1. Tech News Recap for Small Business

    Latest NewsThe world of technology is constantly changing. In fact, by the time you finish reading through this, chances are something new has been developed or released. However, here are some of the more recent advancements in technology, development and communication that you, as a business owner, might care about.


    • Google announced the end of the Real Time
      Collaboration protocol WAVE which was introduced in 2009. WAVE was
      designed to replace e-mail and change online communication but was
      ultimately too complicated and confusing.
    • IE9 Beta was released
      Sept. 15. It has better graphic capabilities and allows you to pin
      websites to the task bar. In addition, IE9 offers improvements to CSS3
      selector support and a ledge for HTML canvas. For many, these changes
      are seen as too little too late as IE has slipped to 50% of the market share recently – a position it used to dominate.
    • Google Instant search- Search at
      the speed of type. Released Sept. 8, Google Instant Search takes what
      you have already typed, determines a likely completion and streams Real
      Time results based on these predictions. Google InstantI offers:
    • Relevant results quicker, so you can get what you are looking for faster
    • Results are listed before you finish typing; just stop typing, select and go
    • You can scroll to search, then see results instantly
    • Time
      saving-tests show that the average search saves 2 to 5 seconds per
      search, which translates into as much as 11 hours per second.


    • Bing Maps has a new interface with improved graphical tools for rich colors and better images.
    • Microsoft employees had a funeral procession for the iphone.Windows-powered phone and tablets are rumored to be on the way…somehow I doubt these new products will be sending the iphone to the afterlife, but it is good to see Microsoft in the news again 🙂

    Research in Motion

    • Blackberry announced what appears to be the first serious competitor for the iPad, dubbed the "PlayBook."


    • Apple recently recanted on their stance on allowing Flash to run on their iOS device. Now we wait and see if Adobe cares.
    • Apple
      X Code IDE can manage all testing devices, packaging iPhone apps with
      correct certificates, install apps on devices and has a remote debugger
      which connects to the devices in Real Time to help developers manage
      breakpoints as the app is controlled on the device.
    • Latest
      version of XCode is XCode 4 which is bundled with Mac OSX V 10.6
      allowing 7 new multi-tasking services which improve user experience. The
      IAd displays interactive content without leaving the app and has 1,500
      new APIs.


    • Flash Player 10.1 for the
      mobile has been re-designed and optimized to reduce memory needs by 50%
      and has hand held features like accelerometer and smart zooming which
      scales Flash to full screen.
    • Adobe Air improvements provide
      better applications outside the mobile browser and across multiple
      operating systems. The key improvement is better working Flash on mobile
      devices which pleases both designers and consumers.

    Software & Development:

    • Magiq-This
      marketing tool can be used on any system. It allows you to collect data
      which can then be implemented into creating a site that is geared
      toward specific guests.  (e.g. Those who find your page by searching for
      a keyword will get a different homepage-if you choose such an option.)
      Or, you could base your homepages appearance on different text, images
      or a different search variable. The program uses "gnomes" that perform
      geolocation, image replacement and other tasks. Each time a gnome is
      employed you are charged-its minimum monthly cost is only a measly $790.
    • Firebug1.5/Firebug Lite 1.3
      FREE! This can be used with Firefox, IE6+, Safari, Opera and Chrome. 
      The Firefox extension is simple to use and gives you an overview of the
      page being considered. It has separate tabs for DOM, HTML and CSS so you
      can find what you are looking for easily. Also, you can enable specific
      panels to make checking JavaScript and others easier. On pages without
      scrutinization needs, Firebug automatically removes itself.


    • Ability to sell both tangible and digital products with licensed keys
    • Ability to sell affiliate products with your or other affiliate products
    • Multiple payment options (PayPal, WorldPay, Cash @ Store…)
    • Custom shipping calculation
    • Information capture at point of sale

    Mobile Advances:

    • SendFlow-
      a web-based platform which allows users to design, broadcast and manage
      interactive SMS text and voice messages. Two-way messages can be
      answered in Real Time using land-lines, mobile phones and Internet
      transports, like Google-talk.
    • Percent Mobile- A fully hosted mobile
      analytics service that measures and analyzes mobile traffic to one’s
      website. Percent Mobile is designed to help you understand your guests
      so will better know how to serve them.
    • 2nd quarter
      data from NPD Group shows Android as the top selling OS in American
      smartphones. Google says that 200,000 Androids are being activated

