MIT’s Polaris Hopes To Speed Up Your Browsing Online

Sadly the experience on some websites these days can very quickly be summed up by the word “loading”. We like our pictures, our videos and some even like ads, the problem being is that everything you view on the internet has to come from somewhere and that is where the loading comes in. MIT and Harvard want to give you a hand and help speed up your browsing online.

MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) and Harvard have gone and created a framework that focuses on those things you have to download to view your favourite sites. With everything from images to Javascript downloaded to your computer, the new project, titled Polaris will help download all those different features in the most efficient sequence possible, avoiding the constant pinging and server routing that comes with traditional browsing.

Polaris was in fact built using JavaScript, something which means that any browser and website can use the new system, the only requirement is that the server the sites on is running Polaris in the first place.

The plan for Polaris is to open-source the framework, meaning you could soon find it in every site and browser you use, and with it showing reductions of up to 34% in loading time on websites, you can get one more cat video in on your lunch break.

Smartphones are now the UK’s Most Popular Web Surfing Device

Ofcom has conducted a survey into the browsing habits of UK citizens and discovered the majority of users prefer mobile devices for internet browsing. Previously, laptops held the top spot with 40% of the vote while smartphones only attributed to 22%. The 2015 results signify a major shift as 33% of people said their smartphone was the primary device to get online compared with 30% who chose a laptop. In Q1 2015, 66% of households contained a smartphone and managed to overtake laptop ownership which stands at 65%.

Interestingly, the report says smartphone users spend an average of 144 minutes browsing the internet, which is almost twice the figure of a Laptop or PC at 69 minutes. The research suggests smartphones are more of a digital companion than a communication tool. For example, 42% of those surveyed watch video clips, 21% stream TV shows, 45% engage in online shopping and 44% have setup online banking.

The largest increase stems from tablet PCs and it’s surprising to read that 54% of households now own a tablet device. Although, the growth of ultra-cheap Android tablets shouldn’t make this a shocking revelation.

Rather alarmingly, almost half (48%) of smartphone users admit to being “hooked” on a mobile phone and rate their addiction a 7 or above out of 10. The data emphasizes how revolutionary connected smart devices have become. Consumers cannot exist without checking their social media, browsing for the latest deals and watching a variety of their favourite programmes. This doesn’t mean the laptop is dead as productivity through a normal keyboard is significantly higher. However, for casual usage, the smartphone looks set to dominate.

WebAssembly Hopes To Increase Browser Speed Up To 20X

Chrome, Internet Explorer, Opera, Firefox and Safari. These are the five big names when it comes to web browsing, and each of these comes with both their own strengths and their weaknesses. Engineers at Google, Microsoft, Apple and Mozilla however are putting their arms down and working together to create WebAssembly, a piece of code that looks to speed up web browsing up to 20 times.

The concept behind WebAssembly is that is will be closer to machine level code (a series of numeric codes) than it is to higher level languages (such as Java, C#, Python, ext..). With a lower level language the aim is that both desktop and mobile browsers will be able to read it quicker than your average web page.

While most pages currently use Javascript to create functionality and dynamic code, bytecode based systems are made to be faster. With the hope that once developed the language could be used as an industry standard, the results could see your web browsing being more similar to loading up and running apps than waiting for that page to load.

Currently, the plan is to use a filler to convert WebAssembly to Javascript to support browsers that don’t have WebAssembly compatibility.

Being able to browse the internet at 20 times its current speed would greatly reduce how much time people have to wait in your average day and with companies like Mozilla, Apple, Google and Microsoft taking the helm you know that they are serious about trying to get this technology developed. Personally………PLEASE WAIT WHILE LOADING

Thank you Ars Technica for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Microsoft.

Deleting Your Browser History Could be a Crime

Deleting your browser history is common practice amongst most internet users – seen as the modern equivalent of shredding old documents – but a US law that was ratified back in 2002, and has been gaining recent traction during the Boston Marathon bombing trial, seems to support the idea that deleting your internet history could be deemed an obstruction of justice.

The ruling in question stems from the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which was created to tackle corporate accounting crimes – famous examples of which being the Enron and Worldcom scandals in the late 1990s – and deems destruction of evidence as a federal crime. The destruction, in this case, being the deletion of your browser history and/or cache. Section 802 of the Act considers “destroying, mutilating, concealing, falsifying records, documents, or tangible objects” to be obstruction of justice.

Back in 2010, David Kernell, suspected of hacking the Yahoo! account of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin fell victim to the ruling after it was discovered that he had deleted his internet history. “At the time Kernell took steps to clean his computer, he does not appear to have known that there was any investigation into his conduct,” The Nation reported. Federal investigators, however, deemed that knowledge irrelevant, maintaining that they were entitled to the data and that Kernell had destroyed evidence that could have incriminated him.

