Posts Tagged

Internet
Chromebook and Life in the Cloud

A lot of what we all do with our computers these days is online. A very large proportion of us forego the comfort of an email client and rely instead on a web based mail service such as Gmail or outlook.com. In recent years there has been a big push from a lot of big name companies — the likes of Google, Adobe and Microsoft — to encourage their customers to work increasingly in the cloud.

It is likely that the widespread use of webmail has helped to make the idea of breaking away from the confines of desktop software, but the ever-increasing popularity of smartphones and tablets can probably also claim some responsibility. The ability to work on the move on a smaller-screened device is obviously very liberating, but there are new considerations to keep in mind. It is all well and good being able to work away from the desktop, but there will probably come a time when you want to work on a regular computer rather than a portable device. Of course, you can plug your phone or tablet into your computer and copy files back and forth as required… but this is too much like hard work!

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New Top Level Domains: Are They Needed or Not?

For most people, internet suffixes are not something that are given a great deal of thought, but they are part of life online. Wherever you are in the world, you can visit google.com to access the global page for the search engine, but there are numerous international variants available as well — google.co.uk for the UK, google.fr for France, google.cn for China. You probably don’t consider the existence of many suffixes or TLDs (top level domains) beyond a familiar handful.

Wherever you are in the world, .com is universally recognized, but each country has its own version as well. These are the addresses that most companies and individuals want to bag for their site — they are the ones that matter. Of course there are numerous other familiar TLDs: .org for charities and non-profit organizations, .gov for official governmental sites, but this is far from being the end of the story.

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The Password is Dead! What Next For Security?

Passwords dominate our lives these days; they are part and parcel of spending time online. There are now so many applications, service, devices and websites that require us to log into our secure account using a password that the sheer number of passphrases we have to remember has spiralled completely out of control.

For the best level of security it’s advisable to use a completely different password for each website and service — just off the top of my head I can think of 20 websites that I need to log into (there are probably at least double if I were to sit down and list everything properly); how the heck am I supposed to remember 20 completely unique passwords, each of which comprises a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols. Oh, and don’t forget… you’re meant to change these passwords every few weeks!

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Google.

For many people, Google is the internet. It is one of a handful of companies that have become part of everyday language of the young and old. I’ve grown up with Google, and recently realized just how many of the company’s tools I use on a daily basis. I’m not a fanboy, but I’m living in a Google world, and loving it.

It could be argued that Google has gained something of a monopoly, but even still, Google is a company that has earned a place in many people’s hearts. It is generally looked on rather affectionately, rather than with the suspicion that is reserved for Microsoft. That may be changing, but for me – and many others – it’d be hard to imagine life without many of the tools the company has produced.

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Internet speed. More than disk speed or CPU speed or videocard speed, internet speed is likely the one thing that can most directly impact our computing workflow today. Whether you’re like us and use web apps all the time, or just do the occasional Stack Overflow and Google search to find out how to fix those pesky problems you come across, if the ‘net’s pokey, you’re work’s going to come to a crawl.

A few years ago, when I started working online, we had a pokey 512 Kbps ASDL connection at our home office. Over the holidays, we were able to upgrade to a fibre optics connection with crisp 8-10 Mbps download speeds. Only problem is, those speeds only hold up inside Thailand; try downloading from an overseas site (read: most sites), and you’ll see your speed drop to 1-2 Mbps rather quickly. But hey, anything’s an improvement.

Even on the go, internet speeds have become incredibly fast. I still usually get by with an EDGE connection wile traveling, which hovers around 200-300 Kbps, but even that’s sufficient to get basic work done on the road almost anywhere on earth. And with 4G speeds rivaling standard home internet connections, the day might come when we all cut the cord for good.

So what do internet speeds at your home or office look like? If you’re not sure, pay Speedtest.net a visit. If you’d like to share your exact scores, feel free to post your speed test link in the comments below!

This morning (or last night, depending on where you live), Amazon had severe network issues with their EC2 service, taking a good portion of popular web apps offline. I discovered something was wrong when I tried to upload a screenshot with Cloud App, and found that the service was down. A quick check on Twitter, which incidentally wasn’t down, showed that people were complaining that Reddit, Geckoboard, Instagram, Quora, and more were offline thanks to Amazon EC2’s outage. Then, on the other side of the globe in the US of A, I discovered my Facebook friends were complaining that Netflix was offline, robbing them of their evening entertainment.

