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Programmer crowdfunds work to improve Chrome image support

How much does it mean to you to have good-looking images when using Chrome on your Retina-display MacBook or your high-resolution Android phone?

Programmer Yoav Weiss hopes Internet users' collective answer is at least $10,000. He's launched a crowdfunding effort to sponsor his development of the "picture" element in Chrome, a new feature that's instrumental to the idea of responsive images on the Web.

"Yeah, we're running a crowdfunding campaign to add a feature to an engine," Weiss said on Twitter on Thursday. "Never done before, but hey, we're here … Read more

Sony to debut original TV show 'Powers' for PlayStation

Sony has been talking television over the last year and now it's becoming more clear what the company had it mind. According to The Wall Street Journal, Sony is working on an original TV show called "Powers" that will be available on its PlayStation game console.

"It's about having a broad range of broadcast content to replicate the live TV experience," president and group CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment Andrew House told the Journal.

The show will be produced by Sony Pictures TV -- of "Breaking Bad" fame -- and will be … Read more

Firefox OS taps into Cordova for easier Web-app development

Any new mobile operating system faces challenges attracting developers -- even a browser-based one like Firefox OS that can take advantage of the fact that there are already countless Web developers.

Which is why it's notable that Firefox OS now works with Cordova, an Apache Software Foundation project that eases the difficulties developers have getting apps to work on multiple operating systems.

"Over the past few months, Mozilla has been working with the Cordova team to integrate Firefox OS into the Cordova framework, making it possible to release Cordova apps on the Firefox OS platform," Mozilla developer … Read more

Free startup manager beats Windows 8.1's built-in tools

Say what you will about Windows, you have to admit the OS has legs. Still, you'd think that after all these years and so many versions, Windows would finally have all the tools users need right out of the box. Not so.

After last week's post on essential Windows 8.1 time-saving tweaks, a reader asked me which version of Windows was my favorite. As tempted as I was to answer "Windows 3.1" -- I still miss Program Manager -- I fessed up to preferring the current version 8.1 over any of its predecessors.… Read more

Browser makers get past high-resolution image impasse

It looks like browser makers have settled on a way to handle high-resolution images, which are now common with the arrival of screens like Apple's Retina displays.

Browser makers haven't offered Web developers a consistent, easy way to show the right image for a given screen's size and resolution -- an idea called responsive design. That's been a shame, because screens with high-pixel densities are increasingly common on laptops, tablets, and smartphones and can offer crisp, detailed photos and graphics.

The first breakthrough came in September when support emerged for a standard called srcset, which was … Read more

ACLU fights ruling on NSA phone surveillance

The American Civil Liberties Union on Thursday filed an appeal in its lawsuit challenging the NSA's bulk collection of phone metadata.

The appeal comes after the case, ACLU vs. James R. Clapper, was dismissed last week by US District Judge William Pauley. In his ruling, Pauley said the US government had a pressing need for the surveillance program as a method for detecting and preventing terrorist attacks and that it did not go to unreasonable lengths in that pursuit.

The ACLU, which vowed last week to press on with the case, argues that the NSA program violates both statutory … Read more

Judge: NSA phone surveillance is legal and a 'vital tool'

A US district judge on Friday dismissed the American Civil Liberties Union's lawsuit against the government's top spy agency, ruling that bulk collection of telephony metadata by the NSA is lawful.

In June, the ACLU filed suit to challenge the constitutionality of the National Security Agency's mass collection of phone records, arguing that the practice violates Americans' First and Fourth Amendment rights. The ACLU sought a preliminary injunction to stop the government's phone-surveillance program and to have all of the collected data deleted.

In his ruling Friday in ACLU vs. James R. Clapper, US District Judge … Read more

Google kicks toolbars out of Chrome Web Store

Google is kicking toolbars and other "multipurpose extensions" out of the Chrome Web Store in an effort to keep its browser's interface uncluttered and to protect users from unpleasant surprises.

The change will be disruptive to many extension programmers, but Google is giving them until June 2014 for existing extensions. New ones must abide by the new rules immediately, said Chrome engineering director Erik Kay.

"Extensions in the Chrome Web Store must have a single purpose that is narrow and easy to understand," Kay said in a blog post on Thursday. "While this has … Read more

Google Dart target: Chrome soon! Other browsers...someday

Minecraft is one of the most widely used games around these days. So it was notable when the programmer who wrote it, Markus "Notch" Persson, embraced Google's Dart programming language for Web apps.

"I love it," Persson tweeted in November, shortly after Google released Dart 1.0.

That's music to the ears of Google developers who created Dart to rewrite the rules of Web programming and, as they see it, to overcome shortcomings of the JavaScript language at the foundation of Web apps today. To fully succeed, though, Google will have to persuade a … Read more

Best free sites for learning how to write code

Not so long ago, typing was for secretaries, journalists, and would-be authors. Now we're all tapping away at keyboards and screens from morning until night.

The number of people who spend their workday coding continues to soar. In the not-too-distant future, writing code may be as commonplace as typing and other forms of text-keying are today.

Learning how to code has never been easier. Whether you're a programming newbie or an old hand looking to learn a new skill or two, these four free services have you covered. (Note that all but W3Schools.com requires that you register … Read more