Archive for January, 2010

The Apple Tablet

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

After months of rumour and speculation, the Apple tablet is due to be announced at today’s Apple event. Information that has appeared so far today are some grainy photos and rumour that the device will cost $800 on contract, or $1000 without.

Edit: well the event has been and gone and it looks like the rumour on the price was way off – it will be available from just $499. The iPad look like a scaled up iPhone. It has a 9.7 inch capacitative touchscreen, 1GHz Apple A4chip, 10 hour battery life and will come in a variety of disk capacities (16, 32 and 64GB), just like the iPhone. Wifi and 3G are available as options. There’s also been some interesting apps announced, like iBook (an e-reader application) and iWork (spreadsheet type stuff). The majority of apps on the app store will work on it – either in a window or scaled up to double size. It won’t be long before apps specifically for the ipad become available I’m sure, the iPhone SDK was updated yesterday to add support for the iPad.

The beginning of the end for Internet Explorer?

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

In my years of developing for Internet Explorer I’ve been continually having to battle with it’s half-assed implementation of web standards and non existent debugging tools, but have to continue supporting it because so many people don’t know any better. A small ray of hope has emerged in the last few days off the back of the Google/China showdown. Apparently the Chinese hacks were taking advantage of an undisclosed security flaw in Internet Explorer. Because of the this on the 15th Jan the German goverment issued a warning to Internet users to avoid using Internet Explorer. They were followed by the French government on the 18th who issued a similar warning.

Now it seems the malicious code only targets IE6, and Microsoft released a patch for it yesterday (the 21st). Hopefully these security alerts will have caused some people to jump ship from Internet Explorer to one of the alternatives, and we can see those usage stats, particularly of IE6, start to drop off.

Source: StatCounter Global Stats – Browser Market Share

Aliens vs. Predator

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

We had a sneak peek of this in the office yesterday and it’s looking really, really slick. There have been many Alien vs. Predator games in the past (The first Alien vs. Predator games was released in 1999 and was by the same developers – Rebellion) but I think this is the first that really does the franchise justice. It’s out on 19th Feb in the Uk on PC, Xbox360 and PS3. More details.

10 Recommended Firefox extensions for web programmers

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

Firebug

If you spend time building web pages, working with CSS, Ajax, javascript etc this plugin can be amazingly helpful. It allows you to inspect DOM elements on the page, see what css styles they have applied to them, where these CSS styles are defined and even preview changes without having to modify the source.

HttpFox

HttpFox allows monitoring of http traffic between your browser and the web server. Also allows you to inspect headers, POST data, cookies etc. Incredibly useful when working with Flash applications when you want to see what data is being loaded in, and also for easily checking for missing or broken page components.

YSlow

Another tool for website optimisation. Developed by Yahoo, YSlow analyses various components of a web page and gives you tips on areas that can be improved based on Yahoo’s rules for high performance web sites. It also includes neat tools to do things like image optimisation. YSlow runs on top of Firebug and so you’ll need to have that installed before you’re able to use it. Yahoo’s Best Practises for Speeding Up your Website are a real goldmine of information and well worth looking into if you’re involved with making sure your getting the best possible performance from your website.

HTML Validator

The benefits of having correct, cleanup HTML/XHTML markup are obvious. This extension parses and validates your markup using two tools from the W3C – Tidy and OpenSP. You are then presented with a list of issues, making fixing poor markup a quick and easy process. It also has a useful feature that allows you to view html source after javascript execution, which is useful when working with Ajax.

Web Developer

The web develper extension brings together stacks of different tools that are useful for web development, tools for inspecting web pages, validating, disabling components, resizing the browser window, etc etc.

Flash Tracer

Very useful if you work with Flash, this extension allows viewing of trace statements from a Flash movie when it is embedded in a web page. Requires you to use a debug Flash Player.

Flash Switcher

I use this in conjunction with Flash Tracer. As the debug flash players can be slow compared to the normal player, you ideally don’t want to be running it all the time. Flash Switcher gives you a quick and easy way to switch between different flash versions. It also allows you to test your flash under different flash player versions.

FireShot

This extension doesn’t feel quite as slick as other extensions but provides some neat functionality. It gives you a quick and easy way to take a screengrab of the current page (either visible area or the entire page), and then carry out simple edits and make annotations to the grab before saving it off or sending it via email. Very useful when you want to send someone a screengrab highlighting an issue or area of interest.

ShowIP

A simple extension that tells you the IP address of the site you are visiting. If you maintain several servers this can be useful to tell you where a page is hosted

Clear Cache Button

Allows clearing of your web cache without having to delve through submenus. if you find yourself doing this a lot, this extension is worth getting.

New Super Mario Brother Wii

Friday, January 15th, 2010

Having the word ‘new’ in the title of anything has always been one of my pet hates, but I’ve always been a fan of Mario games and have owned every console Nintendo have ever produced. This game is the latest in the long series of Mario games produced by Nintendo and I picked it up just after it came out in November.

It’s the first Mario game since the Mario Bros. arcade game to feature simultaneous multiplayer action, with the ability to have up to 4 players on screen at the same time.

With classic 2D side-scrolling, koopa stomping action, this game certainly has the classic winning formula and also introduces new twists like the propellor and penguin suit.

Lots of fun! Metacritic score: 87

Google threatens to shut down Google China

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

Quite a biggy. It seems that Google has been having some problems with hacking attempts on the Gmail accounts of Chinese human-rights activists, possibly by the Chinese government, and because of this they want to stop the censoring of search results on the Chinese Google site. If the Chinese government doesn’t agree to this Google are threatenting to close the google.cn website and their offices in China:

“These attacks and the surveillance they have uncovered–combined with the attempts over the past year to further limit free speech on the web–have led us to conclude that we should review the feasibility of our business operations in China. We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on Google.cn, and so over the next few weeks we will be discussing with the Chinese government the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all. We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down Google.cn, and potentially our offices in China.”

Full story

Pandora FTW

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

PandoraI’ve always had a soft spot for the Pandora handheld gaming console. That’s because it’s the first handheld console to be produced and developed on open source principles. Development started back in 2007 and even though it hasn’t quite started shipping yet it promises to be an extraordinary handheld.

The video below shows the console playing Super Mario 64:

Kaboom baby!

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

Occasionally you come across a video that makes you laugh out loud every time you see it. This is my favourite 🙂

It features the late, great Billy Mays and is dubbed by the guys at Jabo0ody Dubs.

Trials HD

Monday, January 4th, 2010

For years I’ve been a fan of the motocross / trials game that has seen many different versions, all of which have been fiendishly addictive. I’ve just spotted (vid below) that there’s now an 3D version available on Xbox Live Arcade, and it looks awesome!

I love WordPress

Sunday, January 3rd, 2010

Just made the long-awaited switch to WordPress, let the good times roll!