Category Archives: New Tech

2015, Marty McFly, and Programming.

Lots of internet posts, memes, and even videos have appeared to lament the missed predictions for 2015 from Back to the Future. However, one thing is for certain, we’ve seen a lot of other predictions come true.

We may not have a hover-board that will allow us to cruise across ponds, but we’ve got some awesome new tools.

1. Google Android Studio

This thing has some real potential. Until now most of our developers have been using Eclipse which isn’t exactly an Android IDE, but merely a Java IDE. Initial impressions: “wow”. Our clients may opt to just build their own droid apps with technology becoming so self-contained and interactive.

2. Wearables

We’re not there yet, but 2015 could be the year. Android beat Apple to the punch in 2014 but Apple is set to release their offering which is sure to inspire all manufacturers to imagine and put their best foot forward. What’s still missing (and we have some ideas) is what “else” can a wearable do? Google Glass for instance, really missed the price point in its first iteration, but we don’t expect that we’ve seen the last of that. On our wrists we want more than a watch, or calculator, or even view of our emails. What can be cleverly fit there? Expecting some big surprises in 2015.

3. Code Automation

WYSIWYG has always managed to stay just a little bit too good to be true. I’m having flashbacks of Visual Studio form layouts that don’t quite look good enough “snapped to grid” only to end up meticulously go to the properties of multiple elements to adjust the dimensions manually. Or gosh, remember the Dreamweaver days of little golden shields? As dynamic content became more functional those little golden shields took over the whole WYSIWYG pipe-dream. 2015 may finally turn designers into full-on coders, but this is probably one of the least likely scenarios in the list today.

4. SaaS

We shall believe it when we see it. 2015 will bring about more offerings, and while Google Docs and TurboTax have managed to establish some niches, other common offerings continue to disappoint. The problem in this space seems to be lack of ambition. Just last week we had a client demonstrate their new provider as they moved from ADP to Abila. It was like a bad movie that makes you want to spend time and money doing the public service of warning the world to avoid. Other niche offerings like FreshBooks or even some of the web-based anti-virus systems are volume based propositions. They exist because they managed to keep pricing very low and volume high. A crap shoot to say the least. This is probably our most off-the-wall prediction in this list, but expect 2015 to see SaaS decline as developer tools continue to enhance productivity and organizations continue the trend toward in-house teams. What in-house team is going to allow their shop to pay FreshBooks any significant monthly fee to do what any decent developer can build from scratch in a matter of a few days?

I imagine that 2015 will surprise us, but we’re off to the races with some of these tools and looking forward to it!

OSX Lion Preview Review

Here’s a quick summary of about 30 minutes with OSX Lion (© Apple):

1. Little “lights” under icons in dock were by default turned off in Lion (© Apple).
2. Smaller control buttons on the windows.
3. There is a new link in the dock called “launchpad” that makes your desktop look just like an iPhone/iPad (© Apple).
4. Address book looks like a book.
5. Strange sliding effect on finder view selector.
6. The finder’s (apple copyright lion Apple) left pane is now nearly identical to windows 7 explorer’s left pane.
7. The mail application looks quite different and again not in a good way.
8. Safari (© Apple) finally supports full screen.

In short, I may suggest some reservation when your desktop OS is modeling its “innovations” after a 4 year old mobile device. There are rumors of pending “multi-touch” capability but our touch-pad did not indicate any sign of it. If this is for touch screens they must be planning to tabletize their iMacs (© Apple) or something since it is obvious that touchscreens in a desktop formfactor are impractical. You think your carple tunnel is acting up now? Try holding your hand up in the air for long periods of “touch time”.

The beta is buggy and does not appear to behave correctly. It really looks like they may be attempting to create a 1 size fits all OS for all devices. Safari (© Apple) finally supports full screen. Something most other browsers have done for longer than we can remember. I used to use Netscape’s full screen mode, which means it’s definitely been around a while.

