Google makes new image format

But fails to support Alpha channels (for true transparency)!

Firefox maker rejects the format, and will not support it until changes are made.

WebP’s lack of basic feature parity with JPEG in areas like metadata handling and ICC color profiles is identified by Muizelaar as another major problem with Google’s format. It also doesn’t add any important features that JPEG lacks, such as support for an alpha channel. He goes as far as using the phrase “half-baked” to describe the deficient WebP feature set.

Adopting a new image format in Web browsers is a big decision. Once a format becomes a part of the Web, it will have to be supported in perpetuity—adding overhead to the browser—even if it largely fizzles and only gains a small niche following. The chances of WebP attracting widespread use at this stage are very limited, so it seems prudent to avoid shoveling it into the browser.


A post published on Google’s official Chromium blog last week highlights a number of quality improvements in the implementation and discusses the growing number of third-party adopters. Most significantly, Google is adding WebP support to its own Web applications—including Picasa Web Albums and GMail.

Amazon’s Cloud service failure

A client of ours wants to host their video subscription site on Amazon’s cloud services.  Last week they had an outage. Egads, this was not to supposed to happen.  A point of view by Scott Gilbertson:

Amazon Autopsy Reveals Causes of Cloud Death

Amazon is also promising to improve its communication with customers when things go wrong, but as we pointed out earlier, the real problem is not necessarily Amazon. While Amazon’s services unquestionably failed, those sites that had a true distributed system in place (e.g. Netflix, SmugMug, SimpleGeo) were not affected.

In the end it depends how you were using EC2. If you were simply using it as a scalable web hosting service, your site went down. If you were using EC2 as a platform to build your own cloud architecture, then your services did not go down. The later is a very complex thing to do, and it’s telling that the sites that survived unaffected were all large companies with entire engineering teams dedicated to creating reliable EC2-based systems.

That may be the real lesson of Amazon’s failure — EC2 is no substitute for quality engineers.

Amazon has offered its promised apology. It’s published its post-mortem on the recent outage of its AWS EC2 (Amazon Web Services Elastic Compute Cloud) and RDS (Relational Database Service). It says what went wrong and how it’s planning to avoid such problems in the future.

Concerns about cell phone radiation

A new report by the Journal of the American Medical Association (download report) expresses concern that radiation emissions from modern smartphones and cell phones could pose a health risk.

The nonprofit organization The Environmental Working Group has a useful list of the radiation values (SAR) for most modern cellphones.

The NYTimes compiled some helpful advice (edited here for brevity):

  • Tilt the phone away from your ear when you are talking and only bring it in close to your ear when you listen
  • Wait until after your call has been connected to put your cellphone next to your ear
  • Cellphones emit less radiation when stationary because when you are moving rapidly — say, in a car — it must repeatedly issue little bursts of radiation to make connections with different towers as it moves in and out of range
  • If your cellphone has a weak signal it has to work harder and thus will emit more radiation
  • Texting, instead of talking, could be safer
  • Keep them at a distance by putting them on speaker mode or using a wired headset
  • The next best option is a wireless Bluetooth headset or earpiece, which emit radiation at lower levels.
  • Holding your phone away from your ear can make a big difference; the intensity of radiation diminishes quickly with distance.

Microwave News is a good source of techie phone information too.


If Libya shut off the internet, why does still work?

Twitter users, fyi: the Libyan government has “shut off” the internet in their country. All websites hosted there are inaccessible. However, domain names like (a URL shortening service used for Twitter) still function because they are not hosted inside the country. Hopefully some citizens of the country can use international dial-up services to access the global internet and keep getting the word out.

How Egypt’s government choked off the country’s internet access

New Hampshire network firm Renesys reveals their research (pdf) on how Egypt’s government choked off the country’s internet access via its state-owned data centers. Meanwhile, a Columbia law professor named Eben Moglen (of the Free Software Foundation) launches the FreedomBox Foundation, to ensure one day that people fighting for their freedom do not have their voices silenced by corporate/state-controlled businesses. The Plug computer was built to distribute the hardware infrastructure of the internet to everyone.

Being bad to your customers is bad for SEO

Being bad to your customers is bad for SEO

Were you following the saga of the latest SEO-hacking creep? Google has announced it changed its algorithms to detect bad actors.

However, Search Engine Land explains how this man did not really benefit from link equity from bad reviews… it was through several SEO tricks. Two different stories going on.

You can study how a site obtained its google ranking via Yahoo! Site Explorer.

By the way, the seller did get arrested. Justice to be served, finally, thanks to media exposure.