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Spartan browser

 

Reports suggests that Microsoft is working on a New Internet Browser for Windows 10, Moving from the good-old bad-old Internet Explorer to the new Microsoft Spartan Browser. The New "Spartan" browser is still in-development. Today though there are a couple of new leaked images doing the rounds, and these two show us a very different design for Spartan.

 

spartan

 

The actual leaked images are the first two below. Underneath you can see a mockup based on them, which is supposedly a near 1:1 replica of the browser's UI.

 

Thankfully this time around Spartan looks a lot more modern, yet it still manages to be quite minimalistic. The browser clearly looks more like Chrome and Firefox than IE, and not many will say that's a bad thing. Next to the star for bookmarking purposes lies a "reading mode" button which strips out the text and makes whichever page you're on more readable (this is similar to Safari's Reader Mode).

 

Spartan

 

The share icon lets you easily send a link to the current website through social networks or by email, and the three dots on the right are there to open up the settings, as you may have guessed. Spartan's window is borderless, allowing content to stretch from edge to edge. All of the UI elements are at the top.

 

VIA


WiFi

 

Having an Internet access while flying is important to stay online while flying, either for work or just entertainment. Many major airlines now offer internet access to their passengers through an on-board Wi-Fi connection. Data is delivered via satellites or from ground-based cellular antennas beaming 3G/4G airwaves at the sky. However, its very expensive, starting from $30 per flight.

 

To make things easy, Here is a list of Airlines with free Wi-Fi internet access on their flights:

 

• Norwegian Airlines: has high-speed broadband on flights within Europe. The service is available on the company's Boeing 737-800 aircrafts.
• JetBlue: has all of its Airbus 321s and most of its A320 planes equipped with Wi-Fi gear. There's a catch, however. The free access option imposes restrictions on your connection. To go online at full speed, you'll have to buy a pass.
• Hongkong Airlines: has free Wi-Fi on its Airbus A330-200 aircraft operating from London to Hong Kong. The connection speed, however, is limited for those using a free pass.
• Air China: free Wi-Fi service comes with a catch. Passengers cannot connect to it from their smartphones as these are not allowed to be on during flights. Tablets and laptops, on the other hand, are A-OK.
• Nok Air: provides free Wi-Fi internet access on domestic flights throughout Thailand. The service is only available on two aircrafts, however.

 



As an Australian who sometimes visits Australia but doesn't live there anymore, let me tell you that when I head back home and fire up the internet I am often sorely disappointed, however not nearly surprised at all.


After a good nine months in Cambodia where the speed of my 4G mobile was faster than my ADSL speed at my parents' house in inner city Perth, I just had to laugh. I have to visit particular sites that don't chew speed to even play new slots games smoothly. From a very poor third world country to coming across to one of the most advanced English speaking first world countries (hey, a lot of Europe, particularly Scandinavia, is streaks ahead of us in most areas) you'd expect the internet speeds to be at least up to the same quality - if not faster.


Yeah, this isn't the case


I know that this is an article about the difference between the bandwidth in the USA and the bandwidth in Australia, but I feel like this is a particularly relevant point to bring up. The internet speeds and bandwidth in Australia suck.


Australia is detached (physically) from the rest of the world


This isn't news. Plus, it isn't even really that surprising. Australia is the most isolated continent on Earth (except Antarctica, which I'm sure expect slow internet due to, oh, the almost non-existent population levels). Australia is very far from the rest of the world. That's what's kept the country from getting invaded by others and starting a war. Who on Earth can be bothered going all that way to attack? Ships would take forever, and planes are too expensive. With drones becoming more prevalent this could be an issue in the future but until then... I'm losing my point here, aren't I?


To get internet to Australia there needs to be undersea cables laid for thousands and thousands of kilometres. What type of cables? How many? What's the bandwidth there? So, that means that there's a finite amount that Australia can receive to begin with without laying more (hugely expensive) cables.


Once it gets to Australia, it's another story. Let's check out the average speeds of the USA compared to Australia at the Speedtest Global Index, shall we?


Australia is currently sitting at number 56 on the list of the top 100 countries, with an average speed of 26.45Mbps. Oh, look, we're one number ahead of Kazakhstan. The US is sitting pretty at number 9 with a speed of 83.20Mbps. Unsurprisingly, Singapore is number 1 (at 166.44Mbps) and Hong Kong at number 3 (136.15Mbps), two of the most technologically advanced cities in the world (Asia), and Iceland at number 2 and 161.98Mbps, which is arguably the most technologically advanced city in Europe. Who's in front of Australia on the list? Wow! Heaps of countries you wouldn't think. Puerto Rice, Uruguay, Chile, Thailand, oh hey - there's even New Zealand at number 21 with 66.89Mbps!


New Zealand??!!


New Zealand is the island country right next door to Australia on the right hand side. Many people are not aware that New Zealand is even a place (or think it's part of Australia) unless they've met a Kiwi or have seen an advertising campaign luring them there - it's where Lord of the Rings is filmed. There is only around 1700km of ocean between New Zealand and Australia.


