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Archive for the ‘Internet’ Category

Dutch Flex User Group

Yesterday, at the J-Spring 2008 event at Bussum in the Netherlands, the Flex User Group was officially launched. This group, called FLUGR, aims to support developers using Adobe Flex and AIR and promote the technology and inspire developers.

Coincidentally, today I had a one-day training in Adobe Flex. This training introduced a group of developers of Finalist to the Flex technology and especially focussed on integrating Flex with a JEE application using LifeCycle ES (or BlazeDS for that matter). The training, given by Mark van Hedel of the company Prisma-IT was pretty intense, but at the same time very educational. I didn’t have any experience with Flex or Flash, but have the feeling that now I know a little about the technology, and will definitely invest some more time to experiment with Flex.
Rich Internet Applications are a rather hot topic in the IT-industry nowadays, and I suspect it will be relevant for a developer to have at least some understanding of the technologies involved. However, I’m not sure what the best technology is for these kind of webapplications. Flex has the benefit of a large number of users that can run applications right away, because the Flash-player is installed on a large number of systems. On the other hand, you are stuck to (at this moment) one supplier (Adobe) and the Flash-player is not open source, which means that support on more exotic platforms, such as Linux and mobile phones is dependent on the mood of Adobe. Alternatives are Silverlight, which has the problems of Flash, but lacks the wide spread availability of the player, JavaFX, which is not really available yet and finally the HTML/JavaScript combinatilon. In my opinion, the battle will go between HTML/JavaScript and Flex, but maybe I’m very wrong at this.

Adobe is trying very hard to convince Java developers to use Flex, by being present at conferences (J-Spring was a good example of this) and by providing the source of the Flex compiler and BlazeDS. A usergroup like Flugr can be good to increase awareness of Flex. But I think the site of Flugr is a really bad example of how Flex should be used. The site is completely made in Flex, but I really don’t understand why they choose for this technology. The site could be exactly identical when developed in plain HTML with a bit of JavaScript. Using Flex for this site doesn’t really add any value to it, but does restrict a large number of users to view this site (because a Flash-player is required) and the usual drawbacks of Flash apply to this site. I thought Flash-only sites was a thing of the past, because they are not indexed by Google, lack the usual accessibility features provided by modern browsers, and the mouse wheel doesn’t work (at least on a Mac using Firefox 3 beta). The decision to create this site this way does more harm than good to the image of Flex.

The Next Web

Today started The Next Web, a conference about Internet-related startups. There are presentations of new companies and presentations from people who created succesful companies, like Digg.
A live videostream is available on the site of the event. It is interesting to see the new ideas people come up with. I particulary liked Zilok and find the nearest drill hammer which people offer. A really good idea I think, because it is obvious but has not been done yet. They seem to use Google Maps (or something very similar to it) for locating the stuff that is offered. You have to meet to deliver the stuff you offer for rent, but that is, I think, the power of this concept. However, before it really works, more items should be offered, because most of it is now offered in Belgium, which is a bit far for most people in The Netherlands.

Like all current events, there is a lot of coverage on weblogs and so on. Slandr has an overview of Twitter entries on the event. Erwin Blom has live coverage of the event on his weblog using Cover It Live (which is a nice tool…).

Irrelevant quoting at Groklaw

Last week, PJ from Groklaw wrote an article on the voting process for the OOXML format as a ISO-standard. For an unknown reason, she thought is was necessary to refer to a post on my weblog on a speech held by Raul Pesch of Microsoft in March 2005. On that post, also a reaction of Pesch was posted, and specifically this comment was the think PJ was referring to:

Microsoft Nederland’s Pesch gave a speech in 2005 at the University of Technology in Eindhoven, and there’s a blog entry on it by a student there, Martin Sturm. The funny part, to me, is that Pesch responded to the blog article in a comment, and he obviously used Microsoft software to copy and paste his comment in, because it’s almost unreadable in spots, due to Microsoft’s habit of extending standards.

It completely puzzled my why this comment was relevant to the post, because I think it is kind of pathetic to use these things to make your point. She pointed out that there are broken characters in the post, which she assumes is caused by copy/pasting the text from Word (or something). First, assumptions are the mother of al fuckups, but more importantly, it’s very likely that the problems in the post are caused by something else – for example, an incorrect character set used by my blog (I don’t know if that’s the case, but it is possible) or by an upgrade of WordPress which caused the problems.
Anyway, I think it not relevant to the whole issue the Groklaw article is about.

Mailserver at HetNet network

I have a temporarily internet connection via Het Net (in a few weeks I get a fiber connection at 100mbit). Since I manage some domains and don’t want to spend money on external mail servers (I’m Dutch…), I wanted to run my own SMTP server for receiving mail (sending mail can be done using the mailhost of the provider).
However, since a few years, most Dutch providers block incoming traffic at port 25 and only allows it to access the smtp servers of the provider. So this is a problem when you want to run your own mailserver for your domain.

