Friday, 16 September 2011

Use mutiple versions of Firefox on Ubuntu 11.04 at a time

Recently, I had been facing some issues regarding the firefox crashing very frequently. I have finally figured out a way to downgrade the firefox browser to any lower version inorder to get rid of this crashing problem. This is really very simple but it just needed to be figured out.

1. First of all, you need to download the package for the version you want to install. You can get it from anywhere on the internet. I found out this official location for all mozilla releases

2. Download the version that you need and that supports the architecture of our current FAI of Ubuntu 11.04-32 bit.

3. I tried this for Firefox-3.6. What you get from this link is a tar.bz2 file which needs to be extracted. Extract it and you will get a file named firefox in this extracted folder.This firefox file is a self executable file, just double click and you are ready to go with firefox version you want.

4. To make things easier for the users, create a launcher on the desktop and convert it into an icon. Here is a screenshot:

 Same way, this can be done for any version you want and it also enables you to use multiple versions of Firefox at any time.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Hack into Awesomeness through Google Gravity

Google Gravity was launched back in Mar 18, 2009 according to the date posted on the author site. The effect behind the creation of the Google Gravity is actually javascript with the extension box2d-js. It allow you to play with the element from Google homepage where all the thing in the site will simply breaks apart and fall down. And yet you can’t stop searching what you need you know.

“Everything that goes up must come down. But there comes a time when not everything that’s down can come up.”

How to Play/ Enable Google Gravity ‘I am Feeling Lucky’?

  • Visit Google.
  • Turn off the Google Instant Search
  • Type in Google Gravity into the search box.
  • Click on I’m Feeling Lucky button.
  • Move the mouse.
  • You can start play with Google Gravity enjoy


  • Go to and you could start play with Google Gravity immediately.

How Google Gravity ‘I am Feeling Lucky’ Works

So you are in the Google Gravity right now? Ok let me explain how that work actually, when you click the ‘I am feeling Lucky’ button you are being redirected to other page which is not, check out your address bar and you will notice that. But how do you end up with the page when you click the ‘I am feeling lucky’ button? What this button does is that it takes you directly to the topmost result of a search result by bypassing the search result page. Try typing any search word in Google and hitting ‘I am feeling lucky’ button. What do you find? Now try this, type ‘Google Gravity” in but this time hit the search button instead. What happens? Yes you are taken to the search result page. Not click on the topmost result. Can you see the Google homepage losing its gravity?
Why make the elements in the page to lose their gravity? As mention above it is due to the effect of the JavaScript and box2d-js embedded in the page.

8 Tricks of Google Gravity

Well guys what kind of tricks you could play with the Google Gravity?

Trick 1. Move Them Around
If you thought that once the elements fall down, that’s the end of the magic - you are wrong, its the beginning. Try holding any piece. To hold a piece click and hold the element and drag then around the screen. You can grab and move all the pieces.

Trick 2. Drop Them
In addition to the above one, you will see that once you un-grab the elements (by leaving the mouse button) it falls below. Well its like the real world you see, gravity is acting over here.

Trick 3. Hit Them Hard
Its the fun part. Grab any piece and use it to hil others. Fun. Also the size of the element you are using has effect on the force it generates. Try using the logo or the search-bar.

Trick 4. The Pendulum
Hold the Google logo by one of its sides and hold it up and shake it, It starts to oscillate like a pendulum. Try spinning it around!!!

Trick 5. Shake Effects
Restore the window to a smaller size. Now hold the window and try shaking it around. Didn’t expected the elements to move around that way? Well it does!!!

Trick 6. Enlarge Effect
While the window is still restored to a small size, maximize the window and see the elements jump.

Trick 7. It’s Alive
If you have not realized it already, all the elements in the screen is actually working. All the links, buttons, radio-buttons work exactly in the same way they meant to be. Try typing on the search-bar,,,

Trick 8. Search Still Working
This is the one which very few people actually know. Try typing any query into the search-bar and click the search button (or if you cant find it in the debris hit the enter button). WOW! Right? The results are dumped into the screen as if by some invisible hands. Again these links are actual results and are working.

This is what i found when i tried it for my name, check it out:

Humans had sex with now-extinct relatives

Our species may have bred with a now extinct lineage of humanity before leaving Africa, scientists say.
Although we modern humans are now the only surviving lineage of humanity, others once roamed the Earth, making their way out of Africa before our species did, including the familiar Neanderthals in West Asia and Europe and the newfound Denisovans in East Asia. Genetic analysis of fossils of these extinct lineages has revealed they once interbred with modern humans, unions that may have endowed our lineage with mutations that protected them as we began expanding across the world about 65,000 years ago.

Now researchers analyzing the human genome find evidence that our species hybridized with a hitherto unknown human lineage even before leaving Africa, with approximately 2 percent of contemporary African DNA perhaps coming from this lineage. In comparison, recent estimates suggest that Neanderthal DNA makes up 1 percent to 4 percent of modern Eurasian genomes and Denisovan DNA makes up 4 percent to 6 percent of modern Melanesian genomes.

"We need to modify the standard model of human origins in which a single population transitioned to the anatomically modern state in isolation — a garden of Eden somewhere in Africa — and replaced all other archaic forms both within Africa and outside Africa without interbreeding," researcher Michael Hammer, a population geneticist at the University of Arizona in Tucson, told LiveScience. "We now need to consider models in which gene flow occurred over time."

Haplotype hints
Hammer and his colleagues gathered DNA samples from the Center for the Study of Human Polymorphisms in Paris and sequenced about 60 regions of the human genome that apparently have no function. These genes are less subject than functional DNA to change as a result of recent evolutionary pressures driving the survival of the fittest; in such a way, they can give a clearer view of how populations might have mixed or not in the past.

The investigators focused on three populations that presented a good sample of the geographic and cultural diversity of sub-Saharan Africa — Mandenka farmers in western Africa, Biaka Pygmies in west-central Africa, and San Bushmen of southern Africa — looking for unusual patterns that suggested ancient interbreeding with other lineages. This included a hunt for long haplotypes, or sets of DNA sequences, not seen in other modern human groups, the idea being that while short haplotypes could potentially be explained by a few chance mutations within these modern human populations, comparatively long haplotypes were instead likely inherited from a significantly different lineage.
"If interbreeding occurs, it's going to bring in a whole chromosome," Hammer explained. Although this genetic contribution would have dwindled over time, remnants would still exist as shorter, unusual fragments, and "by looking at how long they are, we can get an estimate of how far back the interbreeding event happened." (The longer these odd haplotypes are, the more recently they occurred, having less time to get diminished by other genetic inputs.)

The researchers discovered especially strong evidence for such genetic mixing in the Biaka and San, in the form of a trio of unusual haplotypes. By comparing these sets of genes with those from comparable modern human ones, the investigators estimated the unusual genes may have come from a lineage that first diverged from the ancestors of modern humans about 700,000 years ago. For context, the Neanderthal lineage diverged from ours within the past 500,000 years, while the first signs of anatomically modern human features appeared only about 200,000 years ago.

