The story of Xmarks is like a David and Goliath kind of a tale—only, instead of slinging rocks, users of the (seemingly) popular service all pledged to donate untold amounts of money to keep the cross-browser bookmark synchronization tool alive.
Well, I hope you didn’t throw yourself off a duomo at the sad September news that Xmarks was considering shutting its services, because it’s not. In a bit of news from the we-expected-this-would-happen-but-were-still-slightly-concerned department, the pledge slash publicity drive worked and Xmarks is back in business. Huzzah.
Here's my question though: Why haven't any of the "big three" browser makers thought about providing a cross-browser synchronization tool? And here's the real kicker: If Xmarks wasn't already going under, would you have really paid 'em a dime?
Google jumped on the bug bounty bandwagon in January. So impressed it is with the results of that bug bounty program, which offers a monetary reward to anyone who identifies bugs in its Chrome browser, that it has decided to implement a similar scheme for its web properties, including the search engine, Youtube, Blogger and Orkut. However, Google client applications (e.g. Android, Picasa, Google Desktop, etc) are not covered.
“Today, we are announcing an experimental new vulnerability reward program that applies to Google web properties. We already enjoy working with an array of researchers to improve Google security, and some individuals who have provided high caliber reports are listed on our credits page,” the company announced in a blog post.
A New York Times report suggests that Twitter is all set to blaze past the 200 million user mark by the end of the year. This has come amid suggestions that Twitter’s growth could be tapering off. According to the report, Twitter is adding 370,000 users each day to its current tally of around 175 million users.
The microblogging service has certainly come a long way from its early days when founders likened it to ice cream. Now they want it to be seen as a tool for sharing information. People don’t seem to care, though. It is adding more than half as many users each day as the total it had three years ago – 503,000.
That’s exactly what I was thinking shortly after I installed this week’s “Extension of the Week” for Google Chrome. And what prompted my decision to fire up the extension “Scrollbar Anywhere?” One of those godforsaken/annoying/why websites where, instead of vertically scrolling down the page like 98% of every other site on the ‘net, I was instead forced to move horizontally in an attempt to please a designer’s inner struggle to, “do things differently.”
Scrollbar Anywhere not only the perfect extension for anyone with an oldschool mouse sans wheel, it’s also a pretty nifty extension for, well, anyone who doesn’t like being limited to a mere single direction in their movement. Here’s why. Scroll Anywhere transforms your right mouse button—or the left or center button, depending on your personal preference—into a trigger switch for maximum scrollin’.
Before there was Facebook, or even TheFacebook, there was Facemash.com, the site Mark Zuckerberg coded in his Harvard dorm room for his own version of Hot or Not. In its original form, Zuckerberg uploaded pictures of Harvard University women, placing two at a time side by side and asking visitors to click on which was the hotter female. Sexist? Sure, but it also reportedly played a crucial role in Zuckerberg's decision to found Facebook.
In any event, Facemash.com is now up on the auction block. Some 600 visitors normally visit the site per month, though that number has jumped to more than 1,000 per day since the movie The Social Network popped up in theaters.
Of course there's that whole question of legitimacy, but a quick peek at the DNS info makes everything at least appear to be kosher. Flippa currently has it listed with a Buy It Now price of $125,000.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one – or don’t, because even though the Firefox add-on Destroy the Web has made its rounds around the Internet, that doesn’t mean that everyone under the sun has heard about, or installed, this awesome extension.
So what does it do? The name gives this one away pretty clearly – Destroy the Web turns nearly any Web page on the ‘net into a semi-action-packed little blasting game that's connected to online leaderboards and everything. Yes, you can play against other people on the Internet in a game that you pretty much customize yourself, depending on what site you’ve chosen to destroy.
Still with me? Not blowing this page apart? Good... because I've got the scoring details after the jump!
Is there a special, unwritten set of rules for downloading freeware? I’d like to think there are—for me, at least. For even though I’m “that guy” at Maximum PC, perhaps the only (former) editor to actually come close to pushing past one’s monthly Comcast bandwidth limits, I still have to keep my trips through freeware land in some kind of perspective. And you should too.
So what, gentle sir or madam, compels you to grab a particular piece of software?
That’s the crux of what I’ll be tackling in this week’s column—the first in a long time, mind you, thanks to an unruly show schedule on my part (I missed you too). But I digress. In my non-writing time, I’ve been doing a bunch of downloading, analyzing, and tweaking on the various devices I own, and I’ve noticed that all of my extended file-hunting sessions always have a few themes in common.
Google has always touted the collaboration capabilities of its web-based Docs suite. This obviously means that it has something to talk about every time it rolls out a new feature to enhance this particular ability. It has now added “collaborative highlighting” to Docs, which lets users “see the text that other editors are highlighting as they select it.”
According to Peter Solderitsch, a Google Software Engineer, “writing a document collaboratively in Google Docs is like playing a team sport. It’s one thing to see your co-editors’ cursors and know where they are. But to really work well together, it helps to know what they’re about to do. Today we’ve made it much easier to anticipate the changes other editors are about to make.”
Back in April, it launched a new version of Docs with many new real-time collaboration features.
For those of you who own the latest version of The Oxford English Dictionary, you might want to consider tucking it away in a safe place. Generations from now, it could become quite the collection piece as the last print version publisher Oxford University Press ever put out.
While nothing has yet been set in stone, Oxford University Press has to decide whether it makes sense to continuing putting out a print version when the digital version is doing so well.
"At present we are experiencing increasing demand for the online product," a statement from the publisher said. "However, a print version will certainly be considered if there is sufficient demand at the time of publication."
Weighing heavily on the publisher's mind is that the digital version, which runs $295 a year in the U.S., currently rakes in two million hits a month from subscribers. By comparison, the 20-volume print edition set published in 1989 has sold only 30,000 sets total.
Your eyes are absorbing this webpage. They're passing over this, this, then this word, right now. That's how reading works, online: you take this for granted. But what if you couldn't?
We grant our gaze to electronic screens for most of the day, and in return, they give us anything we want. We stare; they glow. We rarely speak, and neither do they.
And this makes sense! The internet is a boundless collection of text, images and video, channeled to flat pieces of glass and plastic, beamed through lens, retina, and nerve, all the way into our brains. It can show us anything, and for most web users, that's exactly what it does.
But for millions of others—those who are unable to see—the web is a wildly different place. Characters become sounds. Layouts are meaningless. Images are, at best, words, and at worst, blank spaces. And yet the blind browse the same internet as everyone else, every day. They use the same gadgets the sighted do, and happily. But how?