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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 29 2005, 09:47 PM (Post #31)
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I was going to learn Java but the class got cancelled, and I didn't feel like putting in the time by myself.

C++? I can't find a free compiler...

And as for database, try mySQL: pretty fast, efficient, and it's open source.
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Jan 29 2005, 10:33 PM (Post #32)
NReviews Webby MOOSE!
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That's what I was planning on, thanks.
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Jan 30 2005, 09:50 PM (Post #33)
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Those are the languages, the only languages, that I need to know in order to run Origin well
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Feb 2 2005, 10:19 PM (Post #34)
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I think Grand should make tutorials for various members of Origin to learn programming langauges (IE: Me. I could learn them, but I'm far too lazy to take the time to read a book or anything like that)
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Feb 3 2005, 04:21 AM (Post #35)
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I made an HTML tutorial. I can re-post it, if you want.
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Feb 5 2005, 01:01 PM (Post #36)
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I already know HTML. I mean, more complex languages. HTML is pretty easy to learn by just reading it off some site. The harder ones usually require some sort of interaction. Well, not require, but it's helpful...that way, we'd be able to read and if we needed something reiterated, we could just ask questions.
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Feb 5 2005, 01:58 PM (Post #37)
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excellent idea there
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Feb 5 2005, 10:20 PM (Post #38)
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I just look at examples...
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Mar 26 2005, 07:39 PM (Post #39)
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too hard...got books from the library and after5 minutes of concentration i came to a conclusion..."f**k it"
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Mar 26 2005, 11:58 PM (Post #40)
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lol, it's more fun if you actually have a project in mind. Project Origin forced me to learn stongue.gif
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Mar 27 2005, 12:25 PM (Post #41)
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This is just a reply from the original post as i haven't read all the replies after the first post.

The kid remindes me of someone my Grandad told me about. My Grandad owns a web design company and he needed help so he logged onto a website one day and found someone who could help him. My Grandad e-mailed him the work then he did it, uploaded it back to a server and then my Grandad paid him into a paypal account.

After a few months it had become a regular thing but one time the person helping him didn't e-mail back, then a few days later my Grandad got in an e-mail in his inbox saying something along these lines "Sorry haven't been able to do that work as ive been busy with homework and ive had a few detentions recently".

To begin 1 my Grandad thought it could of been I.C.T teacher who had been helping him but then he started to believe that the person helping him was a school kid. It turned out that he was a 16year old school kid. Recently this kid who's now 17 or 18 has got a job waiting for him at Microsoft for when he finish's Uni.

Impressive Eh?
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Mar 27 2005, 10:18 PM (Post #42)
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Niceee... I do random projects for people, for paypal money but nothing big. I fixed a one-liner bug for someone, got paid 5 bucks (Total time: 10 seconds downloading the zip, 10 seconds unzipping the file, 10 seconds opening the file, 20 seconds figuring out what's wrong and correcting it, 10 seconds uploading it)

So, took me 1 minute to get 5 bucks. I still want my 30 dollar project though stongue.gif
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