SciTechBlog
May 4, 2010

Internet Explorer losing grip on browser market

Posted: 01:19 PM ET

Many people complain about Microsoft's Internet Explorer. There have even been campaigns to kill old versions of the Web browser.

But despite the haters, IE has always remained way on top. In June 2002, 95 percent of computers accessed the Internet through the product, which comes installed as the default web-surfing tool on Microsoft Windows computers.

IE remains dominant today. But, compared to its heights in the early 2000s, it's slipping. This week, the market researcher NetApplications released a report saying IE has fallen to less than 60 percent of the browser market.

Meanwhile, alternative browsers like Google's Chrome and Mozilla's Firefox are catching up a bit.

Firefox makes up nearly a quarter of the browser market; and newer Chrome is at about 7 percent, up from about 2 percent a year ago in May.

A new version of Internet Explorer - IE9 - is expected to debut soon.

Gartner analyst Jeffrey Mann tells the BBC that alternatives to IE continue to catch consumer attention:

"There are more viable alternatives now. Google has been advertising and there are more people using Macs and Apple's Safari. There is just a great awareness that there are alternatives," he says.

That's impressive, considering there's plenty of anecdotal evidence that many Web users don't know what a browser is. (If you're one of them, don't feel bad. It's the program you open in order to access the internet. It's what you're using to view this story.)

What do you make of IE's slipping market share? Which browser do you use and why?

[via BBC Tech]

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Filed under: browsers • Internet


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April 14, 2010

Twitter claims 105 million registered users

Posted: 01:25 PM ET

Twitter has more than 105 million registered users, co-founder Biz Stone said Wednesday.

The announcement, at the micro-blogging site's Chirp conference for developers, marked the first time Twitter has announced it number of accounts. The tally - 105,779,710, to be exact - is significantly more than outside analysts had estimated.

The company also says it's adding 300,000 accounts per day, with much of its growth coming outside the United States.

The number, of course, doesn't address how many of those accounts are active. It comes after months of outside speculation that the number of monthly visitor to Twitter's main page had peaked - after astronomical growth in early 2009.

Web analytics company Compete estimates that Twitter's number of unique monthly visitors has stayed roughly the same since June 2009.

But on Wednesday, Stone said most of Twitter's daily traffic comes from third-party applications, which often don't require a stop by the site's main page (which nevertheless got a makeover last week).

As Mashable's Adam Ostrow notes in a blog post from the conference, the number still pales in comparison to social-networking giant Facebook's more than 400 million registered accounts.

But it's closer than most observers would have guessed, which bodes well for Twitter a day after it rolled out an advertising plan that it hopes will turn the much-talked-about site into an actual moneymaker.

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Filed under: Internet • Twitter


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April 13, 2010

Facebook launches new Safety Center

Posted: 11:29 AM ET

What should you do if your teen is being cyber-bullied on Facebook? How does the site work with law enforcers to investigate criminal activity? And what can you do if someone has posted a photo of you on Facebook that you don’t like?

These questions, among others, are addressed in Facebook’s newly redesigned Safety Center aimed at parents, educators, law enforcement officials and teens.

The Safety Center, which launched Tuesday, was created to make sure the site’s 400 million users are networking safely, according to Facebook’s official press release.

The site is more efficient now, Chief Security Officer Joe Sullivan wrote in a blog post. By including frequently asked questions with detailed answers, information is easier to find, he says.

“Safety is Facebook's top priority,” Sullivan wrote. “We've created cleaner, more navigable interfaces to help you find answers to safety questions fast.”

Privacy settings are also explained in detail on the new page, as well as how to block users, remove unwanted content from a profile page and anonymously report abusive behavior.

The online center is a result of Facebook’s collaboration with its Safety Advisory Board.

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Filed under: Facebook • Internet


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April 12, 2010

Adobe to unveil updated software line

Posted: 10:22 AM ET

Adobe will unveil a new line of software today aimed at making high-end Web production and photo editing easier for average computer users as well as professionals.

The company's Creative Suite 5 programs include new versions of Photoshop, the photo editing software, and Flash, Adope's animation and video format that is somewhat in jeopardy because Apple products don't support it.

The company will host a live webcast about the new products at 11 a.m. ET. Check this link for the details on that.

A new Photoshop feature will let even casual photo editors add and remove elements from photos.

Say you want to delete a power line from a nature pic, for instance. You'll be able to highlight the power line, delete it, and then Photoshop will automatically fill in the vacant space with a matching background.

