Firefox 4 Beta 11 Bolstered with Do Not Track Feature

Firefox 4 is scheduled to be launched sometime in June-July this year. The beta versions are popping out every second day, and I have been lost on count, but I remember beta 11 for the feature that has hit the headlines of late.

The Do Not Track feature which was proposed by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission has taken shape in the latest version. FTC calls it Do Not Call list for online behavioral advertising. Enabling this options lets users opt-out of behavior tracking by advertisers through cookies and other browser-based methods.

Alex Fowler, the global privacy and public policy leader at Mozilla wrote – “When the feature is enabled and users turn it on, web sites will be told by Firefox that a user would like to opt out of OBA. We believe the header-based approach has the potential to be better for the web in the long run because it is a clearer and more universal opt-out mechanism than cookies or blacklists.”

Firefox employs the HTTP header method – the HTTP header in a web page has specific code that tells ad networks that a user wishes not to be tracked. Alternatively, Google Chrome leverages on a different method where cookies are employed to convey the same information. MS IE9 is working on creating a list for users to opt out from specific data tracking organizations.

Joliprint : Instant Web to PDF Conversion

It is rare that a web application can outperform a desktop application. I recently awed at a web application called Joliprint, which converts web pages to download-able PDF files. This is not the best part yet! The PDF file is printer friendly, and you can point Joliprint to any webpage (mainly articles) in the internet-dom, and this bad boy can wrap it nicely in a portable format.

Web publishers can effortlessly add the application onto their websites using their APIs. It is free for both commercial and non-commercial projects. WordPress users such as this website can leverage on a WordPress plugin to achieve conversion at a click of a mouse button. Similar plugin services are available for wordpress.com and blogger mediums as well.

For those who like this feature to hang with them through their browsing journey can opt for a browser add-on.

I ran Joliprint on this article, and this is how it looks.

Disable Post Revisions in WordPress to Better Loading Time

WordPress offers a nice feature in storing versions of your posts. It controls your versions, and helps you bring back one of the previous copies of your article if you ever find a need for it. Application will generally be for lengthy posts that go under plenty of revisions, especially when multiple people are involved. And, for articles that go under the review board.

This nice-to-have feature is a bane for websites that boast of several thousand posts. The database gets inflated at least by two times, and slows down loading of the website by a considerable amount.

I own an article directory on the root of this domain. Last month, it reached close to 50,000 posts. The database staggered for a long long time before it showed life. The total number of revisions per post was 1.7, and that equated to around 85,000 posts. The loading time was around 5.5 seconds on a sample article that I picked to test the effect of inflated database. I duly disabled post revisions and ran a query on my database to expunge the old revisions. Load time on the same sample article reduced to 4 seconds. That’s big considering the patience of a web user is wafer thin.

Right, so getting rid of post revisions help, especially if you run big websites. On the other hand, there are disadvantages ebbing from taking them out completely as well. Think long and hard before you decide on the future course of action.

Disable Post Revisions Completely

If you have made up your mind to completely take out the post revision feature from your WordPress installation like I did, add the following line in wp-config.php after the

define(‘WP_POST_REVISIONS’, false);

Delete all Existing Post Revisions in WordPress Database

As I mentioned earlier, I had to remove around 35,000 posts from my database. I used this query, and it worked like a charm.

DELETE FROM wp_posts WHERE post_type = ‘revision’

Control Post Revisions through Revision Control Plugin

Suppose you don’t want to take the extreme step of disabling post revisions but would want to play it safe by limiting the number of revisions, Revision Control plugin is your friend. It gives you the flexibility to limit the number of revisions, globally as well as post level. Your editor can proof read and save the article as a later version, and if you need to get back your old one for review, it is available at a mouse click.

ps : I finally decided to create a new database and start a fresh website on my article directory. The decision was taken after I realized that I was spending far too much time on an activity (approving articles) that adds no to almost nil value.

Facebook is No.3; Overtakes Yahoo

Facebook had to wait for an eternity to pass Yahoo, and this eternity lasted eighteen long months. It is official, according to comScore, Facebook has overtaken Yahoo in terms of traffic. In November 2010, Yahoo scored 630 million and Facebook was slightly ahead at 633 million. The difference may not be huge, but the trend is worrisome for the search engine major. Facebook is on steady increase while the latter is flat as a carrom board ever since the acquisition talks began. Will Yahoo acquisition talks rekindle again?

Facebook now stands behind two giants, who are steadily on an ascent to Mt.Everest. Microsoft at No.2 and Google at the top spot are hard competitors, and unless something drastic happens, I don’t see them getting passed by Facebook. Think about it! The ranking is calculated on the total visitors on the domain, which contains different apps for google, and a whole lot of download sections, knowledge base and other sales material on the Microsoft website. Facebook on the other hand is a single tasker, and is looking at a cliff from down below. As I said earlier, I don’t think it can climb it, unless a landslide tears the majors apart. Microsoft is 869 million while Google is at 970 million, and may be the first to make it to the billion club.

Some more stats! Facebook accounts for a quarter of all the ads displayed in the US, and Yahoo is around 12%. Two months back, Facebook had passed Yahoo as the second largest video site in the US, no prizes for guessing the top spot, and in terms of sourcing traffic to video sites, Facebook is No.2 behind Google.

Here is an interesting piece of information. The traffic rankings provided above is global, but in the US, Facebook is No.4 while Yahoo holds the top spot. It’s difficult to imagine how Americans find it difficult to shift loyalties, and stick onto a traditional solution for searching the web, and still leverage on yahoo mail, while the whole world is going gaga over Gmail.

Facebook Email, the Gmail Killer?

Speculations are rife that Facebook is launching email service and will offer its 500 million base with a ready made solution. This new @facebook.com email is touted by experts as a gmail killer. Is it really?

Google is a leading email service provider, and is currently the most popular solution, even though its existence has been nascent, compared to the Hotmails and Yahoos. Yet, the strategy of pulling users towards a search engine, and pushing them towards other services such as email, maps, calendar amongst others has worked wonderfully well for it.

Facebook on the other hand, started as a social networking service, initially restricted to students in the US and later opening up to the common folks across the globe. It gained popularity on social networking alone, and spread exponentially on this single service.

The difference between the two is the reach. While Google not only offers web search, Facebook lives on social networking alone. An email associated with Google can give access to a number of services, and interlink the applications at the touch of a mouse click. Facebook is far beneath the reach and the dependence on day to day activities. Not almost!

Youngsters, rely plenty on Facebook rather than Google’s – let’s say Calendar or their documents repository. They might feel the adrenaline to move towards the new email service, but not people like me who uses at least eleven Google associated services. For me, somebody like Zoho has a better chance to taking away users from Google but not Facebook.

All those who felt Facebook is going to steal users are going to eat their words in days to come. The press conference scheduled this evening is when the (surprising) news is likely to be revealed. I will keep my eyes, ears and also my nose close to the proceedings.