Internet

If you're a web developer (like me) and need to test a website in good old Internet Explorer 6 but you have Windows Vista or you've upgraded your Internet Explorer to version 7. Then luck is on your side and Microsoft has been so kind to supply Virtual PC for free and an image of Windows XP with IE 6 for free.

All you need to do is download Virtual PC 2004, which is also free, and then download Internet Explorer 6 Testing VPC Image.

Most developers (like myself) will be ignoring Internet Explorer 6 once Internet Explorer 8 has been announced, so we won't have to go through the tedious issues of fixing Internet Explorer 6 JavaScript bugs for much longer (unless specifically requested by a client).

I was on the hunt today for some ideas for data visualisation, I went through some of the usual ones such as Tag Clouds, Digg's Lab Visualisations, and more. There was one visualisation that stuck out from the rest called 'We Feel Fine.'


The site can give you a visualisation of people's feelings by sex, age, and location by using different coloured dots. You can customise the data you wish to view as well.


Once you have selected the sort of data you wish to view, you can then click on the different coloured dots to view a person's feelings. The application will then load either a quote or a picture and caption showing that person's feelings.

The application I assume is gathering everyone's feelings by Twitter updates, MySpace status updates and other social media sites that allow users to updates their status.

To any IT developers, this is old news, or you may not have put 1 and 1 together. Web applications are slowly taking over the desktop application market as more features and tools are added to desktop browsers.

We‘re often used to installing all the necessary software after installing our operating system, but these days all the software you used to install can be found a "click away" on the Internet. Which only requires an Internet connection and a browser.

Webtops, online office applications and communication applications have been around on the Internet for quite some time now, and we will be influenced soon if not already to follow this trend.

Why? Because it‘s simpler to the average user. IT developers will not make the transition as quickly but soon will.

Anything that a desktop application can do, a web application can do better.

This dominant company is ahead of it's market because of three reasons, competitive pricing/marketing, support, and because they keep up with the latest trends of the communication. Dell are always looking at new ways to advertise or keep in touch with their potential customers by trendy communication methods.

The latest trend they're using is Twitter, a short message service that alerts you on what people and companies are doing. Dell has listed all their twitter accounts at http://www.dell.com/twitter for everyone to peruse.

Currently, only tech-savvy people use twitter (slowly growing out of this trend), but you will find that the majority of people who are ordering bulk lots of computers (5+) are the tech-savvy people. So to be able to target those users is definitely an asset to the point of view of Dell.

I was riding home on the train as I do every weekday from the city and came across something I thought interesting. A leaked document from the federal government reveals customs are planning to search everyone's iPods, media players, CD collections, and notebooks for pirated music/videos in any form.

If the process of going through customs wasn't long enough already, they are now going to search through our 'virtual' worlds to catch illegal music and videos. But, one thing that has me stumped? How will they know that it is illegal?

Digital rights management (DRM) has been thrown out the window and thus making your legal music collection look just like an illegal collection. I do believe that the law needs to catch up with modern-technology but this will just cause chaos at the customs.

In Europe, Virgin Media is already collecting statistics/data from Internet users who are illegally downloading music through their Internet Service Provider (ISP) and writing to them to warn them about their actions. Australia will probably catch up to these standards soon, and so will America.

By July next year we will start to see new domain name extensions on top of the 250 that already exist. Addresses such as .australia, .brisbane, .america, and .newyork will be available for people to register a domain name under.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) have also announced that the regulating body of the new domain names are undecided, whether it will be local government bodies or not is to question. If local governments had control over domain names, they could ensure that the domain 'actually' has significance to that local area.

Large companies such as eBay would also like to have their own domain extension so they could have domains like cars.ebay and storename.ebay. It will create an extremely large volume of work for ICANN to begin with so we will not see some extensions for quite some time, and ICANN have to treat each extension request individually to ensure it doesn't offend different countries and nationalities.

When the domain extensions become available, it will be a guarantee that names like accommodation.australia or cars.america will be the first to go to cyber squatters or anyone lucky enough to beat them.

This is one of the most common mistakes developers (of any language) make so I thought I should let you know why you shouldn't use this method.

The Scenario:
You have a page on your site and you don't want people to simply link to this page unless they have clicked on a link from your own site. Lets say your page is called 'page2.php' and it's located at 'www.your-site.com/page2.php.'

When the user enters the 'page2.php' page you can easily determine which page they came from, in PHP you can use the $_SERVER['HTTP_REFERER'] function to determine the referring page. With this function you would check that it contains www.your-site.com in the value.

For what ever reason why you might want to check the referring address to your page, checking the referral address against your own domain name isn't bullet-proof.

Why? The referral address is set by the user's agent (their Internet browser), some browsers have the option for you to edit this value and some browsers don't even set this at all.

