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The tenth iteration of Mozilla’s browser is rolling out from today and we’re sat here waiting for our own go signal. As the biggest UI tweaks will arrive in v12, the majority of changes are under the hood: except that the “forward” button now only appears once you’ve pressed “back.” New APIs provide for full-screen viewing of web apps, Anti-aliased WebGL graphics and an “extended support release” that enables enterprise customers to only download security updates. CSS 3D Transitions are now supported alongside a new CSS inspector for those digging deep into the fabric of the universe internet. Java applet and moving bookmarks crashes should be a thing of the past, but it’s not all plain sailing: no new release ever is, after all. On the “to be fixed” list includes herky-jerky scrolling in Gmail, Silverlight videos not working in OS X and vertical scrolling is broken on some touch-pads. Let’s hope they get the former fixed quickly, our inbox is already overflowing ‘round these parts.
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You have too many Facebook friends. You’re following too many people on Twitter. You’re connected to too many people who don’t care too much about you. Get rid of them. Get rid of all of them.
If you’re a standard internet citizen, you’ve been accumulating social detritus for about half a decade—or whenever you decided to hop onto Facebook. You and your elementary, high school, and estranged college friends all found each other. Click! Friends. Why not? It was still a novelty back then—the gimmick of staring at photos of and information about people who stopped mattering a long time ago was warm and thrilling. That was years ago, and yet there they still sit. They plop on your News Feed, they tweet sour nothings into a void you’re witness to, and they take up space.
“I can just ignore them.”
No you can’t. Every time you stare at a name or look at a link, a tiny piece of your brain is being wasted. It’s time to clean up shop.
Dropping a neutron bomb on your friends list might be difficult. It’s a good thing to have a lot of friends, right? You’ve got an excuse for each and every fauxquaintance, like a hoarder clutching a 1989 issue of Better Homes and Gardens.
But one you gain momentum, you’ll realize that most of the people you know on Facebook are pointless. Time to start applying filters.
Have you ever met this person?
If not, you can probably delete—unless it’s some foreign relative, a telecommuting coworker, or something similarly practical. Otherwise, scrap.
Have you seen or spoken to this person recently?
The HEY WE JUST MET LET’S BE FRIENDS instinct runs strong and deep throughout the internet—it’s customary among many circles to friend someone you’ve met the next day, or sometimes even that very night. But why? If it’s a friend of a friend of a friend, or a date who went nowhere, you’ll probably never see them again. And if you’ll probably never see them again, why should they be on any list at all? Dump ‘em.
Have you had sex with this person?
You might again someday. Do not unfriend.
Do you hope to someday have sex with this person?
Keep ‘em. You never know.
Are they so bad they’re actually good?
Some faux friends are so idiotic or over the top that even if they make a mockery of our notion of friendship, they’re worth keeping around for other reasons. Like your cousin’s friend Wayne, so dumb he can’t stop posting pictures of his lawn and links to Taco Bell tweets. He’s fascinating in his own way. Study him.
Twitter is probably more prone to accumulating crud, because you don’t even need the social pretense. But just like Facebook, your list can easily get out of control, putting a strain on our finite human brains—so let’s flush what we don’t need. Out, damned spot!
Do you remember why you followed this person in the first place?
Who are you? Why are you here? Did you write something witty a long time ago? Is that why I followed you? Have we ever met? If you find yourself contemplating any of this, odds are the answer is no, and this person can go.
Do you get news from them?
Even if you don’t know (or do but actively despise!) someone, they can still be a great source of information. If you’re not learning something from a random name you’re following, cut them out.
Do they tweet too much?
One good Twitter user can ruin twenty decent ones if they’re spraying you with a fire hose of words every five minutes. Tweet hyperactivity makes a mess of your timeline, drowning out the rest of the worthwhile crowd.
Do they tweet too little?
There’s always the one hit wonder account. They had a hit—a crazy one-liner, a fascinating link—and then they crept back into obscurity. Let them sit in their cave—delete them!
Err on the antisocial side. If you’re not sure whether to keep someone in your fake digital social life or not, remind yourself that it’s a fake digital social life and trim the fat. The people who actually matter will never be on the chopping block to begin with. Chop chop. Chop.
