Half of Web Traffic Now Encrypted as Websites Adopt HTTPS

A new report from rights organization Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) found that half of today’s Web’s traffic is now protected by encryption. The increased adoption of HTTPS is largely a result of efforts from big tech companies, like Google and Facebook, and an increased awareness of government surveillance. Google started factoring whether a website was on HTTPS or HTTP into its algorithm. WordPress, one of the biggest Web hosting providers, switched to HTTPS last year. Continue reading Half of Web Traffic Now Encrypted as Websites Adopt HTTPS

W3C to Host Workshop This Week on Web and Virtual Reality

WebVR development, VR content, 3D audio, user interfaces, codecs, file formats and standardization will be among the many topics addressed at this week’s W3C Workshop on Web & Virtual Reality (October 19-20) in San Jose, California. The goal “will be to establish the overall roadmap to standardization to make the Web a robust platform for Virtual Reality,” explains organizer Dominique Hazaël-Massieux. Through presentations and breakout sessions, the workshop plans “to bring together practitioners of Web and Virtual Reality technologies to make the Open Web Platform a better delivery mechanism for VR experiences,” notes the event page. Continue reading W3C to Host Workshop This Week on Web and Virtual Reality

Tech, Media Firms Join Microsoft’s Suit Against Secrecy Laws

On Friday, Microsoft filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Justice Department, saying that part of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 is unconstitutional. The provision in question prevents Microsoft from letting customers know when their communications have been turned over to law enforcement, which Microsoft says violates the First and Fourth Amendments. Approximately 80 different companies — including Amazon, Google, Snapchat, and Salesforce — have signed briefs in support of Microsoft. Continue reading Tech, Media Firms Join Microsoft’s Suit Against Secrecy Laws

Brave Browser Aims to Reinvent Online Advertising Paradigm

Brendan Eich created JavaScript, the world’s most widely used programming language and co-founded Mozilla, the organization behind the Firefox browser that has become one of the most popular ways to navigate the Web. Now he’s back with Brave Software, a startup developing an open source browser for desktop and mobile that carves a middle path between excessive online advertising and antagonistic ad blockers. In his paradigm, advertisers, browser companies, websites and users stand to win. Continue reading Brave Browser Aims to Reinvent Online Advertising Paradigm

Open Source Speeds Developments in Artificial Intelligence

When Tesla released all of its patents to the public in 2014, it jumpstarted the electric car ecosystem while continuing to succeed. Facebook made its data-center architecture available to the masses, still making a tidy $12+ billion in revenue last year. Open source code is now fueling tremendous innovation and digital capabilities. Whereas companies in the past dominated by using licensed software to create monopolies, today’s companies relying on open source code differentiate themselves by the services they offer. Continue reading Open Source Speeds Developments in Artificial Intelligence

Facebook and Yahoo Attempt to Expand Search Capabilities

Facebook and Yahoo just made strategic deals with regard to search. Facebook, which unsuccessfully attempted search with its Graph Search feature in 2013, states it has now indexed more than two trillion posts, promoting it as a way to follow news discussions in real time. Yahoo just inked a non-exclusive deal with Google to provide search results and ads; antitrust regulators struck down a similar deal in 2008. Yahoo renegotiated an exclusive deal with Microsoft’s Bing to make this latest deal. Continue reading Facebook and Yahoo Attempt to Expand Search Capabilities

Google Ups the Ante with VP10 Compression, to Beat H.265

Media today requires more bandwidth, and that means more efficient compression. Ultra HD or 4K, wider gamut for more color choices, and HDR (high dynamic range) all require a bigger pipe and better compression. Same goes for HFR (high frame rate) — anything above 30 fps, for movies and games — and of course all that video streaming that everyone is doing. Up until now, H.264 has been the leading contender, but now Google is pushing its VP9 technology hard to play catch-up. H.265 and VP10 are just over the horizon. Continue reading Google Ups the Ante with VP10 Compression, to Beat H.265

New Patent Group Wants Royalties for 4K HEVC Video Codec

HEVC Advance, a new patent group, has warned that it will demand royalties for the HEVC video codec that allows 4K streaming within the same bandwidth now used for 1080p streaming. HEVC, which also can provide 1080p streaming in half the bandwidth, has been seen as the best solution for cost-effective 4K, and the current threat could torpedo its adoption. Currently, HEVC-supported smart TVs have enabled Netflix’s 4K services on those receivers; some smartphones also use HEVC. Continue reading New Patent Group Wants Royalties for 4K HEVC Video Codec

