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Archive for May, 2010

Code name LonghornCode names have been around for a long time. Remember the Manhattan project in the 1940s? That turned out to be the atomic bomb. Thankfully, not all code names hide such sinister projects.

Code names can be about secrecy, but when it comes to software development, it’s usually not so much about secrecy as it is about the convenience of having a name for a specific version of a software. It can be very practical to have a unique identifier for a project to get everyone on the same page and avoid confusion.

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Courier, Kin, and Microsoft’s relentless failure to innovate

CourierMicrosoft finally admitted to the existence of its fabled dual-screen Courier tablet. But unfortunately for us, that admission only came after Gizmodo reported the project was dead. Despite being one of the more intriguing and innovative products to bear the Microsoft name in recent memory, the company couldn’t, or wouldn’t, follow through with it.

It’s an old complaint, but I think it’s the perfect time to revisit Microsoft’s innovation issues. Along with the death of the Courier, it also recently announced details on its new Kin phones – which I find disappointing for multiple reasons.

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Can we stop the app-counting madness, please?

PhonesIt seems like not a week goes by without new numbers of how many apps there are in Apple’s iPhone App Store or Google’s Android Market. And frankly, it’s starting to get ridiculous.

First of all, there is the old adage of “quality, not quantity” to think about (remember that one?), and then there’s another aspect: what counts as an app?

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Domain namesDomain names, without them the web would just be a bunch of hard-to-remember IP addresses. Imagine telling your buddies, “Oh, I found this awesome site at 72.14.204.104 last night.”

And yet, many of us don’t know all that much about them. Prepare to be cured of that, because here is…

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How Google could fix its Android fragmentation woes

AndroidThere’s no doubt that Google is kicking butt and taking names with its Android smartphones. A recent report by the market research firm NPD shows that Android phones outsold Apple’s iPhone for the first time in the first quarter of this year. That effectively makes Android the second-best selling mobile platform in the U.S. — right behind RIM’s Blackberry devices, which have been entrenched in the smartphone market for years.

Android’s increased popularity, and eventual domination of the U.S. smartphone market, is inevitable. As I’ve written previously, its success will be driven by its sheer ubiquity. Android phones are already available on all major cellular carriers in the U.S., and they all carry a variety of devices that range from entry-level to high-end.

But that same ubiquity is also Google’s greatest issue with Android right now. There are simply too many versions of the operating system out there and that’s become a major headache both for developers and users. What follows are a few suggestions on how Google could help fix its platform fragmentation problem before it becomes an even bigger issue.

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jQueryIf you’re using jQuery, a good thing you can do is to use the jQuery file hosted on one of the three public content delivery networks (CDNs) provided by Google, Microsoft and Edgecast (via MediaTemple).

This has several benefits:

  • You offload your own servers.
  • You increase the odds that the file is cached, since other sites will be linking to the same file.
  • A CDN will probably deliver the file faster than you can.

So which of these free CDN options will give you the best performance?

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How much we will be tweeting by 2011 (chart)

TwitterTwitter processed 1.76 billion tweets in April. This is already significantly more than Twitter was handling in January (1.2 billion tweets). Counted in tweets, Twitter is growing like crazy.

So how many tweets will Twitter be handling by the end of the year? Based on Twitter’s growth rate until now, let’s try to predict what the rest of the year will look like (and make a pretty chart while we’re at it).

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Money faucetWe stumbled upon an interesting statistic the other day: According to DomainTools there are more than 380 million deleted gTLD domain names, i.e. domain names that at some point have been registered but no longer exist. More than 80% of those are .com domain names.

This number needs to be put into perspective to understand how unnaturally large it is. The total number of active gTLD domain names (.com, .net, .org, etc.) today is about 118 million. We find it hard to believe that on top of these, there would have at some time existed another 380 million legitimate domain names.

So how did that number become so large? The answer is quite simple: domain tasting.

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When automatic software updates go horribly wrong

DisasterMcAfee had a nasty surprise in store for their customers a couple of weeks ago. An automatic update to its antivirus software suddenly pointed out a system-critical file in Windows XP as malicious. The result was that the file was removed, and Windows XP stopped working.

This crippled entire companies, which often have large sets of computers running XP. To make matters worse: every single computer had to be manually restored. Considering many companies had thousands of Windows XP machines, you can imagine the time it took and the outrage it caused.

Accidents such as these are uncommon, but they still happen way too often for comfort. And if you think the latest incident with McAfee was a one-off? Think again.

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