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Internet & Websites Posts - Page 76

Twitter improves performance, lowers page load times to 20% of what they were before

Twitter has announced updates to its website which they claim has decreased page load times down to 20% of what they were previously. The old system used the browser to render JavaScript which was groundbreaking at the time. It does have a disadvantage, however, in that it misses out on optimizations only available to the server.

 

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As such, Twitter is bringing some of the front-end grunt work back onto the servers in order to speed up load times. As Twitter says, "To connect you to information in real time, it's important for Twitter to be fast." Part of the change is not using # (hashbang) in the permalink URLs to improve initial load times.

 

Another update is to decrease the "time to first Tweet." This is where Twitter has managed to decrease page load times to 1/5 of what they were previously. The general, watered down version of how this works is to take the JavaScript out of the equation and render the content on the server. This removes the slowdown from old browsers or slow machines.

 

There are many other improvements discussed in the post on Twitter's engineering blog, so I encourage you to check it out for yourself if you are interested. The Twitter blog post can be found on Twitter's engineering blog here.

Continue reading 'Twitter improves performance, lowers page load times to 20% of what they were before' (full post)

Reddit's Alexis Ohanian, activists want to make 'Bat-Signal for the internet'

With the SOPA and PIPA protests becoming distant memories, the attacks on internet freedoms have been renewed by Congress in the form of CISPA. There have been no protests like there were against PIPA and SOPA and that has Reddit's Alexis Ohanian concerned. An entrepreneurial group now wants to create the internet equivalent of the Bat-Signal.

 

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The idea is that SOPA-like mass protests could be started at the push of a button when internet freedoms were deemed in danger. Website owners can sign up on the group's website and add a piece of code to their website that can be activated when a political crisis like SOPA rears its ugly head. Owners can also receive the code by e-mail when the signal is turned on.

 

"People who wish to be tapped can see, oh look, the Bat-Signal is up. Time to do something," says Ohanian. "Whatever website you own, this is a way for you to be notified if something comes up and take some basic actionsÂ…If we aggregate everyone that's doing it, the numbers start exploding."

 

The code can do more than just display a banner. Tiffiny Cheng, co-director of Internet-focused political advocacy group Fight for the Future, explains how it could implement a SOPA-style blackout: "We'll invent something at the time, and it will be some really unified and shocking action. We're creating the tools and the forms of protest that allow for viral organizing. That's how the SOPA protests were able to get started and grow to the level they did."

Continue reading 'Reddit's Alexis Ohanian, activists want to make 'Bat-Signal for the internet'' (full post)

Facebook adds feature to allow game developers to demo games in News Feed

Ever see a game on Facebook that looks interesting but you don't want to play it because of all the hassle of installing and uninstalling if it's bad? Facebook is looking to change that with a new feature which will allow game developers to demo their wares in the news feed. Developers won't be given any information about the users.

 

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If players like the game then they are able to click through onto the full version. This new feature is great, although I'm not sure that the news feed is a proper location for it. Personally, my news feed is already overflowing with the posts of my friend and the posts of quality content here on TweakTown, so I don't think I want more posts, especially ones that take up a lot of room.

 

Facebook has provided some examples of games already using the new feature. These games include: Idle Worship, Angry Birds, and Bubble Witch Saga. Developers of these games receive statistics about impressions of the story and how many people use the game contained within. Facebook has provided examples of how current games are using the new feature:

 

  • Angry Birds lets users challenge friends to beat your score on a level.
  • Bubble Witch Saga enables sharing coins with friends, they can earn a multiplier for a high score.
  • Idle Worship lets users share a mini-game which gives friends a glimpse of the full game.
  • Tetris Battle allows publishing a replay of a two-player battle.

Continue reading 'Facebook adds feature to allow game developers to demo games in News Feed' (full post)

Google removes a massive 250,000 links per week over piracy, copyright concerns

Google has given us a bit more insight into the links that are removed from search results as a result of copyright and piracy complaints. The details include which organizations make the request, who actually owns the content, and the top targeted domains. The numbers are actually pretty shocking, so let's just start with one. 250,000. That's the average number of links taken down per week.

 

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That 250,000 number is more than the total number of links removed for all of 2009. Even more incredible is the fact that Google's senior copyright counsel Fred von Lohmann says that the majority of requests are legitimate. Most of the requests are for sites that are offering unauthorized copies of software, entertainment or pornography.

 

Now, another number: 22,923. That's the number of sites that were targeted last month. Those sites generated over 1.1 million take-down requests. The illicit content was owned by just 1,190 people. This means, on average, each copyright owner had roughly 1,000 links removed over the past month. But, the numbers show that the average is extremely skewed.

 

What I mean by that is just over 520,000 URLs hosted Microsoft-owned content. Just under half of the removed links were due to Microsoft. This data should be extremely useful in the continuing debate regarding online piracy. The numbers should help Google and others fight off another SOPA should one be introduced as legislation.

Continue reading 'Google removes a massive 250,000 links per week over piracy, copyright concerns' (full post)

Yahoo debuts Axis, a new way to search

Yahoo is working hard to turn themselves around from the brink of ruin, and this new Axis search that they have released could just manage to do that. Axis is a new way of searching the web and focuses on getting rid of the search results page. Interested yet? I certainly was, so I investigated the story a bit further.

 

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TechCrunch spoke with Yahoo's Director of Product Management Ethan Batraski: "No one's innovated on 'How do I get rid of the search results page altogether'", Batraski said. "That is what we want to do." And so that's what they did. The new way to search is via a plug in to Chrome, Internet Explorer, Safari, and Firefox. There is also an iOS app for this new search.

