April Fools 2008

As usual, my list of April Fools that I saw today:

Top Windows Programs Open Source

CNet has a slide show with it’s top Windows programs. It’s a pretty good list. I’d agree with it for pretty much everything. What I found really interesting is that of the 9 listed, 7 are open source. Here’s the rundown with the license for the source of each:

Interesting to see the penetration of open source here.

Googlefox Redux

Yes, it’s another Google/Firefox blog post. This time in response to a CNet blog post regarding Google’s relationship with Mozilla. It makes a few interesting points, but quite a bit of it is silly or outdated. It was edited at some point late this morning or early afternoon from it’s original form (as it mentions).

While Apple also gets a nice chunk of change from Google for the search bar in its Safari browser, Apple has enough other sources of revenue that it can easily walk away from Google’s cash.

Yes, Google provides a great sum of cash. But indirectly. The real money machine is the search box, and the start page. Right now they are hooked up to Google per an agreement (which I haven’t seen in any way shape or form). In the future that money machine may be hooked up to something else. Will it? I don’t have a clue. Don’t forget $19,776,193 in expenses and $66,840,850 in revenue leaves quite a bit of cash in the war chest and that’s only for 2006. 2007 is rapidly approaching it’s end. There was a 2005 at some point in the past. With the mobile landscape just warming up (new potential for partnerships/revenue streams), there’s opportunity. Google is lucrative, no question about it, but it’s not the only means of survival. Yahoo is already used for some parts of the world. That relationship could be expanded in the future.

Fact: Users who enter keywords or misspelled URLs into the Firefox 2.0 location bar will essentially be running a Google “I’m Feeling Lucky” search. That is, they will be taken to the first result for a Google search query for those terms.

I believe Netscape had this feature about a decade ago, but with a different partner. Not really news here. Back then I believe you paid for that, now it’s about your rank in Google’s search results. I personally think the Google method is much more neutral.

Fact: In addition to the Google cash flowing to Mozilla, a number of Google engineers spend significant amounts of time working on Firefox. This includes Ben Goodger, the lead developer for the browser. Yes, other companies pay developers to work on Firefox, but none throw as many overall corporate resources at the browser.

Fact: This statement quotes things from 2005. I don’t think Ben is very (if at all) involved with Firefox in the past year. The other reference to Darin Fisher is also inaccurate since he hasn’t been very active (if at all) in the past year or so as well. There’s a reason why all those links are to 2005 stories. By the way, the Mozilla Corporation throws way more resources at Firefox than Google.

This begs the question: why doesn’t Firefox adopt the features of AdBlock Plus and CustomizeGoogle? While the terms of Google’s contract with Mozilla are not public, even if Mozilla were contractually free to include anti-Google-tracking features, it would not be a wise move, business-wise. After all, it is not too smart to anger the company that provides more than 85 percent of your financing.

It would not prove to smart to take the first step towards moving the web to a pay-per-site model. Firefox forced the IE development team out of retirement. If Firefox removed advertising, there would a strong amount of pressure on Microsoft to do the same. Microsoft relies on ads for several of it’s properties including MSN. Does anyone want to see the web as a subscription model? I’m pretty sure the answer is no all around. More and more sites have moved away from that such as the NY Times. While some users will block ads regardless of technology most won’t know how, or bother to providing revenue to keep the majority of internet content free. Firefox is about the open web. Payments for every page you visit isn’t anyones definition of “open”. Mozilla thus far has played things pretty neutral. Adblock Plus is treated like any other extension. It’s not shunned or hidden.

This brings us to a really interesting dilemma. Google has a well-known flaw in one of its Web sites that can be (ab)used by phishers and malicious hackers. Google refuses to fix the flaw, as it believes that it is not a problem. Google also operates the Firefox phishing blacklist. Will Google add one of its own domains to the phishing blacklist? Of course not!

Is this a Google issue? Or a company/organization/person issue? I’m not aware of any entity that is immune to this. I can’t even think of a company that hasn’t been down this road before. IIRC Microsoft disagreed with security researches on flaws more than once. Google shouldn’t have to add one of it’s own domains to the phishing blacklist. It has the immediate ability to report the problem internally and shut down the offending problem. For the record Google’s even willing to notify webmasters of certain problems. If your a webmaster, you should be signed up.

Google’s SafeBrowsing is mentioned several times as well. For the record there is a documented method for blacklist providers to use (and yes, you can bundle it as an extension). Thus far, there’s not much on the landscape of free blacklists. The only one I’m aware of is PhishTank.

So there you have it, nothing has changed, Google hasn’t taken over. Nothing to see here. IF Google were to stage a takeover, I’ll be sure to blog about it. Just keep an eye on this blog. Thus far I haven’t seen any evidence of it.

For the record, there was a bug fix committed today by someone at Google (not sure if it was Google backed, or just done by a Google employee). “Fix the incorrect function prototypes of SSL handshake callbacks”. And no, that doesn’t mean Google took over encryption.

The reviews come in…

CNET posted a review of Firefox 1.0, and of particular interest is this breakdown of their rating:

Setup and interface 8
Features 9
Service and support 7

[Source: CNET @ 11/10/2004 9:20 AM EST ]

I want to draw attention to “Service and Support”. That’s where open source still lacks.

Firefox destroyed in marketing thus far when people said open source doesn’t advertise. I think we need a community driven solution for support to. Something better than a forum, IRC or a newsgroup (the last two, most of our target end users never have used, nor want to learn). We need an easy way to provide quality free support for basic issues. That is going to be critical if Firefox wants to be viewed as a 10/10 product rather than an 8/10. 8/10 is good. 10/10 is Firefox Good. SpreadFirefox.com shows a community can replace an entire company division. Now we need to spin it to do tech support.

Perhaps feeding a form of tickets into a forum like solution, let various users post answers, and a moderator after a designated period (4hrs or 10 replies) selects the best answer. That gets sent to the end user. User gets fun points, just like spreadfirefox.com. A point for every valid submission. 10 points for every nominated submission.