Tag Archives: google

How Does The Internet Work?

It’s hard to imagine the world as we know it without including the internet.   Commerce, communication, and even socialization have been irrevocably changed since the internet came to prominence. At the same time, for most people, the internet is just something that’s there for most people.  We take it for granted, particularly those of us who grew up with the internet.  Few people understand how the internet actually works – how we can access that information from home or a mobile device.

The internet depends upon both protocols and physical servers.  A server is essentially a computer that houses the files available on the internet.  For instance, a website is made up of files that include the images, art, text, etc…  All of those files are housed on a computer called a server that is connected to a network of other computers: the internet.

When you open a browser like internet explorer, firefox, or chrome and type in a web address, the browser looks for the files associated with the address.  A web address includes the domain name, plus any folders and files.  For example:   www.domain.com/folder_name/specific_page_file

Each domain has some records associated with it.  The first of those records is the WHOIS record.  That record includes contact information on the owner of the domain.  The next record is the name server or NS record.  The NS record tells your browser which server to find certain other records on.  Those records are the A and MX records, and they are contained within a file called a DNS zone file.  The A records tell your browser where to find the actual site files.  The MX record describes where any associated email accounts are housed.  So, to sum up:

  1. You type in a web address.
  2. Your browser looks for the domain and finds the associated NS record.
  3. The NS record directs your browser to a file that has directions to the site files.
  4. Those directions, the A records, take you to the actual site files, where they are housed on a server.
  5. Your browser then displays the site to you.

All of that takes seconds or less.  Isn’t that amazing?

Google Plus

Google is the number one search engine.  When they roll out algorithm updates, it shakes the SEO world and everyone scrambles to catch up.  Adwords and Analytics are household names in the web industry, like how most disposable adhesive bandages are automatically referred to by the brand name Band Aid.

In the past, Google’s forays into the world of social media have been pretty un-spectacular.  Now, however, they have started to release what may well be a game-changer.  Google+ is a social networking application for PC or mobile that brings all of the best features of sites like Facebook and combines then with the Google innovation and resources.  Tying in to their array of currently available services, this new product is currently available through invitation only.  This makes it more desirable and allows the early-adapters to get the hang of it before it becomes widely used.  It also allows Google to respond in real-time to any concerns from users.  I found in my research a couple of places where users had made suggestions and replied a day or so later, thanking Google for actually responding – something many people have despaired of in regards to Facebook for ages.  (Internet ages of course, something like several months or a year in the real world, I suppose.)

The down side to the invitation only releases of Google+ is that a social networking site can only get so far if only a fraction of your social network has it.  If no one you know is no it, the only draw is the novelty – there is no practicality until it becomes more widely used.  That same factor was probably the largest downfall of Google Wave, discussed in my previous post.  Every network has to start out with only a few users, however.  The bigger question is whether Google+ will be able to over take or co-exist with Facebook, as Facebook was able to do with MySpace.  (In related news, I have heard rumors that Justin Timberlake recently was involved in a buy-out of MySpace, with plans to revamp it largely as a music sharing site.)

Some distinctive features of Google + include:

  • Circles.  Rather than a post going out to everyone you know and then some, you will be able to filter your posts and feeds by your social circles – work colleagues, family, friends from school, friends from *insert hobby here*, etc…
  • Sparks.  I haven’t used Google+ yet, but it sounds like this feature includes things you’re likely to be interested in in your stream without requiring that you go out and find it first.  It also allows you to connect with others with similar interests.
  • Hangouts.  This features allows you to jump into a video conference when you feel like it, “stopping by,” effectively.  This allows multiple users to swing in and out of video chats as they are available and smoothly shows all the webcams.  Don’t have a webcam?  Get one.  Or get an awesome, rugged, portable laptop that comes standard with a great one built in.
  • Mobile Upload.  Google+ allows you to sign up for a service that automatically adds pictures to a private album in the cloud so that you can post them anytime any where without the hassle of uploading.
Will these features be enough to push Google+ past the shiny-and-new-and-exclusive stage of its current popularity?  That remains to be seen, but there are rumors and comments indicating that there may be a multitude of extra new features in the works, including shared games directly on the networking service, among other things.  I for one am anxiously awaiting an invitation from my early-adopter friends.  

Crazy New Tech

Technology as it is used by consumers is evolving at a break-neck pace these days.

Fancy new hard ware includes smartphones, touch screens, and tablets, among other, less mainstream, items.

More impressive is the boom in software and applciations that we are seeing right now.  Even in just the last week I have seen an explosion of articles about new versions and new products.

Google, for instance, is the creator of the Android operating system for smart phones.  One of the characteristics that sets Android apart on the market is that Google has a more open-source take on technology.  This means that they will let anyone create programs, change things, tinker, explore. Their new App Inventor allows users to create their own apps for the Android system.  They have a new maps program, too, which shows the landscape and buildings in three dimensions.  Google has also rolled out some beta devides running their new Chrome OS. Chrome is also the name of their internet browser, and the OS is very similar.  With Chrome, all of a user’s files would be stored in the cloud and accesible on any device.  It boasts lightning quick boot times and ease of use.  Google is also working on or has recently unveiled a music locker, google books, video productions, and place search.

In the same vein, Mac is launching an App store in the next month, Facebook has unveiled a facial recognition technology, search engine Bing is incorporating all new features, browser Opera just realeased version 11, with stackable tabs and extension support, and private users are hacking the Kinect to do some amazing things including a self-directed hovercraft that uses Kinect technology to “see” the world around it.

What crazy new technology are you excited about?