"The populations that interbred in Africa were on a similar scale of divergence as the expanding modern population and Neanderthals were outside of Africa," Hammer said. "They were similar enough biologically so that they were able to produce fertile offspring, thus allowing genes to flow from one population to the other."
The length of the exotic haplotypes from this extinct lineage suggests interbreeding might still have occurred until as recently as 35,000 years ago."We think there were probably thousands of interbreeding events," Hammer said. "It happened relatively extensively and regularly."

Homeland of extinct lineage
A broader survey of where this trio of exotic haplotypes from this extinct lineage might now be found revealed they could be seen in modern human groups across sub-Saharan Africa, but apparently just one central African population of Pygmies, the Mbuti, had all three. Since this group is relatively isolated from other modern human populations, including other Pygmies, the scientists conjecture that central Africa may have been the homeland of this extinct lineage.

In the future, Hammer's team wants to look at the entire genome sequences of several modern human groups in Africa to get a better picture of how interbreeding might have occurred.
"Did it occur in a single burst in a single locale, or was admixture an ongoing process such that genes were flowing over large geographic distances and long periods of time?" Hammer asked. "This has many implications for how modern humans acquired the features that make them unique."

The researchers also want to look for ancient DNA from this extinct lineage that might have conferred some evolutionary advantage to hybrids with modern humans. This process of modern humans interbreeding with other lineages as they expanded across the world "may have accelerated the evolutionary process by allowing genes that are beneficial in one locale to spread to a new population that has not yet had time to adapt to those new conditions," Hammer said. "This may be a major mode of acquiring novel characteristics and one of the ways that we became the species that we are today."
So far no traces of the haplotypes from this newfound lineage have been seen in modern human groups outside of Africa. However, "we can't be sure until we do a better job of searching for them," Hammer said. "Another question for the future."
The scientists detailed their findings online Sept. 5 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

The Hottest Celebrity Weddings of Summer 2011

A string of celebrity guys and dolls spiced up the summer of 2011 traditional-style by tying the matrimonial knot. Here's a look at a heaping handful of famous ladies and gents who took the plunge into the fabled river of love. And just for fun, we've included a few guesses as to which matches will live on in wedded bliss, and which will probably be over by the time the first Autumn leaf falls.

Rachel Weisz and Daniel Craig

Weisz and Craig pulled off a celebrity rarity on June 22: They got married in New York and managed to elude the prying eyes of the press. In fact, the ultra-private couple --who tended their blossoming relationship far from the usual celeb spotlight-- said I do before just four other people: Weisz's son, Craig's daughter, and two good friends. She beautiful, he's James Bond; what's not to love?  
Brooke burke

America Ferrera and Ryan Piers Williams

June 27 was a beautiful day for Ugly Betty. The actress, 27, donned a spectacular Amsale Aberra gown and tied the knot with her longtime boyfriend at co-star Vanessa Williams' Chappaqua, New York home. So far, so good: The pair has been spotted out and about together since the big day; most recently they were photographed holding hands following an Adele concert in Los Angeles. Ah, newlyweds.

Charlene Wittstock and Prince Albert II of Monaco

Wittstock and her prince made it official on July 1, but they didn't do so under the best of circumstances. Rumors of Prince Albert's alleged infidelity dogged the couple in the days leading up to the ceremony. If Albert doesn't stray and the bride can overlook those pesky bits from the gossip rags, they may have a shot at making in long-term. If not, well, she can always joined Sarah Ferguson's ex-royals club.

Vanessa Minnillo and Nick Lachey

A secret, intimate wedding on a privately owned tropical island? Yes please! The former 98 Degrees frontman transformed the dreams of his girlfriend of five years into reality when the two wed on July 15 before a small group of close friends. The two took the slow lane toward marriage following Lachey's dramatic break-up with first wife Jessica Simpson in 2006, and their future as a couple --and as parents, if they get their wish-- looks bright.

Joy Behar and Steve Janowitz

It took more than 20 years, but the "The View" host and her super-de-duper longtime boyfriend finally tied the knot on August 11, just a few days before fellow co-host Sherri Shepherd's scheduled ceremony. The duo's certainly weathered their share of storms over the course of their lengthy dating life, but will the temperature change with rings in place? Probably not, but keep your eyes peeled.

Brooke Burke and David Charvet
The "Dancing with the Stars" babe and her "Baywatch" beau tied the knot in beautiful St. Barts on August 12. Given that the pretty pair were engaged for a whopping five years and already had two daughters together before getting hitched, the wedding took celebrity watchers by surprise. But hey, they've proven they can make it work as a couple. Chances of long-term survival? They're about as likely to make it as "DWTS" star Maksim Chmerkovskiy is to appear bare-chested on TV this Fall. In other words, it's lookin' good.

Sherri Shepherd and Lamar Sally

After celebrating their engagement the day after Christmas, the happy couple got hitched on August 13 in the Windy City. Before the big day rolled around, this summer 2011 celebrity bride praised her beau for his adoration of her son, age 5. The kid likes him, Sherri likes him. Looks good from here!

Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries
The "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" starlet and her NBA boyfriend got hitched in what gossip rags tried to bill as a wedding to rival that of Prince William and Kate Middleton. Their August 20 ceremony was hardly the stuff of royalty, but it was a star-studded affair attended by big names from the notorious Lindsay Lohan to "DWTS" pro Cheryl Burke. But will the hoops star and the raven-haired gal known primarily for her sex tape and a substantial booty make it? Given the length of their relationship before Humphries put a ring on it, don't count on it: They just don't know each other well enough and will probably enter some seriously rough waters once that newlywed glow fades and reality sets in.

Tara Reid and Zack Keyahov

Kim K and her hubby hardly have a choke-hold on "maybe it's too soon"-style celebrity weddings, though. See if you can keep up with this one. Reid, 35, began dating Danish businessman Michael Lilleund in November of 2010. When the actress Tweeted her happy news to fans following her mid-August nuptials, she didn't specify the groom's name so some media outlets naturally named Lilleund the lucky guy. In reality, Reid got hitched to a dude named Zack Keyahov. (Yeah, we don't know who he is, either.) If your fans can't tell who you've married, your long term chances of success probably aren't all that good.

Hottest hairstyles of 2011

From long Rapunzel braids to retro quiffs, curls or slick middle parts -- this fall's hair trends couldn't be more varied. A style that suits almost everyone is the Brigitte Bardot-inspired 1960s look, with or without a headband.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Next Generation OS: Ubuntu 12.04 LTS

I am back with the latest information on Ubuntu after I discussed what exactly Ubuntu is in my previous article, Windows attracts Viruses while Ubuntu attracts human beings. Ubuntu, currently on the verge of releasing its next version 11.04 "Oneiric Ocelot" has already scheduled the release of its 16th version of Ubuntu, i.e. Ubuntu 12.04. However, the code name for Ubuntu 12.04 has not been decided yet. Normally, Ubuntu releases are give code names using an adjective and an animal with the same first letter. But one thing is for sure,Canonical will release the Long Term Support version of the OS, this makes it Ubuntu 12.04 LTS.
Ubuntu releases are timed to be approximately one month after GNOME releases, which are in turn about one month after releases of X.Org, resulting in each Ubuntu release including a newer version of GNOME and X.

