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You may or may not like him, but Jaron Lanier is right in that interview: It is dangerous that corporations control the data of devices you are supposed to wear.

Scoble doesn't seem to care about that.

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Sven7 319 days ago | link

What a total mismatch.

I like Scoble for providing us access to all kinds of interesting people and ideas. Not his opinions. I mean seriously, calling the guy and asking him for his opinion is like talking to the door man outside some important persons building.

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elorant 319 days ago | link

Scoble doesn’t seem to care about anything. He behaves like a highly uncultured person who haven’t got a clue about pretty much everything except his job.

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Selfcommit 319 days ago | link

When you hand the type of person you described Google Glass.. they become a Glasshole. This might be the best definition yet. (Disclaimer: I LIke Glass, just not some of the fools who use it)

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Torgo 319 days ago | link

Incidentally Scoble was one of the people brought up to ask questions during Google I/O 2013, and identified _himself_ as a "glasshole."

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> If you’re a European and work in tech in San Francisco, every summer you’ll be inundated with dozens of emails from friends, contacts and unknown European entrepreneurs who will ask you for advice and introductions to US investors for their classic VC fundraising trip.

Possibly due to a biased sample, the post exaggerates the attractiveness of the US for skilled Europeans founders.

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danmaz74 350 days ago | link

On the contrary, it looks to me like the post describes the US as a very bad bet (and so not very attractive) for skilled European founders looking for investors.

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'Self-defense'? The post's key quote sums up Google's relation to RSS:

lead with a compelling user experience first and then build an API from there, an API which may be based on open standards, but only if it’s a means to an end.

Although an open standard, RSS is a special case: The DNA of RSS is incompatible with the data-greedy centralization enforced by the Google, Facebook, Twitter and their likes.

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Gormo 399 days ago | link

Seems like a variant of the old MS strategy of "embrace, extend, exterminate". The open source movement was in part motivated by a desire to limit Microsoft's control over software users in the nineties.

Perhaps it's time for an organized "open internet" movement to build protocols and communities that resist the tendency toward centralization of data and control of user experience that's increasingly evident in the services offered by the big players (and even the smaller ones - today, I wanted to post a comment on a blog article, only to discover that the latest version of Disqus has disabled OpenID support).

I think walled-gardenism on the internet has far more dangerous implications than closed-source software ever did, and it's really sad to see this spreading meme of building walled gardens as the only path to commercial success infecting Google.

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mmahemoff 399 days ago | link

As the OP, I agree it's sad that decentralized standards haven't "won" in the way they were expected to 10 years ago; it's the reason we now have Facebook, Twitter, and Google connect buttons instead of just Open ID.

The question is, when you say "it's time", how do you make it happen? Google tried to make it happen with standards like OpenSocial, but the trade-off for increased flexibility was often poorer UX, and meanwhile they watched developers jump onto standards that were more closed, but had many more users.

There's certainly a sweet spot where open standards meet a mainstream user base; the web and HTML5 overall continue to do fine, notwithstanding heavy competition from the more closed native platforms. This is very much due to the great amount of innovation amongst browsers and web apps, both of which touch the user directly, and less because users care about open for open's sake.

So my suggestion is if you want to encourage open standards, focus on the user first.

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Gormo 399 days ago | link

> The question is, when you say "it's time", how do you make it happen

I'd say a good starting point would be something akin to the GNU project for protocols and services. Stallman's work made alignment with a particular set of principles the overriding goal of software development, and as much as this is often regarded as an extreme position for prioritizing ideals over the practical value of the software, it's hard to deny that it certainly shifted the 'center' of discourse to a point that gave enough weight to user freedom to enable a thriving ecosystem of open-source software that satisfies both practical use cases and the ideals of software freedom well enough.

We've seen a lot of one-off projects that have attempted to create distributed, user-centric services and protocols - OpenID, Diaspora, etc. - but these haven't aligned into an overarching "open internet movement" where projects build upon each other's work, or endeavored to promote a unified vision of the open internet.

Basically, the principles of an open internet ought to be articulated in a coherent statement of purpose - something akin to the FSF's "four freedoms" - and attached to some effective branding. The ideal needs to become a meme.

Marketing the idea of the open internet shouldn't be too hard: there are already plenty of examples of people's lives and workflows being severely disrupted by service shutdowns, business-model restructuring, security breaches, and so on, to which outsourced non-commodity software-as-a-service offerings are uniquely susceptible.

When we look at the kinds of practical concerns that have lead to this structural milieu - i.e. the situation in which service vendors are actually able to shoehorn their users into walled gardens - the single factor that pops out is the fact that the service vendor itself is in control of the platform on which the server operates, and can therefore modify the structure of the application or protocol without restraint.

The first order of business for a practical solution, and the first kind of product that ought to be developed, is something that breaks that combination, and gives users a level of control over the web applications they use that's akin to what they expect for desktop apps.

What if everyone had their own VPS, with a user-friendly UI to install and configure server-side applications, that give them the ubiquitous access and ease-of-use they're currently getting from webapps while still leaving them in control of their own user experience, and allowed them to choose what products to install, what versions of those products to use, and what features to enable?

A VPS-as-end-user-platform model would break the current platform/service combination that lends itself to walled gardens, and allow the VPS providers to compete on price and quality of their commodity service, while application developers would compete to encourage users to install commercial or free web-based RSS readers, OpenID implementations, social-networking nodes, email clients, etc. onto their own VPS instances.

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anon1385 399 days ago | link

>As the OP, I agree it's sad that decentralized standards haven't "won" in the way they were expected to 10 years ago;

I don't know what most people expected, but it seems like there were at least some people complaining about the direction the web (or internet as they it called back then) was going even in 1997:

http://www.arachnoid.com/freezone/

The root of the problem is commercialisation, and a lot of people are to blame for that, including the creator of the site you are currently using.

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Gormo 399 days ago | link

I don't think the problem is commercialization per se; it's the short-sightedness and narrowness of the current commercialization strategies that are the source of the problem.

Google became a multi-billion dollar company by supporting and contributing to the open internet over the course of ten years; their current worrying tactics are very recent. So we know that it's very possible to be wildly successful without undermining your customers' interests (and in the long term, undermining your customers' interests is almost always unsustainable).

The problem is that we've got big players like Google and Facebook who have become risk-averse as they grown, and, having maximized the potential of their original founding visions, have shifted into consolidating their positions in order to preserve the status quo at the expense of others. This is a pattern that seems to recur again and again in the industry.

The way to break it, of course, is to be the source of the creative destruction that undermines the status quo - few large, vested enterprises are willing to do this, though, which is why we see them ultimately becoming dinosaurs who are displaced by startups operating under new paradigms.

I'd hoped that Google, given its nature, would be the one organization that might be able to avert the pattern, but I guess not; they should be doing exactly the opposite of what they're doing now, and support a wide range of products and services, and looking for innovative monetization strategies for products that aren't immediately profitable. But instead, they're going for ultra-focus on what seems to work in the here and now, and trying to entrench the status quo, which will take them down the well-trod path to eventual failure.

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mgkimsal 399 days ago | link

You'd actually need to build the software that gets used, not just protocols.

The majority of the browser usage is with three pieces of software: IE (Microsoft), Chrome (Google), Safari (Apple). None of these players really have a huge stake in 'openness'. We're computing at their mercy right now, and if/when they decide to adopt some new protocols (or drop support for others) we all just have to suck it up. Move to Firefox is a good option right now, but might not be in a few years.

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Locke1689 399 days ago | link

No, it's more like IE, Chrome, Firefox.

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mgkimsal 399 days ago | link

depending on what target you're looking at, yes, for now. firefox has nothing on mobile right now - it's chrome/safari on mobile by a longshot, and mobile is the hot growth area. But yeah, point taken.

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Gormo 399 days ago | link

> The majority of the browser usage is with three pieces of software: IE (Microsoft), Chrome (Google), Safari (Apple). None of these players really have a huge stake in 'openness'.

Sure they do; all of the browsers support the same standards in HTML, CSS, JavaScript, etc. The few remaining points of contention between browsers, like HTML5 video formats, are relatively trivial and not significant with respect to the services that are starting to act like walled gardens.

The problems come from the applications and services that use the web itself as a platform, and attempt to "embrace, extend, and exterminate" open protocols, like RSS and OpenID, in order to lock users into relying on proprietary APIs instead of open standards.

