Category Archives: Technology

Web-based Applications

One of the causes of the dot-com bust was the inability of companies to deliver the rich web-based applications that users expected, and although the limitations on the development of these apps was tied directly to the technology available to the average end-user attempting to access them (hardly the fault of the developers or those trying to deliver the apps), the frustrations experienced by customers was unavoidable and prevented widespread adoption. That’s all changed.

Flash was an interesting, early attempt to deliver a next-level user experience, but the attempts to use Flash effectively are quite hit-and-miss, and the major updates to the platform have been in the multimedia arena and has done little for web apps. Ajax was a huge step for both developers and users, and many of the best and most useful web-based applications take advantage of the web development technique.

An article released yesterday on Computerworld provides a handful of free web-based applications the they can’t live without.

Five free Web apps we can’t live without

From collaboration tools to database apps and more, these next-gen Web applications keep the Computerworld newsroom humming.

Web apps we can’t live without:

The A-List

Honourable Mentions

Silverlight for Web Hosting

Earlier this month, I posted about Microsoft Silverlight, comparing the recent release from the software giant to Apple’s iPhone. While the adoption of Microsoft’s new web platform may not rival that of the iPhone, which recently reached the 1 million units sold milestone, websites, seminars, and tutorials will slowly become available. Michael Sherotter, an evangelist for Microsoft’s Communications Sector, […] tasked with explaining Microsoft’s latest technologies, announced a Webcast earlier this month on Silverlight for Web Hosting.

Silverlight, Microsoft’s new cross-platform web browser technology for media playback and rich Internet applications (RIAs) represents a great opportunity for Web Hosting Companies to differentiate themselves and provider new services to their customers.

  • What: Microsoft Silverlight For Web Hosting Companies
  • When: Friday, September 28th, 2007, 11:00 AM to 12:30 PM Pacific Time
  • Where: Microsoft LiveMeeting over the Internet
  • Why: Demand is growing for media hosting & streaming and rich interactive applications on the Internet and web hosting companies need to understand the implications for them.

The session will be recorded, and should be a great way to get acquainted with Silverlight.

Network & Server Security

Network/Server SecuritySecurity relating to computers and networks has always been a concern for IT managers tending to Enterprise-class operations. Despite all their efforts to keep their networks free from intruders – be it a hacker, a worm, a trojan, or a virus – the biggest security risk to these systems is most often the users themselves. Over time, more and more businesses have started to depend on Technology and their hardware infrastructure, for their daily operations, and as these aspects of a business have become more critical, these hackers, worms, and trojans have become more targetted, again, typically focussing on the users. Instead of coming from the 13-year-old computer aficianado looking for some fun and fame, organized teams have been setup with a specific target, which, more often than not, is data.

In the last year, security flaws or breaches at large corporations have resulted in individuals being at-risk. Consumer information, from search results to personal credit card and debit card numbers, has been compromised; sometimes it’s a simple (albeit costly) mistake from an individual, but with multi-national corporations and millions of dollars potentially at stake, insider breaches are also a concern. But what does this mean for the average business?

All companies with sensitive data need to be aware that they are a target. Unless the proper steps are taken to ensure that your networks are secure, your data and your systems will be susceptible to attacks. The average webmaster or designated ‘IT guy’ in the company will not have the ability to maintain this level of security, and these types of services may require an outside resource to perform security audits on your systems. It’s also important to note the differences between network and server security.

For those that take advantage of co-location or a hosted server from companies like Superb, network security isn’t the issue; instead, keeping up-to-date with patches and updates for the server’s operating system and maintaining solid, secure coding practices is key to preventing unauthorized access. To help prevent unnecessary risk, we (the Superb Team) are putting together an unofficial checklist for self-managed servers, but it is definitely recommended that a professional review your server security regularly.

Head towards the Silverlight

Microsoft Silverlight logoMicrosoft’s Silverlight is to websites and web development as the iPhone is to cellphones and PDAs. There it is, I’ve said it.

Many commentators have focussed heavily on Microsoft’s battle for OOXML (Open XML) and the threat of online-based office application suites like Google Docs & Spreadsheets. These are, of course, important, but I would guess that there is a bigger story lurking somewhere under the water.

Regarding the recent release of Silverlight, Industry heavyweight Michael Arrington said it makes Flash/Flex look like an absolute toy, while fellow Tech blogger Pete Cashmore points to this demo of Silverlight in action, adding that it looks amazing and is great news for consumers. Another example of Silverlight in action is Microsoft’s search engine, Tafiti.

Similar to my thoughts on the iPhone, Silverlight is not going to change the world, however, like the iPhone, it has opened up the door to new possibilities. Silverlight is a cross platform, cross browser plug-in that will deliver next generation Internet applications and user experiences. It has been deeply incorporated into the software-as-a-service offering, and the significance of that partnership should not be ignored. Microsoft has an amazing vision, and a unique ability to take seemingly unrelated, individual tools and have them work more effectively in tandem. It shouldn’t be a stretch of the imagination that, with Silverlight, Office, and OOXML, Microsoft is laying the foundation for an online-based suite of office applications that run on the Silverlight platform. Having seen significant growth from the latest installment of Office (Office 2007), this would seem like the obvious next step in development, and a perfect way to help promote adoption of Silverlight while fending off attacks from companies, like Google, trying to cut into Microsoft’s $16Billion a year (Microsoft Business Division) bread and butter, Microsoft Office.

Regardless of that prediction, Silverlight is as important to web development and the online community as the iPhone has been to cellphones and PDAs.

The iPhone iMpact

Apple’s iPhoneIn the last year, there have been a suprising number of events, acquisitions, and releases that have taken a lot of the buzz in the Internet/Technology Industry. Facebook is huge, Google is always making headlines, and Microsoft and Yahoo! continue to be dominant players in the arena, but leave it to Steve Jobs and the rest of the Apple gang down in Cupertino to make the biggest ripple in the pond. I was reading an article by Todd Abrams, COO and President of Layered Technologies, on the Invasion of the iPhone, and he makes some great points about the device.

I’ll touch on two of the points he makes – one, is the great job from the marketing side, and two, to date I have not been convinced how it will change the world. Todd talks about the way Apple’s marketing has combined the 5 c’s – Connection, Communication, Content, Commerce, Colloboration and adds a 6th C, coolness. Much like the iPod, Apple has found a way to convince popular culture that the iPod iPhone is exactly what they need in a next generation handheld. Having had the chance to play with an iPhone a bit (which is suprisingly tough being in Canada), the usability and interface is impressive, but I’m still not caught up in the hype. And although I don’t think the iPhone will change the world, I think it has offered an important step in change.

One aspect of the iPhone that impresses me is the agressive risk (or innovation) that was taken with regards to usability. The touch screen interface, although not completely ideal for all uses (like texting under the table at a meeting), has opened up the door to new possibilities. Scrolling through webpages or images and zooming in and out is just the beginning, and slowly we will see a variety of mobile applications start to take advantage of these new navigation options.

I have to agree with Todd Abrams, I haven’t been convinced that the iPhone will let me do my job more efficiently or effectively, but I think it’s going to change the mobile world.