 

Once you type in your Yahoo credentials, a small black bar gets added to the bottom left of your browser window. Click inside the search bar and it expands to about 1/3 of your page. No longer do you have to leave the page you are on to do a search. It will probably take a bit of getting used to as I know I am in the habit of quickly Ctrl + T'ing a new window and punching in my query.

 

The now expanded window fills with thumbnails of the search results as opposed to the traditional links. Users can scroll through the results by dragging the mouse or by clicking on the arrows. The desktop is only half of the new product. The iOS is a browser itself along with being a new search engine.

Continue reading 'Yahoo debuts Axis, a new way to search ' (full post)

Obama orders government agencies to create websites optimized for smartphones and tablets

President Obama is embracing technology. On Wednesday, he ordered major governmental agencies to create mobile-optimized websites. The agencies have to provide two key services to mobile users within a year. The directive also ordered agencies to create websites to report on their mobile websites progress. These sites have to be completed in just 90 days.

 

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I've had to go onto government sites from my phone before and it's near impossible to gather anything as the site is designed for desktops, and not even designed that well for those. Obama has recognized this fact and realized the importance of mobile phones and data access. By 2015, it's likely more web traffic will come from mobile devices than desktops.

 

"Americans deserve a government that works for them anytime, anywhere, and on any device," Obama said in a statement. "By making important services accessible from your phone and sharing government data with entrepreneurs, we are giving hard-working families and businesses tools that will help them succeed."

Continue reading 'Obama orders government agencies to create websites optimized for smartphones and tablets' (full post)

Dear Facebook, you're a public company now - fix your site already!

Dear Facebook and Mr. Mark Zuckerberg, you're a publicly listed company now. Don't you think it's high time you fixed these things? I'm pretty positive your near enough to 1,000,000,000 users are sick and tired of the issues.

 

Invest your cash injection in more staff, perhaps? Your users aren't going to stick around with poor quality aspects to some areas of your site and apps.

 

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  • Video Uploading: It seems when you upload a video of anything over roughly 50MB, the video uploader page just errors out and doesn't give any error at all. It just diverts the URL to a prefix containing "uhoh". Really, Facebook? Make it clear if there is a file size limit and don't accept the file for uploading to begin with.
  •  

  • Give Users Choice: For people with an addictive personality (me), it drives me up the wall not being able to remove the suggestion boxes on the right side of your site. I don't think I'm ever going to get through all of your subscriber suggestions and it drives me mad that I don't have the choice to disable this box and others.
  •  

  • Events: At this the last time I checked, there is no option to cancel an event. Sure, you can delete an event, but then it just disappears and users are left wondering what happened. Instead create a new status update of cancelled or postponed.
  •  

  • Pokes: Isn't it about time this annoying feature was removed? Enough said.

Continue reading 'Dear Facebook, you're a public company now - fix your site already!' (full post)

Google to warn the 500,000+ users infected with DNS Changer malware

A while back we brought you the story about users being infected with the DNS Changer malware and how, come July, they were going to lose their ability to connect to the internet. We also told you about how a collection of websites were running a piece of code to alert users to the fact their computers may be compromised.

 

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Now Google has joined the group of websites offering up the warning to users. They are expecting to alert around half a million users in the first week alone. Without Google, it was going to take the other sites quite a bit of time to reach everyone. Who doesn't use Google? It's important that these messages reach users as the system will be shutdown July 9, 2012.

 

"In general we want to notify users [of malware infections] anytime we are capable of doing so, but the fact that we don't do this more often is really just because it's hard to come across cases where we can do it this accurately," Google security engineer Damian Menscher said. "In many cases we only have maybe a 90 percent confidence that someone is infected, and the false positive rate of 10 percent is simply too high to be feasible. But in this case we can be essentially certain that someone is infected."

Continue reading 'Google to warn the 500,000+ users infected with DNS Changer malware' (full post)

Gmail now customizes autocomplete suggestions using the contents of your inbox

Ever felt that some of those autocomplete suggestions Google provides just aren't quite something you would ever search for? Well, apparently Google did too as they now have announced they will be improving Gmail search's autocomplete function. The updated function will have tailored predictions based upon the e-mail in your inbox.

 

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These autocomplete suggestions should be a bit more useful to users than the current system. The system will function similarly to how Gmail's advertising system works. The advertising system reads the subject and contents of e-mails in your inbox and then custom tailors ads based upon what it found. Google stresses that no humans read the data.

 

It's likely that the autocomplete will use a similar system, if not the same, as the advertising system. I'm sure that some will not like the additional use of what is considered private data, but at the same time, it is already being used for advertising and other purposes. This use of private data should at least improve the user's experience.

 

English language users will see the update first over the next few days and then it will gradually roll out to others over the next few months.

Google forcing Docs users to transition to Drive with no opt-out

Google Docs' days are numbered. Google has pitched Google Drive as a replacement to Google Docs since its release in April. What I, along with many users, didn't realize is that Google will be killing off Docs and transitioning all users to Drive. Drive is currently still opt-in, but it looks like soon users will be opted-in automatically as their Docs account is upgraded to a Drive account.

 

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In fact, Google has started to warn users of just this fact. It seems as though this transition is coming sooner rather than later, and Google's transition documentation supports that saying that "we expect to finish the transition from the Google Documents List to Google Drive by late summer (2012)."

 

This transition will occur in three phases. Currently, users are in phase one, or the "opt-in phase." From there, users will be allowed to opt-out for a little while longer if they would like more time to transition. Once users are moved onto phase three, everyone will have a Google Drive and Google Docs will no longer exist.

 

This isn't exactly a bad thing. Drive is a good replacement and has the same capabilities as Docs and even comes with more storage. Unlike the controversial Gmail upgrade, one could argue that Drive is the next logical step for the Docs app to make.

Continue reading 'Google forcing Docs users to transition to Drive with no opt-out' (full post)

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