Tag Archives: Internet

Is it the Information Highway to Hell?

agent-ico As many of you know, the Internet is sometimes called the Information Superhighway. What most of you have not heard, is that the destination of this superhighway may not be what you had hoped. Where is it leading us?

What do you consider as threats to our privacy today?

• Cookie tracking
• Shopping data
• Search data
• Personal info from registrations
• Business info from credit agencies
• Medical data
• Government data
• Comments, Forums, Social sites
• GPS location tracking
• Cameras in Streets and Stoplights
• Cameras in Stores
• Cameras in Public Areas
• Nanny Cameras
• Home Security Cameras
• Satellite tracking cameras
• and more …

redlight-camera satellite

Doesn’t it make sense that someday, these will all be linked into the net and someone or something will be tracking your every movement? Who’s going to be watching? Governments are the obvious answer. For an example of this idea, watch “Enemy of the State“.

Another group to consider is the hacker community. They’ve discovered the profit in stealing your personal data.

If the governments and the hackers aren’t enough for you, let’s add more for you to worry about.

Your personal information is already a valuable commodity to businesses wanting to sell you products. What’s going to happen as those companies get access to ever more increasing amounts of data about you, where you are and what you are doing? Stephen Saunders at InformationWeek thinks the Internet will become:

… a sophisticated targeting system for companies to sell “stuff” to consumers, for governments to keep track of citizens, and for law enforcement to track illicit activity. In commercial terms, it will be an Internet where the user becomes the used.

I think Stephen may not be paranoid enough. After all, many are predicting the introduction of true machine intelligence by 2025. What could super-intelligent computers could do with all that information about us? I’m not afraid that Skynet will nuke us, but how long can we retain any illusion of freedom when our machines know everything about us and they’re smarter than we are? Watch the movie Eagle Eyefor a hint.

Bill Joy, co-founder of Sun Microsystems, expressed the same concerns ten years ago, in his post “Why the Future Doesn’t Need Us“. I remember his question:

Can we doubt that knowledge has become a weapon we wield against ourselves?

Now you might understand why I’m a little paranoid about the future. I think we’ll have a choice to become “one with the machine”, like the Borg, or become useless slaves to our technology. The governments, corporations and hackers will be the least of our worries. Welcome to the machine.


Internet Addiction Pays Off in China

Internet addiction is spreading like an epidemic in China and there are already 24 million people affected by it. The situation is so worse that treatment center have popped up in the country aiming to provide a care for this and people actually go to those training centers!

To help us have a better insight at what can possibly happen at these facilities, some officials at these facilities have gone on record to say,

We have to use military-style methods such as total immersion and physical training on these young people. We need to teach them some discipline and help them to establish a regular lifestyle.

They receive traditional Chinese calligraphy and philosophy classes with a military lifestyle.

Though, my best guess is that those attending this treatment did not know they signed up for this, so they finally decided to break free. The group of 14 patients, including a 15 year old boy, tied their supervisor to his bed and escaped from the facility. This escape from Azkaban turned back on them when the driver of the taxi they hired took them straight to a police station.

Finally, it was unsure as to what happened at the treatment center which was so grave that they had to run from it. The government needs to look into the matter as parents of these addicts are spending a sum of around 18,000 Yuan and apparently, it is doing them no good. (Source)

Speedtest.net Results: Now Available to the Public

Launched in 2007, Speedtest.net emerged as the most reliable service to check one’s connection speed. The service provides an unmatched speed analysis application on an interactive flash page.

Ookla, the company behind Speedtest has recently made all speed test results available to the public. Ookla claims that it has been compiling those query results which amount to 1.5 Billion now. Up until now, the data was available through individual agreements. This is about to change and the data will now be available for free usage.

Ookla has made this release hoping that it will help ISPs, governments and website administrators take decisive steps. For example, network pockets with better speed and throughput can be identified and they can be used to reduce loads elsewhere.

It is said that any internet user is always within 300 miles of an Ookla server. That makes them an authority in usage tracking.

Now that the service has a stronghold, Ookla is planning to collect user feedback on broadband. It will ask users about broadband charges and usage limits and identify the cost per MB of data worldwide. It will also collect postal code for even more accurate benchmarking of worldwide broadband usage.

This is an excellent move by Ookla and will benefit the Internet at large.

