Daily links for 10/27/2011

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Daily links for 10/26/2011

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Daily links for 10/25/2011

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Daily links for 10/21/2011

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Daily links for 10/20/2011

  • Google has confirmed that the source code for Android 4.0 ‘Ice Cream Sandwich’ will be made public, after it refused to release the code for its predecessor ‘Honeycomb.'”

    tags: android open source google

  • “RIM’s troubles started last week when the company’s services, including e-mail and BlackBerry messaging, went down across the world. After a few days, the company was finally able to get its services back online. But by then, the damage was done, and many users around the globe started complaining.”

    tags: blackberry apps

  • “With a unique, end-to-end view of their businesses, today’s CIOs are a driving force behind what makes companies work smarter. It is critical, as one CIO put it, to “ensure you understand the vision, have a clear strategy and execute where the business wants to go.” This is one of the many insights uncovered when we met face-to-face with over 3,000 CIOs to create The Essential CIO-the largest study of its kind to date.”

    tags: mobile ibm cio

  • “As is usual when dealing with mobile operators and corporate IT, some caveats apply. So far only Android devices will work with the Horizon hypervisor with VMware unable to offer the benefits of a hypervisor-enabled virtualization on Apple’s iOS devices including the iPad and iPhone for Verizon. Steve Herrod, the CTO of VMware, said in an interview that’s he’s happy to do it when Apple decided to let others play around with its operating system. Meanwhile he reiterated that eventually he hopes to get VMware’s Horizon product written into the Android code.”

    tags: vmware verizon mobile virtualization

  • “But Lookout, a start-up that makes security apps for phones, wants iPhone owners to use its product, too. On Tuesday, it plans to introduce an iPhone app that addresses what its founders say are worries unique to iPhone owners.”

    tags: lookout security iphone

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Daily links for 10/19/2011

  • “Maqetta is an open source project that provides WYSIWYG visual authoring of HTML5 user interfaces. The Maqetta application itself is authored in HTML, and therefore runs in the browser without requiring additional plugins or downloads.”

    tags: HTML5 maqetta

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Daily links for 10/15/2011

  • “The challenge of developing and maintaining mobile banking applications that will run on an iPhone, an Android phone, a BlackBerry or a Windows phone, as well as browser-based or wireless application protocol apps that will run on anything, is daunting even for large banks with massive IT budgets, never mind the rest of the banking world. But Jeff Dennes, who led the development of some of the first mobile banking apps at USAA and was recruited to Huntington Bancshares, Columbus, Ohio, a little over a year ago, says a multi-platform strategy is necessary. And HTML5, the latest version of the hypertext language for structuring and presenting content on the internet, is the next development frontier for banks to ignore at their peril.”

    tags: banks mobile

  • “Two years ago, there was no such thing as an iPad. Five years ago, nobody had a smartphone. Before 2007, the year of the iPhone, mobile marketing was mostly about text-messaging and selling ringtones. The bottom line is that everyone is new at this thing called mobile marketing. So, it should be no surprise that marketers are still working out the kinks.”

    tags: mobile marketing

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

End of the sailing season

Last year I wrote quite a bit about sailing. I purchased a 1988 Catalina 22 sailboat in July and got it onto Lake Ontario east of Rochester in August. We managed to get out on the water perhaps half a dozen times before we pulled the boat in early October.

Early this spring I did a lot of work on the boat, replacing the standing rigging and the halyards. We got the boat in the water right before summer started. My son Will and I even camped out overnight, battling mosquitoes that managed to get through the netting.

Unfortunately, it did not turn out to be a good sailing season for us, for several reasons. The boat was docked an hour from our house, something we obviously knew, but it was more of a problem this year than last. My work schedule made it very hard to get to the boat on weeknights and the weather on the weekends I had available often did not cooperate. In this middle of this, I had engine problems with the 6 HP Tohatsu outboard I bought last year.

As it turned out, a change of the spark plug and replacement of the gasoline eventually resolved the problem. The sparkplug was an easy fix, but the gas issue was odd because it was only a few weeks old.

Over the summer my son and I took the time to work on the trailer since the boat was not sitting on it. Will gave it a great new paint job, we got new tires to replace what were evidently the original 1988 models, and I completely rewired it. So that was all good progress.

Last week we again pulled the boat from the lake and brought it home. I was hoping to find someplace to store it inside for the winter, but that has not worked out. So after cleaning the boat inside and out, I moved the boat to the back of the property and secured two large tarps over it. I made two frames of PVC tubing to help support the tarps over the cockpit, and I hope that this helps prevent rainwater and melting snow from pooling.

