Some will tell you that Mozilla's worst decision was to accept funding from Google, and that may have been the first domino, but I hold that implementing DRM is what doomed them, as it led to their culture of capitulation. It demonstrated that their decisions were the decisions of a company shipping products, not those of a non-profit devoted to preserving the open web.

Those are different things and are very much in conflict. They picked one. They picked the wrong one.

In light of Mozilla's recent parade of increasingly terrible decisions, there have been cries of "why doesn't someone fork it?" followed by responses of "here are 5 sketchy forks of it that get no development and that nobody uses". And inevitably following that, several people have made comments in the "Mozilla is an advertising company now" thread to the effect that it is now impossible for a non-corporate, open source project to actually implement a web browser, since a full implementation requires implementing DRM systems which you cannot implement without a license that the Content Mafia will not give you.

This is technically true. ("Technically" being the best kind of "true" in some circles.)

Blaming and shaming:

  • It used to be that to watch Netflix (and others) in an open browser required the use of a third party proprietary plugin. That doesn't work any more: now Netflix will only work in a browser that natively implements DRM.

  • That step happened because Mozilla took that license and implented DRM.

  • That happened because: "it's in the W3C spec, we didn't have a choice."

  • How did it get into the spec? Oh, it got into the spec because when the Content Mafia pressured W3C to include it, Mozilla caved. At the end of the day they said, "We approve of this and will implement it". Their mission -- their DUTY -- was to pound their shoe on the god damned table and say: "We do not approve, and will not implement if approved."

    But they went and did it just the same.

"But muh market shares!" See, now we're back to the kitten-meat deli again.

(BTW, how's that market share looking these days? Adding DRM really helped you juice those numbers, did it? Nice hockey-stick growth you got there? Good, good.)

If you were unable to watch Netflix in Mozilla out of the box, yes, that would have impacted their market share. You know what else would have happened? Some third party patch would have solved that problem.

When Netscape released the first version of the Mozilla source with no cryptography in it due to US export restrictions, it was approximately 30 minutes before someone outside the US had patched it back in. I'm not exaggerating, it happened that night. This is the sort of software activism at which the open source community excels, even if it is "technically" illegal. ("Technically", again, being the best kind of illegal in some circles.)

Mozilla had a duty to preserve the open web.

Instead they cosplayed as a startup, chasing product dreams of "growth hacking", with Google's ad money as their stand-in for a VC-funding firehose, with absolutely predictable and tragic results.

And those dreams of growth and market penetration failed catastrophically anyway.

(Except for the C-suite, who made out quite well. And Google, who got exactly what they paid for: a decade of antitrust-prosecution insurance. It was never about ad revenue. The on-paper existence of Firefox as a hypothetical competitor kept the Federal wolves at bay, and that's all Google cared about.)


Now hear me out, but What If...? browser development was in the hands of some kind of nonprofit organization?

As I have said many times:

In my humble but correct opinion, Mozilla should be doing two things and two things only:

  1. Building THE reference implementation web browser, and
  2. Being a jugular-snapping attack dog on standards committees.
  3. There is no 3.

Previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously.

Posted Sat Jun 22 20:04:04 2024 Tags:

Congress is about to dilute the safety mission of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission with toxic fallout — a second mission to keep nuclear industry profitable.

Posted Sat Jun 22 17:15:38 2024 Tags:

Louisiana Republicans passed a law to require every public school classroom to display a copy of the Ten Commandments.

This sectarian requirement obviously contradicts the First Amendment (combined with the subsequent amendment which says states can't do those things either). It prohibits establishment of religion. But we can't count on those Republican wreckers on the Supreme Court to honor that.

Posted Sat Jun 22 17:15:38 2024 Tags:

*Maryland governor issues pardons for 175,000 cannabis-related convictions.*

Marijuana should be legal, and people who were punished or might be punished for having it, transporting it or selling it should be pardoned.

Posted Sat Jun 22 17:15:38 2024 Tags:

*Stock traders are trying to beat the market — by copying lawmakers.*

Posted Sat Jun 22 17:15:38 2024 Tags:

Measures to limit overcrowding and avoid dangers in climbing Mount Fuji have the unjust side effect of requiring each climbers to (1) identify perself and (2) carry a snoop-phone.

If I ever go to Japan again, that is one thing I certainly won't do.

Posted Sat Jun 22 17:15:38 2024 Tags:

*The normalisation of dehumanisation in the Israel-Palestine conflict.*

Let's not lose sight of where we want to end up.

