<Glazblog/>

Monday 8 February 2016

Inventory and Strategy

“There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the native class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.” -- Android and iOS, blatantly stolen from Warren Buffet

Firefox OS tried to bring Web apps to the mobile world and it failed. It has been brain dead - for phones - for three days and the tubes preserving its life will be turned off in May 2016. I don't believe at all myself in the IoT space being a savior for Mozilla. There are better and older competitors in that space, companies or projects that bring smaller, faster, cleaner software architectures to IoT where footprint and performance are an even more important issue than in the mobile space. Yes, this is a very fragmented market; no, I'm not sure FirefoxOS can address it and reach the critical mass. In short, I don't believe in it at all.

Maybe it's time to discuss a little bit a curse word here: strategy. What would be a strategy for the near- and long-term future for Mozilla? Of course, what's below remains entirely my own view and I'm sure some readers will find it pure delirium. I don't really mind.

To do that, let's look a little bit at what Mozilla has in hands, and let's confront that and the conclusion drawn from the previous lines: native apps have won, at least for the time being.

  • Brains! So many hyper-talented brains at Mozilla!
  • Both desktop and mobile knowledge
  • An excellent, but officially unmaintained, runtime
  • Extremely high expertise on Web Standards and implementation of Web Standards
  • Extremely high expertise on JS
  • asm.js
  • Gaia, that implements a partial GUI stack from html but limited to mobile

We also need to take a look at Mozilla's past. This is not an easy nor pleasant inventory to make but I think it must be done here and to do it, we need to go back as far in time as the Netscape era.

Technology Year(s) Result
Anya 2003 AOL (Netscape's parent company) did not want of Anya, a remote browser moving most of the CPU constraints to the server, and it died despite of being open-sourced by its author. At the same time, Opera successfully launched Opera Mini and eventually acquired its SkyFire competitor. Opera Mini has been a very successful product on legacy phones and even smartphones in areas with poor mobile connectivity.
XUL 2003- Netscape - and later Mozilla - did not see any interest in bringing XUL to Standards committees. When competitors eventually moved to XML-based languages for UI, they adopted solutions (XAML, Flex, ...) that were not interoperable with it.
Operating System 2003- A linux+Gecko Operating System is not a new idea. It was already discussed back in 2003 - yes, 2003 - at Netscape and was too often met with laughter. It was mentioned again multiple times between 2003 and 2011, without any apparent success.
Embedding 2004- Embedding has always been a poor parent in Gecko's family. Officially dropped loooong ago, it drove embedders to WebKit and then Blink. At the time embedding should have been improved, the focus was solely on Firefox for desktop. If I completely understand the rationale behind a focus on Firefox for desktop at that time, the consequences of abandoning Embedding have been seriously underestimated.
Editing 2005- Back in 2004/2005, it was clear Gecko had the best in-browser core editor on the market. Former Netscape editor peers working on Dreamweaver compared mozilla/editor and what Macromedia/Adobe had in hands. The comparison was vastly in favor of Mozilla. It was also easy to predict the aging Dreamweaver would soon need a replacement for its editor core. But editing was considered as non-essential at that time, more a burden than an asset, and no workforce was permanently assigned to it.
Developer tools 2005 In 2005, Mozilla was so completely mistaken on Developer Tools, a powerful attractor for early adopters and Web Agencies, that it wanted to get rid of the error console. At the same moment, the community was calling for more developer tools.
Runtime 2003- XULRunner has been quite successful for such a complex technology. Some rather big companies believed enough in it to implement apps that, even if you don't know their name, are still everywhere. As an example, here's at least one very large automotive group in Europe, a world-wide known brand, that uses XULRunner in all its test environments for car engines. That means all garages dealing with that brand use a XULRunner-fueled box...
But unfortunately, XULrunner was never considered as essential, up to the point its name is still a codename. For some time, the focus was instead given to GRE, a shared runtime that was doomed to fail from the very first minute.
