Browsing the archives for the technology category.

Illusion of Security

technology

News that SSL encryption can be broken in 10 minutes seems quite big to me.

The fun fact everyone would talk about is that 128 bit SSL encryption would take longer than the age of the universe to crack.  10 minutes seems like quite an improvement.   The article is a little vague (or perhaps some of the TLS talk is above my head), but as far as I can tell, an infected browser could compromise any secure browser session to an HTTPS secured site that went longer than 10 minutes on a network that had an internet sniffer.  This would include all online banking websites, online email websites, etc.

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Would You Build a Bridge This Way?

technology

This week, software bugs took the Netflix website down for a weekend and significantly delayed United Airlines flights all over the country.  Massive software failures like these are becoming more commonplace.  The reason is that there’s not much engineering going on anymore in the Software Engineering field.

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Promise of 3D Printing

technology

The full promise of 3D printers didn’t really hit me until recently. These are printers that build 3D objects from resin like materials. The specifications for the objects come from digital representations.

The technology is in its infancy and there are still advancements to make. The printers need to get cheaper and faster. The strength of the objects produced need to get stronger. These are significant challenges, but I think the solutions are within reach.

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The Fix was In

mobile, technology

In hindsight, it was easy to guess that Stephen Elop would choose to partner with the Windows Phone platform over Android. He is from Microsoft after all.

Since he’s only been with Nokia for four months, I’m suspecting he discussed the move to dump Symbian in favor for Windows Phone with the board of directors before being hired.

The old guard at Nokia is none too pleased. I saw footage of a massive worker walk-out in Finland in protest the move to dump Symbian.

This is a big risk and only time will tell if it will work out.

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Concentric Hosting Review

technology

Though I like the idea of trying Amazon.com’s cloud offerings, it’s hard for me to move my hobby websites away from Concentric Hosting.  I’ve been with them for over ten years and they’ve lowered their costs twice while adding tons of features.  For $11 per month, I get full perl/php scripting capabilities as well as lots of pre-installed software packages including WordPress, OS Commerce, and MySQL.  There might be some upstart hosts that will offer it for even cheaper, but it’s not worth the effort to move all my sites.  Well done Concentric!

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Burning Down the Platform

mobile, technology

Wow, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop gets tons of honesty points for calling the Symbian landscape a “burning platform“.

The company led the high end device market for quite some time and deserve credit for doing so. They are also now smart to recognize the need for radical change.   It’s hard for a company that size to change quickly, so let’s stay tuned to see how they do.

Word is that they’re looking to either embrace Android or Windows 7 Mobile technology for their smart phones. Microsoft often gets things right on their second or third try, like they did with their Internet and browser strategy.  However, at this point, I think Android would be the right path for Elop to choose.

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Invention of Software

technology

I think the following quote by Ada Lovelace about the Babbage Analytical Machine can be regarded as the invention of software:

Many persons who are not conversant with mathematical studies imagine that because the business of [Babbage's Analytical Engine] is to give its results in numerical notation, the nature of its processes must consequently be arithmetical and numerical, rather than algebraical and analytical. This is an error. The engine can arrange and combine its numerical quantities exactly as if they were letters or any other general symbols; and in fact it might bring out its results in algebraical notation, were provisions made accordingly.

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Learn to create iPhone apps for less than $100 in less than 60 hours

technology

The iphonedevcamp.org is at the end of July and is only $50. It’s mostly developer centered, but it’s a great way to learn to become an iphone developer. Here are some quick steps you can take to be able to write iphone apps in less than 31 days, for less than $100, and less than 60 hours of effort. The only requirement is that you have a mac.

1) Buy the following book: http://www.amazon.com/iPhone-Action-Introduction-Web-Development/dp/193398886X ($26) and go through the exercises in chapters 10-19 ( 30 hrs)

2) Sign up at iphonedevcamp.org ($50), (includes tons of food and beer for an entire weekend)

3) Attend dev camp and develop your own app (24 hrs)

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Dreaming in the Clouds

technology

Update 7/2/2009:

Now Google App Engine supports Java, which was at the top of a lot of developers’s wish lists.

Original Post:

The cloud hype is maxed out. Every company is rolling out their cloud initiative. Every analyst thinks the cloud is the future. Every developer wants to add the cloud to their resume. Every CIO wants to be leveraging the cloud to save money.

However, nobody really knows what the cloud is. Just like in the late 1990′s, when everyone was a web service expert but nobody had the same technical definition of what a web service was. I’ve used Amazon’s cloud, which gives developers a virtual machine login and also a special way to store data. I’ve used the Google cloud, which gives developers a way to deploy web apps with Python. I’ve used the Slicehost/Rackspace cloud, which is like the Amazon cloud, but cheaper and without the data storage. My employer, Sun Microsystems, is rolling out a cloud API that will define a different kind of cloud. If the cloud is the future, shouldn’t we first agree on what it is?

If I could define what the cloud should be, I would say that it should be a place where I can deploy any application written in any language with any IDE. I should have the freedom to make it available to anyone on the internet or make it securely available only to my corporate intranet. It should be infinitely scalable (which is impossible, but should be scalable to the point that a well written application could keep growing to support hundreds of thousands of users.) I want to be able to pay for storage, bandwidth, processing, and memory units with no minimum and be able to scale up and down instantaneously by moving a dial on a website up and down. I want to receive an email when any of the parameters I’m paying for reach 90% capacity so I can scale up and down. I want to have easy integration with content delivery networks like Akamai.

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Mobile divergence, the next frontier

technology

Divergence can mean many different things in hardware and software.  I look at it from the point of view of a software developer.  To me, divergence is measured by the amount of work to get software to run for as many users as possible.

In browsers over the years, divergence has meant fine tune javascript, learn HTML bugs on different renderers, and put up with corporate competitive sabotage over Flash and Java applet supports.  These challenges still exist to an extent, but the situation is much better.   Today, if you stay away from writing I.E. specific functionality, Firefox, Safari, and I.E. handle HTML, javascript, flash, and even the new Java applets similarly.

On the desktop, divergence has basically meant porting between Mac and Windows.  With the advent of Ajax and more featureful web apps, there are just fewer instances when you want to write a desktop client in the first place.  The increased conformity among browsers has helped.  Also, when Apple switched to Intel chips, tools like VMWare make it so if users really want to run an Windows app with their Mac, they have no problems.  I’ve had my Mac for about a year now and have only used VMWare once.

While divergence has diminished on the browser and desktop, the mobile landscape is the next frontier… and it is a big mess.  Java ME for a time helped minimize porting between mobile platforms, but developers still had to adjust their apps to all the different form factors and the whims of the carriers that arbitrarily restricted various API’s.  Now that Java ME is more or less slowing down and Sun is turning its attention to Java FX, Java ME is becoming less relevant in mobile.  The new app stores announced are great, but to reach the full capabilities of each phone, developers have to pretty much to a completely rewrite of each application.  I try to stay on top of development options for iPhone, R.I.M. BlackBerry, and Symbian, but the task is daunting.  I’ve been watching the work of the Symbian foundation.  Symbian currently runs on 50% of new smart phones.  I’m hoping that now that they are open source, their share can grow and eventually become the de facto standard for mobile developers.

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