A recent survey hit my radar this weekend and, I must say, I’m not that surprised by the results. Contrary to my usual columns, I won’t bury the lede: Accenture polled 300 large organizations in both the public and private sectors and—surprise!—found that half of them are “fully committed” to using open-source software in their businesses.
To be honest, I expected results more in line from the Zenoss survey I ran across this weekend, which notes that 98 percent of all enterprise companies use open-source software in some capacity. But I’ll leave that difference up to nomenclature / polling differences. The real juice of Accenture’s story is buried in a single, meager sentence somewhere toward the bottom of the press release: less that 29 percent of surveyed companies intend to shovel their open-source contributions/modifications/development back into the community.
Google has finally begun widespread rollout of their new search results page after a testing period. Google has added a number of useful options to a new left hand column. The column is separated into three sections: Universal Search, the Search Options panel and Something Different.
Universal search is at the top and helps users refine their searches by suggesting search "genres". The "Everything" option is selected as the default and provides the classic Google results. It can be used to narrow results to categories like "News" or "Blogs". Below that is the search options panel which was rolled out last year, so you're probably already familiar with it. It is mainly used to change how the search results are displayed.
The bottom block in the new column is called Something Different. It is based on a labs project called Google Squared. This section is designed to help users compare search results. Based on search context, this area will provide similar searches. Now this is integrated right into the search results page.
According to Google, the new page will be rolling out to all users by the end of the day. Do you have the new look yet? If so, what do you think?
In an email to a partner today, YouTube confirmed that the new look for the video page they have been testing recently is about to go live. Not long after that, the changes did indeed go live. In case you haven’t seen the new page, it makes the video more of the focus and ditches the clutter.
Right up at the top is the uploader’s information. In addition to the subscribe button, you can see a drop down with the uploader’s other videos. There’s a new player button that puts the video into widescreen mode. This moves the other page elements down. The five star rating system is now gone, replaced instead by a simple thumbs up or down system. Rating a video lets you see how others have rated it. The video description has moved to a drop down right below the video. The recommended video pane now also has an autoplay button so you can avoid all that pesky clicking.
Overall, we feel like it’s a pretty good redesign. It looks much cleaner than the old version, and the video seems like a more prominent part of the page. How do you feel about it?
The Linux faithful should see quite a change when they download the next major release of the popular Ubuntu distro. Version 10.04 is expected to come with a heavily revamped default theme. Yes, gone are the days of the brown default theme that has graced Ubuntu installs since its introduction in 2004.
Canonical has evolved the look ever so slightly as the OS has gone through revisions. The look has been getting decidedly brighter as time goes on with oranges creeping into the desktop color scheme. An expected black/orange redesign back in the 8.04 days never materialized, but the idea of a visual refresh never went away.
The new theme uses “light” as the model. The iconic logo has also been refreshed slightly with a thinner font and overall reduction in size. The Canonical design document claims, “We're drawn to Light because it denotes both warmth and clarity, and intrigued by the idea that 'light' is a good value in software.” There are two different looks currently posted on the wiki page, it is unclear which will be the new default theme. Both have purple and orange elements, while one makes heavy use of slate grey, and the other uses light tans. These are still in the early stages, but it seems clear that Ubuntu will never look the same again.
This week's Web App of the Week isn't so much for you, but your friends, family, and users. If you ever tried your hand at Web development--doesn't have to be professional, even amateur Web creation will do--you'll know that the strangest of problems can pop up in the strangest of places. A little CSS misstep here, a little HTML coding boo-boo there, and your perfectly constructed three-column layout has somehow crafted itself into a Tumblr page. And it's blinking. And it's hacking off your grandmother who just wants to see pictures of your recent family vacation.
But that's okay. Like that one insurance advertisement featuring the guy with the soothing voice, your grandmother, user, friend, or angry forum commenter will be in good hands with the Web App Support Details.
Microsoft contacted him in December 2008. They started off showing him the crazy background themes they were bundling with Windows 7. This may have put the young independent artist at ease knowing he had a lot of leeway in his designs.