To date every fourth release, in the second quarter of even-numbered years, has been designated as a Long Term Support (LTS) release, indicating that it has updates for three years for desktop use and five years for server, with paid technical support also available from Canonical Ltd.Till now, releases 6.06, 8.04, and 10.04 are the LTS releases. Now its 12.04 that will be the next LTS release.
According to Ubuntu developers, the Ubuntu 12.04 has a new release schedule. There will be two Alpha versions, two Beta versions, then there will be a release of the Release Candidate version and finally the complete version will be released.

The schedule of the release of Ubuntu 12.04 with exact date as proposed by Canonical is as follows:

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Windows attracts Viruses while Ubuntu attracts human beings

"Windows attracts Viruses while Ubuntu attracts human beings".

I have been using windows ever since I saw my first computer. Operating system to a computer is like a soul to a human being. OS is the interpreter between us and the computer hardware. There are a lots of OS in the market that are popularly used like solaris, Linux, windows, mac, etc. I have used almost all kinds of OS available in the market worldwide. There was a time when I wouldn't use anything except windows like any other normal human out there. Then a time came when I would use mac all the time. Now, for the last one year, I have been using Ubuntu, a flavor of Linux. Ubuntu is an open source OS capable of doing anything you make it do. It is named after the Southern African philosophy of Ubuntu ("humanity towards others").

I have tried using each and every version of Ubuntu, every version obviously gets better and less buggy than the earlier. Each version has some flaws and every upcoming version removes the earlier flaws. The basic algorithms behind the screen in Ubuntu always go the same way as they are in windows.  But, if you are into digging the basics, you really should switch to Ubuntu. If you think you can't ever use Linux without knowing the commands, then you are wrong. Ubuntu is almost as user friendly as windows or any other OS. You should definitely give it a try. In comparison to other Linux flavors, there is one thing I like most about Ubuntu, it has a very simple command line interface called BASH, which operates on very simple commands, much simpler than the DOS prompt in windows. You won't believe, when I first started using Linux, it had been just a month and I was already using the basic commands. When you see things happening and giving results in front of your eyes, you really love it.

Ubuntu is a computer operating system based on the Debian GNU/Linux distribution and distributed as free and open source software.Yes, exactly, free of cost. You don't have to pay for any version of Ubuntu or its license. It is absolutely free and widely available over the Internet for free downloading. You can download any version officially from the Ubuntu home page, Now, you must have started thinking about the compatibility of softwares with this OS that you had been using with windows. Almost all softwares being used in windows are readily or alternatively available for Ubuntu through the Ubuntu repositories or other third party repositories. While, some of the softwares which are still unavailable for Ubuntu are under development. The canonical group and other open source societies have been continuously working for making it more and more attractive for every other technical or non technical human being out there. For the unavailable under development softwares, there are applications that provide a cross platform of windows on Ubuntu. Some of these include crossover, playonlinux, citrix client and so on. This is where you stop paying for windows license, and if you are using the pirated copy, you don't need to be against the law anymore. Let me share an incident I came across a few days earlier related to piracy, there is this friend of mine who runs a small IT company. He had some windows running PCs setup in his company. Some of his PCs had pirated windows on them. MS people raided his company and he was charged with a heavy fine for piracy.

The most awesome feature of Ubuntu is “no virus attack at all”. The moment you start using Ubuntu, you get rid of all those PC cracking viruses, malwares and every other wares out there on the net. Your PC becomes as secure as windows can ever be ideally. If you are using windows, and having an Internet connection on your PC, you should have a proper anti-virus installed in order to keep your data safe and prevent your PC from getting hacked. This is where you pay again for the a genuine copy of anti-virus. And if you don't pay for it, you are going against the law using the pirated copy. Now, its time for you to change your OS and rise up with Ubuntu. This is one of the main reasons that defense sectors, IT giants and other government organizations are rapidly migrating from windows to Ubuntu. It has file systems totally different and more secure than windows, i.e. ext3, ext4, that don't offer any kind of security flaws for external anti OS agents.

All these features make this OS so popular. Ubuntu holds an estimated global usage of more than 12 million desktop users, making it the most popular desktop Linux distribution with about 50% of Linux desktop market share. It is fourth most popular on web servers, and its popularity is increasing rapidly. Canonical releases new versions of Ubuntu every six months with commitment to support each release for eighteen months by providing security fixes, patches to critical bugs and minor updates to programs. It was decided that every fourth release, issued on a two-year basis, would receive long-term support (LTS). LTS releases are supported for three years on the desktop and five years on the server.
The latest LTS release is Ubuntu 10.04 (Lucid Lynx), released on 29 April 2010, while the latest normal release is Ubuntu 11.10 (Oneiric Ocelot), released on 4 August 2011.
You must be thinking if Ubuntu is a free OS, where does all the fund for development comes from. Well, Ubuntu is currently funded by Canonical Ltd. On 8 July 2005, Mark Shuttleworth and Canonical Ltd. announced the creation of the Ubuntu Foundation and provided an initial funding of US$10 million. The purpose of the foundation is to ensure the support and development for all future versions of Ubuntu. Mark Shuttleworth describes the foundation as an "emergency fund".
I won't go more technical in this article, as I just wanted to provide just an overview of Ubuntu, its basics, and the benefits. So, by just using this OS, you can decrease the expenses you do for your computer.  I am not against Windows but I have just kept my views why I stopped using windows and started using Ubuntu.

This is how it really is.....

Friday, 26 August 2011

Steve Jobs Resigns As CEO Of Apple

Title says it all. More to come. For now, the letter from Steve Jobs himself:

