Google Plus Plus Plus

Ok – I realized recently that I hadn’t posted on this blog since January of this year. However, I have been very active in putting my voice out there in other social media. I’ve been active on Twitter, I’ve been active on Facebook, and (surprisingly, to me) I’ve been increasingly active on Google+. I say surprisingly because I, like many others, was initially pretty skeptical of Google’s foray into the social networking scene. However, after using it for quite a while, I’ve found myself gravitating over there for the kind of expression that used to take place on my Blog. Google+ seems to work well for longer-form content, and especially as as a place to generate discussion. There also seems to be a good critical mass of people there. However, I’m not comfortable having Google+ be the only record of my longer-form posts. So, as an experiment, I’ve installed the Google+ plug-in and as of today I’ll be automatically importing new (public) messages I post to Google+ into my blog here. This through the magic of the Google+ API. That way I figure I can have the best of both worlds: people can view, comment on or link to any of my posts on Google+ or here and I can keep a record of everything I’ve said here in my self-hosted WordPress instance.

Posted in Blogs

How to build a video link to Mars

Great article on BBC on interplanetary communications: "Mars to Earth: How to send HD video between planets" http://bbc.in/StPewZ

Brought back to mind a lunch-time table discussion we held at W3C  #tpac  last week in Lyon (with +Hadley Beeman +Douglas Schepers and others..)  The discussion was about the interplanetary Web. Can we imagine a Web that could extend across multiple planets, and if so how would this Web be different than the "World Wide Web" we currently know…and what (if any) changes would be required to underlying Web technologies?

Looks like there is plenty of work on the Interplanetary Internet (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interplanetary_Internet) and potentially some work at the Web level going on at ESA (http://www.esa.int/esaCP/SEMFQJHWP0H_index_0.html)... Anything else going on out there? Any +NASA projects?

Paging +Ariel Waldman

#blog  

Mars Rover Curiosity is sending us HD photos – but will we one day be able to receive HD video from the Red Planet?

Posted in Misc

Google Plus Plus Plus | Dan’s Blog (2.0)

As an experiment, I'm reposting my posts from Google+ over to my blog in order to keep an independent record and to share with people who either aren't on or don't want to use Google+. Brought to you through the magic of the Google+ API – thanks +Ade Oshineye

Google Plus Plus Plus. By Daniel Appelquist on November 4th, 2012. Ok – I realized recently that I hadn’t posted on this blog since January of this year. However, I have been very active in putting my…

Posted in Misc

Wondering if the rise of cookie consent banners and buttons on UK Web sites has driven more public awareness…

Wondering if the rise of cookie consent banners and buttons on UK Web sites has driven more public awareness of cookies and privacy. #tpac

Posted in Misc

Windows, Revamped and Split in 2

I think this is a good sum-up of why Windows 8 launch is a UX disaster. /cc +Thomas Curtis

Microsoft’s Windows 8 has two different worlds, one designed primarily for touch screens, the other for mouse and keyboard.

Posted in Misc

Hummingbird: “Pre-Arduino” for Kids

Hummingbird: "Pre-Arduino" for Kids (or, I'm hoping, for adults who find Arduino still quite daunting)

Arduino was conceived as an open source microcontroller for artists, designers, and others who aren’t necessarily techie/programmer types. Of course, all sorts of makers have flocked to this techno……

Posted in Misc

Conditions at Foxconn – Should we care?

I was greatly moved  yesterday after listening to the This American Life episode on conditions at Foxconn, the plant in China than makes (among other things) iPhones, iPads, and most other Apple products. I just made a post on Facebook relating to this and a related Forbes article and I encourage you to chime in there or here. Is this just “business as usual,” or is there something wrong happening here that needs to be fixed?

Posted in Politics, Technology

So-Long Big Red; Hello Cool Blue

Today, I start my new job as Head of Product Management for BlueVia, a unit of the newly forming Telefónica Digital. Why, after 10 years at Vodafone, have I chosen to pull up stakes and move to BlueVia? The answer is simple: BlueVia are actually doing something that I’ve been talking about doing since 2006 and even earlier – they are taking operator network capabilities and exposing them (via APIs) to Web and app developers. And they are bringing these APIs to real grass-roots developers. Read what I wrote in 2006 about exposing enablers. Most of the other predictions in that post have been borne out (mobile Web, connected apps, social media, etc…) but mobile operators have so far not been able to expose the capabilities of their networks to developers in a simple, straight-forward way (a-la market-leading Amazon Web Services).

