Off the Beat: Bruce Byfield's Blog

The sunset years of Flash

Aug 31, 2015 GMT

Come September, only primary Flash content will play automatically in the Chrome browser. By contrast, secondary content, such as ads, will have to be specifically clicked before it plays. It's a small change, done by Google in cooperation with Adobe, but it appears to signal the beginning of the end of Flasha nd a scramble by advertisers to change technologies. What's ominous, however, is the power that one corporation can have on the entire industry. http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/08/28/google_says_flash_ads_out_september/?imm_mid=0d795f&cmp=em-prog-na-na-newsltr_20150829Flash, of course, has been a long time dying. First developed in the mid-1990s, Flash rapidly became the...
The Case for Paying Conference Speakers

Aug 25, 2015 GMT

Should speakers be paid at free software conferences? The question never occurred me until I heard a recent Finux Tech podcast talking about the issue in relation to security conferences. Now, however, I have to admit that the guests on the podcast make a compelling case, if only as a token sign of respect.Fifteen years ago, unpaid speakers were the rule. Conferences were community-based, and many attendees were at the start of their careers, and happy just to get together with one another. Probably, the sponsors didn't exist either. That is still the case today with community-based conferences like the locally organized, BSides, where no one is paid, so I am not talking about them.Free...
LinuxCon take-aways

Aug 21, 2015 GMT

Between becoming re-acquainted with Seattle and trying to attend all the talks at the same time, my inner extrovert was glad to slink back to his cage after three days at LinuxCon.  Maybe things would be less hectic if I attended more regularly than once every four or five years, but, still, I wouldn't have missed it. Not only did I finally meet face to face such people as Jono Bacon and Swapnil Bhartiya, but I know of no better way than attending LinuxCon to learn so quickly what the current trends are in free software.Over and over, I heard people saying that Linuxcon was the OpenStack Summit, Part 2. They meant, of course, that the major issues were cloud storage and containers....
The Ada Initiative leaves a mixed record behind it

Aug 04, 2015 GMT

I was one of the first to write about the Ada Initiative. I was also (as Anonymous Donor #1) -- the first to donate to it, and the first to resign from its advisory board. I've passed through personal distaste and disillusion to indifference, but, having written about The Ada Initiative's start, I feel an obligation to write about its end, and the legacies it leaves behind.The Ada Initiative was founded as a response to a sexual assault on Noirin Plunkett. Appropriately, the announcement of its end comes a day after Plunkett's memorial service. But you could have predicted what was about to happen for a couple of months.Long-time advisers resigned, and were keeping feminist solidarity by...
Will open hardware face the same dilemma as the Arts and Crafts Movement?

Jul 30, 2015 GMT

An unexpected benefit of crowdfunding is that it is encourages the development of open hardware. A couple of years ago, when I counted the Kickstarter campaigns that mentioned free and open source software, there were more than ten times the number that were developing hardware than software, and my impression is that the ratio has not changed much today. Yet while I appreciate seeing open hardware starting to establish itself, I worry that open hardware might go the way of the Arts and Crafts Movement, and defeat its larger aims because of what is needed for success.The Arts and Crafts Movement was a reaction to mass production in architecture, manufacturing, and art. Flourishing between...
What's the next step for FOSS feminism?

Jul 20, 2015 GMT

Men who support feminism aren't supposed to criticize. They are supposed to expand the size of a crowd, donate, and keep their mouths shut. However, I have never had trouble being insubordinate, and I have a question I think worth asking: isn't it time to take FOSS feminism to the next level?FOSS feminism has had a long list of accomplishments since Alex Bayley (AKA Kirrily Robert and Scud) started talking about the issues in 2007-08. Dozens of organizations have sprung up teach girls and women to code --Code 'n' Splode, Geek Girl, Girls in Tech, Hacker You, Ladies Learning Code, PHPWomen, RailsBridge, Black Girls Code, Women Who Code are just the ones I can easily recall. The Ada...
Freedom from nagging

Jul 17, 2015 GMT

Freedom from nagging software is not one of the Free Software Foundation's four freedoms. However, after several days of setting up my new Samsung Galaxy Tab 4  to avoid as many unwanted notifications as possible, I wonder if it shouldn't be the fifth.On my KDE Plasma desktop, the only nagging is for upgrades -- and that can be turned off. In fact, as on many desktop environments, I can set which notifications to display. Having long ago set my notifications so that only essential system messages display, I can focus on my work, confident in the knowledge that my thoughts will not be interrupted by a bit of system trivia that I can read later.Unfortunately, not having bought a...

Issue 178/2015

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