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August 27 2013

Four short links: 28 August 2013

  1. Juju — Canonical’s cloud orchestration software, intended to be a peer of chef and puppet. (via svrn)
  2. Cultural Heritage Symbols — workshopped icons to indicate interactives, big data, makerspaces, etc. (via Courtney Johnston)
  3. Quinn Norton: Students as Hackers (EdTalks) — if you really want to understand the future, don’t look at how people are looking at technology, look at how they are misusing technology.
  4. noflo.js — visual flow controls for Javascript.

February 22 2012

Four short links: 22 February 2012

  1. Hashbangs (Dan Webb) -- why those terrible #! URLs are a bad idea. Looks like they're going away with pushState coming to browsers. As Dan says, "URLs are forever". Let's get them right. I'm fascinated by how URLs are changing meaning and use over time.
  2. DNA Sequencing on a USB Stick -- this has been going the rounds, but I think there's a time coming when scientific data generation can be crowdsourced. I care about a particular type of fish, but it hasn't been sequenced. Can I catch one, sequence it, upload the sequence, and get insight into the animal by automated detection of similar genes from other animals? Let those who care do the boring work, let scientists work on the analysis.
  3. The US Recording Industry is Stealing From Me (Bruce Simpson) -- automated content detection at YouTube has created an industry of parasites who claim copyright infringement and then receive royalties from the ads shown on the allegedly infringing videos.
  4. Ubuntu on Android -- carry a desktop in your pocket? Tempting. It's for manufacturers, not something you install on existing handsets, which I'm sure will create tension with the open source world at Ubuntu's heart. Then again, creating tension with the open source world at Ubuntu's heart does seem to be Canonical's core competency ....

February 25 2011

February 23 2011

Developer Week in Review

Live, via satellite from around the world, it's Developer Week in Review, with your correspondent, Buff Overflow.

Apple policies rile developers (again)

Developers certainly seem to be getting fed up with Apple's dictatorial control of the App Store, and the new subscription and in-app purchase restrictions may push them over the edge. If Apple wants to avoid appearing to play favorites, they will need to apply the policy uniformly, which could put some very popular iPhone apps in jeopardy. For example, you can purchase and download audio books with Audible's app, and I can't see them agreeing to give up 30% of their gross income to Apple for the privilege. With companies big and small screaming for blood, and the FTC threatening to take a closer look, this may be one App Store policy that needs to be put back on the shelf.

Meanwhile, Google is rolling out their own subscription model, but it's unclear who the intended audience would be. Android apps?

Oh yah, and there's evidently an announcement about something called an iPad 2 happening next week ...

Ubuntu: Distribution on the edge?

All eyes (well, some eyes ... ok, my eyes) were turned this week toward Canonical, as some reports indicate that the formerly peace-loving Linux distro may be on a path toward more business-minded actions.

Agree or disagree with the premise of the article, but it's a good jumping off point for a conversation about just where the future of Linux distributions lie. With Ubuntu and Red Hat the two most public symbols of Linux, has the "pure" roots of Linux (such as Debian) been lost? Is Linux just another commercial operating system now, with an open source development model?

Is obscenity ruining our developers?

Your twenty-something PHP developer sits alone at a terminal, reviewing git commits. Seems innocent enough, but do you really know what your programmer is looking at? The answers may shock and disturb you.

Here's an interesting analysis of git commit messages (not comments in code, as Slashdot erroneously reported), looking at swear frequency by programming language.

C++, Ruby and JavaScript all had about the same amount, roughly twice that of C and three times that of C# and Java. PHP and Python programmers evidently don't swear much at all. The results were normalized, so the popularity of the languages didn't influence the weightings. Mind you, the total percentage of commit messages with any kind of swear at all was a tiny 0.022% (210 total swears), so it's not like it was a bar full of sailors.

That was the developer week that was. Please send tips or leads here.

April 05 2010

iPad falls short on cloud integration

Apple urgently needs to improve its strategy on the cloud. The iPad and the iPhone are perfect smart terminals for cloud computing. At some level Apple knows this, as it was pushing a MobileMe discount with iPads this weekend. But when you get your hands on an iPad, you realize that Apple missed a real opportunity for deep integration with its cloud offerings.

iPad CoverageI've been a MobileMe user for a little while, since the transition from .Mac, and I like how it is integrated with OS X setup. On the iPhone, I love the over-the-air syncing of my bookmarks, contacts and calendar. I had expectations that the iPad would take this a step further.

However, the iPad is no more advanced than the iPhone in its cloud integration. I would have loved to have switched on the iPad, keyed in my MobileMe login, and automatically had my email, browser bookmarks, calendar and contacts set up for me, as well as the ability to load in ebooks through my iDisk, and have my photo galleries available.

Instead I was forced through the painfully overloaded iTunes application, and had to tether my device via USB to get all of my content on it. Setting things up was a crazy dance involving configuration in both iTunes and in the iPad's settings panel. To make matters worse, the iPad doesn't want to charge over USB. This means I need to plug it in twice: once to the charger, and then somewhere else to sync. Decent cloud access would have mitigated this a little.

I was genuinely surprised that the iWork and Photo applications for the iPad don't have built-in support for MobileMe. Email appears the be the only generally universal way of getting things out of the iPad.

Both OS X and Ubuntu offer me a much more pleasant out-of-box setup experience for connecting and synchronizing with cloud services. I suspect that because the iPad is divided up into little silos for each application, and iPhone OS doesn't offer any general notion of cloud services, it can only be this way for now.

I am hoping for a future where all I need to supply a device with is my identity, and everything else falls into place. This doesn't even have to be me trusting in a third-party cloud: there's no reason similar mechanisms couldn't be used privately in a home network setting.

I think the iPad is an amazing piece of hardware, and the most pleasant web browsing experience available. It is still very much a 1.0 device though, and its best days certainly lie ahead of it. I hope part of that improvement is a simple story for synchronization and cloud access.

Somewhat to my surprise, I'm equally as excited about the upcoming Ubuntu 10.04 (Lucid) release for netbooks as I am by the iPad. The iPad is not yet a netbook-killer.

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