Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Firefox 4 Is Better Than Microsoft Internet Explorer 9: 10 Reasons Why -

Firefox 4 Is Better Than Microsoft Internet Explorer 9: 10 Reasons Why -

It didn't take long for Mozilla's Firefox 4 to gain immense popularity. As of this writing, millions of people have downloaded the new browser and by the look of things, its appeal to Web users has yet to slow down. By all measures, Firefox 4 seems to be on top of its game, and it's ready to take on its many competitors in the browser market.

But now that Firefox 4 is out to compete against Internet Explorer 9, some people are undoubtedly wondering which browser they should go with. On one hand, Firefox 4 seems to deliver some neat new features and much faster speeds. But Internet Explorer 9 is vastly improved over its predecessor. In other words, at first glance, it's not an easy choice.

However, as people dig more into the differences between Internet Explorer 9 and Firefox 4, one thing becomes abundantly clear: Mozilla's option is better.

Read on to find out why:

1. A better design

One of the major improvements to both Internet Explorer and Firefox has been better designs. Both browsers feature a slimmed-down interface that will likely appeal to more users. But Firefox 4's design is a little bit better. It looks somewhat similar to Opera 11 and delivers much better menu designs. A change to how tabs are displayed—on top by default—is also a welcome addition. One can easily go on about all the changes made to Firefox 4, but suffice it to say that its interface tops Internet Explorer 9 in usability and aesthetic appeal.

2. Stability
Microsoft has said time and again that Internet Explorer 9 is the most stable browser it has released yet. And that's certainly the case. But so far, Firefox 4 seems to be a tad more stable. One of the key reasons for that is the browser's ability to continue working, even though plug-ins—like Flash, QuickTime or Microsoft's Silverlight—fail. Does that mean Firefox will never crash? Of course not, but in my testing to this point, it has proved more stable than Internet Explorer 9.

3. Multiplatform support
Considering there is a growing number of Mac OS X users out there, those folks should know that Firefox 4, unlike Internet Explorer 9, supports their favored operating system. Mozilla's browser also works with Linux. Perhaps most importantly, Firefox works with Windows XP. Internet Explorer 9, on the other hand, only works with Windows Vista and Windows 7. That's a huge issue for Microsoft, considering XP still is used by the majority of PC users—about 55 percent—around the world. And it's another win for Firefox 4.

4. Microsoft's brand problems
One of the biggest issues Microsoft faces right now is that it's trying to overcome its failures in past versions of Internet Explorer. There are still millions of people around the globe who don't trust that Microsoft's browser can be secure and stable. Mozilla, on the other hand, doesn't face that identity crisis. Thus, it doesn't necessarily need to worry about its brand affecting its decisions when it comes to adding or removing features. If users don't trust Microsoft's ability to keep its browser secure and they're looking for other options, they should go with Firefox 4.

Read more - http://www.eweek.com/c/a/Cloud-Computing/Firefox-4-Is-Better-Than-Microsoft-Internet-Explorer-9-10-Reasons-Why-786501/

NASA Stardust Spacecraft Officially Ends Operations - after 11-years of collecting and returning comet material to Earth -

NASA Stardust Spacecraft Officially Ends Operations - after 11-years of collecting and returning comet material to Earth - 

NASA's Stardust spacecraft sent its last transmission to Earth at 7:33 p.m. EDT Thursday, March 24, shortly after depleting fuel and ceasing operations. During an 11-year period, the venerable spacecraft collected and returned comet material to Earth and was reused after the end of its prime mission in 2006 to observe and study another comet during February 2011. 

The Stardust team performed the burn to depletion, because the comet hunter was literally running on fumes. The depletion maneuver command was sent from the Stardust-NExT mission control area at Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver. The operation was designed to fire Stardust's rockets until no fuel remained in the tank or fuel lines. The spacecraft sent acknowledgment of its last command from approximately 194 million miles away in space. 

"This is the end of the spacecraft's operations, but really just the beginnings of what this spacecraft's accomplishments will give to planetary science," said Lindley Johnson, Stardust-NExT and Discovery program executive at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "The treasure-trove of science data and engineering information collected and returned by Stardust is invaluable for planning future deep space planetary missions." 

After completion of the burn, mission personnel began comparing the computed amount of fuel consumed during the engine firing with the anticipated amount based on consumption models. The models are required to track fuel levels, because there are no fully reliable fuel gauges for spacecraft in the weightless environment of space. Mission planners use approximate fuel usage by reviewing the history of the vehicle's flight, how many times and how long its rocket motors fired. 

"Stardust's motors burned for 146 seconds," said Allan Cheuvront, Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company program manager for Stardust-NExT in Denver. "We'll crunch the numbers and see how close the reality matches up with our projections. That will be a great data set to have in our back pocket when we plan for future missions." 

Launched Feb. 7, 1999, Stardust flew past the asteroid named Annefrank and traveled halfway to Jupiter to collect the particle samples from the comet Wild 2. The spacecraft returned to Earth's vicinity to drop off a sample return capsule eagerly awaited by comet scientists. 

NASA re-tasked the spacecraft as Stardust-NExT to perform a bonus mission and fly past comet Tempel 1, which was struck by the Deep Impact mission in 2005. The mission collected images and other scientific data to compare with images of that comet collected by the Deep Impact mission in 2005. Stardust traveled approximately 13 million miles around the sun in the weeks after the successful Tempel 1 flyby. The Stardust-NExT mission met all mission goals, and the spacecraft was extremely successful during both missions. From launch until final rocket engine burn, Stardust travelled approximately 3.54 billion miles. 

Read more - http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2011/mar/HQ_11-089_Stardust_Ends.html