They hid the RSS icon a while ago so that the telemetry would tell them that almost noone uses it so that they could remove it from firefox... Firefox is still my favorite, but things like this make me wonder sometimes.
To be fair, they probably had telemetry on the RSS icon before its removal that told them almost nobody clicked on it. That said, I definitely see this as abandoning an important web principle that Mozilla could have pushed instead. With a good RSS experience that would sync with Firefox mobile, I think they could have gained traction.
The problem is that a robust synced RSS capability would compete with Pocket, and someone at Mozilla appears to have bet their career on the idea that they can make Pocket into A Thing. So they pushed hard enough to get Mozilla to acquire Pocket's developers, which was highly unusual all by itself. And now, even as Mozilla diligently goes about pulling other stuff out of Firefox, Pocket keeps getting jammed deeper and deeper in -- presumably on the notion that if Mozilla pushes it down our throats hard enough, eventually we will learn to like the taste.
With the recent planned re-branding for FF maybe they should just change the name to Pocket Browser /s
Good point but I don't think a company like Mozilla should rely on this kind of analytics... I use this browser to try to protect my privacy as much as possible so this telemetry "feature" is disabled but I did use the RSS feature to find feed addresses.
I can't speak for anyone else but not true for this ~16 year, nonstop FF RSS user. My contribution is worth as much as anyone else's and so far, the only one to respond to you with data either way. I always kept it enabled for the reason you mention.
The conspiracy theorizing is fascinating considering so much of Mozilla’s work is done in the open.
The simpler and most likely answer is that the number of people who use RSS but don’t use a dedicated native or online reader is almost vanishingly small.
actions speak louder then words?
2017/10/19: this is a logical consequence of Brexit. You’re now blaming the French for the logical consequences of Brexit. About as logical as initiating a divorce and then complaining about not seeing your children every day. Typical of the muddled, self-pitying arrogance of the typical Brexiteer.
Fake review factories that run on Facebook and manufacture misleading five-star reviews that are then posted on Amazon have been uncovered by investigators from Which?
The consumer group said two large Facebook groups – Amazon Deals Group and Amazon UK Reviewers – were behind the unscrupulous practice, along with smaller groups. Together they may have up to 87,000 members potentially engaged in writing fake reviews.
Inside the Facebook groups, companies post details of products for which they are seeking positive reviews. The reviewers have to pay for the items – so that Amazon believes the buyer is genuine – but after leaving a glowing review, the company refunds the purchase price through PayPal, and sometimes pays an additional fee.
Undercover researchers for Which? set up dedicated Amazon and Facebook accounts and requested to join several of the “rewards for reviews” groups.
“They were instructed to order a specified item through Amazon, write a review and share a link to the review once it was published. Following the successful publication of the review, a refund for the cost of the item would then be paid via PayPal,” said Which?
But the Which? investigators turned the tables on the fake review factories by posting their honest opinion on the product.
2018/10/18: Often the most critical parts of major legislation are the most boring. For those of us working to bring government into the digital age, the bipartisan 21st Century Integrated Digital Experience Act, known as the 21st Century IDEA Act, is an incredibly important piece of legislation which gets the big things right. Its downside is that it’s not boring enough.
2018/10/11: "On the genetic level, you shouldn't expect much privacy, and decisions about your privacy are being made by your family (probably without consulting you)."
Earlier this year, news broke that police had devised an unexpected new method to crack cold cases. Rather than use a suspect's DNA to identify them, data from the DNA was used to search public repositories and identify an alleged killer's family members. From there, a bit of family tree building led to a limited number of suspects and the eventual identification of the person who was charged with the Golden State killings. In the months that followed, more than a dozen other cases were reported to have been solved in the same manner.
The potential for this sort of analysis had been identified by biologists as early as 2014, but they viewed it as a privacy risk—there was potential for personal information from research subjects to leak out to the public via their DNA sequences. Now, a US-Israeli team of researchers has gone through and quantified the chances of someone being identified through public genealogy data. If you live in the US and are of European descent, odds are 60 percent that you can be identified via information that your relatives have made public.
