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5 Links for Developers and IT Pros 7/8/11

5 smallIt's Friday and that means it's time for our weekly feature where we search the Web looking for 5 interesting, funny and poignant links for developers and IT Pros.

If you like what you see here, please consider subscribing and if you have something to say, please feel free to leave a comment and let us know what you think.

And her we go with this week's links:

The Natural Way to Cutting Energy Use - Input Output

If you're running a data center, it costs money to keep the lights on and it costs money to keep the system cool. This article offers some practical advice on cutting your energy costs.

The Great Browser Support Problem - Technique

When it comes to Internet Explorer 6 and other older browsers, should you support them or not? It's not an easy decision, but this article looks at the pros and cons of different approaches to this vexing problem.

Dancing with Pigs - The Scrum Alliance

OK, so maybe it's not the best image of how to keep a Scrum moving smoothly through the development process, but it is a dance of sorts and this post explains how to keep the music playing, pigs and all.

BlackBerry PlayBook vs. HP TouchPad: A tale of two failures - ZDNet

RIM and HP were supposed to develop tablets for the enterprise, but when it came to delivery they choked. What happened? Both devices have great designs, but what killed them was poor delivery and marketing execution.

7 Self-Inflicted Wounds Of Cloud Computing -- InformationWeek

Is cloud computing hurting itself? This author thinks so and offers 7 areas he believes that cloud marketers missed the mark.

Photo by Tomma Henckel. Used under Creative Commons License.

Maybe It's Time to Rethink the Browser

Browser on a mobile device.In a series of recent posts on this blog, we discussed the notion of browser versus apps. With the browser you have access to the entire web and all that entails. With an app, you have an elegant container that does one thing very well, but the problem may be comparing the browser, a 1990s notion with the modern mobile app. 

Perhaps it's time we changed the browser to work better in today's mobile-social world.

And that's just what RockMelt, a browser that just received $30 million in funding from Andreessen-Horowitz is attempting to do. In fact, in a blog post on the funding, Ben Horowitz explained why in his view, the browser still matters. Horowitz walks us through a nice history of the browser, which his partner Mark Andreessen helped invent.

As Horowitz points out, other than adding tabs, the browser is not very different from what it was in the 90s and that's astonishing when you consider the changes on the Internet since then. Of course, to be fair, there probably have been some other innovations, but his point is well taken.

Back then, you needed to be a professional web developer to put content on the web. Today, just about anyone can share content, whether that's your pictures, your thoughts on the next presidential election or a YouTube video. Today's tools make it much easier for people to add content to the Web and they are doing it in large numbers.

RockMelt is trying to take all of that into consideration by making what it believes is a better browser with all of the social elements built right into the interface. But whether you think RockMelt is the answer to this problem, it's clear the browser needs some fresh paint and updating to take into account the way people use the Web today.

One thing the browser absolutely has to do in my view is travel with you. I'm not sure why Chrome doesn't do this, for instance. Just as when I open my other Google applications, I get all of my content wherever I am, no matter what device I'm using, it should work the same way with my browser, yet it doesn't. Why hasn't the browser joined the Cloud?

Apps are self-contained, and the best ones are extensions of the general web service. If you open Twitter on the iPhone, you will see all of your direct messages and @ replies you would see on the web (and perhaps it's even easier to track on the iPhone). But as we've discussed here, at worst, apps are walled gardens locking us in and take away all of the advantages of the open web.

What we need is a browser that operates like the best apps, that incorporates mobile and social elements in an integrated fashion, that lets us access our information wherever we go, and that gives developers the ability to take advantage of this functionality.

It's time to free the browser from the desktop and let it link to the cloud and give users access to their browser information wherever we go, just as we can with so many other applications that were once tied to a single computer.
Photo by Johan Larsson on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons License.
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5 Links for Developers and IT Pros 7/1/11

5AsmallIt's Friday and that means it's time for our weekly feature where we search the Web looking for 5 interesting, funny and poignant links for developers and IT Pros.

If you missed our other post this week, please check it out. In the post Analytics Need Some Action, we look at the growing role of analytics in the organization and how important it is use data as a catalyst for action.

If you like what you see here, please consider subscribing and if you have something to say, please feel free to leave a comment and let us know what you think.

And here we go with this week's links:

Firefox tries, and fails, to make business amends - ZDNet

When Firefox's Chief Evangelist let it be know he didn't really care about business, he's didn't exactly make friends and influence IT. And when the product manager tried to back track, well let's just say, it it didn't help.

Microsoft in the Enterprise: Envisioning a More Perfect Windows 2012 - Network World

If as a developer or IT Pro you could design Windows Server 2012, and you could include anything on your wish list, what would it be? That's what the writer of this post does. Not necessarily realistic, but a lot of fun.

A Call for Strong Opinions in Software Development - Software Quality Connection

Developers can be a passionate bunch and from this writer's perspective that's a good thing.

How Consumerization Drives Innovation - Forrester Blogs

Sure, consumerization is making IT's life more difficult in some ways because you no longer control employee's hardware and software choices to the extent you once did, but it can also drive developers and IT pros to be more innovative. Read how.

The mission to land a .NET developer on Jupiter. -

No, Microsoft has not gotten into the business of competing with NASA. This is both a metaphor and a code name for the next .NET release.
Photo by Tomma Henckel. Used under Creative Commons License.

Best Apps Link to Browser and Other Apps


Flipboard on iPadLast week I wrote a piece where I concluded that the browser versus apps argument was really a non-starter. As you might expect, many people saw it as an argument anyway with those who supported the browser being the most vehement.

In the pro-browser view, an app is just a disconnected layer between the user and the Web. On the other hand, the browser provides an open, standards-based way to interact with content that isn't isolated in app silos. As my friend Derek Allard, a web designer from Northampton, MA put it, the browser will win because apps are missing an essential part of what tends to make a technology successful: ubiquity.

It's hard to argue with that logic, but after writing the piece and processing these comments, I started consciously thinking about when I use the browser versus opening an app on my mobile devices: iPhone and iPad. When I need to conduct a search, I always open the browser, regardless of the device. When I'm on the iPhone I tend to use apps to read because I find they are better designed for the smaller iPhone screen than the browser, but I found I used the browser more on the iPad for the same publications. After, observing my own habits more closely, I learned that it truly isn't an either/or proposition just as I wrote last week, and the best Apps provide a path to the browser and other applications.

One excellent example of app-browser integration in my view is Flipboard, an app that delivers content using RSS feeds from sources such as Google Reader along with social feeds from Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and so forth -- presenting them in a gorgeous magazine style layout on the fly. You can flip through the pages, find what you like, tap it to see more detail, then tap it again to see the full article in the browser.

Tap the Close button and you return to Flipboard. It's completely seamless and it combines the convenience of the app container with the ubiquity of the browser that Allard alluded to.

What's more, Flipboard has found ways to integrate with social apps like Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. So there's integration happening between the app and other services. Sure, there could be more, but this is a fairly new app and I predict you will see more integration over time.

As I stated last week, and I believe even more now after watching how I personally interact with mobile devices, when you design an app to connect to the browser and other apps (using open APIs), you can create something that's truly useful to users.

As developers, religious arguments over using a browser or an app don't get you very far. In the end, it's about creating the best experience possible for users. Applications like Flipboard show it's possible to have the best of both worlds when you put design first.

Photo by Jorge Quinteros on Flickr. Used under Creative Common License.

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