28 May 2007

Hack Day UK 2007

Thought a quick post was in order as I've just received the e-mail confirming my place at this year's Hack Day UK.

I'll be there along with the fellows from my blogroll - current and former colleges - and we'll likely be attempting our own hack as well as pimping our skills to the highest bidder!

13 May 2007

ALA Web Design Survey 2007

Just a quick post to point you all in the direction of A List Apart's survey of Web Design Professionals. It's been up for a while now and I've only just remembered to fill it in myself. I look forward to the results and hope at least some of them are plotted on a nice graph.

02 May 2007

Why don't Google support SyncML?

I use quite a few of Google's online services and recently I've started exclusively using Mail and Calendar for managing all my e-mail accounts and calendars. Both are brilliant applications and it's great to be able to access this data from any computer without worrying about remote access or setting up something like MS Exchange. One thing I'd really like to be able to do however is have a two way sync between my Google services and my mobile phone.

Thom Shannon's PocketGCal does just that on a device running Windows Mobile and I toyed with the idea of writing a similar Java app for my Symbian device. Having got as far as downloading Eclipse and all the various projects and SDK's I'd need I happened upon a Sync app already installed on my phone.

The app uses the Data Synchronisation standard from the Open Mobile Alliance which was formerly called SyncML. It allows you to sync over Bluetooth or HTTP and supports different profiles specifying which access point to use and whether authentication is required etc.

"Great, an open standard. I bet Google support that, they're the champions of free data!", I thought naively. Alas it is not the case, Google seem to be pushing their proprietary GData as the means for programmatically updating the data you hold with them and nothing else.

Google do seem to have missed a trick here as I'm sure there are a lot of business types who'd see native support for SyncML as a very useful feature. This whole episode is at least going to make me look around at the other Mail and Calendar providers out their to see if any of them have better support.

Update - 09/05/2009

Google does now support SyncML for syncing of contacts, it also supports various other syncing methods including ActiveSync for Windows Mobile devices which allows you to sync your calendar entries as well. Check out Google Sync for details.

01 May 2007

Silverlight, Microsoft on the bleeding edge yet again

I jest.

It's odd to think that 12 years on from the introduction of Java applets Microsoft are giving the whole thing another go. Their marketing clout is a given but Silverlight won't be successful through that alone.

The two major limiting factors for the uptake of Java applets were the need for a Java Virtual Machine being installed and the security restrictions placed upon the applet. While the JVM isn't a big download by today's standards, on the modems of 1995 it took forever. An applet's access to the local machine was very limited unless the user trusted it which was an instant hit to how useful it could be.

The first factor has been removed as broadband connections are now widespread and the Silverlight installer is only a few megabytes depending on your platform. As for security it remains to be seen whether Silverlight is full of holes but seeing as it runs from within a browser, and not just Internet Explorer, it will be interesting how the other browser vendors react if this turns out to the the case and whether they implement their own measures to restrict its access.

All that doom and gloom aside security issues don't stop you being able to use all the awesome XAML based visual trickery available in Silverlight. Using Java applets it was pretty difficult to make anything that looked nice let alone doing things like performing image manipulation on videos as they're playing. Powerful stuff indeed and I'm looking forward to being able to make great looking, feature rich UI's that should just work on any platform.