    Social Media:

    • Recent studies
      show that Twitter users are the most influential consumers on the web.
      Daily Twitter users are, compared to non-Twitter users:
    • 6x more likely to publish online articles
    • 5x more likely to post blogs
    • 7x more likely to post Wikis
    • 3x more likely to post product reviews
    • FaceBook advertising has increased 10-fold in the past year.
    • FlowTown
      This web based tool allows clients to import and connect e-mail
      addresses to real people on the social web.  Flowtown provides profile
      information such as location, age, and gender as well as any social
      networks that current e-mail contacts are using. FlowTown clients can
      use this information to better their marketing campaigns. MailChimp recently implemented a similar ability, called Social Pro.
    • Research by Nielsen Co. shows that Americans spend 22.7% of their time using social media sites.



    Website Magazine, October 2010; pages 6, 7, 42 & 43

    Website Magazine, April 2010; pages 6-8, 16

    Practical Web Design, Sept. 2010

  2. Website Usability: Designing for Mobile Devices

    In the quest to make your website more user-friendly, there comes a time when you need to give great thought as to what type of device and user you are designing for. As mentioned in part 1 of this series, many people today are accessing the web via mobile and multi-touch devices. As Steve Jobs commented just days after the release of the iPad," Elements that rely only on mousemove, mouseover, and mouse out or as a CSS pseudo-class hover may not always behave as expected on a touch-screen device such as the iPad or the iPhone."As a result, web developers should keep in mind that anything designed for the web and requiring a hover state has an uncertain future and may face serious website usability issues. Not sure? Consider this telling fact, "There are two smartphones being purchased for every one desktop computer."2

    iPhoneThere are a variety of steps you can take to keep a website, whether
    being viewed on a desktop or mobile screen, from being unpleasant at
    best and unusable at worst. Here are a few common elements you may wish
    to consider avoiding as you design or edit your next site.

    • Splash
      pages that require an extra click to get into a site -If you must, make
      sure there is a good reason for it. Not just to "Be cool."
    • Videos or music that plays automatically on load – Unless you
      want to compel a large percentage of your visitors in public places to
      scramble for the "Close Window" button.
    • Using drop down menus or
      hiding content that is critical for people to get to easily – Although
      the popularity of the drop down menu has helped to reduce it’s inherent
      counterintuitiveness, consider other, more simple navigation techniques
    • Hyperlinks that are not totally obvious
    • Javascript tool tips or other pop up boxes – Use these only for supplemental information, not critical info
    • Build intentionally and specifically for the touch screen devices

    many of these items relate to Javascript, that doesn’t mean that one
    should quit using it (It can be a very useful tool, actually), but
    rather that it is necessary for web designers (and website owners) be
    aware that every "special effect" should be there for a purpose. Whether
    it is getting more content on the page for SEO reasons without making
    the page look so text-heavy, or hiding a  login area that comes to the
    forefront only after a click, if only 20% of a site’s visitors may need
    to login, etc.

    Website usability for the mobile generation also means some natural constraints3.
    According to Luke Wroblewski, website usability for the mobile device
    means that pages should be designed for a screen size of 480-320 pixels,
    which is only 80% of the size of a low resolution desktop screen. As a
    result, designers need to focus on what aspects of the site are most
    important to your customers. You will also want to keep user interface
    elements geared toward these "finger usable" sizes:

    • Use extra big buttons
    • List components should have plenty of line spacing
    • The width of a finger limits the density of items on the screen. If
      the items are too close, the user will not be able to choose a specific

    With all of the browsers, devices, and programming
    choices today, it’s easy to get caught up in implementing too many
    features. However, ensuring website usability is a critical aspect of
    increasing sales and that is the bottom of line for any business. After
    all, the average user is not going to stay on a site that is difficult
    to use, challenging to focus on, or takes too long to load. If you want
    to increase your website’s usability, be sure to ponder these
    suggestions. And remember that Page Progressive is happy to help you make your website all it can be 🙂


    2. (.net/standards, Sept. 2010)
    3. Practical Web Designs, Sept. 2010
  3. Adobe vs. Apple: Is Website Development with Flash Dead?

