The Web As We Know It Is Being Threatened

From Scientific American:

The Web as we know it, however, is being threatened in different ways. Some of its most successful inhabitants have begun to chip away at its principles. Large social-networking sites are walling off information posted by their users from the rest of the Web. Wireless Internet providers are being tempted to slow traffic to sites with which they have not made deals. Governments—totalitarian and democratic alike—are monitoring people’s online habits, endangering important human rights.

If we, the Web’s users, allow these and other trends to proceed unchecked, the Web could be broken into fragmented islands. We could lose the freedom to connect with whichever Web sites we want. The ill effects could extend to smartphones and pads, which are also portals to the extensive information that the Web provides.

– Tim Berners-Lee

The same web we credit with promoting freedom and taking down dictatorships is under attack itself. Will the web in 10 years still have the power to shift political power?

Tim Berners-Lee may know a thing or two about the web.

Googlebot on Facebook?

I’ve got a few Facebook Applications I’ve played around with developing that are not actually for use (read: they do nothing). I’ve noticed over the past few days their canvas URL’s are seeing traffic in the form of 1 hit approximately every 24 hours. Previously they saw no traffic at all. At first I thought this was just Facebook with some new process to check for malicious apps, which sounds like a good idea. Then I did some digging and found something surprising:

The first thing I found was the hostname where the request originated was out-sw251.tfbnw.net which is obviously owned by Facebook. That’s not terribly interesting and supports my theory up above.

Then I found these two curious bits in the request:

X-FB-USER-REMOTE-ADDR: 66.249.67.211
USER-AGENT: Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; Googlebot/2.1; +http://www.google.com/bot.html)

That IP address is crawl-66-249-67-211.googlebot.com. That UserAgent is very telling and needs no introduction.

The request is otherwise pretty unremarkable other than no query string which a normal person would generate when hitting that canvas URL. However fb_sig_request_method is set to GET which suggests to me it’s actually using POST despite that what it claims. There’s no fb_sig_user or anything else that would suggest an actual user, which makes sense because fb_sig_logged_out_facebook is set to 1.

It appears as of March 20, 2011 Google has started crawling Facebook Apps. I’ve got no idea what it’s intent, abilities or relationship is. I can tell you that I’ve monitored since at least April 2010 and this only started a few days ago.

$7.5M For 666,624 IPv4 Addresses

I’ve mentioned the pending IPv4 shortage before. The latest news is Nortel Networks IPv4 block being sold:

Nortel Networks Corp. is doing its bit to alleviate the Internet space crunch, selling 666,624 IP addresses to Microsoft Corp. for $7.5 million.

So cost per IP address is:

$7.5 M / 666,624 = $11.25

$7.5 M sounds higher than it really is. To put this in perspective, a typical web host leases dedicated IP’s for customers who want an IP rather than name based hosting. This is necessary for things like SSL certificates. They will typically charge $1-2/month per IP address meaning they make anywhere from $12-$24/yearly revenue per IP. When you look at it that way, $11.25 really doesn’t seem that outrageous. It’s a decent investment considering an IPv4 address will be normal for at least another 2-4 years (likely more).

Microsoft has played in the business services role in many respects from webmail to hosting (I think that’s now part of Office Live). As they ramp up their cloud offering they will need to offer IPv4 compatible SSL services on customer domains. I think this will pay off pretty quickly.

However, I don’t think we’ll see to many IPv4 purchases like this, the market is still somewhat limited in my opinion.

Things You’ll Love About Firefox 4.0

It’s that time again. Here’s my list of awesome things you’ll love about Firefox 4:

For Users

New Look For Tabs

New Tabs For Firefox 4
One of the first things that you’ll notice is tabs on top. This paradigm really makes more sense since the tab defines not just the content but the environment it’s viewed (prev/next button, URL bar). It’s also just much sleeker looking. After a few minutes you’ll likely agree this is a better approach than tabs under.

Another nice touch is if you enter a URL that’s already open in another tab, you’ll be given the option to switch to that tab. Perfect for those of us who end up with 50 tabs by lunch time.

It also just feels tighter and less intrusive on the web browsing experience.

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