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Take your daily dose of (only) relevant news, useful tips and tricks and valuable how to's on using the latest web technologies shaping the digital landscape. We're here to do all the necessary information sifting for you, so you don't have to, to provide you with content that will help you anticipate the emerging trends about to influence the web.

A Look into the Future of Technology: WebGL Will Soon Replace Flash
Back in the day projects featuring crazy sound effects, animations and interactions were all the rage. These effects created intense user experiences hence is why they became so popular – most of these projects were built using Adobe Flash. Flash is close to death and the era of rich multimedia platforms has come to an end but there’s good news – a fresher successor will replace Flash. Three.js and WebGL technologies are growing very fast, allowing developers to create projects similar to those built in Flash but without any security issues. The Three.js and WebGL combo is one of the most powerful tools you can use to create immersive UX. WebGL and Three.js WebGL is the foundation that provides developers with ways to manipulate interactive 2D and 3D graphic elements. It allows users to mix elements with HTML and combine them with other constituents of the background or page. On the other hand, Three.js is a Javascript library with a long list of features which allow developers to operate with geometry, lights, cameras, scenes and more. Three.js helps unlock WebGL’s true potential by adding extra functionality options. With these two in place, it’s very easy to create 3D animations accelerated through GPU without needing any browser plugins. Compatibility issues   When different technologies get combined, dilemmas appear – should you create a “one size fits all” project that can run on different devices and offer consistent experience or risk it all and impress the audience you can reach. When working with Three.js and WebGL it’s the same. Most mobile browsers can be a real hassle especially since many users are stuck with legacy browsers – full compatibility can be tricky to achieve. The good news is that support is growing and the technologies are developing fast – as long as you don’t use Three.js and WebGL for any critical part of your project, you should be fine. ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Jun 06'2016
Meet WebGazer: The Free Technology that Turns Your Webcam into an Eye Tracker
Eye tracking technology has been in the research phase for quite a while now but the good news is that this new software opens the door to it for anyone with a website. Just about any website owner can use Webgazer to optimize their content and graphics.   WebGazer – where it all began WebGazer.js was developed by the scientists at Brown University – it’s very easy to implement and can be added to any site in just a couple of minutes with a few lines of code. The software runs on the website visitor’s browser, effectively turning the webcam into an eye tracker which can see where the visitor is looking on the page. The idea behind this is to help developers make websites more user friendly by optimizing content. Once the software is embedded onto a website, WebGazer will ask users for permission to access their webcams – once permission is given, WebGazer will use face detection software to locate the user’s eyes and face. The program will then convert the image to black and white in order to clearly distinguish the user’s eyes and iris. Once the iris is located, the system uses a statistical model which is calibrated via the user’s cursor movements and clicks. This model works by assuming that a visitor looks at the spot where they just clicked and each click tells the model where the eye looks when it’s viewing a part of the page. Reasonable calibration is achieved in around three clicks and after that WebGazer can accurately guess the viewer’s gaze in real time. Alexandra Papoutsaki, a graduate student from Brown University states: “We see this as a democratization of eye-tracking. Anyone can add WebGazer to their site and get a much richer set of analytics compared to just tracking clicks or cursor movements.”   Privacy and experiments There’s no need to worry about privacy when using WebGazer as no video is shared through the software – only the user’s gaze is reported back to the website. Alexandra P. performed a few experiments in order to properly test and evaluate the system – results show that it can infer gaze location in 100-200 screen pixels. While this may not be as accurate as commercial eye tracking software, it’s still a good estimation of where your users are looking. WebGazer could help developers optimize their pages, create more eye catching content or plan their prices space accordingly. Not only that but in the future we might see WebGazer being used for accessibility reasons or eye controlled gaming. WebGazer’s code is currently available for free use by anyone interested.  It will be fascinating to see how WebGazer will evolve and change the way we view the web. ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Jun 03'2016
Speed And Mobile Testing Just Got Easier
