That scream you heard this afternoon was millions of high school and college students crying out in pain as they realized that Wikipedia was down.
Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia, crashed this afternoon when its European data center overheated. According to the site’s technical blog, once one of its data centers has a failure, all traffic is supposed to be automatically routed to another center, in this case Florida, via a “failover” device. This will cause the DNS — the file that tells a domain name where to go — to automatically reroute to the secondary location. The problem today was that Wikimedia, the company behind the site, discovered that the failover was also broken.
The problem has now been fixed, but domain name servers the world over will now have to play catch up with where they are supposed to direct your traffic.
Wikipedia is one of those sites you take for granted because it’s always “there”, so understandably some people are shaken by this. We do however have a solution for those of you trying to finish term papers and essays right now … there’s this magical place called a “library” …
A lot of noise is being made today about the fact that Hitwise is reporting that Facebook is now the most visited in the United States, beating out long-time top dog Google. The problem is that it isn’t even close to being correct.
While third-part analytics companies numbers always vary wildly from one to the other, it’s the data from Hitwise itself that makes no sense. The company reported that for the week ending March 13th, Facebook accounted for 7.07% of all traffic, while Google was 7.03% of traffic and Yahoo Mail was third with 3.8% of all traffic.
Looks like Facebook really won doesn’t it? Well, Yahoo alone makes this untrue. For some reason known only to Hitwise, they separated out the numbers for Yahoo and Yahoo Mail. Yahoo’s main page had 3.67% of traffic, so when you add them together, which you should, they had 7.47% of all traffic, beating out both Google and Facebook. This makes no sense why the two Yahoo sites weren’t counted as one, but that was the choice of Hitwise.
Now, Google owns YouTube, and YouTube had 2.14% of all traffic, so added together with Google’s 7.03% traffic share, that would make 9.17%, and that isn’t even counting all of the other Google sites such as Picasa, Orkut and so on. We can somewhat understand this separation of stats, but breaking apart Yahoo and Yahoo Mail makes absolutely no sense.
Does this really matter at the end of the day to your average user? Nope. Do we still think companies should report statistics honestly and correctly? Absolutely. This isn’t to say that Hitwise is lying about statistics, it just says it is amazing how you can manipulate them when you get creative. Any time I see data like this, I feel the need to dig deeper because it always feels like a headline grabbing proclamation to me, and that is certainly what this one appears to be.
On March 15, 1985, Symbolics.com was registered as the first domain name, and the rest, as they say, was history.
VeriSign, the first company to watch over domain names, has launched a site aptly named 25YearsOf.com to celebrate this historic event. It is doubtful that at any other time in history have three letters and a punctuation mark had such a profound effect on the world.
As part of the year-long celebration, ‘the “.com 25″‘ are currently being selected to be honored at a gala in May in San Francisco. While the final 25 are being selected by a panel of judges, the current potential list of honorees is up on the site for you to show your support. These are supposed to be the 25 people and sites that have shaped the Internet as we know it today, and while some of them make a lot of sense (say what you will about Steve Case of AOL, if not for his site, it is doubtful as many people would have learned about the Internet as early as they did without him), others are a bit off-the-wall (eHarmony … really?). So make sure to stop by and vote for those you would like to see included.
It’s hard to imagine the world without .coms in it, let alone the Internet. So, happy birthday to the domain name extension that started it all!
Ever wondered what some of the statistics are regarding the Internet? Well, you can stop wondering now thanks to The State of the Internet video.
Jess3, a company that bills themselves as “a creative agency that specializes in web design, branding and data visualization,” has created a fantastic video that shows you various information about the Internet in one digestible video. Some of the numbers are amazing, others are scary (81% of all email is spam? Yeesh!), but all of it is quite interesting if you spend any time on the Internet … which you must if you’re reading this.
Take a look for yourselves and leave your thoughts in the comments.
Do you ever sit around thinking, “Wow, I wish I could turn on my Web cam and talk to a completely random stranger who also has their Web cam on …” Well, today is your lucky day since that is exactly what ChatRoulette is all about.
