Of Responsabilities

Yesterday, Mozilla Foundation announced that future versions of Firefox will have support for a DRM scheme called EME. By their own blog post — and by several news outlets around — it is not a decision they are happy with and feel they had to add to not force anyone to switch browsers.

(Just small note here: Yes, they don’t want people to switch browsers because that would mean less revenue for them, but at the same time, Firefox is one of the only major browsers that really cares about privacy and not just how their icon looks better in this version. Anyway…)

After the announcement, a lot of people start claiming some stuff like “hey, last CEO was called out for a lot less than this” and “we need a new ‘pure’ browser”.

Yeah, yeah, I get why you are angry. I just think your anger is misdirected.

Imagine this: there is this kid. The kid is bullied non-stop by richer kids, but he’s stoic. He takes the punchs like nothing. You root for the kid, because he never returns violence with violence. Then, one day, the kid kills himself. What happens?

1. You call the kid stupid for killing himself?

2. You go after the rich kids and show them what they did?

The right, moral answer is 2. The kid suffered enough and just saw no other exit. It was not a noble option (or smart, let’s say), but it was the only option he saw.

Now, that’s the same thing: Mozilla had to kill one of its morals because richer kids pushed something made to reduce your freedom just so you wouldn’t need to give up your other freedoms (privacy, for example).

And then people want full rampage on Mozilla for taking this decision.

A decision forced on them by richer kids.

Richer kids like Google, Microsoft, BBC and Netflix.

Now, there is absolutely no one going after Google for backing EME; there is no one saying “Microsoft, always fucking up with the user”; there is no one telling BBC to stick to news and stop messing with IT; there is no one willing to lose watching The Next Generation for the 11th time instead of supporting Netflix. Nope, everyone is against Mozilla decision.

Mozilla is not resposible for DRM on Firefox; Google, Microsoft, BBC and Netflix are.

So, if you’re pissed, go cancel your Microsoft account; delete your Gmail; forget about YouTube; stop getting your BBC news; cancel your Netflix account. Show the rich kids that you don’t accept their actions and don’t want to be around them anymore.

(But, in the end, it’s a lot easier to switch browsers than stop watching cat videos on the internet thanks to YouTube or watching your old series on Netflix. And, thus, it is easier to go after Mozilla than doing what’s right.)

A CEO, a Browser and Civil Equality

This post is late. Not much late, but it is.

Today Brendan Eich stepped down as Mozilla CEO. Brendan Eich, for those who don’t know who he is one of the fathers of JavaScript and was Mozilla CTO for a long time. Also, he contributed to the “PROP-8”, a constitutional amendment to band same-sex marriage.

Now I don’t live in California or even in the USA, but I can understand why this can outrage some people.

And I’ll say some things that may make the same people outrage at me, so let me put this right here: I’m in favor of same-sex marriage only because it has absolutely nothing to do with a religious ceremony and everything to do with civil rights and how the law sees “couples”.

(And before some idiot comes commenting some stupid bullshit like “so are you in favor of a man marrying a tree?” I’d say “yes, if the tree is capable of signing the damn document, which it can, you stupid moron.”)

But back to topic: After Eich was appointed CEO, a huge discussion about someone against civil liberties going to lead the company that talks a lot about “freedom” and “open to all”. I can understand that.

The reaction from his appointment was so huge that Mozilla co-founder Mitchell Baker posted about separating personal opinions and company opinions, which Eich himself addressed too, without saying he was sorry about funding the PROP-8 legislation.

And, to be honest, I get that: I bet my company board of directors are all in favor of a right-wing government, while I’m a pro-left-center government. My personal opinion do not reflect my working posture (and yes, I reckon both are not in the same level, but still…)

There is a huge discussion at Ars Technica when OkCupid warned Firefox users and I must say they raised very valid points (which is what made me write this blog post).

Some points were way over the head, like claiming PROP8 was against their very human rights, like it would burn them in sticks for staying with their same-sex partners. Again, this is a civil right — a right that should be recognized by the government — but Eich voted against it. Eich wouldn’t personally go to those people houses and slap bibles to their faces till they fall in love with someone else (of the opposite sex, that is). And Eich has been way less loud than, say, Orson Scott Card, someone that makes me regret even reading his books.

On the other hand, this kind of religious bullshit should stop and people should be free to be recognized as a couple with whatever person they love. Even as a straight guy I can see that those kind of people would not stop once they ban same-sex marriage: they would ban people using long beards because it’s a sign of another religion (which is completely bullshit) then ban computer games because someone else told them “it is evil work” (which is utterly bullshit).

In the end, as always, people said that you should boycott Firefox. And that’s where my moral compass got all confused.