Google recently launched a new tool which aims to help business owners determine their website speed and mobile friendliness on tablets and smartphones.Mobile searches recently surpassed desktop searches and since more and more people surf the internet through mobile devices it’s critical for webmasters to check if their website is performant, functional, accessible and mobile friendly. Google’s New ToolGoogle’s new website testing tool is very simple and user friendly – you don’t have to be a technical person to try it out. Just type in your website’s address and the tool will analyse your site, scoring it according to certain requirements. The tool offers more detailed reports as well as suggestions on how to fix things – you can then use this information yourself or pass it along to your webmaster.Google offers plenty of testing tools for sites, including the Mobile Friendly Test, PageSpeed Insights and PageSpeed Tools but most of these tools are aimed at users with some technical knowledge – the new testing tool is aimed at business owners and non-technical users simply through its ease of use. Faster resultsThe tool shows scores in green for good, yellow for fair and red for poor. The user interface is greatly simplified as well. That being said, the new tool is powered by PageSpeed Insights – the idea is to get a fast overview of your website’s speed, mobile friendliness and performance at a glance.Google has increased its effort on mobile web where it created new technologies such as Accelerated Mobile Pages or AMP – these pages load much faster than web pages and use much less data. Google’s search algorithm has also been updated and having a mobile friendly website is more important than ever. More and more users shift to mobile devices and Google is paving the way to a more pleasurable user experience for all parties involved.... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Jun 02'2016
Introducing Hyperdev: A New Tool for Building Full-Stack Web Applications
Fog Creek Software is a New York based company best known for Trello and Stack Overflow. They recently announced the release of HyperDev, an online playground used for developing and deploying web apps. The open beta service is currently available to anyone willing to try it out. HyperDev is in Open Beta Previously users had to ask Fog Creek for permission to access HyperDev’s private beta. HyperDev is interesting because it can handle many of the steps necessary to get a Web app live and update it. Simply go on to HyperDev’s website and you can get your app live and complete with a proper URL as well as an environment for editing server and client side code. You can also invite other people to work on the code with you and if your project is worth implementing, you can save the code to your GitHub account.   Hyperdev automatically makes all changes to your app – there is no “deploy” button. You can see any code your team members are adding live just like in Google Docs. If a user is looking at the app through the URL, they will see it change live without needing to refresh. The Google Docs of App Development Fog Creek co-founder Joel Spolsky states “Literally as you type each keystroke, it can be rebooting, the whole server gets deployed,” - “We hope to get it down to like 100 milliseconds, ultimately.”   Keep in mind that HyperDev is not a full flexible cloud infrastructure or a standalone platform as a service or PaaS. This means that it won’t be the ideal hosting for every application but it will be ideal if you want to try small bits of code to see if they work properly. HyperDev is currently free for publically visible projects. In time the service will most likely offer a service to keep projects private for a fee, just like GitHub. JSFiddle is a service very similar to HyperDev – it allows users to edit and deploy code. Other similar services also include Stack Snippet. But neither of these services allow users to run live websites.   HyperDev only works with JavaScript in its current build. Python support as well as other languages will be added in the future. Fog Creek co-founder Joel Spolsky is a software development wizard but he’s not above googling for bits and pieces of code. Recently he built a podcast feed during a 5 hour plane trip from New York to San Francisco – the project was built in HyperDev. The for-loop portion in the app “was the most cut-and-pastey code I had ever done in my life,” Spolsky said. HyperDev is perfect for this type of quick programming.     ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / May 30'2016
Our Favorite Thing About Brave Browser? It Blocks Ads and Trackers... by Default
