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Archive for April, 2010

Facebook as a single point of failure for the Web

Facebook at the center of the web

If Facebook has its way (and it usually does), over the coming years a ton of websites and online services will become part of the open graph that Facebook is promoting, with Facebook firmly planted in the middle. The concept is very interesting, and the potential for this web of data from a wide variety of sources is enormous. You could say that Facebook will tie all our information, and the whole web, together.

There’s just one problem (two, if you count privacy): When the web becomes “interconnected” with Facebook, it also means that when Facebook breaks, the web breaks. In short, Facebook becomes a single point of failure for the web.

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The countries going nuts over the iPad

Apple iPadThe iPad has made a huge splash in a very short time, and this in spite of only being available in the United States. Now that its release in other countries is getting closer every day, where is anticipation the hottest? Which countries are the most interested in the iPad?

This is one area where Google can come to the rescue of Apple (something we haven’t seen much of lately). Google Insights for Search can show the “regional interest” for various terms. When a brand name is involved, like the iPad, it becomes very useful since it will be same all over the world and will reflect interest in that brand or product. We used this tool to research the overall global interest in the iPad, and also where in the United States it’s most popular.

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Instant Messaging statsInstant messaging. We all use it, whether it be Skype, Windows Live Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger, or some other IM client or platform. We’ve come a long way since the days of ICQ, when IM as a phenomenon really took off. IM is now such an intricate part of our experience of the internet that we thought an infographic on the subject was in order. Enjoy!

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TweetsWhen a big website goes down it doesn’t take long before Twitter is full of tweets lamenting that it’s down. This behavior is so common that even Twitter itself has “is down” as one of its query tips on the Twitter Search page.

Now that Google has added a Twitter timeline graph to its search engine, we can actually visualize how much people complain on Twitter when big sites go down. We can now see how the amount “down tweets” blow up. Finally we have some history to go with real-time search, so we should be grateful that Google got access to Twitter’s firehose.

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Does Internet Explorer have more than a billion users?

Web browser usage statistics

How many users do the various web browsers really have? We often hear about market share percentages, but we rarely get to see any actual user numbers.

So let’s try to estimate how many people are using Internet Explorer, Firefox, Google Chrome, Safari and Opera. Not in market share percentages, but the actual number of people.

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Peeking behind the scenes of the world’s largest sites

Nuts and boltsDo you want to know more about how big websites like Twitter, Facebook, Hotmail and others handle the technical challenges of dealing with massive amounts of visitors?

Well, you’re in luck, because many of those sites and services have engineering and/or developer blogs that share plenty of information about the challenges they have to deal with and the tools they use. This is an insider’s view that you usually can’t get anywhere else, giving us a unique view of what’s going on behind the scenes of some of the world’s largest web services.

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Microsoft, Apple, GoogleThree tech companies seem to come up over and over again. They’ve become the trinity of tech, at least as far as most IT consumers are concerned. They are Microsoft, its long-time rival Apple, and Google.

Both Apple and Microsoft are veterans, having started their operations in the 1970s and gone public in the 1980s. In IT, that’s a very long time ago. Just think about it, these two companies were part of the birth of personal computing!

We thought it would be interesting to see how their fortunes (as in “business success”) have changed through the years, and how Google, a much later arrival, compares.

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Web browsers

We all know the by now woeful tale of Internet Explorer 6, which close to a decade after its arrival still has a significant share of the web browser market. Its users have been extremely slow to abandon it in spite of there being two newer and much improved versions of Internet Explorer freely available. And this is with Microsoft actively encouraging an upgrade. You could even argue the same for Internet Explorer 7; why haven’t the vast majority of Internet Explorer users switched to version 8 by now?

This conundrum made us wonder how the other web browsers fare when it comes to getting their users to upgrade to newer versions. How quickly do Firefox, Safari, or Google Chrome users upgrade their browsers when new versions arrive?

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Will Ubuntu’s new look bring in the masses?


With Ubuntu 10.4, codenamed Lucid Lynx, Ubuntu will change its look completely. Everything will be brand new; the logo, the user interface, and the color scheme (no more brown). It’s set to be released on April 29, less than a month away.

We are very curious to see if this makeover will give Ubuntu a boost in popularity. It’s already the most popular desktop Linux distribution, but will this new look, this new branding, make it easier for Ubuntu to cast its net even wider and grow the Linux user base as a whole?

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