Well – BlueVia are actually doing that: taking the capabilities of the network and making them available to developers through an accessible developer program. If you combine that capability with the emerging idea that applications will exist in the cloud and be accessed by users through a range of connected devices, the important role such a provider can play becomes clear.

I don’t want to give the wrong impression here. Vodafone is a great company and working there has been a fantastic experience. I’ve worked with some great people on some amazing projects. I’m immensely proud of the work I’ve done there. The work I’ve been engaged in at Vodafone has often focused on bringing the Web to the mobile – the w3c Mobile Web Initiative and dotMobi were early examples: making it easier for Web developers to engage with users across a range of mobile devices.

But now it’s time to move on to a different set of challenges – to look at things from a different angle: how can we bring the mobile to the Web? How can we make mobile networks more transparent and more useful for Web and app developers – to enable new kinds of experiences that are uniquely mobile.

People have asked me a lot of questions about the move so I though a short FAQ might be in order:

What about your W3C activities? I’m not going to be playing an active role in W3C in my new role. However, Web standards and advocacy thereof are are part of my DNA. Telefónica are a W3C member and I will continue to play a role from the sidelines.

What about your role on the W3C TAG? Will you run again? As I’ve told the W3C community already, I’m not going to be putting myself forward for another term on the TAG. However, with agreement of all parties, I will be serving out my current term until the end of January.

Are you moving to Madrid? No. I’m staying in London. The role is based in London at Telefónica Digital’s offices (once they find suitable offices). In the mean time, I’m going to be working out of places like TechHub and Adam Street where I will be more than happy to chat in person about what’s happening with BlueVia.

What’s going to happen to Over the Air and Mobile 2.0These were always side projects for me (though thankfully projects that were allowed by my employer). I’m going to continue to be involved with putting these together at my new role.

What about MobileMonday London? I had already stepped back from direct involvement in MobileMonday London at the end of last year. Since then, I’ve played an advisory role to MoMo London and I will continue to do so.

BlueVia looks like it’s about Apps – I thought you were the Mobile Web guy? BlueVia is about helping developers do cool stuff using network APIs (apologies to James Parton if I am mangling the marketing message right there but you get the idea). This includes Web and App developers. One of the things I’m going to be working on is making BlueVia more friendly for Web developers so if you have any suggestions along those lines, please send them my way.

I noticed a mistake on the BlueVia web site. Can you fix it? Er. Give me a minute to get settled in… :)

I have a suggestion about BlueVia. Interested? Absolutely.

Posted in BlueVia, mobile 2.0

#!: This Time It’s Personal

The Archer Twitter / Facebook Blurb

When #! Goes Wrong

It’s time to have a serious talk about #!.

If you’re a sharp-eyed Web user, it will not have escaped your attention that, for many Web sites (Twitter among them), the characters #! have started to appear in the address bar when visiting certain pages. Try it now. Go to my page on Twitter but check the URL I’m sending you to first – it should be “http://twitter.com/torgo”. Now – when you visit that link, check the address bar at the top of the page. Abracadabra, a mysterious #! (pronounced “hash bang” in geek-parlance, and we are firmly in geek territory here) has interposed itself between the twitter.com and the torgo bits of the URL. The appearance of #! is an artefact of a certain approach to Web application architecture. Many in the Web community have decried this approach (see more detail in Jeni Tennison’s blog entry), but to cut a long story short, the argument against using #! has been painted as largely academic by many Web application developers.

This morning, I woke up and found my (very) local paper, the Archer, had been slipped through my mail slot. Something drew my eye to a box at the bottom of the page. “The Archer is now on twitter,” it pronounces. “Follow us on http://twitter.com/#!/TheArcherN2.”

Ok, #!. Now, it’s personal.

I’m not pointing fingers at the good folks at the Archer, by the way. They just did what Twitter told them to do. In good faith, they copied and pasted the URL that appeared at the top of the page. But surely this result could not be what the people at Twitter intended. So, now everyone who sees this URL and types it in will be forced to type in three more characters than is strictly necessary. And can you imagine someone trying to tell that URL to someone else down a phone line or over the radio? It’s like “H, T, T, P, colon, slash, slash” all over again, except worse! (For one, “exclamation point” has 5 syllables.)