Brendan Eich is one of Firefox’s key figures and a web pioneer, but that’s not all he’s known for – he is the man behind a new start-up called Brave Software. Brave Software recently released a beta version of the Brave browser – this new software can work on OS X, Windows, Android or iOS. The idea behind this browser is to shield users from intrusive ads, effectively allowing it to run much faster than its rivals. Brendan Eich is known for bold and exciting ideas – He invented the JavaScript programming language and co-founded Mozilla which built the Firefox browser – one of the most popular browsers in the world. He left Mozilla in 2014 and started working from his new start-up, Brave Software with a team of 10, hand-picked specialists. The San Francisco-based company wants to rid the world of intrusive ads or harmful advertising all together.   The idea behind it Brendan Eich states: "We have to disconnect the bad system, I talk about putting chlorine in the pool”. Apart from the huge speed boost Eich promises privacy protection as well. The new browser should load pages two to four times faster than rival smartphone browsers and 1.4 times faster than PC browsers. But it’s not all smooth sailing - the Brave browser faces huge challenges such as gaining publishers support and convincing users to change their browsers. If Eich succeeds in his bold move, it could mean the end of ad blockers and improved privacy for consumers. Currently, online ads support a huge number of free services such as Yahoo mail, Facebook and Google searches but this situation creates a problem since publishers have reasons to intrude in your personal life – their ads sell much better when publishers know details about you – or as Apple’s CEO Tim Cook states “When an online service is free, you’re not the customer. You’re the product”. The Brave browser strips out ads and in the future it plans to allow a certain ads with a limited amount of personal data shared with advertisers. The browser also removes online tracking elements which slow down browsing speed. In the end, the Brave browser wants to achieve a balance between fast browsing speed and keeping a handful of actually useful ads.   How is that possible? It sounds like a good idea but how can it be done? The browser uses your history to see what you’re interested in and shares industry standard categories with publishers which in turn can place appropriate ads without knowing any personal information about you. Brave Software states it doesn’t want to know any information from its users. Currently the Brave browser is ads free, with a few empty patches where ads will be placed in the future. Once it has a large number of people using it, publishers will start supplying ads based on the information Brave shares. This will be Brave’s revenue source for the time being – "We're going to have to prove ourselves to get that payment," Eich says.   Get some profit as well Once the Brave browser has over 10 million clients, Brave Software plans to offer its consumers some revenue in return for using the product. The revenue can be used for subscriptions to pay publishers in order to remove certain or all ads. Eich and his team built their browser in Chromium – the base of Google Chrome, meaning all the security support and development will be done by Google. But why not use Firefox as a base for the Brave browser? Eich explains "Chromium is the safe bet for us," – Chrome is much more popular among developers who want to test websites, it’s a better tested and safer choice. It remains to be seen if the Brave browser becomes a big player like Firefox and Chrome. Currently it seems that it has all the assets necessary to do so and the revenue sharing scheme is brilliant. ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / May 25'2016
Breaking News: Microsoft’s Planning on Storing Data on DNA
Just one single gram of DNA can store 1.000.000.000 Terabytes of data for over a thousand years. Microsoft has purchased 10 million strands of synthetic DNA – these DNA molecules are called Oligonucleotides. The biology-focused company Twist supplied the strands of synthetic DNA and researchers from the University of Washington started exploring the idea of using DNA for data storage. If Microsoft’s plan works, it will revolutionize data storage technology as we know it today. The current rate and volume of data being stored and produced every day is so fast that hard drives and servers are having a hard time coping with it – they need periodical replacement or upgrades and this in turn increases the risk of data loss or corruption. Statistics show that by 2015, 5.4 zettabytes or 4.4 trillion gigabytes of digital data has been created and this number’s set to increase tenfold by 2020. How are we going to store 10 times the amount of data in the next 4 years? This is the question that Microsoft is planning to answer. Microsoft wants to store data on DNA DNA offers an enormously higher data storage density than conventional hard drives or systems – one gram of DNA can store up to 1 billion terabytes of data. DNA is also very robust meaning that any data stored on it can be readable or intact for up to 10.000 years. - That’s a bit more than your average hard drive’s life expectancy. Twist states that all the data that exists today can be stored on as little as 20 grams of DNA. Although this may sound great, the technology is far from being ready to support our daily data and storage needs. Initial tests have gotten great results – one test demonstrated that all of the data encoded on DNA can be recovered with ease. The American Chemical Society also recently released a statement that supports Microsoft’s finds – Data stored on DNA molecules could last up to 2000 years without being deteriorated in any way. ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / May 19'2016
Google Intends to Push HTML5 by Default in Chrome
