Do you do To do?

In today's modern society, with the ever growing amount of information I find many people are turning to "To do" applications to keep track of all the little things they need to get done in their lives. I'm told they are a God-send; that they couldn't live without them, or that they don't know where they'd be without them. However every time I download one of these applications I find myself entering one or two items to the list and then never using them again.

I downloaded one application, namely Things for the Mac, the other day and entered a task, categorized it and looked around a bit and then exited. I must say I think the interface is beautiful and I admire the sleek design. However as I have found with so many of these applications I just couldn't integrate it with my work-flow. I work on two computers, and sometimes a third, however whenever I want to save a piece of information I just send myself an email.

Am I the only person that finds entering tasks into any application time consuming and detrimental to my work-flow? What is the purpose of these precarious, yet lovely looking, applications? Maybe I'm just not the target market. What do you think?

Don’t vet Passwords!

I've designed loads of forms in my time, some for collecting random data, some for logging in, and some for user sign up. I usually employ form validation to make sure it's a valid email, and a valid phone number etc, but I never check the password (unless it's for length). I myself like to sign up to each and every service I come across and generally I'm satisfied with what I get in terms of form design. However there are some websites that tell me that my password can only contain letters and numbers! Most of my passwords are 17 characters or longer, with letters, numbers and symbols, so when a site tells me I should effectively make my password less secure I get really annoyed.

Companies like Google and Microsoft never stop telling up to make our passwords more secure, Facebook and Twitter say the same, so why on Earth should websites be asking us alter them? I for one cannot see why developers are intent on doing this? MySQL Injection - no! Unless of course they've never heard of mysql_real_escape_string(), but I doubt that.

So what I really want to say is this - don't ask users to exclude certain components from their passwords! And if you know the reason for this travesty, please feel free to comment and make me look like an idiot 😉

Get out of the Office!

So over the past couple of weeks I've been on holiday. Holidays are great when I need to relax and get away from work, however when I'm on holiday I like to design websites and other stuff anyway. I also love to learn new stuff and get on with whatever I was doing before I came on holiday. Where I live it snowed solid for a few days and I had no need to go out. I was indoors for about 3 days, and towards the end of those days I found myself lacking inspiration and creativity, not even Abduzeedo's daily inspiration could pick me up. Shortly after I ventured outside the confines of my office an breathed fresh air. When I returned to my desk I was rearing to go, and I suddenly had loads of ideas. So my message to you is this - if you work all day in front of the same desk you're inspiration is going to dry up fast. It is when I am away from my desk when I am most creative (that's why I always carry a notepad!) and I believe the same is true of other designers. I find it is only when I stop thinking in terms of web design that I come up with great ideas.

So if you are sat in front of you computer screen, and you have been doing so for over 2 hours now -maybe it's time for a break! Get outside and Fuel your Creativity!

You should host with Media Temple

I remember a few months back when I was faced with a dilemma, what hosting company should I go with for a certain client. I have had experience with some cheaper companies and to be honest for the price it isn't bad. However recently I have had problems with slow servers and a lot of downtime. Therefore I would like to recommend to anyone reading this to go with Media Temple. Now the cynics among you may believe that I am just trying to make money from referrals, but I can honestly say Media Temple is a great company. They provide an excellent service at what I think are reasonable prices.But it isn't just their service that is great, it's their attitude towards their customers. Their Twitter account is regularly updated by their staff, and should you have any questions or concerns you can send them a message via Twitter. Moreover they offer 24/7 phone support in case of any issues that may arise.

The back-end of their site is as slick a site as you ever did see. You can tell that they care about design, because the user experience is fantastic. The list of features is wonderful, and they are a caring company. For instance the other day I sent them a reply to a tweet where they were asking for interesting stuff, naturally I sent them a link to the article about Robert Noyce on this site. Soon after that tweeted the link and sent me a message of thanks asking for my address. Turns out they wanted to send me a T-Shirt for my support! Yes I know, big deal, but it's nice to know that they care, as opposed to just ignoring you after they get your money, or stating that MySQL issues are too complex to be dealt with by our online support kind of attitude.

So I can honestly say that Media Temple should be your host of choice; and if you don't believe me, then look at the list of clients on the website!

Where is Google Wave going?