To the Apple Board of Directors and the Apple Community:
I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come.
I hereby resign as CEO of Apple. I would like to serve, if the Board sees fit, as Chairman of the Board, director and Apple employee.
As far as my successor goes, I strongly recommend that we execute our succession plan and name Tim Cook as CEO of Apple.
I believe Apple’s brightest and most innovative days are ahead of it. And I look forward to watching and contributing to its success in a new role.
I have made some of the best friends of my life at Apple, and I thank you all for the many years of being able to work alongside you.
Update: Apple has confirmed that Apple COO Tim Cook will replace Jobs as CEO, following Jobs’ own recommendation. Considering that Cook has filled in for Jobs in the times of his medical leaves (including the one he has been on this year), this has been widely expected if and when it came time for Jobs to step down.
Also as requested, Jobs has been elected as Chairman of the Board and will remain with the company in that capacity. Cook will join the Board as well.
About the Company:
Started by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne, Apple has expanded from computers to consumer electronics over the last 30 years, officially changing their name from Apple Computer, Inc. to Apple, Inc. in January 2007.
Among the key offerings from Apple’s product line are: Pro line laptops (MacBook Pro) and desktops (Mac Pro), consumer line laptops (MacBook) and desktops (iMac), servers (Xserve), Apple TV, the Mac OS X and Mac OS X Server operating systems, the iPod (offered with up to 120 GB of storage with the iPod classic or with web browsing and touch screen controls with the iPod touch), and the iPhone (now available for sale in over 80 countries).
About Steve Jobs:
Steve Jobs is the co-founder and CEO of Apple and formerly Pixar.
“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” -Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs regularly makes most rosters of the rich and powerful. It is surprising for a guy who takes home an annual salary of U.S. $1. The reasons why he is on all power lists are; Apple, Next, iPod and Pixar. Jobs is also known as the one man who could have upstaged Bill Gates. But Jobs was as excited about innovation as Bill Gates was interested in making money.
Steve Jobs was born in Green Bay, Wisconsin to Joanne Simpson and a Syrian father Abdulfattah Jandali (who became a political science professor). Paul and Clara Jobs of Mountain View, Santa Clara County, California then adopted him. The writer Mona Simpson is Jobs’ biological sister. In 1972, Jobs graduated from Homestead High School in Cupertino, California and enrolled in Reed College in Portland, Oregon. One semester later he had dropped out. But instead of going back home he hung around college and took up the study of philosophy and foreign cultures.
Steve Jobs had a deep-seated interest in technology so he took up a job at Atari Inc. which was a leading manufacturer of video games. He struck a friendship with fellow designer Steve Wozniak and attended meetings of the “Homebrew Computer Club” with him. Wozniak and Jobs developed a system with a toy whistle available in the Cap’n Crunch cereal box to make it possible to make free long distance telephone calls. They called off the amateur venture after someone told them of the possible legal consequences.
After saving up some money Steve Jobs took off for India in the search of enlightenment with his friend Dan Kottke. Once he returned he convinced Wozniak to quit his job at Hewlett Packard and join him in his venture that concerned personal computers. They sold items like a scientific calculator to raise the seed capital.
In 1976, Jobs, then 21, and Wozniak, 26, founded Apple Computer Co. in the Jobs family garage. The first personal computer was sold for $666.66. By 1980, Apple had already released three improved versions of the personal computer. It had a wildly successful IPO, which made both founders millionaires many times over. Steve Jobs had managed to rope in John Scully of Pepsi to head the marketing function in Apple.
A tiff with the Apple board and John Scully led to the resignation of Steve Jobs. As soon as he resigned he immersed himself in his brand new venture. Steve Jobs decided that he wanted to change the hardware industry. The company was called NeXTStep and the new machine was called NeXT Computer. He ploughed in more than U.S. $250 million into the company. The machine was a commercial washout but it did help in object-oriented programming, PostScript, and magneto-optical devices. Tim Berners-Lee developed the original World Wide Web system at CERN on a NeXT machine. Bitterly disappointed with NeXTStep, Jobs accepted the offer that Apple made him.
Steve Jobs also started Pixar Inc., which has gone on to produce animated movies such as Toy Story (1995); A Bug’s Life (1998); Toy Story 2 (1999); Monsters, Inc. (2001); Finding Nemo (2003); and The Incredibles (2004). This venture has made him one of the most sought after men in Hollywood.
Post Pixar, Steve Jobs wanted another round of revolutionizing to do. This time it was the music industry. He introduced the iPod in 2003. Later he came up with iTunes, which was a digital jukebox. A million and a half iPods later, the music industry still does not know whether this invention will save it or destroy it. Apple has a great advertising track record and its ‘Rip, Mix, Burn’ campaign was another feather in its cap. Now the industry uses a Mac to make the music and an iPod to store it.
Steve Jobs lives with his wife, Laurene Powell and their three children in Silicon Valley. He also has a daughter, Lisa Jobs from a previous relationship. In 2004, there was a cancerous tumor in his pancreas, which was successfully operated upon. Jobs continued to struggle with his health, and in 2009 he underwent a successful liver transplant.
Jobs resigned as CEO of Apple in August 2011 and subsequently assumed the role of Chairman of the Board.

Surprising Facts About Steve Jobs & Apple

It's safe to say most investors are well acquainted with the charisma, drive, and brilliance of Steve Jobs. He's the most well-known CEO in the world, and arguably the best too. His announced resignation as Apple CEO is not unexpected, but is still being met with some degree of shock. Here's a short list of facts (not opinions) about Jobs and Apple that are truly surprising.
1) Not A Single Downgrade Today
Jobs' resignation is arguably the worst news out of Apple (AAPL) in years and the Wall Street crowd didn't even blink. 49 out of 51 analysts currently rate Apple a "BUY" with an average price target of $497 a share (according to Factset Data), which is roughly 32% above yesterday's closing price. The Jobs shocker was met not with a flurry of downgrades and panic selling, but rather with a chorus of reiterations and calls to buy on any weakness.
2) Jobs' Stake in Disney Is Twice As Big As His Slice of Apple
As a result of his Pixar sale, Steve Jobs owns 7.4% of Disney (DIS), or 138 million shares, worth roughly $4.5 billion. At the same time, his latest disclosed stake in Apple of 5.5 million shares, represents roughly 0.5% of the total float and is worth about $2.1 billion. His stake in Apple doesn't even make him a top 20 shareholder. In Disney, Jobs' is the top shareholder. His stake is way above Fidelity, Blackrock, State Street, and Vanguard which own chunks ranging from 3 to 4.5%.
3) Apple Gets Sued Almost Every Day
When you have grown to $350 billion in market value with a massive global reach, it is safe to say that you are a large target with deep pockets. In just August alone, 13 lawsuits have been disclosed pertaining to privacy violations in South Korea, class action in the US, numerous patent challenges, as well as a claim of price fixing.
4) Apple Has Not Missed A Quarterly Estimate in Nearly 9 Years
According to Factset, Apple has "beat the street" for 35 consecutive quarters - the longest streak of any company in the S&P 500 except for Cognizant Technology (CTSH). And speaking of earnings, the $7.3 billion net income Apple reported in July made it the largest contributor to earnings growth in the S&P 500 for the 2nd quarter. With Apple, S&P 500 earnings were up 11.8% in Q2. Without it, S&P 499 earnings would have risen only 10.0%.
5) Apple Has Not Traded Under $100 a Share Since March 18, 2009
What's even more astounding is that on a split adjusted basis, (there have been 3) Apple's IPO price is $2.75 a share. For the record, the actual IPO was done on December 12, 1980 at $22.00 a share. If you bought 1,000 shares of the Apple IPO, your $22,000 investment would be worth $2.9 million today.
6) Steve Jobs Personally Holds Over 300 Patents
According to the New York Times, it's actually 313 patents. But what is more telling is the amount that some of his billionaire tech peers have: 9 for Bill Gates and about a dozen for Sergei Brin and Larry Page. Most of Jobs' patents are tech-related, but the Apple founder even holds a patent for a glass staircase.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Ubuntu 11.04 vs Ubuntu 11.10

Canonical's Ubuntu 11.04 "Natty Narwhal" has been widely used and adopted by the open source lovers throughout the world. But, these days Ubuntu 11.10 "Oneiric Ocelot” is occupying much of the Linux world's attention though it is still in the development phase. Recently the Alpha3 version of Ubuntu 11.10 has been released. There has been many changes since the first version of Ubuntu. And obviously, every next version gets better than earlier. Many of the applications in Ubuntu 11.10 are similar to that of 11.04, but some of them have been replaced by some better options that might surely rule coming versions of Ubuntu and the world of open source. Lets have a look at some of these application.

1. Desktop Environment
The classic GNOME desktop will reportedly no longer be included on the default Ubuntu CD, while Qt-based Unity 2D for lower-end PCs will switch to using Compiz rather than Metacity, The H reports. Meanwhile, the 11.10 Alpha3 version is now powered by the latest stable version of Linux kernel 3.0 and the GNOME 3.1.4 desktop environment.

