I love Lin Clark’s code cartoons, as much for her incredibly clear explanations as for her fearless choice of advanced and in-the-weeds topics. Her latest, a three part series delving into some new low level capabilities that will make concurrent and high performance programming more possible in the browser is no exception.
Not sure npmjs is going to respond quickly enough for this module install from umpteen thousand feet, aka cruising altitude.
It performs well enough to decode and play MP3s in realtime on Firefox on modern computers, although if you do lots of things at once, Firefox might forget at all about scheduled tasks and let the soundcard underflow. There is a rescue mechanism for that in the demo, which works most of the time.
There is a fully capable demo, written in a very brief amount of time as part of the Music Hackday. I ran into a couple of issues with playback but outside of that, the experience is entirely comparable with the usual Flash players.
- Kindle allowing bypass of Chinese censoring firewall
Slashdot points to an interesting use for the otherwise not very freedom friendly device. Apparently, however the 3G service is provided locally in China, it isn’t being subjected to the same censorship as regular net access. I tend to agree with Professor Kwan’s interpretation, that those in charge of the firewall simply don’t realize the Kindle can be used for anything other than buying and reading books.
- Adobe temporarily closes their Flex SDK
According to a conversation with the product manager initiated by The Register, the public source code repository and patch submission for Flex will be closed for a couple of releases. This stems from the fact that while the tool itself, used for creating Flash and AIR apps, is open, the platform is closed. In order to build against the un-released new versions of closed platform components, it is necessary to also close Flex. This demonstrates one considerable risk of working with a set of tools that isn’t all open.
Klint Finley at ReadWriteWeb describes a new library that the developer sees as helping with automatically tagging photos online. Even if it doesn’t evolve from face detection to full on recognition, you could easily see how a distributed, in browser trick like this could be effectively coupled with crowd intelligence to allow web applications to offer almost as good identity based tags. I think it is far more interesting to consider how the library might open up compelling, novel interactions with web applications based on a user’s movements and orientation in space. That avenue of thought is less concerning from a privacy perspective, too.
- Publisher sells DRM-free ebooks to libraries , BoingBoing
- OpenBSD 4.8 released, Slashdot
Slashdot links to this now concluded contest that sort of reminds me of the demo scene in terms of the constraint to bum down code as much as possible. The results are a bit more diverse, including many interactive games as well as passive animations. More so than a lot of recent and fairly contrived “HTML5” demos, the finalists in JS1K really showcase what modern browsers can do.
- Firefox Home adding more devices, social capabilities
Chris Cameron at ReadWriteWeb shares news of Mozilla’s plans for their Sync client for iPhone. Personally, I cannot wait to get an Android powered replacement for my iPod Touch and start running Fennec, their full mobile browser, but in the interim I’m happy that Home is getting such attention from the lizard wranglers. I especially cannot wait for the password sync support planned for a future release.
- Congress passes internet, smart phone accessibility bill, Washington Post
- Update to private cloud-based file system, Tahoe-LAFS, BoingBoing
- Android software piracy rampant, Slashdot
- A Review of Jason Scott’s “Get Lamp”
Text adventure games figured largely in my earliest experiences of computers. It was a no brainer for me to pick up a copy of Scott’s documentary on the subject. I enjoyed it immensely and am far from finished exploring all the material he has included in the two disc set. Jeremy Reimer at Ars Technica has a glowing review that resonates very strongly with my own experience of the work.
- EFF, others, support Microsoft in case trying to make patent invalidation easier, EFF
- Open HDCP software implementation released
Ars Technica, among others, has news of researchers using the recently leaked HDCP keys to build an open source program capable of decrypting encoded digital video streams. Peter Bright questions the utility of the effort as it would still require some sort of hardware to connect into your home media ecosystem. I think the overlooks the very strong tradition of these sorts of proofs of concept developed by security researchers interested in the system more so than its applications.
“In programming language (PL) research, we like to write up fancy evaluation rules containing lots of Greek letters. Unfortunately, these rules tend to be inscrutable to anyone who isn’t a PL researcher. Even for PL researchers, there is something unsatisfying about seeing a bunch of rules on a piece of paper.”
- Brazil undertaking all digital census, using smartphones, Slashdot
- Contribute to SETI@home from your browser
Via Hacker News.
- Re-targeting ads stalk surfers for weeks after they shop
Slashdot links to a story at NYT that I find fascinating for its potential to drive home the point about widespread behavioral advertising. If more users notice these sorts of creepy practices, the more fuel we’ll have for debate around better practices around transparency and affording the ability to opt out.
- Cyanogen, after market mod for Android smart phones, now supports FroYo, ReadWriteWeb
- GPU assisted sorting algorithm breaks giga-sort barrier, Slashdot
- iPhone app in approval limbo goes open source, Slashdot
- New model developed to help organize, keep private massive amounts of online data, Science Daily
- Some California schools decide to track students with RFIDs, EFF
Via Hacker News.
- Latest ACTA draft won’t be released
- Authors Guild silent over text-to-speech feature on iPad
- New research suggests Google Books search helps more than it harms
- EFF seeks to help Righthaven defendants
- Tenebaum appeals his case, even after reduction of damages
- Has the US caved on secondary liability in ACTA?
More recently a rich ecosystem of third party plugins has evolved for jQuery. The quality of design and adherence to the core library’s idioms varies pretty widely but the ability to easily drop in bits that extend jQuery’s reach is attractive, even given the necessary trade-offs that often involves.
I was pretty thrilled, then, to see the H share the announcement that the jQuery developers are looking to do for mobile browsers what they have already done for desktop browsers.
According to jQuery creator John Resig, as part of the new mobile project, the core jQuery library is being improved to work across the various major mobile platforms and their browsers. Resig says that the developers are working to release “a complete, unified, mobile UI framework”. Current expectations are that this will be completed in late 2010.
As the H goes on to explain, the idea will be to ease the creation of touch based apps that degrade gracefully across the different capabilities provided by the combination of mobile browsers with particular mobile devices. jQuery is not the first project to tackling the mobile space, specifically for touch apps on mobile browsers. If they bring the same clean, simple design to the API and the amazing code quality as the original version, they should be able to produce a compelling, competitive offering despite perhaps arriving a little late.
jQuery itself is free software, available under a dual GPL or MIT license. Presumably the new mobile version will use the same licensing scheme which makes it pretty much a no brainer in terms of freedom to use with all kinds of applications. The H links to plenty more detail if you are curious, including a detailed grid of browser support.
- Stormy Peters on the desktop, mobile and the cloud
Another tease for OSCON at O’Reilly Radar, this time James Turner interviews Stormy Peters, executive director of the Gnome Foundation. I am glad to read a practical discussion of bring usability, convenience and freedom together. I don’t necessarily see the cloud as a terrifying bugbear threatening software freedom as RMS has made it out, but I do think we need to be asking for and building services that take user freedom and autonomy into account. I am heartened by how well Stormy hits these very points.
- Clarifying how user data sharing and advertising works on Facebook
Berin Szoka at TLF shares a video from Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg. This explanation certainly makes sense on its face and really should be the sort of aspect, as Berin notes, that services that rely on advertising explain at every opportunity. However, it still doesn’t excuse Facebook’s privacy gaffes and Zuckerberg’s mercurial stance about sharing personal information. It also doesn’t explain how the 3rd party partnering Facebook recently launched works, whether there are risks of exposure there or similar care has been taken to appropriately compartmentalize users’ data.