Ohio kids can't seem to catch a break this year. First it was hometown hero LeBron James breaking up with Cleveland in ceremonious fashion and skipping town to take his talents to South Beach, and now they're being told that they'll still have attend school during snow days. No, the superintendent isn't forcing kids to trek through blizzards to learn the Pythagorean theorem, but they are required to hop online.
The Ohio Department of Education is watching as the Mississinawa Valley Schools in Darke County experiment with online learning during days off because of snow and other inclement weather, The Washington Postreports. If the tests are successful, more schools could be added to the mix.
For school kids, it could be worse -- just ask our folks, who claim they used to walk three miles to school, through snowstorms, uphill, both ways.
Out of all the online activities clogging up the pipelines running through cyberspace, you'd think BitTorrent and peer-to-peer file sharing in general would be the biggest offender, but you'd be wrong. According to research by Web analytics firm Sandvine, P2P usage has been declining in recent years and now only takes up 13.2 percent of available Internet bandwidth. Meanwhile, video and music streaming now account for 45.7 percent.
Coming in at a distant second is Web browsing, which takes up 24.3 percent. Leading the charge in all this streaming is Netflix.
"20.6 percent of all peak period bytes downloaded on fixed access networks in North America are Netflix," Sandvine said.
Pretty impressive for a company that started off as a mail-order DVD business, but now thrives successfully as a streaming media company too. The question here is whether or not the Internet can keep up. In Canada, Sandvine reports that Netflix accounts for 95 percent of all bandwidth during its peak (around 9:30 PM).
"For service providers, this is a double-whammy: not only are they losing revenue to these over-the-top offerings, but they are losing network capacity delivering these service," Sandvine said in regards to Internet video services like Netflix and Hulu.
Netflix has been making strides in making its streaming content more accessible. In recent weeks, both the Nintendo Wii and Sony PlayStation 3 consoles joined the Xbox 360 as disc-less Netflix streaming devices.
Don't fret if you ran into issues yesterday trying to stream content from your Netflix account, chances are your broadband connection is just fine. The problem lies with Netflix.com, which suffered an outage.
Users affected by the issue saw a messaging saying, "the Netflix website and the ability to instantly watch movies are both temporarily unavailable." Netflix said its engineers were on top of the problem and were "working hard to bring the site and ability to watch instantly back up as soon as possible," and it appears they have.
Netflix didn't say what the cause of the problem was, but in any event, it seems to working like normal again. Maybe someone tripped over a power cord.
During its opening weekend, The Social Networkgrabbed the No. 1 spot and raked in $23 million. As you're undoubtedly aware, The Social Network is a dramatization about the founders of Facebook and how the site came into existence. Mark Zuckerberg's character, as portrayed by a brilliant performance from actor Jesse Eisenburg, wasn't exactly cast in a 'good guy' light. So how accurate is the movie?
"It's interesting what stuff they focused on getting right," Mark Zuckerberg said during a candid interview at the Y-combinator event over the weekend. "Like, every single shirt and fleece that I had in that movie is actually a shirt or fleece that I own."
His comment drew laughter from the crowd, but it wasn't all jokes. Zuckerberg said there was quite a bit the movie makers got wrong and "a bunch of random details that they got right." But one of the things that appeared to perturb Zuckerberg the most was the portrayal of a girlfriend at the beginning of the movie who ends up dumping him within the first few minutes of the flick. According to Zuckerberg, she doesn't exist, though he has been dumped before "in real life, a lot."
Zuckerberg also disputed the framing that he started Facebook to meet girls.
"[Movie makers] just can't wrap their heads around the idea that someone might build something because they like building things," Zuckerberg explains.
You may have heard about this little thing called the Internet (how else are you reading this?). As it turns out, the World Wide Web is wide indeed and set to exceed 2 billion users before the end of the year, according to a report by the International Telecommunications Union.
That's nearly a third of the human population on earth (6.9 billion). The ITU figures the Internet will add around 226 million new users by the end of 2010, and out of those 162 million will connect from developing countries.
