The NewsDemon Blog

FCC Promotes US Broadband Initiative

February 23rd, 2010


According to the latest study by the Federal Communications Commission, one in three people in the U.S. don’t have broadband connections. In fact, only a small minority of these 93 million Americans even use the Internet at all: some have dial-up connections and some use Web services at work or at public places like libraries, but most just abstain from the Internet entirely, according to USENET newsgroup reports that posted up the new US Commerce Department figures that reinforce what some educators believe is causing some students to fall behind.

The report posted on USENET newsgroups shows that the telephone survey of 5,005 adults last fall included 2,334 adults who said they are not broadband users at home and precedes the FCC’s delivery of a National Broadband Plan to Congress. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said Feb. 16 he wants 100 million U.S. households to have access to ultra high-speed internet connections, with speeds of 100 megabits per second by the year 2020. That would be several times faster than the download speeds many U.S. homes with broadband get now, which range from 3 MBPS to 20 MBPS. One of the first steps towards overhauling the national broadband infrastructure will be the unveiling of a new broadband plan by the FCC on March 17. The FCC began working on the national broadband plan back in April 2009. The FCC is looking at multiple methods of funding a national broadband plan including reallocation of funds collected in the Universal Service Fund.

The Federal Communications Commission’s first-ever survey on Internet usage and attitudes concludes that those who aren’t connected today need to be taught how to navigate the Web, find online information that is valuable to them and avoid hazards such as Internet scams, something that has been a long standing resource that USENET newsgroups has also assisted with. The report found that 78% of adults are Internet users, and 65% of adults are broadband adopters. It then divides users who haven’t got broadband into four groups. The Digitally Distant make up 10% of the general population; this is the group that simply doesn’t want to be online. The Digital Hopefuls make up 8% of the population; they’d like to be online but lack resources to do so; many don’t have a computer and/or don’t know how to use one, and cost of computer and broadband connection is also a big barrier. An exact number of those who routinely use USENET newsgroups while they are online were not specified.

According to the report, nearly half of the respondents said cost was one of the prohibiting factors for not having broadband service at home. What’s more, nearly the same percentage of people said they were uncomfortable using a computer. The National Broadband Plan is expected to target widespread deployment of broadband networks, fueled in part by a revamp of the Universal Service Program that will emphasize broadband rather than voice connectivity, along with a plan to phase-out of traditional phone service, instead using the broadband network to support VOIP.


Internet Newsgroups: GeoCities RIP

October 29th, 2009


Remember the web in the 90’s? If you do, then chances are you’re no stranger to GeoCities. Internet Newgroups report that Yahoo’s acquired web hosting service, GeoCities, has closed after 15 years of offering people the ability to set up their own website. GeoCities once boasted millions of users but has fallen out of fashion in recent years. Free blogging services such as Blogger, WordPress and Typepad as well as social networking sites have left GeoCities with fewer users and more importantly, no other way to make any money.

Internet historians on USENET newsgroups have been recounting  how it all began in 1994, as the site was originally called “Beverly Hills Internet,” but was renamed “GeoCities” in 1995 for the way the sites under its domain were organized into “neighborhood” directories – reminiscent of the newsgroup hierarchy. Yahoo! had taken over the site, including all of the “Under Construction” accounts that GeoCities had been famous for as well, almost a decade ago, for a whopping $3.57billion, in stocks.

In April, the company announced plans to raze the service and stopped accepting new users. “We have decided to discontinue the process of allowing new customers to sign up for GeoCities accounts as we focus on helping our customers explore and build new relationships online in other ways,” the company said.

The rival to AngelFire, GeoCities was a hotspot for new web designers, entrepreneurs and general technology enthusiasts for years. Yahoo’s page on why they are closing Geocities says: ‘we have decided to focus on helping our customers explore and build relationships online in other ways. Beginning on October 26, 2009, you will no longer be able to use GeoCities to maintain a free presence online — but we’re excited about the other services we have designed to help you connect with friends and family and share your activities and interests.’

All the data and information of GeoCities which had been stored on Yahoo! servers has been deleted. Yahoo! says that they will now “focus on helping our customers explore and build new relationships online in other ways”.

All is not lost though, as an ambitious group going by the name of Archive Team heard the news months in advance and has spent much of their time since then downloading pages for the purposes of preservation. Reocities, the new project name, has archived over 600,000 Geocities accounts and over 11 million files. Reocities pages can be accessed by simply replacing the “G” in “Geocities” with the “R” in “Reocities.”


Google Announces Chrome Browser Release

September 2nd, 2008

Recently, Google sent out a comic book unveiling the Google Chrome browser to bloggers and the media. Google now also officially announced Chrome on their blog and says that the beta version of Google Chrome will be available for download today.


Google’s reason to launch a new web browser is their believe that they can add value for users and, at the same time, help drive innovation on the web.
Google is releasing a beta of Chrome for Windows today and is at work building versions for Mac and Linux.

The announcement of Google Chrome will increase yet again the amount of testing for web developers and web design agencies. Albeit Google Chrome is based on existing open source components it will behave for sure differently again for rendering and executing JavaScript.No word yet on any support for Newsgroups like Firefox add-ons and IE extensions allow.


Mozilla Ubiquity Commands Attention

August 27th, 2008

image21.pngThe web is a reflection of human beings in that it’s always changing and adapting to fit the needs of those around it an interacting with it. A human invention with human qualities. But as more applications find their homes on the web, pulling information from each of them becomes a disparate sequence of copying and pasting snippets of content into a new form. Mozilla is ready to change that with the launch of its new Ubiquity plug-in for Firefox.

Ubiquity for Firefox from Aza Raskin on Vimeo.

Interestingly, a similar pattern has emerged with the Windows operating system, with applications throwing icons all over the start menu and  burying shortcuts in multiple folders. Command line is making progress there too in the form of applications like Launchy, which launches applications based on text entered into a command prompt.

In similar fashion, Ubiquity runs commands based on bits of text entered into a command prompt. For example to define a word in a web page, you would activate Ubiquity (I’m using CTRL+Space) then type “def this”. Ubiquity would then display a definition pulled from a dictionary on the web.

This has staggering implications for empowering the common web user to remix content more easily by controlling the flow of information around them.

For someone who reads a lot on the web, built in live page editing capability and highlighting are included. Imagine finding an article and adding a paragraph underneath one by the original author with notes about what you were thinking at the time. Then, highlighting a couple of words for emphasis. The only thing that would make it even better would be to share those edits with other people, right? And that’s when the “email this” command steps in.

Ubiquity has the potential to usher in a whole new way of interacting on the web, and I’m glad an open source organization like Mozilla is pioneering it