Do we witness the dawn of a flash-free internet? Find out about the efforts Google is putting for turning HTML5 into a default browsing experience!Google wants to use HTML5 by default for all its products, including Chrome instead of Flash by the end of the year.   Flash’s Demise Google recently outlined a plan to promote HTML5 as the default for Chrome instead of Flash. In 2016 Flash will only be used by default for a handful of domains that still depend on it. Chrome will run on HTML5 by default if it’s possible, but if Flash is required for a certain website the user will be asked if it’s allowed to run or not. Flash has been losing ground to HTML5 for many years now. Considering the fact that Flash is a security nightmare riddled with vulnerabilities, it was only a matter of time until companies went in favour of HTML5. Chrome and Flash have always had a complicated relationship in the past. Flash is currently being included in Google’s Chrome browser by default but that will surely change in the future. Back in September 2015 Chrome started automatically pausing non-essential Flash content such as animations and ads. Nowadays Google wants to pause all Flash content on websites you visit.   Google’s Proposal The new Google proposal for HTML5 is finally here: Flash Player comes in a bundle with Google Chrome but it’s presence is not advertised as before in Navigator.Plugins() and Navigator.MimeTypes(). If a site is able to run HTML5 smoothly, it will become the default experience When users visit a site that requires Flash Player a pop-up will appear at the top of the page, asking permission to run it If the user accepts, Chrome will advertise the presence of Flash Player before refreshing the page. Chrome will remember the user’s setting for other visits as well, so just one approval is needed.   Exceptions Exist A list of top 10 used sites are whitelisted – for these sites users don’t need to approve Flash to run. The whitelist is meant to avoid over-prompting and make the transition to HTML5 smoother. The whitelisted websites will most likely include Mail.ru, Amazon.com, Twitch.tv, OK.ru, Yandex.ru, Live.com, VK.com, Yahoo.com, Facebook.com and Youtube.com. The white list itself will be updated periodically in order to ad or remove websites. If users allow Flash to run on any website, Google will simply store the preference and refresh the page. On the other hand, if a website directs users to download Flash, Google Chrome will present an infobar with “Allow Flash Player…” before directing users to the prompt. Google will also add policy controls such as a setting to “Allow Sites to ask to run Flash”, “Allow Sites…” and “Never run Flash content”. With this system users are able to manage their preferences for each website.   Pulling the plug Google has been at the forefront of killing Flash. Back in 2015, YouTube opted for HTML5 videos by default and in February of the same year Google began to automatically convert Flash-based ads to HTML5. Google wants all Flash display ads gone by 1 January 2017. For some, Flash’s demise couldn’t come to soon – both for security and performance reasons. Despite Google’s strong opposition towards Flash, it was Adobe that actually pulled the plug back in November 2011 when the company withdrew support for Flash Player on mobile devices. Even with tech giants pushing for the total elimination of Flash Players, it will likely take many years before we can finally have a Flash-free internet. ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / May 17'2016
Opera Brings Its Free and Unlimited VPN app for iOS
Opera, the popular web browser is launching a VPN or virtual private network client for iPads and iPhones. The launch came just three weeks after the same feature was announced for the desktop browser.   Opera designed the app to be “especially relevant on campuses and workplaces” where Wi-Fi provided by certain institutions or companies has limited access to “social-media and video streaming websites”. You can also set your app to route your internet connection through another country in order to have access to geo-blocked content. The app also blocks trackers and ads. When the VPN/proxy version first appeared a few weeks ago it only supported three virtual locations – Germany, Canada and the US. With the new launch for iOS, you can now pretend to live in the Netherlands or Singapore as well. The new launch also boasts quite a few supported languages including Russian, Portuguese, Japanese, Indonesian, German, French, Arabic and of course English. The Opera VPN app is set to “off” by default, so you need to turn it on manually. The two other options to block ads and block trackers can also be turned on from the “Settings” menu. Although many VPNs were already available to users, most of these services required payment to unlock certain features. Opera offers free and unlimited access in a bid to gain traction with the online community. Why would Opera go through the trouble of creating a new VPN app if it’s given for free? SurfEasy seems to think that Opera “collects anonymous data about how people use their mobile devices” and sells it to third parties who are “interested in better understanding the mobile ecosystem and how it’s evolving.” Opera is also likely to place ads in the app itself in the near future.   If you’re paranoid about being tracked online, you’ll feel much safer by using an app that charges a monthly fee. Individuals who are simply seeking to access websites or content that’s banned in their country, campus or workplace will clearly benefit from Opera VPN. - “With the new Opera VPN app, we help people to break down the barriers of the Web and enjoy the Internet like it should be,” said Chris Houston, president of Opera division SurfEasy. Opera’s upgrade efforts are not limited to VPNs though, as the company plans to create a VPN for Android as well.   ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / May 13'2016