Why is Australia's internet so slow compared to the US if it's not just geography?


So, really, maybe the title of this article should be why is Australia's bandwidth so woeful compared to the US, or even their closest neighbour?


The answer to this is a bit of a complex riddle that originates with the history of telephony networks in both countries.


In the US, this tracks back to the beginning of telephony. In 1885 AT&T was formed. AT&T held a private monopoly in the US until 1984, when a court ordered the company to split into regional companies. AT&T was, and is, a private company. Telephony networks in the US were never government owned, always private companies.


A brief history of Australian networks


In Australia, the Telstra network was the only telephony network, a government owned and run network, until privatisation in 1997. This is important to note, because by this time internet was prevalent in all parts of Australia, running exclusively on the only network in Australia - Telstra. The privatisation also included allowing other private companies to enter the market.


Of course, the people at Telstra were clever enough to realise that the country is huge with not much "stuff" (aka infrastructure or population) in the middle - unlike the US. "Australia" really describes the coast of Australia - because there is not much else in the rest of it.


While Telstra's infrastructure was and is aging, they owned it all and it was/is the best available. Other providers couldn't compete due to the huge costs of infrastructure implementation.


Eventually, the Australian government saw the stranglehold that Telstra (still) had on the market and recognized their constituent's cries for faster internet. Thus, the NBN was proposed. The NBN or National Broadband Network, was an initiative dreamt up by the then government in 2007 to get Australian internet speeds in line with the rest of the world.


While the NBN was brilliant in theory, it's execution over the past 10 years (continuing) has been woeful. An initial estimated $15 billion cost has now blown out to $56 billion. An original fibre to the node idea changed to fibre to the premises and then again back to fibre to the premises.


Trying to find companies to implement the solution were failures. Trying to find the right technologies were failures. The interactions with Telstra inevitably favoured Telstra as they were the experts in the field. Changes in governments over the years meant changing strategies on the project. The NBN in Australia is currently a national joke.


The state of the NBN today


The NBN's statistics are confusing, some say to hide the fact that they're not living up to expectations. Many households that have connected to the NBN complain that they are receiving slower speeds as compared to their ADSL connection, too.


And it's true - in many cases connecting to the NBN is slower than using the old school ADSL. This is to do with the packages, pricing, offerings, and partnerships. Yes, in a lot of households' instances, it is better to go with the technology that has been in place for years upon years, rather than "upgrading" to the NBN.


If you do a Reddit search for NBN + joke you'll be pleasantly surprised by the amount of results that you uncover. Or, if you're an Australian, mildly irritated, but not surprised. The network that was supposed to bring Australian internet speeds in line with the rest of the world has failed miserably, mainly due to changes in government, which dictates policy, combined with lack of expertise in infrastructure by the people hired to do the job - not surprising when government tenders often go for lowest cost offers to save the budget.


While the NBN is still rolling out it is already obsolete. As a first world nation, Australia is relatively slow on the uptake, particularly as it applies to government understanding of technology, requirements, and the effects of privatisation. In fact, plenty of the NBN is still that good old copper wire the telephony networks ran on back when the government owned Telstra.


Australia would do well to invest in learning about technology before they try to implement it. In comparison to Singapore, who invest heavily in tech and learning the differences are stark.


In comparison to the US, the US is light years ahead. While this is a combination of the differences in geography, policy, and privatisation, the evidence is clear. Australia has a long way to go when it comes to learning how to increase their internet speeds and it looks like this is now squarely in the hands of private companies should they wish to take on the challenge.


And I have no doubt that if one of the private companies had taken on a premise such as the NBN they would have been able to implement the system - actually, a better system - at far less of the cost of the government estimates. It remains to been seen what happens in Australia when it comes to broadband but I can only imagine they'll be trailing behind the rest of the world for some years to come.


So, forget it. I'm taking off from mum's house and heading back to Cambodia where I can stream in peace.



Courtesy of GSM Arena, we are now able to take a look at the Sony Xperia F8331 prior to its launch. In case you are not aware, the F8331 is the upcoming flagship smartphone from Sony and it is supposed to be released in 2016. From what we can see, the device looks quite different in comparison to its predecessors and will probably sport a larger display as well. At the back, the position of the camera and the dual-tone flash have been tweaked slightly to give it a new look. A separate panel at the back and near the bottom can also be seen, which looks similar to an antenna window.



There's also the USB Type-C port, the 3.5mm audio jack, a NFC antenna and the much loved front facing stereo speakers. We found the device to be gorgeous and the specs look promising so far. There might be a few complains about Sony going with a Full HD display for the F8331 instead of a QHD or even 4K display, but considering how much of a battery hog those can be, we are not complaining. You can still shoot 4K videos with both the front and the rear cameras though.



Author: Saikat Kar (tech-enthusiast)


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