TIME technology

4 Things You Might Not Have Known About the World Wide Web’s Inventor

Tim Berners-Lee
Carl Court—AFP/Getty Images Tim Berners-Lee at The Royal Society in London on Sept. 28, 2010

Tim Berners-Lee proposed the idea on Nov. 12, 1990

If you’ve ever used a hyperlink — a bit of typically underlined online text like this that, when clicked, helpfully takes you to another website or document — you should thank Sir Tim Berners-Lee, a Briton who on this date 24 years ago first proposed an idea he called at the time “WorldWideWeb.”

“HyperText is a way to link and access information of various kinds as a web of nodes in which the user can browse at will,” Berners-Lee and Belgian computer scientist Robert Cailliau wrote in the Nov. 12, 1990, proposal for what would become the World Wide Web.

The Web has since become such a dominant means of sharing information over the Internet that many people don’t know there’s a difference between the two. (That difference? The Internet is a network of networks, a way for a handful of computers connected to one another to share data with billions of other such networks worldwide, while the Web is a hypertext-based information-sharing system that runs atop the Internet, literally and figuratively linking websites to one another.)

It took TIME seven years after Berners-Lee first proposed the web to write a profile of him. Here are four fun facts from that May 19, 1997, piece:

1. He credits his status as “inventor of the World Wide Web” to random chance. “I happened to be in the right place at the right time, and I happened to have the right combination of background,” Berners-Lee said of the reasons he wrote the proposal, which he made while working at Switzerland’s CERN nuclear research facility and trying to connect the organization’s resources.

2. Those 404 “Website Not Found” pages are a necessary evil. Earlier hypertext arrangements kept a record of every single link in the system to avoid “dangling links” — links pointing to nothing. But creating the Web at scale meant users would have to be able to delete documents without telling every single other user about the deletion, even if that document was being linked to from elsewhere. Berners-Lee “realized that this dangling-link thing may be a problem, but you have to accept it.”

3. He also hated how hard it once was to write on the Web. “The Web . . . is this thing where you click around to read,” Berners-Lee said, but if you want to write, “you have to go through this procedure.” That’s much less true now in 2014, with services like WordPress, Blogspot and social media making it dead simple to share your writing and other creativity online.

4. He played with the idea of starting a company to make a browser, a move that would’ve set him up to compete with the likes of Mosaic and perhaps make him rich. But he feared sparking a war between incompatible browsers and permanently dividing the web. “The world is full of moments when one might be other things,” Berners-Lee said. “One is the decisions one’s taken.” Meanwhile, Marc Andreessen, coauthor of the Mosaic browser, later cofounded Netscape and has since become a wealthy and outspoken tech investor.

TIME Gadgets

This Is the Best Home Soda Maker You Can Buy

SodaStream

The Sodastream Jet is the best home soda maker on the market.

This post was done in partnership with The Sweethome, a list of the best gear for your home. Read the full article at TheSweethome.com

If you drink a lot of seltzer and are tired of wasting plastic bottles or aluminum cans, you should get the Sodastream Jet. It’s simple to use, makes delicious seltzer, has a CO2 tank that lasts for about 40-60 liters, and is one of the most eco-friendly options available for soda water fiends.

How We Decided

We spent more than 30 hours researching dozens of home soda makers, and settled on these characteristics as essential for the best home soda maker: the canister (and cap) should be dishwasher-safe and able to hold enough water for a few drinks (0.75 – 1.2 Liters), the machine should be uncomplicated to use, and it should be easy to get the carbonated water out of the soda maker once you’re ready to drink.

Using this criteria, we selected six models to test ourselves, hosted a blind tasting test, and even built our own machine to ultimately decide that the Sodastream Jet is the best option.

Who should buy this?

If you like seltzer water but are tired of the expense and environmental cost of the bottled or canned varieties — not to mention the annoyance of lugging cases home from the grocery store — stepping up to a Sodastream may be right for you. Its CO2 tank will last for more than 30 refills, depending on how heavily carbonated you like your water, and will significantly cut down your seltzer bill.

