Monthly Archives: November 2007

Site Performance Updates

Some recent news on web site performance:

Getting a chance to present again was a lot of fun. I forget how much energy I get from talking to people about web technology. I want to thank Richard Appleyard again for the opportunity.

links for 2007-11-19

True Impact of TinyURL

Slashdot today has an article asking the question, “Do Tiny URL Services Weaken Net Architecture?” The argument in the Slashdot article is pretty hilarious (Short version: TinyURL goes down and the Internet crashes). Instead of chicken-little scenarios, let’s talk about the one significant way that the growth in TinyURL-like services is changing marketing.

Shorten url services are all the rage these days. The key factors in their popularity are the increase in mobile devices, especially text messaging services, and emerging technology like Twitter and Pownce. When people use these systems, a premium is placed on short messages. Shortening a url to save characters becomes a necessity.

The impact of use of TinyURL-like services is that it becomes much more difficult to track the conversation surrounding your company or product. Savvy marketers today have multiple searches set up to scour the web looking for urls that point to their web sites. However, when people use TinyURL and other services, links to your web site are impossible to detect because the TinyURL is random.

This makes it more critical than every to watch incoming referring urls to find Twitter references and other places linking to your site. My testing shows that the referring url will show up correctly in web analytics despite the use of TinyURL.

links for 2007-11-18

links for 2007-11-15

links for 2007-11-11

gPhone = Open Handset Alliance

The gPhone isn’t a Google phone. Instead, it is the formation of an alliance to develop an open platform for mobile devices.

The new consortium is called the Open Handset Alliance. The Alliance is formed around the Android platform that Google has contributed to the Alliance. Andy Rubin, Google’s Director of Mobile Platforms, describes Android as:

The first truly open and comprehensive platform for mobile devices. It includes an operating system, user-interface and applications — all of the software to run a mobile phone, but without the proprietary obstacles that have hindered mobile innovation.

If this is true–and the devil is in the definition of “open” as it always is–this could be a substantial development for mobile devices.

UPDATE: According the Open Handset Alliance FAQs, the platform will be released under Apache v2 Open Source License. The code will have a publicly accessible repository. It sounds very open thus far.

Last summer at Web Visions, I had an extended conversation with Kinan Sweidan of Ximda who had presented on determining location using mobile devices. During the conversation, Kinan talked about how difficult it was to develop on mobile devices.

The primary problem seemed to be carriers who don’t see their phones as a platform for other development. Handset manufacturers are beholden to the carriers because their hardware and software are useless if the companies like Verizon and AT&T decide not to allow the phone on their network.

The economics also favor the carriers because the cost of developing a phone is higher than most consumers will pay which is why the cost of the hardware is often underwritten by signing contracts that lock in services. Apple is rumored to receive another $432 from AT&T for every iPhone that is sells.

With this as context, it is possible to see why the Open Handset Alliance could be a game changer:

  1. The price of developing new hardware will presumably decrease because of an open and shared development of the OS. A decrease in handset costs will loosen the hold carriers have on phone manufacturers by decreasing the need for underwriting of phone costs. This does not decrease their stranglehold on their networks. Legislation would be required for change that dynamic.
  2. The combination of Android and Apple’s recent decision to release an SDK may mark a turning point in the understanding that the value of mobile devices will increase as they open up to outside developers.

If the second point has actually come to pass–if in the last few months the mobile industry has woken up to the realization that their future is dependent on becoming a platform for a wide variety of developers–then things will get very interesting very quickly.

The possibilities for mobile devices are astounding. 2008 is shaping up to be a very big year for mobile.

links for 2007-11-05

  • As all designers know, the grid is absolutely fundamental to layout, whether you want to keep to a tight grid, or break it for effect. Grid is a highly configurable JavaScript bookmarklet which overlays a layout grid on any web-site you wish.
  • Simplify your Ruby on Rails™ development and free yourself from setting up source code repositories, continuous integration servers, code browsers and commit notifications.
  • “Malcolm Gladwell talks about the importance of stubbornness and collaboration in problem-solving, and how long it takes to master any challenge.”
    (tags: gladwell video)

links for 2007-11-04