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Comment Re:Swift (Score 1) 337 337

Swift isn't going to make it so "anybody can write apps." That is something that's been tried for decades, with things like drag-and-drop programming. SQL was originally intended for non-programmers. It doesn't work, because the difficulty of programming isn't the syntax. The difficulty of programming is logic.

While true, the danger exists that making the syntax easier will encourage more people who don't understand logic to try to write code anyway, usually with disastrous results. Maybe it's the UNIX greybeard in me, but I've always seen the complexity of language as sort of a "you must be this tall to ride" bar, limiting the amount of damage that clueless people can cause.

And it isn't just that the software that new programmers create is usually bad. It also clogs the marketplace with low-quality apps. The more bad apps people write, the harder it will be for well-written new apps to gain footing, because they'll start out with several times as many poorly written apps ahead of them in their sales ranking.

But the biggest problem with making it easier to write code is that every step down that path requires ever-increasing resources. Right now, it takes about an order of magnitude more effort to write a beginning programming guide than to write a programming guide for experienced programmers, even for a moderately complex technology. And that's if you assume that people understand basic logic, control flow, etc. If you go one step beyond that and try to make it practical for non-programmers to write code, you'll spend two or three years writing a good, solid introductory textbook. And I have yet to see any evidence suggesting that any significant percentage of those folks will be able to write decent code even after reading such a book.

The kernel is stable not just because it has to be, but also because it scares people away until they are reasonably competent at programming. The web is filled with bad code because it doesn't. IMO, apps should be more like the former than the latter. Just my $0.02.

Comment Re:No kidding. (Score 1) 253 253

Neither of those provides any mechanism for downsampling an image before uploading it. In fact, from a same-origin security model perspective, JS code isn't even supposed to be able to access the image data before uploading it, though I think they've left some holes where devs can get around that....

Comment Re:No kidding. (Score 1) 253 253

Sure there is. That's exactly what RSS [wikipedia.org] was made to do. Not only can you visit a site, get a feed, and add it yourself, but there are also applications that curate and categorize popular RSS feeds so that you can search for and add them without having to visit the websites first.

The problem is that RSS is one-directional. If I want to post, I still have to go back to a browser window and use whatever random, horrible, non-mobile-friendly interface the site designers came up with. And posting is usually the part where a native app would be beneficial; the reading part is easy by comparison....

Comment Re:No kidding. (Score 1) 253 253

And despite what you say, the facebook app is pretty much standard on every user's smart phone, and the app only shows content from facebook ...

... and is used exclusively by people who have accounts on the site. That's a completely different usage model than just going to a website and browsing it, which is to say that you didn't really contradict my main point with that example.

Facebook is also a bit of an exception because of the sheer amount of time that many people spend on it, the potential benefits of tighter integration with the operating system (background notifications), etc.

But for every exception, there are a thousand non-exceptions. Even though I have the FB app installed, I wouldn't really consider installing a Slashdot app; the way I interact with the site is completely different, with my FB interaction being a lot more active, and involving a lot more photo uploads and other such activities that web browsers do pretty badly in the mobile world.

Comment Re:No kidding. (Score 1) 253 253

During your rant, I couldn't help but think, 'But they DO have a standardized app for accessing all the websites', and it's called the browser!

The problem is, mobile devices don't handle web forums very well. Web designers don't design their themes with mobile devices in mind, resulting in text that's too small to read, text entry fields that are too wide for the screen, etc. That's not true for every site, but it is pretty common.

An actual native app, by contrast, is likely to be designed by people who actually understand the platform and its limitations, its screen size, etc. So potentially, if done properly, it can produce a much better user experience than a browser is likely to produce (though a browser could produce a similarly good experience if all the web designers took the time to design their sites properly for mobile devices... and I want a pony...).

Comment Re:How about this... (Score 1) 184 184

Not really. My TV takes uncompressed data. Once an encoder is available, the only things that matter these days are whether the following things support the codec:

  • Chrome
  • Safari
  • Firefox
  • iOS
  • Android
  • YouTube
  • to a lesser extent, OS X, Windows, and Internet Explorer

If you cover those, all other clients of the codecs are lost in the noise, so it is probably safe to use it on your own site for your own content.

It doesn't really matter at all whether the codec used to encode the content for delivery is the same as the codec used to encode it during production. In fact, I would seriously hope that 100% of video production is being done with a higher quality codec than the low-bitrate crap that is being used to deliver content over the 'net. Therefore, whether Mitsubishi et al choose to support a codec or not is mostly irrelevant.

