hypnosec writes "Aaron Gustafson and two of his fellow contributors, Bruce Lawson and Steph Troeth, have announced the closure of The Web Standards Project (WaSP). It was formed back in 1998 by Glenn Davis, George Olsen, and Jeffrey Zeldman to get browser makers support the open standards established by World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). The project described itself as a 'coalition fighting for standards which ensure simple, affordable access to web technologies for all.' Founded at a time when Microsoft and Netscape were battling it out for browser dominance, WaSP aimed to mitigate the risks arising out of this war – an imminent fragmentation that could lead to browser incompatibilities. Noting that '..Tim Berners-Lee's vision of the web as an open, accessible, and universal community is largely the reality' Aaron noted that it was time to 'close down The Web Standards Project.'"
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CowboyNeal writes "The nature of the open source movement and its software over the years has changed considerably. From its humble beginnings in the early 80s to mainstream Android adoption, open source software along with computers and technology as a whole has gone from the sidelines to a prevalent position in the lives of modern consumers." Read below for the rest of what CowboyNeal has to say.
It's been said that the mix of stories on Slashdot is like an omelet: linux and tech, mixed with science and Legos, and a few reviews and sci-fi folded in. It's not just the stories that are a good mix, however, it's the people behind them. Through the past 15 years, an unusual cast of characters have been responsible for keeping the site up and running and bringing you the stories you want to read. We've asked a number of them to write a few words about their time working here and to share a few memories. Below you'll find that some of our former employees don't know what "a few words" means, and a collection of what bringing you news for the past 15 years has been like.
eldavojohn writes "Not two weeks after Microsoft purchased 925 patents and patent applications plus licenses to AOL's portfolio for $1 billion, Facebook has now acquired 650 of said patents and patent applications for $550 million to which Microsoft retains a license. So, was Microsoft's $450 million worth it? According to their press release: 'Upon closing of this transaction with Facebook, Microsoft will retain ownership of approximately 275 AOL patents and applications; a license to the approximately 650 AOL patents and applications that will now be owned by Facebook; and a license to approximately 300 patents that AOL did not sell in its auction.' Will the patent-go-round continue, or has Facebook loaded up for a good old-fashion Mexican standoff?"
inode_buddha writes "It's part of the $1 billion AOL patent deal, and it's something that would have made many minds explode back in the 1990s. It still makes my mind explode today. Marc Andreesen points out that MS now has a significant chunk of the old Netscape. What are the ramifications for Mozilla?"
the_newsbeagle writes "Chieko Asakawa went blind at age 14, learned to program mainframe computers by sense of touch, and has spent her 27 years at IBM-Tokyo bringing personal computing and the Internet to the blind. From the article: 'By 1997 she had developed a plug-in that worked with the Netscape browser, mapping Web navigation commands to the computer keyboard's number pad and using text-to-speech technology to read out content. Computer stores around the world sold IBM's Home Page Reader, and Asakawa says its effect on the blind community was immediate, electric, and sometimes touching. ... Other browsers for the blind followed IBM's groundbreaking efforts, and Asakawa moved on to addressing a deeper problem: the fact that designers were unintentionally creating inaccessible websites. She and her team wrote a program called aDesigner ... to allow designers to experience a site as blind users do and to suggest ways to improve navigation for audio browsers.'"
jbrodkin writes "The judgment in United States vs. Microsoft is on the verge of expiring, nearly a decade after antitrust officials ruled Microsoft unfairly limited competition against its Internet Explorer browser. Microsoft has two more weeks to fulfill the final requirements in the antitrust case, which is scheduled to expire on May 12. Although Netscape ultimately didn't benefit, the settlement seems to have done its job. From a peak of 95% market share, by some estimates Internet Explorer now has less than half of the browser market. Microsoft, of course, filed its own antitrust action against Google this week, and even commented publicly on the irony of its doing so, noting that Microsoft has 'spent more than a decade wearing the shoe on the other foot.'"
jbrodkin writes "What if you took the raw, pre-patched, 10-year-old versions of Internet Explorer 6 and Netscape 6.1 and tried to surf the modern Web? What would happen? You might think firing up IE6 or Netscape would lead to an immediate onslaught of viruses, but just for fun, I decided to spend some time using these two ancient browsers. It turns out IE6 is still capable of surfing much of the modern Internet, and can play Flash and Java content, but Netscape's troubles show it probably died a justified death."
An article at the Guardian asks whether the exceedingly high valuations of social tech companies signify the arrival of a second dotcom bubble. Quoting: "Every week, one of the new generation of internet firms seems to attract a sky-high valuation. Zynga, the social-network games company that has tempted millions to grow virtual vegetables in its FarmVille game, has been valued at $9bn (£5.54bn). Profitless Twitter is said to be worth $10bn. Groupon, vendor of online discounts, rejected a $6bn offer from Google and is considering a flotation with a potential valuation of $15bn. Tech-watchers say this is just the start: the real boom will come when Facebook, the head boy of the new dotcom frenzy, goes public, probably next year. ... The last dotcom boom really took off after the flotation of the internet software company Netscape in 1995. Patrick says this time it's likely to be Facebook that lights the fuse. So far, private investors have been locked out of the New Thing. But JP Morgan is setting up a fund, and Goldman Sachs recently tried to get its clients' money into Facebook."
