Archive for October, 2009

Internet Neutrality = Internet freedom

October 25th, 2009 No comments

Internet Service Providers have total control of what runs through their networks even to the point of slowing down certain sites. This has become a popular practice when the site accessed competes with ISP’s core business, like phone and cable TV. For example Verizon’s slowing down access to Skype servers or Comcast slowing down video streaming pages such as Hulu, Netflix, iTunes, Boxee, or MLB.TV

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has recently decided to stop it with a “network neutrality” regulation, being written as you read and expected to be passed by summer 2010.

This is not the first time the FCC gets involved. Last year it ordered Comcast to stop blocking BitTorrent users, an on-line file sharing service. As expected, Comcast is appealing such decision arguing that the federal agency have no authority to dictate what they “discriminate” on their networks. Apparently Comcast believes they do have the authority to impose what we – the users – can access on the Internet.

I strongly believe that internet should be free for you to use it as you please, specially now when devices such as Roku, Apple TV will provide more online content –probably better than cable – streamed directly to your TV.
What do you think?

Web Apps you should NOT be developing from scratch

October 14th, 2009 No comments

I’m going to start with an analogy: Building some web applications (listed below) is like building a dresser yourself.

Let’s say you want a new dresser in your room. After thinking about it for a while, you decide to build it yourself because only you know what you want, but not only that, you have specific needs no one has had before. So you take the measurements and head to a hardware store. First of all you have to buy the tools, then some wood, steel or maybe plastic. For the drawers’ guide rails you notice that commercial versions are not to your specifications, so you end up trimming them to your own needs.

After a week or two of hard work and several trips back to the hardware store due to miscalculations, you are finally done. But the dresser is assembled in your garage, not in your room, so you have to move it up the stairs and have to call a friend for help because it’s really heavy.

Assuming everything went well and you didn’t hurt your back pushing this thing up, you finally have a new dresser, with some rough edges but it’s built to meet your needs. But you are not that happy because you just realized you can only put two and a half rows of clothes instead of three, that the guide rails get stuck really often because you trimmed them and that the whole structure is a little bit wobbly. Then you call a carpenter… who will recommend to build a new one himself.

I can continue the analogy, but I think you got it. After all you just spent more time, resources and money on a problem someone else already spent a great deal of time solving and making sure the solution is optimal.

What if you try a regular/commercial/popular dresser, at least if you don’t like it you can return it, or make small changes to make it work the way you want to.

Here is the list of the ones I hear more often:

  • E-commerce sites: usually what a entrepreneur with new products need. Plenty of options, from free to hosted with all payment options and even inventory and shipping integration.
  • Blog: the most popular. Great tools out there, with great plug-ins if you need extra features.
  • Online video players: do you want a playlist? Maybe votes? Different sizes, combinations, search engine friendly? It’s all there.
  • Online audio players: pretty much the same as video players
  • Social networking and group pages: do you want them private or public? Professional looking maybe?
  • Affiliate programs: this is a big one. If you want to run your adds, manage advertisers and channels, and distribute revenue, you can do it. Can be as cheap as 30 bucks.
  • Photo albums: again… what can you think of that nobody had the idea before?? Scrolling images? Fades? 3D? sort by date, size, keyword?
  • Wikis: What I’ve found here is that people don’t know the name of it. Usually they describe it as: [I need] a way to have a document that several people modify constantly at different locations, and I want also keep track of the changes. Basic wikis do this, and more…
  • Newsletter systems: what do you need? Tracking? Ease of use? Ability to manage your contact list? Design? Avoid being marked as spam? You got it!
  • CRM and sales software: free, hosted, open source, you name it.
  • Content management Systems: This one is a little tricky, because you can use a blog, a group page. Depends on your needs.

Let me know if you know other applications that should be on this list, or tell me about your personal story.

Flash CS5 will generate iPhone Apps

October 9th, 2009 No comments

At the beginning of this week it was announced that finally Adobe® Flash®, on its CS5 version, will be able to produce iPhone apps and deploy them through iTunes Store. This news resonates at different levels of iPhone and Flash ecosystems, from the business perspective to the impact in content for the users.

On the business side, this is probably one of the best deals that Adobe and Apple would have crafted. Even before iPhone – and before Adobe acquired Macromedia – developers were asking for a mobile version of the Flash Player, and Nokia and FlashLite flirted a little but nothing ever happened until now. I’m totally positive that iPhone’s processor can deal with a Flash Player, but this option would put Apple’s App Store out of business because the Flash’s developers outnumber by far iPhone’s and Apple’s distribution channel would be unnecessary.

The way it will work is that developers will create the content in Flash, then it will be exported to iPhone native language and will have to comply with Apple’s iPhone Developer Program. Then the content can be deployed through the App Store, and everybody wins: Adobe provides a new platform, developers can easily sell their apps and Apple get the revenues related to the Developer program and the app store.

A tip of my hat to those who crafted the deal and made this deal possible (on Adobe’s and Apple’s side), although I would have preferred a full Flash Player.

Current iPhone developers are arguing that Flash will not provide the same reach on applications, i.e. Flash would be limited, in spite of Adobe saying the opposite. I guess we will have to wait until the end of the year or early 2010 when the Beta version of Flash CS5 is released to see what it can really do, but so far the we have great expectations.

Here is a demonstration video from Adobe Labs:


Extra thought: I can see Apple opening the App store for different mobile devices in the near future and become a big hub for content distribution, what do you think? (let’s see how good I am at predicting the future.)