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Archive for August, 2009

Want more ad revenue? Speed up your site

The Facebook engineering blog often presents interesting findings about the nuts and bolts of Facebook and the technical side of running that enormous service. The latest post is about Facebook’s experimentation on how site speed affects the behavior of its users, called “Every Millisecond Counts”.

One thing that struck us as extremely interesting was the following findings about site speed.

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Music and video streaming services in themselves are nothing new (as YouTube and others can attest to), but what is new is that finally some companies seem to be getting the big content providers on board. Spotify is gathering buzz with its music streaming service, and Voddler is about to launch a similar service for movies and TV series. And guess what? Both can be used for free.

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Wacky copy protection methods from the good old days

Software piracy has been around basically since the inception of software, and copy protection methods almost as long, so today’s discussions around DRM really isn’t anything new. All the way back in 1976, a certain Bill Gates wrote an open letter to a computer hobbyist club complaining that “most of you steal your software.” Back in those days, however, even he considered copy protection to just be in the way and wasn’t an advocate for it.

There has been a huge number of more or less creative methods to prevent people from making illegal copies of games and other software, but the ones we think are the most interesting (and amusing to look back at) are the ones involving actual physical extras, frequently used in the 80′s and early 90′s. Here are a few gems from that era.

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We all enjoy taking a late morning and some extra sleep now and then, but usually we want to do it on purpose. A large number of Swedish iPhone owners who use their iPhone as an alarm clock got an unexpectedly late start this morning when it turned out that their iPhone’s clock was running two hours behind.

The culprit apparently was the time synchronization server of their Swedish phone operator, which the iPhone synchronizes its clock against.

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Google may own more than 2% of all servers in the world

How many servers does Google have? Nobody outside Google knows exactly how many servers the company has, but there have been a number of estimates through the years. One of the most quoted ones is from 2006, when it was estimated that Google had approximately 450,000 servers. And that was three years ago.

Another estimate showed up in 2007, this time from the analyst firm Gartner, estimating the number of Google servers to one million.

Considering that both these estimates are from a long time ago and Google has grown its data centers significantly since then, it’s not unreasonable to assume that Google today has at least one million servers worldwide.

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Ubuntu is just one of a myriad of Linux distributions, but no one can deny that its rise to fame has been meteoric, especially as a desktop OS.

This week Google announced a “forecast” feature in Google Insights for Search. Essentially it’s a new function that looks at the search history (popularity) of a term and tries to predict what the future trend for that term will look like.

So just out of curiosity we decided to try Ubuntu versus Linux to see what would happen.

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12 unexpected parallels between Apple and Nintendo

They are unlikely to be compared in the first place, but when you start to think about it there are a LOT of things that Apple and Nintendo have in common.

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URL shortener speed and reliability shootout

With the rise of microblogging, URL shortening services have become extremely popular. And no wonder; just imagine sharing links on Twitter without one. Although some of these services have considerably more market share than others (we’re looking at you, and TinyURL), there are plenty of options out there.

One thing that has surprised us a bit here at Pingdom is that we haven’t seen any real numbers on how reliable and how fast these different URL shorteners are compared to each other. After all, adding a layer on top of the target URL (the direct link) means slower access and also adds a single point of failure, so these things should matter. So, we decided to test them.

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A whopping 40% of Mozilla’s work is done by volunteers

Few have managed to make better use of the Open Source model than Mozilla, and we recently saw some very impressive numbers on how much of Mozilla’s work is done by volunteers versus its internal staff that we thought were worth sharing with you (emphasis in the quote below added by us).

Even as Mozilla’s internal staff has grown to 250, from 15 in 2005, an army of volunteers still contributes about 40% of the company’s work, which ranges from tweaks to the programming code to designing the Firefox logo.

Since we are a naturally curious bunch here at Pingdom, we had to ask ourselves how much the time that these volunteers contribute is actually worth in terms of money.

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This is what Microsoft’s homepage looked back in 1994 when it was first launched, and its evolution during the following years.

Keep reading for a closer look at the seven first versions of and some very retro web design.

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