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  1. Ready to speed things up? Here at Microsoft, we’re rolling out support in Internet Explorer for the first significant rework of the Hypertext Transfer Protocol since 1999. It’s been a while, so it’s due. While there have been lot of efforts to streamline Web architecture over the years, none have been on the scale of HTTP/2. We’ve been working hard to help develop this new, efficient and compatible standard as part of the IETF HTTPbis Working Group. It’s called, for obvious reasons, HTTP/2 – and it’s available now, built into the new Internet Explorer starting with the Windows 10 Technical Preview. You can see an overview of the work we have been doing with the HTTPbis working group by checking out the Microsoft Open Technologies HTTP/2 page. Why is Internet Explorer leading with HTTP/2 implementation? Performance matters in an increasingly real-time and mobile world – even gains that may seem merely incremental make a difference. For instance a Bing study found that a 10ms increase in page load time costs the site $250K in revenue annually; a 100ms increase – that’s a third the speed of the blink of the human eye, mind you – undid three months of work that went into improving user engagement via better search results relevance. That 100ms delay in the responsiveness of a transactional web page has been shown to cost big online retailers up to 1% of sales due to search abandonment. So what this working group is doing has real economic impact. What is wrong with what we had yesterday? For the most part, the way a Web page gets loaded today happens pretty much the same way it did in the days of 800x600-pixel displays. Certainly the web is a faster place today, but it could be much faster and much more resource efficient. Building a page today still requires a lot of individual queries between the browser and the server, and each individual call has to wait until the server responds before sending the next. Sure, you can open more independent, parallel connections, but this still limits how many items can be requested simultaneously. It also dictates the order of the responses and prevents the server from optimizing responses. So how is HTTP/2 different? HTTP/2 delivers the Web page elements quicker and more efficiently, taking advantage of all the available bandwidth. With long-lived connections and multiplexing (the protocol’s ability to combine multiple requests on one connection), more web page items arrive sooner. Experimental HTTP/2 features such as server push and request dependencies could further improve web performance in the future. What does this mean for developers? HTTP/2 was designed from the beginning to be backwards-compatible with HTTP/1.1. That means developers of HTTP libraries don't have to change APIs, and the developers who use those libraries won't have to change their application code. This is a huge advantage: developers can move forward without spending months bringing previous efforts up to date. What about networks? And security? Fewer and less frequent connections also means that HTTP/2 will put less pressure on the network – and when you consider the scale of the web today, that could significantly increase the efficiency of networks, particularly mobile ones. Given HTTP/2’s efficient connection model, the performance impact of adding TLS to a site will be lessened, opening up the opportunity for more administrators to add TLS to their sites. When can I get it? HTTP/2 support is in IE on the Windows 10 Technical Preview. The work on HTTP/2 for IE really began in Windows and Windows Phone 8.1 when we added the experimental SPDY 3.0 protocol. This gave us a chance to gain some experience with a multiplexing HTTP protocol and helped move us towards HTTP/2 and what will now be an industry standard. SPDY was a good starting point for the HTTP/2 standard, but it is an experimental protocol that does not lend itself to long-term adoption. With the development of HTTP/2, we will remove support for SPDY in all future versions of IE. Web sites and applications currently using SPDY should be able to migrate to HTTP/2 with little or no changes. How should developers and site owners prepare for the change? Run the Windows 10 Technical Preview version of IE Start up the developer tools and turn on network tracing Load sites that support HTTP/2 draft-14. Some great sites are listed on the per implementer pages under: Watch the HTTP/2 packets flow The Technical Preview has HTTP/2 server support also. This means you can create sites in IIS and test your content end to end. Note: in the Technical Preview versions of both IE and IIS, non-secure connections (i.e. HTTP) are not supported on HTTP/2; only secure connections (i.e. HTTPS) are supported on HTTP/2. Add Rep and Leave a feedback Reputation is the green button in the down right corner on my post
  2. I'll just lie down in the snow and close my eyes. GameSpot's early access reviews evaluate unfinished games that are nonetheless available for purchase by the public. While the games in question are not considered finished by their creators, you may still devote money, time, and bandwidth for the privilege of playing them before they are complete. The review below critiques a work in progress, and represents a snapshot of the game at the time of the review's publication. If Gary Paulsen’s The Hatchet were a videogame, and not a coming-of-age novel, I doubt the eponymous axe would have survived the first hour. A couple swings into the process of building a makeshift shelter, and the young hero would’ve found himself stirred by a sudden and terrible acuity: “Hatchet durability at 27% percent. Hatchet is in danger of breaking.†Sorry Brian: I guess your mom should have splurged for the Hatchet +1. Good luck with the wolves. Flares can fend of the darkness, or a wolfPlanned obsolescence bothers me enough when I’m buying cell phones, so I’m not much pleased when it rears its head right as I’m in the middle of fending off virtual zombies or slaying dragons. You’d think of all the videogame scenarios, a survival adventure would be the worst possible venue for tools that break after a couple minutes of use towards their expressed purpose. And yet here I am, wandering the chilly wilderness of The Long Dark with socks that last a couple days and six backup can openers. The Long Dark dubs the singular mode currently on the menu its sandbox, which is a pretty playful-sounding name for what turns out to be “wandering a godforsaken forest until you eventually expire of cold or hunger.