The Workings of 5G

2021 has long been earmarked as the year that 5G network capability was going to really start to factor into the digital connectivity future like it’s been predicted to. We’re just a few weeks in, but in the 3rd week of January next year we’re going to have plenty to say on what this year was like when it came to 5G. 5G phones are already being readily bought by those who need to be the first to have a whole digital device experience, and we know it’s going to be huge in as far as IoT technology is concerned.

Not hard to see why all of this resonates big time with those of us here at 4GoodHosting, and like any other Canadian web hosting provider it just so happens that we’re in an industry that is going to be in the front row for all of this. And while we’re dynamite with reliable web hosting in Canada, we freely admit we’re not the science types. We imagine most of you are the same way, no matter how digital savvy you are with devices and speeds. But who doesn’t like a quick overview of how things work?

So that’s what we’ll do here. Discuss the wavelength workings of 5G so you can know what’s actually happening to make your iPhone 12 or Galaxy S20 capable of what it does in the near future.

Different 5G Spectrum Bands

Low-band, mid-band, and millimeter wave are 3 different segments of the electromagnetic spectrum. All three are within the radio wave range, but part of the spectrum is also light, gamma rays, X-rays, microwaves, and much more.

Low-band: 600MHz, 800MHz, 900MHz

Mid-band: 2.5GHz, 3.5GHz, 3.7-4.2GHz

Millimeter wave (high-band): 24GHz, 28GHz, 37GHz, 39GHz, 47GHz

Things are crowded in the radio wave range of the spectrum. Nowadays much of radio spectrum is being dedicated to mobile devices, but it also hosts broadcast TV, HAM radio, and aircraft communication, and more. Radio spectrum ranges from 30 Hertz to 300GHz — 1 GHz being equal to 1 billion Hertz. That’s a very large range, so it makes sense that spectrum at the far ends of it can act in different manners.

Low-band is spectrum on the lower side, known with longer wavelengths than spectrum on the higher side. This makes it more robust and able to travel longer distances, but at the expense of bandwidth. Waves become shorter and shorter through the mid-band frequencies, gaining bandwidth but losing transmission distance and finally reaching millimeter wave.

Millimeter Wave Primary

A millimeter wave is the smallest size of a wavelength, and can range from around 10 millimeters to 1 millimeter. It’s an extremely effective swath of spectrum because of its large bandwidth, but it’s also very sensitive to external variables. Things like walls, trees, or even just rain. Current low-band antennas are fine for covering several miles or more across large patches of city, residential areas, or rural expanses, but mmWave can be used for small, targeted deployments like inside an airport or stadium.

This is called Fixed wireless and its what most carriers are attempting with 5G. It’s already very readily available on many major network providers. Another very promising aspect about mmWave for both telecommunications companies and consumers is the opportunity for larger channels of spectrum, which should work out to the significant speed benefits most people are looking to forward with 5G.

Information Freeway

Tapping into mmWave was a pivotal breakthrough leading to 5G wireless, and it allows for some blazing fast, multi-gigabit speeds. mmWave has the potential to really turn the web into an information freeway that’s super fast. Beam-forming is going to be a huge part of that, by focusing spectrum and shooting it directly at recipients. Major telecoms will be snapping up large contiguous sections of mmWave spectrum to create their super expressway networks.

However, if you do benefit from mmWave in the next year or so it will probably be an intermittent experience on mobile, and likely one heck of a drain on your battery.

Mids and Lows

Improvements will be more incremental wit 5G on mid-bands and low-bands. The new wireless technology is more efficient than 4G LTE on existing bands, but not by much. 5G is also designed to piggyback an existing 4G network, and improving on 4G speeds. As carriers gradually upgrade their equipment it should become dominant, making for networks with much more consistently high speeds.

We should still expect the first few years of 5G to be bumpy though. But it looks great and in the not-too-distant future we should start to see it start to pick up speed.

Repurposing Outdated Phones with Samsung’s Upcycling Program

Most of us are aware of just how problematic the issue of discarded e-waste is, and on a global scale too. There’s not so much as one component inside any device you’ve ever had that was biodegradable, and so every piece of every phone you’ve ever owned still exists somewhere. If you’re not aware of how much e-waste disposal is a problem then Google search Guiyu, China or Agbogbloshie in Ghana. It’s important that as societies we start to produce MUCH less of this type of waste.

It’s no secret that big tech has designed devices with planned obsolescence in mind; that is, making sure that you buy a new device within a few years. That also has to come to an end, and here at 4GoodHosting we’re like any other Canadian web hosting provider in that being at the front of the digital movement in life and business means we can relate to how so many people think they ‘need’ the latest and greatest in smartphone and smart device technology.

The problem is that consumer preferences and freedoms mean that there’s likely to be plenty of perfectly functional smartphones being discarded. However, if a new program introduced by Korean tech giant Samsung gains any leverage it’s likely that a good number fewer of them will become scrap.

What’s the long and short of Samsung’s Upcycling Program? Let’s have a look at it here today.

From Smart ‘Phone’ to Smart ‘Device’

So while we’ve agreed that the smartphone business isn’t exactly the most eco-friendly, it’s true that some companies have been working to correct that over the last few years, and specifically with programs that disassemble and reuse the metals inside of our phones. Unfortunately that still leaves a lot of waste that isn’t repurposed and if this trend continues we may well be swimming in the stuff within a generation or two.

So the new Galaxy Upcycling at Home initiative from Samsung is arriving not a moment too soon, and what is does is takes your old Galaxy phones and turns them into smart home devices. The program works with Samsung’s SmartThings smart home system and with it users are able to designate their old phones as a number of different things.

For example, how about a childcare tool? You can make it so that your old Galaxy phone’s sensors and microphone serve as a baby monitor and forward alerts to your phone should it hear your baby crying. It could also serve as an IoT SmartThings remote, where you trigger scenes and automations with IoT devices that are set up for it.