Asian market 2005 While the Asian market was exploding, Gecko was missing a major feature: vertical writing. It prevented Asian embedders from considering Gecko as the potential rendering engine to embed in Ebook reading systems. It also closed access to the Asian market for many other usages. But vertical writing did not become an issue to fix for Mozilla until 2015.
Thunderbird 2007 Despite of growing adoption of Thunderbird in governmental organizations and some large companies, Mozilla decided to spin off Thunderbird into a Mail Corporation because it was unable to get a revenue stream from it. MailCo was eventually merged back with Mozilla and Thunderbird is again in 2015/2016 in limbos at Mozilla.
Client Customization Kit 2003- Let's be clear, the CCK has never been seen as a useful or interesting project. Maintained only by the incredible will and talent of a single external contributor, many corporations rely on it to release Firefox to their users. Mozilla had no interest in corporate users. Don't we spend only 60% of our daily time at work?
E4X 2005-2012 Everyone had high expectations about E4X and and many were ready to switch to E4X to replace painful DOM manipulations. Unfortunately, it never allowed to manipulate DOM elements (BMO bug 270553), making it totally useless. E4X support was deprecated in 2012 and removed after Firefox 17.
Prism (WebRunner) 2007-2009 Prism was a webrunner, i.e. a desktop platform to run standalone self-contained web-based apps. Call them widgets if you wish. Prism was abandoned in 2009 and replaced by Mozilla Chromeless that is itself inactive too.
Marketplace 2009 Several people called for an improved marketplace where authors could sell add-ons and standalone apps. That required a licensing mechanism and the possibility to blackbox scripting. It was never implemented that way.
Browser Ballot 2010 The BrowserChoice.eu thing was a useless battle. If it brought some users to Firefox on the Desktop, the real issue was clearly the lack of browser choice on iOS, world-wide. That issue still stands as of today.
Panorama (aka Tab Groups) 2010 When Panorama reached light, some in the mozillian community (including yours truly) said it was bloated, not extensible, not localizable, based on painful code, hard to maintain on the long run and heterogeneous with the rest of Firefox, and it was trying to change the center of gravity of the browser. Mozilla's answer came rather sharply and Panorama was retained. In late 2015, it was announced that Panorama will be retired because it's painful to maintain, is heterogeneous with the rest of Firefox and nobody uses it...
Jetpack 2010 Jetpack was a good step on the path towards HTML-based UI but a jQuery-like framework was not seen by the community as what authors needed and it missed a lot of critical things. It never really gained traction and was marked obsolete a few years later. In 2015, Mozilla announced it will implement the WebExtensions global object promoted by Google Chrome and WebExtensions is just a more modern and better integrated JetPack on steroids. It also means being Google's assistant to reach the two implementations' standardization constraint again...
Firefox OS 2011 The idea of a linux+Gecko Operating System finally touched ground. 4 years later, the project is dead for mobile.
Versioning System 2011 When Mozilla moved to faster releases for Firefox, large corporations having slower deployment processes reacted quite vocally. Mozilla replied it did not care about dinosaurs of the past.
Add-ons 2015 XUL-based add-ons have been one of the largest attractors to Firefox. AdBlock+ alone deserves kudos, but more globally, the power of XUL-based add-ons that could interact with the whole Gecko platform and all of Firefox's UI has been a huge market opener. In 2015/2016, Mozilla plans to ditch XUL-based add-ons without having a real replacement for them, feature-per-feature.
Evangelism 2015 While Google and Microsoft have built first-class tech-evangelism teams, Mozilla made all its team flee in less than 18 months. I don't know (I really don't) the reason behind that intense bleeding but I read it as a very strong warning signal.
Servo 2016 Servo is the new cool kid on the block. With parallel layout and a brand new architecture, it should allow new frontiers in the mobile world, finally unleashing the power of multicores. But instead of officially increasing the focus on Servo and decreasing the focus on Gecko, Gecko is going to benefit from Servo's rust-based components to extend its life. This is the old sustaining/disruptive paradigm from Clayton Christensen.

