Morning News Update, November 4 2010

  • Google released an Apache module that auto tunes performance
    Google has announced that they are launching a module for the Apache HTTP server called mod_pagespeed, that will automatically tune several properties to optimize page load speed. I haven’t tried it out yet, but will definitely do so.
    Amongst other things, mod_pagespeed will:

    • recompress images
    • modify cache lifetime for static elements
    • make changes to pages built by CMS

    I don’t know if I’ll see a great performance on this server, as I already took care of a lot of speed improvements myself, but this module is a great way to implement common best-practices without having to dig into Apache’s configuration too much.
    Read more and download the module on the Page Speed Google Code website.

  • Facebook Mobile Announcements
    Just a short summary of what Facebook announced yesterday, there’s already tons of coverage out there:

    • Facebook for iPhone updated (as I hoped in my tweet just minutes before the event started).
    • Facebook for Android updated.
    • Single Sign-On for mobile platforms.
      So you don’t have to deal with entering your password in every app that uses Facebook connect.
    • Facebook Places API Update. Full read and write access for third parties.
    • Deals. This sounds kind of like Groupon mixed with Foursquare.
      Could be very interesting, once it reaches the critical mass of user adoption.
    • No dedicated iPad App in the near future.
      Although I’ve read about speculations of a HTML5 based website/app that could offer the same experience on multiple tablet based platforms.

Morning News Update, October 29 2010

Audiogalaxy – Your Music. Your Playlists. Hit Play from Anywhere

AudiogalaxyToday I’d like to highlight a software I found out about yesterday called Audiogalaxy.
If you’re about my age you surely remember the peer-to-peer audio file sharing application by the same name that took over Napster’s market share in 2001. Well this software is actually made by the same people only that they’ve shifted their focus from file sharing to a “placeshifting service” as they call it. Audiogalaxy lets you install a small client software on your computer that scans all your music and makes it available to you on the audiogalaxy.com website, Android phones & iPhone. And it’s completely free!

There have already been a number of attempts to offer this kind of service, the one I used quite a bit was Simplify Media which unfortunately was shut down. What makes Audiogalaxy truly stand out for me is it’s easy of installation, performance and iOS integration. I’ll outline the steps necessary to get the whole system up and running on a Mac and an iPhone.

  • First go to audiogalaxy.com and click on Sign Up. The easiest way is to use Facebook connect so we’ll choose that option.
  • Next you’ll be offered to download the client application for your computer which already has your login data included, so just drop it into your Mac’s application folder, start it and you’re good to go.
  • The website patiently waits to detect the client application on your computer which then starts scanning your default Music location.
  • It can take quite a while to index a big library, so hop over to your iPhone in the meantime and download the Audiogalaxy App from the App Store.
  • Start the Audiogalaxy App on your iPhone, log in with Facebook and you’ll be instantly connected to the music on your computer including all the Playlists you’ve set up in iTunes.

From now on you’ll be able to play all your computer’s music via the website or your mobile device (an Android client is available as well). What makes this service really special is the level of integration they’ve been able to accomplish with iOS. It can really replace you iPod App on the iPhone by offering background music playing, access to play/pause/skip/volume controls via all the available shortcuts and the headset buttons. One last thing I was doubtful about was how it will perform while being on the move, so I tested it out on my morning commute today and let me say I was extremely pleased.
I started music playback before leaving my appartement, so I was still connected to my home WiFi. When I reached the street my iPhone lost contact to the WiFi and switched to 3G, this only triggered a ~2 second gap in playback, after which the music just played on from where it lost contact. Performance on 3G is absolutely brilliant and I could keep on listening during the whole train ride. What was astonishing was that there is a tunnel on my way to work where I know that there is no cellular access at all (phone calls always drop while going through that tunnel), the Audiogalaxy app apparently had enough of the music buffered, so playback continued without interruption. When I got close to my office I once again experienced a little gap in the playback, that was when my phone picked up the company WiFi.

Let me finish of by stating a few things I’d love to see improved/added to the iPhone client:

  • Submission of played tracks to Last.fm
  • Updating of the playcount in iTunes’ library
  • Gapless playback between tracks of an album. If the software manages to play through short signal losses, why not pre buffer the next track as well to offer continuous playback?

Software download Links:

Android market QR code for Audiogalaxy

Android market QR code for Audiogalaxy

Available on the App Store

Available on the App Store


Morning News Update, October 21 2010

  • Apple announces Mac OS X Lion with some superb new features. OS X Lion will be available in Summer 2011.
  • In about 90 days Apple will open an App Store for OS X Apps, thereby bringing iOS closer to it’s desktop sibling.
  • FaceTime is now available for OS X so you can start video chats between iOS devices and OS X desktop computers.
  • Apple updates the iLife Software suite with some nice improvements.
  • There will be a new MacBook Air.
  • Boxee Box Starts Shipping November 10
    Amazon will start shipping the Boxee Box to customers on November 10, with other retailers throughout the world offering the device beginning on November 17 both online and in stores.
  • If you read yesterdays Morning News Update you know about the discussion between Apple iOS and Google Android about being “open”, my thoughts about it and what Joe Hewitt twittered. Now Joe Hewitt posted an article on his blog, clearing up a few of his statements.

Morning News Update, October 20 2010

  • Today we’re somehow in between yesterdays geek fight between Apple and Google over the openess and/or integration of Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android mobile operating system and tonights Apple event.
    Developer Joe Hewitt, who for example built the great  Firefox Extension Firebug and the first few versions of the great Facebook iPhone App, has now joined in to the discussion via Twitter.

    How does Android get away with the “open” claim when the source isn’t public until major releases, and no one outside Google can check in?

    Until Android is read/write open, it’s no different than iOS to me. Open source means sharing control with the community, not show and tell.

    Check his Twitter stream for all of his statements. So why is this interesting? Well, firstly Joe Hewitt has given up on developing the Facebook iPhone client because of a lack of choice over the whole process, but he didn’t stop working for Facebook and rumors say he’s in charge of developing an official Android client for Facebook. So now he’s equally frustrated with the state of things over at iOS’s biggest rival. We’ll see if any more voices appear but for the time being it seems like the “open claims” of the Android folks didn’t hold for very long and in my personal opinion enduser satisfaction probably ranks higher than having an OS that can be compiled yourself and in this field Apple still holds the crown. I – as a geek – might enjoy hacking my devices and tweaking every little aspect of the platform, but for the average user it’s much more important to find the applications you want to use easily and without much set up effort which is still easier with a unified platform like iOS in contrast to the fragmented multi incarnations of Android on different carriers and handheld platforms.

  • The other big thing is of course Apple’s “Back to the Mac” event that will be held this evening which will probably announce a new version of OS X together with some Mac centric product announcements. I wont go into speculating what exactly will be announced though.
  • In other news: App Stores seem to be popping up all over the place:
  • HP offers a Video Walkthrough of webOS 2.0