May 2012

The Great HTML5 Mobile Gaming Performance Comparison: Scirra, the small London startup behind the HTML5 game-making tool Construct 2, put 23 different browser/device combinations through their paces in a 2D space shooter game to see how well they perform. You should read their article in its entirety to get lots of useful info, but here are some highlights:

  • Safari on iOS  is the best-performing mobile browser. “Safari on iOS is consistently good,” they write. “The best performing mobile browser by a clear margin, even when rendering to a high-resolution retina display.”
  • On Android, the Chrome beta performs best. “Chrome for Android beta is the only actual browser that provides playable performance,” they write.
  • IE on Windows Phone 7 and the Playbook’s browsers did poorly. IE for WP7 ran at one-third the speed of Safari on iOS. BlackBerry’s browser was by far the slowest, running at one-quarter the speed.
  • PhoneGap slows things down. “PhoneGap unfortunately appears on the whole to be unsuitable for publishing HTML5 games.”

Apple’s still on top of mobile computing. For the first quarter of 2012, Apple shipped 13.6 million iPads and garnered a market share of 62.8%. The distant second place goes to Samsung, who shipped 1.6 million and have 7.5% share.

“What’s Next for Mobile Now That Adaptive Design Has Failed?” I include this not because it’s good but because it’s a crap article written by the CTO of CBS Interactive, whose stuff is pretty much shovelware. This guy is dead wrong on many points, including “Users are perfectly happy to swipe through an article that is split into several pages” and “Users are not perturbed at all to see a full page interstitial ad stuck into the mix while paging through content”. I am amazed that he could even write the article, given how far his head is stuck up his own ass.

After you’re skimmed the guano that is this article, you should read the antidote, Elliot Jay Stocks’ rebuttal, Has Adaptive Design Failed? Of Course it Bloody Hasn’t.

There won’t be a big Nokia World conference this year, but a number of smaller ones. ”Think less CES, more SxSW,” they say.Except for the fact that everybody at SxSW doesn’t walk around with a “We’re so screwed” look on their face.

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As I wrote in yesterday’s “Summer Vacation” post, one of the perks at working at Shopify that there are no “B” players there, and there are certainly a helluva lot of bright developers in the house. One of them is Jesse Storimer, whose ebook Working with Unix Processes I covered on the Shopify Technology blog. As the book’s summary says, it’s about doing Unix systems programming, but using Ruby instead of C. Written in his spare time over three and a half months, weighing in at a svelte (for a tech book, anyway) 130 pages and priced at $27, it sold very well on his Shopify-powered shop. In fact, he moved about $18,000 worth in 4 months.

I was really pleased to see that Working with Unix Processes is now also available on the Pragmatic Bookshelf site, giving it even more much-deserved exposure. My congratulations to Jesse!

If you’ve wanted to learn about Unix system programming but found it too cumbersome, get your hands on Working with Unix Processes. You’ll learn how to tap the system and harness the expressive power (and the fun) of Ruby! You can get the book at these places:

  • WorkingWithUnixProcesses.com: Jesse’s Shopify-powered shop. Not only can you buy the book for yourself, but for $99, you can get a team license, good for up to 20 people!
  • Pragmatic Bookshelf: Lots of great books here; I’m glad to see Jesse’s is included among them!

 Jesse’s already hard at work on his next book. Can’t wait to see it!

 

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Phone Programming and “Funemployment”

by Joey deVilla on May 22, 2012

As I mentioned in my previous post — the one where I announced that I was going on summer vacationI’m using my new-found copious amounts of free time to finally get around to learning iOS development. While I do that, I’m going to document the journey here on Global Nerdy

I’m going to look at iOS development from two angles:

If you’ve been meaning to learn how to write apps for the iPhone and iPad, watch this blog! I’m going to share whatever I learn here, and you might find it helpful.

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Joey’s Summer Vacation

by Joey deVilla on May 22, 2012

The view from my seat when I made the big decision last Wednesday.

