HTML5 forms (and IE10 (Mobile))

One of the many improvements introduced by HTML5 is around forms, users hate filling forms and developers hate validating the data submitted. HTML5 makes these tasks a lot simpler.
In this article I will not talk about what HTML5 added, but I will rather focus on what is new in IE10 mobile, i.e. the browser that comes with Windows Phone 8. At the end of the article I have collected a few useful links that cover HTML5 forms at large and provide more examples and complete support tables. All the code examples are meant to be cross-browser, unless specified. Continue reading “HTML5 forms (and IE10 (Mobile))”

Why Microsoft and Windows Phone 7 is the best way to pee in your pants

DISCLAIMER: I work for Nokia, Forum Nokia.
DISCLAIMER 2: What I am going to say here is exclusively my own thinking and analysis and based only on what is publicly known.
I have no insight on why and how the decisions were made, no insight of any behind-doors-agreements, gossip or promises.
What I am writing here is simply the result of my thinking based on what I have read and heard in the public announcements. Continue reading “Why Microsoft and Windows Phone 7 is the best way to pee in your pants”

Can anyone catch up on Amazon’s cloud?

Cloud computing is the second buzz-word after social network these days. It’s all about storing or running your stuff “in the cloud”, remotely. If we all really used the cloud, a lot of storage and a lot of CPU power would be needed. Google has certainly created it’s own elastic cloud of computers and search and e-mail and other services proved how fast and reliable it is. But what about “the rest of us”? Amazon has been running storage (S3) and CPU (EC2) in the cloud for a long time now and even it is not known to the masses they are in fact providing the horse power to many start-ups. In their own words, “After two years in beta, Amazon EC2 has entered General Availability (GA)”.

I’ve had a chance to use S3 quite a bit and also EC2, a little bit. Both services are mostly for programmers, they are not really for the masses, but the solidity and the wide range of options is incredible. It was a surprise to see how well it works and how many things you can do very easily. Amazon provides a number of tools and the the community has also done its part and in fact there are some very interesting tools such as the Firefox plug-in elasticfox that make it super-easy to manage your servers.

From the beginning Amazon has been running Linux servers providing images that you could start with a click. Earlier this year they announced an agreement with Redhat that lets developers run Enterprise versions of Redhat linux.

A few days ago I was listening to the great podcast by the Guardian, Tech Weekly, it was the recording of Oct 28th. They spoke about the recently announced Microsoft Windows Azure and how this is a reply to Google’s and Amazon’s cloud computing solutions. Last week Amazon officially announced not only of being out of beta, but that Windows servers will now be available. It costs a slight bit more than running Linux, but of course you get the full Windows environment, including C# and you even have an option for Authentication services and SQL Server. This is AMAZING, you can get a Windows server up and running in seconds, do your development or tests and shut it down (very good if you need to test a specific version of Windows or combination of OS, Service Packs, etc). All this will cost less than a dollar.

Amazon EC2 is great both if you need to test something temporarily (start a server, test, shutdown) or if you want to run a service full time, in fact, EC2 you might easily run a limited number of servers normally, but when you have a peak start as many extra servers as you need.

Google has App Engine and while it is another approach to elastic computing it is quite different. Yes, it has some advantages such as that you just upload your code and it runs, but of course it does not give you the power and flexibility or a complete server at your fingertip.

I think it will be very hard for the other players to catch up and surely it will not be enough to throw in some money because Amazon already has a very good and most likely profitable business in place and they are not lacking the money themselves. It will be very interesting to see how this evolves and it will certainly be a a great opportunity to save on costs for small companies and start-ups.

EDIT: Did I mention that Amazon now guarantees 99.95% uptime? Can you think of any small to medium company that can seriously commit to such uptime?

UPDATE: Amazon has announced CloudFront a new file distribution system that reminds me a lot of Akamai.

Windows Mobile 6.5 and Zumobi

It looks like Microsoft has really picked up quite a bit from Zumobi for their next mobile OS.

On Techcrunch they have some screenshots that make it obvious. It will be interesting to see how the UI really works and if it’s any better than the one on current Windows Mobiles. The competition on UIs in mobile is now serious and I look forward to see if Nokia/Symbian will make the leap or will stay stuck on their existing UI (that seems a bit old to me).

PS: If you don’t find anything about a UI desgin on Zumobi, you might want to see this (now old) press release.

