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theEweekly Wrap: Firefox, fallouts & Foursquare hatred

Infuriating Firefox Another day, another Firefox. Or so it seems at the moment as the Mozilla Foundation has rolled out yet another version of its browser. This week, we had the dubious pleasure of welcoming Firefox 10 to the office. Since Firefox 9 only reared its head on 20 December 2011, the new arrival shows there’s still no end in sight for Mozilla’s rapid release cycle. It’s hard to believe we were all using Firefox 3 until March 2011.

Incredibly, we’ve now had seven new versions of Firefox in ten months – or one every six weeks. The latest incarnation doesn’t appear to be much different from the last, with most of the changes restricted to back-end stuff.

One thing that appears unchanged, however, is the outpouring of complaints from the business community. Employees of many large companies have already voiced their displeasure on web forums; it can take months for some businesses to upgrade the browser on thousands of computers, but the alternative is using an outdated product that contains bugs and is potentially even vulnerable to hacking. For smaller businesses, meanwhile, there’s just the irritation of not being able to use all the add-ons built by third-party developers who don’t have the time or inclination to upgrade every six weeks.

Google rebuffs Microsoft Google has hit back at Microsoft after an extraordinary public spat between the two technology giants. It all started when Microsoft published a post on the Official Microsoft Blog, subtly titled Gone Google? Got Concerns? We Have Alternatives?, in which they helpfully suggest that Hotmail, Bing, Office 365 and Internet Explorer are perfect for disillusioned Google users. Microsoft has also taken out a series of ads in major newspapers explaining why Google users should be disillusioned in the first place.

However, Google isn’t taking this lying down and has responded in kind with a post on the Google Public Policy Blog. It picks out five specific allegations made by Microsoft (and two from other companies), and counters them one by one. These answer questions such as whether Google reads your emails, whether Google Apps have been certified for use by the US government and whether Google is making it harder for users to edit privacy settings.

Betsy Masiello, policy manager at Google, ended the post in less-than-conciliatory fashion: “We’ve always believed the facts should inform our marketing – and that it’s best to focus on our users rather than negative attacks on other companies. Onwards!”

Who Gives A Tweet? Ever felt like there’s too much noise on Twitter? You’re not alone. In fact, a new study run jointly by Carnegie Mellon University, Georgia Tech and MIT suggests just one in three tweets are worth reading. This is the headline finding from a fascinating research project into Twitter etiquette, which centres on a website built by the research team called Who Gives a Tweet?

On the website, Twitter users who agreed to anonymously rate the tweets of people they follow were given feedback on their own messages. Some 1,443 people took up the challenge, reviewing a grand total of 43,738 tweets. What emerged from the study was that just 36 per cent of tweets were liked by users, while 39 per cent generated no strong opinion either way and 25 per cent – a quarter! – were actively disliked.

The researchers also offered tips to improve your own Twitter accounts based on the research. This covered all the usual suspects – things like keeping messages short, providing context to links and limiting use of hashtags. However, our favourite tip is simply labelled ‘Keep it to yourself’ and reads: “The clichéd ‘sandwich’ tweets about pedestrian, personal details were largely disliked. Reviewers reserved a special hatred for Foursquare location check-ins.”

Written by Richard Frost

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