In practice, only three companies actually need to work together to make such a patent-free codec happen: Apple, Microsoft, and Google. Firefox would quickly adopt any patent-free codec that those three got behind. That makes the entire rest of the industry pretty much completely irrelevant. Those three companies could mandate a transition to a new, patent-free codec, and the entire world would practically trip over themselves to make it happen.

So no, those industrial giants aren't really a problem. In fact, they aren't even relevant in the grand scheme of codecs except to the extent that the big three graciously allow them to be.

Comment No kidding. (Score 5, Insightful) 253 253

It is truly an epic fail to believe that some random visitor to your website is going to want to install your app just to read a piece of content—particularly if that user got there through a Google search. Yet for some reason, just about every forum out there pops up one of these idiotic app interstitials when I try to view some random post on their site. I didn't go there because I want to be a regular visitor to the site, which means I sure as h*** don't want to install their app just to read the tiny piece of content that may or may not even contain the information I need to do whatever I'm trying to get done.

The right time to ask a user to install an app is when the user creates an account on the site. Up until that point, the user is probably an infrequent visitor and is unlikely to want to install the app. Even at that point, the user may not want to install the app, but at least there's some nonzero possibility that he or she might.

Of course, the real train wreck is that there's no standard for making websites' contents available for app use, which would allow a user to install one reader that can read content on any of the dozen sites that he or she might be interested in. There's really no chance of me installing an app that only lets me read content from one website, because A. it is unlikely to be much better than viewing the website (because probably the same people designed it), and B. I already have more apps than I can deal with anyway. But if every website I visit standardized on a feed scheme, along with a common authentication system and a common reply system, I could see myself installing a single app that worked with all of them.

Comment Re:Are you sure? (Score 1) 100 100

It's not quite fair to exclude the cost of your ISP or wireless plan. Whether you "need it anyway" for other purposes or not, you still can't ACTUALLY get Netflix for only $12 month unless your ISP is free (and fast enough to support decent HD streaming).

Well, you can do their DVD service for $8, but yes, for their streaming service, you do have to have an Internet connection. Of course, if you have a smartphone, at least in the U.S., your cell service provider will likely require you to have a data plan anyway, so these days it's hard to not have a connection that you could potentially use for watching Netflix if you wanted to. (Whether that data plan would cost you more money if you watched Netflix all day is another matter, of course.)

Comment Re:The moral of the story... (Score 1) 59 59

Except Google didn't offer it to the public. It is an unpublished API that is and was unsupported for external use.

Is this the same API that Safari, Chrome, Firefox, etc. use for autocompleting search queries in their search boxes? If so, and if they disable it, there are going to be a lot of unhappy people, and by a lot, I mean literally every human being who uses a web browser.

Comment Re:Works for me - whatever that is worth (Score 1) 136 136

The reality is that most email list servers were set up a decade ago by somebody who hasn't touched it since. Expecting them to all upgrade their software to accommodate some new scheme is ridiculous enough to qualify for one of those "Your solution is impractical because" posts with the "it requires broad deployment on hundreds of thousands of servers, performed by tens of thousands of unpaid volunteers" checkbox checked.

Unlike the people who set up most of those email list servers, the Google employees who set up their spam filters are getting paid to do a good job of filtering. If you expect the problem to actually get fixed in this century, guess who will have to do the work to prevent those messages from getting flagged as spam....

Besides, mailing lists are very obviously different from spam in several critical ways. For one, you send email to them regularly. That should weigh heavily against the server being categorized as a spam server, and should therefore weigh heavily in favor of trusting mail delivered by that server, regardless of signing or lack thereof. For another, the posts are part of an ongoing discussion, which means the subject lines are closely related to the subject lines of other email messages sent by other people that didn't trip the spam filter. That should also weigh heavily against such a message being marked as spam. For a third, the email messages contain fragments of quoted comment from other messages in the thread. For a fourth, a Bayesian classifier or similar, when applied to the message, should strongly show similarity to other messages that are not flagged as spam, and should show very little similarity to messages that are.

If, in spite of such overwhelming evidence that the message is not spam, your spam filters still flag it as spam solely because of an arbitrary technological measure like DKIM that is not broadly supported by remailers, you're doing it wrong.

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