Archive for the ‘Z Old Posts’ Category

[News] Firefox 3.5 promises to be twice as fast as Firefox 3

June 11, 2009 2 comments

According to Mozilla, Firefox 3.5, currently just a few steps away from being launched, will be twice as fast as Firefox 3.0.

I wrote a review on Firefox 3.5 beta 4, and it was noticeably faster than 3.0., but not without a few stability problems. However, with thousands of programmers working on it, I’m sure that the problems will be fixed with the upcoming release candidate.

To celebrate, Mozilla launched a website called Fastest Firefox, where users can upload videos of themselves doing something (anything) fast. The submitted videos will be put into a large community video.

According to Net Applications, Firefox 3.5 currently has a 0.19% market share. That means that, currently, 1 in 526 people use Firefox 3.5. Although Mozilla has not yet announced when exactly Firefox 3.5 will be launched, it’s probably going to happen in the next few months, as the next version will be a release candidate, the final step before a launch.

Categories: Z Old Posts

[Insight] Why netbooks could overtake notebooks as the #1 portable computer

May 31, 2009 Leave a comment

Netbooks, which only in the past 6 months have gained popularity, could pose a threat to laptops.

Netbooks are smaller and less powerful laptops, geared to be a secondary computer solely for browsing the web. A standard netbook has a built-in wi-fi adapter and a webcam, along with a decent amount of RAM for web browsing. PC manufacturers like ASUS and Acer (both Taiwan-based) have begun producing netbooks and marketing them as an inexpensive, portable secondary computer for browsing the web and carrying out low-memory tasks.

However, users wanted to save money by getting cheaper computers, and started buying netbooks instead of the more expensive notebooks (normal-sized laptops). The PC industry’s intentions backfired.

More and more, the web browser you use is becoming more important than the operating system you use. With web-based applications, you can save a file in Washington, DC and open it San Fransisco with no need for a flash drive. Software can be upgraded with no need for an installation. Documents can be shared or worked on by a number of people simultaneously. The major downside is obviously that if you’re in an area without Internet access, you’re documents are inaccessible.

Right now, one in five laptops sold are netbooks, and that number’s on the rise. It’s a very real possibility that netbooks and smartphones could overtake notebooks as the preferred type of mobile computer.

Categories: Z Old Posts

[Analysis] Review: Firefox 3.5 Beta 4

May 17, 2009 4 comments

FF35b4 Screenshot

Firefox 3.5 will be the next version of Mozilla Firefox. The latest beta version, 3.5 Beta 4, is available on Mozilla’s website. For the past week, I’ve been using Firefox 3.5 beta 4, and taking notes on what it’s like.

Firefox 3.5 will not be a completely new version of Firefox, so don’t expect to see a new theme or redesign. Rather, there will mainly beĀ  security and stability updates.

Features added

– Firefox 3.5 has a Private Browsing Mode, which is also available in Internet Explorer, Safari, and Google Chrome. When using private browsing, Firefox does not add sites visited to your history or save forms, logins to websites, searches, or cookies. This could especially come in handy on public or shared computers. To enter private browsing mode, go to Tools > Start Private Browsing or type Control+Shift+P.

– Instead of using File > New Tab or Control+T to open a new tab, Firefox 3.5 introduced a tab bar with a quick button to open a new tab. The new tab bar can be disabled by going to Tools > Options > Tabs.

– Location-Aware browsing (see below).

Website compatibility

– I went to the following websites to see if Firefox 3.5 had problems loading them. They all were loaded correctly.

–,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, and In addition, it also loaded Website Graveyard and our sister site, TemplatesOne, correctly. I have yet to find a website that isn’t fully compatible with Firefox 3.5.


– Firefox 3.5 uses Gecko 1.9.1 as its rendering engine. It was either significantly faster than Gecko 1.9, or more compatible with my computer. Either way, pages loaded faster.

– More compatible with websites (see above).

– Still compatible with toolbars designed for Firefox 3, including the Google Toolbar and Wolfram Toolbar.

