Internet & Networking Archive

DuckDuckGo switches to Apple Maps for search results

We’re excited to announce that map and address-related searches on DuckDuckGo for mobile and desktop are now powered by Apple’s MapKit JS framework, giving you a valuable combination of mapping and privacy. As one of the first global companies using Apple MapKit JS, we can now offer users improved address searches, additional visual features, enhanced satellite imagery, and continually updated maps already in use on billions of Apple devices worldwide. With this updated integration, Apple Maps are now available both embedded within our private search results for relevant queries, as well as available from the “Maps” tab on any search result page. I’m sure Apple users in San Francisco will be very happy with this news. For me, this means there’s no way I’ll be using DuckDuckGo’s location search and other mapping functions – Apple Maps is entirely unusable in The Netherlands, with severely outdated and faulty maps that are outright dangerous. I understand the privacy angle, but I feel like are better, more accurate options than Apple Maps. The world is larger than Silicon Valley.

Google denies altering YouTube code to break Microsoft Edge

A former Microsoft intern has revealed details of a YouTube incident that has convinced some Edge browser engineers that Google added code to purposely break compatibility. In a post on Hacker News, Joshua Bakita, a former software engineering intern at Microsoft, lays out details and claims about an incident earlier this year. Microsoft has since announced the company is moving from the EdgeHTML rendering engine to the open source Chromium project for its Edge browser.

Google disputes Bakita's claims, and says the YouTube blank div was merely a bug that was fixed after it was reported. "YouTube does not add code designed to defeat optimizations in other browsers, and works quickly to fix bugs when they're discovered," says a YouTube spokesperson in a statement to The Verge. "We regularly engage with other browser vendors through standards bodies, the Web Platform Tests project, the open-source Chromium project and more to improve browser interoperability."

While we're unlikely to ever know the real story behind this particular incident, I don't doubt for a second that Google would do something like this.

UTF-7: a ghost from the time before UTF-8

On Halloween this year I learned two scary things. The first is that a young toddler can go trick-or-treating in your apartment building and acquire a huge amount of candy. When they are this young they have no interest in the candy itself, so you are left having to eat it all yourself.

The second scary thing is that in the heart of the ubiquitous IMAP protocol lingers a ghost of the time before UTF-8. Its name is Modified UTF-7.

How Facebook’s leaders fought through crisis

While Mr. Zuckerberg has conducted a public apology tour in the last year, Ms. Sandberg has overseen an aggressive lobbying campaign to combat Facebook's critics, shift public anger toward rival companies and ward off damaging regulation. Facebook employed a Republican opposition-research firm to discredit activist protesters, in part by linking them to the liberal financier George Soros. It also tapped its business relationships, lobbying a Jewish civil rights group to cast some criticism of the company as anti-Semitic.

Revealing, but unsurprising recount of how Facebook went on the attack to ward off the numerous criticisms of the company. It doesn't susprise me one bit that Facebook isn't just a terrible company on the outside, but also on the inside.

The next version of HTTP won’t be using TCP

The next version of HTTP, as agreed upon by the Internet Engineering Taskforce, is going to make some big changes.

In its continued efforts to make Web networking faster, Google has been working on an experimental network protocol named QUIC: "Quick UDP Internet Connections." QUIC abandons TCP, instead using its sibling protocol UDP (User Datagram Protocol). UDP is the "opposite" of TCP; it's unreliable (data that is sent from one end may never be received by the other end, and the other end has no way of knowing that something has gone missing), and it is unordered (data sent later can overtake data sent earlier, arriving jumbled up). UDP is, however, very simple, and new protocols are often built on top of UDP.

QUIC reinstates the reliability and ordering that TCP has but without introducing the same number of round trips and latency. For example, if a client is reconnecting to a server, the client can send important encryption data with the very first packet, enabling the server to resurrect the old connection, using the same encryption as previously negotiated, without requiring any additional round trips.

I am ashamed to admit that I actually know remarkably little of how the core technologies underpinning the internet and the world wide web actually work. It's apparently so well-designed and suited for its task that few of us ever really have to stop and think about how it all works - but when you do, it kind of feels like magic how all of our computers, smartphones, and other connected devices just talk to each other and every little packet of data gets sent to exactly the right place.