As the previous commenter pointed out, the threats today come from Google, Facebook, and Twitter, not from the traditional desktop software vendors. (Only Chrome is really concerning here, since they're attempting to use Chrome as a way of shoehorning users into Google services, much in the same way that Microsoft leveraged their OS dominance in the '90s to boost their desktop applications, especially IE.)

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The post is spot on. Firefox is a great browser, but reading the OP's last paragraphs, users rarely choose software for quality alone.

The most popular alternatives to Firefox are Google's Chrome and Microsoft's Internet Explorer. I doubt these alternative browsers would exist if they were not useful for Google's and Microsofts main businesses. These companies produce web browsers to support their main products/services. The rationale behind AOL Explorer (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AOL_Browser) was similar. In settings like those privacy and other interests of web users are easily sacrificed.

Out of all the big browsers, Mozilla Firefox comes closest to being a web browser for the sake of web browsing.

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hosay123 404 days ago | link

Just to add, users rarely choose their software at all. If we're talking about the unwashed masses here, then the primary reason Chrome, Internet Explorer, or Safari are popular at all is almost entirely due to placement.

Joe consumer, comprising an ever increasing majority of the Internet population, simply doesn't care about which browser she is using. More often it is a result of what randomly got installed as the default through their last foray of random clicking and purchases. As a result, Chrome's regular placement on the Google homepage (and IE's default-installation) give it obvious "competitive" edges.

Of course when discussing browser market share this is rarely mentioned, instead popularity is usually attributed to fractional nanosecond differences in rendering time and so on that 99% of users never notice, and simply won't care about even if you told them.

(Edit: there is another reason to appreciate Mozilla in here, in that their efforts seem less focused on branding and positioning than they are much more so on function and vision. Mozilla's endgame shares a certain utilitarian theme compatible with what the masses seem to expect from technology (it's a "computer" with the "Internet" on it, not a "Chromebook" with "Google" on it), than does just about every other company in this space who are using their platforms to sell people more shit they don't need)

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jiggy2011 404 days ago | link

Or people often have their decisions made for them by slightly more tech savvy friends. "Oh, you're using IE? Don't you know that it gives you viruses? Here let me fix that for you.."

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tripzilch 404 days ago | link

I try not to tell less tech-savvy people any more that IE opens their computer to viruses, because afaik it's not really true any more. Back in the day many exploits targeted IE/ActiveX specifically, but nowadays it's Flash and Java that make holes in any browser. (Somebody correct me if I'm wrong and IE is still significantly more vulnerable)

But you can't convince people to drop Java if they as much have one site/app depending on it. I'd love to install an alternative non-Oracle Java (not because they're significantly more secure, but to diversify the ecosystem a bit, and to stick it to Oracle for bundling that Ask toolbar), but I haven't figured out how to install them in Win7 yet. (that's not for other people btw, but for the computers at the kids centre I teach)

Still, what I wanted to say, the reason I do give them Chrome (or Firefox, or Opera), is because I'm absolutely unfamiliar with IE, no idea how to enable the proper security settings (or if there are any) and I do want to help many people with an AdBlocker (which also can do wonders for one's Internet security, btw).

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robocat 404 days ago | link

Chrome is far safer than IE: 1. built in flash (sandboxed and up-to-date) 2. built in PDF reader 3. security updates are not delayed 4. the filtering is very good 5. friends & family on XP or Vista get the latest version

There are other good reasons why the security is better, with the only downside being the invasion of privacy, where Google are no worse than others, so pick your poison.

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foxylad 404 days ago | link

Any doubts about Google's intentions are easily negated by using Chromium.

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mehrzad 404 days ago | link

Which is unstable and does not auto update without writing a script. Google wants you to use Chrome and not Chromium.

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dgesang 403 days ago | link

How about Comodo Dragon[1], a free and stable Chromium based browser, with 'auto updates' ;)

[1] http://bit.ly/cjbh1z

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mehrzad 403 days ago | link

Not open source, IIRC.

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gcr 399 days ago | link

Neither is Chrome.

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mehrzad 397 days ago | link

I don't use Chrome, I use Firefox (and occasionally Webkit Nightly, and I have Chromium installed)

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brokenparser 404 days ago | link

Go to settings, advanced, privacy, untick all boxes, don't sign in to a Google account. Or Facebook, for that matter. Heck, there's even a version of Gostery for Chrome iirc.

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mehrzad 403 days ago | link

I'd rather support Firefox, to be honest. I still like a lot of what Google does, fwiw.

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Retric 404 days ago | link

The real issue with IE is people running old versions of it. So, Chrome's auto update is significantly safer than IE if your going to install once and possibly never touch the computer again.

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pionar 404 days ago | link

Except that this doesn't really happen anymore unless the person's running an old version of Windows. IE updates with Windows Update, so it's just as "automatic" as Windows Updates.

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acdha 404 days ago | link

Which is still slower: making the assumption that automatic updates are actually enabled (which is often not the case), Microsoft's update cycle is slower (monthly) whereas Chrome & Firefox have both deployed patches within a day of learning about a new zero-day. Microsoft also does not update Flash (prior to Windows 8) or blacklist known-insecure plugins as quickly – better than in the past, to be sure, but still concerning as the reaction loop speeds up.

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zanny 404 days ago | link

And the important part is that Microsoft rapidly depreciates updates on old versions of Windows all the time. The adoption of Windows 7 in the poweruser space is probably significantly higher than the adoption in the grandparents category of people still running 2003 - 2004 Dells with XP. Most of them, if unassisted by more tech savvy relatives, would still be running IE 6 - 8, and 9+ won't be backported. Throw Firefox or Chrome on those old PCs and they will stay auto-updated forever.

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jimktrains2 404 days ago | link

But couldn't IE be updated via Windows Update? The problem is the people who depends on older version for intranets and the such.

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Retric 404 days ago | link

IE's updates are always limited to what version of windows your running. In theory windows update should be good enough, but I know plenty of people who can't upgrade to the latest version of IE and see no need to upgrade there computer.

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Justsignedup 404 days ago | link

Well said. in 2008 i was a big advocate for firefox. Yet my clients knew about chrome and wanted to use it. But nobody aside from technies stuck with it. My wife still uses FF exclusively.

However chrome became stable. And then it built on it -- multi processing made one site not crash the browser. Startup speeds were fast, etc. Eventually I switched. It was a minimalistic interface that I could teach to my grandparents. And performance was ALWAYS great.

So the question remains: Switch back to FF? I vote no, until they finally implement what IE has done since IE9 -- multi processing, or solve the damn problem in other ways. Also chrome's sandbox is pretty much unbypassed except for a couple of times in pwn2own (all the exploits are already patched)

Mozilla focusing on the user while google on profit is a point, but it is not a selling point. Show me features. So far chrome's porn mode has been an innovator in the space, and firefox had to hack that mode on to their browser. So from an objective perspective... idk.

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bimr 403 days ago | link

Pretty sure IE has always had a single process per browser window. At least since IE6

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ferongr 404 days ago | link

When it comes to Chrome, in many cases it's not even conscious or explicit user choice. Chrome is aggressively pushed as opt-out shovelware with installers of unrelated software (e.g. CCleaner) and is set up as the default browser if the user doesn't deselect the options.

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rythie 404 days ago | link

If you try to install Flash on Windows, by default Chrome gets installed too (and probably prompts you to make it default). It doesn't even ask you at install time, it's a default checked checkbox on the webpage you download from - very easy to miss.

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caw 404 days ago | link

Is this a particular geo thing? In the US, I'm getting a McAfee add-on to de-select prior to download.

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lambda_cube 404 days ago | link

I don't think it's regional. I'm in Sweden and if I visit the Flash install page with IE I get Chrome as pre-selected and if I visit with Firefox I get the McAfee add-on. (And when I'm using Linux, as usual, there are no extra applications installed.)

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caw 404 days ago | link

That's a good catch. The browser thing seems logical. I tried all the permutations I could:

Chrome - McAfee

IE9 - Chrome & Google Toolbar

Firefox - McAfee

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kattuviriyan 404 days ago | link

Probably the stub found that you already have Chrome installed.

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Achshar 404 days ago | link

A webpage finding out what software I have installed is all kinds of bad, esp if there is no flash involved since its the page to download flash.

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Filligree 404 days ago | link

Well, it can certainly find out what browser you're using.

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rythie 404 days ago | link

I'm in the UK and it did this - fresh install of Windows 7 (in a VM)

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walid 404 days ago | link

It's the same in Lebanon.