The designs were done with pencil and paper first, and then transferred to Photoshop for refining. The entire process took about four months. In the process of designing the login screen, Chuck and Microsoft noticed an early version had a series of seven lines at the bottom. They started repeating that in the final design. If you look at his work, you’ll see there are seven branches, seven leaves, and seven flower petals in a few places.
Microsoft managed to collaborate well with a talented young artist, and our new Windows is much more attractive for it. Hit the story link for some work in progress images of the background and login screen.
With social networking websites almost holding internet users captive for long periods of time, the new Yahoo homepage will let users have one eye on the latest from their friends on social networks such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter. Other notable additions include the ability to customize the homepage using widgets and the introduction of a top ten search list just under the search bar.
But the launch has been far from smooth, as some users still haven’t encountered the option to try the new beta homepage. Yahoo is under considerable pressure from Microsoft’s latest search offering Bing, which is increasingly closing in on Yahoo in the online search market.
Freedman believes manufacturers will have to ultimately “go with a metal case” to achieve that ultra-thin form factor they are after. However, the use of metal cases will make ultra-thin notebooks costlier.
A reference to Intel’s CULV (Consumer Ultra Low Voltage) technology – meant for ultra-thin notebooks - in Freedman’s report elucidating the design issues prompted Intel to clarify that the “case design issues reported to be found by an ODM, not consumers, in early production units for ultra-thin laptops have nothing to do with Intel processors whatsoever.”
Freedman had said that some manufacturers are more interested in manufacturing 11-inch and 12-inch netbooks with the Atom processor rather than ultra-thin notebooks with Intel’s CULV technology.
To an internet based company, server infrastructure is the secret sauce that can really help a company pull ahead of its competitors. It determines the quality of service its customers will receive, and their cost and efficiency will have a huge impact on the bottom line of the company. To Google this secret was a carefully guarded one, with few outside of the company having any real details. The only thing that we knew for sure is that they were built in house using parts that are generally available to every PC builder. This all changed last week when Google decided to lift the veil of secrecy to a group of IT professionals.
Each server measures about 3.5 inches thick, and is designed in a custom rack for easy stacking. Each unit sports two x86 processors either from Intel or AMD, contains two hard drives (presumably configured as a raid 1), and eight memory slots. These components are mounted on a Gigabyte motherboard, and protected by built in 12-volt battery that also serves as a UPS.
The built in battery was perhaps the biggest secret that was revealed and is a slap in the face to traditional thinking when it comes to large scale battery backup. Typically, server farms employ massive uninterruptable power supplies in the event of a power failure. The biggest problem with this approach according to Chris Malone from Google is the ability to scale it perfectly for the number of servers, and inefficiencies inherent with the technology. “Large UPSs can reach 92 to 95 percent efficiency, meaning that a large amount of power is squandered. The server-mounted batteries do better, Jai said: "We were able to measure our actual usage to greater than 99.9 percent efficiency."
Google’s approach to server infrastructure is defiantly unique, and it’s use of low cost customer grade hardware defiantly helped them survive the early years on razor sharp margins.
Back in 1995, when HTML first took off with the general public, there were a number of offenders that made the Internet look aesthetically awful. Designers employed atrocious HTML elements, such as the <blink> and <marquee> tags, which only made a show of serious web coders. It’s doubtful that anyone at that time considered blinking and scrolling text fluid web design.
In the last few years, CSS has taken off with the rise of Web 2.0 and has certainly transformed web design into a much simpler endeavor—gone are the days of having to repeat the same mundane code or navigating a sea of jumbled up HTML in search of that one inconsistency. Things have gotten better since the Nineties and early-2000s, but some web designers are still foolishly living in the past. We’ve decided to update the criteria of HTML elements that are simply outdated and have been replaced by a batch of shinier, better CSS elements. If 1997 was the last time you’ve had a crash course in web design, than read on to learn a few new things about this versatile web world.