2. Evolution or Thunderbird?
For email, Ubuntu 11.04 has been using Evolution as the mail client. However, Ubuntu 11.10 is still on track to include Evolution, the Ubuntu standard. There are chances, that Mozilla Thunderbird will remain the default mail client until the final release of Ubuntu 11.10 as it has been included in Alpha3 release of Ubuntu 11.10. The current version of Mozilla Thunderbird included in the package is 6.0.

3. LibreOffice: Yes or No?
There are chances that LibreOffice might be dropped from the default Ubuntu 11.10 final release CD, due to the space restrictions on the Ubuntu CD, with the result that attempts are being made to find a way to free up more room. While another alternative is to package the operating system on two CDs or one DVD instead. But the Alpha3 version of 11.10 has LibreOffice included in the package.

4. Firefox upgraded
There is a possibility that Firefox might be replaced by Google's Open source browser, Chromium in the final release of Ubuntu 11.10. But the currently released Alpha3 version has Firefox 6.0 as compared to the Firefox 4 used in 11.04. There have been several bugs in firefox along with the java compatibility issues which creates problem running the Java enabled sites.

5. An improved Unity
Natty Narwhal's new, notebook-derived Unity interface has been met with considerable hesitation on the part of some Ubuntu users, but apparently the next version will include a revised version of the desktop shell. The Unity launcher will see its quicklist functionality improved and icons in the launcher will be able to display count badges or progress meters to reflect the state of the underlying application.

6. Enhanced Ubuntu Software Center
This is one of the Ubuntu's best features. It fills up a huge gap between the Ubuntu OS and the users that are very much unfamiliar with the CLI. The final 11.10 release is supposed to get a number of enhancements, including improved integration with Unity and a simplified user interface like 11.10 Alpha3 has Ubuntu Software Center with a new "top rated" views feature to all the subcategory pages and the main category page. Moreover, installing individual deb files is a lot faster now.

7. Déjà Dup included as backup utility
The Déjà Dup utility will be included by default for backup purposes. The backup tool might also get online accounts backup like Gmail or Flickr, backup the package list, a backup browser which will allow you to browse through all the files you've backed up as well as an option to backup specific applications.

8. Removal of Computer Janitor and PiTiVi
Computer Janitor is supposedly going to be dropped in Ubuntu 11.10, and it sounds like the PiTiVi video editor will be, too. Both software packages are said to have too many bugs which leads them to be dropped.

9. LightDM to replace GDM
Ubuntu 11.04 has been using GDM. Switching from GNOME Display Manager to the lighter-weight LightDM will allow login screens to be themed using HTML, CSS and JavaScript. This means the OS is going to be even more Open. Moreover, the old ALT+Tab functionality has been replaced with CTRL+Tab one, the launcher and panel perform better, and the indicator stack is ported to GTK3.

The final version of Ubuntu 11.10 is dated to be release in October. I have been desperately waiting for it.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Java 7 Vs. Java 8

Java 7 (codename Dolphin) is a major update to Java which was launched on July 7 of 2011 and was made available on July 28, 2011.The development period was organized into thirteen milestones; on February 18, 2011, milestone 13, the last milestone was reached.On average 8 builds, which generally included enhancements and bug fixes, were released per milestone. The Feature list at the Open JDK 7 project lists many of the feature changes.

The feature additions for Java 7:

  • JVM support for dynamic languages, following the prototyping work currently done on the Multi Language Virtual Machine
  • Compressed 64-bit pointers Available in Java 6 with -XX:+UseCompressedOops
  • Language changes:
  • Strings in switch
  • Automatic resource management in try-statement
  • Improved Type Inference for Generic Instance Creation
  • Simplified Varargs Method Invocation
  • Binary integer literals
  • Allowing underscores in numeric literals
  • Catching Multiple Exception Types and Rethrowing Exceptions with Improved Type Checking
  • Concurrency utilities under JSR 166 
  •  New file I/O library to enhance platform independence and add support for metadata and symbolic links. The new packages are java.nio.file and java.nio.file.attribute
  • Library-level support for Elliptic curve cryptography algorithms 
  •  An XRender pipeline for Java 2D, which improves handling of features specific to modern GPUs
  • New platform APIs for the graphics features originally planned for release in Java version 6u10
  • Enhanced library-level support for new network protocols, including SCTP and Sockets Direct Protocol
  • Upstream updates to XML and Unicode
Lambda, Jigsaw, and part of Coin were dropped from Java 7.

Java 8 is expected in October 2012 and will include at a minimum the features that were planned for Java 7 but later deferred.

  • Modularization of the JDK under Project Jigsaw
  • Language-level support for lambda expressions (officially, lambda expressions; unofficially, closures) under Project Lambda. There was an ongoing debate in the Java community on whether to add support for lambda expressions. Sun later declared that lambda expressions would be included in Java 8 and asked for community input to refine the feature.
  • Parts of project Coin that are not included in Java 7
The Java SE 8 Platform Specification will build upon the Java Language Specification, the Java Virtual Machine Specification, and the Java SE APIs defined in Java SE 7. The Platform Specification does not itself define new features, or enhancements to existing specifications; rather, it enumerates features and enhancements defined in component JSRs or through the JCP maintenance process. The Java SE 8 Platform Specification will aim to support the creation of maintainable, scalable, and high-performance Java applications across a range of computing environments.

"Java 8 is supposed to set the scene for the cloud, for a wider deployment arena," said Mark Little, senior director of engineering for Red Hat's middleware business, as well as Red Hat's primary liaison for the JCP. Oracle left out many of the advanced features planned for Java 7 in order not to further delay the release, he noted. Those releases may very well be included in Java 8. At least two of those features will prove instrumental in making the next version of Java ready for wide-scale cloud deployment, Little said. One is multitenancy, or the ability for the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) to safely run multiple applications. The other is modularity, or a reorganization of the JDK (Java Development Kit) into a set of cleanly defined though interdependent modules.

In many ways, Java 8 will be the true test of how Oracle manages a complex open-source project, one with many contributors from so many competing interests.