(Source)

Opera Mini Comes To Windows Mobile phones

Traditionally, Opera Mini has been available as a Java software intended to run on a large range of phones. However, Opera Software has also been working hard to port it to as many different platforms as possible. Opera Mini 5 already supports Blackberry and native Android and iPhone apps are under development. The only major mobile phone OS which Opera had been missing out on is Windows Mobile. However, that is no longer the case as Opera has just launched a native version of Opera Mini 5 beta for Windows Mobile 5- and 6-based handsets.

Opera-Mini-for-Windows-Mobile

Opera Mini for Windows Mobile will include all the features we have come to expect from Opera Mini including tabbed browsing, visual speed dials, password manager, download manager, touchscreen support and synchronization. The biggest advantage of Opera Mini is speed. Each of the pages are compressed and rendered at Opera’s servers. Opera claims that it can reduce the size of webpages by upto 90%. This results in a significant speed boost and can even reduce your bandwidth bills.

By integrating Opera Mini with the Windows Mobile platform, Opera Software is hoping to deliver an optimized version of the popular browser that will dramatically improve performance and the overall user experience. “Windows Mobile deserves a mobile browser that looks better, handles better and delivers better than the default browser,” said Dag Olav Norem, Vice President of Products, Opera Software.

You can download Opera Mini for Windows Mobile by browsing to m.opera.com/next from your mobile phone. Alternatively, you can download it to your computer from opera.com/mini/next/.

"Internet" Nominated For Nobel Peace Prize 2010

Don’t get surprised or awed if you see "Internet" climb the podium to collect the Nobel Peace Prize award in 2010. In a somewhat bizarre nomination process, the Noble Prize selection committee has actually nominated "Internet" as a nominee for the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize award.

Internet Nobel Peace Prize Award 2010

According to media reports, the Internet was nominated by the Italian version of the Wired magazine for promoting dialogue, debate and consensus through communication.

It’s unclear though whether they would stretch as far as to honor the Internet, as proposed by the Italian version of Wired magazine, which cited its use as a tool to advance "dialogue, debate and consensus through communication" and to promote democracy. – cite Forbes

Whether "Internet" wins the Nobel Peace Prize 2010 or not, we will definitely wait with bated breath for the results, since Internet has definitely changed the way we do things and communicate with others, it will only be befitting to reward it with a prize of such honor.

What do you think of this nomination? Has the Internet changed your life in any way? Do let me know through your comments.

How Did the World Use Internet in 2009?

Internet has definitely changed the way we communicate and meet people, write content, read them and more. 2010 is no doubt going to see far more internet activity than 2009? However, how did people use internet in 2009?

Worldwide Internet Users in 2009

Royal Pingdom has some interesting answers to the above question with some mind-boggling stats. Here are few of the highlights on how people used Internet in 2009. These stats were compiled from several sources from across the internet.

  • 90 trillion emails were sent on the Internet in 2009 with an average of 247 billion new messages per day.
  • 47 million websites were created in 2009 taking the total number of websites to 234 million in 2009. 81.8 million domains were .Com
  • Apache web server grew 13.9%, Nginx (which we use) grew 384.4%. However, usage for both IIS and Lighttpd dropped significantly
  • As of September 2009, there were 1.73 billion internet users worldwide, the largest users were from Asia, followed by Europe and North America
  • There are more than 126 million blogs which were tracked in 2009
  • People tweeted 27.3 million times a day on  
  • 350 million users
  • 4 billion images hosted on , 2.5 billion photos uploaded each month to Facebook
  • servers 1 billion videos per day, with 82% of US users watching videos online
  • IE still has 62% market share, followed by Firefox, and Safari

Aren’t these number mind boggling? However, it would be no surprise that 2010 turns out to be a much bigger year. How much time do you spend on the Internet every day? How do you access the Internet? It would be interesting to know.

Seesmic Acquires Ping.fm – Adds Support for 50 Social Networks

Seesmic is considered by many to be the most powerful and efficient Twitter client. However, in the past Seesmic has made it clear that it doesn’t wish to restrict itself to Twitter. And rightly so. Although Twitter and Facebook dominates the social networking landscape, there are plenty of other major players. As a logical progression towards their aim of becoming the definitive social networking client, Seesmic has announced that it is acquiring Ping.fm.

Seesmic-Acquires-Ping.fm-Social-Network-Support

Ping.fm is a simple service which can push status updates to several dozen social networks. One of the biggest strengths of Ping.fm is that it allows you to update your status message on the go using SMS, MMS, Instant Message or even e-mail. Seesmic has promised to integrate Ping.fm with all its services. It will also be maintaining and developing the Ping.fm API, which is used by close to hundred applications.