†There’s a bit of perfunctory exposition describing you as the sole survivor of a plane crash, and then you’re unceremoniously dumped into a random part of the game’s single map and encouraged to find what shelter and sustenance you can. But there’s no search crew coming to find you, and no civilization to reach--you’re to ultimately succumb to the elements, one way or another. A few found tools and some looted granola bars can stave off the cold creep of death, if only for a spell. But there’s no search crew coming to find you, and no civilization to reach--you’re to ultimately succumb to the elements, one way or another. Surviving The Long Dark is pretty formulaic, really: find an area of previous human habitation, ransack its cabinets for additional clothing and foodstuffs, make a fire, sleep a time, and then set off in search of the next building. A found rifle can allow for some rudimentary hunting if you happen to stumble upon it, and a hatchet will let you allot time and energy to the chopping of firewood. But any activity, from building a fire to sleeping consumes precious calories and resources, and keeping those counts above the red is an ever-present concern. Paulsen’s protagonist survived for some fifty days in remote Canadian wilds before being rescued. By way of contrast, The Long Dark reports that I first clocked out of the mortal coil after four days. But the passage of days loses its evocative power when you speed up its rate, as The Long Dark does, or when the player can set a timer for sleep and be walking again in seconds. So it’s the items that end up becoming the more tangible measure of time’s passing--the appetite-curbing power of the food, or the durability of the familiar tools. And it’s there where The Long Dark takes some curious liberties, because intuitively, we know that you shouldn’t have to eat a dozen energy bars and a pound of venison to sustain yourself day-to-day. We know a crowbar doesn’t lose half its integrity after being used to pry open a couple lockers. When I play The Long Dark I don’t feel like a survivalist, stretching my resources; I feel like an insatiable force that roves through the environment, picking it clean. Everything’s too fleeting, when the demands of the situation should encourage just the opposite: an intimate connection to belongings that have taken on heightened significance. Tom Hanks cried when he lost his volleyball in Castaway, after all. The wilderness often feels too inert.I’ve been trying to track the source of these issues of scale, and my hunch is that they’re all trickling down from the problem of the map’s size. It doesn’t take long to see all there is to see in The Long Dark--a few rudimentary structures, a lot of inert trees with branches you clip through, and a couple landmarks, like a dam and a lake. Climb a hill, or roam anywhere that looks like it’s off the critical path, and you’ll encounter a rock wall that tamps you back into your snowy coffin. Perhaps staying put is sometimes the savvy thing to do when you’re really stranded in the woods. But for a player, the feeling of being penned in chafes at a natural inclination to explore. The Long Dark intermittently seems to acknowledge this, with a beautiful nightscape over a frozen lake, or a pale, ice blue cast of light through windows of a long-abandoned building. Step indoors, and the wind howls at you from outside like it’s upset that it lost its prey. There are wolves howling out there too, but that spine-tingling atmospheric touch goes right out the window once you actually see one. Wolves in The Long Dark don’t hunt, or sneak, or operate in packs. They just lazily patrol back and forth around points of interest--oblivious, like a stealth videogame guard with an asphyxiation fetish. But I’m not sure The Long Dark needs a live threat, when cold, hunger, and exhaustion feel tethered to you. At any given moment there’s some ailment occupying a corner of your screen, telling you you’re “freezing,†or “exhausted,†or “starving.†As cues go, they’re a bit on-the-nose, but when the wind picks up as you’re limping on a sprained ankle towards a distant shelter, you start to feel something of its bite, all the same. One of them got me in the end, anyway, when I decided to see what would happen if I tried to take a nap outdoors in a snowstorm. I simply didn’t care anymore. I don’t expect my motivations to align with my character’s--not explicitly, at least. He’s angling for another day of life. I’m in it for an interesting experience, and maybe a bit of pathos. But there’s the rub: we each need something to help us sustain the effort, and I’m tired of scrounging for his fifth helping of canned peaches. Add Rep and Leave a feedback Reputation is the green button in the down right corner on my post
  3. Legal action taken against hundreds of torrent, streaming and other file-sharing sites has far exceeded its stated aims. After blacking out the sites across several ISPs, FIFA affiliates hoped that piracy of the World Cup would be reduced. But weeks after the tournament ended the sites remain blocked with no sign of a retraction. While news of site blockades breaks every month (oftentimes more frequently) reports that sites have been unblocked are far less regular events. In fact, it’s becoming apparent that aside from isolated instances, once websites get put on national blocklists in the UK or Italy, for example, it is unlikely that they will become readily available again. Since no one in power is lobbying for blocked sites to be removed from censorship filters, sites such as The Pirate Bay and KickassTorrents will probably remain blocked indefinitely. There are no immediately obvious time-out events attached to these injunctions and there’s certainly no one prepared to go to court to argue over the details. Such sunset clauses are important though, as India is finding out. Back in July a TV network owned by Sony went to court in India to have hundreds of sites blocked at the ISP level after they allegedly made World Cup matches available online without permission. The 472 sites requested was reduced to 219 after an appeal by ISPs, but the injunction was still one of the broadest to date anywhere in the world. Whether it reduced piracy or placed money in Sony’s back pocket is anyone’s guess, but now – long after the World Cup ended – the blockades are still in place. Medianama says it has carried out tests and discovered that The Pirate Bay,, TorrentHound, LimeTorrents and TorrentFunk among dozens of others are still inaccessible through local ISPs. The news outlet also contacted Multi Screen Media, the Sony company behind the blocks, asking whether the company had asked for the blocks to be removed and why Dotcom’s Mega was targeted. The company did not respond. While some will argue that having sites blocked is a legitimate response to online piracy, it is difficult to maintain that stance long after any infringements cited in court cases have ended. That said, ex parte hearings are by their nature one-side, so it’s unlikely anyone will be looking out for the rights of their rivals anytime soon.