Archive for the ‘Web Browser’ Category

Power to the User! + Pull Advertising

Friday, April 14th, 2017

Princeton’s Ad-Blocking Superweapon May Put an End to the Ad-Blocking Arms Race by Jason Koebler.

From the post:

An ad blocker that uses computer vision appears to be the most powerful ever devised and can evade all known anti ad blockers.

A team of Princeton and Stanford University researchers has fundamentally reinvented how ad-blocking works, in an attempt to put an end to the advertising versus ad-blocking arms race. The ad blocker they’ve created is lightweight, evaded anti ad-blocking scripts on 50 out of the 50 websites it was tested on, and can block Facebook ads that were previously unblockable.

The software, devised by Arvind Narayanan, Dillon Reisman, Jonathan Mayer, and Grant Storey, is novel in two major ways: First, it looks at the struggle between advertising and ad blockers as fundamentally a security problem that can be fought in much the same way antivirus programs attempt to block malware, using techniques borrowed from rootkits and built-in web browser customizability to stealthily block ads without being detected. Second, the team notes that there are regulations and laws on the books that give a fundamental advantage to consumers that cannot be easily changed, opening the door to a long-term ad-blocking solution.
… (emphasis in original)

How very cool! Putting users in charge of the content they view. What a radical idea!

Koebler does the required genuflection towards the “ethics” of blocking ads, but I see no “ethical” issue at all.

IBM, Cisco, etc., are wasting their time and mine advertising enterprise scale security solutions to me. Promise.

What’s broken is that advertisers, like telephone scammers, must contact millions of people to find those unlucky enough to answer the ad and/or phone.

What if instead of a push advertising model we had pull advertising?

For example, not this year but in a few years, I’m going to buy a new car. When that time comes, ads and offers on cars of certain types would be welcome.

What if I could specify a time period, price range, model of car and for that relevant period of time, I get card ads, etc. Notice I have pre-qualified myself as interested, so the advertisers aren’t talking about hits out of millions but possibly thousands if not hundreds. Depends on how good their offers are.

Or if generally I’m interested in books in particular categories or by particular authors? Or when cheese is on sale at Kroger? All of which I could pre-qualify myself.

Pull advertising reduces the bandwidth wasted by advertisers who push content never knowing where a mark (sorry, customer) may be found.

Such a system would need to protect the privacy of consumers, so they would not be pestered when they had not opted in for ads. But anonymous ad brokerage is certainly doable. (The opposite of finding a subject with topic maps is concealing it.)

Interested in ending web-based spam/click-bait?

Online tracking: A 1-million-site measurement and analysis [Leaving False Trails]

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

Online tracking: A 1-million-site measurement and analysis by Steven Englehardt and Arvind Narayanan.

From the webpage:

Tracking Results

During our January 2016 measurement of the top 1 million sites, our tool made over 90 million requests, assembling the largest dataset (to our knowledge) used for studying web tracking. With this scale we can answer many web tracking questions: Who are the largest trackers? Which sites embed the largest number of trackers? Which tracking technologies are used, and who is using them? and many more.


The total number of third parties present on at least two first parties is over 81,000, but the prevalence quickly drops off. Only 123 of these 81,000 are present on more than 1% of sites. This suggests that the number of third parties that a regular user will encounter on a daily basis is relatively small. The effect is accentuated when we consider that different third parties may be owned by the same entity. All of the top 5 third parties, as well as 12 of the top 20, are Google-owned domains. In fact, Google, Facebook, and Twitter are the only third-party entities present on more than 10% of sites.
… (emphasis in original)

Impressive research based upon an impressive tool, OpenWPM.

The Github page for OpenWPM reads in part:

OpenWPM is a web privacy measurement framework which makes it easy to collect data for privacy studies on a scale of thousands to millions of site. OpenWPM is built on top of Firefox, with automation provided by Selenium. It includes several hooks for data collection, including a proxy, a Firefox extension, and access to Flash cookies. Check out the instrumentation section below for more details.

Just a point of view but I’m more interested in specific privacy tracking data for some given set of servers than general privacy statistics.

Specific privacy tracking data that enables planning the use of remote browsers to leave false trails.

