of, among other things, Ars Technica, announced a new type of ad campaign, as reported by Observer.

"Creating the most compelling content and obsessively pushing boundaries is what drives Condé Nast," chief marketing officer and president of Condé Nast Media Group Edward Menicheschi said in the announcement. "Partnering with Cadillac, a brand with similar DNA, will result in premium storytelling that engages and inspires our shared consumers."

The marketing boundaries will be pushed by "the talented storytellers from Condé Nast's editorial staff" who, in a variety of formats and across the company's distribution platforms (aka editorial properties), will "dare greatly" to reimagine the relationship between editorial and advertising. Condés Cadillac campaign will consist of more than 50 pieces of custom content, including articles and video.

Give it a few years, and the boundaries between advertising and content will be gone completely. It's the only way to combat ad blockers and deliver advertising to consumers on the web.

Oh, how we'll long for today's ads.