– Utilizes a new feature called Location-Aware browsing. With Location-Aware browsing, Firefox sends your current IP address to Google, which determines your location based on it. This feature will only be used if you OK it.


– Originally, Firefox 3.5 loaded more slowly than Firefox 3. However, Firefox 3.5 is now loading just as fast as Firefox 3.

– Being a beta, not all add-ons are compatible.

– Firefox crashed twice, but the addon Session Manager was able to recover the tabs.

In the end…

Firefox 3.5 is definitely an improvement from Firefox 3, offering better compatibility and more features. However, it’s not yet as stable as Firefox 3. For those of you who just want a web browser, wait until it comes out of beta. But if you want to experiment with the next one, why not try Firefox 3.5?


View tech specs for the computer used >>

Categories: Z Old Posts

[News] Wolfram|Alpha scheduled to debut tonight, but will the server be able to handle the traffic?

May 15, 2009 Leave a comment

Wolfram|Alpha, a first of its kind “computational knowledge engine” that gives users answers to questions like, “What is the life expectancy for a male at age 45?” is scheduled to go live to the world at 5:00 PM Pacific Coast Time (8:00 PM Eastern Time). However, when running a simulation to see if the servers could handle a large amount of traffic, the selected part of the server reportedly failed. By the time you’re reading this article, Wolfram|Alpha will have probably already been launched (or not).

To watch what’s happening live, starting at 8PM Eastern Time, click here to go to the live webcast.

I’ll post updates here as they happen (in Eastern U.S. time)

UPDATE 1 – 7:50 PM – 10 minutes to the scheduled launch, and the Wolfram|Alpha website is loading normally, a sign that so far the servers are handling the traffic. The real bandwidth will come when the tools go live.

UPDATE 2 – 8:01 PM – I’m on the webcast, site, and as of now the webcast hasn’t appeared. Server overload?

UPDATE 3 – 8:04 PM – Wolfram announced that they were running slightly behind on Twitter. A live webcam is available here on

UPDATE 4 – 8:09 PM – The live webcam above on has stopped streaming, and members of the chatroom next to the video are wondering if the Wolfram server is having difficulties.

UPDATE 5 – 8:13 PM – Members of the chatroom are getting frustrated, leaving comments expressing it.

UPDATE 6 – 8:16 PM – Wolfram announced on Twitter that they are running behind because the uplink on is not working.

UPDATE 7 – 8:20 PM – The stream is now embedded on the Wolfram website, but still is not working.

UPDATE 8 – 8:24 PM – The chatroom is buzzing with frustrated comments from users, blaming for the error. The error could actually be on Wolfram’s part or’s part.

UPDATE 9 – 8:31 PM – The uplink has started working! Available on the website here.

UPDATE 10 – 8:35 PM – Wolfram announced on the stream that the server problems in simulations were because the routers and switching mechanisms were being confused.

UPDATE 11 – 8:38 PM – One of the reasons for the technical difficulties is that the data center is currently in a not only a thunderstorm, but a tornado warning.

UPDATE 12 – 8:41 PM – They told viewers that, if the power went out to the area, which isn’t unlikely, the battery system would continue to run the center.

UPDATE 13 – 8:44 PM – The stream is currently showing a pre-recorded video of how they are protected against power outages: A battery will power the system for a few seconds, and then a diesel generator will power the data centers.

UPDATE 14 – 8:49 PM – The stream showed another pre-recorded video showing the servers in Wolfram|Alpha.

UPDATE 15 – 8:54 PM – Some users of the chatroom are reporting Wolfram|Alpha is up, while others are saying it’s not. I currently can’t use it.

UPDATE 16 – 8:58 PM – It’s up! Click here to use it. The data centers are reporting a few queries a second.

UPDATE 17 – 9:04 – They announced on the stream that they don’t want too many people to start using Wolfram|Alpha. That’s probably why the homepage isn’t allowing you to enter queries yet.

UPDATE 18 – 9:16 PM – Sometimes when I enter a query, I’m redirected to the homepage. Probably to keep the number of incoming queries from going too high.

UPDATE 19 – 9:30 PM – The people at Wolfram are now reading feedback from users.

