Digg Continues It’s Downward Spiral: Fires 37% of Workforce, Faces Cheating Allegations

2010 is shaping up to be a terrible year for Digg, the once poster child of the Web 2.0 crowd. The much-delayed redesign (Digg v4) triggered a user revolt and drove away several dedicated users, key executives like Chas Edwards and Matt Williams are leaving the company, and now the site is facing allegations of gaming its own voting system to benefit its publishing partners.

Clever sleuthing by a Digg user has revealed the occurrence of large scale manipulation of Digg’s ranking system over the past couple of weeks. Immediately after Digg’s mystery tour of its algorithm, several users (159 of them, to be exact) signed up with usernames like a1, a3, a5, d1, d2, d3, dd1, dd2, dd3, diggerz10, diggerz11, diggerz12, s1, s2 and s4. All of these users then went on to digg upcoming stories in large numbers, more specifically, upcoming stories from Digg’s publishing partners like TechCrunch, Huffington Post and YouTube. In fact, these fake accounts almost single handedly pushed dozens of stories to Digg’s front page.

Impact of Suspicious Accounts on Digg (full stats)

While the evidence at hand is compelling, and it’s clear that some sort of an unfair practice clearly took place, there are plenty of unanswered questions. The biggest question for me is, why? Why would Digg need to game the system, when they can easily (and more securely) achieve similar results by tweaking its algorithm? Even if Digg felt the need to game the system, it’s hard to digest that they would be so crude about. They had to be aware of the risks involved. Digg has yet to issue an official response, but they definitely have some explaining to do.

Even before this controversy broke, things were looking somber for Digg. Earlier today, its CEO acknowledged that Digg was bleeding money and let go 37% of its staff (25 employees) in an attempt to reach profitability by 2011. Announcing the layoffs, Digg’s CEO Matt Williams wrote,

“It’s been an incredibly tough decision. I wish it weren’t necessary. However, I know it’s the right choice for Digg’s future success as a business. I’m personally committed to help find new opportunities for everyone affected by the transition. Digg’s Board members have also offered to help find placements within their portfolio companies.”

Digg was once the hottest Web 2.0 website in the block. Getting dugg meant instant fame, as Digg had the potential to send hundreds and thousands of users within just a few hours. However, of late, Digg has lost most of its charm. Reddit has emerged as a strong competitor with better social features, and a more welcoming (and mature) community. Digg’s deterioration started even before the catastrophic redesign. However, if users now start losing faith in Digg’s impartiality, this might just be it for the website that changed the way many of us consume news.

Update: Digg has finally responded. According to the official explanation, the accounts identified are indeed fake accounts that were being used by the Digg team to test potential shortcomings of the algorithm.

Firefox 4 Continues to Fall Behind Schedule: Major Delays Expected

Last month, I reported that Mozilla had axed some of the features from Firefox 4, in order to meet its release deadline. The first feature to be dropped was the new Account Manager that had received rave reviews from most users. However, it now appears that, even cutting down on features might not be enough to get Firefox 4 back on schedule.


According to this publicly available schedule, Firefox 4 Beta 7 was supposed to arrive on Sept 17, and Beta 8 was supposed to land on October 1. However, both of these dates have come and gone, without any new Firefox 4 builds being released. Quite obviously, Mozilla also missed its target of achieving code freeze by Oct 15 in preparation of the RC (Release Candidate) release.


There’s still plenty of work left to be done. Just a couple of weeks back, Mozilla reported that it had 17 blockers (bugs that are major enough to prevent the release of a build) to deal with before the next beta release, and as many as 510 blockers to fix before they can move on to the RC stage. This has prompted Softpedia to speculate that Mozilla might not even manage to pull off the release by the end of this year.

Opera 11 Alpha Released with Extension Support

The first alpha build of Opera 11 is here. Opera 11 boasts of all the benefits of the Opera 10.7 trunk, and introduces a major new feature – extensions. As revealed in last week’s Up North Web press event, Opera 11 finally allows developers to build add-ons that can interact with the browser and add new features.


To kick things off, the folks at Opera have created about fifteen extensions, which are available for installation from the Opera Extensions Gallery. Unlike Firefox, which allows extensions to pretty much configure any and every aspect of the browser, Opera’s Extensions are essentially web applications (written using HTML, CSS and JavaScript) that can interact with certain aspects of the browser exposed through the API. This is quite similar to the way Chrome handles extensions. As a result, extensions are expected to be more secure and have minimal impact on performance. If you are a developer, check out the video embedded below or head over to dev.opera.com for more information. It’s worth keeping in mind though that the API will in all likelihood be expanded in the future to support more functionality.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t check out any of the extensions first hand as at the time of writing this article, Opera’s extensions gallery was getting hammered and was unreachable.

Opera 11 will also benefit from the speed improvements introduced in the Opera 10.7 snapshots. Although, I didn’t conduct any benchmarks of my own, I expect Opera to hold onto its healthy lead over Chrome and other browsers in the performance department.