Other Possibilities

The Korean smartphone superpower has indicated there’s quite a bit more that their devices could be used for – clocks, music players, security cameras, and more when accessible through the SmartThings ecosystem. All of this really does have a lot of potential, and especially when we think about repurposing a smartphone as a security camera – to take just one example – the camera in your smartphone is almost certainly better quality than the one in your actual security camera.

With all this said, the best way to ensure a phone doesn’t end up in an e-waste landfill is to pass it on to someone who can make good use of it. This is exactly what I did with my old BlackBerry Q20, a family member who only needs a reliable talk & text device is still using it.

It’s this coming Friday that Samsung is hosting its Galaxy Unpacked event, where the Galaxy S21 series will be debuted. With it millions of people will be upgrading from their old devices so hopefully, this program might mean fewer of them end up being waste right away. We all stand to benefit from reducing the amount of e-waste produced globally.

Expectations for Cloud Computing in 2021

A new year comes around every 365 days, and gosh darn if they don’t seem to go by especially quickly for most of us. So here we are in early January yet again, and here at 4GoodHosting we imagine we’re like any reputable Canadian web hosting provider in that we hope all of you have had a good holiday season with your family and ready to get back to it – whatever your ‘it’ is. And as for being happy to see 2020 in the rear view mirror, well we imagine that goes without saying.

Interesting news today that Google employees are now unionizing, definitely a first in the world of big tech. Interesting enough to dedicate some 800 or so words to it though? Not likely. What we usually do here with our blog is share more workplace and productivity relevant for people who have web hosting as means of to a bigger end. If the nature of how you make a living necessitates making use of the World Wide Web, then topics like Edge computing, the Cloud, and incoming 5G network connectivity are among different topics more likely to be of more interest to you.

The way cloud computing has done away with the inflexible need for physical data storage is increasingly only part of the equation when it comes to the Cloud. Which of course is the way major sea change developments in technology tend to go. So what we’ll do here today with blog post #1 for 2021 is have a longer look at what’s being forecasted for Cloud computing for the year to come.

The New Norm in Post-Pandemic World

Cloud services have been essential to keeping economic and personal worlds afloat during tis time, and in particular they’ve been very integral in keeping the economy from slowing down any more than it already did. This is very likely an indicator that we’re going to be relying on cloud computing technology even more in 2021 and well beyond this year.

In particular, we’re likely to see enterprise technology professionals adjusting their cloud strategies looking at both COVID-19 trends and other digital transformation initiatives. Tech vendors like Amazon, Google, and Microsoft are going to be going full bore with cloud-to-edge ecosystems that enable seamless new normal lifestyles.

Even More Dominant Public Clouds

The pandemic has pushed the development of public clouds too, and the growth has been quite something to watch. There are estimates of a 34+% increase in enterprise cloud spending for both public and private cloud infrastructures, and we can be fairly assured of leading public cloud platforms like Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform continuing to cement their dominance in the cloud market and grow their influence across many sectors of the global economy.

Industry insiders are forecasting that AWS will retain its leading market share, but contenders Microsoft, Google, and Alibaba will stay close on their heels. We will likely see Global cloud spending growing many times faster than overall IT spending through this period. These same insiders foresee worldwide spending on public cloud services and infrastructure doubling to around $500 billion over the next 2 years.

That amount of money has to be smart money, so it’s very indicative of how dominant this technology is likely about to come.

Hybrid and Multi-Cloud Strategies

Over 2020 the ever-increasing dominance of the public clouds moved traditional enterprise computing companies to form more strategic focuses on hybrid and multiclouds. In response to this over 2021 IT professionals will seek out hybrid and multicloud tools to avoid ending up being locked into any one specific provider, or group of them. Looking at an estimate that some 93% of enterprises have a multi-cloud strategy and 80+% have a hybrid cloud strategy, all of this makes sense.

We’re likely to see hybrid / multicloud offerings from AWS, Microsoft, and Google created with an aim to coax enterprise cloud managers into increasing spending with them. Other private-cloud big players will continue to strengthen their hybrid / multicloud integrations with the dominant public cloud services in order to bolster enterprise IT market shares.

Growth of Platform as a Service Equalling More of Public Cloud Revenue

The widespread work-from-home trend definitely factors in here too. And with SaaS (Software as a Service) offerings in particular. Many of them have been essential parts of the platforms required for companies to move large portions of their staffs into functioning work-from-home arrangements. If remote work is to remain a mainstream approach – and it almost certainly will be – then SaaS providers of all sorts will be poised for runaway growth.

It’s predicted that for 2021 SaaS will remain the largest cloud market segment by revenues, moving up to an estimated $117.7 billion within 12 months from now. As big as that seems, PaaS (Platform as a Service) based application services will see even speedier growth, and it will be driven by enterprise customers’ increasing emphasis on cloud-native, containerized, and serverless cloud platforms.

Solutions based on associated low-code platforms will be essential parts of how enterprises conduct application modernization, digital transformation, and business continuity strategies.

Making Intelligent Edge the Principal Cloud On-Ramp

The rapid shift of most economic sectors to remote work has pushed a boom in mobile devices, AI (artificial intelligence)-powered automation, autonomous robotics, and industrial IoT (Internet of Things) platforms. It’s for this reason that in 2021 public cloud providers will move an increasing share of their workloads to intelligent-edge platforms. The advantage being the low latency norms of by these applications.

Look for about 90% of industrial enterprises to be using edge computing by this time next year. As 5G is rolled out globally in the coming years, demand for cloud-to-edge applications will skyrocket. More of these workloads will involve edge-based, AI-driven processing of smart sensor data and Tiny ML (machine learning) workloads.

29 Million ‘Cloudies’ on the Way

If there’s one specific point that indicates how much Cloud computing is going to explode in the immediate future it may be this; Amazon recently announced plan to train 29 million people worldwide to work in cloud computing. An undertaking of this size and scope wouldn’t get the expenditure it will need if there weren’t some extremely concrete indications of where the digital world is definitely going.