Antitrust Charges Against Abusive Android
The European Commission on Wednesday charged that Google breached EU antitrust rules by seeking to maintain and expand the dominance of its Android operating system. "A competitive mobile Internet sector is increasingly important for consumers and businesses in Europe," said the EC's antitrust chief, Margrethe Vestager. "Based on our investigation thus far," she continued, "we believe that Google's behavior denies consumers a wider choice of mobile apps and services and stands in the way of innovation by other players, in breach of EU antitrust rules." Throttling Competition In its statement of objections, the commission alleged Google violated EU antitrust rules in the following ways: • Requiring manufacturers to preinstall Google Search and Google's Chrome browser and requiring them to set Google Search as default search service on their devices, as a condition to license certain Google proprietary apps; • Preventing manufacturers from selling smart mobile devices running on competing operating systems based on Android open source code; and • Giving financial incentives to manufacturers and mobile network operators on condition that they exclusively preinstall Google Search on their devices. Google's business practices may lead to a further consolidation of the company's dominant position in general Internet search services, the commission noted. Those practices may affect the ability of other mobile browsers to compete with Google Chrome. They hinder the development of operating systems based on Android open source code and the opportunities they would offer for the development of new apps and services, the commission said. Internet Explorer Redux The commission's action is a response to complaints it has received from Google's competitors in Europe. In 2013, FairSearch Europe, a group that includes Oracle and Nokia, filed a complaint with the EC about Android. In 2014, Aptoide also filed a complaint. Consumer Watchdog is another group supporting an investigation into Google's Android dominance. "This is the same kind of thing that Microsoft did when it bundled its browser in with its operating system," said John M. Simpson, director of Consumer Watchdog's Privacy Project. "While Google makes Android freely available, it's got strings that come with it that unfairly favor Google's apps if you're going to use the Android software," he told the E-Commerce Times. "Consumers can go and find other apps and install them," Simpson added, "but that gives Google a leg up on Android devices." Unfortunate Action Google is not stifling the Android marketplace, according to Daniel Castro, a senior analyst with the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation. "This is an unfortunate action because it does not seem like there has been any consumer harm from the allegations and there is strong competition in the mobile OS environment," he told the E-Commerce Times. "It is hard to see how Google can lock out any competitors since the switching costs of installing a new app are so minimal -- 30 seconds to download and install a rival app," Castro said. One reason Android enjoys widespread popularity is its openness, he explained, which allows for experimentation while also providing standardized features across platforms for users. "It would be unfortunate if the EU punishes Google for actions it takes that create better consumer experiences because it believes these actions are anticompetitive," Castro said. "This would create a risk," he continued, "that tech companies would design products to meet arcane competition regulations rather than consumer needs." U.S. Probe Since the Europeans announced their initial probe into Google's Android monopoly last year, there have been murmurs of a similar investigation by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. In September, for example, Bloomberg reported that the FTC had reached an agreement with the U.S. Justice Department to investigate whether or not Google was stifling access to Android by its competitors. That wouldn't be the first time the FTC probed Google. It looked into Google's search dominance in 2011 and 2012. That investigation ended in 2013 with Google changing some of its business practices. However, last year The Wall Street Journal reported that the commissionignored the advice of key staffers to sue Google because they believed it was doing harm to consumers and innovation. "The FTC completely blew its investigation on the search monopoly," Consumer Watch's Simpson said. "They completely failed to do their job there." In 2014, Google spent US$16.8 million on lobbying in Washington, he added. "You don't spend money like drunken sailors on lobbying unless you see results." Source: http://www.technewsworld.com ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Apr 27'2016