Front End Performance

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008 | Business | No Comments

We’re all web developers here right?

Most of us?

At least, I am.

An article posted at, Why Front End Performance Matters to Everyone, Not Just the High Traffic Giants, goes into why front end performance is important on all sized sites.

The article quotes a commonly spoken theme in web development: 

That stuff is for the Googles of the world.  We don’t really need to focus on that with what we do.

I hear it all the time from people.  That there isn’t a need to worry about that 35k 120×120 JPEG on the home page.  Lets make it animate, even if the single function adds 28k to the page download.  

What sticks with people is hearing that when google shaves off some small amount of file size, the result is something like $50,000 / hour in return.  This number is made up, but meant to illustrate a point.  To small store owners, $50,000 is a large number.  To google, it is very small.  Small business will possibly realize a few dollars a month with extensive optimization, assuming their hosting plans are even based on that at all.  

What’s the point in optimization if we only make a few dollars a month?

The end user experience.  The user experience is not quantifiable in terms like “$10 / hour”, it is just as important.  A faster web page, more solid web page, reflects the business itself.  

If a company is always interested in making all of their processes more efficient, then it is more likely that whatever they do for revenue has the same types of optimizations.  Over years, optimizations can become quite dramatic.  

If this year a website only gets 1000 visitors, and of that only 10 of the users realized the benefit of the optimization — that doesn’t mean much.  However, what if one of those 10 users just happens to run a blog in your industry?  

The point of all of this, front end performance is important.  You can almost always improve the user experience.  

As an exersize try to build a standard webpage with a miniscule allowed footprint.  I’ve always had the most fun with flash banner ads that must fit into 10k or 20k file sizes. You will gain an understanding of what you are working with, and become more of a craftsman in your work.  

Flash banner customization has helped me understand the following skills:

  • Embedded fonts — picking which letters to embed and fonts to embed
  • Sometimes vector art in Flash is much more efficient than imported graphics
  • Sometimes vector art in flash is NOT as memory efficient as imported graphics

There are always tradeoffs in everything we do.  Until we push our work to the edge, we rarely see how to control it.

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Flash on the G1, Android OS — it works

Thursday, December 4th, 2008 | Personal | No Comments

We’ve been waiting for it, and the G1 has now demoed running Flash Player 10.

Andy Ruben has demoed that Flash can run on Android.  In Andy Ruben demos Flash on the G1; it won’t be long now, we read that on November 17th at the Adobe MAX event Andy Ruben was able to demo Flash.  

See the video below:

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Google Android GPhone #2

Thursday, December 4th, 2008 | Personal | No Comments

With all the “hype” around the T-Mobile G1, what did we get?

Certainly not enough.  

Now we are waiting to see what happens with the – Agora.  

The Kogan Agora, powered by the Android Operating System will be the first phone in Australia powered by the Android software.

That’s right, Australia.  Will it get to the states?  It looks cool enough, but what about the specs?


  • 2.5-inch TFT-LCD flat touch-sensitive screen with 262k QVGA (320 X 240 pixel) resolution
  • 5-Way Central Navigation Key
  • QWERTY Keyboard
  • Bluetooth 2.0
  • Built in Mic and Speaker
  • Headphone output
  • Video: JPEG2, H263, H264, MPEG4, AVI
  • HxWxD – 108mm x 64mm x 14.8mm
  • Weight: 130g
  • 1300 mAh Lithium-ion battery
  • Up to 400 minutes Talk Time
  • Up to 300 hours Standby Time
  • 624 MHz processor
  • 256 MB On-board + 128 MB Flash
  • microSD card expansion slot
  • VERY IMPORTANT: UMTS/HSDPA (850, 1900, 2100 MHz), GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz)
Features available:
  • Handsfree
  • FM Radio
  • SMS
  • Email
  • MMS 1.0
  • Video Recording
  • IM
  • Phone Book
  • Ring Silencer/Quick Silent
  • Mini-USB Connectivity (Charging, headset)
The cost?  $299  according to the site.  Other news reports prices as $193 for a basic unit, and $258 for the “pro” unit.  These prices are prior to any subsidies being applied.  