A new year comes around every 365 days, and gosh darn if they don’t seem to go by especially quickly for most of us. So here we are in early January yet again, and here at 4GoodHosting we imagine we’re like any reputable Canadian web hosting provider in that we hope all of you have had a good holiday season with your family and ready to get back to it – whatever your ‘it’ is. And as for being happy to see 2020 in the rear view mirror, well we imagine that goes without saying.

Interesting news today that Google employees are now unionizing, definitely a first in the world of big tech. Interesting enough to dedicate some 800 or so words to it though? Not likely. What we usually do here with our blog is share more workplace and productivity relevant for people who have web hosting as means of to a bigger end. If the nature of how you make a living necessitates making use of the World Wide Web, then topics like Edge computing, the Cloud, and incoming 5G network connectivity are among different topics more likely to be of more interest to you.

The way cloud computing has done away with the inflexible need for physical data storage is increasingly only part of the equation when it comes to the Cloud. Which of course is the way major sea change developments in technology tend to go. So what we’ll do here today with blog post #1 for 2021 is have a longer look at what’s being forecasted for Cloud computing for the year to come.

The New Norm in Post-Pandemic World

Cloud services have been essential to keeping economic and personal worlds afloat during tis time, and in particular they’ve been very integral in keeping the economy from slowing down any more than it already did. This is very likely an indicator that we’re going to be relying on cloud computing technology even more in 2021 and well beyond this year.

In particular, we’re likely to see enterprise technology professionals adjusting their cloud strategies looking at both COVID-19 trends and other digital transformation initiatives. Tech vendors like Amazon, Google, and Microsoft are going to be going full bore with cloud-to-edge ecosystems that enable seamless new normal lifestyles.

Even More Dominant Public Clouds

The pandemic has pushed the development of public clouds too, and the growth has been quite something to watch. There are estimates of a 34+% increase in enterprise cloud spending for both public and private cloud infrastructures, and we can be fairly assured of leading public cloud platforms like Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform continuing to cement their dominance in the cloud market and grow their influence across many sectors of the global economy.

Industry insiders are forecasting that AWS will retain its leading market share, but contenders Microsoft, Google, and Alibaba will stay close on their heels. We will likely see Global cloud spending growing many times faster than overall IT spending through this period. These same insiders foresee worldwide spending on public cloud services and infrastructure doubling to around $500 billion over the next 2 years.

That amount of money has to be smart money, so it’s very indicative of how dominant this technology is likely about to come.

Hybrid and Multi-Cloud Strategies

Over 2020 the ever-increasing dominance of the public clouds moved traditional enterprise computing companies to form more strategic focuses on hybrid and multiclouds. In response to this over 2021 IT professionals will seek out hybrid and multicloud tools to avoid ending up being locked into any one specific provider, or group of them. Looking at an estimate that some 93% of enterprises have a multi-cloud strategy and 80+% have a hybrid cloud strategy, all of this makes sense.

We’re likely to see hybrid / multicloud offerings from AWS, Microsoft, and Google created with an aim to coax enterprise cloud managers into increasing spending with them. Other private-cloud big players will continue to strengthen their hybrid / multicloud integrations with the dominant public cloud services in order to bolster enterprise IT market shares.

Growth of Platform as a Service Equalling More of Public Cloud Revenue

The widespread work-from-home trend definitely factors in here too. And with SaaS (Software as a Service) offerings in particular. Many of them have been essential parts of the platforms required for companies to move large portions of their staffs into functioning work-from-home arrangements. If remote work is to remain a mainstream approach – and it almost certainly will be – then SaaS providers of all sorts will be poised for runaway growth.

It’s predicted that for 2021 SaaS will remain the largest cloud market segment by revenues, moving up to an estimated $117.7 billion within 12 months from now. As big as that seems, PaaS (Platform as a Service) based application services will see even speedier growth, and it will be driven by enterprise customers’ increasing emphasis on cloud-native, containerized, and serverless cloud platforms.

Solutions based on associated low-code platforms will be essential parts of how enterprises conduct application modernization, digital transformation, and business continuity strategies.

Making Intelligent Edge the Principal Cloud On-Ramp

The rapid shift of most economic sectors to remote work has pushed a boom in mobile devices, AI (artificial intelligence)-powered automation, autonomous robotics, and industrial IoT (Internet of Things) platforms. It’s for this reason that in 2021 public cloud providers will move an increasing share of their workloads to intelligent-edge platforms. The advantage being the low latency norms of by these applications.

Look for about 90% of industrial enterprises to be using edge computing by this time next year. As 5G is rolled out globally in the coming years, demand for cloud-to-edge applications will skyrocket. More of these workloads will involve edge-based, AI-driven processing of smart sensor data and Tiny ML (machine learning) workloads.

29 Million ‘Cloudies’ on the Way

If there’s one specific point that indicates how much Cloud computing is going to explode in the immediate future it may be this; Amazon recently announced plan to train 29 million people worldwide to work in cloud computing. An undertaking of this size and scope wouldn’t get the expenditure it will need if there weren’t some extremely concrete indications of where the digital world is definitely going.

Happy New Year to Everyone and may the coming year be good to you, and let’s hope ‘normal’ returns sooner rather than later.

Better Than Bit? An Intro to Stablecoin

Here we are with our last entry for 2020 here, and it’s true that nearly every business seems to use their last blog of the year to do a ‘year in review’ themed or something similar entry. Normally we’d be similarly inclined but this year hasn’t been the best for anyone unless you’re a coronavirus. Then it’s been an unprecedented success. All joking aside, we are like all of you in hoping that 2021 sees all of this come to and end.

One subject that has sort of returned to the front burner these days is cryptocurrencies, and it’s gone along with increasing numbers of people thinking that the ‘new’ world will see something of a move away from fiat currencies. Not a fundamental shift, but a greater share of the currency with which goods and services are bought and paid for. Bitcoin has become a household name with this subject, but now there’s a new type of cryptocurrency on the scene – Stablecoin.

