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Flash is good for...DRM

YouTube finally moved to HTML5 as the default! Great news for us Linux Firefox users, where flash is barely maintained. Unfortunately, every streaming music service out there still uses Flash. I can only imagine it's because the of DRM requirements.

Firefox → Yahoo

This is a mistake. Firefox is already losing mindshare in Silicon Valley, partly because there seems to be a widespread perception that Chrome is just faster than Firefox, but the power-user features of Firefox don't seem to have enough appeal. Firefox switching to Yahoo for search will cement the impression that Firefox is to browsers what Yahoo is to search, that is, a distance second (third?) place. In practice, Firefox is a superb browser for lots of reasons, but its victory is far from guaranteed.

Let's Encrypt

The announcement about Let's Encrypt is probably the most important security announcment in the past few years. The current regime makes deploying certificates that won't give users huge warnings an expensive proposition. Let's Encrypt will not only make the setup process easier, but will also distribute signed certificates free of charge, which drastically lowers the barriers to entry. You can read more over on Alex Halderman's blog.

Amazon Echo

Amazon Echo is clearly an indicator of where tech is heading. Having bought and used a Kindle Fire, however, I have little faith in Amazon's ability to deliver quality software for voice recognition, which is the core feature of the Echo. Google is the clear leader there, and Google's ability to recognize proper nouns correctly is excellent (probably due to Knowledge Graph). As usual, though, Amazon got the pricing right.

There are a few competing models for decentalizing the web. Unhosted is really interesting to me, but I have doubts that folks will sign up for something like 5apps and plugin into it from a bunch of unhosted apps.

On the other hand, running your own server is cumbersome. I think Sandstorm is addressing the core of the problem really well, and I'm looking forward to see some businesses pop up that offer Sandstorm hosting. The team behind Sandstorm has a lot of momentum and fabulous credibility. I'm on board.

Software Estimates

My own experience of software estimation has never been so accurately captured. This insight is central:

And the problem is that, hidden in the parts you don’t fully understand when you start, there are often these problems that will explode and just utterly screw you.

Moving From Wordpress

Etherplex has run on Wordpress for years, but got compromised earlier today, which I thought was as good a time as any to move to a new platform. I'll be migrating content as time permits. Stay tuned!

NSA targets U.S. Privacy Advocates

Wired reports that the NSA targets U.S. citizens that visit sites that promote privacy:

"The code, a tool called Xkeyscore, “fingerprints,” or marks for further investigation, users who access privacy services such as Tor, Tails, HotSpotShield, FreeNet, Centurian, and Linux Journal, a monthly magazine about the open-source operating system (which the NSA labeled as an “extremist forum” for advocating for privacy services use), reports Wired."

via Harvard Journal of Law and Technology