Jenn Webb

Jenn Webb is a veteran of the newspaper industry turned freelance scribe, editor and researcher. She is a nerd with a passion for technology and cultural disruption. She currently serves as O'Reilly Radar's online managing editor and is investigating the future of UI design beyond the screen.

Mobile-centric Optimization Requires a Mobile-centric Approach

Appurify co-founders Manish Lachwani and Jay Srinivasan talk about the motivation behind their platform and the solutions it provides.

As our always-on society turns more and more to mobile platforms and devices—a recent Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast predicted 788 million mobile-only Internet users by 2015—mobile app development is becoming more and more important. Developers, however, are finding mobile measurement and optimization toolsets lacking, which is increasingly becoming an issue as mobile users show low tolerance for buggy apps.

Appurify co-founders Manish Lachwani and Jay Srinivasan experienced these challenges first hand and launched a solution. The duo will demo their Appurify performance-optimization platform during the Lightning Demos at the upcoming Velocity conference. In the following interview, Lachwani and Srinivasan talk about the motivation behind Appurify and offer a sneak peek at what we can expect to see at their demo.

What are some of the key challenges developers face in measuring app performance?

Jay Srinivasan

Jay Srinivasan

Jay Srinivasan: Mobile performance measurement and optimization is broken today. This is a three-fold problem: there are no good tools, the mobile space is complex, and mobile users demand exceptional performance in all conditions.

More specifically, most performance measurement and optimization tools that exist for the web and PC world simply don’t exist for mobile. This is both due to the mobile ecosystem being relatively young as well as the added tech complexity that working with mobile devices offers. Compounding this lack of tools is the complexity of the mobile environment. Mobile is much more fragmented from an operating system, device, and firmware perspective, and optimizations can vary depending on the environment. Mobile users are also more demanding, with the expectation that they can use their smartphones or tablets in an always-on, always-connected environment. Your mobile app needs to load quickly and perform seamlessly in all network and device conditions.

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Visualization of the Week: Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring”

Stephen Malinowski's latest music visualization celebrates The Rite of Spring's 100th anniversary.

Stephen Malinowski’s hypnotic music visualizations have been quite a hit on YouTube — he has visualized a number of scores, from Debussy’s, Clair de lune to Chopin’s Nocturne in B Major, opus 32 no.1 to his own Fugue in A minor. Anastasia Tsioulcas reports at NPR that Malinowski’s visualizations have garnered more than 100 million page views. And just in time to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Stravinsky’s ballet The Rite of Spring at the end of May, Malinowski created a visualization of the score:

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Hadoop Training, OpenStreetMap Sprint, MakersFactory Kids’ Programming Camp, and More

Tech events you don't want to miss

Each Monday, we round up upcoming event highlights from the programming and technology spaces. Have an event to share? Send us a note.

Twisted Python: the engine of your Internet webcast: Jessica McKellar presents an architectural overview of the Python networking library, Twisted, and instructs on how to build robust clients and servers for popular and custom network protocols. Register for this free webcast.
Date: 10 a.m. PT, June 6 Location: Online webcast

2 Day Hadoop Training June 2013: This course offers a fast-paced technical overview of the Hadoop landscape, targeted toward both technical and non-technical people who want to understand the emerging world of big data. For more information and to register, visit the event page.
Date: June 8–9 Location: Sunnyvale, CA

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Strata Week: Can your passwords stand up to a cracker?

Password (in)security, sensors and ant-sized computers, and big data skeptics are called out.

Companies, developers need to do more to increase password security

Google urged users this week to take more care in creating passwords. In a post on the Google Blog, Google Software Engineer Diana Smetters offered some guidelines, including using a different password for each online account, keeping them in a safe place, creating a recovery option and making them hard to guess. Smetters suggests using a mix of letters and numbers and avoiding basing passwords on common phrases.

Though industry experts generally applauded Google’s efforts to increase consumer awareness, most agreed the company could do more. Seth Rosenblatt reports at CNET that industry experts Alex Salazar and Mary Landesman feel Google should be pressuring developers and companies to improve their security practices.

Landesman noted, for instance, that using spaces in passwords makes them stronger, but most sites don’t let you do that. Salazar outlined three steps Google could take to make the web safer for consumers: pressure companies to require consumers to choose passwords that are easy to remember but hard to break; be a stronger two-factor authentication advocate; and to publish guidelines for developers — and to do a better job of stressing the importance of protecting your customers. Landesman pointed out that often, blame for password breaches is misplaced on users. “[Password security] is tilted against the user,” she said.

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Visualization of the Week: Hospital procedure charges across the U.S., compared

The New York Times and The Washington Post created visualizations using data released by The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released procedure billing data on more than 3,000 U.S. hospitals. The New York Times and The Washington Post have put together interactive visualizations to help consumers compare costs. The New York Times’ visualization compares costs on a per-hospital basis:

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Driving the Momentum of Modern Web App Development

Ido Green on modern web app design considerations and characteristics of great web apps

The rapid pace of improvements in browser technologies and the growith of HTML5 have presented many opportunities and challenges for web app developers. In the following interview, Ido Green, developer advocate for Google Chrome OS, reviews some characteristics of the “modern” web app and covers a few design points and helpful tools developers should keep in mind. Green will expand on these ideas in an upcoming free webcast, “Modern Web Applications Utilizing HTML5 APIs,” on Thursday, May 30 at 10 a.m. PT.