Browser Performance Benchmark (via BetaNews)

There are a few minor UI changes also. Again, anyone who used the 10.7 snapshots will already be familiar with these. Opera has added a new Mail Panel to quickly switch between different accounts or RSS Feed sources., and the personal bar has been replaced with a new bookmarks bar, which appears below the address bar.

Opera 11 continues Opera’s push towards supporting latest web technologies. New in this version is support for HTML5 server-sent events and websockets. Several dozen bugs have also been squished since the Opera 10.6 release.

You can download the alpha build for Windows, Mac and UNIX from opera.com/browser/next/.

Max OS X 10.7 “Lion” Sneak Peek


It’s official. Apple has just announced the next edition of the Mac Operating System – the Lion. Although Apple didn’t reveal everything about the Lion at today’s event, it gave us a sneak peek at what we can expect from the successor to the Snow Leopard.


Over the past several months, it has been all about the iOS. The success of the iOS has helped Apple reach new heights and carve out segments that simply didn’t exist before. And, the same iOS is the main inspiration behind the new OS X. The highlights of today’s presentation were:

  • Apple will introduce full multi-touch support in Lion to take advantage of the multi-touch capable trackpads present in MacBooks, as well as Apple’s very own Magic Mouse. In fact, Apple is also going to launch a full-fledged multi-touch capable trackpad for desktop users.
  • The Lion will also allow apps to run in full screen mode, similar to the way we are accustomed to using apps on the iPhone and the iPad. This should make reading books or surfing the web a joy.
  • OS-X-Lion-Mac-App-Store

  • As predicted by many, Apple will also launch an App Store for desktop apps. Obviously, the new App Store will be modeled after the highly successful iPhone App Store. There will be both free and paid apps, with Apple taking 30% revenue share. Installation as well as uninstallation of apps will be hassle free and a single click affair. The App Store will automatically ensure that you have the latest version of each app installed on your system.
  • OS-X-Lion-Launchpad

  • Another new feature in Lion is Launchpad, which is simply a home screen for your apps. It will display all the apps installed on your system in a neatly arranged grid, similar to the iPad. In fact, Apple is even dubbing this as an iPad layer.
  • OS-X-Lion-Mission-Control

  • Full screen apps, Launchpad, Spaces and Expose are going to be the cornerstone of the Lion user interface. And integrating all of them together will be another nifty feature called Mission Control, which will group apps with multiple instances into stacks.

The Lion will be launching in the summer of 2011. The new set of features are just what we have come to expect from Apple – fresh and exciting. Don’t forget to share with us your initial impression of the Lion.

via Engadget

Back to the Mac: New iLife ’11, MacBook Air and a Mystery Product

Apple’s Back to the Mac event is scheduled to take place later today in San Francisco. As usual, Apple is being tightlipped about what to expect in the event. However, BGR has already confirmed that we will be seeing a new MacBook Air, as well as the latest edition of iLife suite, which includes iPhoto, iMovie, iDVD, GarageBand, and iWeb. The confirmation came in the form of categories in Apple’s official discussion forums.


Apple staffers also created a mystery category called “Reserved 10 20″ for a possibly unknown product. I am hoping that the mystery product turns out to be Mac OS 10.7, which has been speculated to be codenamed Lion.

Engadget has also managed to learn about the key specifications of the updated MacBook Air. The new Air will be as sleek as the original Air (actually smaller), while bumping up the specifications by a fair bit. Here’s what Engadget was told about the Air.

  • Display: 11.6 inch screen.
  • Processor: 2.13GHz Intel Core 2 Duo (optional 2.33GHz upgrade).
  • RAM: 2GB.
  • Other: Mini DisplayPort, 2xUSB (one of the left and one on the right), and SD card reader. Air’s trackpad will be similar to the multi-touch trackpad in MacBook Pros.

Unallocated IPv4 Reserves Drop Below 5%

Techie Buzz readers are probably already aware that we are running out of IPv4 (Internet Protocol version 4) addresses. An IP address is essential for uniquely identifying devices connected to the internet. The trouble is that the currently prevalent protocol (IPv4) only supports up to 232 addresses, which was thought to be enough back in the day. With the number of devices connected to the internet rapidly increasing, we are quickly nearing the exhaustion of the address pool.

A newer version of the protocol – IPv6, solves this problem, while introducing other significant benefits. IPv6 supports 2128 (about 3.4×1038) addresses. Unfortunately, IPv6 protocol requires new hardware or updates to legacy hardware. However, users on IPv6 networks will still be able to access content on IPv4 networks. In spite of the repeated efforts, the adaption rate of IPv6 has been slow due to the financial investments required and general consumer apathy.

The Number Resource Organization (NRO) has announced that less than 5% of the addresses now remain unallocated. The good news is that IPv6 adoption increased this year by 70% compared to just 8% for IPv4. This indicates that IPv6 adoption is gaining momentum. On its part, the Indian government requires all telecom and ISPs are required to be IPv6-compliant by the end of next year, and wants to start using IPv6 by March, 2012. However, unless the ISPs get their act together, even this might turn out to be too little too late.