Although the financial details of the deal were not disclosed, Ping.fm co-founders – Adam Duffy and Sean McCullough, will be joining the Seesmic team. The duo will also become shareholders and a part of the Seesmic management.

Ping.fm publishes 200,000 updates every day and has 500,000 registered users. This acquisition will undoubtedly give Seesmic an edge and help Loic Le Meur achieve his target of 1 million updates a day. It will be interesting to observe how competitors like TweetDeck will respond. Since, the Ping.fm API will be maintained; other clients will also have the option of offering Ping.fm integration in the future.

28% of Websites Use Google Analytics, 12% Have Adsense [Interesting Stats]

Data Geeks get ready for a treat. Thanks to CommonCrawl.org – a non-profit web crawler, Factual has managed to analyse approximately 4 million websites. Four million websites may be a small portion of the entire internet, but it is still a fairly large sample. As a result of this endeavour we have a fair amount of interesting (though mostly useless) stats in our hand. Some of them are:

  • 28% of websites use Google Analytics.
  • 12% of the sites have AdSense.
  • 5% of websites have either a Twitter link or a Facebook URL.
  • Only 2% of websites have both a Twitter and a Facebook URL.

Factual-Statistics-about-the-world-wide-web

Factual provides a platform where anyone can share and mash open data on any subject. Factual’s key product, the Factual Table, provides a unique way to view and work with structured data. The Factual Table used for calculating these stats is embedded below. Feel free to play with various filters, in case you really love tables.

Happy Birthday Internet

ARPANET in 1971Forty years ago, on this day, the Internet came into existence, as two computers in University of California (UCLA) and Stanford Research Institute were connected. The inauguration was shaky to say the least. The system crashed as Charley Kline was about to press the letter g of login- the first command.

The beginning of the Internet was cautious and slow. It took a long time for ARPANET to become a truly global Internetwork. Even after ten years there were only 188 computers linked on the network. However, things began to improve in the 80s as computers became (relatively) cheaper and faster. Another, turning point was the development of TCP/IP which went on to become a de-facto standard. By January 1, 1983 all host computers on or connected to ARPANET had switched over to the TCP/IP based Internetwork. Domain name system was created in 1984 and dotcom domain names became available in 1985. By 1987, there were 30,000 host computers and the growth of Internet began to accelerate. In 1989 Tim Berners-Lee came up with the idea of Hypertext and developed the World Wide Web. And the rest is history.

[via Guardian and Yahoo]

ICANN Gets Ready To Allow Non-English Characters In Web Addresses

ICANN-To-Approve-Non-Latin-Domain-Names Later this week, the internet is expected to undergo one of the biggest changes in its history. ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), a non-profit corporation which oversees multiple web related tasks, is holding its 36th International Public Meeting in Seoul. It is expected to approve a proposal known as Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs), which will permit addresses with characters other than those based on the Latin alphabet.

IDNs will allow users around the world to surf the web by typing addresses in their own script. The new system is expected to help in popularizing the web among users speaking languages with non-Latin scripts like Arabic and Chinese. According to most estimates, more than half the internet users around the world (approximately 800 million) use non-Latin scripts. Internationalized Domain Names is the next step in the evolution of the internet and will help the it in becoming truly global in nature.

The final decision is expected on Friday. If approved, non-Latin addresses should start appearing by mid-2010.

Share Your E-mail Address Securely With reCAPTCHA Mailhide

Google Wave emerged from the shadows earlier today, stirring up the entire interweb in the process. While those fortunate enough to receive a Google Wave invite rejoiced, others resorted to buying them from eBay or begging on twitter and message boards. In the process many bid adieu to even the most basic sensibilities like not sharing e-mail addresses publically.

Publically sharing e-mail addresses on micro-blogs, social networks or message boards is equivalent to welcoming spammers with open arms. It’s ridiculously easy for a bot to harvest e-mail addresses shared in plain text. Even using fake [at] emailid [dot] com instead of [email protected] isn’t very helpful since most bots are intelligent enough to recognise such minor modifications.

Thankfully, there is an easy we out. reCaptcha has a little known service called Mailhide. Mailhide basically allows you to input your email address and instantly generate a sharable hyperlink. When other people click on the link your e-mail id will be shared with them, provided they prove themselves as human by passing reCaptcha’s test.

MailHide by reCaptcha
MailHide by reCaptcha

What’s brilliant about this method is that it is hassle-free for both parties. Sharing as well as receiving an e-mail id is extremely simple and fast. So, if you must share your email address publically use reCaptcha to protect it from spam-bots.

