The Most Telling Web Design Infographic on the Internet

The irony is just too fantastic.

The online web development magazine "Enfuzed" recently published an article entitled "2013 Web Design Trends," featuring a neat infographic. You'd imagine that said infographic would include the newest hotness in HTML5, CSS3, and in this age of We Need Everything Mobile, of course the latest in responsive design trends (optimizing a site to display on any screen size). I was browsing the article on my iPhone 5, and this is what I saw:

Transient

Well done, Enfuzed. An infographic detailing modern web design trends, completely unreadable on the most popular mobile web browser in the world. 

Apparently, we still have a long way to go. 

Posted on July 29, 2013 .
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The Smoke and Mirrors of Google Chromecast

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The Internet is absolutely ablaze right now over the announcement from Google over their new "Smart TV" dongle, dubbed Chromecast. At $35, it seems like the Holy Grail of connected video steaming: just plug it in, go through a few simple setup steps. and wham-o-- you're in a user utopia where an Android tablet can toss up a video to your flat screen, someone's iPhone can change the volume, and someone else's Galaxy Note can queue up the next four cat videos on YouTube. 

Sounds pretty miraculous, right? Yeah, nice try.

Mashable has already taken it for a test drive, and the results aren't as earth-shattering as the Technorati has made it seem:

"Google billed Chromecast as an easy way for everyone in your household to control what’s on your television. Movies started on your Nexus 7 should be able to be stopped by your iPad. Someone on an iPhone nearby should be able to add a video to the queue to be watched next and everyone should have control of the volume.

I ran into a lot of issues actually making that a reality.

On both my Nexus 7 and iPad mini Chromecast had issues detecting both when I played a video and when I tried to pause it. Getting videos to play using both devices took pressing the button several times before it would register on Chromecast, and often it simply wouldn’t register at all. At one point I tried to switch the video playing using my iPad mini, and the app went into a thinking mode for over 20 minutes, causing me to have to force quit it in order to try again. Not exactly seamless.

My experience using YouTube wasn’t much better. The YouTube app on my iPhone didn’t always detect the Chromecast was even in my livingroom. When I did get it to work, adding videos to the TV queue was a simple proposition — you just tap “Add to TV Queue on the video itself — as was removing unwanted videos from the upcoming playlist.

All of my issues are ones that I might attribute to a bad connect to my home’s wireless network. In the same room we have an Apple TV connected to the television that has no issues playing movies or YouTube via Airplay. Speed tests on my laptop and mobile devices in the room proved that everything was not only connected to the router, but had a rather speedy connection to the web as well. These issues, whatever is causing them, are Chromecast specific.

The connection seemed to be worse when I first started using a device with Chromecast, and got slightly better over time, although still not quite perfect. Our New York office on the other hand had no issues connecting to one of their devices, or switching between different phones and tablets. On the other device in NYC, however, they did run into a handful of switching problems.

For now you're also restricted in the type of content you can watch using Chromecast. The device is app-specific, so for now it only works with Netflix, YouTube Google Play and Music, and Chrome. A good mix, but definitely not the same selection you'll find on some of Chromecast's competitors. You're also restricted to content you can stream from the cloud, so movies and videos stored locally on your device are going to be a no-go."

 Needless to say, it has some kinks to work out. But more than that, outside of the (admittedly) fantastic price, what's there to really offer here? It doesn't have ESPN, HBO Go, Hulu, or any of the other apps that Apple and Roku both bring to the table. And in Apple's case, the Chromcast has to compete with the ability to fully mirror your computer, iPhone, or iPad. Google's dongle can mirror Chrome, and that's it. 

So can we  all settle down about Google Chromecast please? It's a Roku/Apple TV knockoff that can do precisely squat compared to either. Maybe one day it will have the capabilities of the real winners in this sector, but for now it lets you stream YouTube, whatever you can access in mobile Chrome, and some cloud content. That's it. Nothing stored on your device, no live TV, no unicorns, no rainbows. 

Yawn. 

If you need me, I'll be marathoning Orange Is The New Black on my Apple TV. 

