Contents tagged with Internet and the Web
Today almost everyone have more than one computer; one at work, a few at home, a media center, a PC, a Mac etc, your family members, friends and colleagues have the same. One problem is that a lot of us need access to files on one machine when we are using one of the others. For example I want to access my images when I’m at work sometimes and I do not want to copy all of these images onto my work laptop, when I’m at home I want to have the same favorites and documents that I use at work and so on. Then I have another scenario, let’s say that I do not have any of my computers with me and I want to access one of my files, then I want to have some way to access the files using a standard browser - and why not have editing possibilities.
There are several ways to accomplish this, but none (that I discovered) covers all of these scenarios. Today I use a mix of services from Microsoft (there are other vendors with similar services, but none as good IMHO); Live Mesh, Office Live Workspaces, Live Skydrive and Live Sync. Read my previous post which compares some of these features.
Live Mesh synchronizes folders between my machines as well as keeps a copy of it in the cloud. Live Sync synchronizes between the machines only. Office Live Workspaces allows me to store, share and access Office documents, lists and calendars in the cloud. Skydrive is currently a backup repository in the cloud. This pretty much covers it all, but has a few problems:
- I need to have several applications/services installed
- I need to go to different web sites to configure or access files
- They all use different storage mechanisms
- The synchronization (Mesh, Live Sync) always make a bi-directional synchronization
Why not take these services and make one über-Mesh and add some additional features. Take the Live Mesh application and add this features then you would have a synchronization service that would take the world with storm.
Modify Live Mesh in the following ways
- Merge the Skydrive storage with the Mesh storage - then we will go from 5Gb to 25Gb online storage
- Allow the Mesh folders to synchronize only between the computers and not the cloud, like Live Sync. I do not need all my files available in the cloud. For example I use Mesh to have some applications synched across my machines, just like Andrew Connell does.
- Allow you to set how the files will be synchronized; one-way or bi-directional. For example I only want my images taken with my mobile phone to be copied to the mesh, not to synchronize all images with the phone. This should be a setting per device and folder
- Today in Live Mesh you can only add top-folders, it would be awesome if you could make your own folder structure and set the synchronization options per folder
- Integrate the Office Live Workspaces folders into the Live Mesh
- Integrate the upcoming Office Live Applications into the Live Mesh, the opportunity to edit my Office documents using a browser only would really rock
- Have a REST based API to the Live Mesh - then all vendors could Meshify their applications
- Make the Live Mesh WebDAV compliant, then I could use any Office application from anywhere and edit my documents directly in the Mesh, without having to synchronize the folders
- Keep the Live Mesh RDP access
- Keep the Live Sync remote folder access
- Keep the Live Sync file size limit, Skydrive does not allow upload of large files
Anything else you would like to have?
Of course I realize, and don’t mind, that some of these services should have some fee; for example the Office Live Applications integration could have some fee and extra storage space (25Gb is not that much in these days) should also cost.
I’ve even tried the Live Mesh CTP version, which have support for custom applications - which looks awesome, throw that into the wish-list also.
I do not think I am the only one out here that would just love to see this happen.
Now sitting here at LAX and reflecting over what we have experienced during the PDC 2008 the last few days. We learned a lot about technical stuff and what’s growing up in Redmond, but I think the most important stuff is what’s happening to the software business in large. With Windows Azure as the first large scale service host and with the number of online services that Microsoft will release in the upcoming years we have a real challenge to adapt to these new business models. Not only Microsoft is running this way, just look at Amazon and others, but Microsoft have such an effect on a large number of users.
We are going to see how our business models will be changed in a few years, and it is time to start thinking about this now. Ok, now you say; I know SOA, I can make web services…but it’s not all about that it’s just the technology that will be used. But it’s fine as long as you know the technology you’re right on track. Several of the PDC sessions was about how to architect solutions for the cloud, which is somewhat different than having your services on premise. If you haven’t watched them I urge you to do so.
Another thing that was really evident at the PDC was that the imperative programming paradigm will and can be replaced with more declarative programming and functional programming. This will be painful for a lot of developers, including me. Same here, you better get to start adapting to this. You have no-code XAML workflows, F# and last but not least Oslo to start with. Of course we will have standard old imperative languages for a long time to come, but you should know when to use other approaches, and knowing about this will be a competitive advantage for you.
This is what I have been thinking about since PDC ended and i know I don’t cover it all here, but it’s just to give you a hint of where the winds are blowing…
Now I have to kill a few hours here at LAX before a long flight home to my beloved family. See ya around.
