Facebook – Most Visited Site In The US

It’s official. Social networking is more popular than searching online.

Reuters reports that Facebook has officially beat out Google.com as the most visited website on the web for year 2010. Facebook had 8.9% of all web visitors in the U.S. between January and November 2010 while Google.com grabbed 7.2% of all visits.

It truly has been a banner year for Facebook and CEO Mark Zuckerberg who was named Time magazine’s Person of the Year. The movie “The Social Network” was a huge hit. Facebook exceeded 500 million users this year. Can it get any better?

Facebook has grown at an astonishing rate over the past six years it’s been in existence. Google was the most visited site in the U.S. in both 2008 and 2009. MySpace was actually the top spot in 2007.

It’s worthy to note that if you include all of Google’s properties such as YouTube, they end up being at the top of the list with 9.9 percent of all visits in 2010.

Happy New Year Around The World 2011

Celebrations have already started ringing in the new year. The first places in the world to welcome the new year are Australia, New Zealand and Pacific island states.

The sky above tall Sydney city buildings lit up with a beautiful fireworks display where at least 1.5 million people gathered to witness over the iconic Harbour Bridge. New Zealanders welcomed the new year with a spectacular fireworks show in the capital of Wellington.

Taiwan had a massive pyrotechnic display in the shape of a dragon as part of their celebration. Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour had hundreds of thousands of people gathered to watch fireworks explode from the roofs of 10 of the city’s most famous buildings. And, revellers released a mass of silver balloons at Japan’s Zojoji temple in central Tokyo, founded in 1393, while monks chanted and a giant bell rang.

Of course, one of the largest New Year’s Eve celebrations takes place in New York City’s Time Square where an expected one million people will be in attendance to watch the ball drop.

Chris Brown’s Twitter Fight with Raz-B

Raz-B expressed his dismay of Chris Brown’s treatment of Rihanna and called him out for his “disrespect”.

Raz-B started the incident by Tweeting that he didn’t understand how people like Chris Brown and Eric Benet can “disrespect women as Intelligent as Halle Berry and Rihanna.”

Brown shot back nasty tweets of his own by mocking Raz-B for being in a boy band, saying he was molested as a child, and insinuating he was gay.

Brown later apologized for his remarks. “Yesterday was an unfortunate lack in judgment sparked by public Twitter attacks from Raz B, who was bent on getting attention. Words cannot begin to express how sorry and frustrated I am over what transpired publicly on Twitter,” Brown said in a statement released by his rep to Access Hollywood on Thursday.

His statement concluded, “Molestation and victims of such acts are not to be taken lightly; and for my comments I apologize – from the bottom of my heart. I love all of my fans, gay and straight. I have friends from all walks of life and I am committed, with God’s help, to continue becoming a better person.”

No pardon for Billy the Kid

The end of the year, and the end of some terms for state governors, means it’s time for them to issue pardons where they see fit.

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson was considering a pardon for the notorious Billy The Kid and declined to do so.

“I’ve decided not to pardon Billy the Kid because of a lack of conclusiveness and the historical ambiguity as to why Governor Wallace reneged on his pardon,” he said.

The reason this cold blooded killer’s pardon was being considered was because of a deal Billy made with then Governor Lee Wallace. The Governor made a promise to Billy in 1879 to grant the gunslinger amnesty if he testified before a grand jury about another murder case.

Billy was in jail at the time for killed then-Sheriff William Brady. Wallace reneged on his agreement to pardon Billy the Kid.

Governor Richardson, a history buff, first said he would consider pardoning the outlaw in 2003 and finally made his decision today.

“It was a very close call. I’ve been working on this for eight years. The romanticism appealed to me to issue a pardon, but the facts and the evidence did not support it and I’ve got to be responsible especially when a governor is issuing pardons,” Richardson said.

“What I think maybe tipped the scales with me is that Billy went ahead after not getting this pardon and killed two deputies, two law enforcement individuals, two innocents,” he said.

Billy The Kid escaped jail on April 30, 1881 by killing two deputies. He was eventually tracked down, ambushed and killed by Garrett on 14 July 1881.

