New standard lets browsers get a grip on files

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

The World Wide Web Consortium has published a draft of an interface that browsers can use to manipulate files better, one of a series of steps aimed at gradually improving the sophistication and polish of Web site interfaces.

The draft File API (application programming interface) defines a number of ways that browsers and Web sites can handle files better. One big part of it: being able to select multiple files for upload, such as on photo-sharing sites or Web-based e-mail, a task that often relies on Adobe Systems’ Flash today.

But there are other aspects, too. For example, the Files interface governs the use of “blobs,” or packages of raw binary data such as video files. Google has touted blobs for its Gears browser plug-in as a way to divide large videos into small chunks so that uploads can be more easily resumed if a network problem interrupts the process.

Another benefit: files are handled asynchronously, which means the browser won’t freeze up while a file is being uploaded or otherwise handled, and the browser reports progress on file transfers.

Firefox 3.6, in beta testing now, will support most of the Files API, according to Blizzard.

Google documents Iraqi museum treasures

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Google is documenting Iraq’s national museum and will post photographs of its ancient treasures on the Internet early next year, Google chief Eric Schmidt announced Tuesday.

The museum was ransacked in the chaotic aftermath of Saddam Hussein’s ouster in April 2003, and only reopened to visitors early this year. Schmidt, who toured the museum with U.S. Ambassador Christopher Hill on Tuesday, said it was important for the world to see Iraq’s rich heritage and contribution to world culture.

“The history of the beginning of - literally - civilization is made right here and is preserved here in this museum,” Schmidt said at a ceremony attended by Iraqi officials.

“I can think of no better use of our time and our resources than to make the images and ideas from your civilization, from the very beginnings of time, available to billions of people worldwide,” he said.

Schmidt said Google has taken some 14,000 photographs of the museum and its artifacts, and the images will be available online in early 2010.

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