(I hope I did not make too many mistakes in the table above. At least, that's my personal recollection of the events. If you think I made a mistake, please let me know and I'll update the article.)

Let's be clear then: Mozilla really succeeded only three times. First, with Firefox on the desktop. Second, enabling the Add-ons ecosystem for Firefox. Third, with its deals with large search engine providers. Most of the other projects and products were eventually ditched for lack of interest, misunderstanding, time-to-market and many other reasons. Mozilla is desperately looking for a fourth major opportunity, and that opportunity can only extend the success of the first one or be entirely different.

The market constraints I see are the following:

  • Native apps have won
  • Mozilla's reputation as an embedded solution's provider among manufacturers will probably suffer a bit from Firefox OS for phones' death. BTW, it probably suffers a bit among some employees too...

Given the assets and the skills, I see then only two strategic axes for Moz:

  1. Apple must accept third-party rendering engines even if it's necessary to sue Apple.
  2. If native apps have won, Web technologies remain the most widely adopted technologies by developers of all kinds and guess what, that's exactly Mozilla's core knowledge! Let's make native apps from Web technos then.

I won't discuss item 1. I'm not a US lawyer and I'm not even a lawyer. But for item 2, here's my idea:

  1. If asm.js "provides a model closer to C/C++" (quote from asmjs.org's FAQ), it's still not possible to compile asm.js-based JavaScript into native. I suggest to define a subset of ES2015/2016 that can be compiled to native, for instance through c++, C#, obj-C and Java. I suggest to build the corresponding multi-target compiler. Before telling me it's impossible, please look at Haxe.
  2. I suggest to extend the html "dialect" Gaia implements to cross-platform native UI and submit it immediately to Standard bodies. Think Qt's ubiquity. The idea is not to show native-like (or even native) UI inside a browser window... The idea is to directly generate browser-less native UI from a html-based UI language, CSS and JS that can deal with all platform's UI elements. System menus, dock, icons, windows, popups, notifications, drawers, trees, buttons, whatever. Even if compiled, the UI should be DOM-modifyable just like XUL is today.
  3. WebComponents are ugly, and Google-centric. So many people think that and so few dare saying it... Implementing them in Gecko acknowledges the power of Gmail and other Google tools but WebComponents remain ugly and make Mozilla a follower. I understand why Firefox needs it. But for my purpose, a simpler and certainly cleaner way to componentize and compile (see item 1) the behaviours of these components to native would be better.
  4. Build a cross-platform cross-device html+CSS+JS-based compiler to native apps from the above. Should be dead simple to install and use. A newbie should be able to get a native "Hello World!" native app in minutes from a trivial html document. When a browser's included in the UI, make Gecko (or Servo) the default choice.
  5. Have a build farm where such html+CSS+JS are built for all platforms. Sell that service. Mozilla already knows pretty well how to do build farms.

That plan addresses:

  • Runtime requests
  • Embedding would become almost trivial, and far easier than Chromium Embedded Framework anyway... That will be a huge market opener.
  • XUL-less future for Firefox on Desktop and possibly even Thunderbird
  • XUL-less future for add-ons
  • unique source for web-based app and native app, whatever the platform and the device
  • far greater performance on mobile
  • A more powerful basis for Gaia's future
  • JavaScript is currently always readable through a few tools, from the Console to the JS debugger and app authors don't want that.
  • a very powerful basis for Gaming, from html and script
  • More market share for Gecko and/or Servo
  • New revenue stream.

There are no real competitors here. All other players in that field use a runtime that does not completely compile script to native, or are not based on Web Standards, or they're not really ubiquitous.

I wish the next-generation native source editor, the next-gen native Skype app, the next-gen native text processor, the next-gen native online and offline twitter client, the next native Faecbook app, the next native video or 3D scene editor, etc. could be written in html+CSS+ECMAScript and compiled to native and if they embed a browser, let be it a Mozilla browser if that's allowed by the platform.

As I wrote at the top of this post, you may find the above unfeasible, dead stupid, crazy, arrogant, expensive, whatever. Fine by me. Yes, as a strategy document, that's rather light w/o figures, market studies, cost studies, and so on. Absolutely, totally agreed. Only allow me to think out loud, and please do the same. I do because I care.

Sunday 31 January 2016

Il reste quelque chose d'étonnant au royaume de la #frenchtech

Je suis un observateur plutôt attentif de la #frenchtech. Si à l'origine, cela n'a été qu'un buzzword, cela commence enfin à s'en éloigner un peu, ne serait-ce que par les contacts de plus en plus nombreux entre ses "membres" et la sphère politique. Mais il y a un point qui continue à m'étonner : on confond Tech et Web...

Soyons très clairs : un site de vente en ligne, c'est de la vente et de la logistique mais ce n'est pas de la Tech à moins que la technologie sous-jacente ne devienne Open Source, maintenue par une communauté, et permette à d'autres de développer un business. Un site de mise en relation entre personnes, c'est rarement de la technologie lourde.

La #frenchtech reste également un microcosme des dotcoms les plus communicantes, un cercle dans lequel l'invitation ressemble fort à un adoubement, alors qu'elle a deux buts principaux : premièrement, favoriser les marchés extérieurs pour les boîtes françaises existantes, deuxièmement favoriser l'émergence de nouvelles boîtes et de nouveaux projets. Ce dernier point ne peut venir que du monde estudiantin, que l'on continue à négliger. Le vrai potentiel, il est chez le gamin qui entre deux TP à son IUT code un truc d'enfer qui va malheureusement rester sous les radars ou chez la gamine qui vient de faire une percée énorme, pendant un stage, dans les peintures anéchoïdes au radar, il n'est pas dans whatmille sites Web de vente ou mise en relation.

Dans frenchtech, il ne faut pas oublier tech...