Created by Andrey Ternovskiy, a 17-year-old high school student in Moscow, ChatRoulette launched in Nov. 2009, and while it got some traffic, it was just this month that the media picked up on it. Having been featured on Good Morning America and in The New York Times, the site has now grown to tens-of-thousands of visitors at a time.
The concept is a simple one: Turn on your Web cam, click “Start”, and you are soon connected to some other random person from around the world that is on the site at the same time. Don’t see a person you want to talk to? Click “Next” and you are immediately sent to the next person in the line.
As I am sure you have guessed by now, the site is quickly filling up with men looking for women, and, yes, you do see a whole lot of … um … “excited men” as you randomly click through the various “strangers”, as the site calls them. You do, however, also see a lot of very bored looking teens, people just looking for someone to chat with, and occasionally a demon playing a violin. (I took that screenshot about five minutes before I started writing this)
The site doesn’t require any registration to use, but if you do see something you’d rather not see, you simply click the “Report” button, and if they get enough reports on a user, their computer will be blocked from the site.
While the site is gaining in popularity, there are some definite risks for the younger folks out there, and, well, really anyone who doesn’t want to see that which can not be unseen. We’re not going to say “Stay Away! This Way Lies Madness!”, but we are going to suggest you tread cautiously if your curiosity gets the better of you.
(for the record, the violin playing demon wasn’t half bad!)
The OnlineFamily.Norton site has published the results of what children searched for online this year, and it is sobering to say the least.
OnlineFamily.Norton’s list of searches by children is disturbing and only goes to prove that computers should always be in a communal space where parents can monitor the computer usage. First, the top 100 searches combines for all age groups under 18 years of age:
Party in the USA
Norton Safety Minder
Boom Boom Pow
You Belong With Me
Black Eyed Peas
Taylor Swift You Belong With Me
Gummy Bear Song
You’re a jerk
Free online games
New Moon trailer
Paparazzi Lady Gaga
Sex being in the fourth slot isn’t too surprising with teenagers in the mix, but lets take a look at the top 25 broken down by age group:
Porn was in the fourth position for children under the age of seven, and sex was in the same position for the 8 – 12 age group. Both terms are in the top 25 for all age groups. The chart for gender had “sex” as the fourth term for boys and the fifth spot for girls.
I have talked many times on many different blogs about how children should not be allowed to have computers in their bedrooms, and these search statistics just go to prove that fact. When you have 7-year-olds and younger searching for porn, you know you have a problem.
They are an especially handy tool when you are trying to tell someone on a service like Twitter, which restricts your messages to 140 characters, about a Web site they should visit.
Up until now the services have all been services that do nothing but this activity, companies such as Bit.ly, TinyURL and so on, but all of that has now changed with the announcement of Google entering the space.
The new service, named Goo.gl, will work both from the Google Toolbar for the various Web browsers from their FeedBurner service. Why should you use it over the other services out there? There are three reasons that Google lists as good reasons to use their service over others:
Stability: Google’s scalable, multi-datacenter infrastructure provides great uptime and a reliable service to our users.
Security: As we do with web search, shortened URLs are automatically checked to detect sites that may be malicious and warn users when the short URL resolves to such sites.
Speed: At Google we like fast products and we’ve worked hard to ensure this service is quick. We’ll continue to iterate and improve the speed of Google Url Shortener.
In our opinion, a URL shortener is a URL shortener, although if a service ever shuts down, the links will go dead. While Google has killed off some services over the years, there is a good likelihood this one will last for some time. Seeing as I have a friend that owns his own service, I will probably stick with his, but the Google one sounds like a good alternative to most to me.
The number of senior citizens, those aged over 65, has risen more than 55% over the past five years.
According to a report from Nielsen, the number of senior citizens on the Internet has grown from 11.3 million in 2004 to 17.5 million in 2009. And they aren’t just hopping on for a second, they are spending an average of 58 hours a month online.