Silicon Alley Insider reports on the release as well, Another Google Android GPhone On The Way (GOOG).

Dan Frommer, of Silicon Alley Insider, says that this phone woudl work better with AT&T than T-Mobile, as it doesn’t support the 1700 MHz frequency that T-Mobile uses for 3G.

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Favorite Software for Web Development

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008 | Business | 1 Comment

Sometimes when you start out doing something on computers, it seems so hard until you get the tools that everyone else uses.

In this post I’m asking everyone else for feedback, what do you like to use?  Go ahead and comment it in there, I’ll add it to the article as I see em.

Below are some of my favorite pieces of software for web development, some will be very obvious (Flash, Photoshop, etc.) … some maybe not so much:

I love textpad for basic text changes from everything PHP, to HTML, to writing notes.   It’s great to have multiple documents, line numbers, quick global / file / local search and replaces etc.  I use this when I’m working with source files, XML definition files, CSS files, to CFM or other formats.  I love it.  

Those of you who know homesite, will know it’s pretty much gone nowadays.   The heyday was many years ago.  The direct FTP editing was amazingly useful.  It has some features that I still go back to now and then.  Mostly search and replace functionality, FTP based editing (right on ther server … mostly), document formatting (code sweeper), and other utilitarian functions.  

CuteFTP Pro
Working on the web, we all are in constant use of FTP (more so than we should be).  Cute FTP has always been a staple of my software toolbox.  It’s so easy to launch connections to all the FTP servers you use throughout the day, keep them open for jumping between projects.  The number of protocols it supports is flexible (FTP, FTP w/ SSL, SFTP, HTTP, HTTPS, etc.), and it always seem to be able to connect.  The speeds and setting are highly configurable.  It’s nice having 50 simultaneous downloads going at a time.

Tortoise SVN
Whoever isn’t using SVN, should be using SVN (or CVS or whatever other version control system you can think of).  Tortoise SVN is an essential windows interface enhancement to integrate SVN into the file browser.  For those of you who use CVS, there’s a Tortoise CVS as well.  It is easy to look at version histories, compare files based on modification dates, and to pull down new updates.  

Source control is underutilized in my experience.   So many sites aren’t run with source control.  Think of the advantages: automatic source control, automatic offsite backup (if you use an external host — which I would love to recommend, a very cheap hosted SVN repository).  Read about it, get used to it, it will save a project.

You were waiting for me to say it weren’t you?   An open source IDE.  Technically it started as a Java IDE (most Java developers should be intimately familiar with this).  Thanks to add-ons developed by the community, it supports, quite adeptly, PHP and other web development technologies.  It has built in SVN support, supports deployment scripts… its amazing.  Try it, explore the community around it.  Check out the Subclipse add-on, as well as the Web Developer Tools, and Eclipse XML Editors and Tools.

Adobe Flash (Adobe Creative Suite 4 Design Premium)
Pretty much a no brainer, you need Adobe Flash to develop flash.  It’s a great tool, worth every penny.

Adobe Photoshop (Adobe Creative Suite 4 Design Premium)
Another obvious one.  Photoshop is a requirements for all web development.  No, you shouldn’t be doing web design work as a developer.  However, there is always the need to look at colors, size things, cut up images, process original artwork, the list goes on forever.  I really recommend the Adobe Creative Suite, we use almost all of the software anyway.  

Microsoft Word (Microsoft Office)
You will always need this (or another decent word processor).  Yes, you can get by without it.  However the sheer amount of things Word can handle: Estimates, Proposals, Letterheads, Envelopes, Labels, the list goes on and on.. you will wish you had it someday.

Microsoft Excel (Microsoft Office)
Another one that you don’t always think about, but excel makes writing estimates so much easier.  You can update your entire estimate based upon a new discount, manage hours, track changes.  I’ve used Google’s online spreadsheets before – they are great.  But they aren’t fully able to replace excel yet. 

Microsoft PowerPoint (Microsoft Office)
Those proposals are much better with an accompanying presentation. Tell your clients what you do, what they need, in a way that can impact people in a conference room.  Everyone yawns when it comes to yet ANOTHER powerpoint presentation, but you look unprofessional without one in most cases. 