While the whole population of the internet seemed in an uproar over EC2, I was personally more frustrated over my home internet going out last night, just as I was uploading the images needed to finish off an article. Internet access has become almost more crucial than electricity now; after all, if the power goes out, you can still work from your laptop or tablet with a cell internet connection. In fact, without internet access, I wouldn’t even have the jobs I have right now!

So what do you do when the internet or your favorite web service goes offline? Do you rely on the web enough for your work that it makes you lose billable hours, or can you keep working offline? Or is the internet being off in the evening when you’re ready to relax more of a problem? We’d love to see what you think!

It seems hard to imagine that just 20 years ago the average person had never used the internet. Today, we’re expected to use the internet more and more for school, work, and keeping up with family and friends. Anytime we’re wondering about anything, most people do a quick Google search instead of pulling out a book or trying to remember the fact in question. Then, some of the best productivity tools and more are web apps, giving us even more reason to spend time online.

It’s easier than ever to stay online all the time, thanks to near-ubiquitous cellular internet connections and WiFi in most homes and businesses. Many places still don’t even have 3G coverage, and 4G seems to be a pipe dream for anyone outside of a major metroplex, but it seems increasingly difficult to find a place that doesn’t at least have GPRS coverage. Even if our internet speeds aren’t great, we feel compelled to get online everywhere, all the time.

The only problem is, data plans can get expensive. If you’ve got a laptop, tablet, and smartphone, most telcos want you to subscribe to 3 data plans, plus your standard home internet. Some areas have prepaid plans that can be used as needed, but most networks in the US require unlimited plans. Sometimes, it seems like it’d be easier to just rely on WiFi, and live without the internet otherwise.

So how about you? Do you pay for cell data plans, and if so, how much do you use it? Let us know in the poll, then share more details about how you get internet on the go in the comments below!

As a lover of web apps, I frequently rave about the advances they’re making and the benefits they offer over other forms of applications. I constantly look for new ways to “live in the cloud” or at least achieve redundancy by using web apps. Web apps are certainly advancing quickly, but are they beginning to outpace internet provider’s capabilities?

As we shift further and further into the realm of cloud-based computing, what predicament might we find ourselves in with regards to our ISPs and their increasingly popular data caps?

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Have you read up on net (network) neutrality? Do you understand how it affects you and even our culture as a whole? It seems that most people, while having heard of net neutrality, don’t actually understand it and what it means for them. This is an important subject to have at least a basic understanding of so you know where you stand.

In a nutshell, net neutrality describes a general idea where your internet access is not restricted by internet service providers (or governments). Once you pay for internet access at your desired speed, you’re able to access the internet as you wish (legally of course).

So what is everyone up in arms about? One side believes the internet should not be controlled, while the other side believes that organizations providing internet access should be allowed to run their networks as they wish. In other words, Comcast could block or restrict (possibly at a price) access to services like Hulu or Netflix.

There’s a whole slew of potential issues a “non-neutral” internet would present but those would need a full article to discuss. For an easy to understand overview of net neutrality, check out http://theopeninter.net. A more in-depth article covering what net neutrality is, arguments for both sides, the new laws introduced Dec. 21, 2010 and further details, checkout lifehacker’s Introduction to Net Neutrality.

Personally, I’m for an open and neutral internet and the new rules set by the FCC seem promising for my wired internet connection, but not so much for my mobile connection. What do you think of the FCC’s new rules? (view FCC’s net neutrality rules in PDF)

Like the intro. graphic? Get “Global Communication Concept” at GraphicRiver.net by antyalias.

About four months ago Google announced Google TV, a new platform similar to Apple’s web-to-TV product, Apple TV (sorta). Google TV differs in that it’s actually an internet experience on your TV, built for your TV. Bringing the experience of the internet into the living room isn’t a new concept, it’s just taken some time for anyone to actually get it right.

Has Google done it right? Well, we don’t know yet but early impressions would lead us to believe so. If Google TV can succeed where others have failed, it might have the power to tip the internet vs cable TV scales in a new direction. Read on for more details and our thoughts on Google TV.

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