Friday 29 January 2016

Google, BlueGriffon.org and blacklists

Several painful things happened to bluegriffon.org yesterday... In chronological order:

  1. during my morning, two users reported that their browser did not let them reach the downloads section of bluegriffon.org without a security warning. I could not see it myself from here, whatever the browser or the platform.
  2. during the evening, I could see the warning using Chrome on OS X
  3. apparently, and if I believe the "Search Console", Google thought two files in my web repository of releases are infected. I launched a complete verification of the whole web site and ran all the software releases through three anti-virus systems (Sophos, Avast and AVG) and an anti-adware system. Nothing at all to report. No infection, no malware, no adware, nothing.
  4. since this was my only option, I deleted the two reported files from my server. Just for the record, the timestamps were unchanged, and I even verified the files were precisely the ones I uploaded in january and april 2012. Yes, 2012... Yesterday, without being touched/modified in any manner during the last four years, they were erroneously reported infected.
  5. this morning, Firefox also reports a security warning on most large sections of BlueGriffon.org and its Downloads section. I guess Firefox is also using the Google blacklist. Just for the record, both Spamhaus and CBL have nothing to say about bluegriffon.org...
  6. the Google Search Console now reports my site is ok but Firefox still reports it unsecure, ahem.

I need to draw a few conclusions here:

  • Google does not tell you how the reported files are unsecure, which is really lame. The online tool they provide to "analyze" a web site did not help at all.
  • Since all my antivir/antiadware declared all files in my repo clean, I had absolutely no option but to delete the files that are now missing from my repo
  • two reported files in bluegriffon.org/freshmeat/1.4/ and bluegriffon.org/freshmeat/1.5.1/ led to blacklisting of all of bluegriffon.org/freshmeat and that's hundreds of files... Hey guys, we are and you are programmers, right? Sure you can do better than that?
  • during more than one day, customers fled from bluegriffon.org because of these security warnings, security warnings I consider as fake reports. Since no public antimalware app could find anything to say about my files, I am suspecting a fake report of human origin. How such a report can reach the blacklist when files are reported safe by four up-to-date antimalware apps and w/o infection information reported to the webmaster is far beyond my understanding.
  • blacklists are a tool that can be harmful to businesses if they're not well managed.

Update: oh I and forgot one thing: during the evening, Earthlink.net blacklisted one of the Mail Transport Agents of Dreamhost. Not, my email address, that whole SMTP gateway at Dreamhost... So all my emails to one of my customers bounced and I can't even let her know some crucial information. I suppose thousands at Dreamhost are impacted. I reported the issue to both Earthlink and DH, of course.

Monday 25 January 2016

Georges

Il s'appelait Georges, c'était mon parrain, même si cela n'a pas vraiment de signification chez les juifs askhénazes. Je garderai plein de souvenirs de Georges, le plus vieux copain de mon père encore proche, mais il me faut en sélectionner quatre plus forts que les autres :

  • tout le mobilier de ma chambre d'enfant, tellement superbe et moderne qu'il était encore parfaitement adapté à mes années estudiantines, c'était lui
  • les longues discussions cultivées et souvent drôles du dimanche à Fontainebleau, c'était encore lui
  • le sourire intense de bonheur et inoubliable quand mes parents et moi l'avons invité à son restaurant fétiche, L'Ami Louis, pour mes 13 ans, c'était lui aussi
  • et nos regards de connivence, qui n'avaient pas besoin de mots, quand nous nous sommes retrouvés ensemble en face d'une personne racontant des énormes conneries...

Georges est décédé ce week-end et j'en chiale, la boule au ventre. Lundi de merde. Pas glop.

Un OS Souverain

Non, rassurez-vous, je n'ai pas l'intention d'en discuter. Perdre du temps à causer d'une telle stupidité, d'une telle preuve non seulement d'incompétence crasse mais également d'arrogance lamentable (par défaut d'interrogation des spécialistes) de nos politiques ne serait même pas drôle. Quelle honte.

Ce qui est hilarant par contre, c'est cette issue sur github. Une vraie perle :-) Faites-vous du bien en ce lundi matin, et faites mieux qu'une pause café, faites une pause lecture. Rire garanti :-)

Wednesday 20 January 2016

La grande inventivité fiscale de la France...

Ce lien est un screenshot de ma déclaration en ligne de TVA... Sans commentaire...

Saturday 16 January 2016

Ebook pagination and CSS

Let's suppose you have a rather long document, for instance a book chapter, and you want to render it in your browser à la iBooks/Kindle. That's rather easy with just a dash of CSS:

body {
height: calc(100vh - 24px);
column-width: 45vw;
overflow: hidden;
margin-left: calc(-50vw * attr(currentpage integer));
}

Yes, yes, I know that no browser implements that attr()extended syntax. So put an inline style on your body for margin-left: calc(-50vw * <n>) where <n> is the page number you want minus 1.

Then add the fixed positioned controls you need to let user change page, plus gesture detection. Add a transition on margin-left to make it nicer. Done. Works perfectly in Firefox, Safari, Chrome and Opera. I don't have a Windows box handy so I can't test on Edge.

Le gros dérapage de l'évèque de Bayonne

Je crois malheureusement que de telles conneries, un tel amalgame et une telle légitimisation de l'action violente contre les IVGs se passent de commentaires...