Why we like this above all else

The Jet is simple enough for a child to use and makes delicious, bubbly seltzer that topped our taste tests. Its CO2 tank is long-lasting, so you shouldn’t have to head to a store for refills too often, and the Jet is one of the most eco-friendly options we found. Compared to the other models we tested, we found the Jet by far the easiest to use: Just fill up the provided bottle, screw into the machine, and pump once, twice, or three times, depending on the level of carbonation you prefer. It does require some prep, though, most notably making sure your water is very, very cold. If you can remember to refill your Sodastream bottle and keep it in the fridge between uses, you’ll have much more success with the machine.

Our testers found the soda neutral-tasting, and while it wasn’t quite as fizzy as the store-bought sample to which we compared it, it still tasted effervescent and bubbly. There was one other model that beat the Jet in terms of taste — the Mastrad Purefizz — but numerous complaints about that company’s customer service (not to mention the machine’s habit of rusting), means we can’t recommend it.

The Jet comes with a 60-liter CO2 tank, which we found filled about 40 liters consistently, although this will depend on how carbonated you prefer your seltzer. It offers the ability to use both 60L and 130L CO2 cartridges, so if you like, you can spend less time going to and from the store for a refill, especially if you’re a frequent seltzer drinker. One of the Jet’s biggest pluses is that the tank will be refilled and reused after you swap it at the store.

Flaws (but not dealbreakers)

Unfortunately, in order to swap out the CO2 cartridges, you have to take them back to big box stores like Target or Bed Bath and Beyond for a refill. There are a few ways to do it yourself with your own CO2 tanks, but if you want to stay within the warranty’s rules, you’re stuck with Sodastream’s $15 proprietary CO2 refills. That’s costly, and can add up over time. Still, it’s cheaper than bottled water.

An even more environmentally friendly option

If you’re really serious about reducing your carbon footprint, you can build a soda maker yourself. Using some instructions, we built our own soda machine using parts bought on Amazon and a CO2 canister rented from a welding shop. Unfortunately, we had trouble getting usable soda from the machine, and it took a lot of fiddling with the psi level to get things right. If you’re willing to take the time to tinker (and are really, really serious about reducing your environmental impact) it can be a fun experiment. But this won’t be a realistic option for a lot of people.

In Closing

If you’re a regular soda drinker who wants something simple, safe, and delicious, the Sodastream Jet is the best choice right now. It creates bubbly soda easily, is far cheaper than buying seltzer at the grocery store, and is environmentally friendly.

This guide may have been updated. To see the current recommendation please go to The Sweethome.com

TIME Tablets

Why I Just Bought iPads for My Retired Parents

Inside A SoftBank Store As Apple Inc. New iPads Go On Sale
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images A store employee points at a 'Maps' icon on an Apple Inc. new iPad Air 2 tablet displayed at a SoftBank Corp. store in the Ginza district of Tokyo, Japan, on Friday, Oct. 24, 2014.

Older computer users just don't need PCs any longer

More and more these days, the phone calls I receive from Mom or Dad have nothing to do with the grandkids or my writing career or our plans to visit Florida.

They’re calling for tech support.

“The printer won’t print!”

“Why am I getting this strange message on my screen?”

“AOL is acting funny.” (Yeah, AOL. I know.)

In recent years I’ve dealt with a Geek Squad’s worth of parental computer meltdowns. Some minor (outdated printer drivers, missing file attachments), some major (Ebola-grade viruses), but all of them frustrating for everyone. For my part, I feel badly that my retired parents — who, seriously, shouldn’t have to wait 10 minutes for the laptop to boot — have to deal with this seemingly endless hassle-fest. I’m a tech expert, a tech blogger, for pete’s sake. Can’t I just wave a magic wand and make them go away? (The hassles, not the parents!)

I just did. Amazing son that I am, I just bought them each an iPad Air and Bluetooth keyboard case. (Note to Mom and Dad: Thanks for college. We’re square now.)

Why the shift from a desktop computer? My parents have used some form of Windows-powered computer for the better part of 20 years — though I never did introduce them to Windows 8. Like a lot of seniors I know, they’re already nervous about “pressing the wrong button” on the computer. A change as drastic as Windows 8’s new, Start Button-less interface would require a lot of re-learning and, let’s face it, cause a serious uptick in the number of tech-support calls I got from Mom and Dad.

