Cool front-end developers are always pushing the envelope, jumping out of their seat to use the latest and greatest and shiniest of UI frameworks and libraries. They are often found bridging the gap between native apps and web and so will strive to make the UI look and behave like an app. Which app? you may ask. iPhone? Android? What version? All good questions, alas another topic altogether. However, there is another kind of front-end developer, the boring front-end developer. Here is an ode to the boring front-end developer, BFED if you will.
Stripe is a web payments company whose engineering team get web security. They launched a hacking contest. Joseph Tartaro of IOActive has kindly compiled this writeup of the solutions.
It is a must-read for anyone interested in web security. Wait, scratch that — for anyone who even touches web application code.
In February, the engineering team at Stripe (easy, secure web payments) created the first Stripe Capture the Flag, a "security wargame" intended to test your ability to find exploits in vulnerable code. This event was largely based on understanding of Unix systems, C exploits, with one PHP exploit thrown in.
The original event was a huge success, with attention from Hacker News as well as Reddit (of course).
A few days ago the team released Stripe CTF 2.0 which they are calling "Web Edition". They stepped up the support systems for this one, with logins, a leaderboard, and public code on GitHub. But what's even better is the type of exploits that are covered:
Approved this morning, Mac App Store tool Folderwatch — an app that monitors, syncs and mirrors important files automatically — included a small detail in its update notes, stating “Retina graphics” were a new addition to the app.
Rumor is that more than just the Airs will be getting Retina displays:
We reported earlier in the week that Apple may have plans to announce updates to many of its Mac computers at WWDC. The models to be updated include the 15″ MacBook Pro, the 11″ and 13″ MacBook Air models and the iMac.
All of the various portable models being updated are rumored to be getting a Retina display boost.
I've been thinking for a while that the next round of Macbook Airs are perfectly positioned for retina displays, so I think that's pretty much a given at this point. A colleague of mine is thinking that touchscreen displays might also make an appearance -- which would justify the scrolling direction switch in Mac OS X Lion last year.
The articles on Rands keep getting longer and longer, and as I’m finishing a piece, I worry, “Is it too long?” I worry about this because we live in a lovely world of 140-character quips and status updates, and I fret about whether I’ll be able to hold your attention, which is precisely the wrong thing to worry about. What I should be worried about is, “Have I written something worthy of your attention?”
Houzz.com on "magic mirrors" — computerized touch surfaces on the mirrors and windows in your home:
Magic mirrors and magic windows — in fact, magic glass surfaces all over the house — will soon become commonplace, thanks to breathtaking advancements in computers, computer interfaces and, of all things, glass.
Count me as a skeptic on the word "soon". This technology barely exists, let alone having a good reason to (yet).
Devices should be getting more mobile, not less. To be successful, innovations should also solve a problem. I don't remember having the urge to check my email while leaning over the bathroom sink. It's also fairly counterproductive to OCD-types like me: "Now introducing smudgy screens all over your house, not just in your pocket."
... there are a lot of folks who think gamification means pulling the worst aspects out of games and shoving them into an application. It’s not. Don’t think of gamification as anything other than clever strategies to motivate someone to learn so they can have fun being productive.
The ever-insightful Lukas Mathis took the thoughtful middle ground. After I read his piece, I started a draft of my own. Now that draft will probably never see the light because, although the whole article is worth reading, Lopp has in three sentences summed up my feelings.
Of course, if your purpose in using gamification is anything other than helping the user enjoy learning and to be productive, then you'd do well to hear from the critics how you might be making your users feel about your software.
Creating or expanding business relationships is not about selling – it’s about establishing trust, rapport, and value creation without selling. ...
Engage me, communicate with me, add value to my business, solve my problems, create opportunity for me, educate me, inform me, but don’t try and sell me – it won’t work. An attempt to sell me insults my intelligence and wastes my time. Think about it; do you like to be sold? News flash – nobody does. Now ask yourself this question, do you like to be helped? Most reasonable people do. The difference between the two positions, while subtle, is very meaningful.
Great article, and a lot to think about. A corporate goal like "increase sales by 50%" can be taken two ways.
One way would be to imagine that more people need to be convinced to buy your product.
The other way is to consider how you can add value and find the customers who most need what you are offering.
Create goals that communicate your actual intended action and aren't open to interpretation. Measurements should be customer happiness levels, not dollars of income (that may or may not have been pried from your customers' unwilling fingers).
Focus on the reason that your product exists and help it help people.
A dead-simple, free, JSON API for retrieving the city and state from a zip code. And, a sample/beta jQuery plugin to show how easy it is to auto-populate those fields when the zip code is typed. Could this be an end to the years of extra-typing madness?
Great article in Forbes by Warren Buffett for their "When I Was 25" series.
Warren Buffett, age 25:
Although I had no idea, age 25 was a turning point. I was changing my life, setting up something that would turn into a fairly good-size partnership called Berkshire Hathaway. I wasn’t scared. I was doing something I liked, and I’m still doing it.
Macs were (and are) just better. Not just because they were better built or put together, but because Apple was a better company. A braver company. A company that stood for higher ideals. When compared to the empire of Microsoft and the Dells, Sonys of the time, it simply felt like they were more right.
When I looked at that, it seemed like an injustice that Macs and Apple were the odd ones out. Like quality was being held back and barred a chance to shine just because the dominant gorillas in the room had so much power and inertia going for them.
You may or may not agree with this. You may even think this statement is ironic; that Apple is now the evil empire.
But think about this: If Apple is the gorilla now, who are they keeping down? Samsung? Sony? Microsoft? RIM? Google?
Don't get me wrong; Apple has made its fair share of blunders. However, the list of players in the personal computing industry that are actively proving their general ineptitude, indifference and/or outright malice toward their customers in one way or another is long and growing.
While Apple has certainly shown that at times they’ve let their power corrupt, they’re still guided by the fundamental principle we fell in love with: Superior products through superior design.
If Apple isn't that, the company with the higher ideal, to actually create a superior product, we are in a sad state of affairs.
You remember those Magic Eye books from the 1990s? The ones where you'd look at them, relax your eyes, and a 3D picture would pop out? Saying that 3D movies are the future of cinema is like saying that Magic Eye books were the future of literature.
The iPad 2 wasn’t that much different than the first iPad. The iPhone 4S was, famously, “just a 4S”. (Still no LTE, NFC, etc. — for good reasons.) The iPod, Mac, and Apple TV lineups didn’t change much this year, either. And Apple still grew at a crazy rate, setting new sales records in every line.