Archive for the 'Internet' Category

Browser based operating

April 6, 2007

I was reading Ra’s blog post: Firefox OS and had been meaning to comment on it. I voiced my opinion on the subject which has been the inspiration for this post.

I’ve written about the concept before: and believe it has merit. It’s not what feel is the best way forward, however.

To quote my comment (saves writing the same thing twice!):

Browser based operating systems are an interesting concept, something that I had been following last year. I know its self promotion but have a look at my post:

My view now is that thin clients are great, browser based operating is not!

I really don’t understand the push towards browser based applications? I’d much rather have a desktop app which implements a client server architecture through web apps than be forced to use an application within a browser. Not to mention the reliance on a third party for your data. I’m not being paranoid but why give Google all your information when it’s just as easy to keep it local? USB drives are perfect for on the run, browser based operating would be useful for travel but I think thats about it.

I’d like to see a push towards GNU/Linux based thin clients with application suites. Combine this with a media center type application and you have a very viable home entertainment computer.

I can see that happening.

I’ve head comments such as wasn’t the old client-server model so much easier” and “Catering for different browsers and maintaing usability is such a hassel”. The former also suggested (something that I’ve always had in the back of my mind) including a ‘shell application’ which was a browser wrapper but only contained what was required to render the page (no back button etc.). This would be a good solution as the browser is agreed on (no compatibility issues) and catering for events such as using the ‘back’ button at an inappropriate time are non issues.

What I’d like to see is the push towards desktop ‘Applets’; small applications that do one job and do it well.

Combine this with a portable device and you can have an on the go system or thin clien. This is what I believe is where desktop development should be heading.


Google Apps for Your Domain – Should a business trust a free service?

September 6, 2006

I’m sure most of the people reading this will have heard of Google’s Google Apps for your domain. This service allows a business to intergrate with Google’s Gmail free email service by allowing a company to use their registered domain name with a gmail account.When this was released I realised the great benifits of this to small businesses / organisations but was a little hesitant over the fact the data is not stored locally.

I read the post: Google & Windows Apps for your domain, the killer app for small businesses? Which gives a good overview of the service and highlights the trust issue. In the authors opinion, and my own, why not trust a third pary? Well it depends…
On the surface it’s easy to say it’s better to have your data stored in house as you have complete control. A counter argument could be that it would be better to have your information stored on Googles secure and highly maintained servers, off site. I think the later is much more appealing, backups, outages, and access become much less concern.

In my opinion it comes down to research; there is nothing wrong with entrusting your information to a third party (Accounting for example) as long as you have done some research on the company and are sure they are trustworthy. It’s also best to keep in mind Google Apps would be one of very few free services worth considering. I believe Google is trustworty and if the data is really that mission critical email may not be the best option anyway!

Google Apps for your domain looks like a great service and I’d reccomend it to a small company. One thing that would be nice to see is the ability to ensure all your data is deleted from Googles server when the account is deleted, even if you have to pay for it. I’m not sure what the procedure for deleting emails currently is.

The BLINK tag; quote from creator

August 17, 2006

Missed this tag? (I actually used the tag for this line but wordpress stripped it!)

I was looking at the Wikipedia entry for Lou Montulli, creator of the <blink> tag in the Netscape based browsers and also creator of the Lynx web browser and thought this quote was worth sharing:

The inventor of the blink tag, Lou Montulli, has said repeatedly in interviews that he considers “the blink tag to be the worst thing I’ve ever done for the Internet”.

Internet Explorer does not support the blink tag even in its CSS implementation, not a bad thing! It’s also not part of the official HTML specification.

So heres my tribute to the web element ‘BLINK’ gone but not forgotten!

Blogging, CMS, and the return of usability

August 14, 2006

It seems that every website you come across these days is based on some kind of ‘blog’ engine or template, or to put it simply, they are using a content management system.

I think this is a good thing; The templates are designed for easy reading, quick loading and are not image intensive. The navigation is plain text html, not some hard to use flash interface, and often clicking the title of the page at the top takes you straight to the home page. Add to that the availability of rss feeds, tags, and more frequent updates due to the managed backend, the quality of browsing is greatly improved!

A nice change from complex tables with many images to get a ‘box’ design, or the chopped up photoshop image interfaces, not to mention I havn’t seen a flash intro in a long time! Things are looking good!

I guess the high contrasts and rounded boxes are up for discussion though 😉

My original RSS (type) idea 7 years ago

July 10, 2006

I was in bed last night when it occured to me, I thought up an RSS type idea 7 years ago! I was 13 or so and had a southpark website with a collection of various media (all credited of course :)) and regularly checked the top southpark websites. There was a very good community and many of the top sites were friends with eachother.

I liked the idea (and still do) of having a website built based on seperate files (side bar, header etc) and after using frames for a bit I realised I could use an external javascript file with a series of document.write() statements. Frameless pages with seperated content! (I didnt know about server side scripting then!).

I then had an idea, what if all the major websites had a javascript file on their server with a standard name/location and made the location publically available? This file would contain document.write statements with a decription of the latest content. A website could place a series of these to show their visitors what the other sites are upto. I thought I could make a webpage designed for this purpose (a portal).

I never actually did this or looked into it much further, sadly. Now that we have XML this is exactly what is being done with RSS, I had the concept just not the greatest implementation!


I recieved a comment on my digg submission which I found very informative and thought I should mention it here to ensure I have expressed my idea correctly!

