Future of Web Apps (quick summary and thoughts) Pretty cool talks and talk topics. A pretty dull expo area but Adobe give out free beer if you take one of their books and trade in a business card.

Even though every second app on the expo and many of the talks are about social networking I found it really hard to network here. I had some decent chats with the expo people but not much with the fellow guests. They few who aren't head-down stuck in their mac laptops were being cliquey and hard to approach.

A blind talker from AbilityNet taught gave me a few thoughts:

  • he likes that Gmail has a plain HTML alternative
  • Google docs (despite being heavily javascriptted) works for him
  • AJAX is generally bad news for him
  • screen readers have javascript enabled by default so don't expect them to read notices inside noscript tags

An interesting company there was XCalibre. After 3 years of development they've come up with a virtual private server hosting solution which looks cool. Unlike us, when a virtual server outgrows a physical machine they can move the virt. server from one machine to another with less than 1 min downtime and without loosing any packets or stuff in RAM. They currently support Windows and some Linuxes for operating systems Currently not Ubuntu due to a tricky kernel bug but they're working on it. The cost model is cost per usage. Ie. by megabytes, data transfers and time. The name of the product is Flexiscale.

A few things I learnt from one talk by a lady called Heidi who is an expert at mobile web development:

  • don't use the strong tag, use the b tag because it's smaller in size (5 bytes)
  • Don't use H tags like H1 or H2 or maybe even H3. They're almost always too big for mobile screens and the mobile browsers make them too big. Content wise, a bold is enough.
  • Use the xhtml-mobile10.dtd DOCTYPE.
  • Navigation links are over-rated. Use search instead!
  • Mobile acid test: http://jwtmp.com/a

One of my personal heros had a talk about Firefox and JavaScript and the future of Firefox. It was John Resig. A nerdy looking fellow who was an excellent speaker with a voice a very very confident and clear voice but with some very shy movements on stage. He had a very technical talk about where Firefox is heading with Javascript 2, SVG and some weird OpenGL extensions. He also touched a bit about Firefox 3 and offline use. Long story short: Mozilla has some grand and exciting ideas about Firefox. Really exciting!

One of the most interesting talks was that of Kevin Rose. The Digg founder. It was nice to hear that he's no genius God. He's just another regular bloke who likes to put together websites. He started everything up from scratch and made lots of misstakes and had to learnt lots as they grew. A few random points I can remember:

  • invitation features such as address book import and email invites has been very good for their user growth.
  • on the "send an email to a invite a friend", instead of using a mailto: link, use the mail program icons like the Outlook, Firebird etc logos to very quickly explain what it's about
  • Their second project, Revision 3 was done in Python and the latest was done in Django and they were very happy with it. Digg is done with LAMP(hp).
  • Don't (even try to) go for VC until you've got a working app
  • Plan for success! One of the biggest mistakes he confessed. However, at the very earliest stage his aim was to get something working and earn a few extra bucks to reduce his rent.
Jan - 04 October 2007 [«« Reply to this]
Flexiscale are using either Xen or OpenVZ, and we already can use OpenVZ to do the live migration you're describing... except we currently only do it for clients, but our own internal one is not far away.

Some more blurbs:
http://uk.techcrunch.com/2007/10/03/flexiscale-launches-on-demand-hosting/

BTW, if they support Windows as well, then obviously they run it on Xen. There are good reasons why we're not venturing into that, and if you care, ask me in person.

"Navigation links are over-rated. Use search instead!" ... that is if search does NOT suck on ones site, which is still not that common. E.g. Reddit's search sucks balls, period. Googling with "site:www.domain.com" is in 90% cases better than domaon.com's built in search and half of the remaining cases are only that good because they embed actual google search themselves.
Peter Bengtsson - 05 October 2007 [«« Reply to this]
I think what she referred to with the search in that particular instance was a site they had where you had to choose which country you where from on the first page. Similar to how certain global e-commerce sites work. Thing is, that list grew to 160 different countries (Yahoo!) and then the search can be built almost like a ticket machine where you start to type the first letter. With countries, you'll get a very reasonable selection of links if you just enter "sw" in the search.


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