And by the way if the person trying to type in that URL happens to be a Mac user in the UK  then they are going to be doubly confused because there is no # on the Mac UK-English keyboard layout:

British Apple Keyboard

Spot the #

From a Web architecture perspective: Jeni’s blog entry goes into great detail on the pros and cons of this approach to keeping application state. In the TAG, Ashok Malhotra is working on a document on Identifying Application State which discusses this issue in detail, discusses and some alternatives to #! and some approaches that Web site developers can employ if they want to use #! and not confuse Web users. If you’re a Web site developer, I urge you to read these.

But thinking of the bigger picture: when you build a Web site or application, you are not building it in a vacuum. Stuff you do, including what appears in the address bar, will have unintended consequences. People doing stuff like passing around URLs out-of-band is part of the Web. So think of the children already and get with the program!

(And to my good friends at the Archer: I love you, and you have done absolutely nothing wrong, but please the next time you print this blurb, print it as  “http://twitter.com/TheArcherN2”. For me. OK? Thanks.)

Posted in W3C, Web

When Galaxies Collide

Photo Credit: Ariff Shah

[This is a re-posting of a two-part blog post originally published on the Mobile 2.0 blog. For a discount code for mobile 2.0, please DM me on Twitter or leave a comment here and I’ll send you one.]

If you’ve ever seen one of those NASA simulations of galaxies colliding, you’ll know it’s a messy business. Symmetric spirals, serenely evolving and progressing through the universe on their own, suddenly encounter each other. The result is a violent conflagration. Plumes of previously well-ordered stars go shooting off into space, only to be drawn back in and shot out again in another directions; seeming child galaxies form, only to be absorbed again in more churning cataclysms. The time-scales over which this occurs are, of course, astronomical. At human-scale time, all we can ever perceive is a moment, frozen in time.

We are in the middle of such an event right now in both the Web and mobile industries. Our galaxies are colliding; they have been colliding for a number of years; and they will continue to collide for years to come. The result will be a new landscape, a new ecosystem, a new industry. What that industry will look like is not clear, but we can guess at its shape. At this year’s mobile 2.0 conference in San Francisco, we are once again going to take a stab at doing just this.

In 2006, before our first Mobile 2.0 event, when I first sensed the colliding of these two galaxies, I wrote a post about what I thought that future might look like. I stole a page out of the book of Tim O’Reilly in trying to define Mobile 2.0, attempting to use the same approach he used for the (then newly-minted) term “Web 2.0” to get a hold of what I saw happening in the convergence between the Internet/Web and Mobile worlds. One of the key ideas in this post was that the future of mobile was both the Web and connected applications. That view of the world was driven by what I saw happening with the fledgling app ecosystem on (then primarily Nokia / Symbian) connected smartphones and the fledgling mobile Web ecosystem, especially what was going on with webkit-based mobile browsers (also pioneered by Nokia). In my 2006 view of the future, the Web and connected applications would co-exist and (importantly) the Web would be the vector whereby these applications would be discovered, downloaded and installed.

Well, I almost got it right. What I didn’t anticipate was the rise of paid app stores. The bundled app stores (which are apps themselves) has created a gravity around downloadable, installable apps. So – while it has now become possible, on modern smartphones, to find and download apps from a universe of choices, that universe is actually constrained in some very important ways. What you can discover is constrained. How you can pay is constrained. And importantly for the developer, the tools they can use, types of applications they can build, and ways they can make money are, to a greater or lesser degree, constrained.

HTML5 is being touted by many as alternative approach to building apps – apps that would live in the browser in the same away that browser-based apps have started to appear on the PC Web. In some ways, this is true. Some in the mobile industry have jumped on HTML5 as a panacea, finally delivering “write once, run anywhere” apps. It also is being seen as a way around the vertically controlled app ecosystem promoted and maintained by the platform providers.

