BRIEF – TECH: internet is doomed – facebook- tiny url – vw

Is the internet doomed?
Are internet brownouts really just two years away? Stewart Mitchell examines the net’s future capacity.

We rely on the internet for everything from banking to television, yet several recent reports suggest we aren’t looking after our prized electronic asset properly and that it could soon grind to a halt. According to research company Nemertes, we’re just two years from a melting point where internet demand could outstrip network capacity, leading to “brownouts” as surfers try to feast on an ever-expanding catalogue of user- and studio-generated video.

“We must take the necessary steps to build out network capacity or potentially face internet gridlock that could wreak havoc on internet services,” claims Larry Irving, co-chairman of the Internet Innovation Alliance, which commissioned the report. “It’s important to note that even if we make the necessary investment between now and 2010, we still might not be prepared for the next killer application or new internet-dependent business like Google or YouTube.”

With critical information, communications and an increasingly significant chunk of commerce reliant on the web, the knock-on effects of an internet collapse could be truly catastrophic. But is there genuine cause for alarm?

Web professionals – whether they work for international bandwidth brokers or local ISPs – agree there’s a problem with capacity, but everyone has a different take on whether the bottleneck is at the global, national or local level.

Yet other experts suggest predictions of the web’s demise are greatly exaggerated, delivered to further the vested interests of the reports’ authors. Industry insiders suggest combination of corporate greed and naivety are more likely causes of concern for UK surfers than a critical shortage of data capacity. Who’s telling the truth? We cut through the hype and talk to leading networking experts to discover whether the net really is in terminal decline.


Facebook overvalued claims court documents
Court papers released during Facebook’s legal struggle with ConnectU show that the social networking site is worth far less than previously thought. Microsoft purchased a 1.6% stake in Facebook last year for $240 million, placing an estimated value of $15 billion on the company as a whole.

“Will Facebook be worth $5 billion (£2.5 billion), $15 billion or $50 billion some years down the line is really up to their team and how they take it forward,” said Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer at the time of the deal.

“The valuation of Facebook is still to be determined. Certainly today, it’s very, very popular,” he continued. However, details of Facebook’s internal valuation show that the company is believed to be worth just a fraction of this, some $3.75 billion.

The figure emerged in documents relating to the court case between Facebook and ConnectU, a dating website which claims that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg stole the idea behind the social networking site.

Facebook agreed to pay an undisclosed sum to settle the case, but ConnectU has claimed that the settlement is not valid, partly because of confusion over the true valuation of the company. “The stock portion of the purported agreement is worth only one-quarter of its apparent value based on Facebook’s public press releases,” claim the court documents.


Tiny URL adds custom addresses

The Tiny URL service has begun offering users the ability to create custom addresses.The popular website has long offered the option to turn long URLs into shorter, more user-friendly addresses which are easier to read and enter.This has made it very popular within publications including the Times and the Guardian, which both use it to list longer URLs in print.

The service is also used in many applications online where users want to hide the exact URL contained in a link until after it has been clicked.

Previously the service generated only a random string of alphanumeric characters, but users can now choose a custom address, just as long as it has not been previously used.

This story for example, can be reached from both and

Tiny URL claims that more than 90 million URLs have been entered into its database so far, and that the site receives over 1.5 billion hits per month. The site generates revenue from adverts hosted on the homepage.


Laugh at High Gas Prices With a 282-MPG VW
With gas prices going through the roof and regulators requiring cars to be ever more miserly, Volkswagen is bringing new meaning to the term “fuel efficiency” with a bullet-shaped microcar that gets a stunning 282 235 mpg.

Volkswagen’s had its super-thrifty One-Liter Car concept vehicle so named because that’s how much fuel it needs to go 100 kilometers stashed away for six years. The body’s made of carbon fiber to minimize weight (the entire car weighs just 660 pounds) and company execs didn’t expect the material to become cheap enough to produce the car until 2012.

But VW’s decided to build the car two years ahead of schedule.

According to Britain’s Car magazine, VW has approved a plan to build a limited number of One-Liters in 2010. They’ll probably be built in the company’s prototype shop, which has the capacity to build as many as 1,000 per year. That’s not a lot, but it’s enough to help VW get a lot of attention while showing how much light weight and an efficient engine can achieve.


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