2011-02-28

Next in social networking: reputation?

The post “Quora vs. StackExchange” argues that reputation is the next big thing in social networking.

2011-02-27

Movie: Singles (1992)

Amazing that I’ve last seen “Singles” [itunes.com, amazon.com, amazon.uk] almost 20 years ago, when it first came out, at the movies. I liked it back then and I still like it now. It’s a fun romantic comedy about singles living in Seattle in the early nineties.

Commit messages indicate what programming languages make people swear the most

Cussing in Commits: Which Programming Language Inspires the Most Swearing?” is a great read. It refers to someone who has analyzed commit messages on GitHub to determine which programming language caused committers to swear the most.

2011-02-26

More safety for your Google accounts: two-step password verification

Currently, passwords are the most often used mechanism for preventing strangers from accessing our online data. But passwords only offer limited protection: Many are easy to guess and most people use the same password for several accounts. This explains why, if one online service has been hacked, accounts on other services are often compromised, too. For Google accounts, you can now get additional safety via “two-step verification”.

Gruber coming on too strong, twice

I love John Gruber for his sharp analyses. Apple haters accuse him of Apple fanboyism, but I find that he usually distributes his criticism evenly. Alas today, two posts weren’t up to his usual standard. Comments in brackets are mine.

2011-02-25

Die zweite Stammstrecke: schlecht für München

Anmerkung: Überzeugt von den untenstehenden Argumenten? Dann bitte weitererzählen!

Update 2011-08-09:S-Bahn: Das Aus für die zweite Stammstrecke!”. Bei der Lektüre genau darauf achten, wer gegen den Abbruch des Projekts protestiert.

Ich war vorgestern auf einem Vortrag über die zweite münchner Stammstrecke, gehalten von Martin Runge, dem Fraktionsvorsitzenden der Grünen im Landtag. Da bei diesem Thema Parteiinteressen eine relativ geringe Rolle spielen (OB Ude ist für die zweite Stammstrecke, ebenso die Staatsregierung), war ich mir relativ sicher, objektiv informiert zu werden. Dieser Blogeintrag ist meine Mitschrift des Vortrags. Als Münchner ist es wichtig, die folgenden Tatsachen zu kennen, denn momentan besteht noch die Möglichkeit, die zweite Stammstrecke zu verhindern und die in vielerlei Hinsicht bessere Alternative des Südrings zu ermöglichen. Zusammenfassung: Die zweite Stammstrecke ist weit teurer, als wir uns momentan leisten können, bringt erstaunlich wenig, und würde erst sehr spät fertig werden.

Thunderbolt (code-named Light Peak): an overview

Update 2011-09-18: Thunderbolt news: plugs, optical cables, new chips, adoption by Acer and Asus

This post collects my previous material on Thunderbolt and adds new observations, now that it is officially out.

2011-02-24

Apple’s MacBook introductions: what’s actually new?

This post summarizes today’s Apple news: New MacBook Pros (with only moderate changes) and more details on Mac OS X Lion.

David Herman on ECMAScript.next

David Herman has posted a video of his talk on what he calls ECMAScript.next, the next version of JavaScript. Others call it “JavaScript Harmony”. It nicely complements my recent post on Brendan Eich’s ideas for Harmony [1], with a little overlap, but not much.

Roadmap for ECMAScript.next:

  • Spring 2011: proposal freeze (no more proposals allowed)
  • 2013 (roughly): spec finished, parts will be in browsers before that.
  • opt-in via MIME type in script tag: <script type="application/javascript;version=next"> (where “next” is a placeholder for something that has still to be determined)
Broad themes:
  • Fixes: removing quirks
  • Expressiveness: support better, more concise idioms
  • Power: doing what couldn’t previously be done

What it’s like to be a young writer on “Dollhouse” and “The Vampire Diaries”

Interview on io9 with a young writer that has worked on the TV series “Dollhouse” and is now working on “The Vampire Diaries” (which is really well written, by the way).

2011-02-23

Rumored MacBook specs with “Thunderbolt” (=Light Peak)

Update 2011-02-24: Apple’s MacBook introductions: what’s actually new?

The highlights of the specs published by fscklog:
  • 2.3 GHz Dual Core Intel Core i5 processor
  • 4GB RAM
  • 320GB hard drive
  • 13.3" display, 1280 x 800 pixels
  • SuperDrive
  • Thunderbolt for high speed I/O and Mini DisplayPort devices.
  • SDXC card reader
  • 2 x USB2, 1 x FireWire 800, 1 x Ethernet
  • Weight: 2.04kg

What should be on your business card?

The business card is one paper-based product that is still useful in this digital age (that might change if near field communication becomes more popular and you can just tap devices together to exchange contact information). This post lists what you should put on your business card, with special considerations for online-dwellers.

