Building Web UIs

So my new job has been keeping me very busy, which is why I haven’t written a post in a long time. However, since I have a little extra time during these Christmas holidays, I’ve decided to write a little post about some UI coding principles I now embrace. This mostly pertains to HTML\Javascript\CSS. The over-arching philosophy for this is a seperation of interests similar to MVC, but just on the view side things. Whenever possible, I try to use JavaScript for UI functionality: events, calculations, loading (ajax), ui logic, etc.; As for anything visible, I try to use HTML …

Net Monetization and Micro Payments

Some of you may have noticed the latest web trend: content monetization. Content that used to be free such as on NYT and WashPo is now limited to only so many articles, and in some cases entirely closed off. This is the new Web. Unfortunately, the future will only bring more of this. While I like free content as much as anyone, I know that’s it’s not really a viable option. “There is no free lunch,” as the old saying goes. Advertisements may pay the bills for some content providers, but it will not suffice for most. However, how does …

The NSA Broke the Social Contract with the Tech World

Dilma Rousseff, the president of historically US-friendly Brazil, lashed out against the US government for their intrusion of her personal privacy, on the privacy of her government’s corporations, and on the privacy of Brazil’s citizens. She’s proposing some interesting and real-world solutions that will take some of the power away from the U.S. and possibly back into the hands of world internet users. Despite this, I believe that the biggest fallout that the NSA faces is their loss of trust with young technocrats, technologists, and engineers. Perhaps Rousseff’s idea of a UN branch to deal with internet freedom will materialize …

In Response to the Supporters of PRISM

Perhaps I am sensitive to privacy intrusion after my family enjoyed some of the “benefits” of a totalitarian-esque communist state. Perhaps my hatred of big-brother solidified after reading (and re-reading) George Orwell’s 1984. Or, perhaps, it’s just common sense. Last week validated the vilified Assange and his Cyberpunks thesis: big-brother is watching your every step. Yes, you’ve all read the details about how the NSA has agreements with (at least) Verizon, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Facebook, Pal Talk, Youtube, Skype, AOL, and Apple. But I’m not writing this article to go over the details of the program nor how expansive it …

Some Geeky Resolutions

It’s another new year. I enjoy this day because it feels like a blank slate to begin new habits, and drop old ones. We even make lists–resolutions. And so here is my list of computer-related resolutions. 1. Learn Linux Well Modern Linux distros make it very easy to use. The fist time I installed Linux, it already had a GUI interface (KDE, GNOME, and XWindows) but the installation process was still console based, and any customization needed to be done manually in the terminal; as well, most applications needed to be compiled (I don’t remember any RPMs). I ran LILO, …

Stop Using Kaspersky!

Technically, Kaspersky is probably the most sophisticated information security organization. They caught both Stuxnet and Flame (super-sophisticated, state-sponsored super viruses designed to avoid capture) before anyone else. They offer a great product at a great price, with half decent support. On top of that, Eugene Kaspersky is Russia’s version of Bill Gates meets Steve Jobs. In short, he’s a tech-savvy genius with a personality, and now he’s one of the richest men in Russia. So why should you avoid using Kaspersky like the plague? In short, you should never install this program on your machine because of one simple reason: …

Choosing a UML Application

There are many of us who require a UML application to create some quick and dirty UML diagrams for reference, documentation, or a presentation; we don’t require a very powerful solution that will generate code, schemas, validate models, or tie our shoelaces. Simply, we want to layout some part of the architecture in a diagram to aid us with the coding process or perhaps to document some part of the solution. Until now, I found it very difficult to find an application that I’m happy with for this purpose—they were either too complex and expensive (Enterprise Architect), cumbersome, unintuitive, or …

Blown to Bits

This book is a must read for techies and laymen alike. Technology has such a profound influence in our daily lives, and Abelson, Ledeen, and Lewis provide the much needed perspective for our new world. The authors are not young hipster CEOs from the remnants of the .com bubble, but rather seasoned players in the computer realm. Abelson is the class of 1922 professor of Electrical Engeneering and Comp Sci at MIT! After doing the math, that can’t be right; can it? Anyway, they’re not young is what I’m saying. They got into the game before it was cool or …

A Thought on User Interfaces

With the epic rise of client-side web technologies, web UIs have long surpassed the creativity, quality, and user experience of desktop applications. In the historic old days of simple HTML web pages, desktop applications still ruled both worlds of user experience and functionality. Today is a different story. While the web implemented new server-side and client-side technologies to improve functionality and user experience, little has changed in the world of desktop GUIs. In fact, with such advancements as AJAX and client-side RIA plug-ins (such as Flash and Silverlight), web application functionality quickly catches up with their desktop counterparts. Have you …