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cooldeal 404 days ago | link

I think both Flash and Java updates(99% of PCs have them) install Chrome by default.

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cpeterso 403 days ago | link

How many billions of dollars (in opportunity costs) has Google spent advertising Chrome on their google.com home page? How can Mozilla compete on that playing field?

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michaelwww 404 days ago | link

This is a very elitist and snobbish piece of writing and almost entirely inaccurate. Just for fun, I rewrote it a bit:

Just to add, users rarely choose their car at all. If we're talking about the unwashed masses here, then the primary reason Ford, Toyota, GM, or Volkswagon are popular at all is almost entirely due to happenstance. Joe consumer, comprising an ever increasing majority of the car buying population, simply doesn't care about which car she is driving. More often it is a result of what randomly went up for sale at the corner car lot. As a result, Ford's regular placement on the edge of the car lot give it "competitive" edges.

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_dark_matter_ 404 days ago | link

I'm having trouble understanding what point you're trying to make. What, exactly, is "entirely inaccurate" about the comment? How is your rendition with physical cars similar? How is it snobbish in the least?

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michaelwww 404 days ago | link

Using terms like "unwashed masses" and "Joe sixpack" to describe the computer users of working class background where I come from is insulting. Why not just go all the way and them call them "white trash"? The inaccuracy I was trying to highlight with my rewrite was your idea that people of lower means and education don't care about what browser they use, presumably in your view because they are too ignorant to know the difference. Obviously, this is not the case with automobiles and is also not the case in choice of computers, browsers, mobile phones, etc... You don't have to have a college degree and a six figure income to be discerning about technology.

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hosay123 404 days ago | link

Speaking as someone of "lower means" and mostly with a lifelong dedication to computers, I don't particularly care what software I use, and if you forced me to try and rationalize my choices, most likely I would, like the majority of people on the planet, spout mostly meaningless bullshit.

The "tech savvy" only differ in one sense: they are incredibly more delusional about their choices than the rest of the planet. I certainly haven't taken the time to study Chrome's design in depth (or for that matter Firefox's), and probably never will. My reasoning for using Firefox is due to a vague-warm-fuzzy ideological alignment I seem to have with Mozilla and their approach to software. Nothing quantitative, and certainly nothing adequately logical that I could use it to command authority over anyone else on the planet. In fact exactly the kind of thought processes that "joe user" experiences ("I like the icon.. it bounces"). 23 years spent in front of a machine, and that's still pretty much me.

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icebraining 404 days ago | link

No, the difference is that you actually know what a browser is. "Google" is still a common reply to "what browser do you use?".

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Oxxide 404 days ago | link

how is that not a valid response? sure, it's not semantically accurate.

but, if someone says that, you know exactly what they mean. seems like a valid response to me any way you slice it.

p.s. this kind of attitude is part of the problem.

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wutbrodo 404 days ago | link

I think (correct me if I'm wrong) that you misunderstood the post you were replying to. It seems that what your parent post was saying is that people respond that they use "Google" as in "Google search" (whether on Firefox or IE or Chrome or Opera or..), not as in "Google Chrome". THAT mistake is far from just a semantic issue, but demonstrates a lack of understanding of what a browser is, or even its existence as something discrete from the websites they use.

To make the example clearer, I've personally had the experience of asking someone what browser they use and getting "Yahoo" (as in the Yahoo.com homepage) as an answer.

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mercurial 404 days ago | link

> seems like a valid response to me any way you slice it.

How so? It does not tell you if it's Firefox, Chrome, IE, Opera or Safari. My mom refers to the Internet as "google".

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yRetsyM 403 days ago | link

> My mom refers to the Internet as "Google".

that's how she browses the internet then? in her case the application wouldn't matter to greatly if her point of reference is the Google search box

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mercurial 403 days ago | link

If it's a matter of security, speed, or an issue with how a particular website is rendered, knowing that somebody uses "google" as a web browser is of little help when attempting a diagnosis, regardless of their point of reference.

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darkarmani 404 days ago | link

> Using terms like "unwashed masses" and "Joe sixpack" to describe the computer users of working class background where I come from is insulting. Why not just go all the way and them call them "white trash"?

This highlights your confusion. The set of people that have average computer savvy contains all kinds of races and economic standing. It has nothing to do with "working class," wealth, or racial status and everything to do with computer skills.

> You don't have to have a college degree and a six figure income to be discerning about technology.

I'm not going to point any fingers, but I just want to say someone has some massive insecurities.

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michaelwww 404 days ago | link

> someone has some massive insecurities. That's true. My father and mother were constantly on the verge of going broke, even though they both were employed and worked very hard to save. Medical bills were a real problem. Growing up insecure, it's not surprising I have insecurities. I did manage to get accepted to U.C. Berkeley, although I couldn't finish because my parents or I couldn't afford it and didn't have the skills needed to pursue all the financial aid options.

> The set of people that have average computer savvy contains all kinds of races and economic standing

How is that different from what I'm saying? Saying the "unwashed masses" don't care about what browser they use is inaccurate. That's all.

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icebraining 404 days ago | link

You still haven't shown it to be inaccurate. It may simply be that the wealthy elite doesn't care either. That'd certainly be my guess.

To the users, browsers are mostly homogeneous, and choosing one over the other incurs in almost no cost (real or of opportunity). It stands to reason that most people (regardless of class) don't have any incentive to care, and therefore they don't.

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michaelwww 404 days ago | link

That's just not the case or Microsoft wouldn't advertise it's "Do not track" feature, people wouldn't switch to Chrome just for incognito mode, and more people would be using IE on their Windows machines because it comes pre-installed. People do care.

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Trezoid 404 days ago | link

So, "Do Not Track", first introduced by firefox and supported in just about all browsers, incognito mode, supported by all browsers (including pre-chrome)...

The market share of IE (and the usage habits of people of both normal and more advanced tech knowledge) points to the fact that people frequently DO use IE (or safari) because it's pre-installed and only change when it just happens (chrome getting installed and set as default by various other installers being a good example)

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thisisabore 404 days ago | link

You used “Joe Sixpack”, the OP used “Joe Consumer” which sounds a lot less derogatory to me.

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michaelwww 404 days ago | link

Right you are. That was unintentional on my part. My mind must have translated "unwashed masses" and "Joe" into "Joe sixpack." The overall tone of it still sounds derogatory to me.

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alan_cx 404 days ago | link

Unintentional? I'd say Freudian.

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michaelwww 404 days ago | link

Accurate, although my resentment against the elite is mostly not unconscious.

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CyberDroiD 404 days ago | link

I don't find computer users elite. Nor do I find the average consumer to be masters of programming languages.

"Joe Sixpack" makes sense to me. Someone who thinks computer experts are elite, and doesn't know much about computers.

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_dark_matter_ 401 days ago | link

Just so you know, I didn't write the original comment.

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obstacle1 404 days ago | link

I think that you're being reactive here. The terms "joe consumer" and "unwashed masses" don't have specific economic connotations, they are basically a synonym for "average".

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michaelwww 403 days ago | link

Wikitionary: unwashed masses (plural only) (idiomatic) The collective group ("mass") of people who are considered by someone to be somehow uneducated, uninformed, or in some other way unqualified for inclusion in the speaker's elite circles.

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obstacle1 403 days ago | link

Note that your own definition has nothing to do with economic status.

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michaelwww 403 days ago | link

It's implied. I'm trying to think of a group of unwashed above average income people. Burning Man attendees are the only group that comes to mind. Maybe you live in a country where rich people don't wash up. Edit: then there's the filthy rich.

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cc11024 404 days ago | link

You'd be astounded at how your "whatever's up for sale" comment mirrors reality. The vast, vast majority of sales are from local inventory, very few people place orders for specific options, colors, etc. Most people shop for deals rather than specific models or even brands. That's why you see so many multi brand dealers. Positioning is also key, that's why the largest dealers are right off highway exits and why so many dealers end up next to each other on the same road.

The Big 3 made it through the miserable 70's and 80's mostly because they had dealers on every corner while superior Japanese brands were fighting to get lots built anywhere.

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thelukester 404 days ago | link

Agreed. On my 2GB netbook, Chrome was one of the first apps I installed. At the time, it was a lean and lightweight browser. But recently Chrome's memory bloat has gotten so bad, I had to switch to Firefox. One killer is the GPU process often taking 200+MB.

