Category Archives: plugins

Korea Paying Price for Microsoft Monoculture

Last week the Korea Times had a long piece on the unique issues around browser security and encryption technologies in Korea, Korea Paying Price for Microsoft Monoculture, which did not reference my original article, the cost of monoculture, but is updating the issues I raised in early 2007.

A few choice quotes:

But the land of ubiquitous broadband, feature-happy “smart” phones and ultra-cool computing devices doubles as a crusty regime where Linux, Firefox, Chrome and Opera users can’t bank or purchase products online, and where Mac users buy Windows CDs to prevent their devices being reduced to fashion items.

The bizarre coexistence of advanced hardware and an outdated user environment is a result of the country’s overreliance on the technology of Microsoft, the U.S. software giant that owns the Korean computing experience like a fat kid does a cookie jar.

Critics say the country would end up paying dearly for allowing a Microsoft monoculture to take hold, with consumers deprived of the freedom to choose newer and better products and the Web industry seeing its innovation compromised.

(Anyone want to send me a Steve Ballmer with cookie jar photoshop masterpiece? :) )

The article goes on to cover a lot of the issues affecting web users in Korea and how many valiant efforts have gone into trying to affect change, most significantly the 3 lawsuits that Dr. Keechang Kim has brought against various Korean policy-making bodies, without success.

The newest effort of the open web community in Korea is openbank.or.kr, an effort to push/educate banking institutions in Korea to change their practices as many believe it is these consumer-facing services which are key to making real change happen for an open web in Korea.

Mozilla is committed to supporting the Koreans who are pushing for a competitive truly open web in Korea. If there is something that we should be doing in Korea to further support open web efforts, please do not hesitate to contact me or leave a comment with your thoughts.

I, for one, look forward to a day when anyone in Korea can use any modern browser on any major consumer computer operating system to bank, purchase goods/services online, trade stocks, etc. without the need for a browser plugin.

challenges for the iPhone in Korea

Bear with me here as this is more of an Open Web issue and less a Firefox issue.

iPhone in Korea
iphone on sale in korea!

As many of you know if you had read my 2007 post on the cost of monoculture, (Slashdotted and Digged to the front page) or the update on the cost of monoculture, you know that South Korea is alone in the world as a nation that does not use TLS/SSL for online transaction encryption. What that means in practice is that 99% of South Koreans use IE because they cannot do any secure transaction online (i.e. Internet banking, stock trading, ecommerce, e-government, etc.) without a Microsoft Windows operating system and the Internet Explorer web browser.

So I read with some interest recently when I saw that KT (Korea Telcom) and maybe SK Telecom (?) is probably going to launch the iPhone 3GS in Korea soon: IPhone Has Mobile Operators Punching Calculators. The question that immediately came to mind is this:

if South Korean websites cannot do any secure transaction without ActiveX, which is not supported on the iPhone’s Mobile Safari browser, what use is the iPhone in Korea? What good is a mobile browser on the iPhone in Korea if you cannot do any secure transaction with it?

This detail has not been covered by any of the media that has been covering the potential for the iPhone in Korea.  I would very much appreciate any comments from South Koreans on how the iPhone can be successful in Korea if it cannot be used for any secure transactions.  Or does this mean that Korean web services will start implementing support for SSL?  Will the iPhone break open the IE-dominated web of Korea?

My friend Changwon Kim thinks that it may have to do with the fact that the Korean carriers will get little-to-no benefit from users who buy iPhones because all of the purchases on the iPhone will be at iTunes or the Apple App Store.

Out of fear to become “dumb bit pipes”, Korean wireless carriers have been working so hard to transform themselves into digital content empires by acquiring content companies and building a tight control over the content value chain. But iPhone is all about getting out of carrier value chain: web browsing on WiFi networks or App Store downloads have nothing to do with carriers. So the fact that the carriers haven’t yet fully recouped their massive content investment might be the true reason, or at least part of the reason, why Korea still doesn’t have an iPhone yet.

I’m very curious to see what the reaction will be to the iPhone in Korea when it launches. Especially the part where Korean users won’t be able to do any of the things they normally do with their laptops or desktop PCs such as buy stocks, online banking, – anything that requires a secure transaction.

Mozilla at 2009 MSC Malaysia Open Source Conference

I’m attending the 2009 MSC Malaysia Open Source Conference.

MSC Malaysia Open Source Conference

See more photos at Facebook | Sumardi Shukor’s Photos – MSCOSCONF2009 – Conference Day 1

For some background on this event, Yoon Kit has a good overview of how far the Malaysian government has come but also has some good constructive criticism for the organizers of the event. I highly recommend his blog post at Open Malaysia Blog – MSCOSCONF.

In the morning of the first day, I gave a presentation in the Community Track. I was scheduled to talk about Firefox 3.5, Fennec and Bespin, but at the last minute I decided to change my presentation to focus on HTML 5 and web standards. I did not want to come off as just focusing on Mozilla software so I decided to re-do my presentation to this:

Open Source Powers the Open Web: HTML 5, JavaScript, and the importance of open web standards (download in OpenOffice Impress format or pdf format.)

