I attended the CINNUNG Mobile Development Firestarter event today. I learned a great deal, as I always do from these kinds of events, and I had a lot of fun.
But as each platform was discussed—first Android, then iPhone, and finally Windows Mobile/Windows Phone—it occurred to me that the most important question is: which platform do I use (assuming you’ve already answered ‘yes’ to the question: do I need to write a mobile phone app?). This is a very important question, because there really isn’t a way to develop the same app (or, at least, the same code) for all three platforms. Android is Java, iPhone is Objective-C, and Windows is .NET. So, besides all the technical goodness, this was one of my primary objectives for this Firestarter: which platform do I use? And I think I have the answer:
Develop for all three.
Wait a second. Didn’t you just say you couldn’t develop for all three? Well, yes. There is no way to build a native app for all three with the same source code. Ah, you see what I did there? Native app. There is one obvious way to build an app for all three platforms with the same code base. You don’t have to go through a costly/obstructive app store either. It’s called the World Wide Web. You see, I wasn’t actually asking the right question.
So really, what’s the point of possibly learning a new language, UI framework, API, app store requirements, rules and restrictions, not to mention a possible hefty fee for selling on an app store, when you already have a much more open channel already built in to every platform. Now, I’m not saying web apps are always the answer (see also: the last 20 years of SAAS vs desktop arguments, not to mention my previous post on RTRJ). But I do think there’s something of an app store “bubble”, and when that dust settles, a similar equilibrium (as on desktops) will be reached on mobile platforms, especially if all these new consumers in the smartphone market have a hard time transferring their purchased apps to their next phone or cell network.
I’m guessing many of you already use RSS to get new posts on mgroves.com. Is my guess correct?
If not, how do you get new posts? Do you just check the site everyday?
Would you find a regular email update useful?
One man’s need is another man’s want, and one man’s ‘when’ is another man’s ‘whenever.’ So whatever you need, you need it when you need it, but whatever you want, you may not want until you need it. Whatever you don’t not want, you probably want to not want to not need it, when the time comes that need it.
Okay, now that that’s clear, let’s proceed.
Here are some sites that claim to offer what you need, when you need it.
If you still don’t have what you need, then you probably don’t need it.
Some companies actually claim “What you need, when you need it” as their motto. Personally, I don’t think they are being vague enough.
Why Should I Rent From Diamond Rental? “…our corporate motto is “what you need, when you need it.”.
PTB Sales has “What you need, when you need it!”
At Kimball, their full-service promise to our clients is: “What you need, when you need it, within your budget. We do it every day.”
Williams Babbit & Weisman say that “Our absolute goal is… what you need, when you need it and how you need it!”
And finally, even God is what you need, when you need it.
These sort of sites tend to frustrate people like Sugarme1.
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Are you a web professional? You should subscribe to Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox. While you may not always agree with him, Jakob (Yack-obb) is one of the premier pioneers of web usability.
That being said, I found something rather odd in this week’s Alertbox.
Finally, let’s pick our discount rate: 100%. That is, whatever value we gain during the first year after project launching is only worth half as much in today’s money: a $2 gain next year is worth $1 today. This huge discount rate makes sense because design projects are hugely uncertain.
Hugely uncertain! With a discount rate like 100%, it better be! Just to put this into perspective, a typical discount rate for a relatively risky corporation or stock portfolio around the 20-30% range is pretty darn uncertain. Jakob is saying that design/usability projects are even more uncertain than those type of ventures. Crazy!
I’m online a lot (because I’m so unique, you see). My online addiction coupled with my profession as a web developer exposes me to many horrors, which, like scabies, get under my skin. A warning: some of these are a little technical. I present to you a top ten list (because studies show list-posts gain higher traffic than free-form beatnik scat – and I’m all about getting Matt Groves additional ad revenue) of my least favorite things online. Let’s begin with…
To denote the first comment in a thread of comments, users often post “First!” signaling to other wannabe first posters that they’re too damn slow. It’s sort of like marking your territory, being the first to plant the flag on a new land. Truth be told, I actually like this one but Groves hates it. I find it to be an important piece of web culture and history; he finds it to be redundant drivel.
9. Correcting you spelling with a second post
Many comment forms in a blog or message board don’t have an edit option, and since spell checkers are (at this time) rarely or poorly implemented in web browsers, typos get through. Many times, in embarrassment and frustration, the submitter will indicate the correct spelling to the obvious typo with a follow-up comment. It’s okay. We get it. We don’t think you’re an idiot. Let the typo be.
8. Your – Correcting your spelling with a second post
See what I did there?
7. See what I did there
Oh, how cute you are, Mr. Blogger. It was clever the first couple times I read it. I’ve written it myself. But it’s been done to death. Oh, I see what you did there, Mr. Blogger, and I hate it.
6. Trackbacks, pingbacks, linkbacks
Trackbacks indicate a record of some other web site talking about one of your blog posts. Do these contribute anything to the conversation? Many times they’re just a mash of timestamps and URLs. Please keep your server logs to yourself instead of vomiting them onto your blog.
5. Unidentified PDF links
My version of Acrobat takes about 20 solid seconds to load, so if I find myself having accidentally clicked a PDF link, I take it out on animals and small children.
4. Click here for larger image yields no larger image
Sometimes clicking an image produces a pop-up or new page with a larger image. But content management systems often provide no alternative if the original is small to begin with. So, you’ll click a 100×200 pixel image, a window pops up, and behold, the same size image. Die!!!