Before giving up, and switching to FF, I tried the --disable-gpu --disable-software-rasterizer switches to disable the GPU process but that prevented videos from playing at full speed. Some people here mentioned Chrome runs great on their rigs with 16GB of RAM. But for the rest of the world, Google should force their devs to use Chrome on a machine with a mere 2GB.

How is it that sites like anandtech and investing.com run fine on my old iPhone 3GS, yet take up 256+ MB in Chrome, more RAM than the phone has? Somehow the 3 year old phone loads and displays the sites smooth as butter. Apple is doing something right or Google is doing something terribly wrong to webkit.

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acdha 404 days ago | link

> How is it that sites like anandtech and investing.com run fine on my old iPhone 3GS, yet take up 256+ MB in Chrome

You can't install buggy plugins or extensions on your iPhone. Try removing some of your Chrome extensions down and you'll be back in the 50MB range.

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thelukester 403 days ago | link

> Try removing some of your Chrome extensions down and you'll be back in the 50MB range. Thanks, but I'm a extremely tech savvy user. When I first noticed Chrome getting slow on my netbook, I created a fresh profile and removed all my extensions.

It's clear from my own experience, posts here, and benchmarks that Chrome has strayed from it's original design goals of being a lightweight browser. My reference to this iPhone was just to point out that I think it's a issue with Chrome itself, and not the underlining webkit browser.

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acdha 402 days ago | link

> It's clear from my own experience, posts here, and benchmarks that Chrome has strayed from it's original design goals of being a lightweight browser.

It's clear that it's fashionable in certain circles to claim this. It's also clear that these claims are based on subjective impressions rather than anything measured, which makes me suspicious given that an effect of that magnitude should be obvious and I haven't seen any sign of it.

If you have actual data showing that the current Chrome browser performs worse than it used to, I'm sure the Chrome development team would love to see it.

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chenster 404 days ago | link

I've uninstalled EVERY plugins in Chrome. It still freezes up occasionally. Very very annoying. Had to keep remind me that it's a good time to take a break when that happens. No, it's not the Flash plugin as many have mentioned because it is also disabled/uninstalled. So what now?

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brudgers 404 days ago | link

"The most popular alternatives to Firefox are Google's Chrome and Microsoft's Internet Explorer. I doubt these alternative browsers would exist if they were not useful for Google's and Microsofts main businesses."

The generic argument is empty. Firefox is good for Mozilla's business. Same for Opera.

The business cases for IE and Chrome are significantly different. Distributing IE with Windows benefits users for the same reasons that Ubuntu Linix distros ship with Firefox - they providing a rational and reasonable path from the act of stuffing an install disk into a drive to the point where the user is surfing the internet and possibly completing the installation. IE allows windows to be used right out of the box.

It's hard to make that sort of case for Chrome - but easy for Safari. Chrome was primaily developed to improve Google's data mining and reduce search server loads by collecting keystokes from the address bar.

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justinschuh 404 days ago | link

>It's hard to make that sort of case for Chrome - but easy for Safari. Chrome was primaily developed to improve Google's data mining and reduce search server loads by collecting keystokes from the address bar.

This statement is not just technically ignorant; it's downright absurd. More than probably any company, Google lives and dies by the web as a platform. Chrome is Google's best way to influence and improve that platform. It's why Google previously had a team of mostly former Mozilla/Netscape employees contributing fulltime to Firefox (including one of the original creators of Firefox), and why that team eventually chose to create Chrome. When the web is so essential to your business, it only makes sense to invest heavily in its improvement, and ensure you have a say in its trajectory.

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stinkytaco 404 days ago | link

This is a fair argument, but "improving the web as a platform" doesn't necessarily equal "good for the web". If a local developer (I mean a land developer here) runs for city council because he believes in his city and wants to improve it for the good of his business, it's still quite possible that the decisions he makes could be bad for the city as a whole in the long run (i.e. favoring parts of town he develops over others for services, businesses, etc.).

I'm not saying Chrome is a data-mining tool (though I don't doubt that it could be doing some of that), but it's also not a purely altruistic contribution to the community. Google is the big developer that's doing lots of beautification and really contributing to the growth of the city, but Firefox is the community activist that's trying to make sure all the developers play by the rules that benefit everyone, not just them.

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chris_mahan 404 days ago | link

Google lives and die by its ability to deliver eyeballs and credit cards to advertisers, nothing else. Never forget that. That they want to "help the web" or "help the internet" is only a strategic play to help their primary objective.

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rsync 404 days ago | link

Ding!

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OGinparadise 404 days ago | link

Chrome is Google's best way to influence and improve that platform

You mean by pushing Google Mail, search, docs and other Google properties.

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ZeroGravitas 404 days ago | link

The business case for IE is to hold back the progress of the web, so that it doesn't threaten Microsoft's main profit centers.

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chaz 404 days ago | link

Hanlon's Razor applies here: "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity."

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ZeroGravitas 404 days ago | link

You're telling me IE's devs were so stupid they couldn't add a spell-checker until IE10?

Is that really more believable than internal corporate interests deciding that it threatened Word?

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chaz 404 days ago | link

Stupidity isn't about the individual developers -- it's about the incompetent decisions that Microsoft made about the browser. They decided that IE would be released only in-sync with new Windows releases. Vista troubles meant IE was effectively on hiatus between 2001 (IE6) and 2006 (IE7). Corporate interests were definitely keeping IE development back, but not as an intentional defensive move to sabotage the Web. Lack of competition in browsers during that period served as a pretty good demotivator, too.

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ZeroGravitas 404 days ago | link

"One thing we have got to change in our strategy - allowing Office documents to be rendered very well by other peoples browsers is one of the most destructive things we could do to the company. We have to stop putting any effort into this and make sure that Office documents very well depends on PROPRIETARY IE capabilities."

-- Bill Gates, 1998 a memo to the Office product group[2]

Seems like the guy in charge knew when to actively "stop putting effort into" things and intentionally sabotage the open web when necessary.

https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Bill_Gates

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walid 404 days ago | link

Ironically the reason I've tried my best to avoid MS Office is because they are not easily accessible by anyone. I once sent my CV as an HTML file along with a PDF. Still to this day, I prefer to send HTML and PDF over sending a Word document they only need an app that everybody uses, a browser.

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brudgers 404 days ago | link

What is more believable is that spell check in the browser is somewhat of an edge case relative to general browser usage (i.e. web consumption) which Microsoft was historically able to address by allowing plug-ins. They rolled it into the development of their plug-inless browser and rolled their plug-inless browser into their not quite so backward compatible OS release.

I suspect that the corporate interests have long known that IE is not a sales critical feature.

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criley 404 days ago | link

You're telling me that you actually believe that developers at Microsoft pick and choose what features they include in a browser?

You can blame software designers at Microsoft for that decision (or lack of decision), but I'm fairly sure that dev's at Microsoft are on the "fulfill the design" side of developing...

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sc0rb 404 days ago | link

Maybe there's a data protection law in one American state that has nothing to do with the conversation that you would like to refer too?

bubble.....

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criley 404 days ago | link

What you're doing is "cyber-stalking", following me across threads and insulting me because a conversation did not end up like you want.

Please stop this immature behavior.

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milfot 404 days ago | link

Just because they are stupid, does not mean they are not malicious.. in my experience the two are common bedfellows.

Though in this case I think maybe there is a third option.. ignorance maybe?

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chaz 404 days ago | link

Agreed. I usually use the version of Hanlon's Razor that substitutes "incompetence" for "stupidity." Not that they didn't understand what was at stake, but made a series of bad decisions.

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brudgers 404 days ago | link

That is patent nonsense. The web grew because Windows users were able to browse it with IE in the days before Netscape and when the second choice was going with *nix and Mosaic. IE killed Gopher by taking browsing to the masses.

Netscape was a startup and its founder had a Fuck You Money exit before it met its fate as a corporate subsidiary managed across a continent. The legacy of IE6 lives with us because of suboptimal architectural decisions by web developers. Yet, the web is escaping it - unlike the warts of JavaScript.

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justinschuh 404 days ago | link

>That is patent nonsense. The web grew because Windows users were able to browse it with IE in the days before Netscape and when the second choice was going with *nix and Mosaic.

There were no IE days before Netscape. Netscape came first, and IE was originally just a defensive response. That's not to deny that there was a period where IE was arguably a superior browser, but IE simply would not have have been created were it not for Netscape becoming the first mainstream browser.