In the afternoon, I was on a panel discussion about open source and innovation.

Can Open Source bring about your next Innovation Breakthrough ?

Panel Speakers
1.Dato’ Dr. Kamaljit Singh, GIRC
2. Tengku Farith Rithaudeen, SKALI
3. Gen Kanai, Mozilla Corp
4. Ang Chin Han, Bytecraft

MODERATOR: Dr. Raslan Ahmad, MOSTI

Download my presentation in OpenOffice Impress and pdf.

I sometimes use Slideshare, and if that’s what folks would prefer, I can upload the presentations to Slideshare but I spent a portion of my presentation slagging Flash so it seemed a bit strange to then go use Slideshare (which is all Flash.)

I’m happy to take questions via email or via comments to my blog.  Unfortunately the network connection at the conference was not as stable as I needed it to be to demonstrate some of the heavier open video demos, so if you came to my presentations, please download them to see the links to the demos I wanted to show.

How to Travel at a Million Files a Minute

The New York Times has a nice piece on what to do to make your web surfing faster: How to Travel at a Million Files a Minute .  They recommend a faster broadband connection (ideally FTTH), more RAM for your computer, and Firefox and Safari over IE. The NYT has also misspelled tranquility (see below).

TWEAK YOUR BROWSER
Another player involved in Internet speed is the browser you use to navigate the Web. Choosing the right browser has become pretty simple: Most experts recommend Firefox, which you can download free from mozilla.com/firefox.

Firefox’s open-source architecture means it has been tested and tweaked by far more people than proprietary browsers like Internet Explorer from Microsoft. Firefox also uses less of your computer’s memory, freeing it up to handle other tasks. (Microsoft says it will release an upgrade in August that will increase the speed of Explorer.)

But Firefox’s real advantage is its collection of user-generated add-ons. These are small, free modifications to the Firefox browser that can do many things (like change the browser’s appearance, help manage content and integrate third-party search features).

If you’ve ever noticed that a site is slow to load because of graphics-heavy ads, you can install the Adblock plug-in, which eliminates ads from your browser (blocking ads has benefits beyond improving speed — cleanliness and tranquillity [sp] are two that come to mind).

Sites that use a lot of animation (known as Flash animation) can also be slow; Firefox has another plug-in, called Flashblock, that allows you turn the Flash portions of a site on or off. For these reasons, Macintosh users may also want to download Firefox. While Apple’s Safari browser is quick (and far less susceptible to viruses), it does not work with any of these add-ons.

Andreesen on Firefox as a Level 2 Internet Platform

Marc Andreesen has a very interesting post about the various “platforms” that are available on the Internet. He categorizes them into 3 levels.

Level 1 he calls the “Access API” and good examples are Amazon Web Services or Flickr or Delicious or any service that has an API.

Level 2 he calls the “Plug-in API” and he uses the examples of Adobe Photoshop, Mozilla Firefox and Facebook. Regarding Firefox and Level 2 platforms he says:

This is the kind of platform approach that historically has been used in end-user applications to let developers build new functions that can be injected, or “plug in”, to the core system and its user interface.

More recently, Firefox is well known for having a great plug-in, or extension, API that lets third parties build a wide range of Firefox plug-ins. These plug-ins span functions from blogging to dowloading to search to language translation.

Andreesen goes into a lot more detail on the strengths and weaknesses of Level 2 platforms. He, more than anyone else, knows intimately the strengths and weaknesses of Mozilla.

The Level 3 platform he calls the “Run-time Platform” and he uses the examples of his own new venture Ning, Salesforce.com, Second Life, Amazon EC2/S3, and Akamai.

Andreesen goes on to make some very interesting statements about the future of Internet services that ring true to me:

I believe that in the long run, all credible large-scale Internet companies will provide Level 3 platforms. Those that don’t won’t be competitive with those that do, because those that do will give their users the ability to so easily customize and program as to unleash supernovas of creativity.

I think there will also be a generational shift here. Level 3 platforms are “develop in the browser” — or, more properly, “develop in the cloud”. Just like Internet applications are “run in the browser” — or, more properly, “run in the cloud”. The cloud being large-scale Internet services run on behalf of users by large Internet companies and other entities. I think that kids coming out of college over the next several years are going to wonder why anyone ever built apps for anything other than “the cloud” — the Internet — and, ultimately, why they did so with anything other than the kinds of Level 3 platforms that we as an industry are going to build over the next several years — just like they already wonder why anyone runs any software that you can’t get to through a browser.

The whole post is fascinating and worthy of your consideration.

Habbo Hotel China closed

Popular avatar-based virtual community Habbo Hotel has closed their China site.

Dear visitors:
unfortunately we have some bad news for you: since August 24, 2007 Habbo.cn has been closed at least temporarily, and possibly for a long time. :( Our Habbo Staff is currently working hard to find a way to continue the service in the future – you will be informed about the situation as soon as we know. We are really sorry about this. Meanwhile you can choose to visit other Habbo services all over the world.

Billsdue says that this is because Shockwave never took off in China. Such is the fickle nature of proprietary browser plugins.