Posted Sat Jun 22 17:15:38 2024 Tags:

*‘I have seen the decline’: pesticides linked to falling UK insect numbers.*

Decreases in overall insect populations will cause repercussions through each ecosystem. Many animals (including humans) eat insects. Many plants depend on insects to pollinate them and disperse their seeds.

Posted Sat Jun 22 17:15:38 2024 Tags:

The Pentagon is thinking about using large numbers of more-or-less autonomous drones for fighting China.

This raises concerns that the drones will chose targets autonomously, and kill lots of civilians — something I expect Ukraine's drone controllers avoid, although Israel's drone controllers may not care.

Putting that issue aside, it seems like a good plan, but I don't see how the US can expect to be better at this than China.

Posted Sat Jun 22 17:15:38 2024 Tags:

The head of NATO argued for making more nuclear weapons.

More nuclear weapons than the US has cannot improve deterrence. With a sane enemy, the use of 100 nuclear weapons, producing a nuclear winter that would cause starvation around the world, is enough deterrent. With an insane enemy, 10,000 nuclear weapons would not be enough.

This provoked a lot of opposition, but I am sure that the businesses that would profit from making and deploying them will come up with lots of flimsy reasons in favor.

Posted Sat Jun 22 17:15:38 2024 Tags:

Everyone: Call on Canada to enforce its environmental laws against logging to export wood chips for burning.

Posted Sat Jun 22 17:15:38 2024 Tags:
When, years ago, I thought: "I wanna put bands on stage!" I might have predicted that an enormous part of my attention would end up being taken up by plumbing. What I did not predict that when the monkey paw curled, I would spend the rest of my life writing bespoke business systems and accounting software.

Anyway, dataviz questions.

A question that is of keen interest to us is always: how many people are going to show up for this event? One of the ways that I do this is by plotting ticket sales on a graph and fitting a curve to it, and seeing where the right end lands. One attempt is to just fit a polynomial to it. That makes reasonably accurate predictions when we're a week or so away from the show, but if it's a month out and there are only a few sales, the input is too little and too noisy and the output curve is nonsense.

For another attempt, I generated this graph of historical sales over the last several years, omitting obvious outliers. For each event, the X axis is percent of time that event was on sale (whether that was 3 weeks or 3 months) and the Y axis is percent of total sales. Then I averaged them all:

To "predict" from this graph, I just overlay it with this event's sales period and scale vertically until it intersects the date at which we are making the prediction (today). Usually by a week or two out the prediction is... just ok? But not great.

Here's an event that was on sale for 9 weeks. Let's say it's 3 weeks before the event (day 42), so we're predicting based only on sales prior to that day:

A problem with this technique is that sales match this curve based on the length of time that tickets are on sale, but that's not really true: no matter how long a ticket is on sale, most of the sales happen in the last few days. This particular event did half its sales in the last 4 days, and a quarter of its sales in the last 24 hours.

If this event had been on sale for twice as long, it would have sold pretty much the same number of tickets on the same days. But my historical-curve-fitting would have predicted 25% higher total sales! So this technique falls down for any event that doesn't have a "typical" length of time on sale. The hockey stick on the right doesn't get wider just because the X axis is wider.

(BTW, by "date on sale" in the above I actually mean "date of first sale".)

Anyway. How would someone who ever actually taken a statistics class do this?

Posted Fri Jun 21 03:43:12 2024 Tags:
Just a reminder that 72 years ago, Wilhelm Reich began defending Earth from an alien invasion using a battery of surface-to-air orgasmatrons, and 39 years ago, that heroism was immortalized in this song and video by Kate Bush starring Donald Sutherland. RIP.

Posted Thu Jun 20 19:28:02 2024 Tags:
This seems completely normal and cool and not troublesome in any way.

Mozilla has acquired Anonym, a [blah blah blah] raise the bar for the advertising industry [blah blah blah] while delivering effective advertising solutions. [...]

Anonym was founded with two core beliefs: [blah blah blah] and second, that digital advertising is critical for the sustainability of free content, services and experiences. [...]

As we integrate Anonym into the Mozilla family, we are excited about the possibilities this partnership brings. While Anonym will continue to serve its customer base, together, we are poised to lead the industry toward a future where privacy and effective advertising go hand in hand, supporting a free and open internet.