My point is, my parents were at least conversant with Windows, if not tolerant of its perpetual annoyances. But I’d had enough of those problems. And so I gave some strategic thought to what they — what any seniors — really need from a computer. A Web browser, of course. E-mail. Facebook. Dad likes to manage his banking; Mom takes notes for lectures and book groups.

Light bulb! These two don’t need computers at all. They need tablets, which can handle these and other computing basics without breaking a sweat (or contracting a virus). Just add a keyboard for tapping out documents and e-mail, and presto: tons of basic-computing problems disappear.

Tablets take zero seconds to boot or shut down. Literally zero. You press a button, it’s ready for action. Press again, the screen goes dark. (Okay, technically it’s going in and out of sleep mode, but you rarely need to actually power down a tablet. And even if you do, it powers up again fairly quickly.) As for apps, tap one and it loads, bam. Seriously, spend a week with a tablet, then try going back to your PC. You’ll wonder how you ever tolerated such lethargy.

Driver updates? No such thing on a tablet. Virus threats? Non-existent. (Just make sure to educate parents on the dangers of phishing, a security threat that strikes via e-mail.) Crashes and lockups? No software is perfect, but no Android or iOS tablet ever suffered a Blue Screen of Death.

Meanwhile, Apple offers word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation apps free of charge to iPad users, while Google makes its Docs, Sheets, and Slides apps free for the Android crowd. Even Microsoft’s Office apps have gone mostly free for iOS, with Android versions coming soon. When you go tablet, your software costs drop considerably. And no more anti-virus subscription, either! (See above.)

Granted, tablets aren’t perfect PC surrogates. They have comparatively small screens, so they’re less than ideal for the visually challenged. Printing remains an obstacle, at least for some documents, as my Dad recently discovered when trying to print a Delta boarding pass. And even with a keyboard, productive word processing seems elusive — in part due to the smaller workspace, in part because there’s no mouse.

These are, thankfully, surmountable issues. Some Android tablets can already work with a mouse, but more tablet makers would be wise to consider these hiccups in developing future models. In the meantime, there are plenty of perfectly good tablet options for seniors. My top pick is what I already got for the folks: Apple’s iPad Air. It’s the no-brainer choice for anyone who also uses an iPhone, but the real advantage is the huge selection of keyboard cases — one for nearly every budget and typing preference.

There are similar senior-friendly benefits to be found in the likes of Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD (or HDX) 8.9, Google’s Nexus 9, and Samsung’s Galaxy Note 10.1, though you’ll want to investigate keyboard options before pulling the trigger. Any Bluetooth keyboard will work, but if you want something that doubles as a case or cover, you may find fewer options.

Why no Microsoft Surface or other Windows-powered model? Simple: You’re still dealing with the frustrations of Windows, to say nothing of the steep-ish learning curve of Windows 8. Microsoft’s return-to-form Windows 10, due in 2015, should lessen that curve, but does a grandparent even need a desktop operating system anymore? I think not. Most seniors just want to read and send e-mail, enjoy the Web, and maybe watch some videos of the grandkids. Windows (and, for that matter, Mac OS X) is overkill for that stuff, while a tablet delivers speed, simplicity, and security. Even a big phablet like the iPhone 6 Plus or Galaxy Note 4 might offer seniors a respite from the plodding, unpredictable PC, as they afford most of the same capabilities as a tablet and a reasonably roomy screen.

Me, I’m looking forward to more meaningful conversations with Mom and Dad, and fewer about troublesome printers.

TIME Video Games

This Is How Insanely Beautiful the New Halo on Xbox One Is

Halo has never looked this good

Released Nov. 11, Halo: The Master Chief Collection combines more than a decade of Halo history into one high-gloss package. The Xbox One exclusive is not only a celebration of the video game franchise’s past, but a major preview of its future—a.k.a. the upcoming Halo 5: Guardians. The collection combines Halo 1 through 4 and reimagines their looks with more current graphics. The results are impressive; take a closer look above.

