TweakTown NewsRefine News by Category:
Spring cleaning is in full effect over at Google. Usually during the spring, Google attempts to rid itself of dead-end projects or, you know, push to overhaul the internet's DNS system. In this case, Google would like to replace HTTP with a new protocol called SPDY. To encourage this, it's showing potential speed gains on mobile networks.
Relying on the company's benchmarks, I can say that mean page load times on a Galaxy Nexus are 23% faster with the new system. Google hypothesizes that even more speed can be gained with future optimization. Google has already implemented SPDY in Chrome and Mozilla in Firefox. For once, even Microsoft seems to be on board.
So, as a way to transition, Google is proposing an Apache 2.2 module called mod_spdy. This module would allow web servers to take advantage of features such as stream multiplexing and header compression. HTTP, you've been good to us, but it appears that it is about time for you to go into the history books.
DNS, at its roots, is somewhat complicated and complex, so when a couple of years ago a group released a piece of malware that sent people to the wrong sites, fixing it has proven difficult. You see, the piece of malware changed users' DNS settings to go to a server by the perpetrators which then forwarded them the wrong IP.
People that are infected with the malware still rely on these "bad" DNS servers. Obviously they aren't bad anymore, but they are being maintained by the FBI. The FBI is planning to shut these servers down come July 9, 2012. If a user's computer is infected, it will no longer have access to the internet due to the lack of DNS.
Starting today, any site running on CloudFlare can simply enable an app that will alert users who come from the improper DNS servers. This is a pretty good reach, but not quite enough. So CloudFlare has gone one step further and released the code on GitHub so that any website can implement the warning page.
Matthew Prince, of CloudFlare, says that the two companies, over the next month, should manage to see 60% of the infected computers. That still leaves 40% who won't have seen it. Come July 9, 2012, there are going to be a lot of people who will be without internet. And by "a lot," I mean some where in the hundreds of thousands.
In an interesting, yet somewhat expected, turn of events, the High Court's ruling last Friday that all of UK's ISPs must block access to The Pirate Bay has had an affect on The Pirate Bay's web traffic. But not in the direction you think. Instead of losing hits and traffic, the file sharing website has seen an increase of 12 million visitors, more than it has ever had.
I guess this proves what they say is true: "There's no such thing as bad publicity." Clearly. "Thanks to the High Court and the fact that the news was on the BBC, we had 12 million more visitors yesterday than we had ever had before. We should write a thank you note to the BPI [British Phonographic Industry]," a spokesperson told TorrentFreak.
Virgin Media has already started to block access to the website, however, these blocks aren't hard to get around. Now, I'm not going to tell you how to do it, but I will tell you who will. The Pirate Bay, in the time before the rest of the ISPs block access to the site, is using the time to educate users how to beat censorship. If you happen to be on Virgin Media, you can check out The Pirate Party's website as they are mirroring the content.
Google have announced through their Google Docs Blog that the Google Docs Team have unveiled 450 new fonts and 60 creative templates. The new fonts and templates are part of an array of new features an updates announced today, which expand the range of documents users can create.
This drags Google's offering up to compete with the capabilities of its main productivity suite competitor, Microsoft Office. Template options are divided into different sections, Work, School, Home and Fun. The update to Google Docs also supports the importing of images from Google Drive and increased support for screenreaders.
Google Docs supports importing images from webcams and the LIFE Photo archive. The new update also bumps the size limit for files from 2MB to 50MB.
It's pretty tough to run a website, especially a mega-large website, without some sort of revenue. Servers, IT people, web developers, and the rest aren't free, so Tumblr has been living off of its start-up investments for a while now. They have finally decided that they need to make some money off of the site in order to keep running.
Enter Tumblr's first ads. These were first announced two weeks ago at Ad Age's digital conference. The ads aren't very intrusive on users' blogs, which is a good thing. MySpace fell out of favor because of the sheer intrusiveness of its advertising. It wasn't too long ago that the CEO of Tumblr said they would rather sell the desks in the office than put ads on the site. Curiously, that same CEO left the company yesterday. It is possible that that and today's launch have some sort of connection.
These ads aren't ads in the traditional sense. Instead the company is using its Radar and Spotlight features to help highlight content from advertisers/sponsors. According to the company, Tumblr Radar gets 120 million impressions a day. The feature is designed to hgihlight "the most creative and interesting media" on the Tumblr network and advertisers will "get a dedicated share of attention, with the opportunity to gain thousands of new followers, likes and reblogs."