So, what are they doing with their time? Here are the top 10 ways they spend their time:
Checking Personal E-mail
Viewed or Printed Maps Online
Checked Weather Online
Paid/Viewed Bills Online
View/Posted Photos Online
Read General/Political News
Checked Personal Health Care Info
Planned Leisure Travel Trip Online
Searched Recipes/Meal Planning Suggestions
Read Business/Finance News
In other words, they appear to be all about using the Web as a utility. Whether it be communicating or keeping current, they seem to be finding ways to bring more of the world into their home, saving them the time and trouble of going out. While it is always wise for seniors to stay physically active, at least this allows them to spend their time out of the home on more leisurely pursuits than running all those sorts of little errands that do nothing more than annoy a person.
It also looks like they are looking ways to cut expenses. Who needs to mail payments any more when you can pay your bills online and know instantly that your payment has been received?
What is also intriguing is the way they are engaging the Web when they aren’t doing the more practical activities:
Windows Media Player
Yes, there is a whole lot of searching going on there, but social network Facebook rose from 45th position last year to 3rd position this year. With YouTube in 4th place, they are looking for entertainment, and Amazon in 5th means they are shopping or researching possible purchases.
Apparently they really like Yahoo! Mail for all that email they are doing.
StarterTech was started with the idea of making the Web simpler for people such as senior citizens, and apparently we were correct about them wanting to use it!
I have no clue why, but people sure do seem to want to call the day and date of email’s death.
Every so often someone comes up with the idea that sites like Facebook or Twitter are going to kill off email. I first wrote a story about this in July 2007, and I thought it was stupid then, but I think it is even stupider now.
The Wall Street Journal wrote a piece today saying that products like Twitter, Facebook and Google Wave are moving us away from email because we can be constantly connected. This is true to some extent, but horribly wrong in others.
My argument about Facebook replacing email has always been that it isn’t conducive to business communication. You have no way to back it up, you can’t attach files and corporations can’t control it. You will never see a Fortune 500 company saying, “Okay, no more email, all communication must now run through a third-party system that limits what we can do and how much control we have over it.” This is simply never going to happen.
As for Twitter … you have 140 characters to communicate in, can’t attach files, has had a spotty history with security and is far too public. Sure it is good for short communications between friends, but are you ever going to broker a deal for oil futures on it? No.
Google Wave is the newest weapon in this silly fight against email, and while it is still in “Preview” mode, you receive no notifications of when you have an update to a Wave to read and there is no way yet to access it while mobile. Sure these things may change as development move forward, but for now it is just an interesting tool for people to try out.
What I will agree with is that these services are killing the short, blurby style emails of “what are we doing tonight?”, “what do you want for dinner?”, etc, but the concept that they will completely kill off email is just silly. Email has been here for 40 years for a reason: it works.
If some security experts have their way, you may soon need a license to log on to the Internet.
It’s all in the name of “protecting” you, but there are people in Europe and Australia that think it might be a good idea for you to have a license to surf the Internet.
The theory is a simple one: there are people on the Internet who want to defraud you, and you should be required to take a class to learn to avoid these situations prior to being allowed on the Web. At least that is the idea that Dr. Russel Smith, principal criminologist at the Australian Institute of Criminology, has been saying to iTnews.
While it seems his heart is in the right place, Dr. Smith is simply going too far with such a concept. The majority of Internet fraud concerns can be solved with a short pamphlet that Internet service providers (ISPs) could send out to customers when they sign up. Essentially it boils down to three things:
Never give out your password or personal info
Never send money to someone
Never use a credit card on a suspicious looking site
There, you’ve just earned your “license”.
Dr. Smith attempts to make an analogy between driving a car and controlling a computer, both items being dangerous machines, but it just comes off as lame. Yes, the Internet can be a big scary place, but just because a handful of people get defrauded each year doesn’t mean that the hundreds of millions of other people on the Internet should have to jump through hoops to use their own computers.
You know what else is dangerous? Guns. But you don’t have to take a safety course before buying one.
You know what else is dangerous? Alcohol. But you don’t have to take a course before you drink.
You know what else is dangerous? Smoking. But you don’t have to take a course before you buy a pack of cigarettes.