Image: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

 

 

Posted on July 26, 2013 .
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The WWDC Keynote: The Basics, and a Photo Album

Apple just got done with the Keynote presentation at their WWDC conference, and wow-- what a presentation. A lot is about to change with your Apple software (and hardware-- see: the new Mac Pro), from OSX to iOS. Here's a breakdown of the essential parts and pieces, in stunning image form.

OSX: The new one's called "Mavericks," and here's what it can do   

iOS 7: The biggest update to iOS since the introduction of the iPhone

And One More Thing... A Brand-New Mac Pro, Completely Redesigned! 

Posted on June 10, 2013 .
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Dispatches from Disrupt, Part 1: What exactly is a Tech Crunch, and why does it Disrupt?

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In case you were wondering where I've been for the last week or so, I decided to do something crazy and submit an application to TechCrunch, a website devoted to covering burgeoning small businesses in the tech industry (or "startups" for short), for a press pass to cover their yearly event, Disrupt. "Disrupt," by the way, is an industry buzzword that basically translates to "forever change a paradigm or way of doing something." So, the iPhone was incredibly disruptive to the cellphone industry, the 3D Printer is going to be disruptive to the making-things industry-- you get the idea.

It turns out they let me in!

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Yep. That's a real-live Press Pass. They almost got my site's name right, but who's counting? Not me. I was so overwhelmed I couldn't even math. (Speaking of math, a ticket to merely attend the conference costs $3,000. Unless you're press, and then it's free.)

Now, being a website comprised of precisely myself, I knew I had a long and arduous trek ahead of me. The amount of note-taking, picture-snapping, furious typing, and coffee drinking that needs to happen for a staff of 30 writers to cover a conference like this properly is epic, bordering on comical-- I was just one geek. I was prepared for this, yet I still had no idea what I was about to get myself into. Alas, I persevered, and live to tell the tale. Here is part one. 

The conference itself, Disrupt NY 2013, isn't just a standard, run-of-the-mill showcase of new cellphones, blu-ray players, or apps. At its heart, it's an event designed to facilitate the face-to-face meeting of promising web startup companies with serious investors (read: venture capitalists). Most of these young businesses have already gone through some rounds of funding, and are at Disrupt to really solidify their backing so they can take off into the land of Twitter and Instagram. 

It's an incredibly fascinating perspective to bear witness to: these founders, creators, coders, and designers take their idea that they've poured their entire being, future, and checkbook into, fold it up into a booth and some promotional material, and hike it to New York City where it's exposed to the likes of Ashton Kutcher (a venture capitalist in his own right), the jaded technorati (tech journalists like me-- except I'm just freaking excited to be there), and firms like Bain Capital and the CEO of Yahoo!. 

In addition to all of the other events (which I'll get to in another post), the primetime drama really unfolds during the Startup Battlefield. If you've ever seen Shark Tank on ABC, it's a lot like that: The 30-ish best and brightest startups are chosen by TechCrunch out of about 100 over a two-day period-- new apps, online services, social networks, you name it-- each vying to be the one that is judged the "Most Disruptive" to the tech industry. The culled list then has about six minutes each on the main stage upstairs to give a presentation in front of a panel of judges (and an audience likely to number around a thousand), describing why they are The Best Startup Here, and why they deserve the $50,000 prize and the Disrupt Cup. Then, for another six-to-ten minutes, the judges grill the pants off of them. How does everything work in detail, who's their competition in the marketplace, what's their business model, how much funding have they attracted so far, and why would anyone give a crap about them in the first place? 

It's an intense fifteen minutes. 

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On the third day of Disrupt, the finals take place. Seven finalists are chosen to give their presentations again in front of the Extra-Super-Elite panel, deliberations are held, and a winner is chosen.

I can tell you that the winner was deserving of their new moniker, to say the least. In fact, there were at least six or seven startups that, in my opinion, are going to turn some industries upside down and change the way we do some very basic things. But we'll get to that next time. Stay tuned...

Next up: Dispatches from Disrupt, Part 2: Startup Battlefield

Posted on May 3, 2013 .
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