Tweet de la calotte sifflante

Ça serait marrant que Bernard Cazeneuve ferme la cathédrale de Bayonne et dissolve son archevêché pour apologie de violence... Parce qu'à la lecture de ce tweet, c'est tout ce que ça mérite.

Friday 15 January 2016

En 2016, La Poste vous baise sur les lettres de 20 à 50g

Alors que l'opacité des tarifs des envois de colis à La Poste a fait l'objet de plusieurs brèves récemment, le consommateur non-attentif, qu'il soit particulier ou professionnel, vient de se faire entuber à sec par La Poste en guise de vœux de bonne année pour 2016...

Le tarif « entre 20 et 50g » pour les lettres vertes, lettre prioritaires et ecoplis à été supprimé :

Tarifs La Poste 2016

Bref, une lettre verte de 21 grammes qui coûtait 1,15€ à affranchir passe à 1,40€. Soit 21,8% d'augmentation, excusez du peu. Pour la lettre prioritaire de même poids, on est à 28% pile d'augmentation ! Mais le plus fort, c'est l'ECOpli de 21 grammes qui prend tout bonnement 29,5% d'augmentation.

Là où c'est encore plus vicelard, c'est que les entreprises ne sont pas soumises à ces mêmes règles. Mais La Poste étant ce qu'elle est, c'est-à-dire gérée par des énarques qui oublient non pas le service du public mais le Service Public, pas toutes les entreprises : le tarif de 20 à 50 grammes est maintenu pour les entreprises qui louent une machine à affranchir, les autres utilisant des timbres tombant dans le régime général. Bref, petites entreprises à peu de courrier, baisées comptez-vous.

Je trouve tout cela scandaleux. L'augmentation tout d'abord est lamentable vu ses taux. La distortion entre entreprises et particuliers ensuite. La distortion entre entreprises disposant de machines à affranchir d'une part et celles qui n'en ont pas d'autre part. Je m'interroge fortement sur la légalité de ce dispositif, et me demande comment nos politiques ont pu autoriser une telle augmentation des tarifs.

Bonne année 2016, signé La Poste, qui ne fournit pas le lubrifiant avec.

Wednesday 13 January 2016

CSS Prefixed and unprefixed properties

I used to be quite a heavy user of Peter Beverloo's list of CSS properties, indicating all prefixed versions, but he stopped maintaining it a while ago, unfortunately. So I wrote my own, because I still need such data for BlueGriffon... In case you also need it, it's available from http://disruptive-innovations.com/zoo/cssproperties/ and is automatically refreshed from Gecko, WebKit and Blink sources on a daily basis.

Tuesday 5 January 2016

Un mauvais vendeur eBay

  • le 12 novembre dernier, j'achète sur eBay un écran de remplacement pour un Samsung S4 pour 87.99€ auprès du vendeur amazing-sale (société Dong Feng Ping, visiblement en Chine ou Taiwan, mais le produit est expédié depuis Strasbourg...). Au moment de la commande, le vendeur a plus de 98.5% de confiance sur des dizaines de milliers de ventes chaque mois.
  • le 13, je reçois de sa part notification de l'envoi de la commande ; super-rapide, je suis satisfait...
  • malheureusement, je ne le reçois que le 21 novembre, et je le monte le jour-même. Au début, tout va bien et l'écran fonctionne normalement.
  • dès le lendemain, l'écran commence à montrer des soucis de contraste
  • le surlendemain apparait des lignes verticales mortes
  • au bout de 48 heures, l'écran est totalement noir...
  • je vérifie mon installation, qui est correcte. Je contacte donc le revendeur le 23.
  • le revendeur me demande de vérifier mon installation et m'annonce que la garantie joue
  • le 25, le revendeur m'annonce accepter de me renvoyer un nouvel écran contre 20€ supplémentaires, ce que je refuse évidemment
  • toujours le 25, le revendeur suggère 15€ d'extra... Je refuse à nouveau, garantie légale oblige.
  • le 3 décembre, le revendeur me demande un renvoi de l'écran défectueux sur Strasbourg pour activer l'échange ou le remboursement. Je renvoie l'écran en AR, coût 4.50€.
  • le 11 décembre, le revendeur m'annonce que je dois recevoir un nouvel écran sous 3 jours
  • le 21 décembre, alors que je n'ai toujours rien reçu et qu'il n'a pas répondu à mes courriers, le revendeur me réclame 34€ supplémentaires pour l'échange
  • le 30 décembre, après un dépôt de plainte chez eBay et une évalutation négative, le revendeur continue à me réclamer un supplément pour la garantie et me demande de supprimer mon évaluation négative, ce que je refuse catégoriquement tant que je n'ai pas un écran fonctionnel ou le remboursement intégral de mon achat
  • en réponse, je le menace de plainte auprès de la Direction de la Répression des Fraudes
  • le 3 janvier, le revendeur ne me donne aucune nouvelle de l'écran ni du remboursement mais réclame encore la suppression de l'évaluation négative, ce que je refuse toujours ; je lui précise qu'il lui reste 24 heures avant le dépôt de la plainte
  • le 4 janvier, le revendeur consent enfin à enclencher le remboursement, je cite, sous 48 heures
  • le 5 janvier, je reçois enfin le remboursement. Mais alors que le revendeur s'était engagé à me rembourser aussi mon renvoi AR de son écran défectueux, je ne reçois que le remboursement de l'achat...