Being Shopify’s Platform Evangelist has been a great privilege that I’ve enjoyed for the past year. There are no “B” players at Shopify, which means that I’ve had the honour to represent the best and the brightest. Wherever I’ve gone on behalf of the company, the mere mention of the name “Shopify” has commanded respect, admiration, kudos and high-fives, and all the credit has to go to the Shopifolks for making the best damned system for setting up shop online. Computer science may say that software is made up of data structures and algorithms, but I know better: it’s made of people, and these people are the best. Naturally, so is the software they create.

That being said, I need to take a summer vacation. At the risk of repeating the “it’s not you, it’s me” cliche, I need a break. I haven’t had a proper vacation in years, and it hasn’t helped that the last eighteen months have been crazy ones for Yours Truly. I’ll just gloss over the sordid details and quickly summarize:

All told, I consider these good happenings, but I need to take some time to collect myself. A lot of stuff has happened, and I’ve been leaping from one big change to the next without a break. I’m in great danger of bringing my “B” game to everything I do, and I need to make sure that that doesn’t happen.

Hence the vacation. It wasn’t easy, but I resigned from Shopify last week. They’ve been incredibly supportive and helpful in ways that I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to repay. Even though I’m no longer with the company, I remain their supporter, advocate and friend. I may even open a Shopify shop very soon (and if you ever need help opening one, you can ask me).

Damn, we’re cute.

I’m going to go hang out with Anitra (that’s her in the picture above; she was my date for the Filipino Centre of Toronto’s President’s Gala) in Tampa for a couple of weeks starting next Saturday. She’ll have work during the day, during which I’ll hit the gym, work on my writing (the Global Nerdy blog’s been going like gangbusters as of late)…

My new reading material (feel free to suggest others!).

…finally get around to learning how to write software for iPads and iPhones by actually writing (or trying to write) software for my iPad and iPhone, and of course, swimming in the pool pictured below:

I’m the only person I’ve ever seen in this pool.

In late June and early July, I’m going with my family to visit the Philippines. I haven’t been back in a dozen years; when I was married, I’d made peace with the fact that I might not ever see it again. Now that I’ve got the opportunity, the time and 145,000 credit card travel points burning a hole in my pocket, I’m going.

Me and new friends, April 2000 – the last time I was in the Philippines. Please control yourselves, ladies; there’s plenty of me to go around.

After the Philippines, it’s back to Florida to be Anitra’s arm ornament for a wedding, plus a little downtime to get used to the Eastern time zone.

After that, more learning, more writing, more working out, and eventually either landing a new job or making one. If you’re looking for a rock and roll accordion-playing tech evangelist in the late summer or fall, check out my LinkedIn profile and drop me a line!

In the meantime, the Accordion Guy and Global Nerdy blogs will go on, and when I’m not off in Florida or the Philippines, I’ll be in Accordion City catching up with friends. Perhaps I’ll see you!

I’m looking forward to my summer vacation.

This article also appears in The Adventures of Accordion Guy in the 21st Century.

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Apple rules the mobile roost at TechCrunch Disrupt NY. ”Pretty much every product being showcased was either built for iOS, or had been launched on Apple’s App store after appearing on another operating system,” says this Forbes article, which also points out that the prevalent phones, tablets and computers were iPhones, iPads and and MacBooks.

If you’re thinking of trying out RubyMotion, the toolchain that lets you write iOS apps in Ruby, you’ll want to check out a couple of articles by Tim Bugai over at Collective Idea’s blog:

  • 5 Awesome Things About RubyMotion: A quick list of some of the benefits that Tim’s enjoying by developing iOS apps with RubyMotion instead of XCode and Objective-C.
  • Using RubyMotion with Parse.com: If your mobile app needs a back end, Parse.com is a quick and easy way to get one up and running in a hurry. This article features an example where you build a mobile chatroom app using RubyMotion and a back end providing push notifications with Parse.com.

