Archive for the ‘Other’ Category

File Under: Other

Take Webmonkey’s Reader Survey

Take our surveyEvery once in a while, we here at Webmonkey like to ask you to tell us a little bit about yourselves. Your thoughts, your fears, your dreams, your deepest secrets.

Not really. We actually just want to know what kinds of things interest you about web development, what software you prefer and what you like to click on. It’s the kind of information that helps us get a better idea of who’s visiting the site, and of course it’s all totally anonymous.

But don’t go thinking it’s a waste of your time — quite the contrary! In fact, if you take the survey, you’ll be filled with such contentment that you’ll be positively beaming for at least a week. It’s true — the Webmonkey reader survey is the greatest mood enhancer known to human kind since the invention of the iPhone.

Won’t you step up and take part? Make yourself heard. The future of your country depends on it.

File Under: Other

Are Light Bulbs the Next WiFi?

Smart LED lighting provides wireless connectivity

Boston University wants to create a new wireless technology based on LEDs instead of radio waves. The tiny, powerful lights blink so fast that the eye cannot detect the change, offering the possibility of communicating megabits of data every second.

That’s slow, according to Gadget Lab:

The current 802.11g Wi-Fi standard, which transmits data at rates up to 54 megabits per second. But researchers are aiming the light technology at networking household appliances, such as refrigerators, photo frames or printers — bringing us a step closer to the dream of a wireless household.

The technology requires switching from standard bulbs to LEDs. Then, wherever there is light within line of sight would have a connection to the Internet. Traditional WiFi is able to go through walls, but is subject to interference.

The program has just been launched by the College of Engineering with a grant from the National Science Foundation. So, don’t expect to head into Best Buy for your LED router anytime soon. In fact, a similar concept from 2001 using the flicker of fluorescent lights has yet to see widespread use.

The future of ubiquitous computing will need innovations like this to become a reality. Our iPhone-like devices will need a constant connection. One downside: this could leave those of us who bring our laptops to bed searching for a light to stay connected.

[Drawing by Boston University via Cellular News]

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File Under: Humor, Other

Travel Back in Google Time to the Year 2001

Travel way back to Google-date 2001 thanks to Google’s 10th year birthday celebration. The company has made its oldest recorded index live and searchable through an easter egg. Search results include links to the wayback machine.

Ah, 2001. Webmonkey was there and owned by Lycos. The internet bubble broke, and there was a brief period of time when it was considered a fad by middle managers and financial pundits everywhere.

When miserable failure meant prohibition and a search for “paris hilton” delivered a hotel in France.

You know, sometimes I miss those wild, wacky, simpler times.

Webmonkey Maps iPhone App Developers’ Frustration

Let’s face it, a number of iPhone developers are pissed at how Apple has been treating them — the prohibitive $100 fee to register as an Apple developer, the proprietary development tools, the overreaching nondisclosure agreements (NDA), the possibility of your app being banned. Worse, developers are cowering in fear and playing along lest Apple get temperamental and exclude them from collecting their slice of the very profitable Apple pie.

We believe the strength of the development community is a very powerful thing. Apple, or any other big player, shouldn’t take that for granted. Community is the bread and butter of the internet and computer science, and it’s what Webmonkey is all about.

We’re providing a semi-anonymous forum for developers to document their involvement in the events in this debacle so far. We’ve used the web service Dipity to create a timeline of App Store gaffs, rejections and bans. We encourage you to add to the timeline where you see fit. Drop in an event, link to your blog or a news story about a particular app — whatever you feel belongs.

We are doing this because we think it’s important to get the information out there. We don’t want you to get sued by Apple for breaking an NDA, so if that’s your worry, we encourage you to tell your friends about our timeline. Also, Dippity doesn’t ask for a login or e-mail to post. And of course, there’s always Tor. Alternatively, you can leave a comment below.

If you need some help catching up, here’s a brief rundown:

Apple forces everyone to sign an nondisclosure agreement (NDA) to download the software development kit — the very basic tools needed to start programming for the iPhone. The NDA forbids developers from talking about programming for the iPhone with other like-minded developers. No talking means no community, and you are 100 percent reliant on Apple for all of your development needs. Developers can’t even complain about the NDA under the NDA. Fear of Apple’s wrath gets worse. Once Apple started accepting applications, some apps got through and appeared on the App Store while others did not. It’s not a first come, first served process. There isn’t a thorough vetting process either — some apps get into the store by accident, before they even work. The process seems completely arbitrary.

These are the frustrations that have led some to pursue ad-hoc distribution outside of the Apple App Store. Some developers are also preparing to jump ship and begin coding for Google’s much more open Android mobile OS instead, albeit without the lucrative ecosystem of Apple’s App Store or the volume of potential customers in the iPhone’s user base.

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File Under: Other, Software & Tools

Rules for Computing Happiness

Self-titled technologist Alex Payne, over at al3x.net, compiled his list of computing happiness.

We all have them — those rules you typically set up when you buy a new computer to make you feel at home; the software you use, how you use it, how you clutter your desktop. Everyone has their own computing sweet spot.

Payne’s list is a tad controversial, especially when it comes to Windows vs. Linux vs. Mac. However, I found myself nodding in agreement to many of them.

Some highlights:

  • Pay for software that’s worth paying for, but only after evaluating it for no less than two weeks.
  • Do not buy a desktop computer unless your daily computing needs include video/audio editing, 3D rendering, or some other hugely processor-intensive computing task. Buy a portable computer instead.
  • The only peripheral you absolutely need is a hard disk or network drive to put backups on.
  • Buy as large an external display as you can afford if you’ll be working on the computer for more than three hours at a time.
  • Keep as much as possible in plain text. Not Word or Pages documents, plain text.
  • For tasks that plain text doesn’t fit, store documents in an open standard file format if possible.

See the entire list for yourself. Then, run through the widget below (don’t ignore the ‘next’ links) and vote for the ones you agree with, vote down those you don’t. If you have something to add, contribute your own rule.