Day three is officially over, I’m pretty tired today after staying up to late yesterday and playing around with the “goods”. I installed Windows 7 and tried it for a while, but to my disappointment I found out that the nice stuff that were shown on the keynote was missing in my release…
This morning started with the last keynote of PDC 2008 and it was Microsoft Research that should be in the spotlight. An hour and a half was filled with stuff such as environment and healthcare studies done by MSR, important, but hey – you have an audience of 6.000 programmers/geeks here… The last 20-30 minutes was cool though, they showed up a kids-programming-language called Boku (not only for kids, for me too!) and Second Light an evolution of Surface, where you can project a secondary image onto a surface that is above, yup not in touch with, the surface. Really cool!
First session I attended after the keynote was about how to architect services for the Live Framework – It’s all about using HttpWebRequest and RESTful services. If you know about these you can work with the Mesh and Azure. Now I’m just waiting for my activation codes for Azure and that Live Mesh will support non-English regional settings..
I took a quick lunch so I could do one of the hands-on-labs with Microsoft Surface. Easy lab, but I spent some time extra and played with it. All is based on WPF and XAML and it’s really easy. Finishing the lab allowed me to claim the SDK for Surface, which otherwise is quite expensive, so I will have it within a few days. All that then remains is someone to hand me $12.500 so I can replace my living room table at home with a brand new Surface machine!
Then it was time for some more of the Oslo stuff and this time the Quadrant application. Quadrant is the program to use when you are visualizing the repository you have described using the M-language. It’s one heck of a tool which you can turn inside out and more, but the question still remains – how will this really be useful? I’m sure that Don Box and his crew had a lot of fun making these tools and languages, but at this “pre-alpha” stage of Oslo, I have hard to tell how to apply this to my daily work.
To ease things up I went to a talk about Oomph, an incubator project from Microsoft that tries to take advantage of the Microformats such as hCalendar and hCard. The session was a little to light-weight but shows the intention from Microsoft to take advantage of existing standards.
Last session of the day was a long awaited talk from Miguel de Icaza on the Mono project, an open source version of .NET that runs on Linux, Max and Windows machines. Miguel made some really nice demos and it was neat to see how far Mono has come. I did participate in the first release of Mono with some contributions. Mono has some really nice features, such as the C#5(?) compiler as a service, and some sweet JIT optimizations that makes Mono worthy as a game framework. The Mono project also implements a Linux version of Silverlight, version 1.0 will ship any day now and version 2 will be at beta for Mix 2009.
The Mono talk, Oomph talk, Windows 7 Wordpad with ODF/OpenXml support and a bunch of different framework released under the MS-PL open source license really makes me see a Microsoft in change.
Before finishing the day off I walked around and talked to various experts in the Meet the Experts reception at the convention center. Tried to get some more information on Office “14”, but in vain…
During this day the picture of Windows Azure is getting clearer, but the picture of Oslo is still quite blurry. I still have hard to find out to what Oslo is really about but I think I’m getting there – I have to try it some more.
Lot of web sites uses a login page so you can identify yourself and so that the application can target information for you. I use a lot of different sites and does a lot of logins and I must say most of these login pages are not user friendly.
A login page normally consists of two input fields, for username and password, and a button to make the actual login. In most cases there are a checkbox which you can check to make the application remember your login, by using a permanent cookie. The normal pattern, for us keyboard users are to write in username, hit tab, enter password, hit tab, use space button to check the Remember me checkbox, then enter or tab/space to do the login. This sequence is hardcoded into my brain and I really hate those sites that do not use this pattern.
Take a look at the Gmail login page, to the right, which uses this pattern and works like a charm.
But, here are some bad ones:
Facebook uses almost the correct pattern, but you cant hit tab/space to login, since when you check the Remember me checkbox, another checkbox pops up. Works fine if you hit enter though.
Delicious also breaks the tab/space pattern with a number of links between the checkbox and the sign in button.
These small things gets me really annoyed. There are certainly even more worse examples of bad login pages, but these are sites/services that get a lot of logins. I only highlighted the usability when using keyboard here and did not mention bad security implementations of these login pages, such as the Feedburner login page which tells you if it was the username or password that was invalid…
Do you agree with me?
So the F-day is here and Mozilla Firefox 3.0 is ready for download. Servers are currently down but you can get it from the FTP site. Mozilla has not even had time to fix their first-run page – it’s still referring to the Release Candidate 3. I guess we will see a record in downloading the next 24 hours.