Mozilla Announces Open Web App Platform

Web is the future and the browser will make the operating system redundant. I am sure you have heard this argument before, and will probably hear it in the future. While I am still not sure about the web browser making the operating system insignificant, a lot of the big guys (especially browser manufacturers) are definitely convinced.

Back in 2006, Opera introduced widgets, which are essentially applications developed using existing web standards that can run on desktop, mobile phones and even other devices like television sets. Last year, Google announced their web-oriented operating system – Google Chrome OS. While the Chrome OS is yet to arrive, the Chrome Web Store is expected to launch pretty soon. And, just a couple of days back, Opera joined the Wholesale Application Community – an alliance of the world’s leading mobile operators working together to define, create and deploy a common mobile application platform that leverages the power of the web.


Now Mozilla has also jumped in and announced its own “Open Web App Platform“. Conceptually it’s very similar to Google’s Chrome App store. Developers can build applications using existing standards (HTML, CSS and JavaScript) and must include a special manifest file that confirms to the Open Web App platform specifications. After that the app can be installed and used from any operating system (desktop or mobile) that has a modern browser. Unlike Google’s offering, which is restricted to Chrome OS alone, Mozilla supports Internet Explorer 8, Chrome 6, Safari 5, Opera 10 and WebKit mobile.

Head over to appstore.mozillalabs.com to get a taste of what Mozilla is planning.

Windows 7 SP1 pre-RC Build Leaked?

Leaked Microsoft software is nothing new. Both Windows 7 and Office 2010 kept getting leaked during their development stages. Now, Softpedia is reporting that an internal Windows 7 Service Pack 1 build has been leaked. Although some websites are claiming that this is the release candidate (RC), the leaked file is most likely a pre-RC build.

The leaked image is a chinese Windows 7 (32 bit) installation, which has been slipstreamed with SP1. The build number is 6.1.7601.17104. According to reports, the leaked build is time bombed to 01.09.2011. In other words, the leaked build will stop working in September 2011. This indicates that the leaked build is at least a month old.

Installing leaked builds is never recommended. Not only are they likely to be unstable and rough around the edges, but there is also the possibility that they have been tampered by the releaser. However, if you are dying to get your hands on the latest and greatest from Microsoft, then you should be able to locate the leaked release with a simple Google search.

Google Drives Cars Automatically, Literally. Can We Get Our Google Laundry Man Now?

What is synonymous with Google? Search, Innovation, , Maps? Well, lot more than that. Google innovated email literally with . They did the same with several other things.

Google Car

But now it looks like they have taken technology to a new level with a car that runs on its own without any driver. Yes, you might have seen trains which run on a single track without any driver, but would you have every imagined that a car would be able to drive on it’s own without assistance on a road full of traffic? No, right and this statement from a recent Google blog post blew me away.

So we have developed technology for cars that can drive themselves.

Wait, what? You developed technology that allows cars to drive themselves. Are you kidding me? Well, no. This is what Google says about their automated car technology.

Our automated cars, manned by trained operators, just drove from our Mountain View campus to our Santa Monica office and on to Hollywood Boulevard. They’ve driven down Lombard Street, crossed the Golden Gate bridge, navigated the Pacific Coast Highway, and even made it all the way around Lake Tahoe. All in all, our self-driving cars have logged over 140,000 miles. We think this is a first in robotics research.

Woot, what, this has to be the biggest breakthrough in technology, a way to use robotic technology to drive cars. Google apparently use video cameras and laser range finder to see other traffic along with maps, which I bet is Google Maps to navigate the road and traffic of course.

Wow totally amazing and I am floored right now to write more about it, visit this Google Post to learn more. Also a big request to Google, can you please build technology that would do our laundry automatically now?

Image Credit: Daddy Types

Tech Savvy Florida Church Live Worship From Set-top Boxes

In this day and age of technology, far less people visit places of worship than ever. However, a Tech Savvy Florida Church is tackling the issue with the help of technology by providing Live Worshipping for devotees on devices such as , and .

Church Sign

The Northland Church has also been using the platform to allow users to worship from the comfort of their computers. And if that was not enough they have now launched a first-ever live church channel on the Roku set-top device.

According to the Northland Church, more than 4000 people worship each week with their Northland online service and around 2100 people have already installed Northland’s Roku channel.

So is this new way of worshipping going to help people avoid going to actual churches and pray from their homes instead? Well, it would definitely not be the same, but technology is supposed to make life easier and this one definitely makes it for those who are lazy to wake up on a Sunday morning to visit the Church.

What do you think about this? Would you rather pray online or visit your house of worship physically? Do you think that this is a right use of technology?

Roku which is a set-top box, allows you to instantly stream your favorite movies and TV shows from Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon and listen to music from sites like Pandora. The Roku set-top box is small in size and does not require any PC.