Happy New Year

Hap­py 2009 every­one! I plan to keep this weblog updat­ed more fre­quent­ly this year, men­tion­ing any­thing inter­est­ing I’m doing, espe­cial­ly with tech­nol­o­gy and pho­tog­ra­phy.

I switched from using the Panosaurus panora­ma­ic tri­pod head to a Nodal Nin­ja 3, and am hav­ing good results. I’m sure the Panosaurus is per­fect­ly ade­quate, but I couldn’t for the life of me assem­ble it!

Some tech­nolo­gies that I have been exper­i­ment­ing with recent­ly include Ama­zon Cloud Ser­vices, includ­ing the Cloud­front, S3 stor­age, and Ama­zon Elas­tic Com­pute Cloud. I have also made use of the Ama­zon Mechan­i­cal Turk, and have plen­ty of ideas for how it could be used. The Mechan­i­cal Turk allows you to request tasks to be done by a huge human work­force of around 100,000. As an exam­ple, you could ask for 1000 voice­mails to be tran­scribed, the work­force would tran­scribe them, and the result could be returned. All these ser­vices that Ama­zon offer are open­ing up many hori­zons.

One such hori­zon that per­haps shouldn’t be opened, is the fact that with just a cred­it card, a nefar­i­ous pro­gram­mer could spawn hun­dreds or thou­sands of high-pow­ered vir­tu­al servers, and launch Inter­net attacks, break encryp­tions etc. I hope Ama­zon have a strat­e­gy in place for such events so they can be avoid­ed. Such an attack could be on some­thing like the weak­ness found in MD5 SSL cer­tifi­cates which may be exploit­ed using a large amount of com­put­ing pow­er.

Zend Framework

So far, so good with the Zend Frame­work. It is prov­ing to be a great time­saver, and great at sep­a­rat­ing mod­els, views, and con­trollers. I’m also look­ing for­ward to the Adobe Mes­sage For­mat exten­sion, to make super­fast links to Adobe Flash and Flex, with­out the length­ly PEAR-SOAP process I go through at the moment.

Opera Mini

Photograph of Nokia W810i mobile phone showing Opera Mini browserNear­ly every­one must have seen the iPhone and iPod Touch’s mobile web brows­er and found it a great idea to get what they call ‘the real Inter­net’ on a mobile device. If you have a cell­phone that is Java-com­pat­i­ble (the major­i­ty are), try out Opera Mini. I’ve had it for a few weeks on an aver­age Sony Eric­s­son and it works very well. Brows­ing is also increased by an encrypt­ed sock­et con­nec­tion to Opera’s servers.

Soundboards — A World of Soundbites

I’ve fin­ished the first release of the new sound­boards site! I made a sim­i­lar project a few years ago, and thanks to var­i­ous links around the Inter­net, I have been get­ting a steady 1000 unique vis­i­tors per day.

Some of the ben­e­fits of this new ver­sion include the auto-resiz­ing of Adobe Flex (so much eas­i­er and reli­able than using Stage han­dlers in Flash), and some AJAX enhance­ments. Enjoy!

Some of the fea­tures aren’t 100%… if you find any prob­lems, please con­tact me.

Jonathan Hassall