I had some strange experiences while installing it. I installed it over beta 5, therefore the location of Firefox was in the Program Files\Mozilla Firefox Beta 5\ folder and after a few minutes I had the first crash of Fx since beta 3 or something.
For me it’s Firefox time. I have not until the 3.0 beta releases really liked Firefox, but now it is here to stay! But don’t get too excited, Internet Explorer will still be my primary browser…
Microsoft SharePoint is a great Enterprise Portal framework and contains a lot of collaboration and management features out of the box. SharePoint also has the abilities to find users and their knowledge using a social distance algorithm, but it has lacked some of the social features that applications such as Facebook successfully has implemented and been recognized for. Microsoft even owns a smaller part of the Facebook company.
The enterprise equivalent of Web 2.0 – Enterprise 2.0 is steadily increasing and to make it work for the knowledge worker of today you have to include the social features. There are now numerous third party applications you can use to leverage your SharePoint installation to an Enterprise 2.0 portal, I previously blogged about some of them.
The screenshot is from something called Townsquare:
…a prototype enterprise news feed developed by Microsoft Office Labs, allows users to receive news about managers, friends and colleagues all in one place
This really looks interesting! Facebook-like social features in a SharePoint-like environment – this can really be something!?
Do you know anything more about this? If I find out some news I’ll post it here.
Due to the large amount of users still using Internet Explorer 6 a campaign has started to save developers from having to making specific adaptations to IE6 - SaveTheDevelopers.org.
The Save The Developers site contains a script that anyone can place on their web site and it will show a warning to IE6 users and urge them to upgrade to any of the four major browsers; Internet Explorer 7, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari or Opera.
Internet Explorer 6 still represents 31%, almost one third, of all browsers according to TechCrunch, while this site has about 15% (which I find quite high...).
Join the cause, add the script to your site, recommend people, friends, parents, customers and colleagues to upgrade.
Apple have now released the final version of the Safari browser to Windows, which has not gone unnoticed since they are pushing it as a pre-selected optional update to QuickTime or iTunes. I still refuse to install iTunes on my machines so this approach from Apple is not new to me. As soon as there are any updates to QuickTime Apple recommends me to install iTunes, via Apple Software Update.
But anyway's, this time I wanted to install the Safari browser.
As usual I did not read the EULA (who do read all these agreements). If I would have then I would have found out that I was not allowed to install it on my Dell Windows Vista machine!
Take a look at this piece in the License Agreement (Help->License in the Safari browser).
Safari will not be my preferred browser for a long time, I just don't like the interface, the hijack of the controls (look at the image below) or the rendering of text.
But it is installed now - and I'm happy with that. Now I can test drive sites on different browsers without having multiple virtual machines or computers.
Stuart Parmenter, aka Pavlov, has written an article on the improvements of Firefox 3 memory management. Firefox 3 uses a number of nice techniques to reduce the memory usage over time and it looks very promising. My experience with earlier versions of Firefox is that they over time consumes more memory and releases less than Internet Explorer. Pavlov shows with a number of graphs that Firefox 3 beta 4 outruns Internet Explorer 7 and previous versions of Firefox in good memory management.
I did a small test on my own to compare beta 1 of Internet Explorer 8 and beta 4 of Firefox and the results was not that surprising. Take this comparison with a pinch of salt since it not that scientific...
As you can see Firefox (3 beta 4 and 2) outperformed Internet Explorer 8 beta 1 and uses about 50 Mb of memory, in the end, on my machine while IE8 uses twice the amount. What you can't see in this diagram is that FF3b4 did use momentarily more memory, but I did not write these number down instead I wrote them down after the memory usage had stabilized after a few seconds.
Firefox 3 is really looking good and is now contending for the number one browser for me (the lack of creating ActiveX objects, which are used in SharePoint to open/edit documents, are now the only show stopper).
Breaking news! Good news! Finally! Microsoft and the Internet Explorer team has finally decided to change their previous decision and decided that Internet Explorer 8 will render pages using web standards by default, instead of having some backwards-compatible mode.
To catch up and read more head on over to these posts/links. I guess the blogosphere will be flooded with this today...
- Microsoft Press Release on the subject
- IEBlog - Microsoft's Interoperability Principles and IE8
- Mary Jo Foley - Microsoft caves: ‘Super-standards’ mode to become IE 8 default
This is by far the best news in ages from Microsoft (the new open Microsoft?), even better than the news to open up the Windows Server Protocols, since it will affect the end-users more immediate.