Now here at 4GoodHosting we’ll go ahead and assume that we’re like every other good Canadian web hosting provider in that there’s not a single bitcoin mining operation anywhere in the office here. But that’s not to say we don’t take an interest in this, and can see the value in a currency that’s not constantly at the mercy of international finance string-pullers and the IMF.

So instead of giving a warm glance back on 2020 when likely no one feels very warm about the year that’s past, let’s spend use this post to have a longer look at Stablecoin.

What Exactly IS a Stablecoin?

Stablecoins are cryptocurrencies that better minimize price volatility in comparison to a specific ‘stable’ asset or basket of assets. Unlike the more well-known Bitcoin, a Stablecoin is one that is representative in value for a real-world asset. That could be fiat money or exchange-traded commodities like gold. This gives them steadier and more ‘stable’ value against a target price, making them appealing for investors as well as providing the stability that is making many merchants about operating in the crypto space as it exists right now.

Their greater value in being a more viable an option as an actual currency is how they are – as the name IS intended to imply – ‘stable’ against wild, daily fluctuations in price. They also project to be more useful for products people would otherwise be paying for in cash money or on the credit equivalent of it. It’s believe that Stablecoins will also be able to be used for insurance and loans, payments and even for investments.

Stablecoins will also let people use them make payments within the framing of currencies they already know well, and quickly transfer value around the globe while trusting that there will be price stability despite the alternate payment method. This part of it is huge. By increasing confidence that they are stable enough to be used as a daily medium of exchange, consumers will be more likely to trust the technology.

How Do They Work?

A good place to start with your understanding is that there are 3 primary categories of Stablecoins:

Fiat-backedThis is the primary on, and as the name tells you it is carries valued based on crypto assets that are backed directly by a government-issued currency (or commodity like gold) with a fixed 1:1 ratio. The value of the backing currency is explicitly what creates the value of the Stablecoin.

A central issuer or bank holds a certain amount of fiat currency in reserve, and a matching number of Stablecoin tokens are issued for it. The essential part of the equation is that the amount based on the backing currency reflects the circulating supply of the Stablecoin.

This type of cryptocurrency is then of course regulated, but there needs to be a certain degree of trust with the off-chain nature of the system. That’s because there is no way for a user to be sure whether the issuer is genuinely holding the funds in reserve. As a result, the stability of a fiat-backed Stablecoin price depends on the extent to which the issuer is trusted.

Crypto-backedHere Stablecoins are issued with cryptocurrencies as collateral rather than backed by fiat currencies. The benefit here is in being able to attach them to a basket of cryptos or a cryptocurrency portfolio. The nature of the blockchain technology plays a pivotal role here, with the system depending on the use of smart contracts to handle the issuance of units, ensure governance and establish trust.

Done correctly, the benefit is with a decentralised ecosystem that is user-regulated, as opposed to one issuer or 3rd-party regulatory body that dictates monetary policy. Users have to trust that all the network participants will act in the best interests of the group as a whole, which is one of the big draws of cryptocurrencies in general.

The last thing to know about this type is that Stablecoins must be locked into a contract, which then issues the token. Also, they must be paid back into the same contract before that collateral can be returned.

AlgorithmicThese versions – AKA non-collateralized Stablecoins, have no fiat currency backing them, and have no relation to a commodity or cryptocurrency reserve. Algorithms and smart contracts manage the supply of tokens issued in order to balance out price stability, and in that way it’s not unlike the monetary policy used by central banks around the world when managing national currencies.

These smart contracts are implemented on a decentralised platform and can run autonomously, with reductions or increases to the supply of tokens in circulation determined in relation to the price of the Stablecoin and in accordance to the price of the fiat currency it tracks. When the price falls below the value of the fiat currency, the token supply is reduced. When it goes above, it’s increased.

While they aren’t collateralized like fiat and cryptocurrency-backed Stablecoins, algorithmic Stablecoins have the advantage of a pool of collateral in reserve in case of major negative events or anything similar.

Stablecoins in Crypto Market

No one’s going to suggest that Stablecoins aren’t going to play a major role in the future of cryptocurrency. They look like they’ll be integral parts of the long-term adoption and use of cryptocurrencies, and the biggest reason for that being they overcome a key barrier that has held cryptocurrencies back from being used as genuine daily currencies until now.

Specifically, that’s the currency’s massive volatility and short-term fluctuations in value. But cryptocurrencies are certainly here to stay and the big takeaway for anyone should be that Stablecoins will do away with a lot of the apprehension towards cryptos that people have because they won’t be at risk of same friction and instability of Bitcoin, and should make people more open to the future of different forms of money in an ever-more digital world.

Happy New Year to All of You from All of Us here at 4GoodHosting, and we hope 2021 brings prosperity and happiness for you.

What to Expect from the Top Dog in Early 2021 Chrome Update

A lot of people who are Google devotees will want to say otherwise, but Microsoft has definitely met the bar with their Edge browser seen on most of their newest offerings. The near archaic Internet Explorer is just a blip in the rear-view mirror now, and then there’s perfectly good browsers in Safari and Firefox too. But Google Chrome is still the top dog on the block and more people choose to use it as their primary browser and that’s not likely changing anytime soon.

The numbers will bend slightly one way or another, but generally it’s about 65% of all browser usage worldwide that Google Chrome accounts for. Next up is Firefox at around, and then Edge at 5% and Safari at 3.5% or so. Edge is definitely going to gain some ground here, and we can expect all sorts of study findings for 2020 coming out not too far into the new year.

Here at 4GoodHosting we imagine we’re much the same as any Canadian web hosting provider right about now in that our thoughts are primarily around the holidays that are here and enjoying Christmas with our families. Each new year brings new and upcoming developments and seeing as how web browsing is something everyone is big on nowadays we thought we’d talk this week about what we can expect to be new and fresh with Chrome when it comes out with its new update releasing on January 19, 2021.