Anonym was founded in 2022 by former Facebook executives Brad Smallwood and Graham Mudd. The company was backed by Griffin Gaming Partners, Norwest Venture Partners, Heracles Capital as well as a number of strategic individual investors.

Now hear me out, but What If...? browser development was in the hands of some kind of nonprofit organization?

Oh wait.

Previously, previously, previously, previously, previously.

Posted Thu Jun 20 18:11:29 2024 Tags:
I was today years old when I discovered that you can stop Safari from pointlessly truncating your URLs, when there is plenty of room to show the whole thing, by removing the "floating spaces" on either side of the URL field:

This had been pissing me off for decades!

Posted Wed Jun 19 18:46:06 2024 Tags:
You may have noticed that youtubedown has been failing on just about all Youtube videos for the past week or so. I think something has changed about how you apply signatures to URLs, but I can't figure it out.

I would like someone else to figure it out, please.

In fact, I would like someone else to take over maintenance of this program. For 17 years, I have been reverse-engineering YouTube's countermeasures pretty much on my own, and I am absolutely weary of it. It brings me no joy.

It's time for someone else to get their hands dirty. Help, help.

Previously, previously.

Posted Wed Jun 19 06:43:01 2024 Tags:
WebCollage feeds random noise into image search engines to create collages, and it has been running continuously on my site since 1999. That's... a lot of image scraping!

These days it's probably not the most interesting web toy, but I'm kind of shocked that it still works. I only give it a little bit of attention maybe every six months, where I tweak URLs and regexps to track the latest obfuscated nonsense that the various search engines spit out.

Over the years of maintenance, WebCollage has given me some unwwanted insights into the "SEO" industry, almost from that vile industry's inception. When the same image keeps showing up repeatedly, it is a strong indicator that some site has managed to poison search results. Back in 1999, the most common technique was for the <meta keywords> tag to contain thousands of random words from a dictionary. Early adopters of this technique were porn and genealogy sites. How we have grown.

The very first version of WebCollage polled only Alta Vista and Yahoo! Six months later, I added Hot Bot. Google didn't show up until 2001, Lycos in 2002, LiveJournal in 2004, Flickr in 2005, Twitter in 2008, Bing and Instagram in 2013, and then Tumblr and Imgur in 2017.

In 2002, I got an actual email from a Google engineer asking me to stop searching them, because it was a significant enough portion of their traffic that it was annoying them.

Previously, previously, previously.

Posted Tue Jun 18 19:49:42 2024 Tags:

Please enjoy jwz mixtape 246.

From this mixtape: Able Machines return at DNA Lounge on Tue Aug 6; Yellacatt was here last Sunday; and [REDACTED] will be here next month, but that isn't public yet.

Posted Sat Jun 15 22:33:42 2024 Tags:
  • Poor Things (2023):
    This movie looked at the weirdest stuff Ken Russell had ever done and said "hold my beer". It's absolutely incredible. Full of relentlessly weird choices in acting, sets and especially cinematography. Why is it suddenly fish-eye! We will never know! And surprisingly filthy! How did this win Academy Awards? This movie is the kind of thing that the Academy hates.

  • The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971):
    This movie is absolutely amazing. It had been so long since I saw it that I had forgotten it almost entirely. I remembered the murders, the mask, the hapless detectives, but what I forgot was the sets, the dancing, the fashion, the clockwork orchestra, the absolute lunacy! This is a movie made in 1972 and set in the mid-20s, so the look of it is this insane mixture of 60s high fashion and Art Nouveau. Every scene-change comes with a costume change. Every murder comes with a little dance from Phibes and Vulnavia. This movie is an absolute treasure.

  • Dr. Phibes Rises Again (1972):
    This movie is... lesser. It still has amazing sets, and costumes, and the dancing, but it also has an antagonist, and a smidge more plot. And that does not work in its favor. With the first one, you could just let the mood of it wash over you. This one leads you to ask questions like, "But how did he ship the clockwork orchestra to the pyramid?" and if you are asking questions like that, you have fallen out of the trance.

  • Lisa Frankenstein (2024):
    A goth girl and her reanimated corpse boyfriend. This is basically: "What if Edward Scissorhands was actually good?" It's set in the version of the 80s that is what people who weren't alive in the 80s think they 80s must have been like. (And even with that, I am embarrassed to admit that I didn't get the joke in the title until the next day. "Ohhhhhh....")

    In terms of set dressing and fashion, I wonder if people who lived through the 1980s feel about this movie the way that people who lived through the 1920s felt about Dr. Phibes.

