May 30, 2014 GMTBy now, you may have read Mozilla's reluctant decision to ship with the ability to support Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) in Firefox. You may have read, too, the Free Software Foundation's condemnation of Mozilla's decision. Consequently, you may be starting to look for a DRM-free replacement for Firefox.Mozilla's announcement seems to have caught many projects off-guard. However, here are five leading alternatives: SeamonkeySeamonkey bundles a web browser, mail reader, HTML editor and chat application all into one. The project has close ties to Mozilla, and its browser is based upon a relatively recent version of Firefox.Seamonkey did not reply to my request for comment, but its...
Off the Beat: Bruce Byfield's Blog
May 25, 2014 GMTPositioning picture has been a problem ever since LibreOffice and OpenOffice were OpenOffice.org -- and possibly before. Inserting graphics is no problem, but try to anchor, align, or indent, and the picture changes position, sometimes by a matter of centimeters, but just as often jumping to a different place entirely on the page, leaving users frustrated and uncertain about the solution.Over the years, some palliatives have been discovered. Power Users know that things are more likely to go wrong with the default anchor, To paragraph, and will replace it with As character instead. Often, too, users are unaware that adding a caption throws a frame around a graphic, and choose one when...
May 22, 2014 GMTApple has its Myriad, and IBM its Bodoni. In recent years, though, it has been the turn of free software projects to adopt a typeface as part of their identity.The use of typefaces in branding is nothing new, of course. A consistently used font can immediately suggest a company or group, even to people who have no conscious awareness of typography.However, such concerns are new to free software. The fact that they are becoming common now reflects, perhaps, the increased interest in design and usability encouraged by major projects like Ubuntu and GNOME. A well-chosen font can both complement a theme and increase legibility on the desktop.But the best thing about the branding fonts of free...
May 09, 2014 GMTFew people can match Jono Bacon's experience as a community leader in free software. Not only has he been Ubuntu community manager for nearly eight years, but in The Art of Community, he literally wrote the book on community, and has talked extensively about issues like burnout at conferences. Given this background, his latest book, Dealing with Disrespect, comes with high expectations. Nor does it disappoint, except in Bacon's tendency to see problems in terms of individuals rather than systems.The strength of Bacon's writing has always been that he is approaches his topics in terms of problems to solve -- problems, presumably, that he has encountered in his work. This approach...
Apr 29, 2014 GMTWhenever a retail product like a Ubuntu phone or MakePlayLive's Vivaldi tablet is announced, expectations run high in the free software world. Each product, people hope, will be the one that gives free software a space on the shelves of the nearest mall's computer store. Yet almost without exception, these efforts meet with delays. When they get to market, many of them disappear within a few months, and free software advocates look forward to the start of the same cycle with another product. Ever wonder why?Needless to say, the problem has nothing to do with the quality of free software. Partly, it has to do with the low odds of any new product, proprietary or free, succeeding. But the...
Apr 24, 2014 GMTThe allegations of workplace harassment at GitHub make for an ugly story. They're ugly if they're true, and ugly in another way if they are motivated by personal differences. But either way, GitHub could use a lesson or two in crisis management.The allegations are made by Julie Anne Horvath, the organizer of a monthly series of feminist talks called Passion Projects and previously a defender of GitHub in the feminist community. Horvath claims that for two years she was harassed by GitHub co-founder Tom Preston-Werner and his wife. Horvath also claims that she was harassed by a fellow GitHub employee, and received no support from the company.In response, GitHub CEO Chris Wanstrath...
Apr 18, 2014 GMTReviewing Ubuntu has become as pointless as reviewing a Stephen King novel -- nothing I say could possibly influence the fans or detractors. The fans have already upgraded, and the detractors decided long ago to stay away. All the same, the 14.04 release (code-named Trusty Tahr, with artwork that looks like a parody of the GNU project's logo) is still worth a look, because releases of any software make observations about the project behind the software so easy.Consider, for example: In October, 2011, Mark Shuttleworth wrote that "By 14.04 LTS Ubuntu will power tablets, phones, TVs and smart screens from the car to the office kitchen, and it will connect those devices cleanly and...
New tool will look like GParted but support a wider range of storage technologies.
New public key pinning feature will help prevent man-in-the-middle attacks.
Carnegie Mellon researchers say 3 million pages could fall down the phishing hole in the next year.
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Klaus Knopper announces the latest version of his iconic Live Linux system.
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DARPA and NICTA release the code for the ultra-secure microkernel system used in aerial drones.
Should you trust an online service to store your online passwords?
New B+ board lets you build cool things without the complication of a powered USB hub.