Olympic Torch Ceremony Halifax

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

The Olympic torch in Halifax on November 18, 2009. A couple of my friends and I were there for the passing of the torch in front of Dalhousie University Sexton Campus Gym. Nova Scotia native NHL star Sydney Crosby carried the torch & passed it on to Sarah Conrad; Halifax Olympian snowboarder who ran it into downtown Halifax and lit a cauldron in front of Halifax City Hall.

Someone stopped me for a pic while I carried the torch through the Vancouver mountains (jk)

Over 20,000 people gathered into downtown Halifax for the ceremonies. The ceremonies was put on (and heavily sponsored by) RBC and Coke. Performances included a local artist spin painting, musical performance and dance, DJ Skratch Bastid, break dancers, local snowboarders on a man made hill beside the main stage.

Just picking up our torch Crosby dropped it off to us.

After the torch ceremony Classified performed the hip-hop version of Canada’s national anthem “O Canada” (check out the official music video here). My friends Mike and Liz got a change try out an olympic bobsled at the end, lol. Check out my video of clips from the event below.

What’s Coming in WordPress 3.0

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

WordPress 3.0 is projected to be released on May 1st, the same day as WordCamp San Francisco. Since I recently moved to San Francisco, I’m hoping to attend again this year!

Merge of WordPress + WordPress MU

WordPress MU is a similar platform to WordPress except it allows users to run multiple sites under one installation. WordPress.com is running on WordPress MU code base. Founder Matt Mullenweg announced the merge news during WordCamp San Francisco 2009 (I was there!)

What does this mean for you?

You can now have multiple sites in one installation. Say you have 10 different sites, you don’t need 10 different installations of wordpress. Particularly handy when upgrading. WordPress MU users will now be able to use all WordPress.org plugins without hacking them.

Search Across All Your Sites – If you do decide to have numerous sites under one install, cross network search would be a very handy outcome of this, it’s not in the core yet but it may be in the near future. You can use the plugin to make it work for now.

Preview:

Custom Post Types

This feature will allow you to have different type of posts for example Portfolio listings, Products, and then Normal blog posts. Combining Post Types and Taxonomies will make WordPress a much more robust CMS option. Check out First Impression of WordPress Post Types by Frank of WPEngineer for more on this.

Better Navigation Menus

Custom Woo Navigation will be included to the core in this release in order to allow for better menu management. This menu system has the drag and drop ease of the widget management screen. It also allows the ability of re-ordering, along with submenus, and hiding specific Pages or Categories from the menu altogether. Kudos to Woo Staff for contributing this system to the core.

Preview:

New Default Theme 2010

Bye Bye Kubrick Theme! Welcome 2010. WordPress 3.0 will come with a new default theme known as 2010. From this year on, the goal is to have a new theme for every year! Wondering what the new 2010 theme would look like? (Just click on the image below to see the live version.)

Custom Background Support

Kind of a twitter-background like feature. Support for custom background can be called by adding this line in your functions.php: add_custom_background();

You’ll see a screen in your admin panel to upload a custom background image which will replace the default grey background (only works on 2010 theme & others that support this feature for now).

Author Specific Templates

In WordPress 3.0, you can create specific templates for each author. The function get_author_template(); has been expanded in wp-includes/theme.php.You would be able to name files like author-syed.php.

Ability to Choose Username When Installing WordPress

As of now, WordPress automatically assigns the first user with the username “admin”. If you have read any articles on WordPress security, you know the importance of this feature. Now the hackers cannot guess your username because it will no longer be “admin”.

Canonical Plugins

Have you used a plugin that you loved, and the author stopped providing support. No bug fixes, no upgrades, and the plugin eventually breaks in newer versions. Canonical plugins are developed by a community instead of one developer, so if one person steps down, the plugin does not die. Using the open source development model basically.

[via wpbeginner.com]

Google Releases Lifestream Service: Buzz

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

Today Google announced a new “social” part of Gmail called Google Buzz. I find this a strange coincidence after just last week I was discussing if we should just give up on Google as a “Social Entity” – turns out, Nope.

Features:
1. You will automatically follow the people you e-mail and chat with on a regular basis.
2. You can share content from around the Web, including YouTube, Picasa, Flickr, and Twitter.
3. You will be able to share your thoughts in a public way and in a private way.
4. You will get social updates in your inbox.
5. Google will help you find only the stuff that matters by recommending popular content.
6. The mobile version of Buzz can figure out where you are and show you nearby buzz posts.

Another Friendfeed Clone

It’s a little surprising to see how identical Buzz is to FriendFeed. There’s still a lot of users using Friendfeed (and one of my favorite social networks), but since being acquired by Facebook it’s not keeping up with integrating new services or innovating. The Buzz team has also been able to lift some of the best ideas from FriendFeed. You can “like” items, comment on them, and you can see who liked a post. Which looks identical to FriendFeed’s implementation of this feature (see RWW‘s screenshot below).

Friendfeed Google Chrome Comparison

Sadly Buzz is missing one of Friendfeed’s best noise cancelling features where you can ‘hide’ certain types of posts. This features is quite handy if you don’t wanna see someone’s picasa posts, a custom RSS feed, or a noisy twitter user for example, without having to necessarily un-follow them.