3. Shrinking images in the html
Thanks for making me download this 5MB image file that you’ve resized to a thumbnail in the html.
You’ve probably seen this on many new web sites – a tiny “BETA” next to the logo. This is one case where I can appreciate a 37 Signals philosophy: your product should always be in Beta, constantly refined. Flickr at one point mockingly added a “Gamma” graphic to its logo, and you’d think this would’ve made the web 2.0 community realize how ridiculous they were being. Does the AOL crowd know what the heck “Beta” means?
1. Web Intellectuals
I understand the value of semantic markup, properly crediting quotes and photographs, and Apple computers; but I don’t get an erection thinking about them. I recently ran across a new web 2.0 site called “Should Do This“. The first primary option after “Home” is a link called “Zeitgeist”. Who is their audience? People who bring their laptop to Starbucks, that’s who. Not everyone carries a messenger bag while listening to NPR podcasts on their iPod. I hate you and your accursed kind.
Whew! That was cathartic.
Doesn’t matter if it’s Windows, Mac, or Linux, they all have some sort of quick-start bar with the GUI. This is where you put shortcuts to programs that you use often.
What’s on your quick start toolbar and why?
Yeah I like the tiny icons. I also have it set to auto-hide and always-on-top, and I have it positioned across the top of the screen.
One bug with Windows that I’ve noticed is that if I switch from dual screen to single screen, the bar only half-appears with none of the icons. Weird.
Outlook: when I’m at work, this is probably the single most important application. When not at work, Opera takes its place.
“Show desktop”: sometimes I gotta get to something on my desktop when I’m in the middle of something else. Much faster than minimizing a dozen other windows 1-by-1.
Shortcut to C: Some people keep the “My Computer” link or an “Explorer” link or whatever. Since I’m a DOS user from way back, I prefer to start right at the root of things: C.
Greatnews: After trying out a dozen or so RSS readers over the years, this is the best one that I’ve found. Quick, flexible, and organized.
Irfanview: There’s a reason Irfanview is on here and not GIMP/Fireworks/Photoshop: it’s much faster and adequate for 95% of the graphics/image related tasks that I need to do.
Enterprise Manager: Again, I’m a web developer and I want quick access to the databases.
Notepad: When I don’t need a full text editor, Notepad is great to dump quick copy & pastes on, and it’s really handy to have right there.
Bitcomet: My bit torrent client of choice.
VPN: This is probably the leased used button. When I’m using the VPN, it means that I’m working outside of normal work hours. Quicker to the icon means quicker to be done.
WinRAR: I don’t like the “shell integration” of WinRAR, so I just have it here for quick zipping/raring when emailing stuff.
Add/remove programs: I install a lot of software, but a lot of it is crap. Let’s skip the control panel and go right to the uninstall.
Calculator: I prefer my TI-85, but this is handy when the TI-85 is not.
Media player: This is probably almost gone, I barely use it. I might replace it with Media Player Classic.
Pidgin: This used to be called Gaim. It’s the all-in-one open source instant messanger client.
Audacity: An incredibly feature rich and 100% free audio editor. I’ve also thought about putting the suprisingly handy Windows Movie Maker up here too, though I don’t edit movies all that much.
Here’s a quiz to help determine how versed you are in the world wide web, and it’s key component: the browser.
- Do you know the history of your favorite web browser? When it was first released? What “parents” it had?
- Can you name more than three web browsers?
- How many browsers do you have installed on your PC right now?
Most people who use the internet, the “schlubs” or “marks”, as they might be known by carnies, only use one browser, and might not even understand that a browser is a separate thing from the actual WWW. “The blue e” brings up “the internet.” Yeah, that’s how a lot of people understand it, but that’s not exactly how it works.
But even you, the savvy blog reader, may not understand the rich history and complexities that begat whatever web browser you are using right now.
Did you know that the first web browser as you now know it was called NCSA Mosaic? Browsers have improved since then, but for the most part they are still very much like the world’s first popular graphic browser.
Can you name more than 3 web browsers? IE, Firefox, Opera and Safari and the ‘big 4′, but can you name any more? Netscape, Konqueror, Lynx (text-based) are slightly more obscure ones that you may have heard of. But even I, the great webmaster hasn’t even heard of OmniWeb or Shiira before. And that historical timeline above doesn’t come close to listing every web browser that has ever existed.
How many browsers do you have installed on your PC right now? If you are a web professional, the answer better be at least two! With the recent release of Apple’s Safari for Windows XP, I would recommend that a web designer or developer carry at least 4 browsers (IE,Firefox,Opera,Safari), even if you only use Firefox and IE for 99% of your work. What? It’s not like they cost anything…
phpBB3 is on its way around the corner, and it’s looking pretty polished. It’s got an upgraded infrastructure, a fantastic new administration interface, and a slew of new features. Its new proSilver template is out and about now, and is very modern in design. All CSS-driven, tableless XHTML which makes it more flexible than ever, moreso even than its competitors.
Amongst it’s new clean interface is a fairly simple, unique little difference that sets it apart from virtually every other board: The author’s avatar and information are displayed to the right of the post rather than the left. The design decision was made in order to direct the eye to the post content rather than the author. It’s literally just a matter of modifying a couple values in the CSS to switch it back, but it’s caused a significant stir over at the phpBB forums. This will be the phpBB default, so altered or no it’ll be making its way onto many online forums in the near future. I personally am in favor of it as it makes the forum look more like an actual discussion rather than a post count warzone (not that it won’t still be one), but I’m curious to hear some of your opinions. Comment away!