Tag: Web Technology

Posterous Image Placement Limit is Lame, Defenseless

Before i moved my blog to Posterous and then decided to create a whole network of single-topic blogs on that service, I used to try to weave photos into my blog posts on my WordPress blog. As a professional writer and long-time journalist, I felt it gave an air of professionalism to my pieces and made them more interesting and enticing to potential readers.

But when I recently decided to add an image to a Posterous blog entry, I became belatedly aware of the lameness with which in-line images are treated. Essentially, they don't support the <img> tag in any way but their own fixed method. I had a three-email exchange with their support team, the takeaway from which was, "Unfortunately, we do not support that [text-wrap around images] in any way at this time. We do hope to add this feature in future updates however." This was after an earlier message in which their support informed me that, "As for the coding being deleted, javascript, flash and other types of coding are currently disabled on Posterous at this time."

I had edited the HTML of my post to place the uploaded image differently and to place it in the text stream. Interestingly, doing this in the Posterous editor results in it displaying exactly as I wanted it, but when I save the file, those edits are deleted and replaced with lame-ass HTML code that is reminiscent of the 1990's.

Apple Proves it Cares More About Profit Than Users…Again

Well, Amazon.com and BarnesAndNoble.com both caved in today to Apple's outrageous and ludicrous — and quite probably illegal — rules preventing sellers of iOS apps from offering their users the convenience of in-app purchase of books and magazine subscriptions. The high-handed budding monopolists in Cupertino demonstrated once again that their primary passion — which was once user experience and convenience —  is now squeezing every drop of profit it can out of those whose content drive its platform's successes.

So now i as a heavy user of Amazon.com will no longer be able to search for and buy new books within the Kindle app from which the "Kindle Store" button has been removed in the update announced today. For now, at least, I'm simply declining the upgrade. It's inconvenient for me  because now I can't do an "Upgrade All" when it and other apps have updates available, but for now it's my little way of protesting Apple's despotic behavior. 

Someone is going to have to convince me this isn't monopolistic behavior. Apple seems to me to clearly be attempting to leverage its dominance of the smartphone/tablet software channel to force developers and vendors to cut it in on revenue they gain from products sold outside the apps they market through Apple. Classic bundling as far as I can tell.

I hope Amazon, like its Canadian counterpart Kobo, decides to write an HTML5-based app and circumvent the Apple App Store altogether. If they do that, I'll download the new app and delete the App Store version in a New York nanosecond. This heavy-handedness will provide app developers even greater incentive to escape the AppStore altogether, particularly when new avenues of distribution like Facebook and its new game platform are appearing with astonishing rapidity.

Heads up, Apple! Your short-sighted greed will cost you dearly if you don't wake up and smell the Web apps.

Amazon Could Rock Tablet World With Smart Marketing

As Amazon.com readies its foray into tablet hardware this fall, the company could leap into a strong second-place dominance — and perhaps ultimately challenge segment leader Apple — with the judicious use of marketing offers. Already there are rumors that the new tablet, due out in October as a best guess, may include free access to some Amazon content (probably streaming video on demand) at least during an initial introductory period.

But it occurs to me that if Amazon were to make the cost of its tablet essentially appear to be free by making great marketing offers part of the package, it could change the game entirely.

Let's say, e.g., that buyers of an Amazon tablet get a 10% or even 15% discount on all Kindle Store purchases until they had reached a limit that would, coincidentally, equal the tablet's purchase price. Or maybe extend that offer to everything offered in the Amazon stores. How about gift certificates whose value totals or exceeds the price of the tablet?

Amazon is in a unique position as a mass retailer offering a tablet to tie the two experiences together in ways that could make the new tablet offer too compelling to be resisted. That could be a highly successful marketing plan.

Pandora Jumps on HTML5 Bandwagon

According to EnGadget, one of the most popular Internet radio station/multimedia sites, Pandora, is ditching Adobe's Flash technology in favor of HTML5 as the new spec's bandwagon effect continues to pick up momentum.

Besides all the technical advantages going with the emerging standard gives Pandora, its developers also report that using HTML5 shaves seconds off page load times. On a site with millions of users opening tens of millions of streams, that represents real savings.

It just keeps getting brighter.

HTML5 Job Offerings Up 34%

According to The Inquirer, demand for HTML5 developers rose 34% in the last quarter. Citing statistics from the Freelancer site, the report indicated that there were 807 postings for developers familiar with the emerging standard in the second quarter compared to 604 in the first quarter.

Although the period gains were larger for HTML5, the number of openings is still dwarfed by the demand for 2,795 iOS and 1,702 Android developers in the same period. The only category of developer demand that showed a steep decline was Windows desktop work, which plummeted by 30%.