What is a “modern” web app?

ido_green

Ido Green

Ido Green: A “modern” web app is an application that utilizes HTML5 APIs and browser technologies to let the users accomplish a certain goal.

In most of the “great” web applications we see several characteristics:

  • They are self contained (maybe from here we got the term “one page application”) with one main goal.
  • They feel “native”: they are leveraging HTML5 APIs that let the app have “native” capabilities, like Offline, Geo, drag and drop, transitions, etc.
  • They are “offline first,” since we wish our users to be productive when there is no connection or when there is a flaky connection. These apps are built from the ground up with the idea of “offline.” It’s similar to a native app that you will “install” first and later fetch the data.
  • They are device aware: the apps are working great on mobile devices as well as on laptops and desktops.
  • They offer great performance: the great modern apps are utilizing CSS3, HTML5 and the mobile browsers to give the users a smooth experience where everything is working fast. The “offline first” methodology is helping here as well.

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Building Modern Web Apps, Build 2013, TechEd North America, and More

Tech events you don't want to miss

Each Monday, we round up upcoming event highlights from the programming and technology spaces. Have an event to share? Send us a note.

Modern Web Applications Utilizing HTML5 APIs webcast: Ido Green covers techniques and tools for building great “modern” web apps, including tips on Chrome DevTools, HTML5 power tools, and modern web app design techniques. Register for this free webcast.
Date: 10 a.m. PT, May 30 Location: Online webcast

TechEd North America: This is Microsoft’s main conference for IT professionals and enterprise developers. Get hands-on experience with more than 200 self-paced labs. If you need to convince your boss to let you go, there’s even a guide to help. For more information and to register, visit the TechEd website.
Date: June 3–6 Location: New Orleans, LA

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Strata Week: Intel wants you to reap the benefits from your personal data

Intel's Data Economy Initiative, your personal records are exposed, Sears gets into the data center business, and ODI wants Git for data publishing.

Intel’s taking the lead in the new “data economy”

Intel is looking to take the lead in what it has dubbed the “data economy,” helping consumers and individuals realize and retain more value from their personal data. Antonio Regalado and Jessica Leber report at MIT Technology Review that the the world’s largest computer chip maker has launched a “Data Economy Initiative.” Ken Anderson, a cultural anthropologist who is in charge of the project, described the initiative to them as “a multiyear study whose goal is to explore new uses of technology that might let people benefit more directly, and in new ways, from their own data.”

As part of the initiative, Intel is funding hackathons to encourage developers to experiment with personal data in new ways, Regalado and Leber note. “[Intel] has also paid for a rebellious-sounding website called We the Data,” they report, “featuring raised fists and stories comparing Facebook to Exxon Mobil.” Read more…

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Visualization of the Week: CIA rendition flights of terror suspects

The Rendition Project has published an interactive visualization of three year's worth of suspected rendition flights.

The Rendition Project, a collaboration between academics at Kent and Kingston universities and the NGO Reprieve, has developed an interactive visualization of the extent of CIA rendition flights of terror suspects.

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How Web Pages Can Extend (or Drain) Mobile Device Battery Life

Dr. Angela Nicoara on mobile browser energy consumption and ways developers can minimize energy use through design.

According to recent Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecasts (PDF), the number of mobile-connected devices will surpass the world’s population this year, and by 2015, there will be 788 million mobile-only Internet users. A recent paper, “Who Killed My Battery: Analyzing Mobile Browser Energy Consumption (PDF),” pulled together by the Deutsche Telekom Innovation Center in Silicon Valley and Stanford University researchers and published in the ACM 21st International World Wide Web Conference (WWW 2012) proceedings (PDF), takes a look at the growing popularity of mobile web browsing and the effects on energy consumption.

I reached out to Dr. Angela Nicoara, senior research scientist at the Deutsche Telekom Innovation Center in Silicon Valley who worked on the project, to find out why mobile browser energy consumption is a growing concern and what developers need to know going forward. Our interview follows. Dr. Nicoara will present the researchers’ findings in the “Who Killed My Battery: Analyzing Mobile Browser Energy Consumption” session at the Fluent 2013 conference next week in San Francisco, CA.

Why is browser energy consumption becoming more of an issue with the growth of smartphones and mobile browsing?

Dr. Angela Nicoara

Dr. Angela Nicoara

Dr. Angela Nicoara: Despite the explosive growth of smartphones and growing popularity of mobile web browsing, their utility has been and will remain severely limited by the battery life. Smartphones’ energy constraints are here to stay, and as such, optimizing the energy consumption of the phone browser while surfing the Web is of critical importance today and will remain so in the foreseeable future.

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