100 Car Pile Up in North Dakota

Interstate 94, near Fargo, ND, had nearly 100 cars involved in a pile up due to severe winds and heavy snowfall.

The state Department of Transportation closed I-94 in both directions between Jamestown and Fargo after the accident. North Dakota, Gov. Jack Dalrymple declared a statewide storm emergency.

Some people were stranded in their vehicles for hours before rescuers could get to them, according to Cass County Sheriff’s Capt. Rick Majerus. He said, “Cars started having trouble traversing the road and ended up in a ditch, along with semi-trucks, tractor-trailers.”

Fortunately, no one was seriously injured in the accident. Local police officers from Cass County said motorists were driving too fast in poor conditions.

FDA Warns Against Eating Sprouts

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is warning people not to eat certain kinds of alfalfa sprouts over concerns that they may be contaminated with salmonella.

Consumers should not eat alfalfa sprouts produced by Tiny Greens Organic Farm of Urbana, Ill., in part because preliminary results of the investigation of a multistate outbreak of Salmonella infections indicate a link to eating Tiny Greens Alfalfa Sprouts at Jimmy John’s restaurants.

But, the products were distributed in 4-ounce and 5-pound bags to other restaurants and venues including grocery stores and farmers’ markets in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri and other Midwestern states.

About half of the illnesses were reported in Illinois, where most of those sickened ate sandwiches at Jimmy John’s locations. The restaurant chain has stopped using the sprouts in its food.

The outbreak affected about 89 people in a total of 15 states and the District of Columbia between Nov. 1 and Dec. 21, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Sprouts are a known source of foodborne illness, the FDA said. Since 1996, there have been at least 30 reported outbreaks of foodborne illness associated with different types of raw and lightly cooked sprouts.

Most persons infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection. The illness usually lasts four to seven days, and most persons recover without treatment. However, some individuals may require hospitalization from severe diarrhea, and the risk to the elderly, infants and those with impaired immune systems is more severe.

Microsoft Co-Founder Relaunches Apple Patent Lawsuit

Microsoft Corp co-founder and billionaire investor Paul Allen relaunched a wide-ranging patent lawsuit against Apple Inc, Google Inc. and its YouTube subsidiary, Facebook Inc., Yahoo Inc., AOL Inc., eBay Inc., Netflix Inc., OfficeMax Inc. and Staples Inc. with specific allegations that the companies are illegally using technology owned by his firm.

The move Tuesday by Interval Licensing LLC, a small research company set up by Allen in 1992, comes in response to a ruling by a federal judge in Seattle, who threw out the complaint Interval filed in August on grounds that its allegations were not described specifically enough.

U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman had given Interval a Dec. 28 deadline to revise the suit, and a spokesman for Mr. Allen had said it would do so.

The revised complaint lists specific products and services offered by the defendants, along with related technologies that Interval alleges are covered by its patents.

In the case of Apple, for example, the 35-page document states that the Silicon Valley giant relies on such functions as comparing content items to determine whether they are related. Offerings that Interval alleges infringe patents covering such technologies include iTunes, Apple’s app stores, Apple TV systems and its Apple Dashboard software.

Interval claims Apple’s iTunes service uses the technology to suggest music based on a user’s searches, and that eBay Inc, Facebook, Netflix, Yahoo Inc and Office Depot’s sit have also infringed the patent in the way they direct users to related content.

In the case of Google, the new complaint also cites technology that helps determine whether content items are related. Services that Interval allege infringe its patents include Google search, Gmail, Google Finance, Google Videos, Google Maps, Orkut and the Adsense ad-payment system. Interval claims Google uses this technology to match advertisements from third parties to content being displayed, while AOL’s sites use it to suggest items related to news stories.

The second and third patents concern relaying information on a computer screen in a peripheral, unobtrusive manner, such as in an instant messaging box or overlay.

Interval claims its patent has been infringed by features in AOL’s Instant Messenger, Apple’s Dashboard, Google Talk and Gmail Notifier, Google’s Android phone system and Yahoo Widgets.