    Last month, Steve Jobs announced that Apple will no longer be using Flash on its devices like the iPad, iPod touch or iPhone. He then went on to give 6 reasons to back the statement.

    1. Apple Versus AdobeFlash is 100% proprietary and is only available from Adobe. However, he does conceded that Apple uses proprietary products like the iPad, iPod touch and iPhone, but uses open standards like HTML5, CSS and JavaScript.
    2. Although Adobe says that Apple devices cannot access the “full web” due to so much of the web’s video content being in Flash, Jobs points out that many sites now offer the same content in H.264 codec, so iPad users are missing very little.
    3. According to studies done by Symantec, Flash had the worst security records in 2009; Flash is also the number one reason for Macs to crash.
    4. Flash drains battery life, in some cases by more than 50% when compared to using H.264 codec videos.
    5. Flash is designed for a PC and a mouse, not for touch screens, so rollovers and other interactive components can be an issue.
    6. Apple does not want developers to use a “third party cross platform development tool,” preferring to provide the most advanced and innovative platform to their developers so that they can design applications that are unique to their needs and take full advantage of feature on Apple devices.

    Of course,  Adobe could not stand idly by and say nothing. Consequently, the founders of Adobe, Chuck Geshke and John Warnock, have responded to Jobs,  stating:

    1. Saying that they believe in open markets and have"openness to innovation". Adobe has launched a new campaign titled "We (heart) Choice" where they state, "We support technologies like HTML4, HTML5, CSS, and H.264."
    2. Flash was originally designed to be used with tablets that have touch interfaces. For content designed with a PC and mouse in mind, Flash 10.1 (this is scheduled to be released in June 2010) will work.
    3. Concerning battery life- Flash 10.1 will improve battery life, codec execution, memory use, and hardware-accelerated video playback and the Flash Player will be ideal for laptops, tablets, desktops and netbooks.
    4. Regarding security problems, Adobe has taken steps to improve Flash vulnerability and are correcting concerns within Flash as quickly as possible.
    5. Adobe states that Flash Player is part of both open and proprietary technologies and that anyone can design their own SWF or FLV/F4V player.

    For those on the sidelines of the Apple-Adobe debate, there are many opinions. Some, such as James R. Borck of InfoWorld Test Center, feels that Adobe is making progress in hardware acceleration and that Flash is a solid and well-designed content delivery platform that has continually changed to keep up with a rapidly growing web ecosystem.

    Others like Michael Gartenberg of the Altimeter Group, feel that Adobe should focus on what users are missing out on if they don’t have Flash rather than spending time talking about "open" or "closed" technology. Gartenberg has also commented that in order for Adobe to be successful, they ought to convince Apple customers to pressure Apple to makes changes; however since Apple sales are skyrocketing, this doesn’t seem to be likely.

    When it comes to security issues, Ed Bott of PC Computing Magazine recently checked the facts concerning Adobe’s response and found while Adobe stated "that they had the second fewest number of vulnerabilities" this does not accurately tell the story. Bott, followed through on this statement and checked the Symantec’s Internet Security Threat Report page and found 23 vulnerabilities in the Flash Player and Adobe Reader.

    Apple’s stance on Flash seems to have made an impact on web development as well. Several web developers, have had clients specifically ask for sites that are compatible with Apple mobile devices. Daniel Trimpey, CEO of Page Progressive, a web development company in Raleigh, NC says:

    "While we had already decided a few years ago to pretty much abandon the use of Flash technology for most sites that we develop and instead rely on Javascript-based alternatives, this recent feud between Apple and Adobe certainly reinforces to us the use of more open standards like CSS, HTML and Javascript, which are making huge strides in their ability to mimic many of the interface elements that were only possible with Flash in the past. And these technologies are better for search engine optimization and also easier to integrate with content management systems."

    Big names and technical arguments aside, many consumers and web developers have one opinion in common: The belief that by Apple choosing to keep 3rd party programs from developing cross-platform apps, that Apple is wanting to "corner the market" so they have no risk of profit loss from apps that are not confined to the Apple iTunes Store.

    Only the future will tell if Flash technology will remain prevalent in website development, but with support from Nokia and also Google, who develops the popular Android mobile operating system, chances are Flash will be sticking around at least for now.