Outsized Impact

Because such a large majority of device users prefer Chrome it’s fair to say that Chrome’s changes have an outsized impact. Google’s plans get the attention of everyone from individual users and IT admins to competitors and open-source allies.

We can expect this Chrome update to be similar to previous ones where the Chrome update is accompanied by enterprise-centric release notes that highlight some of the additions, deletions, enhancements and modifications that are on their way. Here’s what we know.

New Permission Chip

Google is setting up Chrome 88 with a new permissions request that their referring to as a ‘chip’ to make it different it from the usual pop-up prompt. This is on their understanding that a small UI element at the left end of the address bar (located next to the padlock icon) is a less intrusive spot.

Chrome 87 users can see the chip in action by typing chrome://flags, searching for #permission-chip, changing field to “Enabled” before a relaunch of the browser.

You may also see a new permissions ‘chip’ as a blue oval at the left of the address bar. This is going to be a replacement for the intrusive pop-up requests that are more and more common with some websites.

No More Yosemite

It’s one of the US National Parks that is truly a spectacle of nature, but Yosemite the OS is getting put out to pasture with the Chrome 88. Google will end support for Chrome with the 2014 OS version. Apple has already stopped serving Yosemite-powered Macs with security updates nearly 3 years ago.

Chrome 88 on the Mac will require OS X 10.11, El Capitan, or later.

End of Legacy Browser Add-On

Google will disable all installed instances of the extension for the Legacy Browser Support (LBS) add-on from the Chrome Web Store. LBS is now fully incorporated into Chrome to allow IT admins to deploy Google’s browser.

Tab Search

Chrome 88 is going to enable users’ searching open tabs via a click on the symbol to the right of the + in the tab bar, and following it with a search string. These searches can be conducted in all Chrome windows, not just between the tabs in the active Chrome window.

Shortened Display URLs

Google will roll out a truncated URL in the address bar of Chrome 88 that’s a little shorter, much like last time around. As an example https://google-secure.example.com/secure-google-sign-in/ would display the registrable domain by itself – example.com.

The stated idea is to protect users from standard phishing strategies like when criminals try to trick potential victims into clicking on links – ones that look legitimate at first look but are intentionally misleading.

Incompatibility with Old PCs

If anyone you know hasn’t pulled the plug on an old beater of a PC then maybe now is the time. Chrome 89 and up will require x86 processors with SSE3 support. Chrome will not install and run on x86 processors that do not support SSE3 – Streaming SIMD Extensions 3 on the Intel chipset.

As a general timeline this is going to affect many computers that were manufactured before2004.

New Root Store

Google is switching from relying on the operating system’s built-in certificate verification to its own implementation for Chrome on all the browser’s supported platforms (minus iOS).

The idea is that with its own certificate root store Google could ensure users have a consistent experience across platforms, and developers get a consistent understanding of Chrome’s behavior. Plus, it’s believed that Chrome will be better able to protect the security and privacy of users’ connections to websites. This root store might not arrive until Chrome 90 though, which should arrive in early March 2021.

Merry Christmas to Everyone and we’ll see you again once before New Year’s.

Major 2020 A.I. Milestones

We’re not flying in airborne vehicles like the Jetsons predicted we would be by 2020, but we do have robots and artificial intelligence – or A.I. as it’s abbreviated for convenience – has factored into robotic technology very heavily over the last few years. Now it’s true that no household has the equivalent of ‘Rosey’ taking care of domestic duties and whatnot, but is there reason to think we might all have our own Rosey in the not-too-distant future?

Could be.

We’re really no longer in the time where A.I. was in its fledgling stage. It’s definitely starting to get wings, and the premise for what’s possible with artificial intelligence is really something. Of course there’s going to be a real need for measures and protocols in place to keep it on the ‘good’ side of things, but man oh man there’s reason to be excited about all the potential here.

And it’s the type of potential that is pretty enticing for anyone who works or provides services in the digital space, and that of course includes us here at 4GoodHosting along with every other Canadian web hosting provider. This kind of stuff always makes the grade with what we’ll consider newsworthy, and so we thought it would be worthwhile to point out major milestones for artificial intelligence that we’ve seen across the year that’s drawing to close now.

Here are six of the main developments and emerging themes seen in artificial intelligence during 2020.

Language Comprehension

Take your average year and a text-generating tool likely won’t make the cut as one of the most exciting new A.I. developments. But this is 2020 (the year the Jetsons were living in if you didn’t get the cartoon reference earlier) and GPT-3 is no ordinary text-generating tool.

For those in the know, it’s the follow-up for GPT-2, at the time labeled as the ‘world’s most dangerous algorithm’ with all the sensationalism you care to attach to that. GPT-3 is a cutting-edge autoregressive natural-language-processing neural network created by the research lab OpenAI. All it needs is the first few lines at the beginning of a news story to then generate impressively accurate text matching the style and content of the initial few lines. It can even generate that quotes that fit as naturally as those you’d get from a breathing interviewee.

Parameters are the connections that are tuned in order to achieve performance. GPT-3 boasts an astonishing 175 billion parameters and is reportedly running up a bill of about $12 million to train.

Microsoft’s Turing Natural Language Generation (T-NLG) can get a shout out here too. After debuting in February 2020 it was a massive 17 billion parameters in size and the largest language model to date. T-NLG is capable of generating the necessary words to complete unfinished sentences, as well as generate direct answers to questions and summarize documents.

Bigger Models

GPT-3 and T-NLG themselves are part of another milestone too. Extensive resource utilization is – as you’d expect – the norm with A.I. development and along with that comes enormous models with huge training costs. Neural networks with upward of a billion parameters are fast becoming the norm.

And more parameters are required all the time.

Look no further than new models like Meena, Turing-NGL, DistilBERT, and BST 9.4B all surpassing 1 billion parameters. More parameters doesn’t necessarily mean better performance in every case. But they do make text-generating tools much more capable with a large range of functions. That’s important, because of real brain-like artificial intelligence is the aim then more parameters are a must.