2011-02-22

2011-02-20

Kickstarter project: turn your pen into a capacitive stylus via a cap

The most user-friendly and precise touch screen technology currently in use is capacitive. Quoting from Wikipedia: “As the human body is also a electrical conductor, touching the surface of the screen results in a distortion of the screen's electrostatic field, measurable as a change in capacitance.” A drawback of capacitive touch screens is that you need to touch them with something conductive. Thus, gloves are out (in winter) and so are simple styli. While I mostly agree with Steve Jobs’ quote that “if you see a stylus, they blew it”, styli do have two important applications:

Futurama’s Smelloscope has actually been invented

Futurama’s Smelloscope has actually been invented: It is called the Nasal Ranger. Pictures after the break.

Soon from Apple: Light Peak and data over the power cord

Two things are rumored to come “soon” from Apple.

Android 3.0 Honeycomb highlights

There is a 53min video of the 2011-02-02 event where Android 3 was introduced. If you don’t have the patience for it, you can read a page with highlights that Google has published. Pictures and comments after the break.

2011-02-19

Obama meets with tech industry managers

The U.S. president, Barack Obama, met with tech industry managers in San Francisco. Quite a crowd: Larry Ellison, Eric Schmidt, Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, and more. Given that Oracle currently sues Google, it was probably the right call to seat Ellison and Schmidt far away from each other. I wonder if these people ever were in the same room together before this event.

Related reading:

Efficiently creating JavaScript objects: closures versus prototypes

In “Closure Versus Prototypal Pattern Deathmatch”, Brendan Eich examines the question whether, when creating objects, the closure pattern or the prototypal pattern is more efficient.

2011-02-17

Why is there such strong love and hate for electronic gadgets?

The article “Gadget Politics: Why Tech Fans Share the Love and Hate” by David Pogue on Scientific American covers an interesting issue: Whenever products such as the iPhone or Android phones are discussed, one gets very emotional reactions from participants. The article examines why that is.

JavaScript variable scoping and its pitfalls

This blog post explains how variables are scoped in JavaScript. It points out two things that can cause problems if you are not aware of them: JavaScript variables are function-scoped and they can be captured in closures.

2011-02-16

The critics of social networking are assembling

Let the eternal game continue: First, the young take to a new trend. Say, social networking via Facebook and Twitter. Next, the old complain about the decline of our culture. In the article “Social networking under fresh attack as tide of cyber-scepticism sweeps US” the Guardian describes that a growing number of US academics argue that all the social activity in virtual realities lead to social isolation in actual reality.

2011-02-15

Apple survey hints at MacBooks with built-in 3G and more

For years now, Apple has lagged behind other notebook manufacturers regarding built-in 3G. It reduces the subjective portability of a notebook if you need a stick or a cell phone to go online via 3G. Thankfully, AppleInsider mentions an Apple customer survey for MacBook Air (MBA) owners that hints that 3G might make it into MacBooks. Additionally, Apple asked the following questions (paraphrased).

2011-02-13

Nokia and Microsoft: a few thoughts

By now, you have probably heard the news: In an effort to turn around its decline, Nokia will partner with Microsoft and mostly go Windows Phone 7 (WP7) in the future. This post contains my thoughts on this.

Six things JavaScript needs to learn from Java

The amount of creativity currently happening the realm of JavaScript (JS) is simply amazing. People invent all kinds of nifty tools and extensions. But with that comes fragmentation and the proliferation of JS frameworks has turned JS into an assembly of incompatible sub-languages. In contrast, Java has standardized the following six things and JS should do the same. After listing them, this post points out consequences (tooling!) and future developments.

2011-02-12

A hamster-powered walker

A pet owner lets her hamster power a mini-walker. Pictures and link to video after the break.

Storing hydrogen fuel in micro-beads

Quoting the press release (via Engadget): “In some senses hydrogen is the perfect fuel; it has three times more energy than petrol per unit of weight, and when it burns it produces nothing but water. But the only way to pack it into a vehicle is to use very high pressures or very low temperatures, both of which are expensive to do.” Thus, a company called Cella Energy Limited is working on a new way to store hydrogen.

2011-02-11

TV mini-series: Emma (2009)

Emma” [amazon.com, amazon.uk, itunes.com] is a BBC TV mini-series based on the Jane Austen classic.

Movie: Flirting with disaster (1996)

Flirting with disaster” [amazon.com, amazon.uk] is a very funny movie with an incredible cast, great acting and a good script. Ben Stiller did this movie two years before the louder “There’s something about Mary” [itunes.com, amazon.com].

After you have watched the movie:
  • Did you recognize Josh Brolin?
[Source of movie cover: Amazon]

2011-02-09

HP’s new WebOS devices: the highlights

Today, HP announced three new WebOS devices: The cell phones Pre 3 and Veer and the tablet TouchPad. This post summarizes the highlights.

Choice is a paradox: there can be too much of it

This blog post is a summary of the talk “The Paradox of Choice – Why More Is Less” by Barry Schwartz (he has also written a book about it).

