consumer electronics show convention season

Savvy, Savvy Tech News ON The Savviest Consumer Electronics Show

Las Vegas! Hot as blazes (by American standards), seedy and cheesy, and crazy hyped all the time, but when the consumer electronics show convention season starts up it’s like they’re the top spot for geeks and electronic nerds. Might as well browse the list of things to look forward to at this year’s CES and get a lead on the next buzz early, because you’ll be hearing about at least some of it soon enough.

Our bets on what will pan out:

  • Ultrabooks – Hot! They’re just the next generation of laptops, after all.
  • Windows 8 – Let’s see, is Windows still relevant? Yeah, for a while. Hot!
  • 4K TV – Snoo-o-o-ore! Look, bigger, bustier TVs are just for rich wanks to show off. Nobody else really cares. We still like our black-and-white model with the knobs and rabbit-ears we got in 1955. Buying a $4000 unit doesn’t make the shows any better.
  • 3D – Snore. 3D just isn’t here yet. It’s like the flying car from Blade Runner.
  • Ice Cream Sandwich – Hot! Brilliant name, that.
  • Digital cameras – Ah, yeah, they’re very nice. Sorta hot, but where else can it go now?
  • Video content – Hot, but we agree that industry needs to get off the fence and make it more available. Naive international content barriers don’t help.
careless employees

Who Is The Least Secure Employee In Your Web Company?

Dark Reading has a thought-provoking post up about the popular buzzphrase “insider threat”, and, to the point, how it really doesn’t make sense as a term. The post advocates for a more fine-grained approach:

  • rogue employees – This is actually the darkest prospect, and yet entrepreneurs fear it the most while it actually happens the least.
  • security loss through incompetence – now we’re talking!
  • just plain leaks – through, for instance, trusting a third party and then their incompetence exposed you to risk.
  • outside attacker penetrating inside – really, every outside threat aims to become an inside threat.

Experience has proved out time and again, that under-trained or careless employees are the greatest threat vector. For every “Hollywood hacker” trying to get into your site, there’s a hundred receptionists setting their password to “1234”, a hundred associates using a malware-infected Windows PC to send mail, a hundred security guards who aren’t watching what they should, and a hundred coders who left a gaping exposure to XSS in your web page. It’s ridiculous to treat malicious attackers and mistakes all the same way.

Windows 8

Kiss Flash and Silverlight Goodbye on Windows 8

Did you ever think you’d live to see the day when you’d read this headline? Here, wait, let’s hear it in OSNews’ own words first:

“The world’s most popular operating system will not be receptive to Flash, and Microsoft openly stating Flash is history pretty much means that as a platform for the web, it’s done. Flash may still serve a purpose in other ways, but the Flash most of us know and hate – that’s gone.”

Wha… ? Done? Gone? Flash? DOA? Belly-up? Bereft of life, resting in peace?

Yes, the MSDN developer website seems pretty sure about this. HTML5 is where it’s at now. Throw away those O’Reilly Actionscript manuals and beef up on your HTML5. Meanwhile, Apple Insider can barely keep the gloating out of its coverage of the story.

The hilarious irony in all of this? Linux, the platform the Adobe despised the most, is now the only platform that will give the time of day to Adobe. So, ah, Adobe, do you suppose Firefox Ubuntu users can expect their Flash plugin update on time for a change?

online business

Running your online business like a rock star?

An interesting pocket of web design is found on Naldz Graphics, with a gallery of 40 websites of rock bands. Now, the point of this post is “look at designs, be inspired in your own designs” and in fact some of these might work better for businesses other than a band.

We asked our own resident rock ‘n’ roll expert (he has a Frank Zappa poster in his cubicle) to rate how these designs work for a band as a business case.

Here’s some of the verdicts:

Internet Usage

Your Wealth Affects Your Internet Usage

A stunning new report from Fast Company asks Why Are the Rich So Good at the Internet? It kind of seems obvious at first, but even within the tiers of people well-able to afford technology, there’s a difference in how much you use the Internet depending on your income.

The report is fascinating, and puzzling. But we think we can make some guesses as to what’s going on (take these with a grain of salt; they’re just theories):

  • The rich have more leisure time, so more time to play online.
  • The rich got that way through being thrifty, so they’re keener to use online shopping to find a bargain.
  • The rich have higher-tech jobs, so they’re naturally more Internet-savvy.
  • The rich are better educated, so they know more about what computers can do.
  • The rich have been able to afford computers for a longer time and so are more experienced. This is a little Easter egg – a $40,000/year and $80,000/year salary can afford the same computer – in 2010. In 1990, computers were much more expensive compared to the cost-of-living then, so only the richer household could have afforded them then. The poorer users have to catch up in learning.
hiring an online freelance web designer

Hmmmm, Good Advice For Being A Good Client

We jumped when we saw the title of the post: How to be a good client, but then when we read the content, it wasn’t what we had in mind. Don’t get us wrong, it’s all good advice, but we’d really like to take this time to advise readers on how to get the most out of hiring an online freelance web designer:

1. Link to an example of what you want. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. You can talk to a designer all day, “I want an arty header and a side link bank, but it should move with the scrollwheel and have green and blue colors…” That can still be interpreted 100 different ways. Find a picture to start with, then detail how you want it different.