The same fate could now befall 24-year-old former cab driver Khairullozhon Matanov. Matanov was friends with Tamerlan and Dhzokhar Tsarnaev, the suspected perpetrators of the Boston Marathon bombing. When interviewed by police, Matanov lied about his last meeting with the Tsarnaev brothers. When he returned home from the police interview, he cleared his browser history and allegedly deleted a number of videos from his computer. For this, Matanov has been charged with obstruction of justice. He could face up to twenty years in prison.

Thank you KRMG and The Nation for providing us with this information.

Nexus 6 Battery Life Put to the Test

As phone specifications become increasingly powerful, so does the need for sufficient battery life. If you’re an active phone user like I am, you’ll eventually have to come to terms with carrying a potable battery pack and charging cable wherever you go – often feeling like you’re married to the thing.

So how does the brand new Nexus 6 compare to the others? Unlike Samsung’s offerings but similar to the iPhone models, you cannot remove the battery of your Nexus – meaning that if your cells start to die or you’re on the run without a charging port, you’re gonna have a bad time.

Equipped with a 3220 mAh battery from factory, the 5.9-inch HD screen is set to be the bane of your batteries existence. Factory results claim that the Nexus will grant you a continuous web-browsing session of 7 hours and 53 minutes in length, rating it 9th in current mobile releases. When comparing this to the Nexus 5’s 2300 mAh battery and 4 hour 50 minute browsing time it seems like they’ve made a rather big improvement.

Taking a look into the charging time for this model, a full charge takes only 98 minutes – closely matching the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 at 95 minutes total time. Number one spot however goes to the Oppo Find 7A at 82 minutes.

The increase in battery sizing is something that is becoming common among new releases as the power is more heavily demanded – now I can only hope that a 3500 mAh after-market battery could be purchased for my Samsung S4 which tends to consistently run out of juice before the days end – no matter how light the usage may be.

Is the Nexus 6 a phone that you’re considering? For me, the lack of replaceable battery and SD card support is something that makes the decision a little hard to pick one up. But comparing it to others, it’s certainly a more sturdy feel at a great price-point.

Cover courtesy of Tech Crunch
Inset image courtesy of Chiphell

Tor Announces Partnership with Mozilla

On Monday we reported Facebook’s announcement that they would be officially supporting users of the Tor browser. Now yet another web giant, this time an open source giant, Mozilla intend to help bring the private browsing network to more people.

In an announcement on their website, the Tor Project confirmed the partnership with Mozilla and the Center of Democracy & Technology, an advocacy group for digital rights. Polaris, as the initiative is called, will help the security and privacy features of Tor get into the hands of more computer users. Mozilla will be able to integrate these features within their namesake browser and Tor will get the support of engineers from Mozilla to help them grow the ultra private network.

As The Next Web points out, Tor can only be accessed by a finite number of connections at once as of now, so this partnership with the added expertise of Mozilla, will no doubt open up the network to more people.

Source: The Next Web

Browser Google On Your Desktop With A Simple “Okay, Google!” Command

Google has released an extension which brings the automatic voice search mobile feature to the desktop. It is triggered whenever you say the key phrase “Okay, Google.” The company also referenced it being available on Google+ for US English users.

Other previous speech software used were available for web the web, but the user has to click a button in order to have the browser listen to the input command. With the new extension, so long as you have the extension installed, you should be able to trigger the command anywhere just by saying “Okay, Google” in any opened tab.

However every software has its limitations, and in this case a Google search page has to be the active tab in order for the extension to work. Users are able to tell if the function is active or not just by looking at the microphone icon, which should be filled in order to display its available for use. The feature is said to be available in any search results screen as well, providing you don’t navigate away from it.

Reviews mark the recognition software as pretty accurate and it can even provide spoken results for measurements and currency conversions. You can download the software from the Chrome Web Store, found under the name Google Search.

Thank you Techcrunch for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Techcrunch

Improved Battery Life For Microsoft Surface Pro 2 In New Firmware Update

As the Microsoft Surface Pro 2 released, users experienced poor battery performance when it comes to web browsing and video playback. Shortly after, Microsoft pushed an update that addressed the issue. What the update does is allowing the Marvell WiFi solution to drive down to even lower power states, conserving more power and hence improving battery life.

AnandTech performed tests on the Surface Pro 2 after updating to the newly released firmware and noticed a 16% increase when playing back video compared to the previous firmware tests made. Here is a screenshot with the updated benchmark results:

Also, Surface Pro 2 now manages better battery life than Surface 2. Microsoft told AnandTech that their internal target was over 8 hours, and this firmware update brings it up to snuff via a nearly 25% increase in battery life when performing a browsing battery life benchmark test. The screenshot below represents the benchmark results for this test.

A software update also rolled back the Surface Pro 2’s video drivers to an earlier version that is told to have fixed the display corruption on wake issue as well. Take note though that Surface 2 did not receive any similar battery life changing firmware update, hence no improvement for the device. Don’t fret though, as Microsoft could release one soon enough.

Thank you AnandTech for providing us with this information
Images courtesy of AnandTech