There are many solutions to this scenario, but I would recommend using sessions where you can set the a session variable on 'page1.php' which contains the link to 'page2.php.' When the user enters the 'page2.php' page, you can then check to see if that variable has been set, if it hasn't then the user must have come from a different location.

It's a little bit more of a setup, but it's secure.

For those who are unaware, Telstra owns the majority of the communication networks in Australia and have also been granted exclusive privileges for various networks like the the next Fibre-Optic network. The issues around Telstra having exclusive rights is their lacking of services, monopoly (both wholesale and retail), and their pricing.

They are so expensive that it costs more to send data between Melbourne (Victoria, Australia) to Hobart (Tasmania, Australia) then what it costs to send data from Melbourne to America. In fact it is 6 times more expensive!

What is worst is Internet Service Providers are closing down their services in Tasmania due to the high costs. Internode have announced they are discontinuing their services in Tasmania for this reason.

LINKS
* Fast Tassie plans on hold pending better backhaul (Internode, 2 May 2008)
* Tassie broadband stranded (Australian IT, 8 Apr 2008)
* Opel demise good for Tassie (Australian IT, 3 Apr 2008)
* Coonan returns fire on Basslink (Australian IT, 26 Jun 2007)
* Basslink cable (Wikipedia)

For those who are unaware, Telstra owns the majority of the communication networks in Australia and have also been granted exclusive privileges for various networks like the the next Fibre-Optic network. The issues around Telstra having exclusive rights is their lacking of services, monopoly (both wholesale and retail), and their pricing.

They are so expensive that it costs more to send data between Melbourne (Victoria, Australia) to Hobart (Tasmania, Australia) then what it costs to send data from Melbourne to America. In fact it is 6 times more expensive!

What is worst is Internet Service Providers are closing down their services in Tasmania due to the high costs. Internode have announced they are discontinuing their services in Tasmania for this reason.

LINKS
* Fast Tassie plans on hold pending better backhaul (Internode, 2 May 2008)
* Tassie broadband stranded (Australian IT, 8 Apr 2008)
* Opel demise good for Tassie (Australian IT, 3 Apr 2008)
* Coonan returns fire on Basslink (Australian IT, 26 Jun 2007)
* Basslink cable (Wikipedia)

CSS Skill Level All

Want to know how you rate with your CSS Skills, follow the skill level checklist below to see how you rate.

CSS Skill Level 1
* I’ve heard of CSS, it is used in web design.
* I have downloaded and used a CSS template before.
* I have poked around in CSS files making small changes like changing colors and removing underlines from links.

CSS Skill Level 2
* I understand that the purpose of CSS is keeping design and content separate, to the highest extent that is possible.
* I have made extensive modifications to a CSS template.
* I have used a WYSIWYG editor to create CSS web page.
* I have a basic understanding of CSS layout techniques.

CSS Skill Level 3
* I have designed a reasonably complex website from scratch using only CSS for layout.
* I have a solid understanding of the structure of CSS, the CSS box model, and CSS positioning.
* I understand how to use float and deal with it’s quirks.
* I have a basic understanding that different browsers render some CSS differently and that needs to be accounted for and tested.
* I have a growing collection of CSS resources to draw from.
* I do not use tables for layout whatsoever anymore. I understand that tables are for tabular data, not page layout.

CSS Skill Level 4
* I have designed and coded a large number of CSS web sites. I can convert a design from any format into a CSS layout: Photoshop, Illustrator, napkin drawings, etc.
* I am completely comfortable writing and editing CSS by hand.
* I have a strong understanding of the cascading part of CSS. Particularly how some some CSS properties do, some don’t, and some depend on how the value is declared.
* I have a solid understanding of cross-browser CSS. I know how to use browser specific CSS statements and delclare browser specific stylesheets.
* I know and have tried some CSS hacks and understand the advantages and disadvantages of using them.
* I have a strong understanding of the different sizing values available in CSS (e.g. em, px, %, pt, “small”, etc.) and in what situations each make the most sense.
* I can quickly troubleshoot and solve CSS problems.
* I have a great collection of tools and resources at my disposal for inspiration, debugging, or reference.

CSS Skill Level 5
* I feel like I could tackle any design idea with CSS.
* I can do pixel-perfect cross-browser conversions of designs into CSS websites.
* I can visualize markup structure easily, just by looking at a design.
* I have utilized additional web technologies to expand the possibilities and break through the limitations of CSS.
* I have my own CSS framework I use, complete with my own customized CSS reset.
* I have a strong understanding of advanced CSS like pseudo classes, pseudo elements, and attribute selectors.
* I keep up to date on browser support and development progress.

CSS Skill Level 6
* I am involved with the future of CSS specifications or support.
* I am a CSS Celebrity.
* I’ve written books, given seminars, taught classes, knew CSS since she was a little girl, etc.
* I don’t need to do testing, I just know.

Skill level ratings taken from CSS Tricks.

