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Teen is co-creator of Firefox browser


Jan 23 2005, 09:14 PM (Post #1)
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QUOTE
Teen is co-creator of Firefox browser

KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. -- By age 10, Blake Ross was designing Web pages on America Online. By 14, after mastering complex programming languages such as C++, he was fixing bugs in Netscape's Web browser from home, a hobby that landed him a job offer.

"What, at the local store or something?" David Ross remembered thinking when his son told him.

No, at Netscape Communications Corp.

Ross, now 19, a sophomore computer science major at Stanford University, has an even more impressive resume than most of his peers. Before graduating high school, he helped develop Firefox.

Colleagues who worked with Ross only online were surprised when they met him to find "a scrawny 15-year-old kid," recalled Chris Hofmann, engineering director at the Mozilla Foundation.

To take an internship at Netscape during the summer of 2001, Ross moved with his mother to a rented apartment near Netscape's offices in Mountain View, Calif. She drove him to work each morning.

He continued working on the browser on contract after returning to Florida to attend Gulliver Preparatory School. He breezed through computer classes, finishing projects in a day that took others two weeks, said Dean Morell, a former teacher and chairman of the school's computer science department.

Ross soon took on a much more demanding project.

America Online Inc., which bought Netscape in 1999, was trying to resurrect the once-mighty Netscape browser. AOL added features, but they bogged down the software and reduced performance, Ross said in recent interviews by e-mail and at his parents' condo in Key Biscayne, a Miami suburb.

At 17, Ross and another Netscape programmer, David Hyatt, started a side project that became Firefox. They wanted to strip down Netscape and the Mozilla suite on which it is based. By reducing the software to its browsing basics, they figured it would run more efficiently.

Ross and Hyatt created an early version of the browser. Because the project was open source, thousands of volunteers could examine the programming code and suggest ways to improve performance and fix bugs.

"I have fond memories of long nights spent at Netscape just poring over all the feedback people submitted about our programs," Ross said.

Hofmann, the Mozilla engineering director, said Ross dealt with the pressures of Silicon Valley quite well for his age.

"I don't think that he was intimidated or awe-struck at all," he said. "With open-source projects you rise to a level based on your skills. It is really a meritocracy. Anyone who has the skills rises quickly and Blake had all those skills."

AOL ultimately spun off the project and created the not-for-profit Mozilla Foundation to develop Firefox and related software.

Hyatt left to design Apple Computer Inc.'s Safari Web browser, but Ross stayed and helped fix Firefox bugs from college.

Firefox was officially released Nov. 9. It was used by 4.6 percent of Web surfers in early January, and that number could reach 10 percent by mid-2005, according to WebSideStory, which tracks browser use. Microsoft's Internet Explorer has dropped to 90.6 percent this month from 95.5 percent in June.

Security experts like Firefox, saying it isn't as vulnerable as Internet Explorer to viruses, spyware and other malicious programs.

Ross has assisted with marketing, helping to place an ad in The New York Times paid for by thousands of Firefox users.

Ross will work with a team on Firefox version 2.0. He also gets calls from venture capitalists and has a startup with Joe Hewitt, another veteran of Netscape and Firefox. He said he can't talk about their work, but he's also interested in writing movies or children's fiction.

The downside of his success: "All my computer science professors are expecting straight A's, even in classes that have nothing to do with the Internet," he said.

And have his appearances in major newspapers posted on his eponymous Web site helped with those California girls at school?

"They're the ones that aren't impressed at all," he said with a laugh.


I try to balance programming, Origin, and studies (and other leisure activities), instead of focusing too much on one thing. But yes, I do like programming... not to this degree though.
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Jan 23 2005, 09:45 PM (Post #2)
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QUOTE
And have his appearances in major newspapers posted on his eponymous Web site helped with those California girls at school?

"They're the ones that aren't impressed at all," he said with a laugh.



So he's a 19 year old straight male who lives in sunny California, full of sandy beaches and beautiful girls, and he's busy with college and doing work for Netscape, which doesn't impress the girls? At 19, and especially in a state with so many (half naked, female) people, I would hardly call that worth it.
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Jan 25 2005, 12:30 AM (Post #3)
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Is that your only reason of living?
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Jan 25 2005, 12:38 AM (Post #4)
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Some people have twisted priorities lol. Gurls have never been high on my list.
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Jan 25 2005, 04:01 AM (Post #5)
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I agree. Guys are high on your list stongue.gif JK

But seriously, that guy's pretty awesome...
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Jan 25 2005, 04:03 AM (Post #6)
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That hurt Grand.

Those geniuses with computers have always been fascinating. People like Knuth and Wildermuth have completely set new standards for brilliance in this world.
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Jan 25 2005, 05:28 AM (Post #7)
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QUOTE (118513 @ Jan 23 2005, 01:44 PM)
QUOTE
And have his appearances in major newspapers posted on his eponymous Web site helped with those California girls at school?

"They're the ones that aren't impressed at all," he said with a laugh.



So he's a 19 year old straight male who lives in sunny California, full of sandy beaches and beautiful girls, and he's busy with college and doing work for Netscape, which doesn't impress the girls? At 19, and especially in a state with so many (half naked, female) people, I would hardly call that worth it.
*


umm...I live in California, but all the girls are ugly and not half naked. stongue.gif Trust me, doing Web-work is much more useful than trying to impress the unappreciative females.
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Jan 27 2005, 12:01 AM (Post #8)
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I hope to be like that. GOod at programming and everything. I'm already 16 though, and have just started teaching myself BASIC programming. I know pretty basic HTML. I just must keep striving.
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Jan 27 2005, 12:42 AM (Post #9)
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16 sounds a bit old to be learning BASIC. Move on to the OOP languages, they're a lot of fun, powerful, and they tend to pay a good deal (for careers or hobbies).
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Jan 27 2005, 12:44 AM (Post #10)
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I'm teaching myself. Using Beginning Programming for DUmmies. It says start out learning BASIC...
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Jan 27 2005, 12:46 AM (Post #11)
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Yes, it's okay to start out at, but I would recomend just breezing through it and more or less understanding it and work on some other languages.
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Jan 27 2005, 12:47 AM (Post #12)
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But then I'd have to buy more books bigeyes.gif

I just spent 50$ for these 2 books...
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Jan 27 2005, 01:25 AM (Post #13)
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I tried using books, but I found that the internet and asking my dad are better resources.
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Jan 27 2005, 02:33 AM (Post #14)
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HA! My dad.... The internet will be good, but I got the books because I'm always grounded from my computer, making it hard.
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Jan 27 2005, 02:38 AM (Post #15)
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So how do you post?

btw, my father happens to know a lot about computer programming... Delphi, SQL, BASIC (duh), VB6, VB.NET, C, C++, C#, Pascal, Java, and the list goes on....
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