Another vital Friendfeed feature Buzz is missing is Groups (previously known as Rooms). With Friendfeed Groups you can see updates related to specific topics of interest to you. For example, one can follow people posts related to Apple, Web Design, Google, Facebook, etc. This includes posts from people you aren’t currently following. This means 1) You’ll be able to find new friends of common interests and 2) When you post to a group, people who aren’t following you (but are following that Group) will see your post as well, giving your post more exposure. In Buzz, you can post to a group of friends you create in a friends list, but you can’t follow other people friends lists, so Buzz is missing out on this great social feature.

Focus on Mobile
Unlike Friendfeed however, Google Buzz seems to have a focus on mobile.

Google Reader

Just last week I was chatting with my good friend Dylan Blanchard (over a game of pool) about Google’s failed attempt at making Google Reader social. It’s almost impossible to build a conversation around the items you share. But Buzz might give Google Reader the social features we’ve all been waiting for.

Anything you share in Reader will automatically be posted to Buzz. Comments are even shared between both products, so you can view and participate in the conversation wherever you’d prefer.

A shared item in Reader (background) and Buzz (foreground)

And don’t worry, you don’t have another list of friends or followers to manage. The people you follow in Reader are the same people you follow in Buzz – those you’ve already chosen to follow in Reader, plus the people you email and chat with the most in Gmail.

via The Official Google Reader Blog

Open Standards

Some great news for the other lifestreaming and open standard fanatics out there…

Over the next several months Google Buzz will introduce an API for developers, including full/read write support for posts with the Atom Publishing Protocol, rich activity notification with Activity Streams, delegated authorization with OAuth, federated comments and activities with Salmon, distributed profile and contact information with WebFinger, and much, much more.

via http://code.google.com/apis/buzz/documentation

The Flaws

1. One major mistake I believe is that they’re introducing Buzz as part of Gmail. If they introduced it as it’s own service at http://google.com/buzz , and adding it into your gmail was just a feature, it would be far more successful.

2. Although most people have a Google Account, this will not be useful for the many people who don’t use gmail for their email client. As well, these users will also have minimal existing google contacts.

3. This could also be quite annoying for people who try to keep social networking noise separate from email, especially with all the emails that people have cc’ed you on a post, liked or commented on one of your posts. (Edit: This can be solved with the use of a Gmail filter)

4. For those who use gmail for professional and business connections, they may need to have a different GMail account for their social connections. (Buzz uses Google Contacts where you can define various friend lists for services like GTalk & Reader, so Google may be able to solve this problem that way).

Nexus One “The Story” Short Film Series

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

NexusOne2.jpgHave you ever wondered what goes into the making of a superphone? Some products are in development for years before actually hitting a retail store. Google filmed a series of short films documenting the making of the Nexus One on the Nexus One YouTube channel where they shared an episode a day (last one posted yesterday). They detail the process of building a cell phone which include Concept & Design, Display & 3D Framework, Testing, Manufacturing, and Nexus One: Day One. Ironically, to me, the videos have a little bit of a Apple-esque feel to them.

If you are considering getting a Nexus One, or even if you have one, these videos are sure to give a little insight into what went into the development of the phone. The recent firmware update fixed the only issues I have seen with the device (3G connectivity and multi-touch) and I am really enjoying videos of the whole Nexus One experience. I’ve embedded the complete video series below.

Episode 1: Concept & Design

Episode 2: Display & 3D Framework
Episode 3: Testing
Episode 4: Manufacturing
Episode 5: Day One

Facebook Unveils HipHop for PHP

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

Today, Facebook announced it’s open sourcing a new runtime intended to improve PHP use in large-scale deployments.

In a short summary, as Facebook scaled they encountered problems with PHP, including high CPU and memory costs. Facebook describes HipHop as a “source code transformer”. Basically, HipHop transforms PHP into C++, using g++ to compile it. In their test cases it uses 50% less CPU compared to PHP (with APC). This doesn’t mean pages load faster, it means serving millions of page views requires less servers. It’s being used on 90% of Facebook’s production servers now. HipHop’s got it’s own http server built-in, but they said support for Apache as a web server option is in the works.

You can read Facebook’s full article here.
Brandon Savage has an overview of who benefits from this.

Code Rush: Full Film

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

The following documentary from 2000 is about the open-sourcing of the Netscape code base and the Mozilla project which gave birth to Firefox. This played a crucial part of the Internet’s history and I highly recommend you watch it and share it with your friends. The copyright to the film is now available under Creative common licence vers. 3 for anyone to download and use as they wish.

The Film
Code Rush. The year is early 1998, at the height of dot-com era, and a small team of Netscape code writers frantically works to reconstruct the company’s Internet browser. In doing so they will rewrite the rules of software development by giving away the recipe for its browser in exchange for integrating improvements created by outside unpaid developers. The fate of the entire company may well rest on their shoulders. Broadcast on PBS, the film capture the human and technological dramas that unfold in the collision between science, engineering, code, and commerce.

The Project
Under the creative commons license, the producers of Code Rush, which aired in 2000, are making available all the original footage shot for the film, over 100 hours, along with searchable transcripts.

Via: clickmovement.org