2. Take the designer’s / developer’s word for it. We don’t know how many clients out there have made their own lives miserable by saying “I want the whole site in Flash.” or “Can I get it with animated GIFs and use this big image as the background?” You hire an expert; if they say that something isn’t a good idea, listen to them. That’s what you’re paying them for is to know their stuff!

Mashups and APIs

The Irresistible Draw of Mashups and APIs

It’s worth checking in over at Programmable Web once in awhile just to see what they’re up to, with their API discoveries. Google, Twitter, Flickr, and all, the defining mark of a popular Web 2.0 service is whether people do things with your API.

Notable developments from just one recent week:

  • Comedy on Spotify – A directory of comedians and their albums, with video clips for sampling, mashed up out of Freebase and Last.fm. Just dive right in and look for the wit who tickles you the right way.
  • Today’s Special – A Google Wave bot serving up quotes, words, horoscopes, sports scores, and whatnot.
  • Tickets Suck – A Twitter and Twilio mashup that reminds you to move your car so you don’t get a ticket.
  • Quote Relish – A real-time news ticker using the Freebase and Moreover APIs.

Mashups and APIs are an exciting tech trend that’s worth keeping track of, because new gizmos are getting invented every day. This is something we couldn’t do only a decade ago. But even more fascinating is the potential that mashups have; they represent evolution at a lightning pace. Ideas build on ideas, just the way innovation is supposed to work!

Illustrator

Mock-Up Solutions That Are Not Photoshop

This may come as an astonishing shock to some people, but Adobe Photoshop is not the only application in the world!

Perhaps we could bring some fresh viewpoints to our design process, if we tried another tool just once…

  • Illustrator – Scalable Vector Graphics, for instance. That’s actually closer to what the final product looks like anyway, and SVG editors are ever so much more graceful handling text than Photoshop. You might also try the free (and excellent) Inkscape.
  • Fireworks – Superior for some functions, such as object handling, vectors, and the slicing/exporting of images.
  • Xara Xtreme – Never heard of it, did you? Check it out, it’s a vector editor on steroids. It can even handle Flash and build web prototypes right in the app!
  • Balsamiq Mockups – Another new player in the field, this one was designed by an ex-Adobe employee. It’s specialized to just do web design mock-ups.
  • Pen and Paper! – Too many people knock this. Drawing on paper lets you stop thinking about the interface and tap your artistic thinking. People forget that creating a web document is an art. It’s also much more satisfying to tear up a design you don’t like than it is to delete it!
Code injection

Code injection into a user-accessible text field

This is the biggest risk for the modern social web, because nearly every website has a comment or feedback form where visitors can enter content and post it to your page for other visitors to see. Now, what happens when you type some Javascript into a comment form on your blog and post it? How about an SQL database query, or some rogue PHP code? How about accessing your site with the malicious code in the address bar?

Attackers will look for any vector that can be used to sneak a line of executable code onto your web server. Remember, all they need is to get one line through, and they’ve got a foothold. For example, an HTML tag called ‘iframe‘ can be used to embed another web page into the host web page. Setting the iframe’s attributes to ‘width=0’ and ‘height=0’ can keep it hidden. But the target of the iframe might be a web server on the other side of the world with a Javascript attack that will steal your user’s data or install malware on your user’s computer. This is just one of the many tricks out there.

Graphics And Website Design

Graphics And Website Design

Of course, the fact that these graphics makes your website pleasing to view is also extra helpful. Graphics in your website can also make your website easy to view and also easy to understand. Many people will have trouble reading long texts and deriving information from them.

By embedding all relevant information in your graphics, you are guaranteed to convey the needed information to your visitors.

However, there are some tips that you need to follow whenever you are using graphics in your website. Although flashy graphics can be helpful in impressing your visitors, they can also be a detriment to you.

The main reason for this is because of the fact that flashy graphics and animations can have long loading times. Hence, when your visitor clicks your website, then he or she may not have enough patience to wait for your graphics to load in to your website. In fact, graphics that take too long to load can cause you to lose visitors instead of gaining them. Thus, you should make sure to use graphics that load relatively fast and you should try to refrain from complex animations in your graphical design.