Font comparison and thinking about it

A nice post from Joel Spolsky about the different approaches in font rendering between Microsoft and Apple. I like very much the second part in which he talks about the general behaviour of liking something you’re used to and that people generally don’t think about the differences between things, but that one is the one they are used to and the other is just “different”.

Font smoothing, anti-aliasing, and sub-pixel rendering

What if Google entered the Music downloads biz?

I found a very interesting article on Blog Maverick. The blog, in case you did not know, is maintained by Mark Cuban, the owner of the basketball team and a number of companies related to internet (read more on Wikipedia at the link above).

The post is entitled Googlenomics , Itunes and Zune and describes a few reasons why Google might enter the Music downloads business, how much it would cost and what it could bring to them.

It makes some sense, but I don’t think it’s going to happen, or at least not as it is described. I can hardly believe that the music labels would be happy to give away the music for free. The first billion songs for free is A LOT and would cost them A LOT (Mark says about 575M USD). That would mean a really low price per song and the music labels are already fighting with Apple to raise the 99c per song.

While Google and Apple are friends, I doubt the service would be compatible with the iPod and Google and Microsoft are not so much friends, so I hardly think it’ll be compatible with Zune. What’s left? Something that maybe is not in Mark Cuban’s article, you home-media-center. An all-in-one tiny computer (as big as your VCR) that connects to internet, lets you watch TV shows, listen to music and read news online. Wouldn’t that make more sense for Google?

new MS IEMobile user-agents

A couple of weeks ago there was a post on wmlprogramming about the user-agent for the new MSIE Mobile.

MSIE Mobile has always been hard to detect for server-side software. All mobile devices running Windows present the same user-agent.
user-agents changed when new OS versions or browser versions were released, but there is no way to detect the device model from the user-agent. You will never know if the device hitting your site is an HP, HTC or another device.

Manufacturers are free to customize the user-agent. O2 does this most of the times, examples are the SPV C500 and SPV C600.
Unfortunately most manufacturers don’t do this.

So how do you understand that a user-agent that looks a lot like MSIE is actually IEMobile?

  1. the user-agent is not EXACTLY like MSIE for desktop windows
  2. there are some extra headers that you can use

Extra headers set by IEMobile (all versions):

  • UA-pixels: {i.e. 240×320}
  • UA-color: {mono2 | mono4 | color8 | color16 | color24 | color32}
  • UA-OS: {Windows CE (POCKET PC) – Version 3.0}
  • UA-CPU = {i.e. ARM SA1110}
  • UA-Voice = {TRUE | FALSE}

As you can see, from the above data you can probably get some extra information about the current device.
Too bad that this is in perfect Microsoft-style, which is NON STANDARD. If you want to support Microsoft devices you need to do ad-hoc development.

Jumping back to the original reason why I wrote this post, IEMobile is now going to have a new user-agent:
Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows CE; IEMobile m.n)

‘m’ is going to be the major version;
‘n’ is going to be the minor version.

Not a big step forward in device recognition, you will have to admit!

Anyway, we can clearly see how Microsoft is working towards standardization and making the developers’ lifes much easier. Here is their idea of making mobile sites accessible. When you tailor your page for mobile devices, use this brand new meta tag and IEMobile will not adapt the page:
<meta name=”MobileOptimized” content=”width”>

It goes by itself that this is not standard; that Microsoft made it up on its own and that no other browser on the market supports this.
So forgive me for being so ironic in the text above. I know I gave you the illusion that something good might happen and then it was a lie. Sorry.

If you really want, you can read the full article here:

It is sad to see so many comments from the readers excited about the new features… These are not new cool features, IMHO.

Microsoft first to bat with direct-to-television movie downloads

Via AppleInsider: “The Redmond, Wash.-based software giant said it plans to offer over 1,000 hours of content by the end of the year“.
And then “Microsoft’s Xbox live will only offer film downloads for rent. Customers will have a window period of two weeks from the time they first purchase films to they expire. However, once a customer begins watching a flick, they’ll have only 24 hours to finish.

I bet this is for US residents only.

This is also supposed to be the plan of Sony and the PS3.

Buying games online or renting them online can be very powerful. You’re home, bored, turn your Xbox on, pick a game and buy it within 2-3 clicks. Super!

I bet this will work with Movies too.