Often Facebook receives complaints and heat over privacy concerns and constant changes the layout. However, today's minor tweak won't garner complaints over a layout change and, likely, won't receive complaints over privacy concerns. No, today's tweak is likely to gain acclaim, at least among the medical world.
So, what is today's tweak? Facebook has now added an option to show that you are an organ donor on your Timeline. It also provides an option to share this decision with your friends in order to increase awareness. Hopefully as people select and share this, more people will join in and make the decision to become an organ donor.
After all, 18 Americans die each day waiting for an organ transplant that never comes. "By simply telling people that you're an organ donor, the power of sharing and connection can play an important role," Zuckerberg explained. The feature is currently only available in the United States. I, for one, will be making the change to my profile.
Google is constantly trying to improve its products for the end users' sake. Often times Google first puts new features into the Labs section of Google. These Labs are basically beta versions of features they plan to add to existing projects or as brand new projects. Every now and again the more popular labs get promoted to full versions.
Today just happens to be one of those days for one lucky Lab project. There was a Lab that has been around since 2009 that uses Google Translate to translate e-mails in a foreign language to that of the user. It works in a similar manner to the way Google Chrome recognizes foreign language websites and offers to convert them.
A few other more minor tweaks have also been promoted from Labs. These features include a tweak to change the title on the tab of a Gmail page. The tweak places the number of unread e-mails first. Another Lab improves the Mute button's ability to stop you from being harassed by company-wide reply all e-mails. The tweaks are said to be live, so check them out yourselves!
The Pirate Bay is pretty much synonymous with copyright infringement. As such, a UK court has ruled that because the site is infringing on copyright on a massive scale, six of the country's ISPs must block access to the Swedish website. In what can only be described as a major censorship of the internet, this court ruling could set dangerous precedent.
If you are a British user of Sky, Everything Everywhere, TalkTalk, O2 or Virgin Media and a user of The Pirate Bay, soon you will be unable to access the site. "Sites like The Pirate Bay destroy jobs in the UK and undermine investment in new British artists," the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) said.
The British ISP BT has requested a few more weeks to decide if they will block access to the site. "Unfortunately, the move to order blocking on The Pirate Bay comes as no surprise," Pirate Party UK leader Loz Kaye told the BBC. "The truth is that we are on a slippery slope towards internet censorship here in the United Kingdom."
Additionally, most of our readers know just how pointless blocking a site in a single country can be. We've seen similar attempts in Iran and China fail. This is because users can use proxies to circumvent the blocks instituted by ISPs. Not only does it not work, but as stated before, it sets a dangerous precedent.
Google has yet another bragging point that they've used a blog post to talk about: Google Translate is used by more than 200 million people per month. What some more number stats? Break this number down, and Google translates the equivalent to as much text you'd find in 1 million books. Wow.
Franz Och, a research scientist with Google Translate discusses how Google's translation service has grown through the years. Back in 2001, Gogole offered a service that could translate eight different languages to and from English. This service used state-of-the-art commercial machine translation (MT) and whilst it worked, it wasn't efficient, or very effective.
The service didn't really go well, and in 2003 Google decided to make some changes, one of these key steps was hiring Och away from his research position at DARPA. The team was then able to use Google's massive computing infrastructure, and got some very strong results, but it still wasn't quick enough for practical use. It took Google 40 hours and 1,000 computers to translate 1,000 sentences.
While it's great that the internet is an open, widely available network, this openness yields some security flaws. Most have been dealt with by encryption and other security measures, but one gaping hole remains unfixed. This major hole can cause massive, widespread outages or allow your data to be snooped on.
The problem resides in the routers used by every corporation or company who owns a block of IPs. These routers are constantly communicating with other routers in order to update internal information. This internal information, some 400,000 entries, contains the best routes to get to other networks using a protocol called Border Gateway Protocol (BGP).
According to InfoWorld, "BGP enables routers to find the best path when, say, a network used to retrieve a web page from South Korea is not working properly. Changes in that routing information are distributed quickly to routers around the world in as few as five minutes."
The flaw resides in the fact that the routers do not verify the "announcements." So outages can occur because people accidentally put in incorrect information or typos or because someone maliciously enters the information. The latter can cause data to be routed through someone's network where it can be sniffed and snooped upon.