Beetel Magiq tab $99 Vs. HP Touchpad 16gb tab $99

Beetel, a part of Bharti Group (Airtel) has launched Beetel Magiq which is a 3G Google Android tablet and becomes the second Indian company to launch an Android tablet after OlivePad by Olive Telecom.
Beetel Magiq tablet has got impressive 7 inches capacitive touchscreen with 800 x 480 pixel resolution. It will have the Android Froyo operating system although the Honeycomb 3.0 OS would have made it ideal for tablets PCs. It’s powered by a 1 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor which enables high-speed processing and has got various connectivity options including the 3G HSDPA connectivity, Wireless LAN connectivity and support of EDGE through GPRS. It also includes a mini USB port for PC connectivity and USB charging.
For pictures and video recording on Beetel Magiq can be processed with the inclusion of 2 mega pixel rear camera with HD video recording and image quality of 1600 x 1200 pixels. Also included is the front camera with VGA quality can be used for video chat and video calls as 3G in India supports video calls.
The Beetel Magiq comes with 8 GB internal memory which is good thing when it comes today’s generation tablet. If that memory is not enough for you then you have pick one micro SD card, insert in the card slot provided (expandable up to 16 Gb) and you can store a large amount of data on this external SD card.
Provided with 2200 mAh battery, it offers excellent battery life to make it useful for all of your day’s activity mix of video calls, video playback, messaging, browsing and chatting.
On the other hand, talking about HP touchpad 16gb, which is now available for just the same price as Beetel Magiq,i. e. $99 on sale doesn't run Honeycomb software, like most other tablets. Instead, it offers a smooth webOS user interface, a great Internet browser and some booming Beats speakers. Unfortunately, it also suffers from comparatively terrible battery life, a chubby case and a severe lack of apps. It neither have 3G connectivity -- just Wi-Fi. It has a rounded, shiny plastic body. We like this approach on HP's phones, because it makes them fit in the hand like a smooth pebble. Unfortunately, its rounded back makes the TouchPad look larger than it needs to be, and rather tubby compared to the sleek iPad 2.
The TouchPad measures 190 by 230 by 14mm and weighs 770g. The iPad 2 measures 186 by 241 by 9mm and weighs 601g. Despite both having a 9.7-inch screen, then, the TouchPad feels heftier in the hand.When it comes to what's inside, we're happy that HP has stuck to Palm's path. WebOS is a fabulous operating system -- something proven by the fact that many features have been shamelessly ripped off by other manufacturers.Multitasking, in particular, is well handled. It all takes place on the home screen, which is easy to access via either a swiping gesture from the bottom of the screen, or the home button -- the only button on the front of the TouchPad.
When it comes to the applications, not only are there far fewer apps available for the TouchPad than for its tablet competitors, the app store also proves flaky at times.When it comes to backing up, the TouchPad is the king of the cloud. We already had an account with Palm's cloud service and, now that HP has taken the company over, we were able to log into the tablet and pull down all of our account settings from our old phone.
But beware -- you must have access to a Wi-Fi network to sign in for the first time, and you can't do anything with the TouchPad until you've done that.You can't charge the TouchPad using just any micro-USB cable, either. Like most tablets, it needs more voltage than a typical cable can provide.The TouchPad needs all the power it can get. Unlike some of its competitors, this tablet only lasted just over a day with normal use. While we can stuff the iPad 2 in a drawer and come back to it weeks later to find it still going strong, the TouchPad didn't last a weekend snoozing in our cabinet.
HP TouchPad is up against some serious challengers in its bid to become the titan of tablets. It has some mighty weapons at its disposal, in the form of an attractive user interface, top-notch speakers, and a cracking Web browser. But it will suffer some mortal wounds due to its lack of apps, poor battery life, chubby plastic case and occasionally flaky software while Beetel Magiq is a good tablet with Android Froyo OS, 1 Ghz processor, 2 Mega pixel camera, 3G and longer battery life. It’s priced at Rs 8900 and it becomes the cheapest Android tablets available in the market as most of the Android tablets are priced more than Rs 12,000.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Friday, 19 August 2011

Anna Hazare

 Kisan Baburao Hazare is an Indian social activist who is recognised for his participation in the 2011 Indian anti-corruption movement, using nonviolent methods following the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi.Hazare also contributed to the development and structuring of Ralegan Siddhi, a village in Parner taluka of Ahmednagar district, Maharashtra, India. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan, the third-highest civilian award—by the Government of India in 1992 for his efforts in establishing this village as a model for others.

Anna Hazare started a hunger strike on 5 April 2011 to exert pressure on the Indian government to enact a strict anti-corruption law as envisaged in the Jan Lokpal Bill, for the institution of an ombudsman with the power to deal with corruption in public offices. The fast led to nation-wide protests in support of Hazare. The fast ended on 9 April 2011, the day after the government accepted Hazare's demands. The government issued a gazette notification on the formation of a joint committee, constituted of government and civil society representatives, to draft the legislation.

Anna has been featured as the most influential person in Mumbai by a national daily newspaper.He has faced criticism by political commentators for his authoritarian views on justice, including death as punishment for corrupt public officials and support for forced vasectomies as a method of family planning.

Early Life

Kisan Hazare was born on 15 June 1937 in Bhingar, a small village near the city of Hinganghat, in Bombay Province (present-day Maharashtra). Kisan's father, Baburao Hazare, worked as an unskilled labourer in Ayurveda Ashram Pharmacy. Kisan's grandfather was working for the army in Bhingar, when he was born. The grandfather died in 1945, but Baburao continued to stay at Bhingar. In 1952, Baburao resigned from his job and returned to his own village, Ralegan Siddhi. Kisan had six younger siblings and the family faced significant hardships. Kisan's childless aunt offered to look after him and his education, and took him to Mumbai. Kisan studied up to the seventh standard in Mumbai and then sought employment, due to the economic situation in his household. He started selling flowers at Dadar to support his family. He soon started his own shop and brought two of his brothers to Bombay.

Military Service

In 1962, events in South Asia meant that large-scale army recruitments were being undertaken. Despite not meeting the physical requirements, 25-year-old Hazare was selected, as emergency recruitment was taking place in the Indian Army.After training at Aurangabad in Maharashtra he started his career in the Indian Army as a driver in 1963.During the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, Hazare was posted at the border in the Khem Karan sector. On 12 November 1965, Pakistan launched air attacks on Indian bases, and all of Hazare's comrades were killed; he was the only survivor of that convoy. It was a close shave for Hazare as one bullet had passed by his head.He was driving a truck.This led him to dwell on the purpose and meaning of life and death. He came across a small booklet titled "Call to the youth for nation building" by Swami Vivekananda in a book stall at the New Delhi railway station.He realized that saints sacrificed their own happiness for that of others, and that he needed to work towards ameliorating the sufferings of the poor. He started to spend his spare time reading the works of Vivekananda, Gandhi, and Vinoba Bhave.During the mid-1970s, he again survived a road accident while driving.It was at that particular moment that Hazare took an oath to dedicate his life to the service of humanity, at the age of 38.He took voluntary retirement from the army in 1978.

In 1978 after a voluntary retirement from the Indian army, Hazare went to his native village Ralegan Siddhi, a village located in the acute drought-prone and rain-shadow zone of Parner Tehsil of Ahmadnagar district, in central Maharashtra.It was one of the many villages of India plagued by acute poverty, deprivation, a fragile ecosystem, neglect and hopelessness. Hazare made remarkable economic, social and community regeneration in Ralegan Siddhi. He reinforced the normative principles of human development – equity, efficiency, sustainability and people's participation and made Ralegan Siddhi an oasis of human-made regeneration in a human-made desert without any inputs of industrialisation and technology-oriented agriculture.


Right to Information movement

In the early 2000s Hazare led a movement in Maharashtra state which forced the state government to pass a stronger Maharashtra Right to Information Act. This Act was later considered as the base document for the Right to Information Act 2005 (RTI), enacted by the Union Government. It also ensured that the President of India assented to this new Act.Law professor Alasdair Scott Roberts said:
The state of Maharashtra – home to one of the world's largest cities, Mumbai, adopted a Right to Information Act in 2003, prodded by the hunger strike of prominent activist, Anna Hazare. ("All corruption can end only if there is freedom of information," said Hazare, who resumed his strike in February 2004 to push for better enforcement of the Act).
On 20 July 2006 the Union Cabinet amended the Right to Information Act 2005 to exclude the file noting by the government officials from its purview. Hazare began his fast unto death on 9 August 2006 in Alandi against the proposed amendment. He ended his fast on 19 August 2006, after the government agreed to change its earlier decision.