Here's a video where you can see it in action.

Check out the webcast and let us know what you think. You'll find more details on all the features at Adobe's Web site. PC World and MacWorld both have preliminary reviews.

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Filed under: Internet • photography


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March 30, 2010

Chatroulette isn't going away - at least not yet

Posted: 01:10 PM ET

Chatroulette - a Web site that pairs-up strangers for live video chats - became a cult hit with blogs, magazines and news sites in January and February.

Some lauded the site's randomness. Unlike Facebook or Twitter, Chatroulette reaches across social networks, often setting users up with people on the other side of the globe.

But what's happened since that initial buzz? Is Chatroulette just a fad, or will it stick around? Read the rest of this entry »

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Filed under: Chatroulette • Internet • social-networking sites


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March 29, 2010

1,100 communities beg for Google broadband

Posted: 10:29 AM ET

The mayor of Sarasota, Florida, swam with sharks. Topeka, Kansas, temporarily changed its name to Google, Kansas. And in Duluth, Minnesota, the head of city government jumped into a frigid lake with ice chunks floating on the surface.

Why? To beg Google for better broadband.

More than 1,100 cities and towns have asked Google to speed up their Internet connections as part of the company's "Google Fiber" project. The search-engine giant says it will build the infrastructure for affordable, ultra-high-speed Internet connections in one or more communities, with the hopes of serving 50,000 to 500,000 people. Google plans to choose the winning community or communities by the end of the year.

The Mountain View, California-based company thanked mayors across the country for submitting "tremendous and creative" requests that the experimental network be build in their cities.

"We're thrilled to see this kind of excitement, and we want to humbly thank each and every community and individual for taking the time to participate," project manager James Kelly wrote on Google's blog.

"This enthusiasm is much bigger than Google and our experimental network. If one message has come through loud and clear, it's this: people across the country are hungry for better and faster Internet access."

Google says its connection will be hundreds of times faster than average Internet speeds in the U.S. today - with data transfer rates of 1 gigabit per second. Google hopes to accomplish that speed by bringing fiber optic cables straight to peoples' homes.

The country's average broadband speed ranked 18th in the world in a recent report from Internet monitor Akamai. South Korea was the world leader. Iceland, Latvia and Slovakia both had connection speeds faster than those in the U.S.

In addition to the 1,100 official requests from communities, more than 194,000 individuals wrote Google asking the company to install faster connections in their areas.

This all comes as the U.S. federal government debates a plan to speed up Internet connections across the country, and to make the Web more accessible to Americans.

What do you think makes Google's fiber-to-the-home project so popular with mayors? Would you jump in a near-frozen lake for better broadband? Let us know with a comment on this post.

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Filed under: broadband • Google • Internet


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March 25, 2010

Facebook causes syphilis? The Web smirks

Posted: 03:50 PM ET

Do you think risky behavior and a lack of proper medical attention caused that unfortunate case of syphilis?

Not so fast – a health official in England says it might have been Facebook.

A public health director recently told London’s The Telegraph that a rise in sexually transmitted diseases in his area could be linked to the fact that sites such as Facebook are popular there.

"Social networking sites are making it easier for people to meet up for casual sex,” Peter Kelly, director of public health in Teesside, said according to a Wednesday article in the paper.

The story, which appeared in numerous British tabloids, was met with smirks online. Social-networking site Mashable called the report “stretched at best.”

Blog TechCrunch called the story “dubious” in a post titled, “Calm down. Facebook doesn’t cause syphilis.”

Meanwhile, Facebook called the reports ludicrous.

“While it makes for interesting headlines, the assertions made in newspaper reports that Facebook is responsible for the transmission of STDs are ridiculous, exaggerate the comments made by the professor, and ignore the difference between correlation and causation,” said Facebook spokesperson Andrew Noyes in a written statement.

“As Facebook’s more than 400 million users know, our Web site is not a place to meet people for casual sex – it’s a place for friends, family and coworkers to connect and share.”

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Filed under: Facebook • Internet • social-networking sites


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March 24, 2010

Wikipedia back up after server meltdown

Posted: 03:07 PM ET

[UPDATE: It appeared that Wikipedia was back online as of about 4:30 p.m. ET.]

Wikipedia was offline Wednesday afternoon after an overheating problem at the online encyclopedia's European data center.

Wikipedia's technical blog said the site's servers shut themselves down to avoid damage from the heat.

