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Google Disses Flash, DRM Comes to HTML & More…

FOSS Week in Review

Google wants to do away with Flash?

The day after our own Christine Hall expressed the opinion that Adobe’s Flash “isn’t going to go away anytime soon,” mainly because the Google ad business is hooked on it, we find that the Mountain View company might very well be trying to push Flash out the door. On Tuesday, CNET reported that Google has released a free beta of Google Web Designer, a tool for building animated HTML 5 ads.

“There are several benefits to replacing Flash with HTML5, but one of the biggest is that Flash doesn’t, and probably won’t ever, run on iOS. Even though most Android devices can handle Flash at this point, Google wants to make it as easy as possible for designers to make their ads, and that means coding them for the most universal platform available.”

In other words, Flash’s days as a browser plugin may be numbered after all. Stay tuned…

NSA still has their eyes on you

Darkness obscures daylight as America to fall into a dystopian nightmare. Good citizens, raised on the notion of their shared ownership of the government, wear blinders and constantly try to catch the carrot that’s dangled in front of them by the demons riding on their backs. Visions told by Dick and Orwell, considered nightmares only a decade or so ago, are now business as usual and “not that bad as long as you aren’t doing anything wrong.”

To paraphrase the Moody Blues: But who decides what is wrong and what is right?

No one asks who or what the NSA is seeking to secure. If it’s our freedom, they’re doing so by locking it up safely where no one can get near it and by judging us by our associations. Anyone who has friends from other lands who speak other tongues is now treated as if he or she too was born on foreign soil.

On Saturday, the New York Times reported that the NSA has been using its data collections to create graphs to track our social connections, an activity that began in 2010. What they’re looking for is foreign connections.

“The policy shift was intended to help the agency ‘discover and track’ connections between intelligence targets overseas and people in the United States, according to an N.S.A. memorandum from January 2011. The agency was authorized to conduct ‘large-scale graph analysis on very large sets of communications metadata without having to check foreignness’ of every e-mail address, phone number or other identifier, the document said. Because of concerns about infringing on the privacy of American citizens, the computer analysis of such data had previously been permitted only for foreigners.”

We can’t help but wonder why “infringing on the privacy of American citizens” quit being a problem in 2010. Why not before? Why not later? Like most questions we might ask about the NSA, we’re not likely to receive an answer.

“Almost everything about the agency’s operations is hidden, and the decision to revise the limits concerning Americans was made in secret, without review by the nation’s intelligence court or any public debate.”

Ex Redmond privacy chief doesn’t trust Microsoft

Fortunately, not everyone has their head in the sand.

We learned Monday from CNET that Caspar Bowden, once a privacy chief for Microsoft, no longer trusts his old employer. He also says that during his tenure with the Redmond firm he didn’t know about PRISM. Speaking at a conference in Lausanne, Switzerland, he expressed concerns about the effects that PRISM could have on democracy’s core.

“‘The public now has to think about the fact that anybody in public life, or person in a position of influence in government, business or bureaucracy, now is thinking about what the NSA knows about them. So how can we trust that the decisions that they make are objective and that they aren’t changing the decisions that they make to protect their career? That strikes at any system of representative government.'”

Ex-Microsoft privacy chief Casper Bowden
Casper Bowden in September 2013
The tech industry claims they’ve seen no adverse financial repercussions from their complicity with the NSA’s dirty tricks. They just need to be patient.

The cancellation of huge orders and contracts is coming. Foreign governments and big business abroad just need some time to get their ducks in a row before they make the move away from unseeable and unknowable binary code to something that can be read by real people. Eventually this whole NSA mess is going to make open source the defacto world standard.

Microsoft/Nokia turns bottom feeder

Who thought we’d see the day when a Windows device could compete with a device running free Linux on price? Well, that day is now here, according to an article posted Monday by Reuters. During a three month period ending in August, Windows phones have staked-out market share of 10.8% in France and 12% in the UK. They’re accomplishing this by aiming low.

“‘Windows Phone’s latest wave of growth is being driven by Nokia’s expansion into the low and mid-range market with the Lumia 520 and 620 handsets,’ said [market research firm] Kantar analyst Dominic Sunnebo.

“‘These models are hitting the sweet spot with 16 to 24 year-olds and 35 to 49 year-olds, two key groups that look for a balance of price and functionality in their smartphone.'”

