The Firefox Kid

Blake Ross helped make Firefox one of the biggest open-source success stories ever. Just wait until you see what he’s up to now

13 min read
Blake Ross
Photo: Timothy Archibald; Styling: Shannon Amos/Artist Untied

Blake Ross is nervous. It’s a muggy May day in New York City, and the 20-year-old has to rent a tux for a big soiree where he’ll be hobnobbing with celebrities at one of his first-ever black-tie events—a dinner for Time magazine’s 100 most influential people of the year. And he’s not very practiced with bow ties. “I never made it to my prom,” says Ross, who has thick eyebrows and pronounced ears, making him look like a young Franz Kafka.

No wonder he projects such intensity: Ross has been busy. While still a teenager, this self-taught coder cofounded the Mozilla Firefox project, a spin-off of Netscape’s Mozilla Web browser, sparking a global phenomenon. Firefox has since been downloaded by more than 200 million people worldwide, threatening the supremacy of even Microsoft’s browser, Internet Explorer. Although Firefox was ultimately wrought from the work of thousands of programmers in the free-software community—the hive of coders who share and collaborate online—Ross has become a poster boy for the revolution, a role he neither expected nor is comfortable with. People are switching to Firefox at the rate of 7 million per month—most of them from Internet Explorer—because the new browser makes surfing the Web safer and easier. Some call him “Microsoft’s worst nightmare.” Ross just says, “I’m more on the side of mom and dad.”

Keep reading...Show less

This article is for IEEE members only. Join IEEE to access our full archive.

Join the world’s largest professional organization devoted to engineering and applied sciences and get access to all of Spectrum’s articles, podcasts, and special reports. Learn more →

If you're already an IEEE member, please sign in to continue reading.

Membership includes:

  • Get unlimited access to IEEE Spectrum content
  • Follow your favorite topics to create a personalized feed of IEEE Spectrum content
  • Save Spectrum articles to read later
  • Network with other technology professionals
  • Establish a professional profile
  • Create a group to share and collaborate on projects
  • Discover IEEE events and activities
  • Join and participate in discussions

Video Friday: Turkey Sandwich

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

4 min read
A teleoperated humanoid robot torso stands in a kitchen assembling a turkey sandwich from ingredients on a tray

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your friends at IEEE Spectrum robotics. We also post a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next few months. Please send us your events for inclusion.

CoRL 2022: 14–18 December 2022, AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND

Enjoy today's videos!

Keep Reading ↓Show less

New AI Speeds Computer Graphics by Up to 5x

Neural rendering harnesses machine learning to paint pixels

5 min read
Four examples of Nvidia's Instant NeRF 2D-to-3D machine learning model placed side-by-side.

Nvidia Instant NeRF uses neural rendering to generate 3D visuals from 2D images.

NVIDIA

On 20 September, Nvidia’s Vice President of Applied Deep Learning, Bryan Cantanzaro, went to Twitter with a bold claim: In certain GPU-heavy games, like the classic first-person platformer Portal, seven out of eight pixels on the screen are generated by a new machine-learning algorithm. That’s enough, he said, to accelerate rendering by up to 5x.

This impressive feat is currently limited to a few dozen 3D games, but it’s a hint at the gains neural rendering will soon deliver. The technique will unlock new potential in everyday consumer electronics.

Keep Reading ↓Show less

Learn How Global Configuration Management and IBM CLM Work Together

In this presentation we will build the case for component-based requirements management

2 min read

This is a sponsored article brought to you by 321 Gang.

To fully support Requirements Management (RM) best practices, a tool needs to support traceability, versioning, reuse, and Product Line Engineering (PLE). This is especially true when designing large complex systems or systems that follow standards and regulations. Most modern requirement tools do a decent job of capturing requirements and related metadata. Some tools also support rudimentary mechanisms for baselining and traceability capabilities (“linking” requirements). The earlier versions of IBM DOORS Next supported a rich configurable traceability and even a rudimentary form of reuse. DOORS Next became a complete solution for managing requirements a few years ago when IBM invented and implemented Global Configuration Management (GCM) as part of its Engineering Lifecycle Management (ELM, formerly known as Collaborative Lifecycle Management or simply CLM) suite of integrated tools. On the surface, it seems that GCM just provides versioning capability, but it is so much more than that. GCM arms product/system development organizations with support for advanced requirement reuse, traceability that supports versioning, release management and variant management. It is also possible to manage collections of related Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) and Systems Engineering artifacts in a single configuration.

Keep Reading ↓Show less