Mozilla has announced the launch of Aurora, a new Firefox release channel that is intended to open up experimental Firefox features to a broader audience of testers. The Aurora channel will serve up a stream of Firefox builds that are less fragile than the nightly builds but not as stable as official pre-releases. Mozilla is transitioning to shorter release cycles and a more incremental development model. The organization aims to deliver three more major Firefox releases this year, bringing the open source Web browser’s version number up to 7. The transition will require much more intensive testing throughout the open source development cycle. Launching the Aurora channel and increasing concurrent testing is one part of Mozilla’s strategy for preserving its high standards of quality assurance as it transitions to shorter development cycles. As part of the transition to the channel model, Mozilla is also going eliminate the need for freezes on the mozilla-central repository during stabilization—effectively making it possible for new code to continue landing in trunk throughout the whole cycle. Mozilla already offers a nightly build channel, which is codenamed Minefield. The Minefield builds are produced by an automated build server based on the latest Firefox code in Mozilla’s version control system. Firefox contributors and some adventurous testers routinely experiment with the nightly builds and submit bug reports to Mozilla based on issues that they encounter. The nightly builds have long been a great way to ride the burning edge of the Firefox trunk, but are subject to breakage. The quality of the nightly builds tends to fluctuate considerably throughout the development cycle. The lack of predictability makes it generally unsuitable for day-to-day use. Mozilla is offering Aurora as a more robust alternative to nightly builds with the aim of making early-stage testing palatable to a slightly more mainstream (and much larger) audience of software enthusiasts. The Aurora builds are available for users to download and install.
The Guardian improve its Open Platform, a service that will allow partners to reuse guardian.co.uk content and data for free and weave it “into the fabric of the internet”. Open Platform launched with two separate content-sharing services, which will allow users to build their own applications in return for carrying Guardian advertising. A content application programming interface (API) will smooth the way for web developers to build applications and services using Guardian content, while a Data Store will contain datasets curated by Guardian editors and open for others to use. Emily Bell, the Guardian News & Media director of digital content, described Open Platform as a “new chapter in our history and a new foundation for the future of our journalism”. She said that Open Platform would allow Guardian content “to be woven into the fabric of the internet” as people outside the organization saw the value of adding Guardian content to their projects. The Guardian content API includes written articles from Guardian and Observer staff and freelances to whose work the Guardian has rights.
February 2009, on an especially cold day, author and Harvard scholar Doc Searls shot some pictures of ice crystals that had formed inside the old storm windows of his apartment, and put them up on the online photo-sharing site Flickr. Searls is no newcomer when it comes to sharing his photos online. He is sharing many of his 34.000 photos generously with the Creative Commons licenses that give the public a royalty free permission to use the licensed work under certain terms. After Searls released the photos, he waited for nature to take its course. In November 2009, a producer of the NBC television network sent an email to Searls. NBC wanted to use his photos in the upcoming Vancouver Olympic Games. However, NBC had some problems with the attribution part of the Creative Commons license that Searls was using. Searls agreed over an email to waive that and let NBC credit him in the end credits with the rest of the NBC’s creative team. NBC used Searls’ ice crystal images in transition graphics, in background of the digital studio sets, in event information graphics, scoreboards and in many other graphic elements of the NBC’s Olympic broadcasts. Searls’ photos, which had received just over 1000 views in Flickr suddenly, had a daily audience of 25 million Americans. In his popular blog, Searls expressed excitement that NBC used his photos in the Olympics. NBC Universal’s decision to use Creative Commons licensed photographs in Olympic broadcast is an example of how media conglomerates can collaborate with amateurs.
On july 26, 2010, the U.S Copyright Office ruled that jailbreaking an iPhone or other mobile device will no longer violate federal copyright law. In response to a request by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the U.S. Copyright Office explicitly recognized two exemptions (ex. no. 2 and ex. no. 3) to the DMCA to permit jailbreaking in order to allow iPhone owners to use their phones with applications that are not available from Apple’s store, and to unlock their iPhones for use with unapproved carriers. Since the release of the original iPhone on june 29, 2007, users have been trying to gain access and install unauthorized software on them. The first jailbreak, enabling custom ringtones and wallpapers, was released in july 2007, quickly followed by various apps, and the first game on august 4, 2007. When you jailbreak an iPhone, you remove the Apple-imposed restrictions (DRM) that prevent you from loading applications not sold through the iTunes App Store. Unlocking, on the other hand, only removes the restrictions that tie your iPhone to AT&T. So on the same phone, it’s possible to perform just one action or both.
Adobe Systems Inc. claimed that the advantage of its e-book copy protection technology, called Adobe Digital Experience Protection Technology (ADEPT), is that consumers can buy e-books for one e-reader and freely transfer them to other such devices, as well as their Apple and Windows computers. While that’s possible with Amazon.com’s Kindle, which uses its own file format and Digital Rights Management (DRM) scheme, and with e-books purchased for the iPad from Apple iBook store, it requires more hassle. But users say ADEPT fails to live up to Adobe’s promise of interoperability between e-readers and e-book stores. For instance, e-books bought from Barnes & Noble, for now, work only on the nook e-reader — not other popular e-readers such as the Sony Reader, even though both use Adobe’s DRM. On its Web site, Adobe recently admitted that e-books sold by Barnes & Noble should “initially” not work on other Adobe-compatible e-readers. That’s because Barnes & Noble is using a new, more liberal form of ADEPT that requires users to enter in a password to read the e-book. Available as part of the Adobe Content Server 5 software, this ‘social DRM’ makes it easier for users to loan e-books to close friends and family. The problem appears to be that most of the other e-readers use Adobe’s Content Server 4 software, which doesn’t offer a password option and puts a hard cap of 12 devices for any particular e-book.