Donc si vous allez vous balader sur eBay pour des pièces détachées de téléphones mobiles, évitez le vendeur amazing-sale. Aucun respect de la garantie légale, aucun respect du client, aucun respect des engagements pris, matériel de mauvaise qualité. À bons lecteurs...

Tuesday 29 December 2015

Star Wars episode VII

I was ten years old when the first Star Wars movie was released and I still remember my mood when I left the famous Grand Rex movie theater in Paris that 22nd of October 1977. I was thinking to myself « this is going to change forever SciFi movies »... But I was not young, naive or blind enough to miss the fact Star Wars was only the regular princess/prince/felon tale with a stars' and space fighters' background.

  • the first hero is the lost son of the villain
  • the princess is the lost daughter of the villain
  • the princess is the sister of the first hero
  • the villain's army is trying to rule the world and the villain has magical powers
  • the first hero recovers the sword of his father
  • the second hero is a ruffian but he will eventually save the world and marry the princess
  • the villain abducts the princess and keeps her in custody in his space castle
  • the two heroes attack the space castle to deliver the princess
  • the first hero will eventually destroy the space castle, source of power of the villain threatening the world
  • and so on.

It's nothing but a space Grimms' tale.

Spoiler alert: don't read further if you haven't seen Star Wars episode VII and plan to see it in the near future...

I saw Episode VII yesterday with the kids and enjoyed it a lot while I was in the room. But when I left, I started thinking about it:

  • the new princess is clearly from the family of the former villain and the lost first hero
  • the new princess recovers the family's sword
  • the new second hero is a renegade from the new villain's army
  • the new third hero will eventually attack and destroy the new space castle
  • the new villain is the son of the princess and original second hero
  • the new villain's army is trying to rule the world and the new villain has magical powers
  • the new villain abducts the new princess and keeps her in custody in his space castle
  • the new second hero and the original second hero attack the space castle to deliver the princess
  • the space castle, source of power of the villain threatening the world, is eventually destroyed

Ah that sense of déjà-vu. Where are the originality, the darkness, the characters' complexity seen in the Revenge of the Sith, gone?

All in all, The Force Awakens leaves me very mixed feelings. A good show, a bad Star Wars. Even Harrison Ford totally lost his mojo and did not play well at all. And the final scene made me think J.J. Abrams lost it too, the theatrical intensity of the scene being abysmal (should have ended on Luke taking the saber, closer view on his hand pressing the button, glowing light of the saber turning on screen-wide and sudden black with The Force's music). Ten years after the Revenge of the Sith, I was expecting something that would renew the SciFi/space heroic fantasy genre. It's very far from it.

Friday 23 October 2015

Pierre Berger, Pierre Bergé

Je pourrais vous parler de Pierre Berger, camarade de ma promo de l'X et même Kessier (membre du BDE) de la promo, PDG d'Eiffage, qui est décédé cette nuit mais non, il se trouve que son décès a mis quelque chose de dégueulasse en lumière. La CatoFachoSphère francophone est pleine ce jour de tweets, de messages, regrettant que cela ne soit pas Pierre Bergé qui soit décédé. Bien entendu à cause de son homosexualité, de son marquage à gauche, de sa bataille pour le mariage pour tous, j'en passe et des meilleures. Cela donne des saloperies de ce genre. Et ça me révulse de lire des "ah zut, pas le bon qui est mort".

Bande de salopards qui se déclarent « pro-life » et souhaitent publiquement la mort de quelqu'un... Je vais vous dire, finalement, il y a deux immenses satisfactions au passage dans la Loi du mariage pour tous : le passage dans la Loi lui-même, et avoir laminé tous ces cons rétrogrades. Leurs méthodes sont celles des extrêmes, leurs opinions dignes d'un obscurantisme inadmissible. Qu'ils aillent tous se faire foutre.

Voilà. Désolé du coup de gueule et des noms d'oiseaux, ça vient des tripes.

Tuesday 13 October 2015

Je ne pourrais pas être artiste

Je viens d'entendre le chanteur Selim, le second fils de Louis Chedid et donc le frère de M, interviewé dans la brève Alcaline sur France 2. Je n'ai rien compris à ce qu'il a dit, je suis incapable de résumer le moindre traitre mot de son interview. Je ne pourrais pas être artiste, je suis incapable de faire des phrases totalement vides de sens comme ça. J'admire cette capacité, je ne l'ai pas mais alors pas du tout.

