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Vivaldi has announced that it will be disabling Google’s new tracking feature FLoC in its browser to help protect users' privacy. It comes just a day after Brave announced that it’s doing the same. As both of these browsers use the same foundations as Google Chrome, they could technically ship with FLoC but neither will. The announcements come just days after DuckDuckGo announced an update to its Chrome extension that turns off FLoC in Chrome.

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When you browse the web, third-party cookies typically follow you around the web helping advertisers understand what things you’re interested in so they can better target ads making it more likely that you’ll buy a product. The level of tracking is unprecedented compared to older advertising methods and is now feeling the squeeze as more browser vendors and browser add-ons start blocking these cookies.

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As an alternative, Google suggested Federated Learning Cohorts (FLoC) which essentially groups people based on their browsing habits so that advertisers can show their ads to a group of people rather than individuals. While not as targeted as cookie-based ads, there remains some level of targeting.

While FLoC makes it hard for third-party advertisers to figure out your individual browsing habits, Vivaldi reminds us that Google owns Chrome and runs an ad network and could therefore gain an advantage over competitors, further cementing its position.

With FLoC being disabled in Vivaldi and Brave and not even shipping with Firefox or Safari, it does raise the question of whether Google will shelve the project altogether. If that happens, it will be back to the drawing board as stakeholders of the online world work out a way to serve privacy-friendly ads while still targeting those ads in some way.

In the past year that the COVID pandemic has spread around the world, online conference video chats have become more the norm than the exception they were. And all of these platforms it seems have had to make improvements to their technology to meet the demand.

Yet, some of them have become more popular than others even though they may not be the best. For example, the first two on the scene years ago were FreeConferenceCall in 2001 and Skype in 2003, which I use more than the others. I usually can’t have a call without someone asking why we’re not on Zoom or Teams, etc.

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I get it, the quality axiom is at work here: ‘Kleenex’ means tissues, ‘Weber’ means grills, ‘Google’ means search engine, and so on … so now does Zoom mean online video meeting? The other argument is to use the platform that everyone is familiar with so it is easier to use. The answer to this one is the more you use something, the more you become familiar with it.

The truth I see is that, in searching for the light, all of these platforms work the same and have similar issues, and the variables happen based on what equipment or internet connection you have. So you find two of them that best meet your needs and make it work for you.

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Because, just like with soda pop I like ‘RC’, even though ‘Coke’ or ‘Pepsi’ are more popular doesn’t mean they are the best.