The fourth patent concerns alerting web browsers to new items of interest based on activity of other users. Interval claims AOL uses this technology on its shopping sites, while Apple’s iTunes uses it to recommend music.

Interval claims eBay, Facebook, Google, Netflix, Office Depot, Staples Inc, Yahoo and Google’s YouTube all have infringed the patent in the way they suggest content to users.

Interval has asked the court for damages and a ban on products that use the disputed patents.

Kennedy Center Honors Legends: McCartney, Oprah, Haggard

Luminaries from music, dance, theater, screen and TV got together on one stage to pay tribute to five Kennedy Center honorees in a program that aired Tuesday night on CBS.

The program, recorded earlier this month, paid tribute to Merle Haggard, Jerry Herman, Bill T. Jones, Oprah Winfrey and Paul McCartney. The honorees were seated with President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama.

Among those performing were Carol Channing, Chita Rivera, Miranda Cosgrove, Kris Kristofferson, James Taylor, No Doubt, Steven Tyler, Matthew Morrison, Christine Ebersole, Christine Baranski, Sutton Foster, Brad Paisley and Vince Gill.

Among those making spoken tributes were Edward Albee, Alec Baldwin, Chris Rock, Claire Danes and Sidney Poitier. A final tribute was made by Caroline Kennedy, daughter of late President John F. Kennedy.

Some highlights included Jennifer Hudson singing “I am Here” from The Color Purple as a tribute to Oprah, Alec Baldwin introducing Paul, Willie Nelson singing the praises of Merle, Julia Roberts introducing Oprah and Claire Danes and playright Edward Albee praising Bill.

More highlights included Steven Tyler, Norah Jones, Dave Groh, Gwen Stefani and No Doubt singing cover tunes of The Beatles.

Ski Lift Accident at Sugarloaf Mountain

A ski lift broke down at Sugarloaf Ski Resort in Maine sending riders falling 30 feet to the ground.

Several people — some of them children — were injured Tuesday after the lift derailed, sending five chairs crashing to the ground at Sugarloaf, a resort about four hours away from Boston and Montreal.

Before the accident, high winds gusting between 30 mph and 50 mph had delayed the opening of the lift. Conditions at the time of the accident were windy, but not unusually so following a major snowstorm, a spokesman for the resort said.

More than 200 people were trapped for up to 90 minutes after the derailment. The lift has remained closed while investigators look into the incident.

The derailment on one tower of the Spillway East lift happened about 10:30 a.m., when the lift’s cable skipped over the edge of a pulley. Five of the lift’s chairs fell 25 to 30 feet and hit the ground, spokesman Ethan Austin said.

The lift was built in 1975, updated in 1983 and was properly licensed and inspected for 2010, said Doug Dunbar of Maine Department of Professional and Financial Regulation.

Sugarloaf had been considering replacing the lift for several years, but there was never a concrete plan until recently, when a new lift figured into the resorts capital improvement plan, Austin said.

The replacement lift under consideration would have been heavier and could handle high winds.

“We haven’t had a derailment of this magnitude in the 60 years Sugarloaf has been in operation,” said Richard Wilkinson, vice president for mountain operations.

Sugarloaf assured visitors that its lifts are inspected each day.

Apple Sued Over App Privacy

Apple has been slapped with a class action lawsuit that accuses the company and several prominent app makers of sharing users’ personal identification without consumers’ approval.

Jonathan Lalo filed his complaint in California district court last week, accusing Apple of producing devices that allow ad networks to track a user’s app activity.

The entire complaint has not yet been posted online, but it cites Backflip, Dictionary.Com, Pandora, and The Weather Channel as some of the offending apps.

“Some apps are also selling additional information to ad networks, including users’ location, age, gender, income, ethnicity, sexual orientation and political views,” the suit said, according to Bloomberg.

The case centers around the use of the Unique Device Identifier, or UDID, on Apple’s iPhones and iPads. The suit complains that the UDID can’t be blocked by consumers and that Apple shares that info with ad networks and advertisers. Apple says otherwise and that it makes sure that users can’t be “tracked” by marketers through the UDID or anything else without consumers’ permission.