Kudos to the project, however you choose to use the software.

Virtual Kalimba

Saturday, December 26th, 2015

Virtual Kalimba


Visit the site for keyboard shortcuts, tips & tricks, and interactive production of sound!

The website is an experiment in Web Audio by Middle Ear Media.

The Web Audio Tutorials page at Middle Ear Media has eight (8) tutorials on Web Audio.

Demo apps:

Apps are everywhere. While native mobile apps get a lot of attention, web apps have become much more powerful in recent years. Hopefully you can find something here that will stimulate you or improve the quality of your life in some way.

Web Audio Loop Mixer

Web Audio Loop Mixer is a Web Audio experiment created with HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript, and the Web Audio API. This web app is a stand alone loop mixer with effects. It allows up to four audio loops to be boosted, attenuated, equalized, panned, muted, and effected by delay or distortion in the browser.

Virtual Kalimba

Virtual Kalimba is a Web Audio experiment created with HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript. It uses the Web Audio API to recreate a Kalimba, also known as an Mbira or Thumb Piano. This is a traditional African instrument that belongs to the Lamellophone family of musical instruments.

Virtual Hang

Virtual Hang is a Web Audio experiment created with HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript. It uses the Web Audio API to recreate a Hang, a steel hand pan instrument. The Hang is an amazing musical instrument developed by Felix Rohner and Sabina Schärer in Bern, Switzerland.

War Machine

War Machine is a Web Audio experiment created with HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript. The App uses the Web Audio API to create a sample pad interface reminiscent of an Akai MPC. The purpose of War Machine is not to promote violence, but rather to create a safe (victimless) environment for the release of excess aggression.

Channel Strip

Channel Strip is a Web Audio experiment created with HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript, and the Web Audio API. This web app is a stand alone audio channel strip that allows an audio signal to be boosted, attenuated, equalized, panned, compressed and muted in the browser. The audio source is derived from user media via file select input.

Task Managment

A fast loading Web App for managing tasks online. This App offers functions such as editable list items, removable list items, and it uses localStorage to save your information in your own browser.

On War Machine, the top row, third pad from the left comes the closest to an actual gunshot sound.

Works real well with the chorus from Anders Osborne’s Five Bullets:

Boom , boom, boom, that American sound
Teenage kids on a naked ground
Boom, boom, boom, that American sound
Five bullets in Pigeon Town

For more details on Anders Osborne, including lyrics and tour dates, see: Ya Ya Nation.

I first saw this in a tweet by Chris Ford.

UI Events (Formerly DOM Level 3 Events) Draft Published

Thursday, March 19th, 2015

UI Events (Formerly DOM Level 3 Events) Draft Published

From the post:

The Web Applications Working Group has published a Working Draft of UI Events (formerly DOM Level 3 Events). This specification defines UI Events which extend the DOM Event objects defined in DOM4. UI Events are those typically implemented by visual user agents for handling user interaction such as mouse and keyboard input. Learn more about the Rich Web Client Activity.

If you are planning on building rich web clients, now would be the time to start monitoring W3C drafts in this area. To make sure your use cases are met.

People have different expectations with regard to features and standards quality. Make sure your expectations are heard.

Value-Loss Conduits?

Sunday, August 17th, 2014

Do you remove links from materials that you quote?

I ask because of the following example:

The research, led by Alexei Efros, associate professor of electrical engineering and computer sciences, will be presented today (Thursday, Aug. 14) at the International Conference and Exhibition on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques, or SIGGRAPH, in Vancouver, Canada.

“Visual data is among the biggest of Big Data,” said Efros, who is also a member of the UC Berkeley Visual Computing Lab. “We have this enormous collection of images on the Web, but much of it remains unseen by humans because it is so vast. People have called it the dark matter of the Internet. We wanted to figure out a way to quickly visualize this data by systematically ‘averaging’ the images.”

Which is a quote from: New tool makes a single picture worth a thousand – and more – images by Sarah Yang.

Those passages were reprinted by Science Daily reading:

The research, led by Alexei Efros, associate professor of electrical engineering and computer sciences, was presented Aug. 14 at the International Conference and Exhibition on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques, or SIGGRAPH, in Vancouver, Canada.