Four Types of Mobile Apps. Chris Dixon says that if you’re trying to create or invest in a mobile app, it’s helpful to think of the four categories that apps typically fall into:

  1. Time wasters: Apps used in short bursts, typically to make the time pass a little more quickly while you’re waiting or in transit.
  2. Core utilities: The must-have apps that you use all the time, such as phone, contacts, texting, calendar and so on.
  3. Episodic utilities: The apps that you don’t use all the time, but are incredibly handy during those times when you need them. Examples include Hipmunk when you’re trying to book a flight or OpenTable when you’re making restaurant reservations.
  4. Notification-driven apps: Apps that notify you when certain events occur. Chris says that this is an emerging category of apps that he expects to grow as apps get smarter about when to notify and as battery life gets better.

Selecting a Mobile Implementation Strategy: This article presents two strategies for building mobile apps:

  1. The “Laser” Strategy, in which you focus on a small set of features on a single platform and make the user experience highly polished and immersive.
  2. The “Cover Your Bases” Strategy, in which you build a lower-fidelity app, but one that works across many mobile platforms.

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NetMarketShare Says IE Still Has a Comfy Lead

by Joey deVilla on May 21, 2012

I’ve written about StatCounter’s data that suggests that Chrome is now the number one browser in terms of share. I’ve also written about data from W3Counter and Clicky indicating that Chrome isn’t the number one browser yet, but should be in a matter of weeks or months at most.

What I haven’t written about until now is the site tracking web browser share whose data doesn’t agree with StatCounter, W3Counter and Clicky: Net Applications’ NetMarketShare. Here’s their desktop browser share trends graph, which says that IE’s market share is greater than 50% and, believe it or not, climbing slightly:

Click the graph to see the live version on NetMarketShare’s site.

According to an article in the IE Blog published in March (in response to reports of Chrome’s gaining on IE), NetMarketShare’s methods of measuring browser share differs from StatCounter’s, and presumably W3Counter’s and Clicky’s. Their methods, which involve not counting Chrome’s pre-rendered pages and using geoweighting, put IE at the top of the heap by a great margin, so naturally their stats are the ones that Microsoft highlights.

In case you saw the “.aspx” extension of NetMarketShare’s site and automatically wrote them off as practitioners of what I like to call “Microsophistry”, keep in mind that their stats paint a pretty sad picture for Microsoft’s mobile browser share. There, mobile IE is too small a player to be named:

Click the graph to see the live version on NetMarketShare’s site.

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Yesterday’s article, Chrome is Now the Most-Used Browser, pointed out that according to StatCounter’s data, Chrome has edged out Internet Explorer as the most-used browser.  StatCounter gets these numbers from the sites that use their analytics widget (these sites include this blog, Global Nerdy and my personal blog, The Adventures of Accordion Guy in the 21st Century), so while they provide an accurate picture of browser share for visitors to StatCounter-equipped sites, they might provide a skewed picture of browser share for the internet in general.

I decided to look at other sources that also track browser share and compare the trends they observe to StatCounter’s. Similar trends would be evidence that StatCounter’s numbers were a reasonable measure of browser share, while different trends would suggest that StatCounter’s numbers might need to be taken with a larger grain of salt.

Unfortunately, there aren’t many sites that publish browser share data. Aside from StatCounter, the only two other such sites that I’m aware of are W3Counter and Clicky.

Here’s W3Counter’s graph showing browser share over the past five years:

Click the graph to see the live version on W3Counter’s site.

Note the usage share trends for Internet Explorer (the blue line) and Chrome (the green line). Their slopes are pretty similar to the IE/Chrome lines in StatCounter’s graphs. The latest data on the graph is for April 2012, and if the trend continued, W3Counter just might report that Chrome has surpassed Internet Explorer when they publish their May statistics.

W3Counter’s graph has a feature that lets you see browser share at any given time by hovering the cursor over it at the time of your choosing. For April 2012, they report that IE has 28.9% of the market share, while Chrome is a mere three percent away at 25.9%:

Click the graph to see the live version on W3Counter’s site.

Clicky’s trends also show a declining IE share and a climbing Chrome share. The difference is that they’re reporting a larger lead for Internet Explorer:

Click the graph to see the live version on Clicky’s site.

If these trends continue, Clicky should be reporting Chrome as the top browser in a few months.

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