Apr 10, 2014

Decline of the Mobile Web?

Webkit icon

This story from earlier in the week seem to strike a chord: The Decline of the Mobile Web. The gist of the story seems to be that mobile phone users are using apps more than their browsers. Consequently, the web is dead.

As a counter point, John Gruber of Daring Fireball wrote this post, making the excellent point that many mobile apps are merely specialized web browsers that use http and https. Just because they are not traditional browsers does not mean the web is dead.

In addition, a big chunk of time spent in apps was Facebook. Probaly another case where the app is just another specialized browser. Also, Facebook is kinda link a new and improved AOL. Sure you can surf the web from there, but the main goal is to keep you on Facebook, period. My guess is that heavy Facebook users are probably not big web surfers to begin with.

The biggest slice of time at 32% was gaming. Also not an area where the web dominates. Once again, another area that really has no impact on web usage.

So to sum up, the web is not dead. In fact, it is probably more vibrant now than it has ever been. In my experience, most specialized content apps still suck when compared to their web counterparts. I read a lot of news and have tried apps for newspapers like the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and the Daily Mail, plus a number of tech site apps. Generally, these apps are horrible. Why should I wait for an app to download a site and cache it when I can just go to the web page and read right now. Plus, the apps seem to be infected with poor user intefaces and unwanted advertising that cannot be easily skipped like on a web page. So for me, a good ole web browser is still my most used app.

Apr 7, 2014

Kindle Fire TV Heats Things Up

Well last week Amazon came out with a Apple TV, Roku-like device called the Kindle Fire TV. CNET has a nice summary write up here..

Basically, it is like an Apple TV or Roku, plus Android games. From my experience, most non-tech folks have no idea what an Apple TV or Roku is. They still buy and trade DVDs to watch movies. Something like this, linked to a service they already use, will be a game changer. Looks like the ultimate Netflix box to me.

I am not sure how well the game aspect will do initially. A game control costs $40. My guess is, it would sell a lot better at $20. But I like the basic idea. You can play Minecraft on it and that will make my nieces and nephew happy.

How will Apple and Roku react? The Amazon hardware is far superior to the other two and should make for a better streaming experience. Will Apple finally come out with a killer Apple TV device? I hope this announcement is a catalyst to better Internet TV for all of us.

Mar 25, 2014

Wired Writers must be Flush with Cash

Wired has this write up of a laptop messenger bag from a bicycle company. All I can say is I must be very poor cash-wise as a Wired reader. The bag goes for $403 each! Holy smoke that's expensive! Paying more than $50 for a bag seems extreme to me.

Oh well, I guess I will just never be a cool kid. :)

Mar 18, 2014

Google Drive Prices Drop a LOT!

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This is from last week, but definitely worth a comment. Google has dropped their pricing on Google Drive quite a bit. The basic 100G plan went from $5 a month to $2 a month. That is a pretty good deal. I use GDrive for backups and it seems to work really well.

Wow, the price of storage is getting cheap. Before too long, these cloud companies will be paying us to their product. lol. But seriously, one has to wonder, can money be made at these prices? Or is this just a fight for market share and the prices will go back up at some point?

Then there is the practical question. With Internet connections what they are in the US, how long would it take to backup 1 Terabyte ($10 a month)? Several months? A year? Well anyway, Google is definitely well positioned if our Net speeds get faster.

Mar 9, 2014

300: Rise of an Empire - Quick Review (3/5)

Well, I took in 300: Rise of an Empire last night. The movie is good, but does not quite rise to the level of the original.

The focus on the film is the naval battle that took place between the Athenian Navy and the Persian Navy while the Spartans were fighting on land at Thermopylae. The Persian naval commander is the evil Artemisia (Eva Green). A Greek by birth, she is a true believer and follower of the god king Xerces. The Greeks are lead by Themistocles (Sullivan Stapleton), a brave and crafty general from Athens. Almost all of the action takes places on ships. Plenty of ramming (think galley scene from Ben Hur) and hand to hand combat.

First, what bothered me. The Greek dialog is pretty weak. It lacks the sarcasm and fatalistic humor of the original 300. That has been replaced by heroic, yet boring speeches from Themistocles and Queen Gorgo (Lena Heady). So the character development on the Greek side is lacking a bit. Also, naval battles are generally hard to follow. Plus, the build up to the battle of the two fleets gives the Persians a ridiculously, unbelievable fleet. This leads to a few scenes that come across as a little silly.

Eva Green is great in her role and was given considerably more to work with than Stapleton. She is definitely one of the highlights of the film. There is one sex scene this is, shall we say, very "interesting". lol. The action scenes were well shot and live up to the 300 standard.

All of the main characters are based on real historical figures. I recommend you Google them and read up on what actually happened on Wikipedia. Expect a 3rd movie since the battle of Plataea did not make it into this film.

Mar 2, 2014

Google Date Search from Mac Command Line

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Something has been annoying me over the last few weeks. To limit a Google search to a week, month or year, I need to do several clicks repeatedly in my browser. Well when done repeatedly, this becomes a bit of a chore. So I decided to find out if there was a way to specify this in the Google Search box.

After some searching around, the short answer is no. You can not specify a week, month or year range in the search box. This can only be done by creating a custom URL. (Details can be found here.)

So I decided to write a command line script that allows me to type in a search string and a letter and then the search I want is executed in the browser.

Here is the Ruby script I wrote for a default browser (Safari in this case.)

ws.rb

   1 #!/usr/bin/ruby -w
   2 require 'CGI'
   3 
   4 if ARGV.length != 2
   5     puts "Usage: ws \"SearchString\" duration"
   6     puts "s - second n - minute h - hour d - day w - week"
   7     puts "w - week m - month y - year"
   8     exit
   9 end
  10 
  11 searchString = ARGV[0]
  12 duration = ARGV[1]
  13 durationSearch = "&tbs=qdr:"
  14 
  15 googPreamble = "https://www.google.com/search?q="
  16 finalString = "open \"" + googPreamble + CGI::escape(searchString) + 
  17   durationSearch + duration + "\""
  18 
  19 exec(finalString)
The usage is as follows.
Usage: ws "SearchString" duration
s - second n - minute h - hour d - day w - week
w - week m - month y - year

For example: ws "javascript html5" m

Typing this will launch a new window or tab in the default browser and perform a Google search for javascript and html5 during the past month.

The script should work on any Mac. I haven't tested it on Linux, but it should work with some minor modifications.

Here is a version of the script that will specifically launch Firefox. Enjoy!

wsff.rb

   1 #!/usr/bin/ruby -w
   2 require 'CGI'
   3 
   4 if ARGV.length != 2
   5     puts "Usage: ws \"SearchString\" duration"
   6     puts "s - second n - minute h - hour d - day w - week"
   7     puts "w - week m - month y - year"
   8     exit
   9 end
  10 
  11 searchString = ARGV[0]
  12 duration = ARGV[1]
  13 durationSearch = "&tbs=qdr:"
  14 
  15 googPreamble = "https://www.google.com/search?q="
  16 finalString = "open -a FireFox \"" + googPreamble + CGI::escape(searchString) + 
  17   durationSearch + duration + "\""
  18 
  19 exec(finalString)

Feb 28, 2014

News is the Next Big Opportunity?

Well Mark Andreessen thinks there is anyway. Check out this article from Wired on the subject.

I tend to agree. My guess is there will still be a few big newspapers like the NY Times and the Wall Street Journal. Most local newspapers will be web only and much smaller operations (in terms of people) than have been in the past. But I also think there might be more of them.

Anyway, the article definitely makes one think.