A few tidbits from around the web.
1/21/2016 1:52:34 PM
Google Chrome to get a speed boost soon
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ZDNet has the story:
Chrome is about to get a significant performance boost, thanks to Google’s new compression algorithm for the internet, Brotli.
Google released its new algorithm in September, boasting a “whole new data format” that offered 20 to 26 percent higher compression ratios over, Zopfli, an algorithm developed at Google and released in 2013.
Now Google web performance engineer Ilya Grigorik says the new algorithm should be coming to Chrome soon, with a current status of “intent to ship”.
Brötli is coming to the desktop (Windows, Mac) and mobile (Android, iOS) versions of Chrome.
1/21/2016 1:27:53 PM
Dropbox updated on Windows 10
Dropbox has updated its mobile app for Windows 10, turning it into a Windows universal app. Here’s what’s new:
Office apps updated on iOS
Microsoft issued updates to Word, Excel, and PowerPoint on iOS today. Here’s what’s new.
New web browser promises to “fix the web”
Former Mozillan Brendan Eich is leading the effort to build a new web browser called Brave that will “fix the web.” Here’s a peek at what they’re planning.
At Brave, we’re building a solution designed to avert war and give users the fair deal they deserve for coming to the Web to browse and contribute. We are building a new browser and a connected private cloud service with anonymous ads. Today we’re releasing the 0.7 developer version for early adopters and testers, along with open source and our roadmap.
Brave browsers block everything: initial signaling/analytics scripts that start the programmatic advertising “dirty pipe”, impression-tracking pixels, and ad-click confirmation signals. By default Brave will insert ads only in a few standard-sized spaces. We find those spaces via a cloud robot (so users don’t have to suffer, even a few canaries per screen size-profile, with ad delays and battery draining). We will target ads based on browser-side intent signals phrased in a standard vocabulary, and without a persistent user id or highly re-identifiable cookie.
The browser sees everything you do, including actions to stop that annoying phenomenon of retargeting where an ad chases you around the Web, often for something you just bought or decided not to buy. We keep user data out of our cloud Brave Vault by default. It’s better for you and us that we don’t store any of your data without your permission.
Thus we are a browser-based ad-tech platform, with high precision and privacy. What’s more, we aim to solve the Principal-Agent problem wherever it arises. Brave is the only approach to the Web that puts users first in ownership and control of their browsing data by blocking trackers by default, with no exceptions. The same could apply to other kinds of data, and with your help, we hope to grow big enough to serve users’ interests above all others’.
OK, I’m interested. I’m curious about the technical details—is this based on Chrome? Firefox?—and about practical concerns like extensions. But this project seems to have its heart in the right place.
Learn more about art, cultural moments, world wonders, and more at the Google Cultural Institute
OK, I get that lots of you hate Google, and I’m onboard with many of your reasons.But this is just cool.
Until recently, the act of enjoying art and culture was limited by geography. Unless you could visit a museum in person, it would be hard for you to appreciate a work, brushstroke by brushstroke. And to fully understand the legacy of someone like Van Gogh, you would have to go from Amsterdam to Chicago to New York to Tokyo to discover and marvel at all of his influences, works and successors.
But with the Google Cultural Institute, it’s all just a few clicks away. Five years ago, the first 17 museums brought online a few hundred artworks so that anyone in the world could explore paintings, records and artifacts no matter where they were. Today, on our fifth birthday, the Google Cultural Institute has grown to include the collections of more than 1,000 museums and cultural institutions, with over 60 new ones added just today.
What’s really neat is that there’s a Street View Inside Museums functionality, which means you can use your smart phone and a cheap Google Cardboard visor to see these things in virtual reality.
WSJ: It’s about activity, not steps
The WSJ’s Geoffrey Fowler raises an interesting point. This is good reading for anyone who relies on a fitness tracker or smart watch to track their activity.
Step counters ignore the imperative to raise your heart rate, which the American Heart Association says is key to stemming our No. 1 killer, heart disease. Regular walking isn’t very strenuous, unless you go uphill. And basic step counters also don’t give you hard-earned credit for benching 150 pounds or completing a spin class.
A number of fitness trackers are making progress in turning data into advice. Fitbit, Jawbone, Basis and Microsoft gadgets track your pulse throughout the day and highlight your resting heart rate as an index of overall fitness and stress. Jawbone offers a “smart coach” that looks for patterns in your habits. The Apple Watch records heart rate during workouts, and replaces step-counting with three rings that make a game out of increasing calorie burn, moderate exercise and standing.
A bigger problem may be that fitness devices tend to appeal people who already like to exercise.
Fitness gadgets need to focus as much on behavioral psychology as on data, says Michelle Segar, author of the 2015 book “No Sweat: How the Simple Science of Motivation Can Bring You a Lifetime of Fitness.” Long term, they don’t “link the tracking data with energy levels, joy, feeling effective, making meaning” and other things that really matter, she says.