Sunday, January 22, 2012

The GSD Curmudgeon says “Get off my Yard you Dang Kids!”

Sigh. I’m getting old.

I recently read a post at ReadWriteWeb by Scott Fulton, III Mozilla's Plan for Keeping Firefox Relevant in a Post-Browser Web.

That day I became dangerously close to becoming the old technologist guy equivalent of the “You kids get off my lawn!” guy we all probably know.

What is Mozilla doing to my beloved Firefox of the near and dear “future”?

  • HTML5 runtime functionally support (for driving in-browser, non system proprietary, web-apps).
  • Extending cloud-based services.
  • An on-line identity management system called “BrowserID”. (How it works)
  • and more stuff imagined and planned.

That left me grumbly then John Paul Titlow at ReadWriteWeb posted this Mozilla: We're About to Grab More Data About You, But Here's How We'll Keep It Safe.

Mozilla has some big plans up its sleeve in 2012. The non-profit open source foundation is planning some features for its Firefox Web browser and beyond that will require greater access to user data. In a blog post, the organization explains exactly how it intends to use and handle that data. In short, very carefully.

The blog post John Paul references is up at Mozilla Privacy Blog: Mozilla to Offer New User-Centric Services in 2012.

While I recognize and appreciate the very challenging work that browser developers have (not just at Mozilla), I think I’m grumbly for two primary reasons here with Mozilla.

First, I was a very early adopter of Firefox. It was quicker than IE. It was slimmer (memory and feature bloat) than IE. It was more secure than IE. And I could plug all kinds of things into it (Add-Ons/Extensions) to customize it with only those features and capabilities that helped make my experience on the Web better. If I didn’t need it, I didn’t' install it and thus kept the Firefox browser lean and mean.

I really do “get it” with the coming exciting wave of “web-based apps” and running them in your browser and the security it will now bring (think JavaScript/Flash). It’s the next “big” evolutionary shift for the Internet. Really. Who of us really still think of the Internet as being just a super-large reference library and world-wide town-square/market anymore? It’s now a world-wide commercial mall and entertainment center. Really. Oh sure, you can still go down that wing none of the hip kids hang out at and find the pubs where the old-timers hang out, a few plain coffee-bars where the wanna-be journalist “bloggers” hang out and trade stories of yore, and maybe go into that virtual bookstore of arcane knowledge and technical minutia that some of us still love. But really. None of the cool companies and consumers come down this way. They demand different things. Better things. A new paradigm of interaction and operation.


So the browser needs to change to keep up. Bigger, more embedded features. Probably faster. Probably louder too with base-boost and kickers. Hopefully the security alarm on it will be better too.

Secondly, my bones ache every time a new ID management system comes out that gets closer to being a cloud-based requirement. I know, it’s for my own good their doing it. Really. I’m so much safer having more and more of my user data off-loaded to the Webs and Clouds. Clearly the higher and higher it goes away from me the safer and safer and harder and harder it must be for the underground dwellers to grab it. Right? What? Oh, I have to just “trust” everyone “out-there” with my user data and All-In-One credentials and stuff. I’m sure everyone will be honorable and diligent in keeping my account and passwords and user data safe and secure. Nobody ever gets their customer’s account/password information lost to hackers, or on a laptop, or on a USB stick anymore, or via a network traffic hack. Right? That was just in the “old-days”. These new solutions are really, really safer.

I get it. I do. And I appreciate everyone working so hard to keep Firefox and my web experience so much more safe, more secure, and more powerful than ever before. I appreciate modern AC over running a fan past a block of ice to cool my house. Really. And who doesn’t like the convenience of a cellular smart-phone over a plain-old copper analog line service wired into your house?

My browser is growing up, and the world it is living is changing as fast as it is.


I still use (and probably will) Firefox as my personal “production” web-browser of choice. It works for me and my way of being productive.  That said, when I’m surfing the web, give me Chrome. I guess I have to still drive the daily commuter into work and back, but yeah, on the weekends I like to pull out the latest sports car for tooling around the highways and byways and back roads.

You know, I was a very early adopter of Chrome. It was quicker than Firefox. It was slimmer (memory and feature bloat) than Firefox. It was more secure than Firefox. And I could plug all kinds of things into it (Add-Ons/Extensions) to customize it with only those features and capabilities that helped make my experience on the Web better. If I didn’t need it, I didn’t' install it and thus kept the Chrome browser lean and mean. In fact, I hear from the Google Chrome Blog that Chrome is about to get more Speed and Security with pre-rendering of pages and enhanced URL and file-download checking. What’s not to like about that!

I gotta admit, high-school senior (these kids again!) Danny Stieben’s timely post at MakeUseOf blog probably sums it up right: Why It Eventually Won’t Matter What Browser You Use [Opinion].