The comment is as follows:

“I hate to break it to you, but RSS is over seven years old and the general concept is about a decade old. Your idea was not new or original in any way, in fact it came *after* the whole “push” fad had died down. I specifically remember that I was automatically downloading news, website updates and rich media (a.k.a. podcasts and videocasts in all but name) with Pointcast ten years ago.

The current RSS hype is at least the third time this sort of thing has been popular. Internet Explorer 4 had CDF built in, which was very similar to RSS and could be displayed on Windows 98’s “Active Desktop” in much the same way lots of Apple Dashboard widgets display RSS and Atom feeds these days.” Jim

In direct response I would like to say the following:

I completely forgot about those services and feel very silly for not considering this! In my defense I’d like to point out I wasn’t a heavy power user back then and I didn’t really know about those features at the time. This was more my interpretation of what would be a good service (too bad it had been done!). I’ll read those links with great interest thanks for putting me right!

While XML syndication was available then it was still not widely used by many websites in the form it is now, and not with the ease my initial concept would have provided. RSS feeds for websites were not common.

Just to clear things up I was not trying to say my idea pre-dated XML syndication or anything just that without knowledge of this I came up with a concept that is similar to the RSS feeds that have grown hugely in popularity recently.

Now that we have XML this is exactly what is being done with RSS

Should have read, now the XML has become more common place

Windows Live Mail Screenshots

June 6, 2006

Here are some screen shots I took oy my hotmail live account today, I would have like to supplemented them with a review or so but don’t have the time this week. If you are a Gmail user I wouldn’t worry too much, If you are a hotmail user then you will love the new interface and features.

Drag and drop


Classic view

Bottom Pane

Right Pane

My friend Tom also has a nice short review on Paint .NET. I have seen this before and it is a very impressive program so take a look at toms review and try it out, Oh its Freeware of course :).

Java Layout Managers and Google Notebook

May 31, 2006

First of all,lack of updates recently … I have about 3 weeks left before end of semester and lots of assignments due so havn't had as much time for anything other than study at the moment. I'm handing another in soon and quite on track with the rest so will be able to update more frequently again, and on with the post….

Anyone that has made a GUI application in Java I'm sure will agree that it is extremely hard to get a nice layout. If you are using a text editor it involves heavy use of the GridBagLayout as well as mixing layouts within panels etc. And if you are using an IDE they are often cumbersome, generate awkward or propitiatory code and do not export to other IDE's easily.  I came across the Zone-Layout Manager which appears to address these issues and provides a good open source code based alternative. Definitely worth checking out if yor are a Java programmer. You can see a well written and detailed comparison here

I have installed Google Notebook and have found it useful already. Google Notebook allows a block of text to be selected and instead of copying you can choose the left mouse click option of 'Note this' which adds the selection to the notebook with the URL of the website. The notebook can be opened and viewed/edited at any time by clicking its icon in the bottom right hand corner of FireFox's status bar. A highly recommended plug-in for FireFox.

Picasa for Linux

May 28, 2006

Finally! Google have released their photo organisation software for the Linux platform. Picasa is a very good application and one I recommend for organising a large collection of images. Read more here on the official site. While browsing the google sites I also saw they have a Google Notebook firefox extension. I think I’ll use this alot.

I can’t remember what blog I found this image on so if anyone can provide me with a link that’d be great , FireFox on a bus in India 😀


May 24, 2006

I have been working on my projects (assignments) adding some much needed functionality to the templates I have made in XHTML and CSS. The XHTML will need a few tweaks to actually validate though but that is not a requirement of the assignment; more a good habit for me to get into, so that can wait!

So far I am really liking PHP, there are many resources available and common taks are simplified. Not having to compile the files is also quite handy when making many changes. JSP I am also enjoying, I really like the Java syntax and structure of the language and the JSP/Servlet framework in general. Tasks in JSP are more involved than similiar ones in PHP however.

I am using mySQL for the database in the PHP application and am hoping to use Microsoft Server 2003 for the JSP application. Hopefuly I can find a JDBC driver easy enough, I’m 99% sure there is a generic driver that will work though which will be fine for this assignment.

The JSPs also have to compile as well as any Java classes if you are using Java Beans etc. The Build.XML file with Tomcat makes this a very straightforward process though.

I don’t think I could comment on my perfered server side programming language as I do not have enough experience in either, all I can really say is that I am happy to develop server side applications in both.

Just a tip: When using JSP/Java beans and Get/Set methods for form data, follow naming conventions! I spent about 3 hours yesterday wondering what could be wrong with my application before realising I had named a function incorrectly! setUserName should have been setUername 🙂

Social networking and SPAM

May 21, 2006

Lately I have been getting a lot of emails from people on my contact list asking me to join <insert service name here> to view <insert contact name here>'s photos. While this would be ok for say one person to one service, as they are all interlinked (you must sign up to view x persons page) its like a never ending loop with the same person asking me to join something new each week.

The most annoying part is that these services simply load a complete contact list from a provider such as hotmail, gmail or yahoo; the people sending them do not put any thought what-so-ever into who the invites are sent to, just next > next >  next. What I'd like to see is ONE service that offers all the social networking benefits without all the spam, network issues, and privacy concerns that plague these sites, then sure I'll sign up and view/ comment on your photos and entries.

I know my friend Tom agrees on this and has posted on the topic before: see For the record @ Toms Blog.

Perhaps I could start making my own over the holidays? Perhaps a good one exists that I'm not aware of? The question to ask is why do they feel the need to keep changing? What would keep people at one community? A questioner might be in order! 

Until then I will continue to mark as spam and delete.