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brudgers 404 days ago | link

What evidence do you have that Microsoft would not have created a web browser but for Netscape? Or rather licensed one, because that's what they did when they could not purchase Booklink.

Had Microsoft not shipped a browser with Windows, browsers would have remained obscure shareware like Netscape Navigator and AOL or Compuserve would have been the standard online experience of most people for much longer.

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ZeroGravitas 404 days ago | link

From Bill Gates's "Internet Tidal Wave" internal memo:

"A new competitor "born" on the Internet is Netscape. Their browser is dominant, with 70% usage share, allowing them to determine which network extensions will catch on. They are pursuing a multi-platform strategy where they move the key API into the client to commoditize the underlying operating system. They have attracted a number of public network operators to use their platform to offer information and directory services. We have to match and beat their offerings including working with MCI, newspapers, and other who are considering their products."

http://www.lettersofnote.com/2011/07/internet-tidal-wave.htm...

He seems to view it as a most serious threat. I think if he thought it would remain non-threatening they would never have made a browser.

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brudgers 404 days ago | link

The past is never dead, and so we shovel it full of the present when we talk about it.

70% of browser usage was probably less than 1,000,000 browsers in 1994 and those primarily in large commercial and educational settings. The consumer internet didn't exist because the web wasn't viable at 9600 baud (2738 websites of which 370 were .com in June '94).

http://www.mit.edu/~mkgray/net/web-growth-summary.html

It's obvious that once Microsoft got serious about the web, they quickly moved beyond MCI and newspapers of the memo to a vision of browsers "on every desk and in every home."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tSjfmme4hpM

The scale at which Microsoft distributed browsers made the web commercially viable in the way we know it today. It's easy to forget that Netscape was bundled with AOL - keyword: walled garden.

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emn13 404 days ago | link

I seriously doubt IE did much for the adoption of the world wide web. By the time IE made a dent, WWW was already a huge success and obviously growing rapidly. Being (eventually) pervasive it almost certainly introduced some people to the internet, but if it hadn't been MS it would have been someone else.

I bet the adoption was faster that it would have been if microsoft hadn't integrated IE. Of course, if microsoft hadn't integrated IE it's quite possible company would have died by now (or been a footnote of desktop computing history - like IBM). They didn't really have much of a choice.

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fpgeek 404 days ago | link

"The first version of Internet Explorer (later referred to as Internet Explorer 1) made its debut on 16 August 1995."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_Explorer

"0.4 Netscape September 9, 1994 First public beta release" "1.0 Netscape December 15, 1994 First non-beta release"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Netscape_%28web_browser%29

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ZeroGravitas 404 days ago | link

"IE in the days before Netscape"?

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brudgers 404 days ago | link

From a practical perspective, yes.

IE bootstrapped access to Navigator for the general population of computer users. People got Navigator using IE to download it from Netscape's website - just like they get Chrome, Firefox, and Opera today.

Until IE shipped with Windows, the only way a typical user was going to get Netscape was on a floppy disk via the shareware community or perhaps from a BBS. It wasn't being downloaded through AOL or Compuserve and if it was, what would one have done with it August 1995?

It would be naive to ignore Netscape's IPO occurred one week before IE 1.0.

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jamesbritt 404 days ago | link

The business case for IE is to hold back the progress of the web, ...

Right? We would have had AJAX and DHTML so much sooner if it wasn't for Microsoft holding things back.

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bartl 402 days ago | link

Haha, that's funny... because the XMLHttpRequest thing, the main enabler of Ajax, is actually a Microsoft invention,or, should I say: "Microsoft did it first.": http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/XMLHttpRequest#History_and_supp...

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gluxon 404 days ago | link

Who's making big bucks off Mozilla then? No employee or Mozilla higher-up is making more than average. On the other hand, I can name tons of Google, Microsoft, and Apple guys making billions.

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clicks 404 days ago | link

What you say is probably true for IE, AOL browser, etc., but Chrome (when it came out) was really just a better browser. It was significantly faster than any browser of its time, the new interface to increase vertical space was wonderful, the auto-update was a great feature, the tab sandboxing was great. I had been using Firefox for a long long time before I jumped ship to Chrome.

But now I'll try Firefox again because of this post. :)

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StavrosK 404 days ago | link

> It was significantly faster than any browser of its time

How was it faster than Opera? I have never seen another browser give you the previous page instantly when pressing the back button. Chrome needs to start its spinners for a few ms and then reflow the page, Opera just does it. I'm hoping that, with the move to WebKit, I can switch back to it.

EDIT: I just checked, Firefox does this too. It didn't, at the time that Chrome was released, though.

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gluxon 404 days ago | link

Firefox and Chrome both do this. It is part of the memory caching, which many people disable without knowing the consequences. There were many news articles back around Chrome's release that advised "speed-ups" by disabling cache to free up memory.

And the speed people refer to is JavaScript execution. There is no doubt that V8 was much faster than competitors a few years back.

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StavrosK 404 days ago | link

It is enabled for me, pages are served from memory (it doesn't request them from the network again). It's just that Chrome is slow at it, while Opera/FF are instant.

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kbenson 404 days ago | link

Maybe this is due to their infinite caching? There was a article on HN a while back about how it impacted performance after a while[1]. Turns out checking a large cache of files (apparently with a poor choice of data structure backing the search) for visited links ends up being non-negligible a year into browsing.

[1]: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5281540 Unfortunately, the original article looks to have been removed.

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StavrosK 404 days ago | link

I thought I saw that being debunked by a Chrome developer, I remember him saying that this was changed a while ago, and now the cache has a maximum limit. Clearing the cache doesn't seem to do anything for this problem, though (the page still reflows). It doesn't take more than a few ms, but it's annoying when other browsers do it instantly.

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emn13 404 days ago | link

The aptiverse page making that claim was removed from the web rather quickly, so either way, which is a little suggestive.

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codeulike 404 days ago | link

javascript - exactly - before Chrome v1 no one was even talking about speeding up javascript in the browser space. Chrome v1 blew everything out of the water with that. And js speed has a big impact on everything these days, pretty much

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BrendanEich 404 days ago | link

23 Aug 2008: https://brendaneich.com/2008/08/tracemonkey-javascript-light...

01 Sep 2008: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2008/09/fresh-take-on-browser...

TraceMonkey was in the works since late Spring 2008. Apple was also doing more advanced JS performance work before Chrome launched.

V8 had the world-class VM team and at least two years lead (Lars Bak went to Google in 2004; I met him in August 2006 when he was definitely working on V8), so it indeed was fastest at the usual benchmarks, but not by the sometimes-asserted 3x factor.

Maciej Stachowiak of Apple and I were both noting back then how V8's advantage seemed more like 1.3x at the time, but I don't have performance charts from Sep 2008 at hand. Perhaps someone reading does.

V8 got faster over time, as did other engines. Again, it's an excellent piece of work and tops by many measures, but not all -- see http://kripken.github.com/mloc_emscripten_talk/#/17 for two large benchmarks of three where SpiderMonkey beats V8 currently.

/be

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mh- 404 days ago | link

Speaking as a dev, but from a user's POV, the thing that made jump to Chrome on release day was the immediate recognition that a single bogged down tab did not impact the responsiveness of the chrome (heh) and other tabs noticeably.

I remember, vividly, in Firefox: I would middle-click on a Slashdot link to load it in the background while reading the current one. My focused tab would begin to hesitate and sometimes altogether freeze for several seconds. In Chrome, only the spinning tab would be affected by their bloated DOM.

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Yoric 404 days ago | link

In case somebody hasn't noticed, let me emphasize that the author of the previous post is Brendan Eich, the creator of JavaScript.

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codeulike 404 days ago | link

I stand corrected - thanks Brendan!

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qu4z-2 404 days ago | link

For me the speed-up I liked in Chrome was the UI responsiveness, and start-up time. And it seemed to just load pages faster. My current browser of choice is surf from suckless.org (although it's pretty limited) because it somehow just manages to load pages in a quarter the time of Chrome/Firefox (on my computer/internet connection, anyway). I'm sure it'd lose in js benchmarks though.

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Shorel 404 days ago | link

When Chrome launched, Opera was faster than Chrome and everything else.

It took about one year and a half of JavaScript engine development for Chrome to surpass Opera in performance.

Since then, Opera has not been the faster browser anymore.

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papsosouid 404 days ago | link

>Firefox and Chrome both do this.

Try opera, there's a reason he's pointing out that it is different.

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khuey 404 days ago | link

Firefox has had this caching since Firefox 1.5.

