SciTech Briefs

Firefox 3 gears up for launch

Software company Mozilla is preparing to launch a new version of its widely used Firefox web browser.

This version, known as Firefox 3, is set to offer improved security and memory functions. Mozilla 3 also permits users to access websites without being connected to the Internet.
Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and Apple’s Safari are Firefox’s major competitors.

Creators of Firefox 3 promise high levels of quality and stability in the latest version of their browser, which will be released in late June.

Sources: Reuters

Ford offers new taxi concept

At the New York auto show, Ford Motor Company presented the Transit Connect Taxi concept vehicle, their latest innovation in cab vehicles.

Ford’s Transit Connect concept cab can hold more cargo, and uses 30 percent less gas. The taxi has a sky roof for passengers to appreciate the tall buildings lining New York City.

In addition to a touch screen that displays news and weather forecasts, and allows credit card payment, the taxi is equipped with a glowing orb to indicate whether or not it is occupied.
Ford currently supplies vehicles for 76 percent of the U.S. taxi market and is the number- two automaker in the United States.

Source: Reuters

Paperbacks mix with the Internet

Penguin Books has launched a new digital writing project called “We Tell Stories.”

The project consists of six Penguin authors who create a story each, and then prompt readers to go online to find clues within the story.

The six-week project will conclude with the finding of all the online clues for the six stories. The reader will be then be directed to a hidden seventh story and become eligible for prizes.
This is Penguin’s latest effort to get an online audience in a world where more people read online than actually picking up a physical copy of the text.

Penguin has other online projects, such as providing for free, the first chapters of books formatted for Blackberry, iPod, and laptop screens.

Source: Reuters

China shuts down YouTube

Web surfers in China have been blocked from viewing video-sharing websites including the popular YouTube. Videos of the recent protests in Tibet, which were posted on YouTube, were unavailable to viewers as they were deemed to carry sensitive information.

Chinese video-sharing websites have already been subjected to such regulation.

New rules that have been effective since Jan. 31 claim that Chinese websites must report or remove videos that threaten national security or have pornographic content.
Following this rule, 25 websites were shut down and investigations are being carried out regarding 32 other websites.

This tightened Internet security is a result of the from upcoming Beijing Olympics, prior to which the government does not want any adverse publicity that might hamper the event.

Source: The New York Times