Improving DuckDuckGo

At DuckDuckGo, we do not collect or share any personal information. That's our privacy policy in a nutshell. For example, we do not store IP addresses, and we do not create unique cookies. As such, we do not even have the ability to create search histories or search sessions for any individual - privacy by design.

At the same time, we need a way to reliably improve our products for our users in an anonymous way. There are a few methods we've developed to achieve this.

Spoiler alert: it doesn't involve collecting user data.

Facebook exodus: 44% of young Americans deleted the app

Pew surveyed more than 3,400 U.S. Facebook users in May and June, and found that a whopping 44 percent of those ages 18 to 29 say they've deleted the app from their phone in the last year. Some of them may have reinstalled it later.

Overall, 26 percent of survey respondents say they deleted the app, while 42 percent have "taken a break" for several weeks or more, and 54 percent have adjusted their privacy settings.

Facebook is terrible in every possible way. The product in and of itself is bad - terrible website and applications - and what it does to people is also bad, worse even. Garbage chain mail-like posts, obviously fake news and stories, massive echo chamber, targeting for election manipulation, and god knows what else.

I don't have the application anymore, the bookmark is gone from my browser, and I'm planning on deleting my account as well. Facebook is garbage, and nobody should use it.

Vivaldi 2.0 review: browsers do not have to be so bland

Roughly a year and a half later, Vivaldi has recently hit the 2.0 milestone. You can download the latest version from the Vivaldi site or install it through the app store or package manager of your OS. And at first blush, perhaps the most shocking thing about this release is that it's merely 2.0. This release is a throwback to an earlier time when version numbers had meaning, and a major number increment meant that something major had happened.

While the version number here does mean something, it's also perhaps a tad misleading. Under the hood, Vivaldi tracks Chromium updates, and, like Chrome and Firefox, it issues minor updates every six weeks or so. That means some of the features I'll be discussing as part of 2.0 actually trickled in over time, rather than arriving all together in one monolithic release. It also means that under the hood Vivaldi 2.0 uses Chromium 69.

Vivaldi is a great browser, and I'm glad such a power-user oriented browser - from the founder of Opera, unsurprisingly - still exists. I use it as my main browser every now and then just to see its state of development, and I'll be sure to give 2.0 another go for a few weeks.

Pro-privacy DDG hits 30M daily searches, up 50% in a year

Some nice momentum for privacy-focused search engine DuckDuckGo which has just announced it's hit 30 million daily searches a year after reaching 20M - a year-on-year increase of 50%.

Hitting the first 10M daily searches took the search engine a full seven years, and then it was another two to get to 20M. So as growth curves go it must have required patience and a little faith in the run up.

I switched from Google to DDG as well, and only use the !g command whenever I feel DDG isn't giving me the search result I'm looking for. These days, virtually every browser supports DDG as well, making it possible to search using the address bar and similar functionality like that. I don't really miss Google Search in my day-to-day use.

And as a multilingual person and translator, DDG has one feature that has made my life a lot easier. Sometimes I need to search in English, and sometimes I need to search in Dutch. Years and years ago, you could go to Google.nl for Dutch search results, and Google.com for English results. At some point in the recent past, Google decided to remove this functionality, forcing users into one language and making it incredibly cumbersome to search in other languages.

DDG, on the other hand, has this incredibly handy little toggle atop the search results that allows me to instantly switch between Dutch and English results, without even having to change the search query. Clicking on the downward triangle next to it allows me to pick other languages as well. This handy little feature is an absolute lifesaver, and I can't imagine using online search functionality without it.

Google creates new governance model for AMP

The power to make significant decisions in the AMP Project will move from a single Tech Lead to a Technical Steering Committee (TSC) which includes representatives from companies that have committed resources to building AMP, with the end goal of not having any company sit on more than a third of the seats.

Google is moving the AMP project to a new, more open governance model, which should address some of the valid concerns people have over the project's Google-centric nature. Google is further exploring creating a separate foundation for AMP, to further solidify the independent nature of AMP. Meanwhile, Microsoft is also adopting AMP by redirecting Bing search results to AMP pages.