It seems only a short time ago that Google introduced their latest endeavour to the world in beta - Google Wave. I remember watching the keynote by the developers at Google IO and thinking that it looked pretty damn cool, but I am beginning to wonder if my first impressions were only such because of the technologies they used to create it. At heart I am a web designer, and so seeing Google implement so many cool features of HTML5 alongside real-time updates and all the other cool stuff they showcased, properly drew my attention away from the service itself. You do have to admit that it is well put together, but for me it is nothing more that a showcase of what you can do with the newest web technologies. Furthermore I believe that few people will adopt waving as opposed to email. I remember the first time I waved. I was impressed, but then I realised it was nothing more than a fancy instant messaging service. Features such as being able to step back through the edits of waves seem to me pointless - after all do we really care about the construction of a conversation rather than it's outcome? I don't.

I haven't used Wave in months, and it is obvious why - it is trying to solve a problem that doesn't exist. The reason we were all so excited about it's launch was because it was coming from Google! I fail to understand where the developers of Wave are going with the project; I believe that there are very few people indeed that will replace email for Google's Wave, therefore I believe it will simply fade into the background in the near future. I for one don't really care, the only thing that worries me is the fact that the developers were more concerned with playing around with new technologies rather than focussing on what we, the users, actually want. What do you think? Will you be waving any time soon?

You have 100s of Gmail Addresses!

Never a day goes by when I don't use Google's fantastic emailing service. But did you know that you have access to many different addresses. If your email address is tom@gmail.com, you could give someone the address of tom+jane@gmail.com. Oh my gosh! I know, try to dissipate the hysterics, because although this seems like a waste of your time you may be missing the point. Think about it - when you create websites with contact forms you may be inclined to include a clue in the subject line so you know when the email has come from you site. Well hows about using a new method, something like tom+blog@gmail.com so you know where it's coming from.You might want to set up some kind of alert when you get such emails through.

You could even use it to prioritize clients' messages to you. You give them the address of tom+clients@gmail.com so that you can respond to them faster! I'm always interested to find out about new and undiscovered features of Gmail, but I think this one is really rather interesting. What do you think?

Will you make it big?

It seems today that many people across the internet are infatuated with the idea of making it big - fair enough, surely that's what we all want right? But what is worrying is that may of these people are operating under the mis-conception that doing so will be easy. They read the stories of some of the biggest names in the web design industry and set about trying to become one of them. Now that's all well and good, but I find that so many of these hopefuls are attempting to make a large amount of money by usually replicating what others have created. It is important that such people understand that creating a new social networking site won't work - unless that is they have a new and really good idea. To make it big you have to have a totally original idea, and be able to implement it well. Many people have blogs (I am one of those people!), but few make it to the big time (I ain't one of them :(). Many people think they will be able to create the next best selling iPhone app, but few recognize the many difficulties they will face if they are poorly equipped.

The worst kind of person like this is a young student who thinks they know it all about website design. Unfortunately their websites are usually painfully recognizable because they were made from a tutorial. What many of these people fail to understand, is that without a proper education and experience in the field, they won't really be able to design great websites.

There are of course those who do make it big with little work. But usually they are one in a million. What I am trying to say is this: don't go about life thinking you will be able to pick up the skills you will need to create the next killer iPhone app; don't go around in life expecting ideas to simply flow into your mind. If you want to make it to the big time you are going to have to work hard and come up with something that solves a problem and that people like. For instance CSS Tricks, a website by Chris Coyier is very successful because the guy behind it is incredibly skillful at what he does, and people care about his opinion because they can see that he is as skilled as he is.

I don't mean to dampen your dreams or anything - just to make you have a more realistic outlook on life. Keep smilin'! 😉

Twas a good year for Apple

We all know that Apple is a massive company, but at the begininning of the year many analysts were sceptical that Apple would be able to grow. However the ever defiant company has proved them all wrong and is finishing the year with an incredible market cap of $188,330,000,000! Second only to Google and Microsoft. And that is amazing. Apple has beaten all the odds - the economy was in tatters and yet they pulled through! It just goes to show people are after quality products, and their dominance in the personal media sector as well as smart phone industry has allowed them to dominate the global markets for another year.

So will Apple succeed next year? Well we'll just have to wait and see!

Disclaimer: Yes this article is short, but it's here to make a point about how amazing it is that Apple has been able to pull through in this way...