I also placed the boat in an area that was not under trees. The spot I had it in last year was wonderfully convenient, but the tree canope and the things that fell from it made the boat cleanup harder this spring. Live and learn.

So everything is all put away and the engine is stored in our basement. What about next year?

First, we’re not going to put it on Lake Ontario, which means the end of our brief membership in the Pultneyville Yacht Club. Not only was the distance too much, but the wave height often made sailing in a boat the size of ours impractical. So it’s on to a new lake.

Which lake? That’s still under consideration. It could be one of the Finger Lakes close to us, though the nicer lakes still have the distance problem if not the wave one. We have another option we’re thinking of, and I’ll talk about that if it works out.

Daily links for 10/13/2011

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Daily links for 10/11/2011

  • “If there’s someone on the planet who hasn’t had trouble with their Internet connection at one time or the other I don’t know who it is. So, if you’re having trouble with your network connection, here are some simple tricks to find out what’s what with your Internet and maybe even fix it.”

    tags: internet connection

  • “HTML5 reflects the monumental changes in the way you now do business on the web and in the cloud. Take a look at the functions and syntax for many of the elements and APIs offered by HTML5 to get a foundation to build websites or applications of your own that are powered by HTML5.”

    tags: HTML5 fundamentals

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Daily links for 10/10/2011

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Something new, something (big) blue: IBM WebSphere Application Server V8.5 Alpha

While this post definitely falls into the category of “a word from my sponsor,” I hope you’ll take a look at the software being discussed if you have at all been involved with Java and web application servers.

wasdev banner

One of the most fun parts of being in the software world is being able to get your code into the hands of developers. While you can have great big product releases with much fanfare, other times there are smaller alpha and beta drops that can surprise you if you take the time to look at them. This is one of those latter instances.

If I’m developing code, I’m not going to get it right the first time. I’ll need to fix bugs but I’ll also need to progressively add features. This means that I’ll be editing, starting up the environment, testing, tweaking, debugging, over and over again. My environment and tools need to make this fast and easy for me. When I’m done coding and testing, I need to know that what I produce will run in a production quality environment with the right security, performance, availability and other qualities of service. I need a web application environment, both runtime and tools, that gives me all this.

IBM has just released the WebSphere Application Server V8.5 Alpha. First of all, this is a shiny new thing that developers, particularly Java developers should check out. Within this is something new and different tha we’re calling the Liberty Profile. The website describes what you get with this:

The WebSphere Application Server V8.5 Alpha delivers a simplified and lightweight runtime for web applications. Incredibly fast restart times coupled with its small size and ease of use make V8.5 a great option for Developers building web applications that don’t require the full JEE environment of traditional enterprise application server profiles. Highlights of the WebSphere Application Server V8.5 Alpha include:

  • Free and frictionless download for development purposes
  • Ultra lightweight modular runtime with an install size of under 50 MB
  • Incredibly fast startup times of under 5 seconds
  • Simplified configuration for quick time to productivity
  • WebSphere Developer Tools available as Eclipse plug-ins

To get started, download the server and/or the tools.

You can learn more via articles, videos, podcasts, and samples.

We have a blog where you can learn what the IBM developers are doing with WebSphere and Eclipse. In particular, check out Ian Robinson’s entry on “Introducing the Liberty Profile.”

Finally, and this one is really important, join the community and participate in the discussions.

Sometimes products are just small evolutionary changes from what was there before. This represents something profoundly different. In my opinion, and I am far from partial, it is worth a look.

10 tips for raking leaves and other things

It’s that time of year again here in the northern parts of New York State when the leaves are starting to fall. At our house we also have the added bonus of many black walnut trees which add to the mess. Starting about 4 weeks ago, large, half rotted walnuts have been dropping out of the trees like grenades, threatening to bonk passersby on their heads.

I’ve been raking leaves for over 40 years and while I do now have someone to help me, I do a fair amount of it still. Here are some tips for approaching the job.