Those little lights in the doc that tells you the app is running are by default turned off. This could be a further hint at their plans to clamp down on mult-tasking the same way they have on their small devices. Windows 7’s “glass” box around the icon is synonymous with this. Exposé (© Apple) has a strange habit of overlapping the windows which seems to be a bug & dashboard (© Apple? If not, I’m sure they’ve tried to) looks different. The window comes from the side and is no longer transparent. Perhaps something not finalized.

Scrolling by default is backwards! Thankfully this can be fixed in mouse settings.
Apple (© Apple) is really in love with their own mobile OS, so much so that they are willing to deprecate their desktop OS features in favor of the mobile OS. Very counter-intuitive strategy. IMO.

However, last but not least, the most exciting change in OSX Lion (© Apple) so far! Drum roll please… Resizing windows from any side and as a special bonus, window animations! Welcome to the last decade Steve Jobs (© Apple).

So Apple (© Apple) manages to simultaneously salute the other OSes with some of their copycat enhancements while oddly moving toward what appears to be constraining a full computer to the input and formfactor limitations of a PDA. We can certainly cheer the prior.

As far as I’m concerned there is nothing better than Ubuntu’s “jiggly” windows. Or as I like to refer to them, the Jiggy Windows… or as the song goes “na na na na na na, getting jiggy windows.” But, Apple (© Apple) has done well to take a clue from them. Once again we will certainly be astounded to see how Steve (© Apple) spins these imitations as innovations.

Credits: thanks to Apple (© Apple) for sending the Lion (© Apple) Preview DVD and thanks for making it the easiest yet to install on my 5 year old Dell.
And thank you Dell for making the M1710. An amazing machine.

Disclaimer: We are not sure that Apple (© Apple) has ©ed the word Lion (© Apple) however since we are aware (© Apple) of their (© Apple) propensity for lawsuits (© Apple) we figure it can’t hurt (© Apple) to © the heck out of this.

Firefox 4 vs. Internet Explorer 9 vs. Chrome 11

ie vs ff vs chromeI hope you will welcome my contributions to the V-Tek blog, this is my first post.

As a project manager here at VeraciTek I am always trying to polish my fluency with the latest technologies. The browser war being one of the most relevant to my job.

Microsoft recognized very early that building the browser meant owning the traffic. At least to some degree. The internet landscape is changing very quickly and has advanced light-years beyond the early days when Netscape and Internet Explorer fought for dominance. The same early days that Microsoft lost the court battle to force IE on Windows users.

Today IE is still the top, at 55% market share. A gouge out of it is Firefox’s and Chrome is still the “little guy”. However, recently Chrome has been taking market share from them both.  The summary review of Chrome is: it’s super fast, and buggy. Many sites don’t work correctly with it and it has the habit of announcing: “He’s dead Jim” on sites that work fine in the other browsers. However, it is VERY quick compared to the others.

Firefox 4 claims to be faster, by a factor of 5, it claims. However, in our office the consensus is that is just not true. One developer said: “It might be the same speed as FF3, but that’s just might be.” Another complains that he stares at a full screen white out for about 10-20 seconds before it does anything at all. He once opened and closed Chrome and visited Google twice in the time it took for FF4 to leave the white screen. Another says: “It’s ugly.”

IE 9 is the one we open just to test. At 55% market share we have to be compatible, but that doesn’t mean we have to use it. I have been in IT for years and I remember when it was IE vs. Netscape. There were some others, but those were the big players. Beginning at around IE4 there was a long period where developers would complain about trying to support all of the versions of Netscape. That flipped at the end of IE5’s reign.

Today, Chrome has done something a bit counter-intuitive. Instead of asking if you’d like to update Chrome, it just does it. Perhaps taking a lesson from Apple, Google seems to have realized that most users just get stressed out by questions like: “Would you like to upgrade?” Whatever the reason, Firefox and even IE fails to keep their users at the current point release. Both of those ask users, and Microsoft does so so inconspicuously that it seems like unless someone is an expert typist (in other words, have reasonable computer skills) there will be an explanation mark in their task area. So easy to just ignore, which the stats say is being ignored.