Friday 9 October 2015

Volkswagen, Michael Horn et les lampistes

Je m'attendais à lire tôt ou tard la nouvelle relayée hier par Slashdot : Michael Horn le patron de la branche américaine de VW, en audition au Congrès US, a tout simplement déclaré que les responsables de la fraude récemment révélée étaient les ingénieurs logiciel...

C'est bien entendu ridicule, les développeurs n'implémenteraient pas d'eux-mêmes, sans décision supérieure, une fraude de cette magnitude. De toute manière, dans un produit aussi complexe qu'un véhicule, les ingénieurs software font ce que la responsabilité Produit leur demande d'implémenter, et il a bien fallu qu'on se rende compte à ce niveau-là que les résultats des tests étaient incompatibles avec les normes environnementales pour décider, et exiger des développeurs, l'implémentation d'un bypass. Il me semble donc totalement impossible d'une part que les ingénieurs soient à l'origine de la fraude, d'autre part que cela se soit fait sans un ordre au plus haut niveau dans l'entreprise.

Volkswagen ne se grandit absolument pas en tapant sur les lampistes, alors que les premières déclarations publiques du même Michael Horn « we totally screwed up » étaient bien meilleures en gestion de crise.

J'ai bien peur désormais que les lampistes en question ne se laissent pas utiliser comme fusibles et je leur souhaite, confraternellement, de disposer de documents prouvant qu'ils n'ont fait que ce qu'on avait ordonné de faire. Quant au groupe Volkswagen, son effondrement ne m’émouvrait pas plus que ça désormais.

Tuesday 6 October 2015

OS X El Capitan and USB

I upgraded my MacBookPro to El Capitan two days ago and this was a huge mistake: suddenly, all my external USB hard disks, including my TimeMachine backup (based on a huge Seagate disk), stopped completely working. Not only El Capitan does not show the disks in the Finder, but the Disk Utility does not see them any more. In the release notes of OS 10.11 beta, one could read:

  • USB Known Issues
    • USB storage devices, including internal SD card readers, may become unavailable after system sleep and require either re-plug or restart to recover.
    • USB input devices may become non-functional on some Macs after several days.
    • USB 1.0, 1.1 and older 2.0 devices may not function.

I have tried to reboot, reset the PRAM, reset the SMC, nothing works. Online fora are full of people experiencing blocking issues with USB since they upgraded to El Capitan. The issue was reported by many people during the beta program of OS 10.11 and nothing changed.

This is lame and not at the Apple « level ». Hurry up Apple, fix this.

Thursday 24 September 2015

Calendar on iOS

Dear Apple, I have a request for enhancement for the Calendar app on iOS: when you add a new entry in a calendar, there a possibility to set a travel time. That travel time is hard-defined: 5, 15, 30, 60, 90 or 120 minutes. But since there is also the possibility to set an address for the entry, the travel time should be computed from the preferred transport method (car, foot, public transports) and my current location, looking at traffic data. With your Maps app, that's feasible and that would be a superb addition to the Calendar. Best.

Update: so apparently, this exists when you set up yourself an entry in the calendar. But I received a meeting invitation by email, with the address provided and everything ok, and Calendar lets me only set a hard-defined travel time...