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Megaupload, the file sharing website that was shut down Thursday, is back up Friday — without a domain name.
This new site appears to be based in the Netherlands. You can access the site by clicking here: http://184.108.40.206/
After seven people were associated with the file-sharing company were indicted, hacker group Anonymous targeted websites for the Department of Justice, the MPAA, RIAA and UniversalMusic.
The federal shutdown of Megaupload came one day after sites like Wikipedia and Craigslist went dark in protest of SOPA/PIPA — legislative proposals that would make it easier for the government to crack down on piracy, or anything that might be deemed piracy.
Megaupload was hosted on leased servers in Virgina, giving federal agents the opportunity to intervene. The indictment was issued Jan. 5.
The Hong Kong-based Megaupload and the site’s other company Vestor Limited, plus seven individuals who worked for the site, are accused of laundering money and profiting from copyright infringement.
Before Megaupload was taken down Thursday, a post stated that allegations that the site massively infringed upon copyright laws was “grotesquely overblown.”
Last year, 37-year-old founder Kim “Dotcom” Schmitz reportedly earned $42 million from his site that shares pirated movies, music and other copyrighted content. The indictment states its facilitating of illegal downloads cost copyright holders $500 million dollars in lost revenue.
Schmitz, a resident of New Zealand and Hong Kong and three others involved with Megaupload were arrested on Thursday. Of the three others arrested, two are German citizens and one is a Dutch citizen. The three other suspects involved are from Germany, Slovakia and Estonia, respectively, and remain at-large.
Yesterday, the four who were arrested appeared in an Auckland, New Zealand, court to begin their trial that could take up to one year and result in up to 20 years in prison.
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Lamar Smith, the chief sponsor of SOPA, said on Friday that he is pulling the bill “until there is wider agreement on a solution.”
“I have heard from the critics and I take seriously their concerns regarding proposed legislation to address the problem of online piracy,” Smith (R-Texas) said. “It is clear that we need to revisit the approach on how best to address the problem of foreign thieves that steal and sell American inventions and products.”
Smith also released the following statement on Friday:
“We need to revisit the approach on how best to address the problem of foreign thieves that steal and sell American inventions and products. “The problem of online piracy is too big to ignore. American intellectual property industries provide 19 million high-paying jobs and account for more than 60% of U.S. exports. The theft of America’s intellectual property costs the U.S. economy more than $100 billion annually and results in the loss of thousands of American jobs. Congress cannot stand by and do nothing while American innovators and job creators are under attack.”
“The online theft of American intellectual property is no different than the theft of products from a store. It is illegal and the law should be enforced both in the store and online.
“The Committee will continue work with copyright owners, Internet companies, financial institutions to develop proposals that combat online piracy and protect America’s intellectual property. We welcome input from all organizations and individuals who have an honest difference of opinion about how best to address this widespread problem. The Committee remains committed to finding a solution to the problem of online piracy that protects American intellectual property and innovation.”
The move comes after widespread protest on the Internet on Wednesday by Wikipedia, Reddit and others. The sites signaled their displeasure with the bill by going dark. That day, several Congressmen dropped their support for SOPA and its Senate counterpart, PIPA. The latter bill has also been taken off the table for now.
“In light of recent events, I have decided to postpone Tuesday’s vote on the PROTECT IP Act,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) in a statement Friday morning.
Smith’s stance comes just two days after he told The Wall Street Journal that he didn’t plan to back down on SOPA, telling the newspaper he expected to “move forward” with the bill in February.
SEE ALSO: Facebook ‘Relieved’ That SOPA Is Dead
Be honest: When this week began, how much did you really know about SOPA?
Five days ago, the Stop Online Piracy Act was still a relatively obscure House bill. Sure, your average geek knewwhat was contained within; Mashable, in common with other tech news sites, had been covering it from all angles for weeks. Go Daddy had seen the wrath of the online community firsthand when it tried to support the bill. But the silence from primetime network news, where most Americans still get their information, was deafening.
Even if you knew the difference between SOPA and a bar of soap, it was just too easy to gloss over the news. Too easy to think, “OK, it’s got something to do with piracy; it’s probably a bit too tough, but what can be done? Hollywood has too many powerful lobbyists. Congress is too beholden to them. It’ll just be one more bad copyright law on the books. Maybe there’ll be loopholes. They probably won’t send anyone to jail who doesn’t deserve it. I wonder what’s in the sports section?”