Philanthropy of Sorts

It’s not only computer scientists who are especially pleased about all of this. Researchers from other disciplines have utilized A.I. to benefit the less fortunate of humanity too. Examples are A.I.-backed technologies diagnosing tinnitus from brain scans or mind-reading headsets that use machine learning to help vocally impaired wearers turn thoughts into words.

The best example here may be DeepMind’s AlphaFold and its contribution to bio sciences. It’s impressively accurate with predicting the shape of proteins based on their sequence, potentially helping develop new more effective therapies rapidly. This is all really good stuff.

Major Advances in Robotics

As intimidating as the thought of them might be, truth is we need major advances in robotics to live more sustainably on the planet. There’s no shortage already of examples of A.I. and robotics carrying out human tasks, but the real advances have been with robotics designed to be able to be trusted with control functions at locations where living or even an extended stay for a human is impractical or impossible.

Robotics really is one area that is set to explode and powered in doing that by A.I.

Deepfakes

Deepfakes aren’t a 2020 invention, but they sure have stolen a lot of attention this year and for good reason. There’s so much wonder that’s natural when you consider what this technology is capable of, and even more so when you think about what’s possible when any deepfake rendering is then given its own A.I. to both look AND act the part.

In July of 2020, researchers from the Center for Advanced Virtuality at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology created a deepfake video that was incredibly real in its appearance and compelling with the way it showed former President Richard Nixon delivering an alternate address about the moon landings. For a man that’s been dead for many years, he sure did look like his old self in the video.

Regulation of A.I. Will be Needed

With power comes the need for responsibility, and that is certainly going to apply to all the A.I.-powered tools we’re going to see over the next few years. Take for example how Police in Detroit wrongly arrested a man after an algorithm mistakenly matched the photo on his drivers’ license with blurry CCTV footage. This then lead to IBM, Amazon, and Microsoft all announcing they would reevaluate the use of their facial-recognition technologies.

This will very much apply to deepfakes too. California passed the AB-730 law designed to criminalize the use of deepfakes and make it clear that those with the technology aren’t to use if for no good.

All this A.I. stuff is really fascinating, and we are as enthused as anyone to see what 2021 has in store along the same lines.

5 Tips: Better Ways for Web Scraping

We imagine that for most of you the only scraping you do is part of your battle with baked-on food when doing dishes. Or maybe at the bottom of the peanut butter jar before washing it clean and recycling it. Most won’t be able to associate scraping with anything related to their desktop, but as always we like to talk about subjects that are relatable for web-savvy people with our blog.

Truth told, however, those of us here at 4GoodHosting aren’t experts on any aspect of any particular part of it all outside of being a Canadian web hosting provider. Then why would anyone be ‘scraping’ the World Wide Web, especially if there’s no peanut butter to be had in the first place? Joking of course, but we imagine there’s a whole lot of people who don’t know what this would be to go along with those who are already engaged in web scraping but would be interested in how to do it better.

So let’s get to it.

What It Is

Web scraping is a process, and it is usually automated. The aim for it is to extract large amounts of data from websites. Web scraping gather all the information/data from particular sites or specific data as per whatever requirements may be, and is usually done by companies and brands for data analysis, brand monitoring, and market research. Most commonly with an overarching goal to foster the brands’ growth and development.

The problem for most is that it’s not done easily. Quite often there are IP blocking and geo-restrictions that serve as impediments to doing it. These are of course related to security, which is in-built on many websites. However, it’s true there are ways to scrape better and more effectively. The most common of these tips is using residential IP proxy for higher security, but there are other solid ones too.

Popular sites will have build features that incorporate techniques and strategies to prevent developers from scraping them. IP address detection is definitely the most common of them. Many larger ones may also have IP address detection tools that prevent their website being scraped by suspicious IP addresses. Other data scrape prevention methods include CAPTCHAs, HTTP request header checking, javascript checks, and others.

There are ways to get past those blocks, and that’s what leads us to the next part of this discussion here

5 Tips for Better Web Scraping

Using Proxies

It’s smart to use different proxies to perform web scraping as a means of preventing your IP address from being blocked. If your IP address can be easily detected, it’s probably going to be blocked. It’s also true that using jus one IP address to scrape websites makes it easier for websites to track your IP address and then block it.

Using proxies that offer higher security is the best way to solve this issue. Proxies mask or hide your real IP address to make it difficult to detect. Proxies also provide you with multiple IPs that you can use for web scraping, and being from diverse locations they usually get past geo-blocking or geo-restrictions.

All sorts of different kinds of proxies exist, but residential IP proxies are the best for web scraping because they’re difficult to flag as proxies due to being traced back to actual physical locations. Identifying or banning them is difficult.

IP Rotation

If all the requests for scraping come from the same IP address then that IP address will almost certainly get banned with a site’s IP detection provisions working as they should. However, what if you use several different IPs for sending web scraping requests? This works, because it becomes difficult for websites to trace so many different IPs at the same time. You can get around being identified this way.

IP rotation is essentially switching between different IP addresses. Rotational proxies are automated proxies that switch your IP address every 10 minutes. This constant switching allows you to perform web scraping without the possibility of being IP blocked.

Random Intervals between Data Requests

Implementing random intervals to occur between data requests is proven-effective trick for performing web scraping to the extent you want. Websites can detect your IP address much more easily if you send data requests at fixed or regular intervals. If you use web scrapers capable of sending randomized data asks, however, it becomes much more difficult to identify your IP and block it.

Utilize a Captcha Solving Service

You probably already have experience with these, having to confirm your ‘I’m not a robot’ identity before access to a website is possible. Captchas as the most common technique and Captcha solving services can be used to scrape data from such sites. There are different services available for Captcha solving, such as narrow Captcha, Scraper API, and many more. For most it’s not difficult to find one that fits their needs if there’s data scraping to be done.

