Internet Explorer 9 UI Video Leaks

I haven’t seen anything mind-blowing when it comes to IE user interfaces, and the next iteration of the popular and widely hated browser keeps the status quo as shown in the test video below.

It just looks smooshed and painful to use. It seems like there is a concerted effort to consolidate the navigation and menus to be similar to the new Firefox and Chrome builds…but it leaves a lot to be desired. It’s progress.

The only thing IE9 has going for it at this point is the 95% on the ACID3 test. But still, other browsers can pull a perfect score. IE9 seems to still be an underachiever, especially with all of the cash thrown at it. But I guess with the loads of Microsoft technologies that they have built reliance on IE there are some constraints to the possibilities.

Netflix Goes Mobile, Pay TV Subscriptions Drop

Netflix, Hulu, Tv.com, Amazon, and even YouTube are bombarding the streaming entertainment arena with awesome content, tons of programming, and options for everyone. These services are popping up everywhere from Nintendo Wii consoles, TVs and now your beloved iPhones and iPads – soon to be on the Android platform as well. The goal seems to be heading towards making Netflix ubiquitous making it accessible to anyone and everyone on nearly any platform or device.

Just last week Netflix announced their first serious foray into the mobile application market and beat out other similar services by releasing their own app designed to allow users to manage their queue and stream content directly from Netflix over WiFi or 3G. If you’ve got the data plan to handle it, it looks like you’re about to be connected to entertainment no matter where you are.

This announcement goes hand-in-hand with the uptick in use of networked backed services like Hulu and the first time ever drop in pay-TV subscribers. The market as a whole lost over 200,000 subscribers and I’m sure part of that group are still glued to their TVs, mobile devices, and PCs happily watching streaming on-demand content.

It’s about time that old media realize that pay-TV is quickly becoming a thing of the past.

Netflix iPhone App Video from Netflix on Vimeo.

Demystifying Web Development: What It Means to Be a Modern Web Developer

The world of modern web development is not understood by anyone outside of it. The intricacies, the intense segmentation, and the true strength of the professional community is often overlooked by the layperson.

“So what do you do?” they ask. “I’m a web developer.” I pause for a moment. “I build and design websites and web applications.”

“Oh cool I used to do some of that at my old job with Frontpage.”

I’ve had about a million conversations with people that start off like this. For sake of brevity, I usually leave things at this – but secretly I’m steaming inside. Not necessarily because they’re not familiar with my realm, but because how the profession is written off as something almost trivial. The value is constantly being eroded and stereotyped, making educating clients and consumers that much more difficult. This is partly because to get your hands dirty in development the only thing you really need is a text editor and a web browser. That’s where many people think development ends.

If web development was an iceberg that would be the 18 feet sticking out of the ocean. What you don’t see is the remaining monstrosity that sinks the hive-mind Titanic as it approaches and blows people’s minds so much so that they nearly refuse to acknowledge it exists or is even nearly as complex as it truly is.

Being a web developer means three things:

  1. You program for the web – anything you program or develop is meant to be executed on a web server or presented to an end-user in a browser
  2. Most of the work you do is never seen or understood by those who use it. They just accept that it works and don’t ask questions as to why or how.
  3. You have a specialty. You are awesome using AJAX, web design, PHP, Haskell, ASP.net, Actionscript, Zend Framework or any of the other 149.54 million tools, methods, languages, and utilities that help make web development such an interesting field.

This escapes a lot of people even in 2010. Think of it in terms of construction. You want to build a house (or website) so you draw up plans that meet your needs, find a suitable plot of land for it, start estimating costs, and start assembling a team to complete the job. You’re going to need a general contractor or foreman, a drywall crew, framing crew, clearing crew, electricians, plumbers, masonry crew, cabinet crew, and the list goes on. And within each of those general fields there are also long lists of specialties. You have to be careful to select the right candidate for the right purpose and stay mindful of each crew’s specialties and core competencies. Don’t expect your master masons to be able to run electrical wiring…

The same is true in web development. Given the nearly endless array of specialties and qualities that development professionals possess, the world that consumes the fruits of our labor needs to know what it truly takes to make a monster like facebook, a twitter, a blog, or even a digg or reddit. This comes through on sites like craigslist where someone wants to create the next facebook or myspace – for a budget of $220 and a 24 pack of Miller Light. There is no concept to what it takes to actually create something from the ground up, make it function properly, design a great user interface, and get people to start using it.

As professionals we all develop specialties to serve a certain purpose – it’s about time we stop generalizing and start educating. The next time someone asks what you do for a living tell them as succinctly as possibile – any of the following are good examples:

  • “I’m a web developer. My main focus is developing applications that balance the servers for large sites like facebook and myspace so that they will run smoothly even though 18 million people are using them at one time”
  • “I’m a web developer specializing in designing highly usable web sites and applications. I make the web sites your love easier to use – so it just works the way you expect it to.”
  • “I’m a web developer and build the technology that powers web-based video streaming so you can watch the latest “Keeping up with the Kardashians” on hulu.”

Don’t cop out. Tell people what you do – don’t be mad at them for having no idea what it means to be a developer. Educate them.

A Fallen Hero: GeoCities Started it All

GeoCities was one of the first services that allowed users to build their own web pages. It was huge. You could finally have your own parking space on the internet. You could even have as many ‘under construction’ gifs as you could handle. We’re marking the final exit of a pioneer that could be at least partially responsible for millions of web careers…

Here’s to you old friend.

Less is More

Our society has quickly shifted towards a ‘getting things done’ sort of mentality and this attitude can be spotted in nearly every aspect of modern society. From fast food to tivo, ipods to amazon.com, smart phones to smart cars, we all tend to ‘cut the fat’ in order to achieve our goals. In the process, we end up ‘satisficing‘: just enough to satisfy, but probably not the best outcome possible.

The best takes more time and energy (resources) to achieve than what is just adequate.

According to Wired, we’re seeing a whole revolution: ‘The Good Enough Revolution

“This is my business”

I’ve been watching ‘Shark Tank’ via hulu over the past week or so. It’s a simple show where entrepreneurs present their business to potential investors and do their best to convince them that they are worthy of their investment. Of those presenting, I see a running theme among those that fail to receive any sort of funding.

Overvaluation

Most of the people seeking investment think their businesses are inevitable cash cows, when in reality they are worth maybe 10% of what they suggest. They are the ones who have unrealistic expectations and they end up walking away with absolutely nothing.

If I’ve learned one thing over the course of my short life it is to be realistic in not only your expectations of yourself, but of everything else in your life. It’s sad when Utopian expectations end up with these entrepreneurs blowing their big chance.