Then Wednesday happened, and suddenly everyone seemed to understand how serious this was. Wikipedia went dark, and the country wailed; we realized how much we have come to depend on the crowdsourced encyclopedia. Google hung a black sash on its logo. Crowds marched in protest. Facebook issued anuncharacteristically political statement (although we urged it to go further). Network news could not fail to take note.
In short: the Internet got its act together, and the world shook.
SOPA’s co-sponsors began to withdraw that day. By Thursday night, the GOP candidates for president were trying to outdo each other in anti-SOPA statements. Senate Republicans, also sensing a political opportunity, tried to hang the PIPA bill (SOPA’s sister in the Senate) around the Democrats’ necks. Finally, on Friday,SOPA and PIPA were withdrawn. Given a tight congressional timetable, and the toxic nature of these bills, it’s unlikely we’ll see them again.
True, we’re not out of the woods yet. There are few lobbyist organizations as deep-pocketed as the MPAA and the RIAA, and they have a long history of choosing to fight new technology with legislation (even if that technology actually benefits the entertainment industry in the long run). This battle may well have to be fought all over again — hopefully over a less draconian bill.
But there is a sense in which these mega-lobbyists are running scared. They woke a sleeping giant, and they don’t like the results. Witness the strange response from Chris Dodd, former senator and new head of the MPAA, who called the actions by Wikipedia, Google et al “stunts that punish their users or turn them into corporate pawns.” Given how many pawns the MPAA effectively owns in Congress, it was hard to suppress a grin at that.
So, well done, Internet. You did it. You took a concerted day of action, and you shook Washington to its core. Lobbyists like Dodd who have had too much unquestioned control for too long got served notice. There’s a new power player in town; not one man in a suit, but millions of faces with electronic megaphones. And this power player doesn’t take kindly to bills that threaten its behavior.
Take heed, legislators. Want to stamp out online piracy, or regulate any other corner of the new digital landscape? In the future, you’d better come talk to the millions with megaphones first.
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Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales is warning students to do their online research before midnight Wednesday when the world’s largest online encyclopedia will block access to its English language site for 24 hours. Wikipedia’s worldwide blackout to its English-language site is part of a larger online protest against the Stop Online Piracy and Protect IP acts being considered by Congress.
Other popular sites planning blackouts lasting between 12 and 24 hours include BoingBoing, video game news and review site Destuctroid.com, Red 5 Studios’ online shooter Firefall, Reddit, Tucows Inc’s Downloads site, xda-developers, and all sites owned by Cheezburger Inc., including I Can Has Cheezburger, Fail Blog, and Know Your Meme. The Mozilla Foundation, creators of the Firefox Web browser, may also be planning something for Wednesday, according to a tweet from Tom Lowenthal, a privacy and tech policy analyst for Mozilla.
Wikipedia is by far the largest site set to go dark. From the United States alone, the entire network of Wikimedia Foundation sites receives more than 84 million unique visitors per month, according to the latest numbers from metrics firm comScore.
More than 1,800 of the site’s volunteer editors were involved in the decision to shut down English Wikipedia. “It is the opinion of the English Wikipedia community that both of these bills, if passed, would be devastating to the free and open web,” Wikimedia, the nonprofit corporation that manages Wikipedia, said announcing the decision.
SOPA and PIPA are two pieces of proposed anti-piracy legislation currently before Congress and widely derided by online companies and activists. If enacted, the bills would make it possible to block American Internet users from accessing foreign sites accused of infringement. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has called the bills an attempt to create a U.S. censorship regime.
The Obama administration on Saturday criticized SOPA and PIPA as currently written in response to two online petitions. The White House released a statement saying the administration would not support any legislation that allows for online censorship, inhibits innovation or disrupts the underlying architecture of the Internet.
Shortly after the White House announcement, leaders from the House of Representatives announced there would be no vote on SOPA until the House reached a consensus on the bill, according to The Hill. The Senate has not announced similar actions in regard to PIPA, SOPA’s parallel legislation in the Senate.
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