Saturday 19 September 2015

En vrac

  • je suis littéralement estomaqué par l'absence totale d'analyse journalistique sérieuse concernant les « 60% d’une classe d’âge à un niveau d’enseignement supérieur » promis par François Hollande. Il s'agit pourtant d'un élément majeur, indicateur fort d'une modification profonde de la France et son évolution probable. On aurait donc, si on reprend les 80% de bacheliers, 60% d'une classe d'âge « à un niveau d’enseignement supérieur », 20% au niveau bac et 20% en-dessous. On dessine là une nouvelle redistribution de classes pour la France, bien loin d'une réindustrialisation du pays. Il faut rapprocher cela de la politique thatchèrienne des années 1980, et il s'agit clairement d'un aveu sur des prévisions pessimistes sur l'industrie française, avec un axe fort sur les prestations intellectuelles et les services, ou sur une réindustrialisation basée sur une production en dehors de l'hexagone. Et pourtant, aucune réaction de la presse, des syndicats, des économistes. Je suis effaré.
  • Joëlle Ceccaldi-Raynaud aurait donc hérité 102 kilos d'or - et quelque menue monnaie - de sa grand-mère qui était institutrice en Corse. Balaise, la grand-mère... Je suis sûr que de nombreux instituteurs, corses ou continentaux, voudraient connaître sa recette. Moi aussi, d'ailleurs...
  • Aaaah le bôôô débat sur la dictée et toussa. Rappelons la lettre ouverte de Laurent Lafforgue lors de sa démission fracassante du Haut Conseil de l'Education. On n'apprend pas en s'amusant, on apprend en rabâchant, encore et encore, dans la douleur. Il a bien entendu entièrement raison. À part notre évidente folie de geeks, sommes-nous traumatisés par les dictées de notre enfance ? Non. Sommes-nous enclins à considérer une candidature qui serait remplie de fautes d'orthographe et/ou de grammaire ? Non. Trouvons-nous que la gamine présentée hier soir au journal de France 2 comme « ayant fait des études de Droit » et qui écrivait « complissité » soit un digne résultat pour l'Éducation Nationale ? Ohlala non. Il faut changer de braquet, penser différemment. Je rappelle aussi cet article édifiant paru il y a quelques années dans la Presse, et relatant un jeune instit normand qui rendait visite à un collègue d'un village voisin. Alors que ses propres élèves étaient mauvais en français et calcul, ce village voisin avait des résultat exceptionnels. En fait, l'autre instit était un vieux de la vieille, qui avait décidé que les règles et méthodes imposées par l'EN étaient des conneries et faisait comme il avait toujours fait, comme lui-même avait appris. Et cela marchait du feu de Zeus, avec une population socio-économiquement strictement identique. Nous en sommes, depuis la Loi Haby, à quarante années d'expérimentation débridée, et souvent contre-productive. Il est temps de finir le boulot, d'arriver à des conclusions, et les appliquer de façon stable dans un seul but : l'éducation de nos enfants. Halte aux changements de programme poussés à chaque changement de Ministre...
  • CloudWatt et Numergy, clap de fin. Comme prévu depuis le premier jour, en tous cas par moi. L'État a injecté là-dedans en pure perte des fortunes alors qu'on aurait pu avec la même somme créer quelques milliers d'entreprises dans le secteur du Numérique. J'ai honte.
  • 19 septembre 2015, le nouveau logo de la Gendarmerie Nationale reste toujours affreux.
  • Nicolas Sarkozy regrette donc, partiellement si on lit bien ses propos, son « Casse-toi, pauv'con ». On y croit autant qu'à la grand-mère de Ceccaldi-Raynaud comme source de 102 kilos d'or.
  • Ah la belle réaction de la communauté sur l'affaire Ahmed Mohamed, ce gamin geek arrêté pour avoir amené son kit électronique d'horloge à l'école. Obama, Zuckerberg, Google, la NASA, le MIT, tout le monde se l'arrache. Mais quand on parle investissements, il reste compliqué d'obtenir du funding même minime sur de la technologie pure alors qu'un service de mise en relation sur le web récolte des centaines de millions de dollars.
  • The Apprentice. Presque onze ans de succès aux USA, un vrai succès en Grande-Bretagne, un flop retentissant en deux semaines en France. « Les spectateurs ont rejeté le concept » qu'ils ont dit. Vous savez quoi ? Malgré tous ses défauts que l'on connaît tous, j'aime ce pays :-)

Friday 11 September 2015

Death of XUL-based add-ons to Firefox

I will not discuss here right now the big image of the message sent a few weeks ago (although my company is deeply, very deeply worried about it) but I would like instead to dive into a major technical detail that seems to me left blatantly unresolved: the XUL tree element was introduced to handle very long lists of items with performance. Add-ons touching bookmarks, lists of URLs, list of email adresses, contacts, anti-spam lists, advertisement blocking lists and more all need a performant tree solution.

As far as I am concerned, there is nothing on the html side approaching the performance of the XUL tree for very long lists. Having no replacement for it before the removal of XUL-based add-ons is only a death signal sent to all the add-ons needing the XUL tree, and almost a "we don't care about you" signal sent to the authors of these add-ons. From an ecosystem's point of view, I find it purely suicidal.

So I have a question: what's the plan for the limited number of XUL elements that have no current replacement in html for deep technical reasons?

Update: yes, there are some OSS packages to deal with trees in html, but until the XUL tree is removed from Firefox's UI, how do we deal with it if access to the XUL element is not reachable from add-ons?

Friday 4 September 2015

Jeu à la con du jour

Attention, le logo ci-dessous est incomplet et il vous faut retrouver à qui il appartient...

c'est qui c'est qui ????

Allez... Un petit effort... Un Cabinet de consulting ? Des lutteurs basques ? Une équipe de rugby ? Le club des couturières en crochet de Plouermel ?

Non, vous n'y êtes pas, c'est le nouveau logo de.... cliquez ici pour savoir. Et les intéressés ne sont pas contents du tout !!! Nos félicitations aux crânes d'oeuf qui ont pondu et validé une telle daube.

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