Firefox lets you ask advertisers not to track you

Firefox has a new setting, where you send an additional header field that asks advertisers not to track you. I like the idea, but it doesn’t yet make complete sense:

2011-02-08

Wormworld Saga, a free tablet-friendly online comic

Wormworld Saga is a free online comic that looks stunning. Its user interface is perfect for the medium: It is a long page one scrolls down, everything is drawn top-to-bottom. The dimensions are ideal for reading on the iPad. If there is anything to complain about at all, it is that the writing (as in “how the story is told”) could be crisper. Maybe the author should team up with a writer (even though it sounds weird, writing good comics is hard!).

Flattr for publishers: tips and wishes

Flattr is a way for readers to donate small amounts of money to publishers. Read [1] for an introduction to Flattr. This post describes its benefits for publishers in more detail and lists tips and wishes.

A new way to explore the 2ality blog

Check it out here. It is faceted navigation applied to 2ality’s blog posts.

2011-02-07

es5-shim: use ECMAScript 5 in older browsers

ECMAScript 5 (ES5) brings with it some nice improvements. The only problem is that only newer browsers (Internet Explorer 9, Firefox 4, Chrome 5, Safari 5) support it, or at least its most interesting parts. es5-shim provides a neat solution: It checks for each ES5 feature whether it is present and if not, it provides its own implementation. As an aside: es5-shim originated as a Narwhal module and was then turned into a stand-alone library, to encourage broader adoption. es5-shim is the more current version of the two.

Tip: Use the ECMAScript 5 compatibility table to find out whether you need the shim or not. When in doubt, just include it, as it auto-detects whether your browser is too old or not.

Flattr

2011-02-06

Faceted navigation of data

Faceted navigation is an efficient way of exploring a set of entities via the values of their attributes. You have probably already used it, maybe without knowing its name. For example, with a music program or on a shopping website. This post explains what faceted navigation is and what benefits it brings.

5 recommended Super Bowl TV commercials

Devour has put up a page with all Super Bowl TV commercials. Here are my five favorites, in order of preference.

The positive side of Apple’s tight control of the iOS app store

It is obvious that there are downsides to Apple tightly controlling what applications are allowed on iPods, iPhone, and iPads. Among other things, there is an unfortunate gray area [1] and apps taken away from us [2] for legal reasons. Now Marco Arment mentions the benefits of Apple using a lot of manpower to check what goes into the app store:

2011-02-05

You will never have it all

You will never have it all:
  • There will always be things on your todo list.
  • There will always be something you still have to clean up.
  • There will always be books you still want to read.
  • There will always be things you forget and things you learn.
  • There will always be something to complain about.
  • There will always be the hope of something improving in the future.
So you might as well relax.

2011-02-03

Readability: a service for decluttering web pages and donating

After Flattr, Readability is another option for donating to publishers of free web content [source]. But it has features beyond that that make it interesting to readers. Its tag line is “Enjoy reading. Support writing.”

Tip: clutter-free web content via Safari Reader

Whenever Safari recognizes a web page as holding content for reading, it will display a “Reader” button in the address bar.
If you click on that button you get a nice clutter-free view.
Note that you can also print that view.
Link:
Flattr

2011-02-02

Mozilla wants you to build desktop apps with web technologies

This is great news (via Ajaxian):
The final change we’re announcing today takes the form of widening of the goal of the Chromeless project, that is specifically, we now want to Make it possible to build desktop applications with Web technologies. This change emphasizes two things: first we’re interested in ultimately building Chromeless into something that can be used to ship real products. Second, we want it to be possible to build standalone desktop applications in addition to browsers.
It jibes with what I wrote in my post on Chrome OS:
Chrome OS aggressively drives innovation in the web technology space and I hope this innovation will make it to all desktop and mobile operating systems. [...] I would love web apps to become first-class citizens on all operating systems.
Flattr

Apple changes in-app purchase policies: an analysis

By now you have probably heard about it: Apple has rejected Sony’s Reader app on the following grounds.
We have not changed our developer terms or guidelines. We are now requiring that if an app offers customers the ability to purchase books outside of the app, that the same option is also available to customers from within the app with in-app purchase. [Official statement by Apple.]
This post analyses the pros and cons of this decision and provides related reading.

2011-02-01

“Find My iPhone” requires an Apple ID that is an email address

When I tried to activate “Find My iPhone” (FMi), I got the error message “MobileMe requires an Apple ID that is an email address”. This is how I fixed the problem:

Tom DeMarco on “The Collaborative Design Imperative”

Tom DeMarco has written some great books (“Peopleware” is one of my “Eight important books for software developers”). Thus, I was excited to have the opportunity to hear him speak. The following is a summary of a talk Tom DeMarco gave at the OOP Conference in Munich, on Jan 26, 2011. Comments in square brackets are mine.

New research: the brain forgets almost as quickly as it receives

From the press release (via Engadget):
It appears that information is lost in the brain as quickly as it can be “delivered” from the senses. [...] These new findings therefore indicate that the dynamics of the cerebral cortex are specifically tailored to the processing of brief snapshots of the outside world.
In other words, abstraction sets in quickly. That would explain why eyewitness reports are so unreliable: Everyone abstracts differently. I wonder how photographic memory works, then.