Check for Honeypots

Many websites have honeypots preventing unauthorized use of that sites’ information. What is a Honeypot? It’s an invisible link that is used to stop hackers and web scrapers from extracting data from websites. Performing honeypot checks is something you need to do if you’re going to scrape a site. Choose not to and you’re probably going to be blocked.

Even if you are in the know about best ways to do it, web scraping remains difficult at the best of times. Using a residential IP proxy is one of the most commonly used strategies to prevent IP blocking and it’s both the most effective and easily-done approach of all the ones listed here.

Internet Expands to 370.7 Domain Name Registrations

1991 sure was a long time ago, and yet it was at a certain point nearly 30 years ago now that there was quite literally one – and only one – person on the World Wide Web. Tim Berners-Lee certainly isn’t a household name the way many other technology founders are, but perhaps he should be. If you don’t know of him and can’t see where we are going with this, he’s the man who created the Internet.
A pivotal moment in human history for sure, and especially noteworthy seeing as how his creation has turned out to be an immeasurable blessing for global connectivity and productivity. On the other side, however, it’s done great harm to many people too so maybe it’s the proverbial ‘double-edged sword’ in that regard. I know I’m sure as shoot glad the Internet didn’t exist when I was a teenager.
That said, the significance of what Internet connectivity offers in the way of instant and wide-reaching access to information certainly isn’t lost on us here at 4GoodHosting. Like any good Canadian web hosting provider, the sheer volume of customers we provide with hosting for their sites indicates that people are immensely receptive to what being online can do for their businesses, ventures, or personal interests / avocational pursuits.
More and more people are looking for reliable web hosting in Canada every day, and that’s going to be the same for any country in the world really. Which is the ideal segue into the news we’ll share as our topic this week – not surprisingly, the Internet continues to be increasingly populated!

Big Jump

The last quarter of this current year saw 370.7 million domain name registrations across all top-level domains (TLDs). That’s an increase of 0.6 million domain name registrations as compared to the second quarter of the year. All this according to VeriSign, who’s a global provider of domain name registry services and Internet infrastructure.
Want an understanding of just how much of a priority people are putting onto going online? Look no further than the fact that domain name registrations have grown by 10.8 million, or 3.0 percent, year over year. No matter what you’re counting, 10.8 ‘new ones’ on average every year is some pretty darn explosive growth.

.com and .net Dominance

This part shouldn’t come as a surprise to the same extent. Country-specific domain extensions like .ca for here in Canada are popular, but not nearly the same way .com and .net ones are. These two had a combined total of 163.7 million domain name registrations in the domain name base as the 2020 3rd quarter ended.
This works out to an increase of 1.7 million domain name registrations, or 1%, compared to the second quarter of 2020. Of those, 6.3 million domain name registrations were for the .com and .net TLDs and that’s worked out to a 4% increase, year over year.
The .com domain name base comes in at 150.3 million domain name registrations, while 13.4 million .net domain names have been registered.

New Registrations for Domain Names

New .com and .net domain name registrations are always arriving too, and between them 10.9 million were registered this year to the end of the 2020 third quarter. That’s in comparison to 9.9 million domain name registrations at the end of the third quarter of 2019.
While these numbers are fairly natural and expected, plus a good sign for the health and vitality of e-commerce around the world, there are increased logistical challenges that come with so many domains with sites hosted on the web.
We would be qualified to talk about those logistics in great detail given the nature of what we do here, but instead we’ll conclude here this week by saying that the best thing that could happen would be if there was a collective movement worldwide to hold people to certain standards regarding how and for what purpose they use the Web.
Lofty thinking for sure, but it’s a part of the bigger picture of what we believe in when it comes to doing good in the world. We’re lucky to have the Internet, and we’d do well to strive to keep it working for the collective good at all times.

‘Spintronic’ Ultra Fast Computer Chips for Fail-Safe Data Retention

Many of you who work at a desktop in an office will probably have been in a situation where the lights flicker, and your co-workers then quickly urge everyone in the vicinity to ‘save’. It’s nice if you could know in advance of power outage coming, and sometimes you do get little warnings like these ones. But if you don’t and you’ve done a bunch of work without saving any time recently, well that’s going to be a problem.

Or at least it’s a problem for now, as there’s a new type of computer chip that’s been developed that has the potential to save you from the frustration of having to do work over or anything of the sort. This is something that most of us can relate to if you spend the majority of your day working in front of a screen, and of course here at 4GoodHosting we’re like that in the same way that most Canadian web hosting providers would be too.

Truth is the new technological advances in computing are coming fast and furious these days, and that’s a darn good thing. Spintronic devices are appealing alternatives to conventional computer chips, providing digital information storage that is extremely energy efficient plus relatively easy to manufacture on a large scale.

The only current drawback for these devices, which depend on magnetic memory, is that they’re impeded by their relatively slow speeds in comparison to conventional electronic chips.

Superior Speeds

Magnetization switching is the term used for writing information into magnetic memory, and that’s what happens when data is saved to computer chips. What’s happened now is that there is a new technique for it where the speeds are nearly 100 times faster than state-of-the-art spintronic devices. This creates the potential for ultrafast magnetic memory in computer chips, and so fast in fact that data would be retained even if there was no power.

This is achieved using very short, 6-picosecond electrical pulses to switch the magnetization of a thin film in a magnetic device. And the key is that being done with great energy efficiency. A picosecond is one-trillionth of a second.

Whereas with conventional computer chips, the 0s and 1s of binary data are stored as either ‘on’ or ‘off’ states of individual silicon transistors. Not so with magnetic memory; this same information can be stored as the opposite polarities of magnetization, typically described as the ‘up’ or ‘down’ states.

We can reference the Cloud in all of this too, as magnetic memory is the basis for magnetic hard drive memory. This is the technology used to store the vast amounts of data in the cloud.