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Mahn 404 days ago | link

For me tab sandboxing was basically the reason I switched from Firefox. For years I thought it was normal for the browser to slow down and become increasingly unresponsive the more tabs you had open. It was frustrating, but you had to accept it was your "fault", you can't possibly have 30 tabs open and expect the browser to be cool with that, I thought. Then Chrome came, and I was SO blown away by being able to have dozens of open tabs without the slightest change in the overall performance of the browser, I didn't even care I couldn't use many of the extensions I had on FF. I couldn't help but recommend everyone I knew to do the switch aswell after realizing I would not be back to FF.

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shmerl 404 days ago | link

Internet Explorer was never an alternative for Firefox. It's only used by those who don't know any better, or those who are forced to use it in corporate environments and etc.

I personally didn't buy the whole Chrome hype when it came out, and stayed with Firefox, observing how Mozilla gradually made it much better.

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tn13 403 days ago | link

When I first taught my dad to use the brand new laptop. He asked me what that blue e icon was. I told him that was a tool to download internet browser called Firefox. :P

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pifflesnort 404 days ago | link

> Out of all the big browsers, Mozilla Firefox comes closest to being a web browser for the sake of web browsing.

There's a flip side to this coin; Firefox exists to support Mozilla's main business, which is the web.

This also means that Mozilla staunchly and without fail opposes any technological shift that could unseat the entrenched market position of the existing web technology stack, even if it would improve things for end users.

Google developed SPDY, NaCL, Dart, all in an effort to improve the underlying constraints of delivering code/information -- in any form -- to users.

If we only had Mozilla, we'd be locked into HTTP/HTML/CSS/DOM/JS forever. Technology has to evolve to move forward, but Mozilla has very little reason to want the web to evolve.

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pcwalton 404 days ago | link

Mozilla has implemented SPDY.

Mozilla, Apple, and Microsoft will not implement NaCl and Dart because they feel that they are technically worse than alternatives (asm.js and either ES6 or compiling other languages to JS).

The technical problems will ultimately provide a worse experience to end users. For example, NaCl is not portable, meaning that users' apps will not work on all the users' devices like they expect, and PNaCl is not backwards compatible, so the apps won't work on all browsers. Dart threatens to make garbage collection slower because of cross-language cycle collection, which results in a worse experience to end users.

Mozilla has every reason to want the Web to evolve. If the Web doesn't evolve and loses to native platforms, Mozilla becomes irrelevant and dies. How is that not incentive?

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pifflesnort 404 days ago | link

> Mozilla has implemented SPDY.

After Google designed it, developed it, and then deployed it to their properties. And even then Mozilla was still questioning whether it should be implemented, because "would anyone use it?".

> Mozilla, Apple, and Microsoft will not implement NaCl and Dart because they feel that they are technically worse than alternatives (asm.js and either ES6 or compiling other languages to JS).

We fundamentally disagree on that. I see NaCL as a route to the future of haardware-supported sandboxing, in the same way that virtualization was. NaCL is a way to fundamentally re-invision how we implement sandboxing of process, and move beyond the legacy ring-0 design.

asm.js is just another application-level hack on top of a huge pile of application-level hacks. It's time to coalesce the stack of these hacky abstractions, and clean up shop.

> For example, NaCl is not portable, meaning that users' apps will not work on all the users' devices like they expect, and PNaCl is not backwards compatible, so the apps won't work on all browsers.

So what? You know what happens when I fire up a PPC Mac from 1998 and try to use Netscape 4 on the modern web? Nothing works.

At least something like PNaCL has a MUCH smaller surface area than something like the full HTML/DOM/CSS/JS stack, which makes supporting it in a backwards compatible manner indefinitely far, far easier.

> Mozilla has every reason to want the Web to evolve. If the Web doesn't evolve and loses to native platforms, Mozilla becomes irrelevant and dies. How is that not incentive?

Because the web needs to evolve away from what it currently is, and that's the one thing Mozilla ideologically doesn't want and won't do.

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azakai 404 days ago | link

> At least something like PNaCL has a MUCH smaller surface area than something like the full HTML/DOM/CSS/JS stack

PNaCl, to interact with the world, uses Pepper. Pepper is a huge surface area, comparable with the web stack in size.

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pifflesnort 404 days ago | link

> Pepper is a huge surface area, comparable with the web stack in size.

It's neither comparable in size or complexity to the entire browser stack. CSS, HTML, DOM, and JavaScript are so large that they that require the full weight of large-scale corporations to provide a working implementation that's even remotely compatible with the web as its deployed today.

Mozilla received a leg-up in terms of having the majority of the code donated by a large corporation, and by having the web be compatible with that existing technology stack. I can see how I could spend $1M and have a team implement the Pepper API in 6-12 months, and that includes an independent implementation of NaCL/PNaCL sandboxing (if we leveraged google's development tools).

I can't even begin to imagine trying to create an independent browser stack for any reasonable amount of money.

[edit] This is the current Pepper API documentation:

https://developers.google.com/native-client/peppercpp/inheri...

It's tiny.

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azakai 404 days ago | link

I didn't realize what you meant before. Yes, if you add the internal stuff of HTML and CSS, it is a lot. But Pepper is comparable in size to the APIs needed for general input and output on the web - both contain rendering, audio, input control, etc. In that respect they are comparable.

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pifflesnort 403 days ago | link

The difference is that as a 3rd party, I actually have a snowball's chance in hell of implementing something like Pepper. This improves competitiveness and diversity.

Pepper, NaCL, et al also collapse a huge number of complex and nuanced layered web abstractions back down to the approachable problem of running somewhat arbitrary user code, at speed, in a relatively open and loosely define environment.

That's the same environment that projects like Mozilla needed to ever have the chance of producing a web browser in the first place. It sure seems to me that you guys -- consciously or not -- have divided the market into 'browser makers' and 'non-browser makers', and then decided to constrain the tooling and power available to everyone that is not a browser maker.

This can't be healthy for the internet.

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azakai 403 days ago | link

The fact is, browsers evolved to render pages. HTML and CSS were invented for that, and JS added to make content more dynamic. So it's not surprising the web has the ability to render documents as a fundamental capability.

NaCl is something new. It isn't meant to render documents. It sandboxes native code.

Both the web and NaCl are great, just for different things.

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pifflesnort 403 days ago | link

> Both the web and NaCl are great, just for different things.

Well, now we're getting to the core of it! :)

I agree! I think the web should stick to rendering documents, which it has always done reasonably well, and leave applications to technologies such as NaCL, which people can use to produce the next web browser.

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azakai 403 days ago | link

I almost agree. But I don't think the web should stop from improving just because there is stuff like NaCl. If it's easy and straightforward to run code at near-native speeds in JS, and it took just a few months to build the asm.js prototype, then why not?

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pifflesnort 404 days ago | link

Given that the above text covers a ton of ground, I'm very curious what parts specifically downvoters are objecting to. Something about the comment (and its location in the thread) seems to have evoked a very negative response, but given the broad and very technical subject matter, I'm not sure exactly what or why.

[1] NaCL and the future of hardware, Google's investment in SPDY, surface area of NaCL's complexity, evolution of the web ...

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sergiosgc 404 days ago | link

How would replacing HTTP with SPDY offset Mozilla? It's not a threat. NaCL? NaCL is a different applet sandboxing, again not a threat to the browser or Mozilla. Dart? Dart is an alternative webpage scripting language (an alternative to Javascript).

Each of these does not threaten the importance of the browser. On the contrary, they both widen the use cases of the browser and raise the entry barrier for competing browsers. These effects protect Mozilla, instead of threatening Mozilla.

On the other hand, Google pushes OAuth single sign-on against Google accounts, whereas Mozilla is pushing Mozilla Persona, a distributed, no-central-authority SSO for the web.

I conclude the exact opposite of what you state. If we use Chrome, we're locked into technologies that serve Google, if we use Firefox we're pushing open technologies.

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scribu 404 days ago | link

> Mozilla has very little reason to want the web to evolve.

What? Mozilla very much has a reason to want the web to evolve, in order to stay competitive with the various non-web mobile app ecosystems.

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pifflesnort 404 days ago | link

That requires evolving to embrace the strengths of the non-web mobile app ecosystem -- which means evolving away from the web as Mozilla sees it: dom/js/css/html.

If you accept 'the web' as more of a conceptual ideal of openness, then there's a lot more room for innovation.

