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the Weblog

Happy Earth Day 2011

Apr 22, 2011

Happy Earth Day from your friends at ESG! We’d like to share with you some Earth Day and “going green in the office” links, resources and tips to help mark this year’s Earth Day.

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More Thoughts on Tablets

Apr 06, 2011

With the growing popularity of tablets, the speed of web site rendering and the length of useful battery life are going to be continuously analyzed in various ways to help consumers make their device choices. CNET recently released some test data on several of the main tablets that are emerging on the market to help you gain insight as to how they will perform. They have also run a web site speed test specifically on the new iPad 2 and how it faired against the Motorola Zoom. When analyzing this kind of data, I tend to view it more subjectively. Tests like this often leave out quite a few variables such as time of day, traffic rush on a web site, and background device activity such as scheduled software update checks, all of which can factor into momentary performance hits on any device. I wouldn’t base my device choice solely with these test results, but the information is good to know to help gain an overall picture of what our options are.

Another tablet comparison indicates the issues with Flash that we’ve previously mentioned. Based on this data, Apple is still not going to support Flash. All of the other tablets emerging on the market, however, appear to be supporting Flash. The jury is still out as to who will win with this game, but we’d like to point out that the CNET test results were conducted with a website that does not run Flash. Why is Apple not supporting Flash? There are many opinions and editorials on this and the topic can be fiercely debated; but what we do know is Steve Jobs’ opinion:

“Flash was created during the PC era – for PCs and mice. Flash is a successful business for Adobe, and we can understand why they want to push it beyond PCs. But the mobile era is about low power devices, touch interfaces and open web standards – all areas where Flash falls short.”

Will tablets become part of your business operations? And how would you base your tablet choice – on operating system, manufacturer, battery life or reported web site speed?

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Quote: Social Software in Knowledge Management

Mar 16, 2011

Knowledge management focused on asking, “How do we get information out of people’s heads? How can we force them to write it down?” That just didn’t work. Now, social software is drawing people in, and they are contributing information. It is happening so much more naturally.

Irene Greif, IBM Fellow and director of collaborative user experience in IBM Research via http://www.technologyreview.com/business/35096/

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Video: Python at Dropbox

Mar 15, 2011

Dropbox is an application we use every day at ESG and Python is one of our favorite languages. I had no idea how much Python code (nearly 100%!) went into making Dropbox. Watch the video for an interesting talk regarding Dropbox and how it's powered by Python.

via http://pycon.blip.tv/file/4878722/

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Becoming Tablet-friendly with your Website

Feb 28, 2011

The recent CES convention that was held in Las Vegas at the beginning of this new year reports “without doubt 2011 will be the year of the tablet”. Tablets, such as the iPad, and other emerging Android-based models are gaining more and more momentum and are expected to continue to do so. Does this mean you now need to develop, in addition to your standard website, a tablet-friendly website?

This topic is very broad and the scope is near impossible to contain to one article; however, I wanted for now to throw out a few talking points. ESG is committed to helping our customers adapt to these technologies and there is much to discuss.

Should we stop using Adobe Flash? Apple is not a proponent of Adobe Flash on their iPad. Steve Jobs stated just last April:

“Flash has not performed well on mobile devices. We have routinely asked Adobe to show us Flash performing well on a mobile device, any mobile device, for a few years now. We have never seen it.

Fighting back, Adobe has focused on developing a Flash player specifically for the Android OS. In addition, Adobe has created Adobe Air, allowing developers to create stand-alone applications that are not browser specific and according to Adobe, run on the Android OS and Blackberry Tablet OS. Whether or not Adobe is ready and capable of handling the new tablets that are reportedly going to be the big hit of 2011, one can assume they are going to give a serious effort at making it happen and seem focused on preparing for the expected onslaught of Android tablets. At this stage in the game, if you have a Flash-heavy website, you can assume it probably won’t do well on an iPad.

Test your current website to see if it is iPad-friendly. Safari offers a user agent string to allow you to use a standard Safari browser to simulate an iPad environment. Following the steps detailed by Apple, you can see what your website will look like on an iPad.

Use an online emulator to see what your website might look like on an Android mobile device, such as one running the Opera browser. There are many other “emulators” one can try using for other browsers and platforms. Some are a bit bogus while others can be fairly helpful.

Keep it simple and just render the data your mobile visitors need to see. Depending on the nature of your business, whether it is e-commerce oriented or data driven, give your customers the information they need rather than an overload of imagery and other bells and whistles that can slow down your content delivery. Remember – tablets are mobile. The internet access on these devices is often dependent on shared WiFi hotspots, cellular coverage, and other wireless technologies – don’t leave your customer waiting any longer than necessary. Google often researches and discusses web site speed and its importance.

“Because the cost of slower performance increases over time and persists, we encourage site designers to think twice about adding a feature that hurts performance if the benefit of the feature is unproven.”

Many of our customers are already prepared to quickly adapt and ensure their business has a solid presence with this growing technology. I know this constant need for technology change can sometimes be exasperating, but remember – change and progress go hand in hand – contact us and we’ll get you on track!

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