Suitably Stable

How magnetic memory works to prevent data loss when power supply is discontinued is by it being ‘non-volatile’. What this means is that even if no electricity is being provided, the information is still retained. Now given the often catastrophic nature of power failures in data centres – or at least ones without regular daily backups like we have here at 4GoodHosting with ALL our data centres in Canada – the potential for this technology in places of the world where monetary constraints prevent more extensive data center protocols is quite huge.

What this will do is allow local data on-chip to be retained when the power is off, as well as enabling the information to be accessed way faster than pulling it from a remote disk drive. This technological advance may have other applications too, and particularly for integration with electronics and controlling multiple conventional electronic circuits all on the same chip.

More on How

A key component of spintronics is spin-orbit torque device. It’s a small area of a magnetic film that is deposited on top of a metallic wire, and a current is then directed through the wire leads to a flow of electrons with a magnetic movement. What comes out of that is magnetic torque that’s put onto the magnetic bit to switch its polarity.

The types of these ones developed so far require current pulses of at least a nanosecond to switch polarity on the bit, and that needed to be improved upon. Which is where the focus is now, getting it up to the picoseconds speeds that will make the grade for what’s going to be asked of these spintronics. One thing they’ve learned so far is that ultrafast heating promotes better magnetization reversal.

In this study, the researchers launched the 6-picosecond-wide electrical current pulses along a transmission line into a cobalt-based magnetic bit. The magnetization of the cobalt bit was then demonstrated to be reliably switched by the spin-orbit torque mechanism.

Preliminary energy usage estimates are looking good, as the energy needed for these ‘ultrafast’ spin-orbit torque device is significantly smaller than with conventional spintronic devices operating on much longer time frames for polarization reversal.

This is definitely a technology that’s worth keeping an eye on for anyone who has extensive data storage needs on site and it’s something we’ll definitely be keeping track of too.

More on 5G in Canada

There’s been a whole lot of hubbub about the iPhone 12 and other new smartphone offerings from the big manufacturers, but there’s no other factor that’s playing into all the hype quite like 5G network connectivity. If you’re the type to be reading this then you’re also probably one who’s had plenty of news and info thrust upon you regarding the coming of 5G, and in truth there is a lot to be enthused about.

You can look at that from the individual perspective, but if you ask us the real promise here is in the collective benefit and what this means for the IoT and things like advanced remote healthcare and the like. It’s going to be fairly revolutionary and that’s likely not an exaggeration. Here at 4GoodHosting we’re like any other Canadian web hosting provider in that we know it’s likely going to have big time ramifications for how we do things in the long term too, and as you’ve likely seen it’s a topic we seemingly can’t get enough of.

There’s been a lot made of how 5G infrastructure is going to go in Canada, and how the widespread consensus is that Huawei can’t be allowed to be a part of that. But let’s leave any all references to national security out of this and instead focus on what’s the current status of 5G in Canada.

For starters, there’s no ‘ultra wideband’ in Canada. What’s happened here is carriers in Canada have installed 5G on channels that previously were intended for 4G. Rogers channels are very similar to T-Mobile’s ‘nationwide’ and mid-band 5G down south, but as of now Bell and Telus are using a 5G channel very similar to a popular 4G band.

The long and short of it is that Bell, Telus, and Rogers all view 5G as an add-on to 4G now, so that means even if you’re using a 5G enabled smartphone you’re probably still going to be connected with 4G. The good news response to that is that the 5G experience should get broader and somewhat better over the next year as the carriers extend coverage beyond their current limited areas.

Think more like 2022 – in mid-2021 the government make available a batch of fresh, clear airwaves around 3.5GHz for 5G via auction.

Speed Interests

Independent research into current 5G network speeds in Canada is that the signal is strong, both 4G and 5G speeds are great, and 5G speeds are in fact higher than 4G in the way consumers would expect them to be. Some insist though that there’s not a whole lot of difference in responsiveness, at least not yet. This is likely due to the fact that the phone was working on a combination of 4G and 5G, and as such it’s still not enjoying the full spectrum of 5G’s lower latency.

The same findings indicated there’s not a marked difference in upload speeds either, but again this may also be a case of not yet.

Panel Factors

Depending on where you are in the country, the next part of this discussion of 5G in Canada may or may not be of relevance. If you’re in a major urban area, however, you will likely already have panels broadcasting 5G network to the surrounding neighbourhood.

Again, the surveys seem to indicate that these don’t make a noticeable difference with downloads speeds when comparing operation on the 4G network as compared to the available 5G. And while we don’t have any interest in favouring one network provider over the other, according to the sources Rogers did show noticeably faster upload speeds on 5G than 4G.

Consistency will of course be the key to acknowledging the superiority of 5G network connectivity, and that’s still something that’s being figured out. As of now, it seems that the only way you can get that type of network speed consistency on any 5G network in Canada is if you’re using around 10MHz less spectrum.

Unlimited Plan? 5G a Must

We know that Canadian carriers have only recently enabled their most popular plans beyond a few gigabytes per person. As customers sign up for bigger plans, the carriers need more capacity. Tests showed that Canadian carriers are holding their own on speed, even as subscribers to the new unlimited plans use up to 2x the data as their subscribers did before. The added efficiency of 5G could be a key component of how the carriers will handle the added traffic.

This is the reasoning behind why any carrier is going to prefer you buy a 5G phone as soon as possible. When ever greater numbers of people are consuming ever larger amounts of data, if that’s going to be done on a 5G network it’s best to do it on the clearest, most efficient channels if performance and speed are to be maintained.

It’s quite possible that existing 5G channels are yet to be used enough, and that’s more of a factor in any ‘underwhelming’ perspective on 5G at this time.

If that’s actually the case, can we expect to see better speed and responsiveness from 5G in Canada once more and more of us have 5G phones. There’s plenty of reason to hope that’s not it, because that will inevitably lead to all sorts of questions about the propriety of what’s being orchestrated by major network providers and tech giants.