You see, there are some companies around here that sponsor TV shows that I absolutely despise, which I believe does nothing good; I hate with all my strengths companies that market themselves as a product to “real fanatics for soccer/football” when you see those same fanatics hitting people with metal bars only because they root for the other team[1] and, because of this, I refuse to buy any of their products. So, if I’m against someone that tries to take civil freedom from other people, how could I still use their browser?

Is not that Eich would even dictate the behaviour of Firefox, for any chance. Some of the comments mention that Obama (again, not my president, but a president of a country, nonetheless) also was against same-sex marriage but, mid mandate, was in favor of it. You can claim whatever political maneuver you want, but as a president of a democratic republic, Obama is force to go with whatever the people of his country want. As per Eich post, I’d expect that he too would not enforce his personal views over Mozilla and Firefox.

Still the problem persist: How could I still use something that would give money to someone to sponsor things I believe are the opposite I want to see in the world?

But Eich stepped down, so now I’m not in a moral conflict between a browser by a company with a CEO that doesn’t believe in equal rights and a browser by a company that is effectively trying to block the free internet for everyone.

[1] Seriously, if you work for a marketing company that does this kind of bullshit and don’t know what the fuck a “fanatic” is and how hitting someone with a metal bar IS fanatiscism, go put a bullet on your head. Seriously.

I Don’t Support a WebKit Monoculture Deux

Things in the internet space are weird.

First you have a guy telling that he would support a monopoly in the browser market (which I fully raged against). And then, out of nowhere, one of the jQuery guys come out and tell everyone that they are tired of doing hacks to avoid WebKit bugs — which finally sparked the Chrome/WebKit team to fix said bugs, which was even celebrated by John Resig himself.

But the thing is: Ok, the WebKit team fixes the bugs. Does that mean that they can simply remove said hacks?

The answer is a loud “no”. Because WebKit is not a single browser; it’s four, with a fifth coming around. Chrome, Chromium, Safari for OS X, Safari for iOS and, soon enough, Opera (and we still need to see how many versions of it will appear — although I believe that there will be at least a desktop version and a mobile version).

If tomorrow the Chromium team releases a WebKit version with all the fixes, will my Safaris (iOS and OS X) finally be updated? I don’t think I need to answer this, right? This just proves how “not smart” (to play nicely) the “WebKit monoculture guy” is: The fact that it’s being support by two different companies, with two different release timelines, is actually creating a fragmentation of the WebKit market (something that you should be used to if you use any Google tool, apparently).

I’m not a full time hater of everything WebKit. Firefox got a lot better since Chrome showed up, but the fact that some many people are brown-nosing it is simply sad. Chrome had some good ideas, but it’s far from being the “awesome browser to rule them all” like everybody is claiming.

I Don’t Support a WebKit Monoculture

So there is this post by Jeremy Khan about his support for a WebKit monoculture. The whole thing is so retarded and moronic it’s not even worth reading, but I did and now I’m in full rage.

Let me explain why this is stupid:

Strong Corporate Leadership

This is cited twice in the post and, honestly, it may actually be a bad thing instead of good. Say, one of the things that annoy me is the number of people who claims they wrote a “pure CSS counter in HTML5” but the thing only works on Chrome ’cause the moron added a bunch of non-standard “-webkit-” tags. Now, testing tags before they are fully approved and documented by W3C isn’t a bad thing per se, but the browser shouldn’t expose these things to the user unless they are actually developers trying new things. So I go and write a patch to force non-standard tags to be enabled only when the user selects so, and the default is Off (in other words, this would break every single site that wrongly relies on “-webkit-” tags). I’m pretty sure Apple and Google won’t approve it because, well, they are really interested in showing their sites in most snazziest way possible (Apple more than Google, but you get the idea).

Second, he cites “strong corporate support” for the rapid release cycles. Well, Java have a strong support from Oracle and it doesn’t have a rapid release cycle, even when it strongly needs due the amount of security holes being found every day.

So we can scratch the idea that “strong corporate support” does anything good.

The Chrome Updater

I find it absolutely retarded that he cites Chrome updater as a good thing. It’s one of the most atrocious, retarded things I ever had to deal with as a user, because it simply runs. You’re in the middle of your WoW raid, WoW is the only thing running and BLAM! download goes without you asking for it (and there goes you latency too, depending on were you leave).

Personal anecdote, one time my ISP crapped itself and I had to quickly check my emails to write down the address were I had an interview. So I did some tethering and off I went to Gmail. And it took way too long to answer. WAY too long. To the point that I was getting in the “fuck, I’ll be late” zone. That’s when I realize Chrome Updater was running and downloading a new version of Chrome. Did I ask for it? No. Was I informed about it? No. Now, the real kicker is this: Was I using Chrome? NO! Why was that thing updating something I wasn’t even using at the time? It’s ok to download in the background while it’s running, like Firefox does, but when it’s not even in memory is completely retarded and the guy who came with that idea should be taken outside and shot, to serve as an example for the others.