TIME technology

FCC Chair Signals He Won’t Follow Obama’s Lead on Internet Rules

Barack Obama, Tom Wheeler
Jacquelyn Martin—AP In this May 1, 2013 file photo, President Barack Obama shakes hands with then nominee for Federal Communications Commission, Tom Wheeler, in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington.

"What I’ve got to figure out is how to split the baby," said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler

A top federal regulator is considering a split with President Barack Obama over a controversial Internet policy, according to a new report, in what could set up a big fight between the White House and the Federal Communications Commission.

The Washington Post, citing unnamed sources who were present, sounded a different note than Obama when addressing a room full of tech executives after the President made his statement Monday. “What you want is what everyone wants: an open Internet that doesn’t affect your business,” FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler told executives from several major tech companies, including Google and Yahoo. “What I’ve got to figure out is how to split the baby.”

Obama on Monday made his strongest statement yet in support of Net Neutrality, the principle that all content should be treated equally online. However, the FCC is an independent agency that’s not required to follow the President’s lead on policy matters.

Read more at the Washington Post

TIME legal

Comcast Just Trolled Us All on Net Neutrality

National Cable and Telecommunications Association Cable Show
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images The Comcast Corp. logo is seen as Brian Roberts, chairman and chief executive officer of Comcast Corp., right, speaks during a news conference at the National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA) Cable Show in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, June 11, 2013.

Comcast says it agrees with President Obama on net neutrality. It doesn't.

Oh, Comcast.

The country’s largest Internet provider wants you to know that it “agrees with the President’s principles on net neutrality,” as a headline on a Tuesday afternoon blog post from EVP David Cohen reads. Net neutrality is the idea that all Internet content should be treated equally in terms of speed, a concept that’s in jeopardy because of a Supreme Court decision at the beginning of this year that struck down the Federal Communications Commission’s 2010 Open Internet rules enforcing it.

It’s an attention-grabbing headline from Comcast, a company that net neutrality advocates are making out to be among the most nefarious of the bad guys in the ongoing open Internet debate. Right off the bat, it looks like Comcast is agreeing with President Obama, who on Monday unexpectedly came out in favor of reclassifying broadband Internet as a utility. That’s a move big telecoms like Comcast should hate, because it would give the Federal government more authority to regulate their business. So what’s the deal?

It turns out Comcast’s post is just clickbait.

Cohen’s post claims Comcast agrees with Obama’s goals for an open Internet — no blocking content, no slowing down content, more transparency about network practices and no paid fast lanes. Cohen goes on to say that Comcast disagrees with the President on how those rules should be enforced. There’s a wide gulf here: Obama only made news Monday because he called for the Internet to be reclassified under Title II of the Communications Act, a bold move that would categorize Internet providers as “common carriers” and trigger an all-out legislative and judicial war between telecoms, the FCC and advocacy groups.

Comcast, meanwhile, says the Internet should fall under Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act, which gives the government far less authority to regulate Comcast’s business. So there’s no real agreement here at all.

That aside, the problem with Comcast’s Title II/Section 706 logic is that the FCC tried to use non-Title II authority to enforce its Open Internet rules starting back in 2010. But the courts ruled that wasn’t a valid approach, because the agency had previously and explicitly decided not to classify broadband under Title II — meaning the agency starved itself of the regulatory power it would need to legally enforce those rules. Since that ruling, the FCC under Chairman Tom Wheeler has been scrambling to find a way to enforce the Open Internet rules without running afoul of the courts.

Comcast, in its blog post, maintains that the courts left the FCC a way of doing that without triggering the Title II nuclear option — but the reality is that scenario is looking increasingly unlikely. Instead, many observers, including the President, see the FCC’s best path forward as reclassifying broadband providers as common carriers under Title II, but practice what’s called “forbearance,” or use only the regulatory power afforded under Title II the agency deems necessary to enforce its Open Internet rules. How comfortable you feel with that idea, of course, entirely depends on how much you trust a government agency to practice regulatory restraint.