When 2010 comes to a close, some 71 percent of the population in developed countries will be online. Broken down regionally, 65 percent of the population in Europe will surf the Web, while 55 percent of the population in the Americas will be online.
A recent hacker attack against hosting provider Reality Check Network resulted in a massive blackout for several popular torrent sites, TorrentFreak reports. The attack took place on Saturday morning, corrupting the Master Boot Records (MBRs) of several servers, RCN said.
"We are writing this letter to inform you that a very targeted malicious attack took place on our network this morning at 6AM EST. As a result, most of our server operating systems have been corrupted resulting in the current downtime," the company wrote to the affected customers.
"We have access to all backups and have already figured out a strategy for bringing your servers back up, and have all hands on deck working to restore service," Reality Check Network President Moisey Uretsky added.
Much to the dismay of conspiracy theorists, the hacker in question doesn't appear to be a hired goon of the RIAA. Instead, Reality Check Network said "it was the result of an ex-employee" who had worked for the company for three years and "had intimate knowledge" of the systems.
Tens of millions of Facebook users are potentially being bamboozled by many of the social network's most popular apps, The Wall Street Journalreports. According to WSJ's investigation, these apps are sharing users' names, and even their friends' names, to dozens of advertising and Internet tracking companies.
But that's only the half of it. The issue supposedly even affects users who set their profiles to Facebook's strictest privacy settings, which means these apps are blatantly ignoring Facebook's rules. So what is Facebook doing to combat the problem?
"Our technical systems have always been complemented by strong policy enforcement, and we will continue to rely on both to keep people in control of their information," a Facebook official said.
And yes, according to the WSJ, these apps include Zynga's ever popular FarmVille, which boasts 59 million users, as well as Texas HoldEm Poker and FrontierVille.
"Zynga has a strict policy of not passing personally identifiable information to any third parties," a Zynga spokeswoman said. "We look forward to working with Facebook to refine how Web technologies work to keep people in control of their information."
Back in January of this year, the number of available IPv4 addressed fell below 10 percent, and if you thought we still had plenty of time to transition to IPv6, think again. The Number Resource Organization is now saying that less than five percent of the world's IPv4 addresses remain unallocated.
"This is a major milestone in the life of the Internet, and means that allocation of the last blocks of IPv4 to the RIRs is imminent," states Axel Pawlik, Chairman of the Number Resource Organization (NRO), the official representative of the five RIRs. "It is critical that all Internet stakeholders take definitive action now to ensure the timely adoption of IPv6."
IPv4 has proved popular in part because a single address can be shared by multiple computers by using a technique called network address translation (NAT). NAT has its limits, however, while IPv6 offers an almost infinite number of addresses and a better renumbering scheme.
Microsoft and Facebook are now friends in the search game, as the two companies on Wednesday announced a partnership that will integrate the popular social network into Bing's search results. It's not a full-on gut punch to Google, but perhaps a solid sock to the arm.
"When you search for something on Bing or in Web results on Facebook (powered by Bing), you'll be able to see your friends' faces next to the webpages they've liked," Facebook stated in a blog post. "So, you can lean on friends to figure out the best websites for your search."
The collaboration also purports to improve people search results on Bing so that it's easier to find old friends or hook up with new ones. When you type in a search query, Bing tracks down and provides the results most relevant to you based on your Facebook connections. Type the name of someone, for example, and you can click to add them as a Friend or send them a message if they're already in your Facebook clan.
On the privacy front, Microsoft says "you will only see Facebook users who have enabled 'public search' in their Facebook profiles."
The latest release also includes enhanced support for advanced Web standards, like HTML5 and WebM video, search suggestions for selected providers has been fine tuned, and Opera can now prompt you to share your location to make better use of geolocation-supporting sites.
In addition, Opera Software vaporized a box full of bugs, everything from goofiness with the user interface (no more Opera Link freezing on startup, for example) to a handful of security fixes.
Video below (turn AdBlock off if you can't see it, or better yet, disable AdBlock altogether for MaximumPC.com).