“Visual data is among the biggest of Big Data,” said Efros, who is also a member of the UC Berkeley Visual Computing Lab. “We have this enormous collection of images on the Web, but much of it remains unseen by humans because it is so vast. People have called it the dark matter of the Internet. We wanted to figure out a way to quickly visualize this data by systematically ‘averaging’ the images.”

Why leave out the hyperlinks for SIGGRAPH and the Visual Computing Laboratory?

Or for that matter, the link to the original paper: AverageExplorer: Interactive Exploration and Alignment of Visual Data Collections (ACM Transactions on Graphics, SIGGRAPH paper, August 2014) which appeared in the news release.

All three hyperlinks enhance your ability to navigate to more information. Isn’t navigation to more information a prime function of the WWW?

If so, we need to clue ScienceDaily and other content repackagers to include hyperlinks passed onto them, at least.

If you can’t be a value-add, at least don’t be a value-loss conduit.

Firefox Delivers 3D Gaming,…

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

Firefox Delivers 3D Gaming, Video Calls and File Sharing to the Web

From the post:

Rich activities like games and video calls were some of the last remaining challenges to prove that the Web is a capable and powerful platform for complex tasks. We conquered these challenges as part of Mozilla’s mission to advance the Web as the platfo rm for openness, innovation and opportunity for all.

Firefox allows developers to create amazing high-performance Web applications and enables video calls and file-sharing directly in the browser, all without the need for plugins or third-party software. What has been difficult to develop on the Web before is now much easier, faster and more fun.

Mozilla described a supercharged subset of JavaScript (asm.js) that enables developers to create high-intensity applications, like 3D games and photo processing, directly on the Web without having to install additional software or use plugins. Using the Emscripten cross-compiler, which can emit asm.js, it is possible to bring high-performance native applications, like games, to the Web.

The gaming lead almost caused me to skip this item. I haven’t played a video game since Boulder Dash on the Commodore 128. 😉

But support for games also means more mundane applications, like editors, perhaps even collaborative editors, spreadsheets, graphics programs and even topic maps could be supported as well.

WeevilScout [Distributed Browser Computing]

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013


From this poster:

The proliferation of web browsers and the performance gain being achieved by current JavaScript virtual machines raises the question whether Internet browsers can become yet another middleware for distributed computing.

Will we need new HPC benchmarks when 10 million high end PCs link their web browser JavaScript engines together?

What about 20 million high end PCs?

But the ability to ask questions of large data sets is no guarantee that we will formulate good questions to ask.

Pointers to discussions on how to decide what questions to ask?

Or do we ask the old questions and just get the results more quickly?

I first saw this at Nat Torkinton’s Four short links: 4 June 2013.

Topic Maps and Bookmarks

Friday, April 5th, 2013

A comment recently suggested web bookmarks as an ideal topic map use case for most users.

There has been work along those lines. I haven’t found/remembered every paper/proposal so chime in the ones I miss.

The one that first came to mind was Thomas Passin’s Browser bookmark management with Topic Maps at Extreme Markup in 2003.


Making effective use of large collections of browser bookmarks is difficult. The user faces major challenges in finding specific entries, in finding specific or general kinds of entries, and in finding related references. In addition, the ability to add annotations would be very valuable.

This paper discusses a practical model for a bookmark collection that has been organized into nested folders. It is shown convincingly that the folder structure in no way implies a hierarchical taxonomy, nor does it reflect a faceted classification scheme. The model is presented as a topic map.

A number of simple enhancements to the basic information are described, including a very modest amount of semantic analysis on the bookmark titles. An approach for preserving user-entered annotations across bookmark updates is delineated. Some issues of user interface are discussed. In toto, the model, the computed enrichment, and the user interface work together to provide effective collocation and navigation capabilities.

A bookmark application that embodies this model has been implemented entirely within a standard browser The topic map engine is written entirely in javascript. The utility of this application, which the author uses daily, is remarkable considering the simplicity of the underlying model. It is planned to give a live demonstration during the presentation.