 Lokpal Bill movement

In 2011, Hazare initiated a Satyagraha movement for passing a stronger anti-corruption Lokpal (ombudsman) bill in the Indian Parliament as conceived in the Jan Lokpal Bill (People's Ombudsman Bill). The Jan Lokpal Bill was drafted earlier by N. Santosh Hegde, former justice of the Supreme Court of India and Lokayukta of Karnataka, Prashant Bhushan, a senior lawyer in the Supreme Court and Arvind Kejriwal, a social activist along with members of the India Against Corruption movement. This draft bill incorporated more stringent provisions and wider power to the Lokpal (Ombudsman) than the draft Lokpal bill prepared by the government in 2010.

Firefox 8 Vs. Chrome 15

Following the recent release of the new-improved Chrome 14 Google is preparing for the release of yet another version. Chromium 15.0 was released on 28 July 2011, with 15.0.837.0 as the initial version. Chromium is the open source browser project on which Chrome is based. As a result the release of Chrome 15 expected early September. It is expected to bring even more fine tuning to the Chrome browser. Google hopes to steal some of the limelight from the ever popular Firefox. Both Mozilla and Google have been releasing subsequent versions of their web browsers in quick succession. But up until now Firefox has fought off all previous Chrome versions. So will Chrome 15 have enough to really challenge Firefox?

According to those in the know Chrome 15 will improve the profile feature and synchronization by relocating the synchronization function into the main menu and adding an efficient profile manager. By improving these areas it provides users with a more personalized browsing environment. Chrome 15 offers users more choice in terms of customization within the profile feature, combining Google accounts, apps and add-ons. But developers need to be careful when offering too much choice. There is nothing more frustrating than an over complicated user experience. Admittedly the encrypted data itself used in synchronization is more secure due to changes in the latest Chromium 15.

Google Chrome 16 is expected around a month after the release of version 15 (October 17). Such frequent releases seem to be rather superficial given the fact that substantial issues with previous versions are not always resolved in later releases. Chrome is going for all out development at a phenomenal rate. Over frequent releases would be more bearable if developers at Google were actually listening to user’s demands. Instead they appear to be developing in a manor that is not user-focused enough. The frequency of releases leads to the problem of compatibility issues, meaning it lacks support for a number of websites. Another problem is that Chrome’s over complicated user experience, it remains best in its simplest form. But that is a form in which it cannot compete with the comprehensive Firefox.

Chrome has always placed a lot of emphasis on speed. In Chrome 15 Google continues by focusing on pre-rendering, in particular location bar pre-rendering which allows for instant URL shortcutting. But again not everyone enjoys suggested targets appearing instantly. Users should not be forced into a Chrome browsing experience, but lured into it. Google must not over step the mark. Chrome://media-internals looks set to be interesting feature by allowing users to identify which tab has running media (video, audio etc.). It can be a nightmare task when running multiple tabs.

Firefox 8, which only just appeared on the Nightly channel, is already 20% faster than Firefox 5 in almost every metric: start up, session restore, first paint, JavaScript execution, and even 2D canvas and 3D WebGL rendering. The memory footprint of Firefox 7 (and thus 8) has also been drastically reduced, along with much-needed improvements to garbage collection.

While comparison with other browsers has become a little passe in recent months — they’re all so damn similar! — it’s worth noting that Firefox 8 is as fast or faster than the latest Dev Channel build of Chrome 14. Chrome’s WebGL implementation is still faster, but with Azure, Firefox’s 2D performance is actually better than Chrome. JavaScript performance is also virtually identical.

The only real difference now between Chrome and Firefox (and Internet Explorer 9) is the fancy, Googlesque speculative pre-resolution of DNS and pre-loading of websites. Mozilla can spend the next year improving Firefox’s rendering speeds, but the negotiation and downloading of websites is always going to be the slowest part of surfing the web — and that’s where Google Chrome truly excels. Firefox might be fast, but Chrome feels fast.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

One month with Google+: why this social network has legs

If you're a stranger who follows me on Google+, you might think I rarely use the service. That's because the majority of my posts have been limited to the seven circles I created for friends, acquaintances, family, Ars staffers, and other people I like to expose to various aspects of my personality. You had no idea? That's exactly the point.
After one month with Google+, it's clear to me that this—sending updates to certain groups of people and not to others—is the main appeal of the service. I was one of the first people to loudly declare that you can do the same thing on Facebook, but so few people know this that it's basically a nonexistent feature; that's the problem with Facebook. With Google+, sending out certain updates to some people and other updates to other people is right at the forefront of the experience. You are always asked to make a conscious decision about your social circles and about which circles get to see which posts.
Some people don't like this approach. I do, but it took a while. Truth be told, I was a fierce skeptic of Google+ when it was first announced, and I wasn't pleased at the idea of using it every day for a month. (Every singleday?) As the Ars forums might say, Google+ was Yet Another Social Network (YASN), and one led by the company behind the spectacular privacy failure that was Google Buzz. Google's previous social network, Orkut, failed to impress (at least, in the US), and the prospect of dedicating my time to YASN wherein I would interact with the same people I already know through Facebook or Twitter was not appealing.
But Google+ has grown on me. Despite some of its latest struggles, I think Google has a leg to stand on with its latest social venture.

