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Mozilla is doing just fine

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The Firefox browser once had a tight bond with Google, not so much today. Mozilla is doing just fine without the millions of dollars it once pulled in from Google.

The developer behind the widely used Firefox browser said recently that it no longer relies on Google for its revenue and is confident new search-engine deals will bring in even more money.

For years, Google in effect sponsored Mozilla by paying for Web searches launched through Firefox. In 2014, the deal accounted for most of the nonprofit organization’s $330 million in revenue, according to financial results released for that year.

Mozilla, based in Mountain View, California, ditched the global Google deal at the end of last year, moving instead to regional deals with other search engine companies, notably Yahoo in the United States, Baidu in China and Yandex in Russia. Now, Mozilla gets no revenue at all from Google, even though Google is still the default search engine for Firefox users in Europe.

For Mozilla, more competition means giving consumers increased choices when they access information and services online. The online world has pushed beyond the PC, expanding to mobile experiences tightly controlled by companies like Apple and Google. A self-reliant Mozilla would help make it harder for those giants to abuse their positions of power by, for example, skewing search results in their own favor or blocking access to content from rivals.

Google and Mozilla often are allies, each seeking to make the Web better for activities like e-commerce, blogging, social networking, news publishing and communication. The tight financial relationship is unusual given how often Google was at odds with Mozilla’s mission to ensure people have choices in their online activities. Google maintains tight control over its Android smartphone software and its many linked services such as Google Maps, Gmail, YouTube, Google Music and Google Docs.

Mozilla is holding it’s own financially and expects to keep doing so without Google’s money. Its revenue for 2014, based on a recent tax file, came in at $330 million, up from $314 million in 2013. Mozilla is a nonprofit organization that doesn’t operate like Google, Microsoft and Apple, its biggest competitors in the browser market. Mozilla does however pay attention to keeping the lights on and recruiting talent.

It had about $270 million in cash and cash equivalents at the end of 2014, a $20 million increase from a year earlier. It now employs about 1,000 people worldwide, boosted by the work of more than 10,000 volunteers. Mozilla’s search-related income is based on a combination of fixed payments and revenue that depends on the traffic that Firefox generates.

The Firefox browser has had an OS strategy shift. In the smartphone realm, Mozilla has been trying to combat the dominance of Google’s Android and Apple’s competing iOS with its own mobile operating system, Firefox OS. Mozilla’s strategy had been to spread the software to lower-end phones in developing markets that hadn’t yet undergone the smartphone revolution. However, Chris Beard, who took over as Mozilla’s chief executive in 2014, concluded earlier this year that the plan wasn’t working. The new mobile goal is to spread Firefox OS to enthusiasts.

Now, Android phone users can install a version that runs as an Android app or, for those feeling more experimental; completely replace Android with Firefox OS. That effort also includes a version of Firefox for Android phones and, as of two weeks ago, Firefox for Apple’s iOS. Because of Apple’s rules, though, Firefox for iOS is built with Apple’s browser technology at the core, which means Mozilla can’t use it to advance the Web standards it believes are important.

Mozilla has been saying for years that it is trying to boost its mobile efforts, but it has not had much to show. On smartphones, its share of browser usage is virtually nonexistent. Firefox OS is equally absent among mobile operating systems. Mozilla has helped advance Web technology for mobile devices, though. Even if that doesn’t necessarily directly help Firefox, the tech can aid the Web itself when other browser makers embrace the standards.

Despite challenges, Mozilla remains committed to its core mission. Even if people do not seem to fret about the degree of control Apple and Google exercise over them today, that can change, as it did a decade ago when Firefox showed the world there was a desirable alternative to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser. Mozilla’s place in the browser world seems a bit complex for now, but it’s persistence is enough to take it far.

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Making outstanding art through waste material

Keletso Thobega

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Following one’s vocational calling can be a tall order in a world that still believes that white-collar work is the only way to make a living. No one knows this better than 28-year-old Khumoyame

Addam Ndove, who is a police officer by profession and an artist by vocation. While he is committed to his work as a law enforcer he dedicates most of his free time to making art. Ndove runs a company called Craft-eyed Designs which specialises in upholstery designing, artistic furniture and décor ornaments, mostly made out of waste materials such as empty oil drums, tyres and pallets, among others. The Francistown born and raised lad tells Vibe that his artistic journey started with a passion he had for art and using recycled material to create distinct new pieces.

One day he got an idea to try out a few art works and he went out to collect raw material and got down to work. “I knew I was talented in hand craft but had never explored my potential. I was impressed with what I managed to do. My work was interesting and outstanding. I also received positive feedback from the public and realised that this was something I could do out of passion and to complement my earnings,” he says.

Ndove explains that Art is a way of expressing himself. “I enjoy art because that is how I communicate and share what is in my mind.” He points out that he is also a businessman so selling his craft was not too difficult as he has the acumen. He however notes that the biggest challenge he faces is that a large number of Batswana do not appreciate art and therefore do not recognise the value of his work. Other challenges he faces include lack of operational space and shortage of capital.

He says that shortage of raw materials limits him from unleashing his full creative potential. Ndove currently runs his company alone and juggles it with his day job. He hopes to one day get an investor to bolster his business so that he can employ other people and grow the enterprise. “I would like to get a spacious workshop and showroom, and also hire relevant employees.” But doing what he loves makes him content. “Bringing an idea to life makes me fulfilled. I always feel great when I see my finished products.”

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BOMU awards go on…

Keletso Thobega

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The 10th annual Botswana Musicians Union (BOMU) awards will be held on 26 January 2019 at GICC. Revellers should expect performances from Lister Boleseng, Nono Siile, Perion, Slizer, Matheke Letane and Kwaito Nation among others. Tickets are said to be already on sale through Webtickets.

The awards will also be broadcasts.
Over the past few weeks there has been confusion over whether the awards will go and this week Phemelo ‘Fresh Les’ Lesokwane officially confirmed that it is all systems go. Artists caused a stir this week on social media when they indicated that was confusion and miscommunication around the awards. But Lesokwane insists that there is nothing confusing going on as the interim committee had been planning the awards for a while now, and had even roped in sponsors.

He said that the awards had been organised since last week but they had to change the date due to a few glitches. Lesokwane says that they had opted for the people’s choice approach to awards. “We have given the public the power to decide who they want to vote for under the different categories. What happens is that when you vote you sms the category and name of the artist to 16565. We are then going to tally the votes when voting lines close on 23 January 2019.

We will then cut down the number of entries based on the number of votes. This will make the process easier for our judges, who will listen to the artists’ CDs and give them points.” He further said that having a high number of votes would not automatically mean that an artist makes it. “One might have many votes but with low quality music and we consider that. We are looking at quality
Lesokwane said that when former chairperson Pagson Ntsie was outsed, the awards were still open. “Registration is still on at BOMU office in Kgolagano at Main mall. Those who had registered can check their documentation.”

Last year BOMU was wrecked by infightings following a ruling that Pagson Ntsie is not the legitimate chairperson of the music body. The ruling was passed in August by the Registrar of Societies. The ruling came following investigations regarding adherence to the BOMU Constitution and corruption claims. Accusations of financial mismanagement and poor leadership also cropped up.

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