Then there was Tobias Hofmann and Martin Pradella, BookMap — A Topic Map Based Web Application for Organizing Bookmarks. (TMRA 2007)


This talk proposes a basic Ontology for use in Topic Maps storing semantic information on bookmark collections. Furthermore, we introduce a data model allowing to implement such a system on a LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) platform, extended with the Cake-PHP framework. A prototype has been developed as proof of concept, where the use of AJAX and drag and drop capabilities in the browser resulted in a good user experience during a preliminary user evaluation.


Toward a Topic Maps Amanuensis by Jack Park (2007)


The CALO project at SRI International provides unique opportunities to explore the boundaries of knowledge representation and organization in a learning environment. A goal reported here is to develop methods for assistance in the preparation of documents through a topic map framework populated by combinations of machine learning and recorded social gestures. This work in progress continues the evolution of Tagomizer, our social bookmarking application, adding features necessary for annotations of websites beyond simple bookmark-like tagging, including the creation of new subjects in the topic map. We report on the coupling of Tagomizer with a Java wiki engine, and show how this new framework will serve as a platform for CALO’s DocAssist application.

More recently:

ToMaBoM, Topic Map Bookmark Manager – Firefox Extension by Dieter Steiner (last updated 2012-11-05)


  • Create and Safe Weblinks in a Topic Map
  • Organize and Mange Entrys
  • Change Topic Map Meta-Model
  • Safe copy of Webpages locally and access them from within the extension
  • Import and Export the Topic Map as XML Topic Map

I need to mention Gabriel Hopmans is working on a topic map bookmark app but I don’t have a link to share. Gabriel?

Over the weekend, read up on the older proposals and take a look at ToMaBoM.

What do you like/dislike, would like to see, not just there but in any topic map bookmark app?

PS: I am wiling to bet that curated bookmarks, delivered to users (TM based searching), will be more popular than users doing the work themselves.


Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

Announcing Testling-CI by Peteris Krumins.

From the post:

We at Browserling are proud to announce Testling-CI! Testling-CI lets you write continuous integration cross-browser tests that run on every git push!


There are a ton of modules on npm and github that aren’t just for node.js but for browsers, too. However, figuring out which browsers these modules work with can be tricky. It’s often that case that some module used to work in browsers but has accidentally stopped working because the developer hadn’t checked that their code still worked recently enough. If you use npm for frontend and backend modules, this can be particularly frustrating.

You will probably also be interested in: How to write Testling-CI tests.

A bit practical for me but with HTML5, browser-based interfaces are likely to become the default.

Useful to point out resources that will make it easier to cross-browser test topic map, browser-based interfaces.

HTML5 and Canvas 2D – Feature Complete

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

HTML5 and Canvas 2D have been released as feature complete drafts.

Not final but a stable target for development.

If you are interested in “testimonials,” see: HTML5 Definition Complete, W3C Moves to Interoperability Testing and Performance

Personally I prefer the single page HTML versions:

HTML5 singe page version.

The Canvas 2D draft is already a single page version.

Now would be a good time to begin working on how you will use HTML5 and Canvas 2D for delivery of topic map based information.

The Web engineer’s online toolbox

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

The Web engineer’s online toolbox by Ivan Zuzak.

From the post:

I wanted to compile a list of online, Web-based tools that Web engineers can use for their work in development, testing, debugging and documentation. The requirements for a tool to make the list are:

  • must be a live Web application (no extensions or apps you have to host yourself),
  • free to use (some kind of free plan available),
  • generic applicability (not usable only for a specific application/platform),
  • and must be useful to Web engineers (not just for Web site design).

If you are delivering content over the Web, you are either using or will be interested in using one or more of these tools.

CS262 Programming Languages

Saturday, March 10th, 2012

CS262 Programming Languages

From the webpage:

Starts: April 16, 2012.

Learn about programming languages while building a web browser! You will understand JavaScript and HTML from the inside-out in this exciting class.

The course is being taught by: Westley Weimer.

Westley Weimer is a Professor of Computer Science at the University of Virginia where he teaches computer science and leads research in programming languages and software engineering. He has won three awards for teaching over half a dozen “best paper” awards for research. He has MS and PhD degrees from the University of California at Berkeley.

Hard to think of a better way to understand content delivery than by understanding its consumption.