It IS IE6 All Over Again

This argument is going around for a while and, again, it’s true: Chrome/WebKit is the IE6 of this generation. Why? Because it exposes a bunch of non-standard (or, better yet, non-standardized) tags without telling anyone about it.

Don’t you remember the number of “Chrome Only” sites that appeared a few years ago? Why do you think there were “Chrome Only”?

That’s the whole fight we had when IE6 was king, not about “ActiveX” or anything (we can compare the ActiveX problems with what the Java holes are today, if you want). It was the fact that IE6 had some ideas about rendering stuff that were not defined as standard that broke everything and made life as a web designer a hell.

(And, for the record, so should Firefox and their “-gecko-” tags — or whatever they are these days.)

Chrome Does Not Have the Best Tools

He cites that Chrome have an awesome developer tools. I disagree. Firebug have a cleaner interface and more direct access to things, compared to Chrome. Firefox is slowly backporting those things directly into the browser itself, with a better looking tools.

Also, if Chrome had such amazing tools, Google wouldn’t feel the need to hire the guy who was writing Firebug.

Let’s Kill One and Keep One

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is where we need to get this guy and put a ban on his use of anything electronic: Kill Gecko and put them in the WebKit dev team because Gecko is “old”.

Kids these days, I tell you: If something is old, it means it found a lot more problems that your new, shiny thingy. It has covered all the corner cases your project doesn’t. So I tell you: Let’s actually kill WebKit and move everyone to Gecko! Since it’s older, it has a lot less corner cases to fix! </sarcasm>

On a serious note, I won’t even get into the “mystical man month” argument ’cause that would probably be a too strong point for this fellow.

Are posts like this that make me feel bad that web has such strong presence everywhere. ‘Cause this guy works for YouTube and should know better how those things work. Except he doesn’t.

PS: Yes, it’s all personal opinion. Yes, it’s my personal opinion against his personal opinion. Yes, I still think he’s a moron.

Mac OS applications are not very friendly

Long before having a Mac, I learnt about it interface and the Application/Window relationship on Mac OS.

You see, there is a fundamental difference between Linux/Windows application and Mac OS application. While in the first two the window is the application (and closing the windows, closes the application), on Mac OS it is not quite like that: you can have an application running without any windows (it would still show on the task list and it would have a menu on the top, but you may have no windows at all.) It makes sense for some applications to don’t have any windows, as it makes sense for some applications to simply disappear if there are no windows open.

Examples: if you are using some text editor, when you close your window/document, it really means you are done? Maybe not, maybe you just want to close that document before starting a new one. In this case, it makes sense to have the application still running. The same goes when you have more than one document open: displaying it as two separate windows make them independent of each other and you can choose how to work with them (that’s something it took years to Microsoft to realize and dump the MDI [multi-document interface] Word was using since it was called Word.)

So, basically, what you have on Mac OS is that every document should be a window and closing all documents don’t close the application.

One of the things that annoys the hell of me is trying to use Mac OS applications in a Mac OS way. One example is Safari: If you follow the idea behind the window/application Apple introduced, you’d have one Safari window for each site. The thing that annoys me on that is that there is no visual feedback about what it is doing. Firefox have the spinning circle, Safari has nothing. To make it display any feedback, you have to enable tabs, which means you’d start opening tabs for every page, which is not the way you should use this. And, to be honest, have a single, dangling tab just to display a damn spinning circle is quite stupid.

Mail.app is another application that completely fails on user feedback. I have some 20-something filters and my IMAP server is not that fast. So, when I start the application, it does nothing. Then it beeps. And displays nothing. And then, suddenly, it displays the mail counts. And there is this space in the sidebar which says “Mail activity”. A completely lost space which could be used to display, for example, “Retrieving your email”, “Applying filters”, “Checking new mail on folder X”.

Other applications simply decide not to follow the window/application metaphor. One example is PhotoBooth. I really like to take a picture of me from time to time and update my 15-something social networks site (well, from “time to time” more likely to be “every year or so”.) The thing about PhotoBooth is that, if you close the window, the application closes too.

Software Update is ever worst. If it doesn’t find an update, it displays “There are no updates” and, when you click “Ok”, it simply disappears. No window, no application, no nothing. What kinda of user feedback is that? Show the user that the update list is empty and let the user close the window or the application. Like every other Mac OS application.

And, on top of that, all those applications where produced by Apple itself. And I won’t even comment about iTunes, which doesn’t even follow the default theme you’re using.