HTC & Nokia Windows phones
HTC Windows Phone 8X and Nokia Lumia 920 running Windows Phone .
This has us wondering how much Nokia was paying in licensing fees before it was bought by Microsoft, given the fact that these figures were racked up when Nokia’s mobile arm was still technically independent. We’ve always thought that paying the Microsoft tax automatically made your product more expensive.

Aha! We get it! Nokia was paying Redmond less for Windows than Samsung and HTC are paying Microsoft for Android. Talk about having your cake and eating it too.

Google’s little robot OS remains the market leader in Europe with a market share that continues to grow. Currently, they hold a 70.1% share in the olde countries.

Nvidia and Red Hat team up

Last week we told you that Nvidia was making nice and extending something of an olive branch to the Linux development folks. This week we learn from Phoronix that they’re actually working on a project with Red Hat. Evidently they’re working on an API for the Linux kernel to be used by graphics drivers.

“This new API will allow for graphics drivers to support texture uploading without involving a memory copy, next sparse texture extension loading from the disk, OpenGL using process addresses for seamless compute shader support.”

It’s nice to see that Nvidia has Linux on their radar screen. If this continues, maybe Mr. Torvalds will have to be making that apology soon.

Will your browser enforce DRM?

We got news on Wednesday from Boing Boing that the World Wide Web Consortium is going to add DRM to HTML 5. There’s not much information available right now on how this will work or how many browser developers will go along with the program and allow their product to become enforcers for Hollywood and the recording industry.

However, this hasn’t stopped speculation that this is just a first step in a process that will eventually lead to even more restrictions online:

“Danny O’Brien from the Electronic Frontier Foundation explains the wrangle at the W3C and predicts that, now that it’s kosher to contemplate locking up browsers against their owners, we’ll see every kind of control-freakery come out of the woodwork, from flags that prevent ‘View Source’ to restricting embedded fonts to preventing image downloading to Javascript that you can’t save and run offline. Indeed, some of this stuff is already underway at W3C, spurred into existence by a huge shift in the Web from open platform to a place where DRM-hobbled browsers are ‘in-scope’ for the WC3.”

[yop_poll id=”27″]

Maybe. Maybe not. There are several questions that need to be answered before we start sharpening the bayonets. The first thing we’d like to know: if a browser developer chooses to ignore DRM code in HTML 5, will that be considered a violation of the DMCA?

Schedule set for All Things Open conference

We neglected to mention in last week’s review that the schedule has now been set for the All Things Open conference that’s to be held in Raliegh, North Carolina on October 23rd and 24th. We count 67 speakers all together, representing organizations from IBM to The conference’s focus will be on the enterprise, and there will be plenty for developers and admins to sink their teeth into. Check out the schedule and attend if you’re able.

Of course, it won’t be all work and no play at ATO, so be sure to check-out the planned after-hours events as well.


Gosh, another week down the drain. We’ll see you again next week. Until then, may the FOSS be with you…


  1. Mike Mike October 4, 2013

    My guess is that the HTML5+DRM will be implemented by binary-only software you’ll have to install, meaning it’ll be a black box on your machine doing who knows what besides letting you play some site’s “protected” video. The browser won’t have any control over the encrypted content.

    For the end user, this is worse than the proprietary closed plugins we have today. Being sanctioned by the W3C just means the content provider will no longer be at the mercy of the plugin provider. They can create their own plugin to protect their video by any means they see fit…with all the nastiness that entails for the end user.

    This isn’t for users, it’s for content providers.

  2. tim lovejoy tim lovejoy October 8, 2013

    i get that Flash on the way out but lets hope they dont pull an Apple and tell people “You dont need to watch any site that uses Flash”.
    i won an ipad recently and apart from the whole walled garden (seriously, I use USB sticks and SD cards…dont make me change my way of working to suit your sales needs), the single most annoying thing is being told that I dont need to view a certain site because Apple says Flash isnt their cup of tea.
    F*** you Apple!! (and I dont use the term lightly but every time I cant watch something in Flash thats exactly what I yell)

    Im not a Flash apologists but if there is Flash content out there and I want to use it, then I WANT TO USE it.

    I get that Google wants to move away from Flash but it simply blows my mind that a corporation can dictate what and what I cant do online and that people will pay good money to get a neutered OS.

    The W3C is on the other hand is a total embarassment and should just close shop. They are useless and their actions will only hinder internet users.

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