  • 30 Coins (2020):
    This show is absolutely wild. There's a small town in Spain, a creepy priest, and some Satanists trying to collect the Judas McGuffins, and you think, ok, standard Catholic pea-soup fare, I know how this is all going to go. And then there are giant babies, spider monsters, mirror people, shoggoths. Every episode has a "what the fuck did I just see" moment. It's fantastic. And that's just like, the first four episodes! The S02 finale was just chef's kiss. I hope there will be a third season.

  • Giri Haji (2019):
    Japanese cop's dead brother was a mobster, and then shows up in London murdering people, so both the cops and the yakuza send him there to bring him back. Ass kicking ensues. It's mostly set in London, but about 1/3 in Japanese. I liked it a lot, despite my aversion to cop fare.

  • Death and Other Details (2024):
    Locked-room murder mystery on a cruise ship. It is fantastic, in the manner of Knives Out.

  • Parallel (2024):
    A neat little the-multiverse-sucks story where the spooky woods are a portal. Low budget but well done.

  • Extraordinary (2023):
    In a world where everyone gets a superpower at around age 18. Except it's usually a really lame, mostly useless power. This is very funny, in that very specific, cringey British TV way.

  • Ghosts (2019):
    A couple inherit a haunted house, and only one of them can see them. Extreme British Cringe. It took a couple episodes for it to grow on me, but it did.

  • Dune 2 (2024):
    Since part 1 wasn't really a movie -- it was the first two acts of a movie -- I was kind of reserving judgement on the whole thing until this came out. Part 2 is better, and as a whole, I guess it holds up pretty well. I enjoyed how they leaned in to the whole Bene Gesserit colonial thing: that the Fremen's religious beliefs had been done to them intentionally. Paul's character was certainly less flat than he was in the book. I still contend that nobody who hadn't read the books would have a god damned idea of what was going on.

  • Stopmotion (2024):
    Stop motion animators have a reputation for being complete weirdos to begin with, but when they try to work out their shit by going full Brothers Quay with roadkill... antics ensue. Anyway, this is creepy.

  • 3 Body Problem (2024):
    I tried to watch the 90 episode Chinese version and only made it to like episode three before I ran entirely out of fucks. When I heard that this version was by the Lost people I thought "Oh god no" but at least since this show only gave them eight episodes to make something of themselves, they showed some restraint. This wasn't entirely awful, but out of the gigantic cast there are only like two people to give a shit about. The Giant Cheesegrater scene was an amazing effect, but it defies any kind of sanity that it was the first tool in the box that someone would reach for.

  • Late Night with the Devil (2024):
    A 70s late-night host invites a possessed girl on for an interview. "What happens next might surprise you." This is pretty great. Even though it's mostly shot faux-documentary style, they don't go all shaky-cam.

  • Fallout (2024):
    Hyper-competent Mary-Sue has to go on a quest to find her missing dad, Kyle McGuffin. I'm led to believe that this was based on a video game. It certainly has video game logic and physics throughout. The sets are gorgeous, several of the characters are interesting, and much scenery is chewed. It bogged down in the middle and could have been shorter by 50%, but it was fun popcorn.

  • Night Shift (2024):
    Spooky goings-on at a mostly-empty motel, chock full of Checkhov's Handguns. It starts off seeming like it will be predictable but it has a good twist and a satisfying ending.

  • Rebel Moon 2, Something Something Subtitle (2024):
    I had some not-entirely-negative things to say about the first one but WOW is this a snore. While the first one at least took a tour of some goofy space-locales, this one had a 30 minute montage of harvesting wheat. Wheat. This was a major plot point. Because when you have FTL, antigravity, resurrection machines, and a Star Destroyer, apparently the Empire can't function without flying to another planet and bullying a village of literally 50 people into harvesting wheat by hand. Sure that scales. That scales.

  • Humane (2024):
    The solution to climate change is paying people to commit suicide. At the worst family dinner party, antics ensue. Between this and Antiviral, I'm starting to think that growing up in the Cronenberg household must have been pretty fucked up.

  • Godzilla Minus One (2023):
    I enjoyed this a lot; like the original, it was mostly about trauma rather than a rampaging lizard, though the lizard scenes were outstanding. My criticisms are: it could easily have been 25% shorter (the last third is mostly crying) and even though the sets, costumes and framing were excellent, every single shot was god damned teal and orange. No other colors exist in this universe. I'm told that the black-and-white edit is better, and that is utterly believable. If you haven't seen this yet, pick that version.

