Google's proposed Web Bundles could threaten the Web as we know it

(www.ghacks.net)

Webmasters may use Web Bundles to randomize URLs, reuse URLs, and hiding dangerous URLs.

The core of the issue lies in the fact that content that is inside WebBundles may be different from content that is offered elsewhere. Sites could use random URLs for tracking and advertising scripts to make blocking harder or even impossible, and they could even go a step further by using the names of legitimate resources for advertising or invasive content.

Watch this space folks, this could be the stage where Google would kill what's left of the open web.

A federal appeals court has ruled the NSA phone metadata program was illegal & maybe unconstitutional to boot.

(politi.co)

Judge Marsha Berzon's opinion, which contains a half-dozen references to the role of former NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden in disclosing the NSA metadata program, concludes that the "bulk collection" of such data violated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

The appeals court stopped just short of saying that the snooping was definitely unconstitutional, but rejected the Justice Department's arguments that collecting the metadata did not amount to a search under a 40-year-old legal precedent because customers voluntarily share such info with telephone providers.

Huge, and I guess Edward Snowden was right after all…

What Windows 95 Changed

(anildash.com)

And as a product, Windows 95 itself was fine. The user interface and design were certainly a leap forward over previous generations. There were decided user benefits in making it easier to configure computers, and it set the stage for later innovations where a normal person could plug in a mouse or keyboard into their computer and it would probably work. But the most lasting impact is how it changed the broader cultural perception of technology.

But after Windows 95 arrived, tech quickly became a standard part of people’s lives. The Internet became mainstream, homes got connected, and software became something everyone uses. Eventually, smartphones put a computer in everyone's pocket, not just in their homes, and software became "apps" — and became part of our lives.

Windows 95 turned 25 this week, and it's still one of the most important software releases in the modern era. Here's Anil Dash with a good retrospective.

Chromium's impact on root DNS traffic

(blog.apnic.net)

At this point, a new issue arises. Some networks (for example, ISPs) use products or services designed to intercept and capture traffic from mistyped domain names. This is sometimes known as “NXDomain hijacking.” Users on such networks might be shown the “did you mean” infobar on every single-term search. To work around this, Chromium needs to know if it can trust the network to provide non-intercepted DNS responses.

"in the 10+ years since the feature was added, we now find that half of the DNS root server traffic is very likely due to Chromium’s probes. That equates to about 60 billion queries to the root server system on a typical day."

Yikes, must-read.

This is a great read on the history of computer user groups and it's golden age, which those who remember was fun places to be back in the day.

(arstechnica.com)

But to my dismay, many young technically-inclined whippersnappers are completely unaware of computer user groups’ existence and their importance in the personal computer’s development. That’s a damned shame. Our current reality may largely be isolated to screens, but these organizations helped countless enthusiasts find community because of them. Computer groups celebrated the industry’s fundamental values: a delight in technology’s capabilities, a willingness to share knowledge, and a tacit understanding that we’re all here to help one another.

And gosh, they were fun

I used to be in some of these groups and it was a great learning experience to meet people in person and share my and other's expertise. I don't see the internet can completely replace the tight knit communities that are created from in person meetups since it's so different concept.

Latest update to Lightroom for iOS inadvertently wiped users' photos and presets not synced to the cloud; Adobe says there is no way to get them back

(petapixel.com)

Yesterday afternoon, at 4:30pm Eastern Time, Adobe officially confirmed the issue, explaining that customers who updated to Lightroom 5.4 on iPhone and iPad “may be missing photos and presets,” that those photos and presets are “not recoverable,” and that they “sincerely apologize” to users who have been affected by the issue. Version 5.4.1 has already been released, fixing the issue, but it can do nothing about the lost data.

This is also a great reminder for photographers that you should always back up your images, in multiple places, so you’re never subject to a single point of failure. Mistakes like this happen, even at some of the world’s largest companies (see: canon.image).

THIS is why you need to have physical backups of your work/images/etc. like getting a external hard drive.

Some interesting stuff from former Apple engineer David Shayer on the company's 2005 plans to build a top secret iPod in collaboration with the US Department of Energy, likely to create a stealth Geiger counter.