  1. If possible, try to do the job on a day that is not too windy. Otherwise you’ll find yourself repeatedly raking the same leaves again and again.
  2. More generally, your goal is to touch each leaf a minimum number of times. So rake the leaves from a small area into piles on top of a drop cloth, tarp, or old sheet, and then move the whole pile to their final destination. If you find yourself raking the leaves many tens or hundreds of feet, you’re doing it wrong.
  3. Try to compost the leaves for your garden next year, but don’t use leaves like those from black walnut trees that have toxic chemicals in them. You’ll need to chop up the leaves with a lawn mower or shredder and then mix them with green matter such as cut grass. You can store the leaves in a pile or a bin over the winter for final composting next year.
  4. Wear gloves. Blisters can happen in minutes. Leaves on the ground can also have insects lurking among them that want to take a nip out of you. Watch how you are holding the rake so you can minimize blisters.
  5. Rather than waiting for all the leaves to fall for the season, plan to get the job done in pieces as autumn progresses. There will be fewer leaves and the ones on the ground won’t have as much of a chance to get wet and mat down.
  6. Dry leaves are much lighter than wet leaves. Therefore you should try to rake them before they have a chance to get rained or snowed on.
  7. Don’t overdo it and get a heart attack. Scope the amount of work you do in any given raking session to what you can handle given your health and fitness. Wet leaves will take much more effort to rake, so factor that into how much you will do.
  8. Sometimes it is easier to push piles of leaves with a rake than pull them. It also adds variety to a very repetitive experience.
  9. If you use a leaf blower, practice with it so the leaves move efficiently to where you want them rather than creating a great big cloud. Your hands and clothes will smell from the exhaust from the blower if it is a typical 2-cycle gas model. These can be loud, so wear ear protection. Don’t use the blower for 5 minutes to accomplish something you could do with a rake in 1.
  10. Find some kids to help you.

Daily links for 10/06/2011

  • “Prestigious US academic institution Princeton University will prevent researchers from giving the copyright of scholarly articles to journal publishers, except in certain cases where a waiver may be granted. The new rule is part of an Open Access policy aimed at broadening the reach of their scholarly work and encouraging publishers to adjust standard contracts that commonly require exclusive copyright as a condition of publication.”

    tags: copyright princeton open

  • “No reason is offered by the bookseller but it is telling that even though it already has the app on the BlackBerry, and it allows purchasing content from B&N, it is no longer going to let that happen. Perhaps the company finds it too expensive to maintain and support the BlackBerry. It is a drastic measure to kill a platform that can currently purchase content.”

    tags: blackberry mobile

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Mobile app development: Native vs. hybrid vs. HTML5 (part 2)

I’ve seen and heard a lot of discussion about how people build applications for mobile devices. While there are literally hundreds of thousands of apps out there for Apple, Android, Blackberry and other smartphones, I can’t help but think the majority of these are one-off efforts. In this series in the blog, I’m going to tackle some of the issues with developing mobile apps, especially for enterprise use, and along the way propose some ideas for making the process easier and more repeatable.

mobile client technologiesIn the last entry I spoke about the attraction of writing pure Native applications for mobile devices. They’re fast, have full access to all the device features, and can be made as beautiful and functional as your software development skill allows. They’re also non-portable and can take more people, time, and money to develop.

Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to develop applications using open industry standards that run in many different environments? You know, applications that allow text content, great formatting, images, video, forms, and interaction with backend systems?

Sounds like the web, no? The language for expressing the format of web pages is HTML, CSS is used for specifying formatting, and JavaScript provides a programming language and environment for dynamically altering pages and responding to events. Somewhat confusingly, the term “HTML5″ can just mean the latest version of HTML under development at the W3C or it can mean HTML + CSS + JavaScript.

HTML5 logoWhile there have been many motivations for developing HTML5 given the experience of people creating billions of web pages, I think it’s safe to say that creating a standards-based cross-platform environment for mobile devices was an important reason. That is, don’t think of a web page as just something you read, but rather consider it an application with which you are interacting.

I won’t go into all the features of HTML5 but there are several good references on the web in addition to the spec to which I linked above. In particular:

Generally, HTML5 allows much better and more consistent ways of embedding multimedia in web pages. It also adds new elements to help you structure the document. The Document Object Model, something I worked on in ancient history, is now considered core to the specification and the programming model.

These are nice things for web pages, but does HTML5 give you anything new that makes its especially attractive for mobile devices? One of these is the geolocation application programming interface. In short, this allows you to programmatically determine your location, and then do something with it. That “something” might be to pinpoint your location on a map, provide a starting point for map directions, determine what weather forecast to show you, or display ads for local businesses, for example.

You can also store information locally on your device, though that opens up the question of security if you happen to lose it or you somehow get hacked.

What about access to other core features on your device? Using pure HTML5, can you snap a picture? How about use the compass or receive a notification? You can’t, but remember that you can still do all the interactions that you’ve been doing for years in your browser. You can read all sorts of information, do searches, buy things, access FaceBook, and so forth.

