Mozilla Web Development

Browser Detection In JavaScript Libraries

I was curious what browser detection in various JS libraries look like. While we always try to avoid doing browser detection, it’s sometimes a necessary evil. Here’s what I found.

Around The Web Audio/Video Funny

The Muppets: Bohemian Rhapsody

Muppets Bohemian Rhapsody

I’ve mentioned a few cool videos from Jim Henson shows. The Muppets covering Bohemian Rhapsody is especially awesome. Enjoy.

Also noteworthy is it’s one of the first 1080p videos on YouTube that I’ve seen. Looks like it’s done via MP4 (not sure Flash supports anything else at that quality).


Thoughts On Chrome OS

Chrome OS is an interesting idea, though I still don’t see it as revolutionary like some people. To me it’s still a terminal but unlike the VT100 uses web standards.

Regarding reliability, in my opinion you’ve added new points of failure: your network connection, and the cloud. I’ve see my network connection and web services experience way more problems than my personal computer has.

Regarding security, you’re only as secure as your password to the cloud. Since all your data is synced to the cloud, anyone who can obtain access has it. No longer is physical access necessary. Disk encryption may have saved you when physical access is obtained, but in the cloud you’re often relying on what’s available.

Regarding cost, this becomes a toss up. On the plus side you can have cheap hardware. You don’t need much storage, or CPU. On the downside, your a slave to your network connection for even the most basic tasks. We’ve yet to enter a world of free wireless, and even broadband services are looking to switch to metered service as a replacement to the “all you can eat” plans we’re used to. A change to how bandwidth is priced can ruin this model overnight.

Lets not forget broadband performance in the US is far from stellar. Web UI has improved greatly over the years, but it’s hardly at the level of desktop applications.

Personally I see little value at this time for cheap hardware in exchange for giving up most control. I can replicate all the functionality of Chrome OS using a web browser, and get the added bonuses of a full operating system.

Would I use it? Perhaps as a throw around netbook, but not as a primary computer, or even for serious work. Maybe one day, but not in 2009, and I highly doubt 2010 will close all those gaps.


5 Years Already?

Has it been 5 years already? The landscape has certainly changed since 2004.

I think it’s finally accepted that something can fight back against Microsoft. Size doesn’t guarantee market share on the Internet. In the pre-www world you had to convince a few managers to buy your product and you can be installed on 10k systems. Home users typically used what they knew from work. In 2009 even offices are becoming more accustomed to letting employees use what they feel works best (though not all there yet, easier system re-imaging is helping here). Home users put whatever they want on their computer. The focus is clearly shifting more and more towards the user and making their experience better.

Where will things be in another 5 years?

Networking Open Source Web Development

Yahoo Traffic Server Open Sourced

Way back in 2002 Yahoo acquired Inktomi who was largely know for their search products. Their software powered some early search engines like HotBot in the pre-Google days. One of their lesser known products was something called Traffic Server. Even if it was lesser known it was still used by ISP’s including AOL, who in those days was big. Their business disappeared with the great bubble and they were acquired by Yahoo, who was using Traffic Server themselves ever since.

Fast forward to 2009. Yahoo is now in the process of opening up Traffic Server as an Apache project. It’s already in incubator. Yahoo says it’s capable of 30,000 requests per server. Noteworthy is that this runs on generic hardware.

These days most websites use either Squid, Nginx, Pound or Varinish on the open source side. On the proprietary side there’s Citrix NetScaler, Foundry (now Brocade) ServerIron, Zeus ZXTM or F5’s Big-IP. The proprietary side can be either expensive software running on generic hardware or an appliance (which is generally a Intel based server with a custom modified Linux install for low maintenance and top performance).

At this point it’s apparently not 64-bit and doesn’t have native IPv6 support. However it appears to be usable and likely competitive with some of the other stuff out there already. Yahoo has been using it all along, and I hear they are pretty popular (problems aside).

It should be noted that commercial CDN’s aren’t really an alternative for reverse proxy or load balancer since they still require a robust and redundant origin. If anything they will reduce your requirements, not eliminate them.

Given everyone’s interest in scaling computing quickly and cheaply this is pretty noteworthy open source event. It tends to be an afterthought but these applications can be critical. Squid handles 78% of Wikipedia’s requests. Given all their traffic, you can see how it matters.

It will be interesting to see if a community builds around Traffic Server and if it sees adoption.