  • The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare (2024):
    This is great. It's basically Inglorious Basterds but funnier and without Tarantino's weird tics. You wanna see a feel-good romp about some Nazis getting fucked up? Oh yeah you do. How does Alan Ritchson just keep getting larger? (Watch Blood Drive!)

  • Ghostbusters, Frozen Empire (2024):
    It's cute and fun. It suffers from having too many characters and the writers wanting each of them to get their solo. A bunch of it doesn't make a lot of sense, but the sets and the spectacle did a good job of making me not think about it too hard. (Watch I Still See You.)

  • Abigail (2024):
    This starts off as a solid heist movie, adventure party having fake names and all, and then when it pivots to some locked-house vampire shit, it really kicks off. Loved it.

  • Baghead (2024):
    Extremely solid ghost story. Reminded me a bit of the also excellent Talk To Me.

  • True Detective, Night Country (2024):
    Jodie Foster investigates some murders in Alaska, which also wants to murder you, and every single person is a piece of shit. This was pretty great -- about as good as S01. (I didn't much like, and barely remember, S02 or S03.)

  • Whiteout (2009):
    After the latest season of True Detective I was in the mood for more stories where the antagonist is the weather. In this, there's a murder in Antarctica, the night before everyone is shipping out before winter-over. I still really like this movie. There are human villains, bad people making bad decisions, but the primary villain is the environment, which vehemently wants you dead, and it is done really well. This is based on a fantastic comic by Greg Rucka and Steve Lieber, which is better, but the movie is still solid.

    Fun fact! When I was 12 or 13 I thought I might grow up to be a comic book illustrator. Problem was, I went to high school with Steve Lieber, and when I saw how good he was at it I thought, "Yeah, this is not a realistic goal, maybe I should be a computer-toucher instead."

    Billy Porter was also in our class, but fortunately I didn't have any musical theatre ambitions for him to inadvertently quash.

  • Civil War (2024):
    Not bad. I had a bad feeling about this when all the press was this sniveling, centrist, both-sides-ism, "but it's not political!" nonsense. But actually -- it's not political. It's a road-trip character study of a handful of war photographers. The war itself is just set dressing.

  • The Fall Guy (2024):
    Oh no, a stunt man has to solve a murder. Ryan Gosling Ryan Goslings all over the place. Dumb fun.

  • New Life (2023):
    The trailer gives too much away, but it opens with: girl gets infected with a weird disease, goes on the run, and now people are trying to murder her. I liked it. Solid ending.

  • Love Lies Bleeding (2024):
    Extremely trashy 80s noir. People who liked Blood Simple also liked.

  • The Primevals (2023):
    Full Moon Features are still making movies (yes, the Subspecies and Puppet Master folks) and this movie has all the quality of writing and acting that you would expect from their 80s fare, which is to say, abysmal. But! It's a mixture of live action and stop animation and I don't mean a bunch of digital stuff, or a bunch of digital stuff trying to look like stop animation, it seems to be the real deal. They were aiming for Harryhausen but landed on Rankin-Bass, but still, it's charming in its own way.

  • Wipeout 2097 Soundtrack: Noclip Documentary (2024):
    If you are a Wipeout obsessive like me, you will enjoy this brief retrospective and interview with Cold Storage.

Previously.

Posted Sat Jun 15 06:02:17 2024 Tags:
Here's another JavaScript text manipulator that I made ages ago: the DNA Lounge Infobox Generator. It is far less crazy than the last one.

When promoters and bands design flyers for their events they sometimes -- more often than you would expect -- forget some salient details, like... the date. Or the venue. Or they write dates like "5/6" leaving you to guess which month and day of the week it's happening.

So we've got a checklist / style guide, but we also have this Infobox Generator to make it simple.

The first version of this was a CGI that ran ImageMagick on the server, but at some point I rewrote it to do all the formatting client-side, using CANVAS, which is a lot easier to use. You select from the menus, things update in realtime, and then you drag the image to your desktop. It has a transparent background with optional baked-in dropshadow.

If anyone knows how to make Menu / Save to Desktop on the image in Safari give it a file name ending in .png instead of saving as "Unknown" with no extension, that would be nice. (Tested solutions only please.)

Also, any time I post about flyers, I can't help but re-post this clip:

Previously, previously, previously.

Posted Fri Jun 14 01:37:26 2024 Tags:

Planet Debian upstream is hosted by Branchable.