New Emergency Patches for Flash Steps Up Calls for Its Demise

To patch two critical zero-day vulnerabilities, Adobe Systems issued an emergency update for its Flash media player. That’s in addition to a previously unknown vulnerability discovered over a week ago in a 400-gigabyte data dump published after hackers rooted the servers of Hacking Team. That bug allowed hackers to covertly install malware on end-user computers. Mozilla now blocks the hacker-susceptible Flash, and several industry leaders are calling for Adobe to pull the plug on the bug-infested media player. Continue reading New Emergency Patches for Flash Steps Up Calls for Its Demise

Matchstick Delays Shipping; Opts for Hardware, DRM Updates

Matchstick, the first HDMI streaming media stick based on the Firefox OS, announced that its originally planned February shipment date has now been pushed to August. The company says it has “decided to release the product when it is ready.” The decision to delay is the result of updating the hardware to a faster quad core chipset, improving the antenna to avoid the Wi-Fi connectivity issues experienced by similar products, and developing DRM support in order to attract more premium video apps such as Netflix. Continue reading Matchstick Delays Shipping; Opts for Hardware, DRM Updates

YouTube Stops Using Adobe Flash by Default, Opts for HTML5

YouTube announced it is now defaulting to HTML5 rather than Adobe Flash. A change that has been in development since 2010, the popular video site now uses its HTML5 player by default in the following browsers: Apple’s Safari 8, Google Chrome, Microsoft IE11, and beta versions of Mozilla’s Firefox. The company points to adaptive bitrate (ABR) streaming, the VP9 codec, encrypted media extensions, Web real-time communication (WebRTC), and fullscreen APIs as five key technologies that made the change possible. Continue reading YouTube Stops Using Adobe Flash by Default, Opts for HTML5

Firefox OS for Wearables as Alternative to Android and iOS

Mozilla is planning to take on industry leaders Apple and Google by developing a version of its Firefox operating system specifically for wearables. Firefox OS, which is starting to appear in smartphones and select TVs, will be adapted for use in smart glasses, smartwatches, and other wearable devices as an alternative to Google’s Android Wear or Apple’s iOS. Mozilla’s ultimate goal is to provide Firefox OS as a system to easily connect appliances, mobile devices, television sets and wearables, regardless of their OS. Continue reading Firefox OS for Wearables as Alternative to Android and iOS

Mozilla Launches First of its Kind Native VR Web Experience

This past year, Mozilla announced plans to develop a website that could support virtual reality. In June, it released an update with an experimental design for Firefox and the Oculus Rift. And earlier this week, to help celebrate Firefox’s 10th anniversary, Mozilla launched MozVR.com, a site featuring virtual demos, website blueprints, source code and guided tutorials to propel the growth of VR online. For now, the experience is only possible with the support of Firefox’s VR-enabled feature and an Oculus Rift headset. Continue reading Mozilla Launches First of its Kind Native VR Web Experience

Matchstick Developing Open-Source Streaming Media Dongle

San Jose-based startup Matchstick, in cooperation with Mozilla, is creating what is essentially an “open Chromecast.” The startup is taking orders for its first open-source media streaming dongle, which will range in price from $12 to $25. Matchstick hopes to encourage developers to create apps for its Firefox OS-based device before it starts shipping in January. Mozilla is helping the Matchstick team draw more content partners, so that the startup will be able to offer premium content. Continue reading Matchstick Developing Open-Source Streaming Media Dongle

Battle for the Net: Internet Slowdown Generates Big Numbers

Public interest groups and tech companies participated in an Internet “slowdown” yesterday to raise awareness of the potential impact to net neutrality and an open Internet if slow lanes were to result from proposed FCC rules. It was not an actual throttling of Internet speeds, but a campaign in which sites featured messages about the issue and symbolic “loading” icons. Thousands of websites urged their users to take action. As a result, the FCC received a record 1,477,301 public comments. Continue reading Battle for the Net: Internet Slowdown Generates Big Numbers