Normally this is on a hosted platform, but you need a database to do the cooler web development projects.  MySQL is cheap, but if you want you can substitute in Microsoft SQL Server, or even Oracle.  In my experience if you know why you want MS or Oracle, you can pay for them.  If you don’t know why you want either of those, just go with MySQL.  

PHP MY Admin
Administration software is just as important as the backend engine, at least for development.  It lets you manage a database online, easily, and export simply.  If you haven’t used it, try it. 

SQL Server Management Studio
Another tool for development on SQL servers.  Same as PHP My Admin, arguably much more helpful, but it is a client app.  If you’re working with Oracle, or prefer these desktop applications to the PHPMyAdmin web interface — check out Aqua Data Studio

There are really dozens more tools I consider very useful.  Not exluding:

– Versions of all browsers
– VPN Connectivity software
– Remote Desktop
– VNC Client
– pcAnywhere (not so much anymore)
– Outlook / Email Client

Last but not least, is Google.  It is the best tool you will have when working in web development.

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iPhone 2.2 software coming soon?

Friday, September 26th, 2008 | Personal | No Comments

In a photo posted at (seen below), you can see some of the changes Apple has in store for the 2.2 update to the iPhone.

Please check out the article, Apple Debuts New Safari Interface in iPhone OS 2.2.

Why are we always so excited about this minor updates Apple releases?

I know I love getting new software in the hopes that it fixes some of the things I most find annoying.  Every release for me has “Copy Paste” in it.  Then I install, it doesn’t have the feature, so I assume it’s in the next one.

The whole point of this update CAN’T only be moving the Google search bar up, and the refresh icon over?  Can it?

If it is, we know for sure they’ll say “other fixes and security updates” in the patch.

Whenever I’ve deployed a website missing some importantly functionality, I’ve always spent the night up working on a fix for it.

Worse yet, what if Apple started charging iPhone users like they charge iPod Touch users?  I find it obnoxious that they charge those users to upgrade the software.  Perhaps this is part of a contract with ATT?  Not to release functionality developed for the iPhone for free to other Apple customers who aren’t paying the $30 a month for the “privilege” of owning an iPhone.

Here’s to hoping that the next release fixes more than the dreaded “Google search bar misplaced” bug (sarcasm).  Maybe I’ll have more time to work with actual web development topics, as opposed to the iPhone drama.


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CNET reviews the T-Mobile G1, Google Android

Thursday, September 25th, 2008 | Personal | No Comments

Here’s a video of CNET‘s hands on with the T-Mobile G1:

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G1 – Will it support flash?

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008 | Business, Personal | No Comments

One of the biggest questions I have right now, is will the G1 support flash?

The famous “Google Phone”, competing with the iPhone — so far I cannot confirm or reject the possibility that it supports flash.

The lack of flash support on the iPhone is my biggest problem with the phone.

Some other various pieces of information I have gathered, mostly negatives about the G1:


  • it is almost 30% thicker, 20% heavier
  • smaller screen
  • forces the user to use google accounts for email / contacts
  • does not sync with desktop applications 
The positive updates:
  • Built in compass (think of applications in Streetview, and other geospacial technologies)
  • Google Street View support
UPDATE 2008.09.23- According to Xbit laboratories in this article, the Google Android Phone will NOT be supporting flash.

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Google Chrome!

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008 | Business | No Comments

Along with all the geek’s around the world, today I got a hands on impression of Google Chrome

First off — the rationale behind the browser is exactly what it should be.  Clean, quick, and flexible.

Using it quickly, I already want to start creating a web application to take advantage of it’s multi threading, javascript sandboxing, simple “OS” like interface.

When I click on a tab, it finally creates a new window! 

The best part, any advances made in development on Chrome, are open source and can be integrated with Firefox down the line.

Highly recommended.


Update – Great article over at wired on the story behind Chrome
Update #2 – Arsetechnica has just published an article reviewing Chrome
Update #3 – Security flaws in Google Chrome found, based on old webkit flaw.

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