(tidbits.com)

They didn’t actually work for the Department of Energy; they worked for a division of Bechtel, a large US defense contractor to the Department of Energy. They wanted to add some custom hardware to an iPod and record data from this custom hardware to the iPod’s disk in a way that couldn’t be easily detected. But it still had to look and work like a normal iPod.

building something like a stealth Geiger counter. Something that DOE agents could use without furtively hiding it. Something that looked innocuous, that played music, and functioned exactly like a normal iPod. You could walk around a city, casually listening to your tunes, while recording evidence of radioactivity—scanning for smuggled or stolen uranium, for instance, or evidence of a dirty bomb development program—with no chance that the press or public would get wind of what was happening. Like all other electronic gadgets, Geiger counters have gotten smaller and cheaper, and I was amused to run across the Radiation Alert Monitor 200, which looks an awful lot like a classic iPod.

Wow, I didn't know this was actually a real project. Go read this!

Melody Horn on what a post open source world would look like

(www.boringcactus.com)

if there’s anything corporations love more than rewriting software so it lets them make all the money they can dream of, it’s letting other people do that work for them.

optimizing for profit at the expense of any other consideration. chasing short-term gains and ignoring long-term sustainability or justice. squeezing every drop of surplus value out of every person within reach and putting it in the hands of a dozen investors and overpaid executives.

in a word, capitalism.

if post-open source wants to not die the same death, it will need to explicitly and aggressively fight its greatest existential threat.

Sadly, we're heading this direction and a end of an era is upon us. I could even say open source altogether would be dead next at this rate.

Mozilla is on life support as they laying off an additional 250 people AND gutted their whole MDN team

(www.vice.com)

Baker writes Mozilla Corporation, as well as reducing the size of its workforce by approximately 250 roles, will change the teams for around 60 other people. The staff reduction involves closing the company's current operations in Taipei, Taiwan, the email adds.

Baker writes the Firefox organization will focus on "core browser growth" and reduce investment in areas such as developer tools, internal tooling, and platform feature development. The email also mentions the organization's recent focus on developing more revenue generating products, such as its new VPN.

Mozilla's road to irrelevance continues as they're laying off 250 more employees amid further restructuring to invest in more revenue-generating projects like their VPN, which ain't going to work I feel. They only have themselves to blame for getting into this scenario.

In other words, we all saw this coming years ago and Mozilla has failed to realize it until it was too late. I had glimmers of hope that their Quantum browser can be the solution but it turns out to be a major flop.

As a result & hate to say this, Firefox is on life support and the last viable true open option would go away. For mobile especially, Chrome has already won that war. Wonder if Onion browsers would move to Chromium?

I say we need someone to build a replacement sooner than later.

UPDATE: Mozilla also has gutted their entire MDN team

Along with calls to find jobs for the people being displaced, web developers on Twitter and discussion sites such as Hacker News quickly reacted with concern about another prominent Mozilla production: the set of online manuals known as the MDN (for Mozilla Developer Network) Web Docs.

Yikes!!! They're REALLY on life support now…

Toshiba, which started making laptops in 1985, has formally exited the laptop business, after Sharp acquired Toshiba's final shares in Dynabook

(www.theregister.com)

Toshiba has made laptops since 1985 and claims to have been the first to make a mass-market computer in the now-familiar clamshell form factor. By the 1990s the company was producing solid workhorses in the Satellite range and started to make meaningful stretches of mobile work possible with the small, thin and light Portégé range.

Those products saw Toshiba lead the world for laptop market share through the late 1990s and retain that position for much of the 2000s. Even as the PC market consolidated in that decade, Toshiba was often ranked among the top five of all PC vendors despite only ever dabbling in desktops.

As the 2000s rolled along Toshiba devices became bland in comparison to the always-impressive ThinkPad and the MacBook Air, while Dell and HP also improved. Toshiba also never really tried to capture consumers’ imaginations, which didn't help growth.

Toshiba made some of the most durable laptops ever made and this news saddens me. I still have two R705s still running Windows 7 and Linux respectively in my closet and it Just Worked. A true end of an era.