So the verdict is, Chrome is crashing the party. Not today, or tomorrow, but IE had better come up with something more exciting than another integer number to hold on to its market share. Firefox remains the developer’s choice. Even at FF4 the Firebug plugin is ultra functional in FF with limited support in Chrome (firebug lite). What our senior developer let me know though is that Chrome has something called Dev Tools and many Firebug holdouts don’t even know it exists. He uses both depending on which browser he is in.

I’m sure that means something. However, if you’re like me you leave the deep end for those guys. I installed Chrome just a few months ago, I highly suggest it. Even if you’re like me, and relegated to the kiddie end. Then maybe you’ll notice when your web developers leave your site non-functional in Chrome. You can let them know that you know what’s up.

More FUD from internet “reporters”.

Example #1: Is Honeycomb Android’s Vista?

Wow, ZDnet, how much did you get paid to run that article? Especially since the supported devices can be counted on 1 hand and the major player is the Xoom that really has had it’s own problems taking on the iPad. Any commentary on the matter is premature at best, so extrapolating from those comments is just bad reporting.

Do we need more examples? They come daily. One thing I can suggest is a good read between the lines in that article. If you do better than skim you’ll catch that ZDnet is actually making the same point. You won’t get it from the headline, nor just reading a few sentences, but the overall message is everyone hated Vista and loves Windows 7. Though they are nearly the same! Unfortunately it’s the headlines that a big portion of society base their opinions on. Shame on you ZD, you know that. Based on a sample of the comments it’s pretty obvious most of them didn’t really read it either.

FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt) … PROPAGANDA. Don’t be lemmings, if you see a provocative headline dig deep or ignore it altogether but don’t rush to Tweet or update Facebook. That only adds to the problem.

“Some men relate what they think, as what they know; some men of confused memories, and habitual inaccuracy, ascribe to one man what belongs to another; and some talk on without thought or care. A few men are sufficient to broach falsehoods, which are afterwards innocently diffused by successive relaters.

It is more from carelessness about the truth, than from intention of lying that there is so much falsehood in the world.” – Samuel Johnson

Internet Explorer 10

There is a bit of a buzz going about upcoming IE 10’s claim to “native support” for HTML5. This is quite oxymoronic. The whole point of browser containment of HTML is that it is platform independent, in other words, NOT native. However, Microsoft continues to flaunt their ability to hook their browser directly into their OS modifying as needed. A luxury that other competitors on Windows are denied. Isn’t that what got them in the notorious anti-trust trouble back in the day? Well, they aren’t stopping it. They proclaim their superiority based on the fact that they hold all the keys, not based on actual demonstrated performance. It just makes Chrome all the cooler when it can mange to perform quickly without “native support” and cheers for Firefox also. Sure it gets slow with two dozen plugins but for some reason we don’t disable them. Nice.

Microsoft’s Azure

PaaS (Platform as a Service). That’s the niche that Microsoft is targeting. Developers, popular languages, especially one of our old favorites here, the ultra-powerful PHP. Last year we got the opportunity to work with a Microsoft team on their PHP/IIS optimization engine. Unfortunately, we were much too busy and it was much too buggy.

For us to recommend Microsoft’s PaaS product, which really sounds pretty neat, would require them to drop their complicated and sketchy pricing antics. “$0.12 per compute hour” is not something we can explain to our clients and we’re not even clear what Microsoft would call a “compute hour” and how we could audit this ourselves. We owe it to our clientele to investigate this further.  So far they’ve already raised an eyebrow here with their “free until November” slogan. Ideally, once they stop imitating AOL’s model from the 1990s, they’ll sell this thing like a hosting package and drop their “compute hour” nonsense. For now, we call this experimental, at best.

Please do help us to keep the record straight, agree or disagree.