How to Listen And Record Internet Radio Stations

screen_pp Screamer Radio is a free internet radio player. It can be used for playing radio streams as well as recording them directly to your computer, so you can play them later at leisure even when there is no internet connection.

Screamer Radio has a huge database of Internet Radio stations. You can browse by genre, language, network or region. Favorite channels can be bookmarked into the Favorites List’. Streamer Radio can also play and record radio that does not currently reside in the presets. All you need to do is add the url for a radio station’s pls file into the program and it will start playing it. This way, you can also play and record Shoutcast radio streams that expands the application’s access to a large variety of popular radio stations from the largest radio website on the planet.

Streamer supports OGG, WMA and ACC streaming. Recording can be done on the fly, with just a click of a button. Songs will be recorded on the disk as different tracks, so you won’t have to go through the headache of cutting the audio later.

Screamer Radio is ad free and has no spyware or adware. Download it for Windows.

Via Clif’s FreewareWiki.

Opera Mini 5 Introduces Tabbed Browsing and Touchscreen Navigation

Opera has just released the Opera Mini 5 – which is the latest edition of the world’s most popular mobile web browser. Opera Mini is well known for its extremely fast surfing speeds (the webpages are compressed before being delivered to you) and the ability to run on almost any phone. The major new features in Opera Mini 5 are:

  • New Interface: Opera Mini has received a total makeover. The new interface is sleek and intuitive and looks a lot like a desktop browser.
  • Opera Mini 5 : Tabbed Browsing

  • Tabbed Browsing: Without a doubt this is the biggest attraction of Opera Mini 5. Tabbed browsing was something which was available till now only in high-end phones. However, with Opera Mini you can now enjoy tabbed browsing even on java based phones.
  • Visual Speed Dials: If you have used Opera for the Desktop then you will immediately recognise this feature. Speed Dials allow you to quickly access your favourite webpages.
  • Opera Mini 5 : Touch Screen Navigation

  • Enhanced Navigation With Touchscreen Support: Opera Mini has added support for touchscreen navigation which should work on all touchscreen mobile phones. Keyboard based navigation has also been improved. Opera Mini now supports inline text editing and copy-paste.
  • Password Manager: Opera Mini includes a new Remember Password feature which allows you to securely store your online credentials.
  • Special BlackBerry Edition: A special edition of Opera Mini 5 is also available for Blackberry devices which seamlessly integrate with the system.

Opera Mini 5 is a stunning product which introduces major improvements to an already excellent browser. You can download it from opera.com/mini/next. However, please note that downloads, feeds and Opera Link are disabled in the beta release.

Get Personalized Movie Recommendations Using Criticker

If you like Last.fm you are probably going to love Criticker. Criticker is a Movie Recommendation Engine which recommends movies based upon your taste. Like Last.fm Criticker bases its recommendation on movies you have liked in the past. However, unlike Last.fm the process isn’t automated. After you sign up you would be asked to rate movies on a scale of 0-100. Once you have rated at least 10 movies Criticker will generate movie recommendations for you.

Criticker Movie Recommendation Engine

Criticker utilizes something called Taste Compatibility Index (TCI) to identify your taste. It works by pairing you with other people who have compatible TCI. Criticker is not just a movie recommendation engine. It also has a messaging system and a forum for movie related discussions. Criticker makes getting in touch with movie-buffs who share you taste really simple.

Criticker is an impressive service. Its database is extremely vast. We were pleasantly surprised to find results for obscure movies like Schatten der Zeit. The recommendations provided by Criticker fairly accurate and useful. If you are a movie-buff then go ahead and give Criticker a spin.

Identify Unknown Languages With LangId

LangID - Identify Unknown Languages Translating any piece of text is pretty easy these days thanks to free online translation services like Google Translate, Bing Translator and BabelFish. In fact some browsers like Opera have translation features build right into its interface. Unfortunately, most free translation tools require you to manually enter the source language. Correctly identifying the source language can often be the biggest hurdle.

LangID is a free service which can analyze any piece of text and identify its language. The best thing about LangID is that it works with almost anything. Besides copy+pasting the text snippet you can also upload files, paste links, request translation via twitter and even email.

LangID utilizes the Google Translate AJAX API and supports as many as 85 languages. It returns the current English name of the language, the ISO code and an icon representing the flag of one of the countries this language is spoken in. LangID is the most impressive language detection service around according to the quick test carried out by MakeUseof.com. It managed to detect 18 out of 20 different languages thrown at it by MakeUseOf. Give LangID a try and let us know if you found it handy.