CSS Skill Level All

Want to know how you rate with your CSS Skills, follow the skill level checklist below to see how you rate.

CSS Skill Level 1
* I’ve heard of CSS, it is used in web design.
* I have downloaded and used a CSS template before.
* I have poked around in CSS files making small changes like changing colors and removing underlines from links.

CSS Skill Level 2
* I understand that the purpose of CSS is keeping design and content separate, to the highest extent that is possible.
* I have made extensive modifications to a CSS template.
* I have used a WYSIWYG editor to create CSS web page.
* I have a basic understanding of CSS layout techniques.

CSS Skill Level 3
* I have designed a reasonably complex website from scratch using only CSS for layout.
* I have a solid understanding of the structure of CSS, the CSS box model, and CSS positioning.
* I understand how to use float and deal with it’s quirks.
* I have a basic understanding that different browsers render some CSS differently and that needs to be accounted for and tested.
* I have a growing collection of CSS resources to draw from.
* I do not use tables for layout whatsoever anymore. I understand that tables are for tabular data, not page layout.

CSS Skill Level 4
* I have designed and coded a large number of CSS web sites. I can convert a design from any format into a CSS layout: Photoshop, Illustrator, napkin drawings, etc.
* I am completely comfortable writing and editing CSS by hand.
* I have a strong understanding of the cascading part of CSS. Particularly how some some CSS properties do, some don’t, and some depend on how the value is declared.
* I have a solid understanding of cross-browser CSS. I know how to use browser specific CSS statements and delclare browser specific stylesheets.
* I know and have tried some CSS hacks and understand the advantages and disadvantages of using them.
* I have a strong understanding of the different sizing values available in CSS (e.g. em, px, %, pt, “small”, etc.) and in what situations each make the most sense.
* I can quickly troubleshoot and solve CSS problems.
* I have a great collection of tools and resources at my disposal for inspiration, debugging, or reference.

CSS Skill Level 5
* I feel like I could tackle any design idea with CSS.
* I can do pixel-perfect cross-browser conversions of designs into CSS websites.
* I can visualize markup structure easily, just by looking at a design.
* I have utilized additional web technologies to expand the possibilities and break through the limitations of CSS.
* I have my own CSS framework I use, complete with my own customized CSS reset.
* I have a strong understanding of advanced CSS like pseudo classes, pseudo elements, and attribute selectors.
* I keep up to date on browser support and development progress.

CSS Skill Level 6
* I am involved with the future of CSS specifications or support.
* I am a CSS Celebrity.
* I’ve written books, given seminars, taught classes, knew CSS since she was a little girl, etc.
* I don’t need to do testing, I just know.

Skill level ratings taken from CSS Tricks.

Google Logo

The Internet Backbone is beginning to already show struggles of all the new high data Internet services and we've been informed by experts in the past that we would expect brown outs by 2010 (now only 1.75 years away).

Bharti Airtel, Global Transit, Google, KDDI Corporation, Pacnet and SingTel are planning to build a new trans-Pacific cable between Japan and California and will initially increase Trans–Pacific lit cable capacity by about 20 percent, with the potential to add up to 7.68 Terabits per second. Tech Crunch

Google's approach isn't the answer to this issue but it is indeed a stepping stone to ensure we won't experience Internet dropouts into the future.

“[Google’s] participation in building Unity ultimately helps provide our users with faster and more reliable connectivity.

If you’re wondering whether [Google is] going into the undersea cable business, the answer is no. We’re not competing with telecom providers, but the volume of data we need to move around the world has grown to the point where in some cases we’ve exceeded the ability traditional players can offer. Our partnership with these companies is just another step in ensuring that we’re delivering the best possible experience to people around the world.” Google’s Manager of Network Acquisitions, Francois Sterin

More information:-
* The official Google Blog
* Google Press Center
* Mother Earth Mother Board

EA Land Logo

EA Games will be launching The Sims Online as a free service under a new name "EA-Land" which will be in direct competition to Second Life.

The biggest difference between EA-Land and Second Life will be the monitoring and safety net of the game. So people can join and know that they are in safe hands of EA and not an individual like Second Life sometimes encounters.

EA is finally accepting that gaming should be targeting the Internet a lot more for functionality and multi-playing.

I have the game downloading at the moment on my fiance's computer (total of 1.5 gb) and will keep you posted about what I personally think about the game.

The game is still under development but still playable.

EA Land Logo

EA Games will be launching The Sims Online as a free service under a new name "EA-Land" which will be in direct competition to Second Life.

The biggest difference between EA-Land and Second Life will be the monitoring and safety net of the game. So people can join and know that they are in safe hands of EA and not an individual like Second Life sometimes encounters.

EA is finally accepting that gaming should be targeting the Internet a lot more for functionality and multi-playing.

I have the game downloading at the moment on my fiance's computer (total of 1.5 gb) and will keep you posted about what I personally think about the game.

The game is still under development but still playable.