2018/10/17: New research shows microplastics in 90 percent of the table salt brands sampled worldwide. Of 39 salt brands tested, 36 had microplastics in them, according to a new analysis by researchers in South Korea and Greenpeace East Asia. Salt samples from 21 countries in Europe, North and South America, Africa, and Asia were analyzed. The three brands that did not contain microplastics are from Taiwan (refined sea salt), China (refined rock salt), and France (unrefined sea salt produced by solar evaporation). The study was published this month in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.
The density of microplastics found in salt varied dramatically among different brands, but those from Asian brands were especially high, the study found. The highest quantities of microplastics were found in salt sold in Indonesia. Asia is a hot spot for plastic pollution, and Indonesia -- with 34,000 miles (54,720 km) of coastline -- ranked in an unrelated 2015 study as suffering the second-worst level of plastic pollution in the world. In another indicator of the geographic density of plastic pollution, microplastics levels were highest in sea salt, followed by lake salt and then rock salt.
Even though the study found that the average adult consumes approximately 2,000 microplastics per year through salt, it's not clear what the health consequences are.
the focus on microplastics may divert attention from worse environmental (and more easily identifiable) pollution problems, such as small particles released from car tires.
Our goal is to make farmers imagine, and collectively create, adequate equipment and the means of production on the farm. This is in contrast to a trajectory of over-investment, over-indebtedness and over-sizing.
We believe we can make technical choices and invent sophisticated low tech solutions. We don’t want to be overwhelmed by trendy, plug-and-play and miraculous high-tech tools that will only make us more dependent, will be more intrusive and less controllable.
In 2011, we set ourselves up as a staffed organisation working to promote farm-based inventions. Our aim was to collectively develop new technological solutions adapted to small-scale farming, and to make these skills and ideas widely available through courses and educational materials.
We have also been offering resources and guidance to farmer-driven projects involving the building or renovation of agricultural buildings.
We have five trucks equipped with the machinery and materials we need to run about 80 practical training courses on farms and workshops across France per year.
2018/10/17: After industrialism, we have the opportunity to create a habitation society. Habitation encompasses all that is involved in creating and sustaining human communities. In a habitation society, the main economic priority would be building the physical and social infrastructure of communities in which the citizenry could thrive. In the industrial era, millions of people were uprooted from their earlier communities to move to find factory jobs. They tried their best to construct new communities, but habitation work was always subordinated to earning a wage and it was crippled by the class inequality of that time.
Today, however, the largest share of the labour force works at producing, sustaining, and improving human habitation as farm work and factory work have fallen to little more than 10% of all employment. People who work in health care, education, social services, construction, communication, and local government can be coded as habitation workers. So, also, can public and private sector scientists, engineers, and technicians working on developing new products and services since most innovations are designed to help communities and households accomplish their ends.
But all of this labour is being done within institutional structures inherited from the industrial era that treated habitation — except for the wealthy — as a wasteful luxury. So, in fact, decisions about what our towns and cities will look like and what infrastructure would be created were taken out of politics and handed over to unelected technocrats.
2017/06/01: Internet voting (i-voting) is often discussed as a potential remedy against declining turnout rates. This paper presents new evidence on the causal effect of i-voting on turnout, drawing on trials conducted in two Swiss cantons: Geneva and Zurich. Both Geneva and Zurich constitute hard cases for i-voting, given that i-voting was introduced in the presence of postal voting. However, this setting allows us to test some of the more optimistic claims regarding i-voting's ability to increase turnout. Empirically, we exploit the advantageous circumstance that federal legislation created a situation coming close to a natural experiment, with some of Geneva's and Zurich's municipalities participating in i-voting trials and others not. Using difference-in-differences estimation, we find that i-voting did not increase turnout in the cantons of Geneva and Zurich.
2016/06/03: Ultimately, is paper the gold standard we should stick to?
Yes. Paper has some fundamental properties as a technology that make it the right thing to use for voting. You have more-or-less indelible marks on the thing. You have physical objects you can control. And everyone understands it. If you’re in a polling place and somebody disappears with a ballot box into a locked room and emerges with a smirk, maybe you know that there is a problem. We’ve had a long time to work out the procedures with paper ballots and need to think twice before we try to throw a new technology at the problem. People take paper ballots for granted and don’t understand how carefully thought through they are.
2018/10/15: Previous studies have looked at climate change’s impact on mood and on suicide. However, there hasn’t been much research between those extremes, says Nick Obradovich, the lead author on the study and a researcher at MIT’s Media Lab. To capture that middle ground, Obradovich and his team used the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s collected responses to the question: “Now thinking about your mental health, which includes stress, depression, and problems with emotions, for how many days during the past 30 days was your mental health not good?”
