Monthly Archives: February 2007

Thunderbird 2 Japan press event

Just a quick note to point out that we’re doing a press event for the Japan release of Thunderbird 2 on March 9th here in Tokyo.

This event is mainly for the media and press but if you would like to attend, please leave a comment.  If there is room left the day before the event, we’ll be in touch to let you know you are on the list.

Thunderbird 2 記念講演

皆様からご好評をいただいているメールクライアント製品の最新版「Thunderbird 2」が、来る 3 月中旬にリリースされます。Mozilla Japan では、これに先駆けて、記念講演を企画させていただきました。皆様のご参加を心よりお待ち申し上げております。

記念講演&パネルディスカッション

15:00 – 15:30:Thunderbird 2 製品説明
Mozilla Japan 技術部 吉野公平
15:30 – 16:10:事例紹介
ダイキン工業株式会社 IT 推進室 IT 企画担当課長 小倉禎則 氏
16:10 – 17:20:パネルディスカッション「Email クライアントの未来を考える」
パネリスト:

  • 小倉 禎則 氏 (ダイキン工業株式会社 IT 推進室 IT 企画担当課長)
  • 安東 孝二 氏 (東京大学情報基盤センター助手)
  • 及川 卓也 氏 (グーグル株式会社 シニアプロダクトマネージャ)

モデレータ:

  • 瀧田佐登子 (Mozilla Japan 代表理事)
17:30 – 19:00:懇親会

Dell customers want Firefox

Dell has a new user-powered website out called Dell Idea Storm.

Michael Dell recently said:

“We are at our best when we are hearing directly from our customers,” said Mr. Dell. “We listen, learn and then improve and innovate based on what our customers want. It’s one of the real advantages of being a direct company.”

“We already interact with about three million customers per day, but now we are rolling out some new ways for customers to share their ideas directly with us and the entire community of Dell users around the world.”

They are ranking the top user-requested ideas for Dell to implement in the future. Top of the list, with over 80,000 votes from Dell owners, is pre-installed Linux. In fact, it is so popular that Dell has already issued a statement regarding pre-installed Linux, as well as other customer requests.

We don’t want to pick one distribution and alienate users with a preference for another. We want users to have the opportunity to help define the market for Linux on desktop and notebook systems. In addition to working with Novell, we are also working with other distributors and evaluating the possibility of additional certifications across our product line.

#2 on the list (with over 57,000 votes) is a request for pre-installed Open Office with the option of Firefox (as well as a very nice list of other free software) and #5 on the list (with over 37,000 votes) is to have Firefox pre-installed on all Dells.

I think that this is a WONDERFUL idea and I hope that Michael Dell is taking his Dell Idea Storm community very seriously.

If you’d like to see Firefox pre-installed on Dell PCs, please feel free to sign up at DellIdeaStorm.com and vote!

Mozilla Manifesto at FOSDEM

Matt from Peer Pressure (the weblog of All Peers) has some interesting thoughts from the recent FOSDEM conference where the Mozilla Manifesto (still in draft) was debated and discussed.

The real question is: will Mozilla succeed in its audacious goal of creating a new type of organization, able to compete in the consumer space against armies of blood-thirsty capitalists without become one of them? I admit to being mildly skeptical (while remaining steadfastly supportive). Won’t the best contributors eventually jump ship in the search for fortune, as well as just fame? Will the organization be able to maintain its democratic ethos as its staff, user base and revenues continue to grow? It’s certainly an awesome challenge, but then writing a successful web browser ain’t no piece of cake either, and Mozilla is as well-placed as anyone to give it a shot.


Peer Pressure – Musings on the Mozilla Manifesto

Tokyo PCUG, March 1

I’ve been asked to attend the March 1st meeting of the Tokyo PC Users Group.
The topic of discussion is browsers and they’ve asked me to attend to answer any questions. The event is unfortunately not free, but you might get some Firefox schwag if you show up :)

Come along to learn about latest web browsers – Firefox 2, Internet Explorer 7, and Opera 9. Also hoping to have some audience members give us insight into the best browsers for Mac OSX and Linux. Where is your vote? Come and make your voice heard and share your experience with others.

Will also feature users talking about their favorite, useful browser plug-ins.

Thursday, March 1st at the Tokyo Union Church. Doors open at 6:30, meeting starts at 7 PM Click here for a map to the TUC.

the cost of monoculture

(This is a repost of a post from my personal blog.)

What would you say if I told you that there was a nation that was at the forefront of technology, an early adopter of ecommerce, leading the world in 3G mobile adoption, in wireless broadband, in wired broadband adoption, as well as in citizen-driven media. Sounds like an amazing place, right? Technology utopia?

Wrong.

This nation is also a unique monoculture where 99.9% of all the computer users are on Microsoft Windows. This nation is a place where Apple Macintosh users cannot bank online, make any purchases online, or interact with any of the nation’s e-government sites online. In fact, Linux users, Mozilla Firefox users and Opera users are also banned from any of these types of transactions because all encrypted communications online in this nation must be done with Active X controls.

