There’s no power outlet, land-based internet connection or even a decent cell signal in sight, yet we’re posting this live, at fast broadband speeds. We’re miles deep into Camp Pendleton, connected to ViaSat’s SurfBeam 2 Pro Portable mobile satellite transceiver and sending data to and from ViaSat-1 located more than 20,000 miles above our heads. SurfBeam 2 wasn’t designed for us to kick back and surf the web in the middle of nowhere at speeds that we could barely achieve while tethered to a cable connection just a few years ago, but we’re doing just that, with ViaSat’s roughly $20,000 go-anywhere satellite broadband rig. We first heard about Pro Portable last month at CES, which the company is marketing towards military, emergency management personnel and even broadcasters — that’s right, the sat truck of the future fits inside a hand-carry suitcase, and sends HD video from the world’s most remote locations right back to broadcast centers at record speed, nearly eliminating that lag that makes certain CNN reports painful to watch.

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What is HTML5?

We’re sure by now you’ve heard the term “HTML5” thrown around by the likes of Apple and Google. This is the next evolution of HTML, or Hyper Text Markup Language, which forms the backbone of almost every site on the Internet. HTML4, the last major iteration of the language, debuted in 1997 and has been subsequently poked and prodded so that it can handle the demands of the modern Web.

HTML4 has been tweaked, stretched and augmented beyond its initial scope to bring high levels of interactivity and multimedia to Web sites. Plugins like Flash, Silverlight and Java have added media integration to the Web, but not without some cost. In search of a “better user experience” and battery life, Apple has simply dropped support for some of these plugins entirely on mobile devices, leaving much of the media-heavy Internet inaccessible on iPads and iPhones. HTML5 adds many new features, and streamlines functionality in order to render these processor-intensive add-ons unnecessary for many common functions.

Assuming content providers sign on (and many are), this means you won’t have to worry about installing yet another plugin just to listen to a song embedded in a blog or watch a video on YouTube. Similarly, this is a big deal for platforms that either don’t support Flash (e.g., iPhone and iPad), or have well documented problems with it (e.g., Linux). It will be a particular boon to those smartphones for which supporting Flash has proven problematic.

Rough Timeline of Web Technologies

1991 HTML
1994 HTML2
1996 CSS1 + JavaScript
1997 HTML4
1998 CSS2
2000 XHTML1
2002 Tableless Web Design
2005 AJAX
2009 HTML5

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June 6th 2012: IPv6 goes live

When Vint Cerf and his friends at DARPA concocted a system that allowed for 4.3 billion IP addresses, it was never conceived that everyone’s computer would be able to access the internet — before the age when your telephone, fridge and air conditioning unit would too. The IPv4 system officially ran out of addresses last year, but fortunately the moment was prepared for: June 8th 2011 was “World IPv6 Day” where a host of sites including Google, Bing and Facebook quietly tried out the new system for 24 hours to make sure it wouldn’t cause the internet to explode. June 6th this year will see the final activation of the new network provision that has a capacity of around 340,282,366,920,938,463,463,374,607,431,768,211,456 unique addresses, which we figure will keep us going until Black Friday, at least.

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Web sites from Wikipedia, Google and Facebook to Mozilla, Major League Gaming and Reddit are dark today in protest of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA), but bill supporters insist the effort is nothing but a publicity stunt and an abuse of power. In a Tuesday statement, Chris Dodd, chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA)—and a former Connecticut senator—said Web sites participating in the blackout are “resorting to stunts that punish their users or turn them into their corporate pawns, rather than coming to the table to find solutions to a problem that all now seem to agree is very real and damaging.”

The MPAA and its musical counterpart, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), have been big supporters of SOPA and PIPA, prompting opponents to accuse bill sponsors of bowing to lobbying dollars. Both bills target overseas “rogue” Web sites that traffic in fake goods, from purses and prescription drugs to pirated DVDs and MP3s. But the power that SOPA and PIPA provide to the Justice Department to go after these bills is worrisome to opponents, who fear the legislation will put legitimate Web sites at risk. As a result, Jan. 18 has been dubbed SOPA/PIPA blackout day, with many high-profile Web sites shutting down service or adding anti-SOPA/PIPA signage to their sites.

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Even a company with Microsoft’s financial muscle has failed to make a major dent in Google’s position as the world’s search engine of choice. But a group of European online activists are apparently trying to create a D.I.Y. alternative. Or at least that was what was being reported. The Free Software Foundation Europe, the group behind the move, started things off with their announcement:

The YaCy project is releasing version 1.0 of its peer-to-peer Free Software search engine. The software takes a radically new approach to search. YaCy does not use a central server. Instead, its search results come from a network of currently over 600 independent peers. In such a distributed network, no single entity decides what gets listed, or in which order results appear.

The YaCy search engine runs on each user’s own computer. Search terms are encrypted before they leave the user and the user’s computer. Different from conventional search engines, YaCy is designed to protect users’ privacy. A user’s computer creates its individual search indexes and rankings, so that results better match what the user is looking for over time. YaCy also makes it easy to create a customised search portal with a few clicks.