UPDATE 20 – 9:38 PM – Sign off. Coverage continues tomorrow morning.

UPDATE 21 – 7:15 AM (May 16) – The Wolfram|Alpha homepage is currently loading, but sometimes gives you an error message saying that the incoming traffic is above the test amount.

Categories: Z Old Posts

[News] Google Chrome gaining market share, still dwarfed by IE, Firefox

May 14, 2009 Leave a comment

Google Chrome, launched by Google on September 12, 2008, has been gaining market share, surpassing rivals Opera and Netscape. In a relatively short period of time, Chrome has become the fourth most used web browser at 1.42% of the market share, according to Net Applications. A pretty impressive accomplishment.

Chrome, which offers a minimalist interface, has more “under the hood” than you might initially expect. First of all, each tab has its own process, so if an application in on one website is malfunctioning, that individual tab will close, not bringing down the entire web browser. Chrome is based on Apple WebKit. It also offers security that many would consider better than that of the majority of other browsers.

Its main interface is essentially a back button, forward button, reload button (which turns into a stop button when a page is loading), and address bar (which can be used as a search bar) — far less cluttered than Firefox, Opera, or Internet Explorer by default.

But will Chrome be able to be the browser used on the Internet. If current market share trends continue, Firefox will overtake Internet Explorer as the #1 web browser. Safari would be second, and Google Chrome would be third. However, the chances of current trends staying the way they are are little to none. A web browser that more and more sites would start optimizing for would gain momentum. The web browser(s) losing market share would probably see their rate of decline increase.

Today, Microsoft and Mozilla are racing to add new features to Internet Explorer and Firefox. Chrome lacks many of them. We have yet to see if a minimal interface will defeat the browsers offering a more complex one.

Categories: Z Old Posts

[Insight] Google, Firefox, and Linux: a win-win-win situation

May 9, 2009 1 comment

Many distributions of Linux now are bundled with Firefox. Google recommends Mozilla Firefox alongside its own browser, Chrome. Firefox uses Google as its default browser. And in theory, users who are recommended by Google to use Firefox have a higher chance of becoming more interested in open source, improving their likeliness of using Linux over Windows or Macintosh.

And it looks like this is working for all three. (According to Net Applications), since June 2008, Firefox has gained 3.45% of the web browser market share, Google has gained 3.03% of the search engine market share, and Linux has gained 0.22% of the operating system market share.

Another factor driving the increases of all three is the sale of netbooks: more people using Linux, the Firefox web browser included, and the Google search engine utilized by default on Firefox.

For Google, however, this partnership isn’t free. Mozilla’s deal with Google, renewed last November to 2011 (and most likely to be renewed again), brings in approximately 85% of their income, $56.8 million.

For Microsoft, this could pose a serious threat to three of their products and brands: The MSN/Windows Live search engine, Internet Explorer, and Windows, their most valuable product.

Categories: Z Old Posts

[Analysis] Three major websites that might not be here in 10 years

May 9, 2009 1 comment

Several major sites have already closed in the past year. More will definitely join them. Here are 3 sites that I think will not still be around in 10 years.

1. MySpace

MySpace, once the top social networking site in the United States, has fallen to second and is losing large amounts of traffic. Facing tough competition from Facebook and Twitter, the executives of the News Corp-owned site are desperately trying to find a way to save the site, but the future doesn’t look good. In the past year, MySpace has lost an estimated 7.2 unique monthly visitors.

MySpace trend

2. AOL

This may come as a surprise to some, but I think that AOL probably won’t be around in 10 years. AOL developed a somewhat infamous reputation by sending out mass mailings of free CDs. The AOL software itself was dubbed “the worst tech product of all time” by PC World. In the past year, has lost an estimated 3.4 million unique monthly visitors.

3. MapQuest

One of the most popular map and directions websites, MapQuest is losing ground, fast. Owned by AOL, MapQuest has often been associated with giving faulty directions. MapQuest has lost an estimated 5 million unique monthly visitors in the past year.

Categories: Z Old Posts