What Google+ has going for it

Because most of us like to frame the unfamiliar with the familiar, let's get the necessary comparison out of the way first: Google+ occupies a space somewhere between Facebook and Twitter, but I think it falls closer to the former. Features match Facebook in many ways, but it's the implementation and presentation that makes them starkly different.
Let's start with posts and Circles—the core functionality of Google+. Posts themselves translate to Facebook wall posts or to tweets, while Google's "+1" button translates to Facebook's "Like" button.
Google+'s Circles translate to Facebook's lists but not to Groups (I'll go more into that later). Google+ prompts users to categorize every single person in their life into some sort of Circle, and those people won't be able to see any of your non-public posts unless you do so.
On Facebook, lists are virtually unknown (and are in the process of being supplanted by Facebook Groups) and Facebook users are subconsciously pushed toward public disclosure thanks to default settings and the general UI. Google+ takes the opposite approach; the predominant thought when you go to make a Google+ post is, "Who exactly will see this?"
Because Google+ pushes the Circles so hard, divvying up your posts among different groups of people is at the forefront of the experience. Those who find this laborious tend to be heavy Facebook users, which is understandable—they're not used to facing this decision every time they make a post, and it's undoubtedly annoying to them. But for those of us who have always been trying to find ways to share information with friends while limiting exposure to others, Circles can be a blessing. Simply forcing users to always think about the distribution of their posts is in itself good for privacy.
The area where you choose which circles get to see your post is prominent and colorful; it's right out in front, unlike Facebook.
Compare this to Twitter. Some people like to maintain two (or more) Twitter accounts in order to separate out different aspects of their lives. This has been going on since the beginning of Twitter, but seems to have increased in recent years over increased awareness about privacy. Someone might have a private account for close personal friends but still maintain a public account for everyone else; someone else might have an account for just his own musings while maintaining a second for links he wants to share. 
This is an imperfect solution, and it quickly becomes cumbersome to manage more than one Twitter account. (While using Circles may be a tiny bit tedious, it's no comparison to this kind of account switching.) Google+, on the other hand, allows you to maintain a single, unified account where you don't have to switch between log-ins. I can share a link to a story I wrote with one Circle while talking about some of my life concerns with another, more intimate circle, and the two don't have to cross if I don't want them to.
Even better is Google's tool that lets you see your own profile page from another user's perspective. Want to make sure your mother can't see a post you made about puking at the bar? Type in her name (assuming she has a Google profile—if she doesn't, then she's just public) and see which of your posts show up for her. Or say you have a post about sex toys (gasp!) and you don't want the big boss to see. You may know in your heart of hearts that you marked that post friends-only, but if you want to confirm it, you can. I plugged in mybig boss to show you what this looks like:
The red bar shows who I am seeing my profile as, so that I can verify which posts that person can or can't see.
The tool is simple but effective, and it can certainly help to head off embarrassing over-sharing. In fact, while taking the above screenshot, I discovered that I had accidentally added a (very) loose acquaintance to my "Close Friends" group instead of to the "Acquaintance" group, allowing him to see some of my more private observations. That was a very helpful discovery.
There are other benefits, too. There's no character limit to Google+ posts, meaning that you have much more freedom than the 140 characters allowed by Twitter and—I didn't even know this before writing this article—the 400 character limit imposed by Facebook. This provides the freedom to treat Google+ like a blog, but most people don't (yet) do so, and it's not particularly annoying at this point. I have already used Google+ over Twitter several times for the express purpose of asking longer questions of the general public.
Don't want to hear about this post anymore? No problem: just mute it.

Content controls

There's also the (wondrous) ability to "mute" posts on Google+. You know how you "Like" a friend's photo on Facebook, only to get alerts for every single one of that person's 300 family members when they end up commenting on the picture and arguing over whose body part is in the corner? Imagine if you could simply hit a button to ensure that you never have to hear about that post ever again—even if it's your own post. We're not talking about blocking certain users—sometimes you want to keep a person around, but you just don't want to hear about a topic anymore. That's a huge bonus to Google+, and those I've spoken to agree that it's one of the better unsung features of the service.
Access this menu by clicking the little dot/gear next to your post.
Google+ also offers the ability to re-share posts made by others. Twitter's retweet feature is similar, where the other person's content shows up in your own feed as something that you have "forwarded" onto your own followers. This in itself is handy, but Google+ takes it a step further by also offering options not to allow re-sharing (say you make a private post to a small group of people and you don't want those people re-sharing your thoughts to their own friends). The same goes for comments—comments on every post are on by default, but you can turn them off for any specific post if you simply don't want to hear from the peanut gallery this time around.
Google presents its options in a way that acknowledges organization (and thus, privacy) first, whereas Facebook acknowledges organization and privacy as an afterthought, while organization barely exists for Twitter and privacy is an all-or-nothing venture. Google+ also has other neat features, such as the video-based Hangouts that let multiple users get together online and watch things like YouTube videos in an Internet group setting. Though I don't consider Hangouts to be a core reason to use Google+, plenty of users seem to like it, so good for them.

What the competition has going for it

Google+ is not the end-all, be-all of social networks—and Twitter or Facebook have their own strengths.
Facebook Groups are good for actual groups of people, all of which have equal input into a shared "room."
To take one example, although Facebook lists have some of the same functionality as Google+ Circles, Facebook also has Groups, which sort of have the same end goal but operate much differently. Facebook Groups essentially act like a private "room" in which a group of people can share things. For example, if you're familiar with Facebook events, it's like having an event page where everyone who was invited can leave comments and share items, but without the party attached. Everyone is on equal ground when they are invited to be part of a Facebook Group; it functions like your own private group wall.
This is especially handy for actual groups (as in, not just your clique), such as book clubs or running groups—people who want a centralized place for just themselves to share information, links, commentary, etc., and for everyone to have the opportunity to share equally.
Compare that to Circles (or to Facebook lists), where you create the list of people and then you make posts that go out to those specific people. People in your Google+ Circle cannot make posts that go out to the other members of your Circle unless they create their own Circle that mirrors yours. And if they create their own Circles, there may be other members in those Circles who aren't necessarily included in your Circle on the same topic. This is an obvious downside to Circles and an upside to Facebook Groups for sharing among members of a group.
Most importantly, what both Facebook and Twitter have is what every social network needs to succeed: a wide and active audience. Google+ is seeing a respectable amount of success—certainly much more success than any other new social network has seen in years—but there are plenty of reasons why the masses will remain at their old haunts for a while. Many people stick to Facebook because that's where their real-life friends and family members are, and that's a perfectly valid reason to stay. The same goes for Twitter: people use it to blast observations and information to their followers in a quick-moving and bite-sized manner, and that's exactly why it has been so successful.
Neither of these services will be displaced in the immediate future by Google+, and most Google+ users still use one or both of the others as their "main" social network. That goes for me, too.

But Google+ will stick around

During my month of using Google+ every day, I've already seen signs that the initial rush to check the service out has ended—there's less activity now than there was, say, during its first two weeks. But what's also clear is that a core base seems to be sticking around, and I believe they'll remain long enough to see Google+ establish itself as one of the main networks that Real People™ actually use.
Yes, Google+ has already run into a number of issues in its first month—there was a weekend recently in which a plethora of accounts were swiftly and mysteriously deleted, and it was only revealed later that Google was attempting to enforce a "real name" rule that many people didn't know about. There were also some transparency and consistency issues that turned the whole episode into a minor debacle.
Google+ could also use improvement. For example, the notifications menu on the Web app is borderline useless, communicating as little information as possible while constantly bugging you at the top of nearly every Google-related Web app in existence. (Really? Google can't even give me a hint about which post my friend commented on before I click? There's an awful lot of space where that information could live.) Then, when you click on any item in the list, the entire list marks itself as read! Could this menu and its functionality be any more frustrating?
But such problems are growing pains. Google seems to be taking this project more seriously than some of its other recent efforts, and the company has said multiple times—to the media and on Google+ itself—that it is listening closely to user feedback. Additionally, the company has said that it has plans to expand Google+ support throughout its other services; this is just the beginning.
However, the most important thing for Google to do right now is to retain its current audience and keep the momentum going. Enough people use Google+ and say enough good new things about it that it could establish itself as a legitimate alternative to Facebook, but fickle users can easily be driven away by boredom at this early stage. So long as Google+ keeps improving, it should be okay; if it implements some of the suggestions thrown out by its users, it could be more than okay.
As for me, I have always used Twitter (lots) more than Facebook, and I have always been a little allergic to other services. I still use Twitter the most, but now I use Google+ on a regular basis and Facebook barely at all. Even the thought of going to Facebook seems a little old-fashioned to me when I could be using Google+.
Google+ has legs. Now it's up to Google to see how far it can run.