DrHeasley writes "Rockmelt, available for the first time Monday, is built on the premise that most online activity today revolves around socializing on Facebook, searching on Google, tweeting on Twitter and monitoring a handful of favorite websites. It tries to minimize the need to roam from one website to the next by corralling all vital information and favorite services in panes and drop-down windows. 'This is a chance for us to build a browser all over again,' Andreessen said. 'These are all things we would have done (at Netscape) if we had known how people were going to use the Web.'"
alphadogg writes "Microsoft's Internet Explorer, which has dominated the Web browser market since blowing by Netscape in the late 1990s, last month fell below the 50% market share level for the first time in years. IE's share of the worldwide market fell to 49.87% in September, down from 51.3% in August and 58.4% a year ago. It is followed by Firefox, which increased its share slightly from 30.09% to 31.5% and Google Chrome, which grabbed 11.54% share, more than triple its September 2009 share, according to market watcher StatCounter."
cortex writes with an excerpt from the L.A. Times: "In a first step toward helping severely paralyzed people communicate more easily, Utah researchers have shown that it is possible to translate recorded brain waves into words, using a grid of electrodes placed directly on the brain. ... The device could benefit people who have been paralyzed by stroke, Lou Gehrig's disease or trauma and are 'locked in' — aware but unable to communicate except, perhaps, by blinking an eyelid or arduously moving a cursor to pick out letters or words from a list. ... Some researchers have been attempting to 'read' speech centers in the brain using electrodes placed on the scalp. But such electrodes 'are so far away from the electrical activity that it gets blurred out,' [University of Utah bioengineer Bradley] Greger said. ... He and his colleagues instead use arrays of tiny microelectrodes that are placed in contact with the brain, but not implanted. In the current study, they used two arrays, each with 16 microelectrodes."
ChiefMonkeyGrinder writes "Key, then, to the Drumbeat project is openness, specifically openness as applied to the Internet. That fits in well with the original impulses behind Mozilla and Firefox. The former was about transforming the Netscape Communicator code into an open source browser, and the latter was about defending open standards from Microsoft's attempt to lock people into Internet Explorer 6 and its proprietary approaches. Both Mozilla and Firefox have succeeded, but the threats have now changed."
harrymcc writes "Polaroid, Netscape, CompuServe, Westinghouse, Heathkit — these were once among the most respected names in the technology business. They're still around, but what's happened to them is just plain sad. I took a look at the tragic fates of a dozen mighty brands that have, in one way or another, fallen on hard times."
Frequent Slashdot contributor Bennett Haselton writes "A simple experiment shows that it's easy to find the IP addresses used by the UltraSurf anti-censorship program, and block traffic to all of those IP addresses, effectively stopping UltraSurf from working. But this is not a fault of UltraSurf; rather, it demonstrates that an anti-censorship software program can be successful even if it's relatively trivial to block it." Read on for Bennett's analysis.
Julefrokost writes "Computerworld has a story about eBay selling Skype. Marc Andreessen, co-founder of Netscape, along with a group of investors, are reported to have paid $2 billion for Skype. According to the New York Times, Google was also a potential buyer. Also, the original founders of Skype are said to have placed a bid, but Marc Andreessen & Co was the highest bidder."
wirelessjb writes to share that after a resounding defeat at the hands of Microsoft in the first major browser war of the mid 1990s, Marc Andreessen is looking to have another go at the market by backing a new startup called "RockMelt." "Mr. Andreessen suggested the new browser would be different, saying that most other browsers had not kept pace with the evolution of the Web, which had grown from an array of static Web pages into a network of complex Web sites and applications. 'There are all kinds of things that you would do differently if you are building a browser from scratch,' Mr. Andreessen said. RockMelt was co-founded by Eric Vishria and Tim Howes, both former executives at Opsware, a company that Mr. Andreessen co-founded and then sold to Hewlett-Packard in 2007 for about $1.6 billion. Mr. Howes also worked at Netscape with Mr. Andreessen."
Hugh Pickens writes "CNN reports that Netscape co-founder Marc Andreessen has raised $300 million to launch a new venture capital firm that aims to reinvent the way money is doled out in Silicon Valley while reflecting Andreessen's unwavering view that the Internet will soon take over all aspects of our lives and that online services won't merely supplement your TV viewing or newspaper reading, but will replace those activities altogether. Andreessen, on the board of Facebook and an angel investor in Twitter, says that technology moves so quickly that only the young can keep up with what the latest stuff can do. 'So the 24-year-old coming out of Stanford will have a view of technology that the 29-year-old — who was 24 just five years ago — would never think of,' say Andreessen. 'We love that kind of thing.' Andreessen thinks that when companies are acquired too quickly, innovation slows down, and he says that YouTube might have come up with a path to profitability faster if it wasn't a part of Google. 'It is hard for big ones to out-execute up-and-comers,' Andreessen says. 'Our secret plan is to watch what gets acquired and fund the next company. A good template is to fund companies doing whichever the next-generation product would have been.'"