Have you ever heard of Robert Noyce?

Well have you? Be honest, have you ever heard of Robert Noyce? It seems odd today that such an influential person could be forgotten. Robert Noyce was one of the founders of Intel, a mentor to Steve Jobs, and overall, a realy nice guy. Back in the 50s Noyce was working for a company called the Philco Corporation. In 1956 he left and joined the Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory. However in 1957, he, along with 7 others (nicknamed "The traitorous eight") left the company because of poor management. They went on to create the Fairchild Semiconductor Corp. In what would become Silicon Valley. Now to you and me this might seem like a usual event. However in their day, breaking away from one company to form a totally new one was unheard of. For this reason Noyce inspired a generation of entrepreneurs.

In 1968 Noyce and his partner, Gordon Moore, left to found Intel, the massive technology company. You may of heard of Moore's law (the idea that every 18 months the number of transistors on a chip will double), yeah - that's the guy. Noyce rejected private jets, flash cars and all the other fancy luxuries that are usually associated with successful CEOs and set a new trend for new CEOs.

But perhaps the most amazing (co)invention of Noyce's was the Integrated Circuit. A what?! I hear you ask. The integrated circuit is what you see inside of computers and electronic devices - that green board with bits of metal and wires coming out of it? That's the one. Without this computer would be 100s of times bigger and therefore far behind.

Now I know this article isn't the most interesting, but I believe it's important to remember Robert Noyce for his contributions to the technology industry. He was a personal friend of Steve Jobs, he was the first of his kind, and he was an amazing guy!

Goodbye Mr Decade

So, ten years have passed and with them some amazing things have happened. Technology has changed the face of the world in the past 10 years and has changed almost beyond recognition. For example at the beginning of the decade the word iPod sounded like something from a bad sci-fi movie. The word Google was barely know. And By all accounts it seemed as if Apple were nearly dead. But then something amazing happened. the iPod, iMac, and various other products with names beginning with the letter "i" were introduced. The iPod changed the way we listen to music. The iMac turned the old clunky computer into a fashion statement, and Google revolutionised the internet and at the same time became part of our own vocabulary.

Now I'm not going to do a whole post speaking of how great Apple has been over the past 10 years, because I'm sure there are many of them about. Instead I want to focus on just how different technology is today. Think about it; at the turn of the decade we all still had phones that could do little more than phone and text (that is if we had one!). We were all watching TVs that took up 1/4 of our living rooms, and we had never heard of blogging. But technical advances and modern entrepreneurs gave way to a tech filled number of years. The iPod changed the way we listen to music, coming from being able to fit about 10 albums on it, to being able to hold 10s of thousands, and set the standard for all personal music players after it. The iPhone changed the way we see phones - no longer were they just for calling people - no, now you could play Super Monkey Ball on it as well - oh the joy! But lets not forget, when the iPhone first arrived the design and intention was great, but it lacked features that business clients required to function, and wasn't the world's best phone. But alas, over the past few years it has developed into something great.

Flash memory has come a long way too. think about how we all take it for granted - "Oh yeah I've brought the holiday photos round on my pendrive to show you". As the years have gone on flash memory has got smaller and faster every day  - however I believe it will be in the next ten years that flash memory with make it's mark - more on that later. Think about TVs, although there are few - think about OLED (or Organic Light Emitting Diode). It's an innovation that has only come about in recent years, but soon it is set to sweep the nation, replacing all the old LED and plasma screens because of how good it is.

Social networking ha made people millions. Facebook has a reported 320 million active users, growing by the day. Twitter is used worldwide and has become a source of on the fly journalism to see what people are really interested in. We can now contact all of our friends at once using these sites. We can share photos and we can even stalk people! Yeah, you better ignore that last one.

I could go on for hours about the numerous advances, and I fear that this post is somewhat cumbersome because I have tried to cram everything into it at one, but then there you go! I've enjoyed the last 10 years. I hope that at the end of the next decade I will still be blogging and I will then be able to bring you a review of the decade yet to come. Realistically speaking that may never happen, but you've got to have hope.

Although I haven't been able to document this decade very well with this post - I just want you to sit back and think about everything that has gone on technology wise over the past 10 years - and marvel at how far we have come.

I believe the next decade will be even more exciting, as todays products evolve into even better stuff. And maybe, just maybe, I might get my own personal robot!