It’s also worth pointing out that Comcast’s blog post makes it a point to advertise that it already practices the Open Internet rules for which Obama’s arguing — but it’s also legally obligated to do so through 2018 as a condition of its merger with NBCUniversal, a fact that’s missing from the post. Comcast also makes a dubious-at-best claim that it doesn’t “prioritize Internet traffic or have paid fast lanes,” even though Netflix is paying Comcast (and, since, other Internet Service Providers) to more quickly deliver Netflix’s content to Comcast subscribers. Whether or not the Comcast/Netflix deal violates “net neutrality” per se is a subject of debate, but that’s splitting hairs: It’s hard to see the arrangement as anything other than a “paid fast lane.”

TIME apps

The Best Smartphone Apps You Can’t Miss This Week

Try 'Today,' a to-do app that helps you keep track of your hectic life

It seems like hundreds of new smartphone apps pop up every day, but which ones should you bother trying? Here, TIME offers a look at five apps for iPhone, iPad and Android that stand out and are worth a shot.

  • iCukoo Charity Alarm Clock

    iCukoo Charity Alarm Clock iCukoo Charity Alarm Clock

    For the last few years, developers have been trying to come up with foolproof alarm clocks. Users have already found ways to beat the apps that only deactivate after a phone is carried for ten steps. Instead, iCuckoo takes a moral and financial approach to the black hole of snooze button-pressing: with every snooze, the app sends a set amount of money to a charity of your choice. In short, you can sleep in and tell your boss that you were actually “volunteering,” and you’ll also feel just awful about yourself if you manage to get around the app’s parameters.

    iCuckoo is available free in the App Store.

  • Neato

    Neato Neato

    Part of the reason Apple’s Notes app has been so underused is that it makes note-taking a tedious task — better to forget the idea than to fumble through your phone and wait for a yellow pad app to open. Neato takes this into consideration by inserting itself into iPhone’s notification center, allowing users to access it with one quick swipe. Even better, Neato can save notes to a Dropbox or Evernote account, and can be used to quickly send notes as an email or tweet.

    Neato is temporarily available free in the App Store.

  • Yummly

    Yummly Yummly

    Many of us find it difficult to fully commit to culinary endeavors because good recipes are hard to find, and even harder to keep track of. Yummly—once only for iPhone users—allows you to browse a series of beautifully photographed and easy-to-follow recipes on your phone or tablet, and save them to your own digital cookbook. But like any great online service, Yummly can also recommend recipes based on the ones you’ve used. The app also takes into consideration personal preferences and needs, like allergies and special diets.

    Yummly is now available free in the App Store and Google Play store.

  • Sleep Better

    Sleep Better Sleep Better

    By placing your phone on your pillow and activating Sleep Better, the app will be able to track how long you sleep, the time you spent awake in bed and track your sleep cycles. Users can enter variables like alcohol intake, exercise, or caffeine intake to see how they affect sleep patterns. Also equipped with an alarm clock, the app will track your sleep over time, showing you how miserably and self-destructively sleep-deprived you’ve been after picking up those bad habits in college.

    Sleep Better is available free in the App Store and Google Play store.

  • Today

    Today Today

    Today is a calendar app that takes a variety of commitments into consideration. Not only does it allow you to track work schedules, but it has spaces for habits, hobbies, and down time. Today will remind you that 2 p.m. is Twix time at the office, for example, or that you’re supposed to go for a run at 7 a.m. Today will also help you set goals and keep track of them through the day, such as remembering to drink enough water to avoid 4 p.m. dehydration headaches. The app shows up in iPhone’s notification center as a clock with bars for different activities.

    Today is available for $2.99 in the App Store.

TIME technology

Conservatives Overwhelmingly Back Net Neutrality, Poll Finds

A poll released today by the Internet Freedom Business Alliance (IFBA), found that conservatives voters like the idea of net neutrality.

Within a few hours of President Barack Obama’s call on Monday for regulators to ensure strict “net neutrality“—rules requiring Internet service providers (ISPs) to treat all Internet content equally—the Republican establishment’s hair caught on fire.

Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) called net neutrality the “Obamacare for the Internet“; House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said it was “a textbook example of the kind of Washington regulations that destroy innovation and entrepreneurship”; and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-Lousiana) said Obama’s attempt to “impose net neutrality regulations on the Internet” was a “radical effort” with “no justification.” To list just a few of the howling reactions.

But according to a poll released today by the Internet Freedom Business Alliance (IFBA), a pro-net neutrality association of businesses, Republicans and conservatives outside of Washington D.C., seem to think that the idea of net neutrality is actually a pretty good one.

Some 83% of voters who self-identified as “very conservative” were concerned about the possibility of ISPs having the power to “influence content” online. Only 17% reported being unconcerned. Similarly, 83% of self-identified conservatives thought that Congress should take action to ensure that cable companies do not “monopolize the Internet” or “reduce the inherent equality of the Internet” by charging some content companies for speedier access.

The poll did not ask participants about specific methods of regulation, like whether the Federal Communications Commission ought to reclassify consumer broadband Internet as a utility under “Title II”—as Obama has called for—or whether it should use “Section 706″ of the Telecommunications Act, another statute relating to broadband infrastructure.

The poll, explained Andrew Shore, the executive director of IFBA, was designed to “get to the heart” of net neutrality by asking voters whether they believed that the government should prevent Internet service providers (ISPs) from charging Internet content companies for special access to Internet customers.

The poll also asked whether voters were concerned that big ISPs—like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T—could influence the government and elected officials in their favor; 72% of self-identified conservatives said yes.

Last year, Comcast—the nation’s biggest ISP by a long shot—spent more on lobbying than any other company in the U.S. except Northrop Grumman, the defense contractor that makes the B-2 bomber. Of the $16.4 million it has spent on lobbying and campaign contributions this year, large chunks have gone to the National Republican Congressional Committee ($104,000); the National Republican Senatorial Committee ($87,975); and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee ($85,750), according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Boehner, who was among the first to slam Obama’s call for net neutrality regulations yesterday, has received $107,775 from Comcast—nearly twice as much as any other other member of Congress. Boehner also holds stock in Comcast, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

But big Internet content companies which are in favor of net neutrality regulations, like Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Ebay, are hardly wallflowers in this debate. So far this year, Google spent $3.9 million in campaign donations and $13.7 million on lobbying.

(The Vox Populi poll surveyed 1,270 active voters on Oct. 26/27, with a margin of error of +/-2.8%.)

Read next: Inside Obama’s Net Neutrality Power Play

TIME apps

Candy Crush Sequel Now Available on Your Smartphone

Owner King Entertainment hopes "Candy Crush Soda Saga" will enjoy some of the success of its earlier hit

The sequel to the mobile mega hit Candy Crush Saga is now available worldwide on iOS and Android devices.

“Candy Crush Soda Saga” had its worldwide rollout Tuesday after previously being available in select markets and on Facebook.

The new title, which hews closely to the addictive gameplay of the original, sports 135 new levels set in the same world as the first game. The game is free to download but charges players for in-game features, a business model that made Candy Crush Saga one of the most lucrative mobile games of all time.

Game developer King Digital Entertainment, which went public in March, has been searching for another hit to prove to investors that it can follow up Candy Crush Saga’s success. The company saw profits and revenue decline in the most recent quarter due to falling interest in its marquee title.

In addition to pushing Candy Crush Soda Saga, King hopes to reverse its fortunes by emphasizing games outside the Candy Crush franchise as well. About half of the company’s revenue now comes from non-Candy Crush titles.

TIME The Brief

#TheBrief: The Battle for Control of the Internet

Explaining what 'net neutrality' really means to you — and the future of the Internet

President Obama took to the White House YouTube channel Monday to call for broadband internet providers to be regulated as a utility — a move that signals his support for the concept of “net neutrality“.

What’s net neutrality? It’s the idea that Internet service providers (ISPs) like Comcast or Verizon should treat all content equally. It might not sound like an inspirational cause, but the question of who has rights to control the Internet affects almost everyone.

Cable companies are clamoring for the right to give faster speeds to certain clients, while many content providers are in favor of keeping all data on the Internet on equal footing.

Watch #TheBrief to find out what’s at stake.

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