US wireless carriers throttle Netflix, YouTube

The largest U.S. telecom companies are slowing internet traffic to and from popular apps like YouTube and Netflix, according to new research from Northeastern University and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

The researchers used a smartphone app called Wehe, downloaded by about 100,000 consumers, to monitor which mobile services are being throttled when and by whom, in what likely is the single largest running study of its kind.

The opponents of net neutrality told us we could take our business elsewhere to a carrier that doesn't throttle, so the free market will work itself out.

That was sarcasm.

Internet chat system IRC turns thirty

IRC (Internet Relay Chat) was born at the Department of Information Processing Science of the University of Oulu 30 years ago. Jarkko Oikarinen developed the internet chat system back in 1988 in addition to his summer job. Today, people are still using IRC.

I used to spend a lot of time on IRC, and a good IRC client was an absolute must for any aspiring operating system back in the early 2000s. I haven't used IRC in years - maybe in a decade - but it's good to see this technology still going strong.

Verizon throttled data of California firefighters

A Northern California fire department says Verizon slowed its wireless data speeds to a crawl last month, rendering some of its high-tech tracking equipment almost useless as firefighters battled the largest wildfire in state history.

In an August 20 court filing, Santa Clara County Fire Chief Anthony Bowden said his department relies on internet services to keep track of fast-moving fires and coordinate resources and efforts among emergency personnel.

American ISPs are almost cartoonishly evil.

China’s first ‘fully homegrown’ browser is a Chrome clone

A Chinese software startup has become a laughing stock on Chinese social media after claiming to have developed China’s first fully homegrown browser only to be promptly exposed for copying Google.

I think it's entirely normal for countries - especially large ones - to press the "local products" angle, and I see nothing wrong with Chinese companies and consumers trying to run with the concept. However, try not to fall flat on your face like this.

Facebook has identified ongoing political influence campaign

Facebook announced on Tuesday that it has identified a coordinated political influence campaign, with dozens of inauthentic accounts and pages that are believed to be engaging in political activity around divisive social issues ahead of November's midterm elections.

In a series of briefings on Capitol Hill this week and a public post on Tuesday, the company told lawmakers that it had detected and removed 32 pages and accounts connected to the influence campaign on Facebook and Instagram as part of its investigations into election interference. It publicly said it had been unable to tie the accounts to Russia, whose Internet Research Agency was at the center of an indictment earlier this year for interfering in the 2016 election, but company officials told Capitol Hill that Russia was possibly involved, according to two officials briefed on the matter.

Facebook said that the accounts - eight Facebook pages, 17 Facebook profiles, and seven Instagram accounts - were created between March 2017 and May 2018 and first discovered two weeks ago. Those numbers may sound small, but their influence is spreading: More than 290,000 accounts followed at least one of the suspect pages, the company said.

The reach of Facebook combined with the declining US education system and dreadful media landscape makes it quite easy to influence people. It's very worrying.

What OpenStreetMap can be

Over the past two years, the biggest buzz among the geo chatterati has been Justin O'Beirne's meticulously argued (albeit bizarrely formatted) feature-by-feature comparisons of Google and Apple Maps: their design choices, their data, their production processes.

What fascinates me is how the comparison is implicitly phrased. Apple Maps is fighting on Google Maps' turf, and Justin O'Beirne never questions that. He asks "How far ahead of Apple Maps is Google Maps?". It implies the same direction of travel. They’re going the same place, but Google is getting there quicker.

Meanwhile, OpenStreetMap goes its own way.

I've never actively used OpenStreetMap, but I feel like I should give it a far shot at some point. Are there people in the OSNews audience who use it? What are your experiences?

The 5G standard is finally finished

It's been a long time coming, but there's finally a finished 5G standard. Earlier this week, the 3GPP - the international group that governs cellular standards - officially signed off on the standalone 5G New Radio (NR) spec. It's another major step toward next-generation cellular networks finally becoming a reality.

Now, if you've been paying attention to the cellular industry, this may sound familiar and for good reason: the 3GPP also announced a finished 5G standard in December 2017. The difference is that the December specification was for the non-standalone version of 5G NR, which would still be built on top of existing legacy LTE networks. The agreed-upon specification from this week is the standalone version of 5G, which allows for new deployments of 5G in places that didn’t necessarily have that existing infrastructure.