So, instead of Google’s millions of servers, users provide a little bit of their own computer’s processing power to run the system. Although the underlying technology might be different, this suggests YaCy is intended to be a competitor for Google search, albeit one without advertising and secret algorithms.

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Kudos to the IEEE for rushing this new ‘super WiFi’ standard through so very speedily for the sake of rural communities with poor web access. Designated IEEE 802.22, it promises to bring speeds of up to 22Mbps to devices as far as 100km away from the nearest transmitter. How’s that possible? Well, the standard carefully exploits swathes of unused white space within transmission bands that were originally reserved (and jealously guarded) for analogue TV. These frequencies currently contain nothing but hiss and occasional communications from dead people, but one day they could and should be filled with the hopes, aspirations and Facebook updates of country folk who are very much alive. Full PR inside.

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Jealous of Comcast customers with their 105Mbps cable hook ups or those lucky residents of the Kansas cities relishing in Google’s 1Gbps service? Well add Londonites to the list of people that drive you to indulging in one of the seven deadly sins. Virgin Media has finally started testing its DOCSIS2-powered 1.5Gbps network in the heart of merry ol’ England. Right now it’s being enjoyed by a group of test sites around Old Street that also get a 150Mbps upload connection. Virgin claims it’s the fastest broadband in the world, which may be true if you’re not counting lab experiments. The really good news is that it’s based on the same tech already delivering 100Mbps to residents across the country so, if the trial goes well, it should be trivial to deliver these mind numbing speeds to the rest of its customers. Full PR inside.

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If you’ve stayed with friends who live in European cities, you’ve probably had an experience like this: You hop onto their WiFi or wired internet connection and realize it’s really fast. Way faster than the one that you have at home. It might even make your own DSL or cable connection feel as sluggish as dialup.

You ask them how much they pay for broadband.
“Oh, forty Euros.” That’s about $56.
“A week?” you ask.
“No,” they might say. “Per month. And that includes phone and TV.”

It’s really that bad. The nation that invented the internet ranks 16th in the world when it comes to the speed and cost of our broadband connections. That’s according to a study released last year by Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society on behalf of the FCC.

Engadget did a full coverage on this matter. Video and full report inside.

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American ISPs have convinced us that Internet access is expensive—getting speeds of 100Mbps will set most people back by more than $100 a month, assuming the service is even available. In Chicago, Comcast’s 105Mbps service goes for a whopping $199.95 (“premium installation” and cable modem not included). Which is why it was so refreshing to see the scrappy California ISP this week roll out its new 1Gbps, fiber-to-the-home service… for $69.99 a month.

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Speed standards have been redefined anew, as researchers hit the 100 terabit per second benchmark.

Although the commercial needed for it is yet to be realized, two separate researchers just announced that they’ve hit a record of 100 terabit of information per second through a single optic fiber. Downloading will never be the same again if these go mainstream.

Dayou Qian of NEC Laboratories in Princeton New Jersey and Jun Sakaguchi of Japan’s National Institute of Information and Communications Technology in Tokyo have reported to have reached the 100 terabit benchmark. Both have used different methods: Dayou Qian squeezed light pulses from 370 separate lasers into one pulse, while Jun Sakaguchi utilizes seven light-guiding cores in a fiber — with each core carrying 15.6 terabit per second.

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The outage of Sony Corp.’s PlayStation Network ran into its sixth day Monday as the company said it has no timeframe for restoring the Internet-based system that links users in live game play worldwide.

In a blog post Monday, Sony spokesman Patrick Seybold said he couldn’t predict when rebuilding work would be completed, but that it’s a “time intensive process.” The company said on Thursday that it would take a “full day or two” to restore service after it first shut down the system that serves both PlayStations and its Qriocity entertainment services the previous day. It subsequently blamed the outage on an “external intrusion” and said it would have to rebuild its system to add security measures and strengthen its infrastructure.

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TBILISI (AFP) – Georgian police arrested a 75-year-old woman who single-handedly cut off Internet connections in Georgia and neighboring Armenia, the interior ministry in Tbilisi said on Wednesday.
The pensioner was digging for scrap metal when she hacked into a fiber-optic cable which runs through Georgia to Armenia, forcing many thousands of Internet users in both countries offline for several hours on March 28. The woman who was arrested in the village of Ksani, north of capital Tbilisi, has been charged with damaging property and could face up to three years in prison if convicted.

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A controversial CRTC decision that effectively imposed usage-based Internet billing on small service providers will be reversed. “The CRTC should be under no illusion — the Prime Minister and minister of Industry will reverse this decision unless the CRTC does it itself,” a senior Conservative government official said Wednesday. “If they don’t reconsider we will reverse their decision.”

The promise to reverse the ruling comes as CRTC Chair Konrad von Finckenstein is scheduled to explain the decision Thursday before the House of Commons industry committee. While the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission is an independent agency, its decision can be overturned by cabinet. The Toronto Star was told that could happen as early as next week.

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