HTML5 is not primarily about mobile. It is about the evolution of the Web. It is about the consolidation of the Web platform. The Web has been on an evolution path since the first browsers, roughly speaking from a Web of documents to a Web of applications; from the Web as a document sharing system to the web as an application development and deployment platform. HTML5, and the related APIs, protocols and formats that are often lumped together with it, is simply the latest sign-post on that evolutionary path. The Web has had a profound impact, not only on commerce and industry but on humanity, on the way we now expect to consume information, interact and communicate with others. The Web by its nature is open. It is built primarily on royalty-free standards, it is closely (though not exclusively) tied to open source projects and software, it is diffuse and does not allow for a single point of control. This open Web platform of technologies includes new features that start to bring the Web on a par with native approaches to application development – specifically, off-line use (launching and using a Web application even when not connected to the network), access to device features (geolocation now with more APIs quickly following behind) and fluid UI (smooth animations, touch events, 2d graphics and other technologies needed to provide compelling user experiences). Building Web applications with HTML5 is still software engineering and it is still hard work, but it may make it possible to leverage the abilities of an engineering team already skilled up in the ways of the Web to build (and more importantly revise and maintain) mobile services more easily and at lower cost than maintaing separate teams (or outsourced teams) to build apps on different architectures.

What’s more, the same parties, the same companies, in many cases the same people who promote the “closed” app ecosystems are also pouring resource and money into this open Web ecosystem, a parallel ecosystem. This can make companies like Google and Apple seem schizophrenic at times. But look at the bigger picture. The apps world looms large in mobile, partially because it is the fulfilment of an idea that many people evangelized for many years, but which stubbornly refused to come true. Yes – finally people are using the mobiles for something else other then voice and text. And this use has become mainstream. That’s one way to look at it. But look at it from the Web industry point of view. The developer of a service or application on the Web wants reach – reach to as many platforms as possible for as cheaply as possible. They see mobile as a channel to customers and to more usage of their application. Mobile is only one piece of the puzzle to them – and mobile apps and app stores are only one channel to market.

So what does HTML5 really mean for mobile? If we are to glimpse an answer to that question then we have to move beyond the “web vs. apps” mentality. Application developers need to consider the Web platform along side of the various “native” application development platforms out there as one approach, one potential set of tools, one possible way to reach users, with its unique set of plusses and minuses.

In the end, it is clear that HTML5 will play an important part in this cosmic collision between Web and mobile of which we currently find ourselves a part. The lasting legacy of HTML5 in mobile, however, may be the linking of the evolution of the Web to the evolution of mobile apps. And while the Web may be evolving to be a better platform for mobile apps, and this is a positive step for the Web and for mobile, the more exciting development will be how the Web disrupts app stores by providing a compelling alternative to app stores for service and application discovery.

At Mobile 2.0 this year, I’m glad to say we’ll be exploring some of these issues with a galaxy of stars – people who have been working at the sharp end of the convergence between the mobile and Web and at the sharp end of disruptive innovation in mobile. At one of our afternoon workshops (“Mobile Web Present and Future”) we will be delving deep into the issues of the impact of HTML5 on mobile. We’ll be looking at current best practices for building great mobile applications using HTML5 and related technologies (with James Pearce from Sencha and Mat Womer from W3C – the standards body responsible for HTML5). Then we’ll switch to thinking about the (mobile) Web platform of the future. What’s missing from from the Web platform from a mobile perspective? Scott Jenson, who wrote a compelling piece on this topic earlier this year, will lead this part of the workshop. The intention of this workshop is to “move the needle” – to create help to create a community of practice around these technologies that will last beyond the event itself. I hope you’ll join us.

Posted in mobile 2.0

Who is Daniel K. Appelquist?

I'm an American Ex-Pat living in London and dealing with the increasing complexities of parenting in the digital world. I am the Open Web Advocate for Telefónica, focusing on the Firefox OS project. I am a founder and co-organizer of the Over the Air hack day series as well as a founder of Mobile Monday London & Mobile 2.0. I'm a former .com CTO and subsequent .com refugee. I like a good burger.

If you are so inclined, you may find my public key on Keybase.io.

The opinions expressed here are my own, however, and neither Telefónica nor any other party necessarily agrees with them.

My books:
Mobile Internet for Dummies
XML and SQL

For more info, see my Linkedin profile.

More (probably than you ever wanted to know) about Torgo.

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