It won’t. Honestly. It just won’t. Time to face the music and admit I’ve got to adopt the new (browser/web) core “technology” design model and landscape or I’ll become irrelevant and end up spending the rest of my days in that dilapidated and decaying wing of the New Web Mall hanging out with the other curmudgeons and making fun of those really dorky guys and gals still using AOL web-mails, web portal home-pages with their IE 5/6 and Firefox 3 web-browsers. Seriously? Who uses those anymore?!! Get a clue.

Here. Spin a wheel and take a pick. Take one. Use one. Just don’t become friends or companions. Someone’s bound to change and the relationship will sour, and there will be a new favorite.

The GSD Curmudgeon ends with these moving and inspiring words of wisdom and perspective on the whole thing.

Great Motivational Speech - It Just Doesn't Matter - YouTube

Ok…soap box away. We will now return to regular GSD programming.

--Claus V.


FF Extension Guru said...

Wow, quite a post. Where to even begin. I still like Firefox and I support (for the most part) what Mozilla is doing. Rapid Release has been painful, but was needed to make sure we did not have a repeat of the nearly 1.5 year development span of Firefox 3.7/4.0 (they really should have done a 3.7 release then focused on moving over to Gecko 2.0 with Firefox 4). However, there are some things that just don't make sense to me.

One of those being the "Universal Logins". I just don't like the idea, there is just too much that can go wrong. Talk about 'putting all your eggs in one basket'. There was a very interesting blog post that Mozilla CEO Mitchell Baker referenced on her blog from Ben Adida: encryption is (mostly) not magic.

I too find myself (especially at school on the Laptop) using Google Chrome. It is faster, more stable and less bloated than Firefox. I was really disappointed that Mozilla put the Electrolysis project on hold. One thing I love about Chrome is every tab is its own process so a misbehaving site in one tab won't take the whole browser down with it (much like Chrome was the first browser with plugin crash protection, which Mozilla later developed as part of e10s). Last year when I was addicted to Facebook games, I was running those in Chrome as it seemed Flash was more stable in Chrome than Firefox.

Don't get me wrong, I do love Firefox and there is no way in he** are you going to get me to use IE. But, at the same time I find a lot of my blog posts are about how to undo changes Mozilla have made that make no sense.

Claus said...

@FFGuru - We are definitely on the same page here. Like you I can deal with the release schedule and major version numberings. Universal logins/user-data collection by design of the browser (rather than independent collection by the websites/hosts) deeply concerns me.

I'm not a tinfoil hat wearer but really, so much can go wrong despite the best intentions.

Time will tell and I am keeping one eye open in the meantime.

That said, it is a good time in the browser world and the alternatives are much better now that in the past.

I was looking forward to hearing your perspective! It's always a pleasure.

--Claus V.

FF Extension Guru said...

Funny you mention about alternatives. I think back when I was going to school the first time around from 1994-1999. When I was at the community college, which ironically is where I am again now but this time for Networking (want to get my CCNA, CCNA Security and CCNP along with A+ certifications), the PC's had IE and the Mac's (which is what we had in the student activities office) had Netscape.

Now, the PC's have IE as well as Firefox (not sure if they have Chrome). Most of us in the Cisco classes use Firefox and looked like in the A+ Prep class it was 50/50 IE/Firefox. Of course there is Opera and Safari as well. I looked at Opera a long, long time ago in a for Safari I looked at it when it first became avaialble for Windows and it just seemed weird (I guess you could say the same if Micro$oft ever made a version of IE for the Mac).

Claus said...

@FFGuru - At work we & and customers have a mandatory IE6 usage policy imposed upon us. The explanation we get is that there are too many custom (in-house/vendor outsourced) web-apps still in use by our customer base to move to anything different. Seriously. There is an exception request process to get IE7. I think only because we are the IT shop and have to interface on the web with IT service/monitoring apps that don't support IE6 this is the only reason we were able to get IE8 allowance on our systems. I'd probably use Chrome if I had an alternative.

The only two factors holding me back from full-time Chrome usage are the lack of a sidebar feature equal in power and flexibility like found in Firefox as well as a lack of a comparable in-browser RSS feed reader like NewsFox. I've looked for both every month hoping but no luck yet. That's what keeps me on Firefox at home as my web-work/blogging platform.

Yeah, Chrome is nice. However I still really like Firefox and hope they are able to remain competitive in the browser wars.

And I am grateful for all your tips and news on FF tweaking and development news. You remain my go-to source to stay on top of things. Better not do a domain/blog change to ChromeExtensionsGuru anytime soon! ;)


--Claus V.

FF Extension Guru said...

IE6? I thought you were in Texas, not North Korea :) I have no plans on getting that involved with Chrome. Besides I have my ffextensionguru and emailmafia names until 2014 or 2015.