HTML5 Developers Need to Understand New Security Approaches

Steve Mansfield-Divine of the WebVivant blog has issued a warning to Web developers jumping on the HTML5 bandwagon to be cautious about properly implementing security in apps that use the emerging standard.

Focusing specifically on so-called "hybrid apps" — loosely referring to apps that split UI and data across the browser and the cloud — he points out that these "schizophrenic" apps (his term) pose new security concerns because they go beyond just a new set of tags. "The worry…is that developers will rush to exploit these great new features without fully understanding, let alone addressing, the security implications."

He cited a threat assessment report in which security software provider McAfee forecast potentially major disruptions in Web app security as HTML5 gains ground.

But, as Mansfield-Divine is quick to point out, the news isn't all bad. HTML5 implements some new security facilities that should make it harder for some kinds of site attacks — notably, e.g., those using iFrames — to exploit users and compromise their data.

Add Salesforce to the HTML5 Backers List

According to this piece on the ZDNet site, Salesforce has ended its search for the right mobile platform strategy and is placing its bets squarely on HTML5. The list of major players who are adopting HTML5 rather than doing proprietary app development for a highly fragmented mobile market is growing every day. Combine that with the ever-widening browser support for the new emerging standard and you have the makings of a wholesale shift that will change the Web nearly as much as the Web changed everything else.

A significant number of major players in the Web app space have already converted, begun converting or announced that they plan to convert existing data in proprietary formats such as Flash video and animations to HTML5. The momentum is strong and growing stronger every day.

It won't be long until we'll be talking about HTML5 as the Wave of the Present instead of the Wave of the Future. I can hardly wait!

Pugpig Shows a Ton of Promise, Raises the HTML5 Tool Bar

I spent a bit of time yesterday with Pugpig, a really fascinating new technology (in beta at the moment) designed to facilitate the relatively easy publishing of HTML5-based interactive content like magazines, newspapers, ebooks and guides. I'm impressed so far.

Pugpig ships as a library with an installer that gives you a complete template for XCode4 on OS X. In literally less than 15 minutes, I downloaded it, installed it, created my first app with it, and then downloaded their sample app and took it apart, tweaking it a bit to get a feel for what's involved in creating custom content. It is really well thought-out.

In its present form, it enables you to deliver AppStore apps (within content guidelines, of course) written entirely in HTML5, JavaScript and CSS. It's specifically designed for content-driven apps, not productivity tools or games, but within that limitation, only your JS skills will be the gating factor in getting cool stuff working for the platform.

I'm definitely going to keep a close eye on this one.

Check Out Inner Oracle Cards App for Smartphones

My good friend Dr. Rick Moss is offering a smartphone app that runs on both iPhones and Android devices and that I use almost every day in my own work and with friends, family and clients.

Rick is the creator of a psychotherapeutic technique called Pre-Cognitive Re-Education, or "Pre-Cog", which I've been studying with him for a year or so. You can read more about Pre-Cog and his other work at his Web site. One of the techniques Pre-Cog uses effectively is guided creative visualization. 

His app is called Inner Oracle Cards. It walks you through a process of selecting cards from a virtual deck of guidance cards which you can then use in a set of four cards to help you focus on a specific problem or area of your life. Even though the program picks the first two cards — the Issue card and the Negative Tendency card — for you in what seems like a random process, the cards are uncannily useful and accurate. I'm skeptical about such things and I have my own theory about why they work when they do, but this is a very impressive piece of work which has proven helpful repeatedly in my work and in my life. Highly recommended!

You can purchase the app for $1.99 for the iPhone or for an Android device. 

Firefox to Crowd Adobe From the Other Side With HTML5 PDF Renderer

As HTML5 continues to make inroads into proprietary technology bases like Adobe Flash, along comes Firefox and announces it has a low-profile HTML5 project under way to render the PDF format files that normally require Adobe's free Acrobat Reader. I'm not sure that's as big a deal as Computerworld made it sound, particularly given the fact that they didn't even acknowledge that Safari has had this capability for a long time. Instead, they gave Chrome credit for the feature which is built into Apple's WebKit, on which Chrome relies. We Mac guys can't get no respect!

But the Firefox project is important from the perspective that it doesn't use an API into the PDF document format to render the content but rather relies exclusively on HTML5 and JavaScript to do the job. At the very least, this is a great proof-of-concept project. Ultimately, it could dent Adobe's Acrobat franchise a bit but it will probably be several years before it can displace the free reader that has become so ubiquitous people don't even think twice before downloading it when asked.