They found that when the average monthly temperature in already hot places got even hotter — shifting from 77-86 degrees F to above that range — there was a 0.5 percent increase in self-reported mental health issues. It sounds small, but if extrapolated across the current U.S. population over a 30-day period, that increase would lead to almost 2 million additional individuals reporting mental health difficulties.
The systems we have in place aren’t equipped to handle this influx of mental health issues, says psychiatrist Elizabeth Haase, another member of the Climate Psychiatry Alliance. She says it may require rethinking and restructuring our mental health care system, with an emphasis on community-based and value-based health care, where medical professionals are paid based on outcome.
2018/10/11: how to run commands on multiple Linux servers at the same time. We will explain how to use some of the widely known tools designed to execute repetitive series of commands on multiple servers simultaneously.
we assume that you already have SSH setup to access all your servers and secondly, when accessing multiple servers simultaneously, it is appropriate to set up key-based password-less SSH on all of your Linux servers. This above all enhances server security and also enables ease of access.
2018/10/16: When security researchers report on the ghastly defects in voting machines, the officials who bought these machines say dismiss their concerns by saying that the tamper-evident seals they put around the machines prevent bad guys from gaining access to their internals.
But University of Michigan grad student Matt Bernhard has demonstrated that he can bypass the tamper-evident seals in seconds, using a shim made from a slice of a soda can. The bypass is undetectable and doesn't damage the seal, which can be resecured after an attacker gains access to the system.
Fred Woodhams from the Michigan Secretary of State's office dismissed Bernhard's warning: "the seal that is shown in the video was not affixed to anything, and the video does not represent a real-world scenario of how seals are used and affixed."
2018/10/15: extreme weather would reduce barley yield by between 3% and 17%. Some countries fared better than others: tropical areas such as Central and South America were hit badly, but crop yields actually increased in certain temperate areas, including northern China and the United States. Some areas of those countries saw yield increases of up to 90% — but this was not enough to offset the global decrease.
Finally, Guan and his colleagues fed these changes in barley yield into an existing economic model that can account for changes in supply and demand in the global market. This enabled them to look at how reduced barley production would affect pricing and consumption of beer in countries, as well as trade between nations.
In the worst-case scenario, the reduced barley supply worldwide would result in a 16% decrease in global beer consumption in the years of extreme-weather events. Prices would, on average, double...
One goal of the research, Guan says, was to make tangible how "climate change will impact people’s lifestyle... (If people) want to drink beer when we watch football, then we have to do something."
A no-deal will have serious implications in all sectors, but, specifically on the environment, it should be of huge concern.
Greener UK, the coalition of environmental groups, published a report in July setting out how a no-deal would affect the environment, food security and pollution, and their analysis on climate change was stark: “Leaving the EU without a deal would make it harder for the UK to meet its emissions reduction targets in the long term, increase energy bills for consumers and undermine investment in critical energy infrastructure,” the report said.
A no-deal Brexit would mean the UK cutting loose from the European Court of Justice and, in turn, ending participation in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme. Greener UK says this would cause “significant disruption to business and a loss of more than £530 million in auction revenues for the UK government”. A no-deal could lead to a drop in the carbon price, because operators will sell allowances as March 2019 nears, the report said, and a sudden departure from the ETS would “disrupt action to meet the UK’s domestic carbon target, potentially undermining domestic ambition on climate change”.
It would also see the UK leaving the internal energy market, meaning consumer energy bills would increase due to charges added to cross-border electricity trading.
Even if the negotiations result in a deal, there are still ramifications. The Greener UK report cites research by National Grid that leaving the internal energy market could cost the UK £500m – even if there were a deal on Brexit. With the detail of a Brexit deal still to be hammered out, it is unclear whether the UK will stay in the ETS. But departure from the ECJ, a totemic demand of Brexiteers, will see the creation of a new environmental watchdog, which, say campaigners, will weaken enforcement on meeting climate change targets.
2018/10/10: Someone checked in on Bing search and the results aren't pretty. At some point it became a sewer of racism, antisemitism, pedophilia and conspiracy theories—and that's just the recommendations.