The problem is, at its core, that the people who are best suited to change the way the web works, are the developers that stuck it out through learning JavaScript, HTML, CSS, and browser quirks, and then spent the years required on top of that to begin working on the browsers themselves.

Of that self-selecting group, how many of them are likely to want to voluntarily rework and/or abandon core web technologies?

On the other hand, Chrome, existing to further Google's interests, has every reason to employ whatever creative technology solutions are necessary to improve the user experience, even if that means changing or abandoning the legacy web technology stack in the process.

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evilpie 404 days ago | link

Not to mention the dozens of WebAPIs that Mozilla invented and are on the path to standardization.

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icebraining 404 days ago | link

Mozilla has had XUL before Chrome was even a blueprint.

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Not a fan of Flash either, but the Internet is not the Web.

You say "The Internet works better" without formats like Flash. To my knowledge the Internet does not discriminate between proprietary and non-proprietary data fromats of its content whereas the basic functions of the Web do (URLs, hyperlinks,...).

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ptaipale 414 days ago | link

Yes, but the Web is in the Internet. What's in flash in Web is in flash in Internet, and is often annoying.

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luckystarr 414 days ago | link

The Web is an application running on the Internet. Flash is a plugin of the Web (via the browser).

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You have to keep things in perspective.

LibreOffice does not look nice but it is functional. What is its main function? For many people, it has completely replaced Microsoft Office.

Of course MS Office has an even larger feature set, but few people max it out. Likewise, there are people who will prefer LaTeX but that's a small group. The advocates of web based office systems tend to ignore that desktop systems provide much more privacy. LibreOffice sits right in between those groups and is useful to many.

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unix-dude 436 days ago | link

One thing that I particularly liked about Libre-Office is the fact that I can insert snippets of LaTeX when it is convenient.

Sure, not many people use this, but its nearly impossible to create some math in a word document that doesn’t look horrible.

Great project in my opinion. It has its quirks, but I've yet to find one that I could work-around with a few seconds of Googling.

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Someone 436 days ago | link

On the other hand, for the typical westerner, "does not look nice but it is functional" does not cut it for other products, either. Even power drills aren't purely sold on functionality.

I certainly have some aversion against Libre Office because it does not look nice.

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Nux 436 days ago | link

How does LO not look nice? What exactly is ugly about it? I used MS Office as well, I certainly don't find it beautiful. I think LO looks nice enough and is good enough and luckily I'm not alone believing this.

It has been many years since I stopped installing pirated MS Office suites on friends' computers and used OpenOffice and now LibreOffice instead. No complaints so far.

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Someone 436 days ago | link

OK. Downloaded 4.0 to check it out. Some examples of what I find 'not nice' in half an hour or so of looking. None of them are showstoppers, but together, they give me the impression of "functional, but I have seen nicer":

Deviations from Mac OS style:

- application menu stays highlighted when preferences dialog is open.

- Does not use standard font and style dialogs => unnecessary learning curve; sharing styles with other applications does not seem possible.

- Does not use standard color dialogs => unnecessary learning curve; sharing palettes with other applications does not seem possible.

- Focus rectangles in dialogs even if that is disabled in system settings.

- OK button on the left, Cancel on the right.

- A setting for not aliasing screen fonts that are too small? Why not follow the system setting?

- Non-standard "Save changes before closing" dialogs: - weird shape (wide and very low) - incorrect order of buttons - non-standard button texts - non-standard 'Question' icon - extremely little room between button texts and button borders

- I expect 'Spell check' in the Edit menu, not in the Tools menu.

- "Page Setup" is missing. Instead, we have "Printer Settings"

General

- Focus rectangles look ugly (should not use dotted lines; dotted line is too close to the text)

- Spacing of lines in tree view in Preferences looks too small to me.

- Way too many settings (examples: a toggle for graphics antialiasing?)

- Why is this still combined as a single application?

- In the Tools-Customize dialog, menu separator lines are drawn using hyphens, not by drawing a line.

- Striped dialog backgrounds in a Mac App released in 2013?

- Help menu's "What's this?" item does not appear to do anything (its feedback is a pointer change, but that change does not happen if there is no window below the mouse. With large screens, it is easy to get there (say when having a HN reply window side by side with a LibreOffice window)

- Help menu has 5 menu items and 3 separator lines.

- Try spell-checking an empty document. Dialog opens, immediately an alert pops up "The spellcheck of this sheet has been completed." If you click OK, both the alert and the spell check dialog close.

- When you make row height lower, row numbers should, at some stage, start using a smaller font. They don't.

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Gormo 435 days ago | link

I agree that LibreOffice may deviate significantly from OS-native UI conventions, but this is reasonable given its nature as a cross-platform project based on highly-portable OS-independent libraries. And there are plenty of applications that target particular platforms, but employ their own set of custom UI conventions; some are worse than the platform standards, some are better. It's the usability of the application's own set of conventions, and the consistency therein, that should be the basis of judgment; using the OS's stylistic defaults as the benchmark seems relatively arbitrary, especially, again, for a cross-platform application.

I don't know how it compares to iWork, but when I compare LibreOffice to Microsoft Office on the basis of internal consistency, parsimony (for lack of a better term), and even adherence to established platform conventions (on Windows), LibreOffice wins on all counts. With each new version of Office, Microsoft adds yet more UI novelties to its haphazard collection of product-specific menu styles, dialog boxes, and toolbars.

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gruuby 436 days ago | link

But have you seen nicer without paying money for it? I think the little nags you presented don't outweigh the price you have to pay for MS Office. Not for me anyway.

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mynameisvlad 436 days ago | link

That's a bad road to go down, though. We shouldn't be content with it looking okay just because it's free.

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xtracto 436 days ago | link

Care to elaborate why?

I mean, this is a program, of which a lot of people put a lot of effort and which works pretty well. These people are making the program available for free no strings attached for anyone who wants to download it.

I understand that your personal tastes are too refined for the software, but for a lot of people, having this fully functional and free office suite is a great help.

Or as they say around here "A caballo dado, no se le ve colmillo".

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mynameisvlad 436 days ago | link

Sure, it's great that it's free and fully functional, but that doesn't mean that anyone's criticisms of its design (which, even you have to admit, are a bit dated by now), aren't warranted simply because it's free.

This is a big problem that quite a few people seem to have. Just because a program is free, does not mean the userbase should have low expectations. It's great that it's accomplished so much, but it needs more work, and design is one of the areas which needs the most work right now. Especially if they are looking to get people to replace Office with it.

And I do agree, it looks okay. It's functional, and the UI gets the job done. But becoming complacent with it because it's free is not the right way to go about it.

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Someone 436 days ago | link

I don't have MS Office, but I did buy Numbers, Pages, and Keynote, knowing well that OpenOffice (at the time, LibreOffice did not exist yet) is free and would likely handle many files better. I also do use LibreOffice, but only when I must.

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cookiecaper 436 days ago | link

I think it looks and works fine. "Looks nice" is a totally subjective argument that often leads to abominable design, a trend disguised as a function.

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glazskunrukitis 436 days ago | link

I think that there is a huge market for simplified office tools. Why don't we have standalone Google Docs for desktop? And I am not talking about a web app but a fully functional desktop one.

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anonymouz 436 days ago | link

AbiWord seems to fit the niche of a lightweight word processor. That said, the advanced features of LibreOffice don't really get in the way if you don't use them and you can simply ignore them, so there seems little reason to develop a simplified office suite just for the sake of it.

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runn1ng 436 days ago | link

I would much prefer 100% free (as-in-speech) Google Docs alternative.

I want to be able to install Google Docs-like application on my own server.

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drchaos 436 days ago | link

There's a in-browser version of LibreOffice being worked on since quite some time (first announcement was in 2011[1]), but there's not much information online about the current status.

They have video[2] and a wiki page[3] which at least shows how to enable it (custom build required):

[1] http://blog.documentfoundation.org/2011/10/14/libreoffice-co...

[2] http://people.gnome.org/~michael/data/2011-10-10-lool-demo.w...

[3] https://wiki.documentfoundation.org/Using_LibreOffice_in_a_W...

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jeffcutsinger 436 days ago | link

There's always Feng Office. I can't speak to how fully featured or mature it is.

http://www.fengoffice.com/web/opensource/

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runn1ng 436 days ago | link

This seems interesting, thanks for the pointer.

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pekk 436 days ago | link

Why not just run an office suite locally if that is your requirement?