So HTML5 provides a richer interactive environment than we’ve had before and is starting to allow programmatic access to some device features.

If HTML5 does everything you need for your planned application, then use it.

HTML5 is still under development and you are seeing support for it from the big industry names that supply browsers or content, companies like Google, Apple, Amazon, and FaceBook. IBM, of course, has been and continues to be a huge supporter of open Internet and Web standards.

You do need to understand which HTML5 features are considered solid and which are experimental. You should also experiment with formatting on multiple devices to make sure that your app looks right (not too skinny, not too wide, just right) on the smartphones or tablets that are important to you.

Note that an HTML5 app is really just a web page, so you don’t need anyone’s permission to put it into an app store. For many people, that is more than enough reason to try really hard to make HTML5 work.

Also, even if you are developing some native applications, you might decide to do some HTML5 ones as well. The more experience you get in creating apps with different capabilities, the better you will get at economically providing apps faster to your consumers, customers, or employees.

So Native gives you everything, but is non-portable. HTML5 is portable and standards-based, though it is still under development and does not give you full access to the device. What do you do if you want the best of both worlds?

Next time I’ll talk about the Hybrid approach where you provide Native-like access to more device features via APIs that can be accessed from JavaScript and thus HTML5.

Hybrid is this weird middle ground between Native and HTML5. Over time, this gap between them will get smaller. There are several approaches for both development and runtime of Hybrid apps, and I’ll discuss them next.

Also see: “The spectrum of hybrid mobile app development with Worklight”

Daily links for 10/05/2011

  • “Adobe has also extended existing tools like Adobe Dreamweaver and Flash Professional to bring the next generation of Web standards to designers and developers who rely on those tools. Adobe also released the new CSS3 Mobile Pack for Adobe Fireworks, which will enable designers to easily extract CSS3 from their design elements in Fireworks and quickly add them to their HTML based websites and mobile applications. Moreover Adobe announced several HTML contributions. Adobe has been contributing actively to HTML5 with the W3C and through contributions to Webkit to enable new expressiveness in HTML.”

    tags: HTML5 adobe flash phonegap

  • “There are a lot of smart people out there who think that there’s a technical solution for every legal problem, but this one is particularly difficult. It even prevents the distribution of proprietary applications through the App Store that use libraries licensed under the LGPL or the GPL with the runtime exception. The locked-down nature of Apple’s products also eliminates the possibility of distributing a proprietary application that sideloads an (L)GPL library.”

    tags: GPL apple open source

  • “In retrospect, it shouldn’t be a surprise that Apple released a half-step iPhone this week, instead of a revolutionary and redesigned iPhone 5. Think about it–the real reason for the iPhone 4S is the same as for the iPhone 3GS: carrier contracts are two years long.”

    tags: iPhone apple carriers

  • “There’s a good reason Apple kept the iPhone 4’s chassis design the same: It works. Apple’s been making these things (or at least its eastern suppliers have) by the tens of million for well over a year now, and the process will have been optimized to the point that the cost of building them is tailing off fast–boosting profits. The decision also makes for improved reliability, allowing Apple to dodge any re-run of “antennagate” (which was, in any case, somewhat overblown) and learn the lessons about making the radio system of the iPhone 4S “just work.” In fact, Apple made a point of mentioning the antenna in the presentation, saying it now does intelligent antenna switching to maximize the way it handles incoming and outgoing signals. Plus, there’s all the peripherals out there that third party firms sell, which will now remain compatible.”

    tags: iPhone apple

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Daily links for 10/04/2011

  • “Popular open source mobile development framework “wrapper” PhoneGap has applied for consideration to the Apache Software Foundation and contemplating a name change. In a message in PhoneGap’s Google Groups development page, Nitobi software developer Brian Leroux said that the project has “initialized the process to contribute PhoneGap to the Apache Software Foundation” and that they may change the name to Apache DeviceReady.”

    tags: apache software phonegap

  • “Adobe just made a big splash in the mobile development world today by announcing that it has acquired Nitobi, the maker of the popular PhoneGap framework. Nitobi confirmed the acquisition and added that part of the acquisition was that Nitobi continue with its application to place the PhoneGap source code in the Apache Software Foundation.”

    tags: adobe phonegap html5 mobile nitobi

  • “Nitobi makes PhoneGap, an open-source programming tool for creating Web apps that run on a variety of mobile phones. That aligns well with the cross-platform approach Adobe has favored with Flash: give programmers the ability to create what they want, and let the tools worry about the differences from one system to another.”

    tags: adobe phonegap html5 mobile hybrid

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.