Administrators tried to shift traffic to a cluster of servers in Florida, but "it turned out that this failover mechanism was now broken, causing the DNS resolution of Wikimedia sites to stop working globally," according to the blog.

"This problem was quickly resolved, but unfortunately it may take up to an hour before access is restored for everyone, due to caching effects," the blog said.

Trying to access wikipedia.com and wikipedia.org at about 2:45 p.m. ET produced a navigation error message.

One post to Wikipedia's technical blog, by a user named Jimmy, found some humor in the situation: "And so we remember Thursday, March 25, 2010 as the day every English speaking student failed their research papers."

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Filed under: Internet


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March 23, 2010

Geek Out!: Trailer for Weird Al 'biopic' up on Funny or Die

Posted: 11:59 AM ET
 
 
Editor's note: Geek Out! posts feature the latest and most interesting in nerd-culture news. From scifi and fantasy to gadgets and science, if you can geek out over it you can find it on Geek Out! Look for Geek Out! posts on CNN's SciTech blog.
 
Remember when "Weird Al" Yankovic hooked up with Madonna?

Or the booze-fueled meltdown that nearly ended his career?

Yeah ... neither do we. But that didn't keep all of those titillating moments out of a movie trailer for "Weird:  The Al Yankovic Story."

The spoof video was posted early Tuesday on the comedy site Funny or Die.

Watch the video.

"Finally, my life story is being made into a major motion picture!" Yankovic wrote early Tuesday morning on his Twitter feed - @alyankovic.

The trailer spans Yankovic's fictional life, from being busted as a child for hiding copies of "Accordion Player" magazine under his mattress to the drunken tirade aimed at his bandmates - a staple of any rock star's life story.

"Nobody wants to hear a parody song, when they can hear the real thing for the same price," Yankovic says, playing a smarmy record-company executive.

"Breaking Bad" star Aaron Paul plays Al himself in a star-studded cast that includes Academy Award winner Mary Steenburgen, Olivia Wilde and comedian Patton Oswalt as Dr. Demento, the host of the syndicated novelty-song show on which Weird Al got his start.

Founded by actor Will Ferrell and others, Funny or Die has emerged as a platform for famous actors to cut loose - filming one-off projects they probably couldn't get approved anywhere else.

Sadly, there are no plans for an actual movie on the life of the man who brought us classics like "Eat It," "Dare to Be Stupid" and "White & Nerdy."

But if he can spoof the songs of famous pop stars, why not follow them into the biopic world too?

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Filed under: Geek Out! • Internet • Movies • Music • online video • pop culture


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March 16, 2010

The 5 cheesiest tech slogans?

Posted: 11:21 AM ET

At a keynote address on Monday, Twitter CEO Evan Williams said the aim of his company is this:

"Be a force for good."

TechCrunch writer Michael Arrington, who reported this quote from the South By Southwest Interactive festival in Austin, Texas, said the statement made him cringe.

Any company that's out for profit cannot claim simply to "be a force for good," he writes:

... it’s basically impossible to balance a profit motive with a goodness motive. And in fact the nice thing about capitalism is that everyone acting in their own self interest tends to be good for everyone else, too, if appropriate government forces are put in place to stop monopolies, pollution, etc. Being a socialist is a great way to get laid in college but it’s no way to run a society.

With that in mind, here's our list of the five cheesiest - or otherwise bizarre - tech company mottos, slogans, mission statements and unofficial tags. Can any profit-seeking company claim to be in it for the betterment of humanity? (Ben & Jerry's ice cream tried until investors stepped in, as NPR explains). And do they have to wear their ideals on their sleeve in such bumper-sticker fashion?

Let us know what you think in the comments section. And, without further ado, here's the list:

Google: "Don't be evil." ("Star Wars," anyone?)

Apple: "Think different." (Like the rest of us? Part of an older ad campaign.)

Microsoft: "Your potential. Our passion." (Well, at least they're passionate).

Facebook: "To give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected." (A little long-winded for a mission statement, and doesn't include any money-making goals).

And, of course, Twitter: "Be a force for good." (See above).

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Filed under: Facebook • Google • Internet • Twitter


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About this blog

Are you a gadgethead? Do you spend hours a day online? Or are you just curious about how technology impacts your life? In this digital age, it's increasingly important to be fluent, or at least familiar, with the big tech trends. From gadgets to Google, smartphones to social media, this blog will help keep you informed.

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