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runn1ng 436 days ago | link

I don't want to run it locally.

I want to share docs with the internet, or with a small team, have integrated history, have instant editing, have the possibility of more people editing it. I want to have instant access to it from any computer with a browser.

Etherpad sort of does that, but not 100%.

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harshreality 436 days ago | link

Except for continuous editing or live visibility of edits in progress, that's a lot like a wiki with wysiwyg editing. http://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Extension:WYSIWYG

You could probably extend wikis like mediawiki to have live visibility of edits, at the cost of performance. Separate db or redis storage for in-progress edits, and query that before retrieving the last static version of the page...

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Piskvorrr 436 days ago | link

Not locally: I've seen many organizations admire the synchronization and collaboration features of GDocs, with a major caveat: the data is centralized in the cloud provider's hands, not the organization's. "Oh look, you don't own your data anymore" is a very theoretical scenario, but "oh look, you suddenly can't access your data anymore, we're not bringing them back, and you have no recourse" has happened with many cloud storage services, for various reasons.

Hosting your own network-based office web-app solution would be convenient for many...especially for the security.

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gcr 436 days ago | link

If organizations rely on google docs so much, why don't they back up their google docs archive every {day,hour,minute} ? I'm sure there's an rsync for google docs or something.

Having to revert back to emailing saved word documents for a week or two is far better than losing everything for a week or two.

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Someone 436 days ago | link

Reading http://www.zdnet.com/yes-you-can-use-the-new-chromebook-offl..., it seems the Chromebook tries to fit that market or at least one close to it.

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Gormo 435 days ago | link

> LibreOffice does not look nice but it is functional.

That's an entirely subjective judgment. I happen to think that LibreOffice looks much better than MS Office 2010, especially when considering visual design as a functional rather than a merely decorative quality. Full-screen file menus are ugly and disorienting.

> Of course MS Office has an even larger feature set, but few people max it out.

OTOH, there are features in MS Office that really are useful and aren't well-represented by equivalent features in LibreOffice. Pivot tables in Excel, for example; not everyone may use them, but for those who do, Excel unfortunately has no credible competition.

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Key quote.

Since I’ve been out of the Silicon-Valley-centred tech industry, I’ve become increasingly convinced that it’s morally bankrupt and essentially toxic to our society. Companies like Google and Facebook — in common with most public companies — have interests that are frequently in conflict with the wellbeing of — I was going to say their customers or their users, but I’ll say “people” in general, since it’s wider than that. People who use their systems directly, people who don’t — we’re all affected by it, and although some of the outcomes are positive a disturbingly high number of them are negative: the erosion of privacy, of consumer rights, of the public domain and fair use, of meaningful connections between people and a sense of true community, of beauty and care taken in craftsmanship, of our very physical wellbeing. No amount of employee benefits or underfunded Google.org projects can counteract that.

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eli_gottlieb 537 days ago | link

Well hold on a damn minute. True community? The internet didn't erode that, bad city planning and work-centered, geographically unrooted lifestyles did that. Craftsmanship? Commodification and mass manufacturing did that. Physical well-being? Cheap, shitty food and sedentary lifestyles centered around sedentary jobs did that.

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timwiseman 537 days ago | link

Google has historically both been reliant on fair use and the public domain and has defended such in court. I'm not saying they did it out of altruism, but substantial precedents that help solidify fair use come out of Google's activities in court.

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This turned out to be a historic announcement. Note that the release was in source and binary form. The liberal copyright policy wisely chosen by Tim Berners-Lee was an important reason for the WWW's success.

In contrast, this post again reminds me that the Usenet-archives are now owned by Google. Are they also available anywhere else? Like the WWW they are part of the world's cultural heritage. It's good that the archives are accessible, but they shouldn't be proprietary.

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jetti 607 days ago | link

"The liberal copyright policy wisely chosen by Tim Berners-Lee was an important reason for the WWW's success."

While Berners-Lee may have had a say in the matter, I think the credit goes to CERN for that one as they are the copyright holder:

"The code is not strictly public domain: it is copyright CERN (see copyright notice is in the .tar), but is free to collaborating institutes."

Still, there is no doubting that the liberal licensing helped WWW's success.

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yock 607 days ago | link

Some entity must commit funds to storing and keeping those archives available. I understand your concern, but no one company or government is more or less likely to do something folish with those archives than any other.

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InclinedPlane 607 days ago | link

Google owns the most extensive archives of usenet because it has put in the effort. There's no reason that anyone else couldn't have done the same, they just failed to do so. Google acquired dejanews, an old usenet archival site, and they sought out personal archives as well to expand the collection. We should be happy that they have done anything, the more likely outcome was for no comprehensive archive ever to have been made.

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zbowling 607 days ago | link

No, it's because they bought the company, Deja, that was responsible for putting the first widespread web interface on Usenet. Google groups used to be just Usenet until it forked into something different (user lists). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Groups#Deja_News

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InclinedPlane 607 days ago | link

Did you read my post all the way through? I know they acquired dejanews, I said it. But they also went to the effort to make use of deja's archive and to keep it safe. More so, they sought out private usenet archives and integrated them into their collection. Indeed, the very message that sparked this discussion comes from the work that google did and not from the dejanews archive since it dates to 1991, 4 years before deja began operations.

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MatthewPhillips 607 days ago | link

I disagree with this comment:

> We should be happy that they have done anything, the more likely outcome was for no comprehensive archive ever to have been made.

I think that's not the case, I think the existence of Google Groups is regarded as "good enough" by groups that might otherwise be doing archiving (Internet Archive, for one). That Groups started out with good intentions isn't surprising, but it has evolved into something completely different. If the intent was to archive an important part of the history of the internet, viewing posts wouldn't be behind a login-wall.

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timothya 607 days ago | link

It isn't behind a login wall. If you saw a login screen when trying to access the link, then you must be partially logged into Google in the first place. Try the link in an incognito window and you'll see that no login is required.

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zbowling 607 days ago | link

Yah I thought I did. I didn't see Deja the first time I read it. May be my mistake because I'm tired from hacking all night (5am here), but it seemed shorter (the whole middle sentence wasn't there) the first time I read your comment.

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Most people are complaining about the headline, but it is in line with what Woz is saying:

"I really worry about everything going to the cloud," he said. "I think it's going to be horrendous. I think there are going to be a lot of horrible problems in the next five years."

He added: "With the cloud, you don't own anything. You already signed it away" through the legalistic terms of service with a cloud provider that computer users must agree to.

"I want to feel that I own things," Wozniak said. "A lot of people feel, 'Oh, everything is really on my computer,' but I say the more we transfer everything onto the web, onto the cloud, the less we're going to have control over it."

I wouldn't be surprised if many people around HN do not agree with Woz. After all the cloud is how many here earn their living.

That said, Woz is absolutely right. I wish more people of his standing would speak up.

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DanBC 621 days ago | link

> I wouldn't be surprised if many people around HN do not agree with Woz. After all the cloud is how many here earn their living. That said, Woz is absolutely right.

There's a weird split. People running a service do not want to have to depend on a 3rd party service; but they do want to encourage other people to depend on the service that they are providing.

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maayank 621 days ago | link

If I put my thesis paper and vacation photos on a service that uses EC2 as a backend, I'm not a competitor to either the service or Amazon.

If I'm the provider of said service, Amazon are a potential competitor.

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simonbrown 621 days ago | link

Which is why you make sure that you can easily switch to something else if you need to.

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ap22213 621 days ago | link

What he says may be true, but convenience + cheap wins out (almost) every time.

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esolyt 620 days ago | link

Most people around HN don't seem to have a problem with using a non-free and closed source operating system. Ultimately, it's all about trusting a company. People who use OSX trust Apple, without asking to see the source code of any part of it. Likewise, in the case of cloud users, it will be trusting another company such as Dropbox or Google. For private data, you can encrypt. For critical data, you can keep local copies.

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Other search engines have this feature, too. For a refreshing change from Google, I prefer this: https://duckduckgo.com/?q=ip

And if you really need to confirm your IP address with Google: https://duckduckgo.com/?q=!g+ip

(check out the many other '!' features)

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eru 632 days ago | link

You didn't give a reason why you prefer duckduckgo, or why anybody else should. (I'm using that engine myself.)

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hamai 632 days ago | link

I think Google is not showing this to all countries, at least in my country I'm not seeing, but DDG shows it.

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eru 632 days ago | link

That would be a good reason, and a way to enrich the discussion.

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