The BBC reports:
In his investigation, Mr Hoffman looked up racially-themed terms and found that the majority of suggestions for further searches that accompanied results pointed people to racist sites or images.
Racist memes and images were also returned for many of the words he tried.
"We all know this garbage exists on the web, but Bing shouldn't be leading people to it with their search suggestions," wrote Mr Hoffman.
It is believed that the suggestions for further searches connected to these terms have emerged from a combination of user activity and concerted action by far-right groups to skew responses.
a typo when searching Bing for “grill” gives you really sketchy porn. The problem then becomes much worse, with Bing suggesting you search for images of underage children.
When searching for “gril,” the suggestions at the top of the page recommend you search for some disturbing things, including “Cute Girl Young 16.”
If you click that, it suggests “Cute Girl Young 12”, “Cute Girl Young 10,” and “Little Girl Modelling Provocatively.”
The results are filled with pornography of young-looking models. We hope they’re all 18 years of age or older, but who can say?
Bing leads you down a path from a simple typo to 16-year-old girls to 10-year-old girls, and it’s disgusting.
"When he announced another US$60-billion in financing for Africa last month, Chinese President Xi Jinping promised that the money had “no political strings attached.”
But a series of recent incidents, including cases of media censorship and heavy-handed academic controls, have cast doubt on that promise. China’s financial muscle is rapidly translating into political muscle across the continent.
At a major South African newspaper chain where Chinese investors now hold an equity stake, a columnist lost his job after he questioned China’s treatment of its Muslim minority.
In Zambia, heavily dependent on Chinese loans, a prominent Kenyan scholar was prevented from entering the country to deliver a speech critical of China. In Namibia, a Chinese diplomat publicly advised the country’s President to use pro-China wording in a coming speech. And a scholar at a South African university was told that he would not receive a visa to enter China until his classroom lectures contain more praise for Beijing."
The Document Foundation, the organisation supporting the development of LibreOffice, is calling for supporters to promote the use of Open Document Format (ODF). Standardisation organisation OASIS would welcome and assist renewed marketing efforts, as would the Open Source Initiative, says OSI director Italo Vignoli.
Vignoli, who is involved in marketing LibreOffice, hopes to build a group of ODF advocates to educate the general public and raise public sector awareness of the importance of the open ICT standard.
ODF (ISO 26300), a format specification for office applications such as spreadsheets, presentations and text documents, is supported by many commonly used office productivity tools. The standard is recognised by most European governments, including France and the United Kingdom, as well as by the European institutions.
However, most public sector organisations continue to rely on a mix of document formats that are either proprietary or not fully supported. This causes document interoperability problems and increases complexity. It is also a barrier to public administrations that want to use open source office solutions.
Interoperable and valid
The Dutch government is one of the EU Member States that contribute to ODF development. It has co-funded automated interoperability tests to check the portability of office documents across applications and operating systems.
The Netherlands is also supporting the ODF Plugfest, a series of hackathons where software developers improve ODF interoperability. Most of the results of these hackathons and other ODF-related development are documented on the OpenDocument Format Community Wiki.
In addition, ODF interoperability has been improved in France by cities and ministries, as well as by public services in Germany and Switzerland.
Another test method to check the validity of document formats was announced two weeks ago at the LibreOffice conference in Tirana (Albania).
2018/10/09: From 1990 to 2015, the average cost of traveling a mile by automobile in current cents increased by 166%, from 15.7 cents to 41.8 cents. During the same period, the average cost of traveling a mile in inflation-adjusted (constant 1990) cents increased by 47%, from 15.7 cents to 23.1 cents.
2018/10/09: In a world where so much is now controlled by so few — there are five big book publishers left, five Hollywood studios, five large health insurers, four phone providers and four cable companies — and this summer AT&T bought Time Warner — Amazon’s reach is terrifying.
Its ostensible search for the next city to house its second headquarters has become “the Olympics on steroids,” Galloway says, with state and local governments promising tax breaks that would starve funding for schools, police and fire departments. We have a new national holiday, Amazon Prime Day. Alexa and Echo, Amazon’s cloud-based voice-operated systems, sit in an estimated 40 million homes and spy on us, reporting our moods, tastes, wants, needs and fears back to HQ.
Yet we don’t fear Alexa.
Bezos has even greater ambitions.