When you’re at a KPN provider (HetNet or Planet) it is possible to use a mailrelay server. In order to make this work, you should set a primary and secondary mail server in your DNS record. Your own mail server should have the highest priority. As secondary mailserver you should set with a lower priority.


IN MX 10
IN MX 20

For me at least, this solution works.

IE8 beta is now available

It is possible to download the first beta of Internet Explorer 8. I tried it in Parallels on my Mac, and it seems to work. Obviously, people on the Internet are complaining that sites are broken in IE8. Fortunately, the websites I maintain seems to work flawlessly in the new browser (but that was to be expected, since I try to keep them standards compliant). The website of my employer seems a bit broken in IE8.

I also tried the latest Firefox 3 beta for Mac OS X. FF3 seems a lot faster than 2, so that is nice. It is also more standard compliant, since it passes the Acid3 test, it scores 59 points, which is the highest score of all browsers I tested with this it (only Safari 3, FF and FF3 beta so far). FF3 has also some nice usability improvements. For example, I like the link to the originating site of active bookmarks which wasn’t there in FF2.
By the way, IE 8 only scores a miserable 17 points in the Acid3 test, making it the worst performer on my system in this test. Even FF2 had a higher score. I also noted that it offered me to choose ‘express settings’ on the first startup, which suggested Google as the search provider… has even Microsoft loses trust in its own search engine?

Hm, I suck

Apparently, I suck a little bit at updating my weblog lately. Of course, there are several reasons for this. For example, I moved to a new home, I was very busy with a project for work and in the mean time, I also am involved in organizing a badminton tournament for students. All in all, I didn’t have much time left to write here, but also hadn’t much interesting to write about.

Next week, I am going to ski in Austria, so I will not post updates here. However, I may post some stuff to my Twitter page.

To end this post with something useful, I just found PicLens which is a nice application for viewing pictures.

WordPress 2.3 released

This week, the WordPress development team released version 2.3 of WordPress. I did not upgrade yet, because I didn’t have the time yet. Because I’m not very enthusiastic on the source code of WordPress, I’m a little bit wary when upgrading WordPress to a new version, mainly because of the number of bugs that pop up in the weblog software. However, Jeff Waugh has documented his upgrade of WordPress to version 2.3 and did not fiind any problems. I will give it a try this weekend.

The most important change in version 2.3 of WordPress is the introduction of tags instead of categories. I think this is a good idea, since I already use the WordPress categories as tags.

Interview with Tim Berners-Lee

Tim Berners-Lee, one of the founders of the Internet and chairman of the World Wide Web Consortium, is interviewed by It is an intersting read, about various subjects. Berners-Lee believes very much in the so-called semantic web, of which he is one of the initial creators. (more…)

Paper about Google with interesting quote

Today, I read a paper (PDF) written by the founders of Google about the first versions of their search engines. Probably, this is already noted by a large number of other webloggers, but I came across the following quote about ‘other commercial search engines’:

Currently, the predominant business model for commercial search engines is advertising. The goals of
the advertising business model do not always correspond to providing quality search to users. For
example, in our prototype search engine one of the top results for cellular phone is “The Effect of
Cellular Phone Use Upon Driver Attention”, a study which explains in great detail the distractions and
risk associated with conversing on a cell phone while driving. This search result came up first because
of its high importance as judged by the PageRank algorithm, an approximation of citation importance on
the web [Page, 98]. It is clear that a search engine which was taking money for showing cellular phone
ads would have difficulty justifying the page that our system returned to its paying advertisers. For this
type of reason and historical experience with other media [Bagdikian 83], we expect that advertising
funded search engines will be inherently biased towards the advertisers and away from the needs of the

Considering the fact that Google generates most of its revenues by putting advertisements in its search results, it makes one wonder whether Google did not made the same mistakes as its predecessors. In the current version of Google, a search on Cellular phone does return only information about where one can buy the cheapest cell phones, but no results about a study on the dangers of using cell phones while driving a car. I think it is at least interesting, and maybe even an example of the risk of ‘allowing’ advertisements everywhere (of course, Google may decide for itself if it put advertisements in its search results). I also wonder how Page and Brin (the authors of the paper, but also the fouders of Google and now both billionairs) currently think about this topic. I guess they have a different vision on it now, then they had nine years ago…

Sinds wanneer is dit nieuws

Zojuist op de radio bij het journaal: Geenstijl verklaard Felix Meurders dood. Lekker boeiend ook, weblogs zoals Geenstijl zijn leuk entertainment, maar moeten vooral niet serieus genomen worden.. Het probleem is dat de ‘journalisten’ die daar schrijven dat wel zo graag willen. Daardoor is Geenstijl een kansloos geheel en denk ik niet dat het nog lang zal voortbestaan.
Sowieso is het doodverklaren van iemand helemaal niet grappig of zo. Blijkbaar kunnen ze niet zo goed tegen kritiek, terwijl ze zelf niets anders doen.

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