Where is this nation?

South Korea.

UPDATE: photo of Korean Hangul keyword search visualization seen at Naver’s lobby.

Naver_4004.JPG

I traveled to South Korea last fall to learn more about the South Korean Internet market and came away disappointed and frankly stunned.

I met with leading businesses in the search market, the music download market, the games market and all reported the same situation- a monoculture of users using MS Windows. The S. Korean market is in a unique situation where decisions made long ago have created a consumer monoculture which is having unintended repercussions that are affecting anyone with a computer in South Korea. It is a fascinating story because it is true.

The history goes back to 1998, when the 128 bit SSL protocol was still not finalized (it was finalized by the IETF as RFC 2246 in Jan. ’99.) South Korean legislation did not allow 40 bit encryption for online transactions (and Bill Clinton did not allow for the export of 128 bit encryption until December 1999) and the demand for 128 bit encryption was so great that the South Korean government funded (via the Korean Information Security Agency) a block cipher called SEED. SEED is, of course, used nowhere else except South Korea, because every other nation waited for the 128 bit SSL protocol to be finalized (and exported from the US) and have standardized on that.

In the early years of SEED, users downloaded the SEED plugin to their IE or Netscape browsers, either an Active X control or a NSplugin, which was then tied to a certificate issued by a Korean government certificate authority. (Can you see where this is going?) When Netscape lost the browser war, the NSplugin fell out of use and for years, S. Korean users have only had an Active X control with the SEED cipher to do their online banking or commerce or government.

So we end up in 2007, 9 years after SEED was created for Korean users, and one legacy of the fall of Netscape is that Korean computer/Internet users only have an Active X control to do any encrypted communication online. So in late 2006, a group of Korean computer/Internet users, Citizens Action Network at Open Web Korea, having documented the problem with accessibility of sites via anything other than Microsoft IE, have decided to sue the Korean government.

It gets worse.

Remember how Active X controls were and continue to be a significant vector of viruses and malware because Microsoft originally architected Active X to run by default instead of with a user action? Maliciously programmed websites would be able to automatically install software on users’ computers just by visiting a web page in IE 6. In IE 7 and in Vista, Microsoft has re-architected Active X controls in such a way to make them “more safe” by requiring a user action for the control to run. This is obviously impacting every web site and company that uses active X controls on their websites, which include just about every website in Korea that handles any kind of secure transaction. Every online bank, every governmental agency, every ecommerce site. Without enough time to re-architect Korean websites, 3 S. Korean governmental ministries, the Ministry of Information and Communication, the Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs, and the Financial Supervisory Service, warned S. Korean users that upgrading to Vista would disable the user from making any secure transaction online. Can you imagine spending thousands of dollars on a new machine (because the requirements of Vista generally require new hardware) and a new OS from Redmond only to be locked out of any secure transaction online? It’s Kafkaesque.

To add insult to injury, the monopolist who absolutely controls the Korean market for computers won’t delay the launch of Vista to alllow for Korean websites to re-code their sites. “We’ve been testing Vista with banks and other service providers since September, but we encountered more delays than we expected. We plan to release the product as scheduled.

Absolutely incredible.

A related problem is that KISA and Microsoft announce “plans to work together to improve computer security awareness” or “mark anniversary of cooperation with renewed pledge” when in fact the situation in 2007 is no better than it was in 2003 when KISA decided to “work with Microsoft.” I can’t tell who is the fox and which is the hen house, but either way, the two should not be near each other.

Another part of the Korea story that I cannot comprehend are articles about Linux in Korea. The Korean Army considering Linux. Kwangju City as “Linux City.” If the Korean Army or Kwangju city cannot do any encrypted communications because their operating system of choice does not work with Active X controls, I’m not sure if this is hype or confusion.

To get the most depth and perspective on this topic, from the people in Korea who are suing the government, it’s best to read the documents at Open Web Korea.

This issue with the launch of Vista and IE 7 and the work of thousands and thousands of web programmers in Korea who are feverishly working to reprogram their sites to work with Microsoft’s new standards – do they realize that their efforts only bring them back to square 0 – there’s no more heterogeneity in the Korean Internet market post-Vista than pre. The problem for Korean websites wasn’t competition from MSN Korea, it was their sole dependence on infrastructure from Microsoft.

Korea will only get beyond this problem by 1) applying Korean laws on open standards to the certificate authorities, 2) reassigning new certificates which work with open web standards to all Koreans, 3) reprogramming all Korean websites to support 128 bit SSL which will allow for a heterogeneous marketplace of operating systems and web browsers. This is a herculean task and thus Korea stays hostage to Redmond.

Fascinating history. Unintended consequences and de-facto monopolies create costs too high to calculate and must be borne without question.

RELATED READING: the seminal report “CyberInsecurity: The Cost of Monopoly,” and the related eWeek piece profiling Dan Geer, “IT Wrestles with Microsoft Monoculture Myopia” which goes over this same topic from a different but related perspective.

Via Anil Dash.